Monday was the first day back to work for Congress with many hoping extensions of jobless benefits would be on top of the list of first priorities. That goes especially for states like Ohio where the unemployment rate is still well above the national average. Mary Schuermann has more:
The House passed an extension in May, but the Senate has not acted, leaving over 100-thousand Ohioans with no financial support and thousands more losing benefits each week. Research director of Policy Matters Ohio, Zach Schiller, says these aren’t statistics…these are families trying to survive.
Banana workers have ended a 10-day protest in the streets of Panama. The workers were protesting a new government policy that is intended to weaken labor unions and also give companies the authority to fire workers who go on strike. The protests were marked by violence on both sides. One union leader was killed by tear gas and another was shot to death police. At one point during the protest workers had reportedly taken four police officers hostage.
In March, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that allows businesses to exempt businesses from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax if they hire someone who has been unemployed for more than 60 days. According to the Treasury Department on Monday, under that program, 4.5 million workers have been added to payrolls. If employers keep or can keep those workers for at the least a year they will also receive a $1000 credit.
Lede: A unique labor history and culture festival is coming up in August in a state most people don’t think of first when they think union. Doug Cunningham has more.
By Doug Cunningham
Oklahoma’s central labor federation will hold the first-ever Oklahoma Labor Fest August 26th-28th in Oklahoma City. Tim O’Connor is President of the Central Oklahoma Labor federation.
The situation in the Gulf continues to get worse for fishermen who have become BP’s first line of cleanup workers. According to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the oil giant responsible for the oil filling up the Gulf of Mexico has threatened to fire fisherman if they wear respirators during clean up. The company won’t give the workers respirators and also won’t allow them to wear respirators they bring.
The National Labor Relations Board has ruled in favor of 14 workers who were laid off at Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel last year. According to the ruling which was released on Thursday, the healthcare cuts and firings made by the hotel were unlawful. The NLRB also ruled that a petition circulated asking workers to decertify the union representing workers, UNITE HERE Local 1, was improper. The hotel has been ordered to offer the jobs back to the 14 workers and provide back wages. The hotel must also reinstate the insurance plan from 2008-2009.
More furlough news as states and municipalities struggle to cope with budget gaps. Kentucky announced Friday that state workers would be facing six furlough days over the next fiscal year. The state is facing a budget shortfall of $1.5 billion. The furloughs are projected to save Kentucky $24 million while also preserving 413 jobs that would have been otherwise cut. State agencies will be able to determine three of the days while the other three are planned to fall near state holidays.