Thursday, May 31, 2012

Drama in WI as Barrett, Walker are neck and neck

There are lots of developments in the Wisconsin recall election even as our brothers and sisters work their butts off to get out the vote on Tuesday.

Gov. Scott Walker is revealing secrets, dirty tricks are being played and polls are showing Democratic candidate Tom Barrett gaining momentum among voters.

Teamsters in Milwaukee are visiting work sites and handing out fliers that urge members to vote on Tuesday. They're phone banking, holding signs on bridge overpasses and sending out mail to members. They're attending rallies to support their candidates. The final big push comes over the next five days.

The latest from this week:
Walker mistakenly admitted he would use the criminal defense fund to defend himself or his campaign for being charged for violations of Wisconsin campaign finance laws. We already knew that many of Walker's aides were under investigation for misusing taxpayer dollars to illegally fund his campaign, but now we know for sure that Walker himself is under investigation.
At a GOTV rally: Teamster retiree Pete Cefllau and LU 200 President Tom Bennett.
Walker supporters are illegally sending voter suppression spam via text message to Wisconsin residents. This is a modern form of a push poll and hits voters in the wallet as people often pay for text messages they receive. 
Pollster Celinda Lake shows Walker and Barrett are neck and neck with 49% of the vote each.
Former President Bill Clinton will attend a rally for Barrett in Wisconsin tomorrow.
LU 200 Sec.-Treas. Tom Millonzi explains DRIVE to member Mark Rudd.
Things are looking up for next week, but Wisconsinites still need your help! Here are some simple ways you can get involved in the fight to get out the vote in Wisconsin.
  • Sign Revolution Messaging’s petition to the FCC urging them to put an end to voter suppression text spam. Visit http://www.pocketspammers.com to learn more.
  • Remind family and friends in Wisconsin to be sure to vote on Tuesday. Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm.
  • If you live in Wisconsin, sign up to get out the vote. Head to Madison this Friday for a get out the vote rally and a free concert featuring Tom Morello from “Rage Against the Machine,” Jackson Browne, Tim McIlrath of “Rise Against,” Brother Ali, Mike McColgan of the “Dropkick Murphys” and “Street Dogs,” and more.

Another victory! Wal-Mart dumps ALEC


Another one bites the dust. The nation’s most notorious anti-worker legislative syndicate just suffered a huge breakup with the nation’s most notorious anti-worker retailer.

Yesterday, Wal-Mart announced it was leaving ALEC, making it the 18th corporation to cut ties with the corporate lobbying group. The anti-union retail giant joins 21 other private sector members to ditch ALEC. According to Wal-Mart PR official Maggie Sans,
Previously, we expressed our concerns about ALEC's decision to weigh in on issues that stray from its core mission 'to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets… We feel that the divide between [ALEC’s] activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide. To that end, we are suspending our membership in ALEC
Corporations like Wal-Mart never want to admit that activist campaigning succeeded in shaming them to take action. But we know it was public pressure that forced Wal-Mart to end its shady relationship with ALEC. As The Nation’s John Nichols tweeted earlier today:
Almost a year after @ALECexposed project shed light ALEC/Wal-Mart connections, WAL-MART EXITS ALEC
The news was also well-timed for organizers planning at least one action against Wal-Mart this week. Wednesday’s announcement put wind in the sails of community members and activists in D.C. who today are marching in a protest parade against the construction of Wal-Mart stores in the capital city.

There's still plenty more work that needs to be done to stop ALEC’s anti-worker agenda. The campaign against the lobby group is pushing to get companies like AT&T, Johnson &Johnson, and State Farm to quit ALEC.

The fight continues!

'Bust 'em up, who needs Wall Street giants?'

Bust up the banks, we don't need 'em, says Jim Hightower, friend of labor and former agriculture commissioner in Texas.

Hightower writes in Common Dreams that the U.S. should decentralize its capital, reinvesting our public trust in community banks and credit unions that actually deserve it and serve it. (What a concept.)

Wall Street would prefer that middle-class taxpayers continue to protect its giant banks -- presumably so they can continue to exploit the middle class. Writes Hightower,
After enduring years of insatiable greed by the slick-fingered hucksters who run these gambling houses; after watching in dismay as their ineptness and avarice drained more than $19 trillion from America's household wealth since 2007 and plunged our real economy into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s Depression; after witnessing their shameful demands for trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts to save their banks and their jobs; and now after seeing them return immediately to business as usual, including paying multimillion-dollar bonuses to themselves - we have to ask: Huh!?!
Wall Street's giant banks are no longer central to our economy, he argues. Their complicated financial schemes,
...just move money around, spiraling real investment capital from the grassroots up to superrich global profiteers who create nothing but more wealth for themselves. Shell games at carnival sideshows are more honest than big-bank trading houses, for the hustles of such hucksters as JPMorgan, Goldman, B of A, etc. are based on financial illusions, off-the-books accounting, illegally leveraged borrowing, ridiculous tax subsidies and hide-the-pea secrecy. 
The obvious truth is that these high-flying, high-tech, high-speed emporiums of high finance serve themselves, not us - so we have no obligation or need to keep serving them. Of course we need banks - to lend to us consumers and our productive businesses, to handle our commercial transactions, to manage our savings and provide financial advice, etc. But that's not what the leviathans of Wall Street do.
Couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Teamsters Davis Wire picket spreads to CA; workers honor picket lines



Teamster solidarity is a beautiful thing. Local 986 Teamsters are refusing to cross a picket line in California that was set up by their striking brothers in Washington State.

Here's the latest about the strike from Teamsters Local 117:
Workers at a Davis Wire mill in Irwindale honored picket lines that were established on Wednesday night by striking Teamsters in Washington State. Picket lines were set up at the company’s facility at 10 PM.
“Our members are exercising their contractual right to honor a lawful picket line.  Their decision not to cross the line shows that they stand in solidarity with their Teamster brothers in Washington State,” said Christopher Griswold, the Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 986.  Local 986 represents approximately 115 workers at the company’s Irwindale facility (in California). 
The 85 workers at the Kent, WA facility have been without a contract since December 1 of last year.  They went on strike on May 21 to protest a series of unlawful actions by the company. 
“Davis Wire is not treating its workers in Washington State with dignity and respect.  We have come to Irwindale to demand that this company stops breaking the law and improves working conditions inside the mill,” said Larry Dunson, a 28-year employee.
Local 117 has filed Unfair Labor Practices with the NLRB, charging Davis Wire with a dozen violations of federal labor law. The company has bargained in bad faith, spied on and intimidated workers and made illegal threats to shut down the plant.

Davis Wire laid off 27 employees at its facility in Kent, Wash., on May 15. That just happened to be three days after workers voted to authorize a strike. Think those layoffs may have been retaliation (we sure do).

As we reported earlier, the company's indifference to safety caused workers at the Kent mill to break bones and mangle their fingers. Four workers have been killed over the past few years in industrial accidents in plants owned by Davis Wire's parent, Heico Wire Group. Recently, a machine operator was hospitalized after his hand got caught between spinning rollers of a fabric machine.

Davis Wire employees joined a class-action lawsuit charging the company with running a sweatshop and stealing their wages. Employees were pressured to work 12-hour shifts without a break and to eat their lunch while operating dangerous machinery.

Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

A win for union rights and privacy in Maryland



In early May, a common-sense bill signed into law by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made the state the second in the nation to legally protect union members’ information from bosses.

The law grants confidentiality privileges to unions and their members. Common law protections that have long been enjoyed by doctors, patients, attorneys and clients have now been extended to workers and their unions in the Free State.

As reported by the Maryland Reporter,
One of hundreds of bills that came across Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk for his signature earlier this month, the new law will protect union representatives from having to disclose information received in confidence from an unhappy union member during grievance proceedings.
Predicatably, Maryland’s Chamber of Commerce raised concerns about protecting employees’ information.

When Republicans in Maryland argued that the bill was unfair to businesses unless it was extended to employers, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Brian Frosh, had to explain to them the difference between a business and a union:
“This bill is not about protecting the union,” Frosh argued, “it’s about protecting the employee.” Frosh said a union representative is acting on behalf of employees and their grievances before management, which is not the case in a relationship between employers and their employees.
The Union City newsletter of the DC labor council quoted council president Jos Williams who testified in support of the bill:
Union members no longer need to fear that their confidential union information will be shared with the bosses… This historic legislation will benefit all unions in Maryland
Labor played a huge role in winning the new protections for members, according to Union City:
[T]he main force behind the bill was UFCW Local 400, which battled lobbyists including Verizon, which has been demanding extreme concessions in ongoing negotiations with CWA. “When the law is enacted on October 2,” UFCW 400 Director of Legislative Growth Strategies and Trustee Tony Perez told Union City, "it should have an immediate impact on our membership as well as union members statewide."
Illinois is the only other state in the country that protects union members’ privacy from employers. In Maryland the new law goes into effect on October 1, finally freeing workers from the fear that information shared with their union could be used against them by management.

Go Maryland!

Today's Teamster News 05.31.12


Unpaid Overtime: Wage And Hour Lawsuits Have Skyrocketed In The Last Decade  Huffington Post   ...Collective action lawsuits alleging wage and hour violations have risen 400 percent in the last 11 years, according to a recent post at CNNMoney. In 2011, there were more than 7,000 such lawsuits filed in federal court -- a huge increase since the turn of the century...
SEC: Taking on Big Firms is 'Tempting,' But We Prefer Whaling on Little Guys  Rolling Stone   ...I’ve heard from several attorneys who represent smaller clients who tell me they’re flabbergasted, watching the S.E.C. give the Chases, Goldmans, and Citigroups free ride after free ride while their pockmarked little clients at fledgling public companies get served the whole regulatory meal for minor disclosure violations – even cases that simply involve bad paperwork, where money isn’t even stolen...
WOW: In No State Is a 40-Hour, Minimum Wage Work Week Enough to Afford a Two-Bedroom Apartment  We Party Patriots   ...The numbers don’t show any discernible trend aside from perhaps 1) states with high cost of living/rent such as NY, NJ, DC, MD require the most man hours and 2) the minimum wage is too low...
Beloit billionaire pays zero in 2010 state income tax bill  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...Hendricks was thrust into the spotlight last month when a videotape showing her talking with Gov. Scott Walker about strategies to fight unions was released...
Is there a “smoking gun” email that implicates Scott Walker in bid-rigging?  Blogging Blue   ...Gov. Walker is no longer cooperating with investigators in the Milwaukee County John Doe investigation, which would certainly explain Walker’s decision to transfer $70,000 to his criminal defense fund on May 3 and $30,000 on May 17, according to campaign finance reports...
On eve of Senate appearance, Raitt calls on CP, Teamsters to voluntarily go back to work  Canada.com   ...Canada’s labour minister called on the two parties in the country’s railway dispute to voluntarily go back to work on Friday, a day after they and the minister are set to face questions from senators reviewing the Canadian Pacific back-to-work bill...
Teamsters, Coca-Cola Dispute Who's Paying For Health Insurance  Hartford Courant   ...No new negotiating sessions have been scheduled since the strike began. The next meeting is on June 12...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Teamsters campaign hard in WI

The Recall Bus in Walworth County, Wisc., today.
The election to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is going to be close on Tuesday. Polls are showing Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is gaining. Our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin are working hard to get as many voters to the polls as possible.

Teamsters Local 344 in Milwaukee uses social media to implore members to vote:
Have you made your voting plans for June 5th yet? Cmon, every voting age person in the state is going to vote in this one!!! wouldn't want to be left behind, would you?
We also hear from Local 344 on Twitter:
Lost timer Tyler has over 1000 mi on car doing member to member across #Wi. He's hitting it hard! Keep it up! #wiunion
Teamsters from Local 200 were out last weekend at a get-out-the-vote rally. Here are Tom Bennett and Tom Millonzi with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who hopes to unseat Walker in just six days:


And here's Tom Millonzi with Mahlon Mitchell, the head of the Wisconsin firefighters union. Mitchell is running for Lt. Gov. against Rebecca Kleefisch:


They were at a get-out-the-vote rally in Racine.

We know our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin are getting tired, but there are only six more days to go!

Striking Red Cross Teamsters make noise



Watch and listen to our brothers and sisters striking Red Cross in Lansing, Cleveland and Toledo.Some have been out of work for more than three months.

Fighting for fairness is tough on striking Teamsters. Help support our brothers and sisters with donations of gift cards for food, gas or money. Send contributions to Michigan Teamsters at:
Teamsters Local 580 
5800 Executive Dr. 
Lansing, MI 48911 
attention Lynne Meade
Cleveland Teamsters accept donations at:
Red Cross Strikers 
c/o Teamsters Local 507 
5425 Warner Rd., Unit 7 
Cleveland, OH  44125

Teamster Micky 'The Fighter' Ward's new book is out

Teamsters Local 25 in Boston tells us Brother Micky Ward's new book, "A Warrior's Heart," is out today.

You may have seen "The Fighter," starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. The movie is about Ward (Wahlberg) and his trainer-brother Dick Eklund (Bale), from their early days on the rough streets of Lowell, Mass., through Eklund's battle with drugs and Ward's eventual world championship in London. Watch the trailer here.

Here's what the book is about, according to Amazon:
With the success of the critically-acclaimed, Academy Award-winning film “The Fighter,” the world stood up and cheered for the inspiring true story of Micky Ward—a heart-and-soul warrior who overcame the odds to make history in the ring. But that was only part of the tale. 
Now, in his own words, “Irish” Micky Ward tells his inspirational life story as only he can. 
From his first bout at the age of seven, Micky Ward was known first and foremost for giving as good as he got, and for leaving absolutely everything he had in the ring. When he fought, quitting was never an option. It was that indomitable spirit that would allow him to survive, battle against, and overcome the harsh realities that he faced every day of his life. 
For it was outside the ring that Ward’s heart would be most needed, from witnessing his idolized older half-brother Dicky fall from grace, to dealing with his wildly dysfunctional—if frighteningly loyal—family, to the darkest of secrets that he has never revealed until now, and the numerous setbacks and defeats that would have stopped a lesser man. Micky Ward has remained a fighter, through and through—both as a professional boxer, and as a man who finally found his greatest strength in friendship, family, and faith in himself.
He is now a proud member of Teamsters Local 25. Many Teamsters will remember Ward's appearance at the Teamsters convention in 2011.

Barrett mops floor with Scott Walker



In case you missed it (we did), Job-killer Frequent liar Future jailbird Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker debated Tom Barrett on Friday. Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee, is challenging Walker in the June 5 recall election.

This video should persuade Wisconsin voters why they should be sure to go to the polls on Tuesday. Even the mainstream media agreed Barrett crushed Walker in the debate. The Associated Press reported,
Barrett kept Walker on the defensive throughout much of the hour-long debate in Milwaukee, which was broadcast live statewide just 11 days before the election.
Politico reported,
Democrat Tom Barrett castigated GOP Gov. Scott Walker in their first debate Friday as a divisive political figure who needlessly sparked a “political civil war.”
But watch for yourself.

NLRB Romney mole quits amid leak scandal



The National Labor Relations Board announced on Sunday that Republican board member Terence Flynn submitted his resignation.

Good riddance!

Flynn got caught leaking internal documents and early drafts of board rulings to the Mitt Romney campaign. That adviser, former NLRB chairman Peter Schaumber, was appointed by George Bush to the board.

The board’s inspector general (its watchdog) released reports of Flynn’s misconduct back in March.  The inspector general also revealed Flynn leaked documents to another former board member who now works for the not-exactly-labor-friendly National Association of Manufacturers.

Flynn denied any wrongdoing and didn’t even mention the ethics scandal in his resignation letter. But a statement by his lawyer at least admits Flynn may not have exercised “perfect judgment.”
According to Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times,
In one instance, Mr. Berry [Flynn’s lawyer] found that Mr. Flynn had secretly helped Mr. Schaumber write an opinion column that denounced an NLRB decision that favored labor unions. Mr. Berry called that action by Mr. Flynn "an abuse of his discretion."
Yesterday, NLRB chairman Mark Pearce and other board members released a joint statement to staff calling the Flynn controversy a distraction from the agency’s mission:
Such distractions shall not tarnish this agency’s image – an image created from the good and honest work of its employees…We are moving quickly to put the distractions of recent weeks behind us and to return the focus to where it belongs – on the issues and cases that American workers bring to us every day.
In March, labor supporters like Senator Tom Harkin joined labor leaders in calling for Flynn’s resignation.

Flynn remains under investigation by the Justice Department and the Office of Special Council for violations of the Hatch Act. His resignation will leave the board with a 3-1 partisan split.

Given that Flynn was a plant for Romney and the 1%, his departure from the NLRB is good news for workers. After all, Romney doesn’t have a high opinion of the labor board, which he says is stacked with “union stooges.”

Presumably, if Mr. 1% had his way, the board would be stacked with Wall Street stooges.
As David Dayen wrote at FDL:
[The Flynn scandal] is a decent reminder of the Bush years, and how federal appointees at that time saw their role as aiding the conservative movement rather than performing their job adequately.

Today's Teamster News 05.30.12

Flat U.S. Wages Help Fuel Rebound in Manufacturing  Wall Street Journal   ...The celebrated revival of U.S. manufacturing employment has been accompanied by a less-lauded fact: Wages for many manufacturing workers aren't keeping up with inflation...
A revalued Chinese currency would benefit U.S. economy  Manufacture This   ... the U.S. Department of the Treasury released its “Semi-Annual Report to Congress on International Economic and Exchange Rate Policies.”  The report did NOT cite China as a currency manipulator...
War hero, 91, targeted in Florida's purge of voter rolls  Stars and Stripes   ...Using an American war veteran as the face of their cause, two South Florida congressmen called on the governor Tuesday to immediately stop the state’s purge of the voter rolls...
MJS Report Says Scott Walker is at the Heart of Criminal Corruption Probe  The Lakeland Times   ...A breaking investigative report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests that Scott Walker is at the heart of the John Doe criminal corruption probe that has charged six Walker associates with 15 felonies. The report discusses an email exchange between Walker and longtime adviser, John Hiller, over a County contract that is under investigation for potential bid-rigging...
Conservatives fast tracked CP Rail back-to-work bill  City News   ...Back-to-work legislation that will end a week-long strike by CP Rail workers was put on Parliament's equivalent of a red-eye bullet train...
Teamsters Demand US Small Business Administration Cut Ties with Private Equity Fund Westbury Partners  GCC-IBT Local 1-L   ...Today, dozens of Teamsters, construction workers and community members protested outside the Small Business Administration's regional office in downtown Manhattan calling on the federal agency to pull its investment from private equity firm Westbury Partners in response to ongoing workers' rights violations and anti-union activity at its portfolio company AFL Web Printing...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Today's Teamster News 05.29.12

Food Fight: Contractor Accused of $750 Million Overcharge for Wartime Grub  Wired   ... The congressmen want documents and information within 10 days from both the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Switzerland-based company, Supreme Foodservice GmbH. This might be difficult, because the Pentagon has alleged Supreme Foodservice — which has been paid $5.5 billion since 2005 to supply food to more than 250 bases and outposts – did not maintain invoices and truck manifests (.pdf) while transporting food, water and other materiel; nor did the company provide data to investigators on fuel costs, price estimates and even correct flight plans...
Defectors describe horror, heartbreak in North Korea's labor camps  CNN   ...Horrific heart-breaking accounts of being quite literally worked to death have emerged over recent years. But the camps continue and Pyongyang still refuses to acknowledge their existence...
Walker DNR Appointee Sought to Privatize Trout Streams  Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-op   ...Scott Gunderson, appointed by Scott Walker to a top position in the DNR, once pushed for legislation that would have privatized thousands of miles of Wisconsin’s waterways, including portions of every trout stream in the state...
Teamsters Ask Windsor Dump Truck Drivers to Join  Today's Trucking   ...Remember when Windsor-area dump truck drivers staged a protest over low wages? Well, it looks like Teamsters Local 879 would like the drivers to join the union...
Tory back-to-work bill will get stock rolling Thursday  Canada.com   ...Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt hopes freight service will resume at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. by Thursday after tabling a back-to-work bill for its striking workers on Monday...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Today's Teamster News 05.28.12

Members of Congress exercise their muscle on TPP  Public Citizen   ...69 Members of Congress (68 democrats and one republican) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to reconsider US proposals for the TPP that would effectively ban popular Buy American and buy local government contracting policies...
Big Fiscal Phonies (opinion)  New York Times   ... there have been some job gains in the McMansion State since Mr. Christie took office, but they have lagged gains both in the nation as a whole and in New York and Connecticut, the obvious points of comparison....
Florida Telling Hundreds Of Eligible Citizens That They Are Ineligible To Vote  ThinkProgress   ...Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) has ordered the state to purge all “non-citizens” from the voting rolls prior to November’s election. But that list compiled by the Scott administration is so riddled with errors that, in Miami-Dade County alone, hundreds of U.S. citizens are being told they are ineligible to vote...
Wisconsin Government Diverts Funds from Foreclosure Relief  Econbrowser   ...States have diverted $974 million from this year’s landmark mortgage settlement to pay down budget deficits or fund programs unrelated to the foreclosure crisis, according to a ProPublica analysis. That’s nearly forty percent of the $2.5 billion in penalties paid to the states under the agreement...
'No memory' of signing Kohl-Feingold petitions, Walker says  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...Walker has said during the campaign that he is opposed to recalls of public officials, based on policy decisions they make in office...
Canada set to force striking rail employees to work  Reuters   ...Talks between Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd and the union representing 4,800 striking locomotive engineers have broken down, paving the way for the government to bring in legislation forcing them back to work, the company said on Sunday...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Today's Teamster News 05.27.12

Romney Argues Big Spending Cuts Would Cause 'Depression,' Contrary To Tea Party Activists  Huffington Post   ...Romney, however, said that pushing drastic spending cuts during shaky economic times is a prescription for "recession or depression..."
Protest in the streets despite downpour and tornado warning, 1 arrest  Montreal Open File   ...Though the rain only lasted for about half an hour and the tornado warning was soon lifted, the energy it gave the crowd propelled one of the most boisterous, celebratory and peaceful demonstrations in over a month to party on through the streets for four straight hours...
“American” Corporations Adding More Jobs Overseas Than at Home  Economy in Crisis   ...The Wall Street Journal recently did an analysis of job creation by the 35 largest corporations who file their employment statistics with the federal government. Over the past two years these companies have added 113,000 jobs in the United States, but they added 333,000 jobs overseas...
Dr. Deer’s $125,000 Taxpayer-Funded Endorsement of Scott Walker  Wisconsin Citizens Media Coop   ...Kroll has not actually put much time into Wisconsin since taking the job as Deer Czar. He was not even in the state during the 9 day deer season in 2011. His preliminary report on deer management was short and perfunctory, and demonstrated that he has not put much effort into learning about the state and its hunting history...
Negotiations continue at Canadian Pacific  Northumberland View   ...Negotiations are ongoing with Canadian Pacific (CP) and will likely continue through the weekend. The Teamster Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) bargaining committee is meeting with conciliators and with the employer...
Tentative Agreement Reached Between Local One and Empire New York -- Picket Line Pulled for Weekend  New York Daily News   ...Labor negotiations have freed up W. 45th St. (between Broadway and Eighth Ave) from protesters who have been picketing the cabaret-circus "Empire New York" for use on non-union crew for the last nine days...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Buy 'Made in America' for Memorial Day

Made in America.
Haven't done all your Memorial Day shopping? Here are some suggestions from AmericanManufacturing.org to keep it Made in America.

Crossposting from Friday's blog:

This coming Monday is Memorial Day, an important day of recognition for the brave men and women who lost their lives while serving this country, and the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) salutes all members of the armed services. Since this day of observance unofficially marks the beginning of the summer holiday and is often accompanied by family barbeques and other outdoor activities, we wanted to share some  American-made products that will help you kick start the summer while keeping it made in made in America. 
Duluth Pack: Traveling this Memorial Day? Pack up and hit the road with sturdy and stylish luggage from Duluth Pack. With a history that dates back to 1882, this Duluth, Minnesota-based company offers a wide range of American-made bags to meet all your travel needs—and with lifetime guarantees, you’ll be using them for many Memorial Days to come. 
Coleman Coolers: We've previously blogged about how Coleman Co. moved production of its 16-quart, wheeled plastic coolers from China to Kansas, which is great news. This Memorial Day we recommend opting for one of these American-made coolers to keep your beverages cool in the hot summer sun. 
Weber Grills: No memorial day is complete without some time spent flipping hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill--and no grill is more famous than the classic Weber charcoal grill.  These iconic American-made grills were originally designed by a welder from Illinois who was looking for a way to keep ash from blowing onto his food. More than 50 years later, Weber grills remain a favorite amongst American barbeque lovers. 
Beach Pail Set: Heading to the beach this Memorial day? Don’t forget to pack some American-made beach toys for the kids! With a pail, shovels, castle molds, and a sieve this beach pail set from AmeriKid.com will guarantee hours of fun—just add sand!
And if you're planning on having a beer, be sure it's an American, union-made beer!



A: Silence Q: What did WI GOP do to create jobs?



Job-killer Frequent liar Future jailbird Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker isn't the only one up for recall on June 5. So are four state senators, including Terry Moulton, who supported his anti-middle class agenda.

It's so important that working people in Wisconsin voters understand how they're being attacked. The DLCC is doing its best to make sure they find out.

For film Teamsters, the days are long

Dorothy Thompson, a driver from Local 399 in Hollywood, works on the set of  "The Island" in  2005.
Teamsters are among the hardest working people in show business. Producer Gavin Polone explains just how hard in a recent post at Vulture.com:
Our transportation captain Ali Yeganhe — who dispatches drivers, manages the fleet of vehicles, including those used on-camera, and drives as well — was the most sanguine about the nature of his job, even though his department has the worst hours. When a show is on location, the drivers are the ones responsible for ferrying all the equipment back to the studio at the end of the day and making sure it's all set to go for the next one. “We’re talking about a fourteen-hour day if we’re local and as much as eighteen hours if we’re farther out. We have an eight-hour turnaround that is mandated by the department of transportation. It does take a toll on you as far as aging you. There is a high divorce rate in this business. Truthfully, I haven’t slept a whole night in three years. My wife and I were together before we got in this business. She was in wardrobe, so she knew.”

Today's Teamster News 05.26.12

Qu├ębec's Student Strike Turning Into a Citizens' Revolt  truthout   ... On its 102nd day, the student movement is growing, as is the awareness of an ever more oppressive and corrupt government...
NO DISCLOSURE: WSJ, Fox Defended ALEC Without Noting News Corp. Is A Member  Media Matters for America   ...The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and employees of Fox News have repeatedly shielded the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) from criticism without disclosing that parent company News Corp. is a member of that organization...
Senate Armed Services Committee Releases Report on Counterfeit Electronic Parts  Trade Reform   ...A Senate Armed Services Committee investigation discovered counterfeit electronic parts from China in the Air Force’s largest cargo plane, in assemblies intended for Special Operations helicopters, and in a Navy surveillance plane among 1,800 cases of bogus parts, a committee report released today shows...
Dispatches XXII: Wisconsin and US Employment Growth Compared  Econbrowser   ...Wisconsin employment is lagging far, far behind the smooth path implied by Governor Walker's 250,000 increase in private employment...
In recall battle, Wisconsin Gov. Scott says new figures showing job gains are "the final job numbers"  Politifact   ...We rate Walker’s statement False...
CP union members keep vision on track  Northern Life   ...Locomotive engineers and conductors from CP Rail, part of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Local 308 in Sudbury, have been on the picket line since May 23, and they have no intention of leaving until their requests for maintaining 10-hour shifts and leaving pensions alone are heard...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in MA!

Please welcome our 113 new brothers and sisters at Allied Waste in Fall River, Mass. They voted this morning to join Teamsters Local 251 in Providence, R.I. They work as commercial drivers, residential drivers, and shakers.

Joe Bairos, secretary-treasurer of Local 251, said he's looking forward to improving working conditions for the new Teamsters. Sanitation work is one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

Marco Madeiros, a 20-year front-load driver at Allied/Republic, said he and his co-workers have been working hard and serving their communities for years. He said,
Some of us have been here 20, 30 years. We had enough of the bullying and favoritism, so we chose to organize and form a union to negotiate with the company as a group.
Said Manny Alexander, a 10-year residential driver:
From the beginning, this was always about respect. Allied/Republic did not respect us and the work we do. Now we can negotiate a contract with the company that will protect our rights and stop the unfair treatment.
David W. Laughton, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Joint Council 10 in New England, said it can be scary to stand up to a huge company like Allied/Republic. Said Laughton,
Republic has been bullying and harassing workers in Fall River and all across the country. These workers put their bodies in harm's way every day to protect the public health. They should be proud of themselves for standing strong and sticking together to fight for their rights.
Republic Services/Allied Waste is America’s second largest solid waste and recycling company. In 2011, Republic earned $8.2 billion in revenues and declared profits of $589 million, up 15 percent per share from 2010.

The Teamsters represent approximately 9,000 employees at Republic Services and its subsidiaries at more than 150 facilities throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.



New poll: Walker recall a dead heat



New polls show Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is in a virtual tie with Job-killer Frequent liar Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The race is tightening as voters learn about the criminal investigation tied to Walker.

According to The Huffington Post,
The Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race is now a dead heat as voters have learned more about the corruption probe surrounding Gov. Scott Walker (R), according to a new internal poll for the campaign of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D). 
In a survey of 935 likely recall voters, conducted by the Garin Hart Yang Research Group from May 22 to 24, Walker led Barrett by 49.89 to 48.62 percent. With the poll's margin of error at plus or minus 3.3 percent, that means the race is essentially tied. 
Wisconsin Democrats have been hammering Walker in recent days over the "John Doe" investigation of his time as Milwaukee county executive, which has already ensnared several former staffers. The probe by the Milwaukee County district attorney's office is reportedly focusing on whether staffers who worked for Walker did political work on the taxpayers' dime. In March, Walker set up a legal defense fund... 
Voters who had heard about the John Doe probe preferred Barrett by 52 to 46 percent. Public awareness of the criminal investigation is also increasing: 25 percent of respondents on Wednesday night said they had heard "a lot" about it, while 37 percent said the same on Thursday night.
Another poll by The Mellman Group suggests only Barrett has room to gain:
While Walker led Barrett by seven points in our survey just last week, our new poll shows Barrett gaining 2 points, moving up to 46%, while Walker lost 2, sliding to 49%, confirming the results of two other publicly released polls showing this to be a 2-3 point race. 
This spring, Walker built a lead by spending tens of millions of dollars bolstering his image and tarnishing his Democratic opponents, with the airwaves largely to himself. Now that Democrats are making a clear case for Barrett and against Walker that lead has diminished substantially. 
During the last week, Barrett cut Walker’s lead in half among independents and still has room to grow in his base – while Walker is earning 92% of the Republican vote, Barrett is getting 88% of Democrats, a number that is sure to rise in Wisconsin’s polarized political climate. 
Wisconsin's worst-in-the-nation jobs record sure can't be helping Walker. Nor can his deer czar, who thinks hunting on public lands is communism.

We Are Wisconsin is the place to go if you're anywhere near the state and have time to put your boots on the ground.


Teamsters fight banksters' risky business

Wanna know why mega-bankster JPMorgan Chase can make stupidly risky trades that threaten the stability of the global economy?

Apparently it's because their oversight of risk management couldn't suck enough. The bank's risk management committee consists of a museum head who also oversaw AIG, the grandson of a billionaire and the CEO of a company that makes flight controls and work boots.

The billionaire's grandson, James Crown, is the only one with any Wall Street experience. That was 25 years ago.

Bloomberg News has the story. The two other amateur risk managers on JPMorgan's committee are Ellen Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and David Cote, CEO of Honeywell International Inc. Reports Bloomberg:
JPMorgan, with $1.13 trillion of deposits, is the only one of the six largest U.S. lenders that doesn’t have a former banker, regulator or finance professor on its risk committee.
Futter joined AIG's board after the company's CEO donated $36.5 million to the museum but resigned before AIG took a $182.3 billion bailout from you and me the federal government.  Futter received personal loans from JPMorgan and $245K last year for her bush league work on the board.

Crown was paid $300,000 for failing to oversee JPMorgan's risk management activities, though he doesn't need it. His grandfather was a billionaire. Those 1 percenters gotta stick together.

Cote's company, Honeywell, also got loans and financial advice from JPMorgan.

The Teamsters, through our Change to Win federation and CTW Investment Group, are fighting JPMorgan's lax oversight of risk. After all, it's the kind of thing that could bring down the economy  -- again. Reports Reuters,
A labor-backed investor group critical of JPMorgan Chase & Co's corporate governance said the bank has failed to address concerns over its risk oversight and it will try to rally other shareholders for changes after a $2 billion trading loss. 
CtW Investment Group, which advises labor pension funds holding what it said are 6 million shares in JPMorgan, has advocated for risk governance changes there for more than a year. The risk policy committee of the bank's board lacks the expertise to understand risks the bank is taking...
It's a tough job, but someone who's qualified has got to do it.


Ed Schultz: Race is tightening in WI



A must watch video from Ed Schultz.

'It takes strength and control and attention to drive a truck long distances'

In 1961, the great American author John Steinbeck left his home in Long Island with Charley, his poodle. They embarked on a cross-country journey in a custom-made camper. The book he wrote about his trip is the much-loved "Travels With Charley." It's still in print.

The truck was a new model GMC, with a V6 engine, an automatic transmission, and an oversized generator. The camper was provided by the Wolverine Camper Company of Glaswin, Mich. Steinbeck called the rig "Rocinante," after Don Quixote's horse.

We thought we'd share Steinbeck's observations about truckers circa 1960:
I soon made acquaintance with the truckers. They are clannish and they stick together, speaking a specialized language. And although I was a small craft among monsters of transportation they were kind to me and helpful... 
I liked the truckers very much, as I always like specialists. By listening to them talk I accumulated a vocabulary of the road, of tires and springs, of overweight. The truckers over long distances have stations along their routes where they know the service men and the waitresses behind the counters, and where occasionally they meet their opposite numbers in other trucks. The great get-together symbol is the cup of coffee. I found I often stopped for coffee, not because I wanted it but for a rest and a change from the unrolling highway. It takes strength and control and attention to drive a truck long distances, no matter how much the effort is made easier by air brakes and power-assisted steering. It would be interesting to know and easy to establish with modern testing methods how much energy in foot pounds is expended in driving a truck for six hours...consider ... the small, unnoticed turning of the steering wheel, perhaps the exertion of on ly one pound for for each motion, the varying pressure of foot on accelerator, not more than half a pound perhaps but an enormous total over a period of six hours. Then there are the muscles of shoulders and neck, constantly if unconsciously flexed for emergency, the eyes darting from road to rear-view mirror, the thousand decisions so deep that the conscious mind is not aware of them. The output of energy, nervous and muscular, is enormous. Thus the coffee break is a rest in many senses.

'Union Man' (video)

We found this on the Teamsters Facebook page (check it out here). We understand the song was written by two Milwaukee singer-songwriters. Enjoy.

Fake UPS truck used to smuggle undocumented immigrants

Still another reason to keep the border closed to dangerous Mexican trucks. LA Now reports,

After U.S. Border Patrol agents spotted what appeared to be a UPS truck trying to avoid a checkpoint on Highway 111 in Niland last Friday morning, they pulled the vehicle over for a search, the agency reported Wednesday.
Thirteen people were hiding inside.
But the truck turned out not to be with UPS, and the driver, a 21-year-old man identified only as a U.S. citizen, was arrested in the Imperial County incident, the agency said. So were the passengers, who were identified as Mexican citizens without legal immigration documents.
The phony truck also was taken into custody.

Today's Teamster News 05.25.12

More than 500 arrested as battle-hardened protesters march through the streets  Montreal Open File   ...Surrounded by a small army of riot police, hundreds of protesters sat down on Sherbrooke Street Wednesday night and chanted “let’s stay peaceful.” Within an hour 400 of them were rounded up, handcuffed and stuffed into city buses to be detained until Thursday morning...
Sources: Cuomo tried to keep New York public labor heads off DNC delegate list  Politico   ...New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had tried to keep the heads of four major New York state public sector unions off the list of Democratic National Committee at-large delegates, finally agreeing to add three of them late last night after a string of negotiations, multiple sources told POLITICO...
Half Of Detroit’s Streetlights May Go Out As City Shrinks  Bloomberg News   ...As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can’t afford to fix them...
How Governor Rick Scott Is Preventing Eligible U.S. Citizens From Voting In Florida  ThinkProgress   ...Scott instructed his former Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to compile a list of people who were registered in Florida but ineligible to vote. Browning struggled to aquire accurate data and eventually resigned his post in February. Scott moved forward with the effort anyway...
Wisconsin Recall Roundup May 24, 2012  PR Watch   ...Governor Scott Walker will be joined by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at two campaign events in Wisconsin today to aid Walker as he faces Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a June 5 recall election...
CP Rail strike could hurt terminals  North Shore News   ,,,NORTH Shore port terminal operators say they're hoping a settlement will be reached soon in the Canadian Pacific Rail strike - before it starts costing them money...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The 2012 Vampire Ticket


There’s been a lot of talk about capitalism lately – the blood-sucking kind in particular.

Headlines this week have been dominated by the debate over Mitt Romney’s background at Bain Capital and its relevance in the 2012 election.

Earlier in the week President Obama made the case that the attack on Bain is fair game:
This issue is not a, quote, distraction -- this is part of the debate that we're going to be having in this election campaign… [Romney’s] not going out there touting his experience in Massachusetts. He's saying, I'm a business guy…When you're president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profits.
Rachael Maddow on MSNBC pointed out that “the issues of Mitt Romney’s tenure in the private sector, the years that he spent at Bain Capital…have actually been made central by both the Republicans and the Democrats.”

Workers speak for themselves in the Obama campaign’s recent ad about a Kansas City, Mo., steel mill that fell victim to Romney’s brand of blood-thirsty capitalism. Said steelworker Jack Cobb:
It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us. Bain Capital walked away with a lot of money that they made off this plant.
Added John Wiseman:
We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer.
It’s obvious why this debate about private equity matters for working people. What’s less clear is why Romney wants to talk about it – until you take into account how detached Mr. 1% is from ordinary Americans.

Mitt thinks his experience as a predatory private equity mogul is actually something to be proud of. But vampire capitalism is not something that most Americans – the 99% – look toward with admiration.

Why? Because it was the same type of reckless and ruthless capitalism that brought on the 2008 financial crisis and which continues to hurt working families today.

A piece by Demos co-founder David Callahan in the Huffington Post yesterday explains how Romney’s profit-making credentials at Bain were based on the creation of bad debt.
Borrowing lots of money and incurring bad debts is not how real businesses make money in a normal world. But we don't live in such innocent times. Modern American capitalism is rife with sophisticated financial intermediaries who exploit flaws and complexity in the system, as well as insider connections, to make profits off of predatory behavior – which [is]… why the attacks on Bain Capital are both accurate and fair.
Remember all of those weird financial instruments people were talking about in 2008? Credit default swaps, derivatives, and – your eyes are probably already glazing over. Romney’s Bain is tied to those very shadowy Wall Street dealings.

And Bain isn’t alone. Executives at companies like Hostess have taken lessons from the Romney business playbook, looting the company and using Chapter 11 bankruptcy to threaten the livelihoods of its Teamster workforce. American Airlines is doing the same to its union workers – and Bain is directly involved in that anti-worker assault.

Back during the height the financial crisis, Rolling Stone columnist Matt Taibbi powerfully described Goldman Sachs and other forces that nearly pushed the entire global economy off a cliff.
The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
JPMorgan’s recent $2.3 billion blunder reminds us that the vampire squid is alive and well on Wall Street.

And Romney reminds us that it is trying to wrap its tentacles even tighter around Washington.

The weird turn pro in JPMorgan hearing

In 1933, J.P. Morgan Jr. came to testify about banking failures before the U.S. Senate's Banking Committee. While he was waiting to be questioned, a circus dwarf jumped in his lap.

The weird have turned professional since then.

JPMorgan Chase recently lost at least $2 billion and possibly a lot more in a stupid and reckless trading scheme. That's what is known as endangering the stability of the global financial system. And yet senators attacked the regulators who don't  even have the power to regulate JPMorgan Chase's trades during a Banking Committee hearing Tuesday.

The regulator's chief critic was Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who received $72,950 in campaign contributions from JPMorgan Chase and its employees.

Dana Milbank described the scene in the Washington Post:
As the panel held the first hearing on the JPMorgan losses, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the committee’s ranking Republican, glowered at federal regulators and charged that they “didn’t know what was really going on.” 
“When did you first learn about these trades?” Shelby inquired. 
Gary Gensler, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, admitted that he had learned about them from press reports. 
“Press reports!” Shelby echoed, with mock surprise. He smiled. “Were you in the dark?” 
Gensler tried to explain that his agency does not yet have authority to regulate the bank, but Shelby interrupted. “So you really didn’t know what was going on . . . until you read the press reports like the rest of us?” he asked again. 
“That’s what I’ve said,” Gensler repeated. 
But Shelby wanted him to keep saying it. “You didn’t know there was a problem there until you read the press reports?”
As Milbank notes,
The trading scandal at JPMorgan highlighted the urgent need for tougher regulation of Wall Street, but Shelby’s harangue was part of a larger effort to use the scandal as justification to repeal regulations.
Just guess how much JPMorgan has spent on lobbying and campaign contributions in the last three years.

You'd be correct if you said  $20 million.

Here's the really disgusting part: JPMorgan drove an Alabama county -- that's in Shelby's own state -- into bankruptcy through a predatory swap deal. Reported Think Progress at the time:
In a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, Jefferson County furloughed employees and cut back on its police force so much that it no longer dispatched officers to traffic accidents. Of course, Jefferson County officials played their role in the fiasco, accepting bribes in connection with the deal. But JP Morgan was at the forefront, paying off officials, collecting tens of millions in fees, and foisting a risky deal onto the people of Jefferson County when there was no economic reason for it (other than to bolster the bank’s bottom line).
Now some Jefferson County residents have to choose between heat and water because the sewer bills rose more than 400 percent in the last decade.

That must be the regulator's fault, too.
 

Amazon dumping ALEC!

Amazon announced today it is not renewing its membership in ALEC, the corporate front group that promotes job-killing austerity policies. Representatives of several groups presented petitions with over 500,000 signatures on them asking Amazon to quit funding ALEC.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch,
Amazon apparently became an ALEC member in part to oppose new state taxes on online sales, but Amazon's membership dues and sponsorship grants help fund the overall ALEC agenda, which includes controversial bills like "Stand Your Ground" and voter ID as well as anti-union, anti-immigrant, and anti-environmental measures. For more on Amazon's role in ALEC and how it demonstrates the leading role that corporations play in ALEC, see Fischer's article here.... 
Corporations that have publicly cut ties to ALEC in recent weeks include Scantron Corporation, Kaplan Higher Education, Procter & Gamble, YUM! Brands, Blue Cross Blue Shield, American Traffic Solutions, Reed Elsevier, Arizona Public Service, Mars, Wendy's, McDonald's, Intuit, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola. The addition of Amazon.com brings the total to 16. Four non-profits -- Lumina Foundation for Education, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and the Gates Foundation -- and 54 state legislators have also cut ties with ALEC.
Three other companies are under pressure to cut ties to ALEC: State Farm, AT&T and Johnson & Johnson.

Mexican truck program failing, just as Hoffa said it would

We told them so. 
Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports the cross-border trucking program with Mexico isn't exactly popular. Over 8 months, only 33 Mexican trucks traveled beyond the border zone as part of the program. Reports Bloomberg:
A cross-border trucking pact that ended a 17-year trade dispute between the U.S. and Mexico last year may unravel unless more Mexican big rigs start crossing the border under a U.S. Transportation Department pilot program... 
A U.S. Transportation Department official said yesterday that only 33 Mexican trucks have crossed since the U.S. opened its southern border to long-haul trucks in October. 
“Participation is not where we want it or need it to be to make it a viable program,” said William Quade, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s associate administrator for enforcement and program delivery. “The agency is extremely concerned about not having sufficient data.” 
The U.S. must evaluate the pilot program to determine whether it would be safe to open the border to all truck traffic. So few Mexican trucks are participating that it may not be possible to have a statistically valid sample for the analysis, Quade said yesterday at a meeting of the agency’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee in Alexandria, Virginia.
Go back to Oct. 11, 2011, when the program was announced. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said,
This pilot program will be a fiasco, just like the last one was.
Looks like he was right.

The polls are wrong: Walker vulnerable



Please ignore all the crap out there about an "enthusiasm gap" in the recall election of Job-killer Frequent liar Future jailbird Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Pay no attention to the noise machine. Just go out and do something to get rid of this guy.

Here's why the polls are wrong: They oversampled Republicans from 2010, the most Republican year ever in Wisconsin history. Internal polls show the race is a dead heat. This is remarkable given that Walker has spent more than $20 million already spreading lies on television advertising already.

June 5 will be a dog fight. The winner will be the one who can bring more people to the polls than the loser. So get out there if you can!

And remember, this election isn't just about preserving labor unions. It's about changing our economy to benefit the 99%. A book that's coming out soon, "Labor Rising," makes just that point:
Technically, the protests sought to preserve the collective bargaining rights of certain public sector unions. But many of the protesters may never have benefited from the collective-bargaining process, in large part because they were too poor, too new to the country, or above all too young to have been of a generation when unions were strong in America. They nonetheless intuitively grasped that collective bargaining represented the sovereignty of working people, principles that organized labor has historically embodied and championed....
In Wisconsin, the idea of labor rights was presented as a counterpoint to a pattern of systematic exploitation of people and public resources: from the corporate underwriting of elections, to the distortion of school curricula by rigid testing regimes, to mounting frustration with chronic unemployment in an unmoored global economy.
And speaking of the systematic exploitation of public resources: Look what Walker's deer czar (you know, the guy who thinks hunting on public lands is communism) is up to, according to Blogging Blue:

It seems in addition to serving as Wisconsin’s “Deer Czar,” Dr. Kroll is also a bit of a capitalist, offering endorsements/testimonials for various deer-related products and services. 
Among the products Dr. Kroll has endorsed is Boss Buck, a feeding system used at game farms that actually bears Dr. Kroll’s name and signature. 
Here’s a list of some of the products James Kroll has endorsed or done testimonials for: 
Rack Buck – Buck forage oats
Sneaky Feed – Remote deer feeder monitor
Skunk Fusion – Cover scent
NutraDeer – Deer Feed
GMS – Game Management Software
Hunt Encino – Texas Commercial Deer Hunt
Buck Forage – Deer Feed
Boss Buck – Deer Feeder
Trophy Feeders – Deer feeder
All you union sportsmen know what NOT to do with these products.


GA Teamsters fight savage attack on bus workers

Local 728 bus workers heading to the Department of Labor last week.


The Georgia Department of Labor quietly decided to prevent Teamster school bus workers and others from getting unemployment benefits when they're laid off for the summer.


The Savannah Morning News, owned by a multinational corporation, supported the move. The newspaper published a snooty editorial that said the workers should consider themselves lucky. Really.


Local 728 organizing director Ben Speight penned a rebuttal. It has yet to be published, so we're posting it here.
Cutting benefits for seasonally unemployed workers is not just unfair, it’s bad for the local economy. 
In Savannah, it is not just school bus drivers, food service workers and custodians that have historically drawn unemployment benefits during seasonal layoffs. Hundreds of hospitality workers do too. 
Hospitality workers are not impacted by the new rule change to eliminate summer unemployment benefits. But at the rate Commissioner Mark Butler is going, they may be next. 
Stripping essential unemployment payments from 500 educational workers in Chatham County will directly impact the local economy. According to the non partisan Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, each $1 of unemployment payments creates up to $1.90 in local economic growth as these workers pay for basic necessities from local businesses. That equates to millions of dollars taken out of family budgets and cash registers. 
Labor Commissioner Mark Butler’s strategy has been to attack the unemployed by slashing benefits -- from the weekly amounts paid, to the number of weeks an eligible employee could draw benefits, to this attack on educational workers. 
In a May 7th press release, Butler asserts that educational workers should be treated like teachers who do not receive unemployment benefits during the summer. However, the Labor Commissioner fails to point out that teachers are offered the choice to get paid on a 12-month cycle. That's an option subcontracted school bus drivers and custodians don't have. These educational workers are not given guarantees that jobs will be available at the end of the summer as the school system has ultimate discretion over what work will be needed or not for the fall and spring classes. 
Butler further states that it was the Georgia DOL not the federal government that ‘determined’ through its own review that a rule change is necessary now. 
Georgia’s unemployment trust fund has been negligently de-funded for over a decade through tax breaks to businesses that all started when the economy was strong. That de-funding has continued through the recession. 
With the passage of legislation signed into law by Gov. Deal earlier this month, Georgians now have among the lowest number of weeks of benefits in the country. They now receive benefits from 12-20 weeks, down from 26 weeks. 
Currently, there are 1.7 million Georgians living in poverty. There are 482,321 unemployed workers in our state, while only one-third receive unemployment benefits. Every job opening has five job seekers competing for it.
Unemployed workers may be a good political scapegoat, but they are not the problem. 
Cutting unemployment benefits for Georgia’s educational workers is bad economic policy at the worst possible time for working families and small businesses.

Today's Teamster News 05.24.12

Union funds flow into Quebec in support of student activists  The Globe and Mail   ...Trade unions based outside Quebec have already confirmed sending more than $36,000 into the bank accounts of the province’s largest student federations...
1,000 dogs sickened by jerky pet treats made in China  Trade Reform   ...The Food and Drug Administration has been warning owners about continued problems with the chicken jerky strips, treats and nuggets since November. Three of the top brands of treats cited in complaints of harm include Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brands produced byNestle Purina PetCare, andMilo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats produced by Del Monte...
Over 99% of Federal Reserve Bank Enforcement Actions Are Resolved Without Admission of Guilt  naked capitalism   ...(Democrats) don’t want regulation, they want to be seen as wanting regulation.  And the Republicans, while they want to be seen as the party against regulation, are actually quite happy having regulators they can work with, regulators who protect the banks from state or local level action...
Walker Lied to Congress, Created Act 10 Immediately After 2010 Election  WTDY   ...Dylan Brogan, has just reported that officials at the the Legislative Reference Bureau say they began work on Act 10, at the request of Walker, in November of 2010-- days after the election. This directly contradicts sworn testimony Walker gave to the U.S. House Oversight Committee...
Labour minister threatens back-to-work bill if CP strike drags on  Financial Post   ...In the wake of Wednesday’s strike by locomotive engineers and conductors at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, the country’s second-biggest railroad, the labour minister issued a warning: Any work stoppage that threatens to have a “grave” impact on the economy is fair game for government action...
Meeting Between Teamsters and Allied Waste Fails to Materialize   TriState Homepage   ...Sources told Eyewitness News that members of the Teamsters Local 215 would meet with Allied Waste this morning at the union headquarters, but no one showed up...
No contract yet for Nichols, union  Quad City Business Journal   ...After another round of contract talks, Nichols Aluminum and Teamsters Local 371 have yet to reach an agreement, the two sides said Wednesday...
St. Luke's Nurses Picket  RecordOnline.com   ...Nurses and pharmacists at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital have been without a contract for over a year. The administration is proposing radical contract changes including raising healthcare costs by more than 100% , job security issues and cutting their pay among other drastic proposals. Being members of 1199SEIU and Teamsters Local 445...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Former senator calls seniors "greedy geezers"


Simpson: 'Let them eat catfood'

Alan Simpson is at it again. The former senator from Wyoming who once colorfully described Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million tits” went after “greedy geezers” last month in a letter attacking the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA). Read the shocking screed here.

The April letter from Simpson – which was shared with the media today – responded to a flyer by the seniors group protesting his crusade against Social Security. His rebuttal is just what you'd expect from a let-them-eat-cake Republican who wants working families to suffer while the 1 percent get richer:
What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very young people that we are trying to save, while the 'greedy geezers' like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap. You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling this bullshit.
Very classy.

Simpson has used the deficit – created in large part by the financial crisis – as a cover to attack the “excesses” of earned benefits like Social Security. He calls it a “Ponzi scheme.”

In the letter, the former senator continues to pretend he is looking out for future generations. As CARA points out on its website,
In the name of helping our grandchildren, the proposal cuts their benefits the most. The younger a person is the deeper the cuts because of the increase in the retirement age and the changes in the benefit formula.
In response to Simpson’s charming letter, CARA President Nan Brasmer told POLITICO:
Sen. Simpson sounds an awful lot like Mitt Romney and others who will use the recent Social Security Trustees report as political cover for their radical changes. They would put seniors at risk while enriching Wall Street and the big health insurance companies. For instance, increasing the retirement age - one of their suggestions - would be extremely unfair to workers, particularly those in blue-collar and service sector jobs. And privatizing Social Security would let Wall Street firms profit while gambling workers’ Social Security savings on the roulette wheel of the stock market.
Or as Sen. Bernie Sanders said,
When [Social Security] was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, poverty among seniors is too high, but that number is ten percent. Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do!