Even though new jobs are being created it still isn’t enough according to a recent survey by Rutgers University. The report reveals that nearly 80 percent of people who were jobless last summer are going into this summer still without employment. The study found that only 21 percent of those surveyed in August had found employment, 67 percent consider themselves still unemployed, and 12 percent have left the labor force – that means they’ve stopped looking for work by either returning to school or retiring early.
Jobs creation momentum is growing at last. Doug Cunningham reports.
By Doug Cunningham
The NFL Players Association has given notice to three hotels in Indianapolis that unless they improve labor practices the hotels could be boycotted during the NFL Scouting Combine in late winter. The association says the hotels are not bargaining in good faith with UNITE-Here, the union organizing workers at Hyatt Regency, Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel, and Westin Indianapolis.
The “Rock of Labor” found a good home. Says Terry Beane, the last president of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 665 in Mayfield, Ky.:
“Years from now, some of our grandkids will see it, and they may not know what it is. They’ll ask us, and that will lead to some wonderful stories.”
Union memorials are rare on courthouse lawns. The Rock of Labor rests in an honored spot outside the 1880s-vintage, red brick Graves County courthouse in Mayfield.
The 3,000-pound, rough-hewn brown boulder commemorates Local 665, the union at the big Mayfield Continental-General Tire factory. The local represented hourly workers at the plant, which closed in 2007 and is being razed by a salvage company.
Workers voted to join the union shortly after the plant started up in 1960 to manufacture car and truck tires, mainly for auto makers in Detroit. Local 665 was part of the United Rubber Workers until the it merged with the United Steelworkers.
Says Jeff Wiggins, president of the Western Kentucky Area Council in Paducah, which is also close to Mayfield:
Local 665 may be gone, but it won’t be forgotten. We were happy to contribute the stone as a monument to our brothers and sisters who lost their jobs to corporate greed.
General Tire and Rubber, an American company, opened the plant, but sold it to German-based Continental, one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers. Says Wiggins:
A lot of the tires that were made in Mayfield for years by workers earning good union wages are now being made in cheap-labor countries. But these tires aren’t cheaper to buy. Closing the Mayfield plant is another example of a big company putting profit ahead of people.
The Area Council, which represents numerous unions in far western Kentucky, bought the stone several years ago. “We intended to turn it into a workers’ memorial in Paducah,” Wiggins said.
Plans changed when the state AFL-CIO sold its building in Frankfort and moved elsewhere in the state capital. Wiggins, a member of USW Local 9447-5 in nearby Calvert City, says the official state Workers Memorial was on the lawn, and the city agreed to the council’s request for the stone.
With the state memorial on the way, the council wasn’t sure what to do with the Rock of Labor. Wayne Chambers, Local 665’s last vice president and a council trustee, asked for the stone. He wanted to make it a monument to his union. Council delegates voted unanimously to donate the Rock of Labor to Local 665.
Beane praised Chambers for getting the monument to Mayfield. “Wayne was the driving force behind this,” he said. “He went to County Judge-Executive Tony Smith about it. Tony and the fiscal court agreed the courthouse lawn was a good place for the Rock of Labor.”
Chambers, a candidate in the May 18 Democratic primary, hopes to join the fiscal court as a county commissioner. He lined up a local monument company to engrave the stone. The inscription reads:
Rock of Labor. In Honor of the Members of United Steelworkers LOCAL-665 Solidarity Forever.
The Rock of Labor is near a monument to veterans of Operation Desert Storm. Says Chambers:
We think the rock is in an appropriate place. We built tires that went on military vehicles for Operation Desert Storm. We had a mural painted in the Curing Department in honor of those tires.
The mural wall is now a heap of concrete rubble, like most of the sprawling factory building. Chambers is hopeful the Rock of Labor will be around for a long time. As he helped set the stone on the courthouse lawn, he said:
A small chunk of the rock broke off. I saved it as a souvenir.