Employers are still hesitant to hire and that is showing in the number of hours being worked on average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly hours of employees jumped for the third month in a row to its highest rate since the beginning of January 2009. On average employees were asked to work 34.2 hours per week in May, up from 34.1 hours per week in April and 34 hours in March. Overtime is also on the rise. In May 2010 workers averaged three hours of overtime while in May 2009 they averaged 2.2 hours.
Opponents of the Comcast/NBC Universal merger say it could lead to an increasing lack of diversity in programming. Jesse Russell reports:
On Monday an alliance of Free Press, Bloomberg LP, and the Communications Workers of America sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department protesting the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal. Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright says the merger will make it even more difficult for people of color and women to own media stations.
40 Million U.S. Workers Have No Paid Sick Days As New Survey Shows One In Six Have Lost A Job Over It- 06/22/10
By Doug Cunningham
More than forty million American workers have no paid sick days. The Public Welfare Foundation is out with a new survey on paid sick days in the U.S. that finds nearly one in six workers polled say they’ve lost a job for taking sick time off work or to care for a sick relative. Deborah Leff is President of the Public Welfare Foundation.
[Leff]: “People who don’t have paid sick days are very vulnerable. They go to work sick because they don’t have any choice. Either they will lose their jobs or they will lose their wages, so they show up sick.”
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) last week released a new report showcasing the most successful union strategies in campaigns to eliminate forced labor, child labor and human trafficking. “How to Combat Forced Labor and Trafficking” highlights lobbying, advocacy, raising awareness, offering services and assistance and organizing domestic workers into trade unions.
On any given day, as many as 12 million men, women and children around the world are working as forced laborers, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). Between 40 percent to 50 percent of the victims are children. Last year, the ILO estimated that one out of every five forced laborers in the world is the victim of organized human trafficking. The cost of forced labor to the workers in lost wages is nearly $21 billion each year, the ILO says. For more information, check out ITUC’s website on forced labor: www.ituc-csi.org/forcedlabour.
ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder says:
Globalization and the growing gap between rich and poor countries have boosted migration for work, and with restrictive migration regulations in place, much of it is clandestine and abusive. During centuries past, European ships provided colonial settlements in the Americas with African slaves. Today there are labor brokers who are supplying industrialized labor markets with workers from the developing world who are forced to accept any terms and conditions of transportation and work. Trafficking of workers is the third biggest business for organized crime after the drugs and arms trade.
The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center is working around the world to eliminate all forms of worker exploitation and to build support for workers’ rights. In partnerships with workers, trade unions, governments and civil society coalitions, the Solidarity Center creates community and workplace-based safe migration and counter-trafficking strategies that emphasize prevention, prosecution and protection.
In May 2007 the ITUC established a first-of-its-kind Global Trade Union Alliance against Forced Labor and Trafficking, with support from the ILO. Juan Somavia, ILO’s director general, said:
Modern forced labor can be eradicated, providing there is a sustained commitment by the international community, working together with governments, employers, workers and civil society.
A unique feature of the report is a “world forced-labor map,” which shows whether a particular country has ratified ILO Conventions 29 and 105 on forced labor. The United States ratified both conventions in 1991 and companion conventions 138 and 182 on child labor in 1999. The map also provides information on the most prevalent forced labor issues in each region and highlights some of the trade union activities already undertaken to fight forced labor. Click here for the map and here to read the report.
As part of Republican obstruction-at-any-cost election year strategy, Senate Republicans last week once again blocked an extension of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for long-term jobless workers. The UI extension is part of the jobs bill that could help put the unemployed back to work.
Some Republicans even said it’s time for ”tough love” to motivate the long-term jobless.
Granted, they are far removed from the day-to-day economic reality of America’s workers. So here’s a reminder: Today, in the United States, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening, an unemployment rate near 10 percent, at least 15 million people out of work and 6.8 million people out of work for 27 weeks or more. Getting a job is not like going down to the corner for a quart of milk.
Heck, when you still get your taxpayer-funded, congressional paycheck every week ($3,346.15) for not doing very much work, it can certainly alter your view of the economy—even to the point where some Republican politicos actually claim the not quite $300 a week average unemployment check is a “disincentive” for the unemployed to get out of the door and look for work.
Maybe senators think that when the men and women who have been out of work since at least before Thanksgiving (and millions for more than one year) get that bountiful UI check, they sit around the kitchen table and make big plans to spend that dough.
Hey, hon got my check. This sure beats working. What do you say we go to Palm Springs this weekend? We can fly the kids to your mom’s and board the dogs at that new spa kennel.
No, senator, the response to a couple hundred bucks a week goes more like this:
Maybe we should think about gassing up the car so we can go down to the food bank and set something aside for your blood pressure medicine. Oh, and there’s that foreclosure notice we need to deal with.
Each time Senate Democratic leaders have brought up a UI extension this year, Republicans have delayed and blocked the bill. With the extended UI program set to expire at the end of May, the House passed its jobs bill with a UI extension just before Memorial Day but the Senate left town for vacation and didn’t act on the bill. As a result, some 1 million workers who have been out of work for more than a year—remember, one job opening for every five unemployed workers—have no UI.
Along with the incredibly insensitive and out-of-touch “tough love theory,” some lawmakers are hiding behind deficit hysteria, even though three-quarters of voters say extending unemployment insurance is more important than reducing the deficit.
Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist and op-ed columnist for The New York Times, blows out of the water the deficit doomsday panic that has lawmakers screaming, “We can’t spend any money now or the deficit will eat us alive.” Here’s his simple axiom:
Spend now, while the economy remains depressed; save later, once it has recovered. How hard is that to understand?
Right now, we have a severely depressed economy—and that depressed economy is inflicting long-run damage. Every year that goes by with extremely high unemployment increases the chance that many of the long-term unemployed will never come back to the workforce and become a permanent underclass.
Penny-pinching at a time like this isn’t just cruel; it endangers the nation’s future. And it doesn’t even do much to reduce our future debt burden, because stinting on spending now threatens the economic recovery, and with it the hope for rising revenues.
Along with the UI extension, the jobs bill also includes money to help cash-strapped states to create and save jobs. Today, AFSCME and Americans United for Change launched an ad campaign aimed at Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, whose votes could break the 60-vote threshold the bill needs before final passage. Says AFSCME President Gerald McEntee:
It’s very simple—more jobs now mean less debt later. If Sens. Snowe and Collins are truly concerned about the deficit, then they need to vote for this jobs bill—especially as unemployment hovers near 10 percent, and 900,000 more workers face the threat of layoffs.
During his weekly address Saturday, President Obama said Republican filibuster tactics “won’t even allow this legislation to come up for a vote.”
And if this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop. Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs.
The global union movement’s demand that the world’s economy be restructured and reformed with a focus on workers’ rights will be front and center this week at two meetings in Canada.
First, some 1,000 global union leaders, representing 176 million workers from 155 countries and territories, will take part in the Second World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) from June 21-25. The delegates will discuss the warning by union leaders in the G-20 countries last week to their governments that cutting budgets and imposing fiscal austerity now could plunge the international economy into another, deeper recession. The theme of the congress is “Now the People—From the Crisis to Global Justice.”
Immediately after the World Congress, many of the union leaders will participate at meetings June 25-27 with G-8 and G-20 political leaders in Ontario.
In their statement last week, the G-20 union leaders also stressed the need for governments to focus on progressive revenue-raising measures and agreeing to immediate action on implementing a financial transaction tax as one means of meeting public funding requirements.
Over the weekend prior to the World Congress, young trade unionists from around the world met in a Global Youth Summit to discuss the problems they face in the workplace. The youth conference was directed by the ITUC Youth Committee, which is made up of workers under age 35 from each ITUC region: Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Americas and Europe.
Jefferson Coriteac, president of the Youth Committee and a member of the Força Sindical in Brazil, said:
Young people have the same needs as older people, they also need a decent job in order to live a decent life. Young people also need to eat, pay their rent, support their family. Yet they are among the first to be hit in times of crisis and to have the most precarious working conditions.
The key issues on the minds of the young workers were very similar to those expressed at the AFL-CIO’s Young Workers Summit earlier this month, including the extent of unemployment among young workers, the need to increase the numbers of young people in trade unions and the best ways to reach out to young workers.
“Youth unemployment figures around the globe are massive and frightening,” said ITUC President Sharan Burrow.
And it’s a global problem that we need to address. You can have up to 80 percent youth unemployment in some communities.
Some 23,000 California state employees reach tentative agreements with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 1,200 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
Multiple, State of California: Four California unions representing 23,000 state workers reached tentative agreements with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. AFSCME, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP), the California Department of Forestry Firefighters (IAFF) and the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians (CAPT-Ind.) agreed to changes in pension benefits that will save the state $72 million in the next fiscal year.
NNU-MNA, Multiple Hospitals: 12,000 Minnesota nurses today are voting whether to authorize an open-ended strike at 14 Twin Cities area hospitals. The vote follows a one-day strike by the members of the Minnesota Nurses Association (NNU-MNA) earlier this month.
ALPA, Spirit Airlines: The Air Line Pilots reached a tentative agreement with Spirit Airlines late yesterday, and flights could resume as early as tomorrow. Speaking on behalf of the pilots, Capt. Sean Creed said the agreement “provides increases in pay and retirement benefits, protects our work rules, and ensures our job security at Spirit. After four days on the picket line, this agreement also gets this pilot group and this airline back where they belong-in the air.”
SMWIA, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association: The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association of Milwaukee locked out 1,800 members of the Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA) last week. SMWIA Local 18 and the association, which represents 80 contractors, have been in negotiations since April.
IBEW, Delmarva Power: 700 workers at Delaware’s Delmarva Power and Conectiv Energy went on strike Friday. Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1238 and Delmarva will meet with federal mediators today.
UFCW, Dr Pepper Snapple Group: Striking workers at a Mott’s plant in Williamson, N.Y., rallied Thursday and were joined by lieutenant governor candidate Robert Duffy. The 300 members of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (UFCW-RWDSU) Local 220 went on strike last month after Mott’s owner Dr Pepper Snapple Group proposed wage and benefits cuts despite the company’s record profit last year.
Multiple, Gate Gourmet, Inc.: Workers at airline caterer Gate Gourmet, Inc. ratified a new national agreement. The 5,300 workers are represented by UNITE HERE, UFCW-RWDSU and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the Teamsters.
AFT, Pittsburgh Public Schools: The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (AFT) ratified a new five-year contract with Pittsburgh Public Schools. The deal provides annual wage increases and includes a pilot merit-pay program, which won the district $40 million dollars from the Gates Foundation.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy; readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.
The proposed merger between cable TV giant Comcast and NBC-Universal (NBCU) would lead to job cuts, reduce competition in the cable industry and restrict consumer access to online video content, a senior leader of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) told lawmakers.
On top of all that, Comcast has a long record of violating workers’ rights, CWA Vice President James Weitkamp told a field hearing of the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month. After its last big merger, with AT&T Broadband in 2002, Comcast immediately set about crushing AT&T’s unions, he said. Comcast also pays its workers about a third less in wages and benefits than unionized telecom companies.
At the same time, members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA (NABET-CWA) are still trying to negotiate a fair contract with NBC. The current deal expired in April 2009.
(You can take action now. The Federal Communications Commission is accepting public comment on the merger, and CWA has a simple tool to let you speak out. Click here and take a few minutes to stand up for workers and consumers now.)
In his testimony, Weitkamp stressed that the public must be protected from the significant harms created by a merger of such unprecedented scale. He told the panel:
The Comcast/NBCU merger is not in the public interest. Federal regulators cannot endorse this merger without carefully considering the significant impact the merging companies will have on video competition, choice and jobs.
Weitkamp noted there is already a lack of competition in the online video market and cable rates have grown three times the rate of inflation. He warned that under the proposed merger, Comcast could bundle unpopular cable channels with popular ones, forcing customers to pay for channels they do not want.
The Internet allows consumers access to the video content of their choice, unmediated by the pre-packaged bundles of the cable company. A combined Comcast-NBCU could limit consumers’ online access to NBC content, or it could charge consumers higher prices to access that content unless they are cable subscribers. This is the ‘TV Everywhere’ model that Comcast and NBC have already begun to deploy, which forces Internet customers to buy cable packages in order to see content online.
Further, a Comcast-NBCU combination will result in the loss of good jobs and lower workplace standards for those who still have jobs after a merger, Weitkamp said. The merged company would add an additional $8 billion to the current debt load, giving the new company the choice of cutting jobs and/or raising cable prices.
As Weitkamp said:
Either way, consumers and workers lose.