Workers Independent News Labor Radio
Internet Radio Program 06/18/10
Producers: Doug Cunningham & Jesse Russell
Labor Radio Rundown:
1) WIN Newscast
Workers Independent News Labor Radio
Internet Radio Program 06/18/10
Producers: Doug Cunningham & Jesse Russell
Labor Radio Rundown:
1) WIN Newscast
The Hilton at the Los Angeles airport is under fire by workers accusing the company of hiring workers through subcontractors in order to get around the city’s “living wage” law. According to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, 150 hotel workers allege they have been denied wages guaranteed by the law and they are seeking back pay. The workers are not currently represented by a labor union, but UNITE-Here is in the middle of a campaign to organize the LAX Hilton employees.
Organizing foreign automakers is the new priority for the leadership of the United Auto Workers. Jesse Russell reports:
By Doug Cunningham
In a 5-4 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cannot decide cases when it consists of just two board members. For more than two years the NLRB operated as a two-person board with three seats unfilled. The two-member board-made up of one Democrat and one Republican-issued nearly 600 decisions. Before today, five federal appeals courts ruled that cases decided by the two-member board were valid.
In March, President Ohama used recess appointments to fill two seats after Republican senators blocked President Obama’s nominees for months.
Several employers objected to the two-person decisions and the Supreme Court agreed to review the issue in a case brought by New Process Steel. Says AFL-CIO General Counsel Lynn Rhinehart:
As has become the norm, workers are once again penalized by corporate stall tactics. By the barest of majorities, five justices rewarded New Process Steel and other corporations who challenged the two-member NLRB decisions as a delay method to avoid respecting workers’ rights.
Workers in these cases now face further delay as the NLRB is forced to sort out and deal with the impact of the court’s decision. The AFL-CIO supported the NLRB’s position in this case and believes the NLRB had the far better argument. We regret that as a result of the court’s decision, workers in these cases will have to wait longer still for justice.
According to BNA’s Daily Labor Report (subscription required), in March 2003, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum finding that “if the Board delegated all of its powers to a group of three members, that group could continue to issue decisions and orders as long as a quorum of two members remained.”
In December 2007, when the NLRB had four sitting members and the terms of two of them were set to expire, it delegated its authority to a group of three or more members. As the AFL-CIO brief supporting the NLRB points out:
The long and the short of the matter is that Congress has provided that once the full Board has delegated Board decision making powers to a designated groups of three or more members [which the Board did in December of 2007], two members of that groups may exercise the delegated powers….
In his dissenting opinion Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote
the objectives of the statute, which must be to ensure orderly operations when the Board is not at full strength as well as efficient operations when it is, are better respected by a statutory interpretation that dictates a result opposite to the one reached by the Court.
Kimberly Freeman Brown, Executive Director of American Rights at Work, says today’s ruling, “after fierce corporate pressure,”
adds insult to injury for thousands of workers across America.. . . Decisions in cases already decided by the NLRB will have to be re-opened, needlessly delaying finality for workers who were led to believe they already had it.
Notwithstanding today’s developments, the NLRB must still address serious issues faced by workers in this economy by enacting tougher remedies on lawbreaking employers, demanding swift justice for illegally fired workers, and protecting workers’ rights to a first contract to the fullest extent of the law.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the court’s opinion, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined with Kennedy’s dissent.
The AFL-CIO and the global union movement have been demanding that Wall Street pay for creating the global economic meltdown, in part through a financial speculation tax. Other nations like the United Kingdom already have a similar tax; and France, Germany and other European Union leaders are pushing the United States to enact it; and the idea will be on the agenda at the G-20 summit in Ontario next week.
Some economists say that along with generating job creation funds, the tax would help reduce the complicated, risky financial practices and products such as derivatives, short-term investment strategies and other speculation that fueled the economy’s crash.
Now a new report shows that financial speculation taxes could have had a significant impact if they’d been in place before the recent financial crisis. The study by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) shows, for example, that had a tax of just 0.25 percent on securities trades been in place during the 20 minutes of the wildest stock trading on May 6, it would have generated $142 million in revenue. May 6 was the day of the stock market’s “flash crash,” when the value of about 30 leading stocks fell at least 10 percent within five minutes. The study says ideally, the tax would have encouraged large investors to think before placing their bets, instead of relying on computer-driven high-frequency trading.
The study notes that a financial speculation tax on insurance giant AIG’s $440 billion worth of risky credit swaps would have amounted to as much as $1.1 billion in taxes, enough to cover the annual salaries of more than 20,000 elementary school teachers.
Sarah Anderson, lead author of the report, “Taxing The Wall Street Casino,” says:
No one claims that taxing speculation will solve all of our problems. But combined with other sensible financial regulations, it could take us a long way towards reining in Wall Street and paying for “public goods,” such as jobs, anti-poverty, and climate programs.
You can read the full report here.
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a financial speculation tax would be expected to generate about $177 billion per year in the United States, far more than would be realized from President Obama’s proposed levy on the top 50 banks or from allowing the Bush-era tax breaks for the rich to expire. Read the CEPR report here.
IPS senior scholar Chuck Collins says a transaction tax also would restore some fairness to our tax system:
The richest 10 percent still own more than 80 percent of the total value of stocks. And it is the wealthiest of the wealthy who are engaged in the type of high-frequency, high-risk trading that is the target of this tax.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) this week took a giant step forward in the fight to create workplace justice for the millions of housekeepers, nannies and other domestic workers around the world. At its International Labor Conference, which ends in Geneva tomorrow, the ILO began the process to establish a first-ever international standard (”convention”) to protect the rights of domestic workers.
If the convention is passed at the ILO’s meeting in 2011, it would require governments that ratify it to ensure domestic workers are covered by the fundamental rights and principles of the ILO, which include the freedom to form unions, elimination of forced labor, abolition of child labor and the elimination of discrimination.
Employers would be responsible for making sure workers are informed of the agreed terms and conditions of work, preferably through a written contract. The terms would include the work to be performed, pay, normal hours of work, provisions of food and accommodation.
It also would make clear that domestic workers could decide voluntarily whether to live in the employer’s home and the terms should be negotiated. Workers should retain their travel and identity documents. They would be protected against all forms of abuse and harassment.
Around the world, domestic workers are routinely victims of exploitation, from wage theft to verbal and sexual abuse.
Both the AFL-CIO and the Obama administration are behind the effort to establish a new standard for domestic workers: The AFL-CIO even opened up some of its delegate seats for domestic workers to be part of the delegation to the ILO conference.
One of those delegates, Juana Flores, a member of the U.S.-based National Domestic Workers Alliance, says if the convention is approved, “domestic workers, for the first time, will no longer be invisible and unrecognized.”
Domestic work will be recognized as work equal to any other, where we will have the same opportunities. Things don’t end here, we’ve just begun. Over the next year there is a lot of work to do in the United States. We will need active participation throughout the country, marching and doing other activities, so that the government and employers see that we will not stop until there is justice for domestic workers.
In the United States, domestic workers have few rights. They were not even covered by minimum wage laws until 1974. Earlier this month, the New York Senate passed landmark legislation extending basic workplace rights to more than 200,000 domestic workers in the state. The state Assembly passed a similar bill last year and lawmakers must reconcile the differences in the bills. The new law would take effect Jan. 1.
Flores says domestic workers and their allies must remain vigilant to ensure that whatever passes at the ILO in 2011 is implemented in the Unites States.
We will need to push to ensure they comply with all they have said with their words.
The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), which has long promoted preventive health care programs for women, wants to make sure that men know about programs available to them.
In an e-mail to the group’s e-activists, CLUW says:
Because women are often the health gatekeepers of the family, [we] are urging e-activists to help the men in our lives (especially men over 40) learn which preventive screening tests they need to get and when to get them.
CLUW is helping promote the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ’s) men’s preventive health care campaign. As part of Men’s Health Care Week (June 13-19) and coinciding with Father’s Day, AHRQ and the Ad Council launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs).
Studies show that men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited the doctor within the past year—and men are about 30 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for preventable conditions such as congestive heart failure and complications from diabetes.
The PSAs encourage men to visit AHRQ’s Healthy Men website—click here—which provides the recommended ages for preventive testing (as well as a list of tests), a quiz designed to test your knowledge of preventive health care, tips for talking with your doctor, a glossary of consumer health terms and links to online resources where you can find more medical information.
To help get this vital information out, CLUW is asking activists to make sure their local unions, co-workers and family members know about and visit the Healthy Men’s site.
You also can send a Father’s Day e-card with links to vital preventive care information. Click here.
Workers at T-Mobile USA say the company is making a mockery of its parent’s claims of corporate responsibility. Earlier this week, Deutsche Telekom (DT), the giant German telecom company that owns T-Mobile, patted itself on the back for its “leadership” on environmental matters. But workers point out that corporate social responsibility extends beyond going green, it includes treating workers fairly. And on that score, DT and T-Mobile fail miserably. Workers say DT should “be green. not mean.”
Last month, T-Mobile workers visited Germany and joined with their colleagues at ver.di, the German telecommunications workers union, to tell DT shareholders about the company’s double standard to deny its U.S. employees the freedom to join a union.
In many countries around the world, Deutsche Telekom follows internationally recognized labor and human rights, including the freedom of association and the freedom to join a union. But not in the United States. Here, the German company allows management to harass and intimidate workers who want to join a union.
And things are getting worse. Here’s what one T-Mobile worker had to say about their employer on the T-Mobile workers’ website, www.LoweringTheBarForUs.org.
I was part of the workers’ delegation that visited Germany last month. The experiences that my German friends shared with me was human proof that a unionized workplace makes a difference. Since I have returned to work, U.S. management continues to goad us daily into meeting increasingly unrealistic performance “goals” and threatens “corrective action” if we do not. Our German counterparts I met on the trip have an entirely different experience with performance metrics; they are never terminated for failure to meet management’s goals but are instead given the incentive to earn more if they achieve. Coercion plays no role in motivation.
In the report “Lowering the Bar or Setting the Standard? Deutsche Telekom’s U.S. Labor Practices,” released in December 2009 by American Rights at Work, John Logan, a professor at San Francisco State University, found that T-Mobile is conducting a vicious anti-union campaign to prevent workers from joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Logan said T-Mobile routinely distributed an anti-union memo to its operations across America and employees often are forced to attend management-led meetings where they are warned about joining a union, with both implied and open threats that they will be fired for doing so. Click here to read the full report.
Commenting on Logan’s report last year, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the House Education and Labor chairman, summed up the situation this way:
While the parent company, Deutsche Telekom, promotes positive labor relationships with its workers in Germany, and while many expected a similar approach to its workers in the United States, today’s report indicates that T-Mobile is not a chip off the old block. American workers deserve better.
To learn more about the T-Mobile workers’ fight, click here.