The U.S. House this afternoon voted down, by a 261-165 vote, a balanced budget amendment that its supporters hoped would impose sweeping and permanent austerity upon the United States with massive budget cuts. It needed a two-thirds majority to pass. Click here for more from Think Progress and here for our recent coverage.
With a new webcast series, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is shining a spotlight on the plight of the nation’s most vulnerable workers. This month’s edition focused on perils faced by women who work in restaurants, where the pay for most is low and benefits nonexistent. Addressing the webcast panel discussion, Solis said:
[R]estaurant jobs provide poverty wages and little access to benefits, such as paid leave when a parent or their child gets sick. And because the majority of restaurant workers are women, the pay gap issue that affects all of us, affects them even more adversely. The gender pay gap for female restaurant workers is 86 cents on the dollar compared to male restaurant workers.
As we reported, the National Restaurant Association, a trade organization for restaurant owners, works in active opposition to paid leave policies and was instrumental in defeating a paid-leave ballot measure in Denver last month.
UNITEHERE!—the largest worker organization for food workers in the United States—is making the connection between healthy, sustainable food and working standards for those employed in the food service industry as part of its “Real Food, Real Jobs” campaign.
Labor Department officials joined Solis on the panel (photos here), including Sara Manzano-Diaz, director of the Women’s Bureau; Gabriela Lemus, director of the Office of Public Engagement; Nancy Leppink, deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division; David Michaels, assistant secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; and Phil Tom, director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Conventional wisdom says don’t talk politics at big family gatherings, especially with Uncle Earl. But our friends at Working America are offering a unique guide on how to talk about today’s biggest political topic, the Occupy Wall Street/99 Percent movement, without sending Uncle Earl into one of his legendary fits.
Working America’s Turkey Talk Guide is designed to help you continue the national dialogue on economic fairness sparked by the Occupy movement and help you draw out the real issues behind the massive protests against inequality and injustice taking place in Ohio, Wisconsin and across the country.
It offer tips, facts and responses to myths and spin, as well as online resources to people at their homes and online. Says Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum:
We want to help ordinary Americans have productive conversations, and avoid picking fights with the uncle who thinks the Department of Education should be abolished. So many people are not able or willing to occupy parks to protest the vast inequality in this country, but they want to do something. We’re bridging the gap between the tent cities where the protesters are, and the neighborhoods where people might have family members who aren’t normally receptive to these ideas.
In addition, Working America will host a “Turkey Talk” live chat at 2 p.m. on Nov. 21 (hash tag: #turkeytalk) to allow anyone to share their own stories or advice about talking turkey with family members—especially the confused or skeptical ones—about economic equality, good jobs, a healthy environment, good public schools and a secure retirement.
Click here for Turkey talk tips, and on Thanksgiving, be sure to keep Uncle Earl out of the liquor cabinet.
All six of the Republicans on the so-called Super Committee have proposed cutting hundreds of billions of dollars in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits that America’s working families depend on—while keeping Bush’s tax rates for the richest Americans, including the top 1 percent.
That’s why it is so important the six Democrats on the committee stand firm against the Republican plan to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for the 99 percent and make the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.
You can help. Click here to sign a petition to the six Democrats to reject the Republican plan. They are Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Max Baucus (Mont.) and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), James Clyburn (S.C.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.).AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the Republican Robin Hood in Reverse plan is “class warfare against working America on behalf of the top 1 percent”
The Super Committee is empowered by law to propose legislation that cannot be amended and can be rammed through Congress quickly, with minimal debate. That’s why, says Trumka,
We need every single Super Committee Democrat to stand strong and protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Click here to sign the petition.
In just 48 hours after opponents of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker officially launched their campaign to remove him from office, activists say they gathered 50,000 signatures—9 percent of the total needed—on a petition to hold a special recall election that could boot the governor from office next spring.
Mahaffey said more than 20,000 have downloaded petitions to collect signatures from the groups website.
Since stripping all of the state’s public employees of virtually all collective bargaining rights earlier this year—in a bill that also slashed education and social safety net funding—Walker’s support among Wisconsinites has plummeted. A poll released this week by Wisconsin Public Radio and St. Norbert College found that 58 percent supported recalling the governor.
As we reported, organizers need to gather a total of 540,000 signatures within a 60-day period in order to trigger the recall election; that amounts to about 9,000 signatures per day.
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO endorses Wisconsin United’s recall efforts. Earlier this month, Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the state federation, told AFL-CIO Now:
Scott Walker has divided Wisconsin. He is attacking the rights of working people and the middle class in order to advance his corporate agenda and payback his wealthy friends. We can’t afford to continue to put the super-rich above Wisconsin’s middle class. The people have spoken and a Scott Walker recall will move forward.
From actions drawing thousands in major cities to those with dozens in smaller towns, working families, jobless workers, community members and Occupy activists across the nation yesterday marched and rallied at dozens of bridges in desperate need of repair and called on Congress put millions of Americans back to work rebuilding the nation’s crumbling bridges and roads.
The events were part of the AFL-CIO’s Infrastructure Investment Day of Action and the Occupy movement’s national day of action.
More than 1,000 Occupy St. Louis protestors, union members and retirees marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge where they unfurled a banner that read, “Build Roads and Bridges, Build Good Jobs.”
Laborers (LIUNA) member Gary Elliot, who was arrested after taking part in non-violent sit-in, said after his release:
The economy, the banks and our leaders are failing the 99 percent. We can’t wait any longer for action. We need jobs—not more budget cuts. Read more…
Solidarity Center’s Lorraine Clewer sends us this report.
Humberto Montes de Oca, an union leader from the Mexican electrical workers union, Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (SME), knows a few things about long-term public occupations to protest injustice. He recently shared some of his knowledge with the activists of Occupy D.C., now nearing the two-month mark at McPherson Square Park in the nation’s capital.
In September, SME ended its six-month occupation of Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square. The action was one the strategies the union has employed since the Mexican government forcibly disbanded the union in 2009.
Montes de Oca visited the McPherson encampment with Julia Kahn from the Metropolitan D.C. Council, AFL-CIO. Despite the cold and rain, the pair drew a crowd of Occupiers who wanted to know how the long-term action was conducted.
He talked with the activists about the best ways to conduct community outreach, building sustainable ally networks and growing the occupation in a stressed-out city where people barely have time to stop and breath. Montes de Oca also shared strategies on educating people about economic inequality and the changes needed to overcome it.
There were practical tips on how to prevent or deal infiltrators who might try to provide excuses for the police to forcibly evict the camp. He also talked about how to keep your eyes on the prize and not be sidetracked, even after weeks and months of occupation.
The 97-year-old SME had one of Mexico’s strongest collective bargaining agreements before the government staged what Montes de Oca calls a coup d’état. Two years ago, police and military forces forcibly removed more than 44,000 unionized electrical workers from more than 400 workplaces across Mexico and took over the nation’s electrical utility system.
Since then, the work previously performed by union workers was given to those hired by the new government-run company. Those workers lack collective bargaining rights and suffer from significantly worse working conditions than SME members and lack adequate health and safety protections, which have resulted in the death of more than 30 subcontracted workers during the past two years.
SME has used a combination of traditional and newer union tactics, including marches, lawsuits, hunger strikes, negotiations with the government and the six- month occupation of the Zocalo. The union has filed petitions with the U.S. and Canadian governments urging them to step in under the terms of international labor and trade agreements to force the Mexican government to enforce labor and workers’ rights standards. (Click here for more.)
Several of the McPherson Square occupiers noted the similarities between the unparalleled attack on Mexico’s public-sector workers’ right to freely exist in an independent union and collectively bargain with those attacks being resisted by teachers, firefighters and other public sector workers in Ohio and Wisconsin this year.
But they also said they believe there is an emerging worldwide movement of people— the 99 percent, angry at the way the world has been dominated by the interests of economic elite. We can turn the tide on the overwhelming negative social consequences of corporate greed if we join together.