National Immigration Law Center Says U.S. Constitution And Rights Of Americans Are At Stake In Arizona Immigration Law-05/20/10
By Doug Cunningham
The National Immigration Law Center is the lead litigator suing to overturn Arizona’s immigration enforcement law on grounds that it’s unconstitutional. SEIU is one of several plaintiff organizations backing the suit. Ghazal Tajmiri of the National Immigration Law Center says protecting America’s constitution and its rights while preventing any state from trumping the federal government on immigration issues are among the legal objections to this law.
AFL-CIO To Re-Double Efforts To Elect Bill Halter Over Incumbent Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln- 05/20/10
By Doug Cunningham
The AFL-CIO says it’s redoubling its efforts to elect Bill Halter as the U.S. Senator from Arkansas after Halter forced incumbent Blanche Lincoln into a runoff election this week in the Democratic Senate primary.. The AFL-CIO says Lincoln is in the pocket of Wall Street and big business while Halter fights for working families.
IBM Has Slashed 14,000 Jobs In Two Years, Despite Announcing The Creation Of 800 Jobs Recently- 05/20/10
By Doug Cunningham
IBM recently announced it’s creating 800 jobs in Missouri, but the iconic American company has in fact been slashing U.S. jobs for years. Lee Conrad of the Alliance@IBM
[Conrad]: “IBM has been cutting jobs for the last four or five years. In fact last year they cut around 11,000 jobs and the first quarter of this year they cut 3,000 . Now many of these jobs are being cut and the work is being moved offshore. With all the talk about how many jobs they’re supposed to create, like 800 jobs. The net effect is IBM is cutting jobs around the country.”
The federal government must step up enforcement of rules protecting the nation’s blood supply and force the Red Cross to drastically improve its blood safety practices, several groups said today.
During a press conference in Washington, D.C., this morning, leaders of the AFL-CIO, the Workers Committee for Blood Safety, the National Consumers League, the Committee of Ten Thousand and the Hemophilia Federation of America called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase enforcement action with the Red Cross and ensure the safety of the nation’s blood supply.
The coalition points out that year after year, the Red Cross violates blood safety regulations and exposes the public to potentially dangerous blood products that could put blood recipients at risk for HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, malaria and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Sally Greenburg, executive director of the National Consumers League, told reporters:
We believe the Red Cross is failing to take the steps needed to improve its safety practices. We are particularly concerned about the large number of blood products that were distributed despite the fact that Red Cross had already identified them as suspect or unsuitable. No one in America should have to worry that the blood they are receiving in a transfusion could be from a tainted blood product.
Red Cross management is blaming its employees for the problems with the blood. But AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker said the Red Cross’s labor policies are to blame.
Red Cross employees know best what is going on with blood drives and safety. They believe there is a clear link between bad American Red Cross labor policies and blood safety compliance failures. This includes understaffing blood drives, assigning workers to regular 14 hour days, and eliminating the most experienced licensed medical personnel, creating a low-morale, high-turnover work environment.
Instead of blaming workers, the American Red Cross needs to invest in its workforce and improve work conditions, she said.
For the past 17 years, the Red Cross has operated under a federal consent decree that requires it to clean up its blood safety practices. Since 2003, the FDA has fined the Red Cross $21 million for blood safety violations.
The Workers Committee for Blood Safety, which includes thousands of front-line red Cross employees, also held press conferences today in six cities today to call on their employer to eliminate understaffing and long hours, which they say can lead to unsafe blood supply practices.
Several of the nation’s major airlines–including Delta–are mounting a huge legal battle against a new federal regulation that makes union elections for air and rail workers more fair and democratic.
The Air Transport Association and 10 of the airline industry group’s members filed suit in federal district court to block the National Mediation Board’s (NMB) May 10 ruling that says air and rail union elections must be decided by a majority of votes cast.
An election that is decided by the majority of those who vote may sound like an obvious and common sense way to decide an election. But for years, the deck was stacked against aviation or rail workers in union representation elections, because they are covered by the Railway Labor Act (RLA). Until the NMB ruling, every worker who did not cast a vote in a representation election was automatically counted as a “No” vote.
Patricia Friend, president of the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), says the old rules, “fostered a unique culture of voter suppression,” and that airlines and their
outside union-busting companies engaged in the most undemocratic of practices by openly encouraging workers to destroy ballots and to not vote.
Ed Wytkind, President of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD), said the airlines’ complaint “is baseless and should be dismissed.” He says the airlines that are challenging the new rule
are eager to retain the old system that was rigged against workers.
At Delta, AFA/CWA will file for an election when the new rule becomes effective next month. When Delta and Northwest merged in 2008, more than 7,000 Northwest AFA members lost their collective bargaining rights and the 20,000 flight attendants at Delta were in the midst of long battle to win a voice work.
Delta management mounted a massive anti-union campaign, including harassment, videotaping and threatening union activists, says the union. For more on the Delta flight attendants, click here.
Ground service workers at Delta are seeking representation with the Machinists (IAM). There are some 30,000 ramp workers and customer service agents at Delta, including about 10,000 from Northwest who were represented by the IAM. For more on the ground workers’ fight to join the IAM, click here.
The 10 airlines participating in the lawsuit are ABX Air, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, ASTAR Air Cargo, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Evergreen International Airlines, Federal Express, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Airways Corp.
Some 160 members of the United Steelworkers (USW), union staff and supporters from around Washington, D.C., today protested Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s visit to the nation’s capital and condemned his government’s repression of workers’ rights in Mexico.
The USW and the AFL-CIO have both denounced the Mexican government’s four-year-long campaign to destroy the independent mine workers’ union, Los Mineros. Members of Los Mineros have been on strike since July 2007 at the Cananea mine in Northern Mexico over health and safety and other contract violations.
Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, told the crowd:
I am here to say that we in the labor movement fight equally for workers in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, in Mexico and all across the globe. We will not let borders divide us and pit us against each other, and we’re serious when we say that an injury to one worker is an injury against all workers.
The Mexican government refused to recognize the results of the miners’ union election, brought charges against the union’s president, Napoleon Gómez Urrutia, and forcefully removed him from office. Union assets have been seized, and striking workers at the Cananea mine, owned by mining giant Grupo Mexico, have been subjected to what Trumka calls a “protracted campaign of repression” that has left two dead and many others injured at the hands of the Mexican armed forces. Gómez spoke by cell phone from exile in Vancouver to the demonstrators through a loud speaker hookup. He told the crowd:
We cannot let the government defeat the rights of the Los Mineros to a labor contract.
USW President Leo Gerard said in a statement:
We call on the Mexican government to withdraw its threat to use military force to dislodge the strikers and to negotiate with the Los Mineros to peacefully resolve this conflict .
On Feb. 11, a Mexican federal court gave Grupo Mexico permission to fire the striking workers and terminate the labor agreement. The government has threatened to use armed force to gain control of Cananea.
In a May 17 letter, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged the congressional leadership to raise the issue of workers’ rights with Calderon during his visit.
It is absolutely critical to the economic and social advancement of the (North American) region that Mexican workers have the opportunity to work in good jobs with higher wages so that they can provide for their families and contribute to real and sustainable development in Mexico. There can be no effective solution to the issues of border security and immigration as long as Mexico fails to provide economic opportunity to a large segment of its population.
Last October, Calderon fired 44,000 members of the independent Mexican Electrical Workers Union after refusing to negotiate with the union. Click here to read Trumka’s letter condemning Mexico’s anti-worker actions.
In an article in The Hill newspaper yesterday, Trumka challenged U.S. lawmakers and government leaders to bring up the workers’ rights issue with Calderon.
…we are still in the early phase of what will be a decades-long globalization of the world’s economy, and we’re still building the legal and moral infrastructure that will govern it for generations to come. The decisions we make today matter deeply. Calderon should end the exile of Los Mineros’ leaders, prosecute those who attacked and killed miners and insist that Grupo Mexico honor international workplace safety and labor norms. The question remains, however: Will our government ask him to do so?
Read The Hill column here.
Durazo also put our political leaders on notice that workers are watching to see how they deal with global workers’ rights issues.
We are not giving away any free passes. Just because a politician is defending immigrant workers in this country does not mean we will excuse him for fighting against workers rights in Mexico.
The CEO and board of directors of health insurance giant WellPoint faced tough questions about the company’s excessive rate hikes, its campaign to kill health care reform and executive pay from shareholders—including small business owners—at its annual board meeting yesterday.
WellPoint shareholders from the small business group Main Street Alliance and the coalition Health Care for America Now (HCAN) blasted the recent increase in CEO Angela Braly’s total compensation—which skyrocketed by 51 percent in 2009 to $13.1 million. They also challenged as inaccurate the company’s submission of data to California regulators to convince them to permit double-digit premium increases for individuals in 2010. The company withdrew its plans to raise rates by as much as 39 percent after regulators questioned the figures submitted by WellPoint subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross.
Arlene Zaremba, who owns a small St. Louis law firm, urged WellPoint to support proposed federal legislation (H.R. 4757 and S. 3078) that would create a Health Insurance Authority power to block unreasonable premium increases before they are allowed to take effect.
I’m getting crushed by their rate increases—most recently their attempt to raise my rate 41 percent, an attempt they could not justify with the math. Health insurance is now the second largest cost of my business and is exceeded only by my payroll.
For more on the health insurance industry’s premium increases and soaring profits, click here.
Main Street Alliance Director Sam Blair urged the board to adopt a lobbying disclosure policy in light of the revelations in January by the National Journal that WellPoint and five other of the nation’s biggest health insurers quietly funneled about $20 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to air lie-filled, scare-mongering ads about health care reform. But he was ruled out of order. Says Blair:
Angela Braly and WellPoint call it “out of order” to give small businesses two minutes to be heard on this important issue. What’s truly out of order is WellPoint’s treatment of small businesses across America. We deserve to know how much money WellPoint [ quietly gave] the U.S. Chamber to run deceptive ads attacking health reform, in the name of the business community when those ads were really funded with insurance industry dollars.
Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, says he can count 2,500 reasons why he’ll vote for Democrat Jack Conway for the U.S. Senate.
The National Right to Work Committee gave Republican Rand Paul $2,500.
Conway will face Paul in the Nov. 2 general election. Conway, a Louisville native, is Kentucky’s attorney general. Paul is a Bowling Green eye doctor and the son of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Though he had never run for office, Paul handily defeated Secretary of State Trey Grayson of Richwood whose supporters included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Conway, a progressive Democrat, edged out Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo of Hazard in the Democratic primary. Both primaries also had minor candidates.
The Tea Party movement got behind Paul in the May 18 primary. He was endorsed by Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate who has become a Tea Party favorite.
“I have a message, a message from the tea party,” Paul said in his victory speech, “a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We’ve come to take our government back.”
Londrigan says it is significant where Paul made his speech and threw his victory party—at the Bowling Green Country Club.
He says he is for ordinary working people who are hurting. But it just goes to show you who his constituents really are—wealthy country club-goers and not common folks. It just shows you the hypocrisy of Rand Paul.
Londrigan says Paul’s big check from the National Right to Work Committee is more proof Paul’s friends include “those who oppose organized labor and the interests of working men and women of this commonwealth and this country.
The Right to Work Committee is backed by large corporations that are hell-bent on destroying organized labor.
Both Conway and Mongiardo, a former state senator, oppose “right to work” for less laws and support the Employee Free Choice Act. Paul opposes the proposed act, which would level the playing field for workers seeking to form unions.
The state AFL-CIO voted to endorse neither Conway nor Mongiardo in the primary, Londrigan says.
We really took a hard look at them and decided the best course was to remain neutral. Individual unions and union members were free to support who they wanted. Both Conway and Mongiardo had union support.
But now the work begins. Now we have to come together and make sure we get Jack Conway elected. Now we’ve got to go out and show our members that he is their true friend and not that charlatan Paul.
Londrigan says Paul is too extreme for Kentucky.
He is so far out on the fringes. I don’t think his views will be acceptable to most Kentuckians.
Londrigan says Paul is wrong on more than “right to work” and the Employee Free Choice Act.
He is wrong on health care and on banking reform. He is an anti-government fanatic. We certainly will be informing our members that his positions are counter to theirs on every issue that affects their livelihoods.
Just as young workers and students were the energy of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, immigrant students are becoming a strong force in the drive for comprehensive immigration reform that will allow them to pursue the American Dream. On Monday, five undocumented college students staged a sit-in at Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) office in Tucson (see video). Three of the protestors were arrested and face possible deportation.
The students were demanding McCain support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would give conditional legal status and eventual citizenship to undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools, are of good moral character, arrived in the United States as minors and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment.
As some 100 supporters outside the office shouted, “Education, Not Deportation,” one of the protestors, Tania Unzueta, 25, said the students simply want to pursue the American Dream:
Throughout the country, there are a lot of laws criminalizing young people, students, our lives, our history, our parents. It’s important that we fight for laws that represent the needs of our community and represent the values of U.S. society—hard work and education, contribution to our communities—and that is our dream.
Another protestor, Mohammad Abdollahi, an immigrant from Iran who also is gay, is one of the three who may be deported. Brought into the country by his parents when he was three years old, the Ann Arbor, Mich., resident says he fears for his life if he is returned to Iran where homosexuality is a capital crime. He told ABC News:
It’s not only Sen. McCain we’re looking for and holding accountable, there [are] senators all across the country we’re holding accountable. We’re telling them you’ve been asking for a long time for somebody to step up and take leadership on this—none of you have been willing to do so—so, as non-citizens, we’ve taken that lead.
The sit-ins came just two days after the tragic deaths of two promising leaders of the DREAM Act movement, Tam Ngoo Tran and Cinthya Felix, both graduates of the University of California-Los Angeles, who were killed in a car crash.
We at APALA are devastated by the loss of Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix. They represented the best and brightest of this generation, leaving behind a legacy to advance the rights of undocumented students.
Kent Wong, APALA’s founding president, said:
Although we mourn the passing of Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix, we celebrate their lives and their spirit with a new commitment to pass the DREAM Act
Tran, who was born in Germany to Vietnamese refugees, was a doctoral candidate at Brown University, testified before Congress on the DREAM Act, and had to go into hiding after immigration officials detained her parents. She spoke at last year’s APALA convention and participated in the first National Asian Pacific American Workers Rights Hearing.
Both families are accepting donations here. You also may send flowers or cards to: 220 Westwood Boulevard, Community Programs Office 105, Student Activity Center, 106C Los Angeles, CA 90095-1454.