NYC Ironworkers Local Says Too Many Non-Union Contractors Are Ignoring Safety And Prevailing Wage Laws- 06/10/10
After a partial Brooklyn building collapse, non-union New York Plank Services faces a total of more than $125,000 in safety violation fines. Brian Brady of Iron Workers Local 40 says when non-union contractors ignore safety laws and prevailing wages it hurts us all.
[Brady]: “It’s just sad when a lot of laws are being ignored. Obviously the workers are put at risk, the people who move into these residential buildings are put at risk, the general public who walk past these buildings are put at risk.”
USW President Tired Of Wall Street ‘Puking On Our Shoes’, Says Obama Acted Like A Novice Negotiating With Republicans- 06/10/10
Labor leaders took center stage at a conference of the progressive movement in Washington. They say they’re forging new
connections with their progressive allies. United Steel Workers president Leo Gerard had plenty to say about labor’s agenda at the conference. WIN’s Tanya Snyder was there. Leo Gerard is the head of the Steelworkers and a vice president of the AFL-CIO. He says President Obama has acted like a novice at the bargaining table when negotiating with Republicans.
Hyatt shareholders were greeted at their first meeting by unhappy workers. Jesse Russell reports:
Denise Bowyer draws an interesting parallel between the nation’s financial collapse and BP’s disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Bowyer is vice president of the American Income Life Insurance Co. (AIL) and secretary of the company’s labor advisory board.
The recent oil spill and the past financial collapse both show why protective barriers are important.
Sandbags in hand, thousands of members of the National Guard have been activated to buttress our coastline against the dark plume caused by Big Oil BP.
Sandbags in hand, a small group of U.S. House and Senate conferees reconciling House and Senate versions of Wall Street reform legislation are charged with buttressing the American consumer and taxpayer against another dark financial plume caused by Big Banks and Wall Street.
Sandbags in hand, the American taxpayers, via our government, are forced to respond to preventable disasters—remember the $700 billion-plus bailout—caused by BIG corporations who have been reckless in producing a product that simply failed.
Fortifying America through prevention is a far more rational and less costly approach than throwing hundreds of billions of dollars to profit-making companies.
In the next few weeks we will see the well-paid financial lobbyists hurl handfuls of sand to slow down the gears of financial reform. They will do the bidding for the Big Banks and the Wall Street giants who abdicate their liabilities onto the back of the American taxpayers.
The Big Banks and Wall Street, just like BP, will shirk away from their responsibilities to offer safe and sound products and beg for limited liability. The cost already has been borne by a battered citizenry.
Our defense must be sandbags filled with accountability, transparency, consumer protections, foreclosure prevention, resolution authority, investor protection and systemic risk regulation.
Over the next few weeks, the conferees will do the heavy loading and lifting on financial reform.
Let’s lighten their load. Let’s take each and every fat-cat banker, well-paid lobbyist and moneyed obstructionist and ship them to the Gulf Coast to back up our National Guard. Let’s finally give them a chance to throw sand where it will do some real good.
Nearly three-quarters of voters say extending unemployment insurance (UI) and COBRA health care benefits that Congress allowed to expire last month is more important than reducing the deficit, according to a new poll.
The survey, by Hart Research Associates, says 74 percent of the public believes it is too soon for Congress to cut back UI and COBRA benefits. Just 21 percent said extended UI and COBRA should be cut back to help reduce the federal deficit.
With unemployment near 10 percent, at least 15 million people out of work and 6.8 million people out of work for 27 weeks or more, National Employment Law Project (NELP) Executive Director Chris Owens says:
We cannot let a handful of misguided deficit hawks pull the plug on benefits that are precisely the kind of stimulus needed for economic recovery and deficit reduction. Given the choice, the vast majority of the American people would provide unemployed workers and their communities the benefits they continue to need—Congress should be listening to them.
Just before Memorial Day, the U.S. House passed a limited jobs bill that include a six-month extension of the UI program but not COBRA, which provides subsidies to help jobless workers maintain their health care coverage. COBRA and financial aid to states that could save 900,000 private- and public-sector jobs were dropped from the original jobs bill because many members claimed it would increase the federal deficit. The Senate left town without acting on the bill. More than 250,000 people a week are losing their unemployment benefits, according to NELP.
The Senate is now considering the House bill and may return COBRA and the state aid to the legislation, though Republicans and a handful of Democrats are citing concerns about the federal deficit. But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said yesterday at the America’s Future Now conference, while there is a long-term deficit problem—mainly due the current weak economy
we have no short-term deficit problem. Textbook economics and decades of experience teach us that slashing spending when we still have high unemployment is a terrible idea. Not only will many suffer needlessly, but it does little to improve the budget deficit, because what the government saves by cutting back on spending, it loses as a weaker economy depresses tax receipts.
It is simply sick that we have millions of unemployed, trillions of dollars of work to do and politicians blocking action in the name of a deficit crisis that doesn’t exist.
Call you senators today at 877-442-6801 and urge them to extend lifeline aid to states and jobless families. If the Senate doesn’t continue helping states with their Medicaid costs, state budgets will sink into an even deeper free fall with devastating consequences for health care, school funding and jobs. And failing to keep COBRA health coverage affordable to jobless families threatens their ability to survive unemployment.
Meanwhile, a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) finds that unemployment numbers for Hispanics and African Americans is at depression-era levels in many major metropolitan areas.
According to the study, “Uneven Pain: Unemployment by Metropolitan Area and Race“:
The Hispanic and African American metro unemployment rates exceeded 1.5 times the white metro unemployment rate in most of the metros analyzed.
The white unemployment rate reached double digits in four metro areas. Unemployment rates for nonwhite populations were particularly high in three cities: Providence had a Hispanic unemployment rate of 21.4 percent and Detroit and Minneapolis had African American unemployment rates of 20.9 percent and 20.4 percent, respectively.
Click here for the full report.
The AFL-CIO today strongly condemned the violent federal assaults against striking miners and their families at Grupo Mexico’s Cananea and Pasta de Conchos mines in Mexico.
On Sunday, some 400 federal riot police attacked striking miners standing guard at mine entrances at the Cananea mine. Hours later, at the Pasta de Conchos mine, police removed families working to recover the bodies of 63 miners still trapped underground after a deadly explosion killed 65 workers and forced the closure of the mine in 2006.
Workers at Cananea and two other Grupo Mexico mines have been on strike since July 2007 to demand safer working conditions.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:
Sunday night’s assault is yet another example of the Mexican government’s unjustified persecution of miners who are bravely taking a stand against the country’s largest mining company, Grupo Mexico. U.S. support to Mexican security forces is enabling the Mexican government and Grupo Mexico to violate workers’ most basic rights. As long as the Mexican military and police continue to violate the fundamental rights of workers, the U.S. Congress should freeze current funding for these forces and any proposals for future support.
Read the full statement here.
Some 101 trade unionists were murdered last year, a dramatic 30 percent increase over the previous year, according to the International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC’s) Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights. The survey, released today, also reveals increased attacks on basic workers’ rights around the world as the impact of the global economic crisis worsens.
Colombia—where nearly half (48) of the murders took place—continues to be the most dangerous place to belong to a union. Another 16 unionists were killed in Guatemala, 12 in Honduras, six in Mexico, six in Bangladesh, four in Brazil, three in the Dominican Republic, three in the Philippines and one each in India, Iraq and Nigeria. Click here to read the full survey.
Said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder:
Colombia was yet again the country where standing up for fundamental rights of workers is more likely than anywhere else to mean a death sentence, despite the Colombian government’s public relations campaign to the contrary. The worsening situation in Guatemala, Honduras and several other countries is also cause for extreme concern.
This year’s report also shows a growing trend of violations against trade unionists struggling to defend workers’ rights, including harassment, death threats, intimidation and false imprisonment.
Because unions around the world are often on the front lines fighting for democracy, anti-democratic forces target union members, the survey says. This was especially evident in Honduras during the post-coup violence and in Guinea during a protest demonstration against the ruling junta, which turned into a terrible massacre in September.
Employers also continued to widely use union-busting and pressure tactics to thwart workers’ desire to join a union.
The survey notes that more than 60 years after its passage, the International Labor Organization’s (ILO’s) Convention on the freedom to organize and to bargain collectively still has not been ratified by countries such as Canada, China, India, Iran, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. That means that about half of the world’s workers are not covered by the convention.
This year’s ITUC survey shows that the majority of the world’s workers still lack effective protection of their rights to organize trade unions and bargain collectively. This is a major factor in the long-term increase in economic inequality within and between countries. Inadequate incomes for much of the world’s workforce helped cause the global economic crisis, and is making it much harder to put the economy on a path of sustainable growth.
In 2008, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor joined with the Teamsters, the city administration and the Port of Los Angeles to create the innovative Clean Truck Program to combat the toxic emissions that had caused spikes in asthma, cancer and mortality rates among children, truck drivers, the elderly, dockworkers and residents near Southern California’s transportation corridors.
The Clean Truck Program is a prime example of the ways workers and community leaders can work together to rebuild our economy and create a new vision for the future, Northeastern University professor Joan Fitzgerald told a forum on “Rebuilding America From The Bottom Up” at the America’s Future Now conference, which ends today.
Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation, praised the Clean Truck Program in a statement last year:
“Small and large companies alike have seen the economic advantages of environmental stewardship, and have invested over $500 million in low-emission fleets. Over 60 percent of the cargo that arrives at our shores is now moved to American stores by professional, hard-working drivers in clean trucks—three years ahead of schedule to meet emission-reduction targets.”
While national policy issues remain important, in our nation’s cities, rural areas and regions, workers and community leaders are creating and testing new and innovative ideas to turn the country around. In the process, progressives are finding support from liberals and conservatives for a new vision of America, Fitzgerald and other panelists said.
Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative described a program in Cleveland, Ohio, where residents of a depressed neighborhood received help from retired business leaders and others to create worker-owned businesses to provide services for institutions in the community such as hospitals, museums and universities. The workers also established a land trust, which ensures developers cannot come in and toss residents out once the community begins rebuilding.
People are willing to put a lot of energy behind these local projects because they are the most affected by the outcome, said Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink. Progressives must reconnect with local communities to build a strong movement, she pointed out. Blackwell and Alperovitz said progressives could learn from the labor and civil rights movements, which grew out of the frustrations and anger of workers and people of color on the ground and were translated into a national vision and program.
The anger and fear over the economic collapse of the country is very strong around the nation, Alperovitz said, and Americans are ready for a new vision and new ideas. Progressives must stop seeing themselves as a Washington, D.C.-based group focused on legislation and join with community-based groups to change the country, he said.
Health care and energy are becoming the driving economic forces of the future and large amounts of federal money will be spent in these areas, Alperovitz and Fitzgerald added. Progressives must work both in Washington and in the nation’s cities and towns to make sure health care and clean energy policies create jobs in communities where unemployment is high.
In the Arkansas Democratic Senate primary runoff yesterday, working families came within a few thousand votes of unseating a two-term incumbent. Meanwhile, in California, this fall’s governor’s race will pit Main Street vs. Wall Street following yesterday’s primary elections.
With the backing of Arkansas unions and working families, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter ran “a courageous campaign,” against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Halter forced the runoff last month before coming up short yesterday. Trumka praised Halter for:
Taking a two-term incumbent in deep red Arkansas into a runoff, and coming within a few thousand votes of her, is a virtually unprecedented achievement. If working families were able to accomplish this in Arkansas, imagine what they can achieve in other states.
It is also now abundantly clear to all politicians that if they want to get the support of working families on Election Day, they are going to need to fight for their issues every day.
Bill Halter stood up and fought for working families on jobs, trade and holding Wall Street accountable.
Arkansas working families did score several victories yesterday, winning the majority of races across the state in which the Arkansas AFL-CIO had endorsed a candidate.
Yesterday, billionaire CEO Meg Whitman won California’s Republican gubernatorial primary “after months of obscene campaign spending,” says Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Federation of Labor.
In the race for Sacramento against Attorney General Jerry Brown (D), Whitman will now “use her seemingly unlimited fortune to try to stage a hostile takeover of our state.”
She’s made clear that, if elected, she plans to bring a Wall Street agenda to California. What that means for working families is more massive tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthy and wholesale cuts to education, public safety and programs that our state’s most vulnerable rely upon.
Pulaski says the contrast between the candidates “couldn’t be starker.”
Jerry Brown shares the Main Street values that built this state’s economy into a global powerhouse and expanded our middle class. Brown has a spent a lifetime fighting for working families. He presided over the creation of nearly 2 million jobs as governor. He fought the exploitation of workers by large corporations as attorney general.
Read Pulaski’s full statement here.