Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

33 States Reported Job Growth in March

04.17.10

33 States Reported Job Growth in March

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania recorded sizable gains in employment in March and were among 33 states posting increases.

In its monthly look at state job trends, the Labor Department said Friday that Maryland led the country with a gain of 35,800 payroll jobs last month. Virginia and Pennsylvania also posted increases that topped 20,000 in the month.

By contrast, Michigan continued to have the nation’s highest unemployment rate and also led the country in job losses in March with a decline of 9,500. Nevada and Florida also posted sizable job losses and were among 17 states recording job losses in the month.

Nationally, the unemployment remained unchanged at 9.7 percent in March while payrolls grew by 162,000, the biggest gain in three years.

The department’s report Friday showed how the job gains and losses were distributed among the states.

The increases in nonfarm payroll employment occurred in 33 states and the District of Colombia. In February, only 23 states had seen job gains while 27 states and the District of Columbia had recorded job losses…..

Read the rest of this article at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/17/business/economy/17jobless.html?th&emc=th

Ironworker Sworn in as N.J. State Senate President

01.22.10

Ironworker Sworn in as N.J. State Senate President

by Mike Hall, Jan 20, 2010

http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/01/20/ironworker-sworn-in-as-nj-state-senate-president/

Steve Sweeney, a member of Ironworkers Local 399 and one of the early graduates of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Labor Candidates School, was sworn in last week as president of the New Jersey State Senate.

Sweeney, who was first elected to the State Senate in 2001, is the first union member to serve as president of the upper chamber.

He said at his swearing-in ceremony:

“I accept this task with great humility and an ironclad belief that New Jersey’s best days are ahead of us. I will bring the work ethic here that I did in my career as an ironworker.”

New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech says Sweeney’s swearing-in “marks a milestone for the labor movement in New Jersey.”

As a union member, Sweeney now holds one of our state’s most powerful and prestigious positions.

Also, for a few days last week, Sweeney became New Jersey’s first labor governor when he was sworn in as acting governor while outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine (D) was traveling out of state. Sweeney had the opportunity to sign several labor-related bills, including one strengthening collective bargaining rights for Delaware River Port Authority workers. He told reporters that after his brief time in the governor’s office:

I guess I’m going to be a trivia question.

The Labor Candidates School was founded in 1997, and more than 500 of its graduates have been elected to public office in the Garden State. The school gives union members an opportunity to learn campaign basics, including fundraising, election law, public speaking and media relations.

Karl Rove attacks labor-backed candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania- Great Reason to Vote

10.31.09

OPINION

OCTOBER 28, 2009, 10:37 P.M. ET

Tuesday’s Elections and the Democratic Agenda

Losses in New Jersey or Virginia could spook Congress.

By KARL ROVE

Democratic enthusiasm for President Barack Obama’s liberal domestic agenda—particularly for a government-run health insurance program—could wane after the results of the gubernatorial elections next Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey. GOP victories in either state will tell Democrats in red states and districts that support for Obama’s policies is risky to their political health.

The more significant is the open race for governor in Virginia, a purple state. The Washington Post poll released Monday showed 55% support for Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell and 44% for Democratic State Senator Creigh Deeds. The president is trying to reverse these numbers by stumping the state for Mr. Deeds.

Mr. McDonnell has relentlessly focused on the economy, transportation and education. Mr. Deeds tried to make the race about abortion and his opponent’s supposed animus toward working women. But Mr. McDonnell understood that anti-Obama, anti-Washington sentiment was not enough to win and bent the contest back to jobs, roads and schools. He also has a good ground game to turn out the vote, which the GOP hasn’t done for too many years in Virginia.

Former Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bob McDonnell, left, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds, right.

If Republicans also win the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general by five points or more, it will strengthen the case of those predicting a GOP “wave” in 2010.

Also watch the races for the 100-member Virginia House of Delegates. Republicans are hoping to add four seats to the 53 they now have. The bigger the GOP gains, the larger the warning for Democrats nationally.

Reaction against Mr. Obama and his policies plays a smaller role in the New Jersey governor’s race. There, voters are principally concerned with whether they should keep incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine.

In 59 public surveys since January, Mr. Corzine has been at or above 42% just six times, normally a terminal condition for an incumbent. But Mr. Corzine opted out of New Jersey’s campaign finance system, spending at least $24 million so far to Republican Chris Christie’s $9 million.

About Karl Rove

Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as “The Architect” of President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon Schuster. Email the author at Karl@Rove.com or visit him on the web at Rove.com.

Or, you can send him a Tweet@karlrove.

Neither major party candidate in New Jersey has offered a compelling or comprehensive agenda. At times the independent candidate, Chris Daggett, has appeared the only contender with an agenda to rein in property taxes. But the GOP is arguing there is too much corruption, too many taxes, and too few jobs under Mr. Corzine. It may be working: In one of America’s bluest states the race is too close to call. If Mr. Christie pulls out a win, it would badly shake Democratic confidence.

The Republican Governor’s Association has played what could be a decisive role in both states, spending $13 million on early and extensive TV blitzes. In Virginia, the association tattooed Mr. Deeds as a tax raiser and slippery liberal. In New Jersey, they cut Mr. Daggett’s support in half by arguing a vote for him is a vote for Mr. Corzine.

Two other elections on Tuesday’s ballot have national implications: the New York Congressional District 23 special election and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race. The special election in New York’s nominally Republican district 23 was brought about when the White House lured an otherwise unbeatable GOP Congressman, John McHugh, into giving up his seat to become Secretary of the Army.

The contest shows the danger of smoke-filled backrooms in the age of tea parties and town-hall angst. New York law says each party’s 11 county chairmen in the district pick their candidate. The local GOP chieftains settled on Dede Scozzafava, a five-term liberal Republican state assemblywoman. This led one of the disappointed nomination seekers, accountant Doug Hoffman, to mount a red meat campaign for the seat on the Conservative Party line.

With the GOP vote split, the lackluster Democrat standard-bearer, Bill Owens, is likely to win. If that happens, the combined vote of Ms. Scozzafava and Mr. Hoffman will signal what a GOP candidate chosen in a primary could get in the 2010 general election. House Republican leaders could help unite the party by saying now, before the election, that Mr. Hoffman is welcome to caucus with the GOP if he wins.

Finally, the Republican-endorsed candidate for Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, Judge Joan Orie Melvin, is mounting a strong effort against Democrat Jack Panella, despite a $1 million ad blitz targeting her that’s bankrolled by Philadelphia trial lawyers. A GOP victory would indicate trouble for Democrats in a state Mr. Obama carried by 10 points.

A year ago, Democrats crowed that Mr. Obama had reshaped the political landscape to their advantage. Voters have lived under Democratic rule for nine months, and many of them, especially independents, don’t like what they’re seeing.

Tuesday’s election will provide the most tangible evidence so far of how strong a backlash is building—and just how frightened centrist Democrats should be of 2010. For Republicans, it looks as if hope and change are on the way.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Article published in the Wall Street Journal. Although not exactly labor-friendly, the Wall Street Journal is certainly worth buying and reading. We now know how important it is to get ourselves, our friends and our families to the polls. Please share this information as widely as possible.

More Concerns Emerge for Christie as New Jersey Election Approaches

10.29.09

More Concerns Emerge for Christie as New Jersey Election Approaches

by Seth Michaels, Oct 28, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/10/28/more-concerns-emerge-for-christie-as-new-jersey-election-approaches/

In six days, New Jersey residents head to the polls to vote for governor—and former Bush political appointee Chris Christie is at the center of yet another scandal. The Star-Ledger reports that near the end of his tenure as a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney, Christie defied requests of his co-workers and hired a political crony’s son as an assistant U.S. attorney.

It’s the latest in a list of allegations that Christie misused his office as U.S. Attorney, through potential violations of spending limits on travel and hotels, deferred prosecution agreements, the use of his position to get out of driving violations, a questionable loan to an employee who may have given aid to his political campaign and planning his run for governor with Bush political operative Karl Rove while still serving as U.S. attorney.

Christie is challenging the New Jersey State AFL-CIO-endorsed Gov. Jon Corzine. The race is tight and the choice for the next governor of New Jersey will come down to turnout on Nov. 3, so union volunteers across the state are working hard to mobilize other union members to get to the polls and support a champion of working families.

Union members are troubled by Christie’s stands on key working-family issues: Christie could move the state in the wrong direction on health care, education and workers’ rights.

So New Jersey union members continue to mobilize as Election Day approaches. More than 1,400 union volunteers braved cold and rain and knocked on some 50,000 union members’ doors over the weekend to get the word out about Christie, Corzine and the need for a strong turnout next Tuesday. Even more volunteers are expected to come out this weekend for the final push.

President Barack Obama visited New Jersey last week to encourage people of all ages to get out the vote for Corzine, calling him

…committed to fighting for New Jersey’s families and New Jersey’s future.

New Jersey: Get the Latest News on Chris Christie

08.28.09

New Jersey: Get the Latest News on Chris Christie

by Seth Michaels, Aug 25, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/08/25/new-jersey-get-the-latest-news-on-chris-christie/

Every day, it seems there are new developments in the race for New Jersey governor. Candidate Chris Christie, a longtime Bush political appointee, has been the subject of close scrutiny in the state and voters want to know the real story.

You can get all the latest news about Chris Christie and the race for New Jersey governor at The Real Chris Christie, a project of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. The newest feature at the site is a news feed that pulls in the latest headlines about Christie, including:

Christie’s possibly illegal pledge to give former Bush-era federal colleagues state jobs;

An undisclosed $46,000 loan from Christie to an aide while he was serving as U.S. Attorney;

and Christie’s conversations with fellow Bush political operative Karl Rove about a run for governor—while he was still serving as U.S. Attorney.

In addition, The Real Chris Christie site looks at where the candidate stands on issues like the economy, health care, education and workers’ rights.

The election is little more than three months away, so it’s time to take a close look at Christie’s record and actions. Check out The Real Chris Christie http://therealchrischristie.org/ for the latest developments.

New Jersey Learns About the Real Chris Christie

08.06.09

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/08/04/new-jersey-learns-about-the-real-chris-christie/

New Jersey Learns About the Real Chris Christie

by Seth Michaels, Aug 4, 2009

As the critical governor’s race approaches this fall, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO has launched a new website, The Real Chris Christie, to take a closer look at the Republican challenger and where he stands on key issues.

Chris Christie, who got a political appointment as a U.S. attorney after raising more than $350,000 for George W. Bush, is running as a ”reformer,” but voters need to know what Christie would do as governor. Where does he stand on the critical issues facing New Jersey?

The Real Chris Christie looks past the rhetoric and examines where Christie stands on critical issues like the economy, health care, education and workers’ rights, as well as ethical issues and his long-standing support of Bush.

Here are some important facts available at The Real Chris Christie:

Christie wants to cut corporate tax rates at the expense of critical health, education and housing programs for working families.

Christie is proposing changes to health care that would allow insurance companies to deny claims and refuse to cover preventative care like mammograms.

Christie opposes funding for pre-K programs for young children.

Christie opposes paid medical leave for workers, project labor agreements and collective bargaining.

Christie has awarded no-bid contracts to friends and political allies.

Visit The Real Chris Christie to find out more. It’s an important resource as we approach the Nov. 3 election.

Atlantic City Casino Workers Authorize Strike

07.22.09

http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/Jpa31_F1caaw/

Atlantic City Casino Workers Authorize Strike

by James Parks, Jul 21, 2009

Johanna Moon

Gaming workers at Bally’s and Caesars casinos in Atlantic City voted overwhelmingly over the weekend to authorize a strike if they are unable to reach a contract agreement with management.

The workers have been trying to gain a first contract for two years after voting to form a union with the UAW in 2007.

Says Ed Hendricks, a Caesars slot technician for 15 years:

Nobody wants a strike, but we’re going to stand up to enforce our rights. We have negotiated for almost two years, but instead of reaching an agreement the company keeps cutting back. Harrah’s [owner of both casinos] has cut our 401(k) match, increased our benefit costs and laid off our fellow workers.

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has called on union members to rally in support of the casino workers this Friday. State federation President Charles Wowkanech and Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan said in an e-mail to local unions:

Contract negotiations for the UAW in Atlantic City have gone beyond the point of unacceptable. This contract fight plainly shows the extent certain employers are willing to go in order to suppress a worker’s right to a fair contract.

If the Employee Free Choice Act was law, this dispute would have been settled months ago. The legislation provides the mediation and arbitration assistance to help settle a contract when a company and a newly certified union cannot agree on a contract after three months.

Workers at Trump Plaza also are working without a contract. Johanna Moon, a 25-year employee, says the two-year delay in getting a fair deal shows why Employee Free Choice is so important.

All workers need the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s not fair as it is now. Something’s got to change.

Read Moon’s story here. http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca/efca_profile_jm.cfm

Harrah’s rakes in some $10.8 billion in annual revenue, yet workers at both casinos make as little as $4.50 an hour on top of tips, according to the union.

Harrah’s has negotiated at Caesars for only 50 out of 655 available days and has refused to negotiate at Bally’s. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Bally’s broke federal labor law by refusing to bargain. An enforcement order requested by the NLRB is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Says UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union’s Technical, Office and Professional Organizing Department:

UAW members negotiate successfully with all kinds of employers—including casinos—and we know how to get the job done. The reason we haven’t succeeded in Atlantic City is plain and simple: Management either won’t come to the table, or they engage in stalling tactics once they get there.

Workers at Bally’s and Caesars are sending a very strong message with their votes: We’ve had enough. We voted for a union two years ago, we want our votes to mean something and we’re ready to take action to make it happen.

More than 8,000 gaming industry workers are members of the UAW in Atlantic City, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan and Rhode Island.

DOL awards $2.2 million to assist dislocated workers

07.20.09

DOL awards $2.2 million to assist dislocated workers

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 22nd - The United States Department of Labor (DOL) awarded $2,212,751 to assist state apprenticeship agencies in the development of strategies to better serve dislocated workers and other unemployment individuals through expanded partnerships with the Registered Apprenticeship system, which is administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration.

Registered Apprenticeship is an “earn while you learn” model that provides a combination of on the job learning and related classroom instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by joint employer and labor groups, individual employers and/or employer association.

Currently, the national Registered Apprenticeship system includes a network of approximately 30,000 program sponsors nationwide, which offers more than 1,000 different career opportunities.

“Today’s funding will help state apprenticeship agencies strengthen partnerships between the Registered Apprenticeship and the public workforce systems. Agencies will will create strategies to jointly train and prepare dislocated workers and other unemployed individuals for careers in growing industries, including those related to green technologies,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

The Department of Labor stated the grants announced will help support states as they modernize their infrastructure, policies rules and legislation to advance apprenticeship into the 21st century. Funding also will assist states in upgrading data systems to promote increased economic analysis and data sharing between the Registered Apprenticeship and public workforce systems, as well as expand assistance to dislocated workers.

Twenty-two state apprenticeship agenices and the National Association of State and Territial Apprenticeship Directors (NASTAD) are receiving funding under the effort including Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania received a grant of $100,000 to participate in the program. New York also received $100,000 but New Jersey did not receive any funding, according to the DOL.

For more information on Registered Apprenticeship visit http://www.doleta.gov.

Chart: Has Your State Left Federal Unemployment Money Unclaimed?

07.05.09

http://www.propublica.org/special/chart-has-your-state-left-federal-unemployment-money-unclaimed-702

Important information for workers in every state.

Please share this link widely.

N.J. Supreme Court: Striking Nurses Entitled to Unemployment Benefits

02.15.09

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/02/11/nj-supreme-court-striking-nurses-entitled-to-unemployment-benefits

N.J. Supreme Court: Striking Nurses Entitled to Unemployment Benefits

This post brought to us by Katrina Blomdahl, writer-researcher for RNs Working Together, which is a coalition of 10 AFL-CIO unions, representing more than 250,000 nurses nationwide.

Sometimes justice comes in ways you least expect it.

That’s the case for nearly 100 nurses from Willingboro, N.J., represented by JNESO. Two weeks ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that striking nurses at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, a 259-bed nonprofit hospital, were entitled to unemployment benefits for the time they spent on picket lines.

(JNESO, which refers to the Union Division of the State Nurses Association, began in 1958 as the Jersey Nurses Economic Security Organization and now is affiliated with the Operating Engineers union.)

The strike started in 2004 and lasted for two years. The workers who filed for unemployment at the beginning of the strike in 2004 were ruled to be eligible for 26 weeks of benefits. New Jersey law allows striking workers to collect unemployment benefits, provided they do not cause their employer to suffer a “stoppage of work.”

In a 6-1 decision, the court ruled the nurses were entitled to their benefits because the hospital continued to maintain its patient levels and “function at full service.”

JNESO Executive Director Virginia Treacy, RN, says the hospital

assured the community that everything was fine. They took out ads saying that the quality of care had not changed. And they hired nurses from the U.S. Nursing Corporation [a temporary employment agency] to replace us.

Although Lourdes Health System opposed the unemployment applications and made every possible appeal, the buck finally stopped at the door of the state Supreme Court, which rejected the hospital’s argument that the strike caused a loss of revenue equivalent to a “stoppage of work.”

According to the high court, unemployment benefits can sometime function as a safety net for workers during strikes. Justice J. Albin, writing for the majority, points out that the governing statute:

…enables ordinary workers, who otherwise could not afford to leave work to protest for increased wages or decent working conditions, the lifeline of unemployment benefits so long as there is no stoppage of work at their place of employment. The statute has no exemptions and does not rank in terms of importance of industry or profession.

Treacy says the decision upholds a small segment of the law, and while that is a good thing, the bottom line is getting lost in the press:

You normally would not collect money for striking, but here the employer didn’t care how much money they spent during the dispute. They were willing to spend whatever it took. They weren’t trying to reach a contract settlement with the nurses. They were spending a million dollars a month to bust the union. They had unlimited resources—I think they would have paid anything to get rid of us.

Barbara Jones, a labor and delivery nurse, was one of the 97 strikers who filed for unemployment insurance out of the 240 nurses who walked the picket line. But when she received the first check, she sent it back. She had already found another job and figured she’d be back on her feet soon enough.

A nurse at Lourdes for 28 years, Jones thinks the hospital was trying to send a message to other local nurses who didn’t have a union:

I think they felt that if they could break us, then they could use that as leverage against anyone else who wanted to organize. The way they did it was horrible. They turned people’s lives upside down.

After two years, the strike ended, with some nurses finding other jobs and some retiring. Still, Treacy is proud to count last week’s decision in the win column:

It is a victory because it shows employers that they can’t just buy their way out of a labor dispute. You just can’t do it—at least not in New Jersey.

In the end, I’ve never been prouder of a group of people in my whole life. They did a great job standing up for themselves, and they took a hit for it. The chief steward had been there since the day the hospital opened, and she finished her career on the strike line. The really sad part is that the hospital will never recoup. Nobody wins in a strike.

Although Jones had to find a new job and postpone retirement, she doesn’t look back:

I can honestly say if the same scenario came up, I would do the exact same thing again. I have no regrets.

AFT and NEA Local Unions Endorse HR 676

01.09.09

AFT and NEA Local Unions Endorse HR 676

AFT and NEA local unions in New Jersey and Massachusetts have endorsed HR 676, single payer healthcare legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

In Mahwah, New Jersey, AFT Local 6308, North Jersey Skills for Technology Union, which represents instructors working at Lincoln Technical Institute, has endorsed HR 676. Lincoln Tech is a for-profit, post-secondary, career oriented training provider.

In Amherst, Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP) which represents faculty and librarians at UMass Amherst has also endorsed HR 676. MSP is affiliated with the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association (NEA).

After organizing in January, 2005, it took AFT Local 6308 three years, 44 negotiating sessions, and a couple of NLRB victories to finally win a contract. Daniel Buckley, Local 6308 president, said: “Any worker who loses a job can end up with less health coverage at the next job. Denying coverage is a way … insurers increase profit. When employers dismiss employees, the employers and insurers work hand in hand to decrease coverage and cost.”

President Buckley continued: “As employers attempt to cut cost by offering weaker and weaker insurance plans…they are shifting their cost onto American society…. I believe the employer/health insurer relationship has the net effect of reducing benefits for all American workers.”
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PLEASE NOTE: OUR WEBSITE AT http://unionsforsinglepayerHR676.org

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HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system in the U.S. by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to every resident.

HR 676 would cover every person in the U. S. for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, chiropractic and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

HR 676 currently has 93 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers. Co-sponsors and bill text are here:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.00676:

HR 676 has been endorsed by 478 union organizations in 49 states including 118 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, MT, NE, NY, NV & MA).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care## HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
Email: nursenpo@aol.com
http://unionsforsinglepayer.org

500th Union Member Set to Be Elected to Public Office in New Jersey

08.26.08

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/08/25/500th-union-member-set-to-be-elected-to-public-office-in-new-jersey/

500th Union Member Set to Be Elected to Public Office in New Jersey

This in from the field.

The Eagleton Institute of Politics hosted the 12th Annual Labor Candidates School of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO earlier this month. Twenty-two rank-and-file union members running for local office participated in interactive exercises and heard from leading experts on fundraising, election law, research, message development, public speaking, media relations, voter contact, volunteer recruitment, targeting and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The Labor Candidates School is the cornerstone of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s successful COPE program. After the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates program began in 1997, union members won 499 elections to public office. This year’s graduates will include the 500th union member elected to public office through the labor candidates program.

Says New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech:

The 499 rank-and-file union members elected to public office since 1997 through the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates Program make improvements in the lives of working families every day, by ensuring that municipal properties are built and maintained by union labor through Project Labor Agreements and passing into law key legislation like Paid Family Leave and a first-in-the-nation check-check neutrality guarantee for public employees.

Further, says Wowkanech:

Our labor candidates program is the catalyst, which drives our progressive labor agenda here in New Jersey. We look forward to celebrating our 500th labor candidate’s election to office in New Jersey, who will have graduated from our Labor Candidates School.

UAW facing rough road in unionizing A.C. dealers

08.09.08

UAW facing rough road in unionizing A.C. dealers
By ERIK ORTIZ Staff Writer, 609-272-7253

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/106/story/225210.html

Published: Saturday, August 09, 2008

ATLANTIC CITY - The United Auto Workers union started its pitch in early 2007 to do what some considered the impossible: organize casino dealers in a city where past attempts had failed.
But despite some notable victories for the Detroit-based union in the past few months, and even a high-profile rally this summer, its bid to help win contracts for dealers has proven to be an uphill struggle - one with no guarantees, observers say.

“It’s clear that the industry does not want dealers to unionize,” said Philip Harvey, a Rutgers University professor of economics and law who studies unions. “It’s cheaper for them to operate without a union contract.”

The UAW has been negotiating dealer contracts with Tropicana Casino and Resort and Caesars Atlantic City, although the union has accused the casinos of dragging their feet. Tropicana and Harrah’s Entertainment, which owns Caesars, have said they are negotiating in good faith.

While the union won separate elections at Bally’s Atlantic City and Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, both properties filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board disputing the results. In both cases, the board certified the results in favor of the UAW. Bally’s and Trump Plaza, however, are now declining to negotiate, UAW officials say.

Trump Plaza spokesman Tom Hickey told The Press in July that the casino “very simply (does) not believe that the union represents an uncoerced majority or that the election results are valid.”
Later that month, Trump Entertainment suffered a setback with its Trump Marina Hotel Casino property when a federal labor judge ruled the casino engaged in “objectionable conduct” during a May 2007 organizing campaign among dealers. The UAW accused the casino of threatening and intimidating employees who wanted to organize and favoring those who were anti-union.

The judge is ordering a second election. But that is likely to be put on hold because Trump Marina plans to appeal, Hickey has said.

Harvey, the Rutgers professor, said appealing and dragging out negotiations is a common tactic by employers.

“From a strategic perspective, engaging in misconduct in election campaigns or in negotiations in contracts makes all kinds of sense,” he said. “The union is saying, ‘We’ll fight for you.’ But what can the union show for it? It might not be the union’s fault, but it erodes the union’s support among employees.”

The UAW and union supporters took to the resort’s streets in June to show renewed solidarity. (While potentially about 3,000 dealers at Trump Plaza, Caesars, Bally’s and Tropicana could gain union contracts, they wouldn’t start paying dues until after their contracts are ratified.)

Meanwhile, negotiating with Tropicana and holding a second election at Trump Marina could prove tricky, as both casinos could transfer ownership over the coming year. Trump Marina is being bought by Coastal Marina LLC, while the Tropicana is to be sold in an auction.

UAW officials said they’ve discussed negotiating a “successor clause” into a contract with Tropicana, which would require any future owner to honor the UAW’s contract terms and recognize the union.

While it’s a potential sticking point, it’s been successfully done before in Atlantic City.

Local 54 of UNITE-HERE, the city’s largest casino union representing service workers, secured a deal with all 11 of the casino properties here for a type of successor clause.

But it took a strike in 2004 against some of the properties to ensure that the clause was included in contract negotiations, said Local 54 President Bob McDevitt.

“It was incredibly difficult,” he said.

E-mail Erik Ortiz:

EOrtiz@pressofac.com

Michael G. Lutz Lodge 5 Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Survivors’ Fund Fallen Hero Day on July 27th

07.25.08

Fallen Hero Day to Benefit Michael G. Lutz Lodge 5 Phila. Survivors’ Fund on 7/27

From Bob Ballentine, Financial Secretary, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5

http://phillyunions.com/fop5

The Michael G. Lutz Lodge 5 Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Survivors’ Fund has been depleted substantially due to recent police deaths and injuries. Please come out this Sunday, July 27, to a benefit at Keenan’s Irish Pub (newly expanded), 113 Old New Jersey Avenue @ Chestnut Street (Entertainment District), North Wildwood, New Jersey, from 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM.

Tickets are $30, available at the FOP and can be purchased at the door.

Live Entertainment by “Deezzguyz,” “Touche,” Police and Fire Pipes and Drums and DJ Music.

For further information contact Steve Weiler at 267-249-1486 or the FOP site at www.fop5.org or visit http://www.keenansirishpub.com.

For labor unions, polls show promise

07.15.08

For labor unions, polls show promise

by Robert Cohen/Star-Ledger Washington Bureau
Saturday July 12, 2008, 3:02 PM

Star-Ledger article link

WASHINGTON ## The nation’s labor unions, in decline for decades and on the defensive for eight years during the Bush administration, are counting on a major revival if Barack Obama is elected president in November and Democrats gain stronger majorities in Congress.

With plans to spend at least $300 million on voter registration, issue ads, direct mail, get-out-the-vote operations and other campaign activities, organized labor sees the 2008 election as a watershed moment, and it has lined up solidly behind the Democratic presidential candidate.

“This election for the labor movement and for workers generally is as important as any election since 1932,” said David Bonior, a former Michigan congressman and now chairman of the labor advocacy group American Rights at Work.

On labor’s agenda are a series of economic, trade, health care and worker-safety issues. But Bonior said the top priority is enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it much easier for unions to organize workplaces, increase their dwindling memberships and ultimately boost their political and economic clout.

He likened the measure to the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which protected the right to organize, engage in collective bargaining and strike private-sector employers.

“Such an opportunity doesn’t come around very often,” said Bill Samuel, director of government affairs for the AFL-CIO. “This is an opportunity to get a Democratic president and bigger Democratic majorities in the House and Senate who support fixing the collective bargaining laws.”

The 10 million-member AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 unions, plans to spend $53 million on outreach to its members, while its affiliated unions have promised another $150 million for the fall campaigns. Change to Win Unions, a separate organization with 6 million members, including the Service Employees International Union, are expected to spend at least another $100 million.

The business community is not taking the challenge lightly, with many business leaders supporting Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

“This is potentially the most consequential election for labor unions since (the) 1930s,” said Steven Law, general counsel to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The unions have the potential not merely to achieve slight adjustments but to change the rules of the game, and that is a major concern for the business community,” he said.

Law said the chamber will spend millions of dollars this fall “on substantial grassroots activities and issue advocacy” to alert business interests about what is at stake, particularly when it comes to the Employee Free Choice Act. He said other business organizations and coalitions are planning to invest large sums in similar efforts.

The Employee Free Choice Act would allow formation of unions if a majority of employees at a workplace sign a card or petition, rather than cast their vote through a secret ballot. The bill also calls for mediation if a first contract is not negotiated within 90 days and, if necessary, binding arbitration.

The unions say under current law, some employers routinely control the election process through stalling and intimidation tactics, including firing union supporters, and have greatly hindered their ability to organize.

The business community argues the so-called card check proposal would take away the protection of secret ballot for workers and make them vulnerable to intimidation and coercion by union organizers. They also say it would limit the flexibility of employers, impose an arbitrary time frame for negotiation of a first contract, and ultimately hurt business growth and job creation.

The House passed the measure in 2007 by a 241-185 vote, but it stalled in the Senate because of a Republican filibuster. Obama, an Illinois senator, voted for the bill, while McCain, a senator from Arizona, supported the filibuster.

McCain spokesman Peter Feldman said the senator “supports the rights of employees to vote for union representation using a secret ballot and opposes efforts to deny them this right.”

Samuel, of the AFL-CIO, said the Bush administration has shown “outright hostility toward workers and their unions with efforts to roll back wage and hour laws, worker safety and basic collective bargaining rights through legislation, regulation and lack of enforcement.”

“John McCain really has been part of the attack on workers,” Samuel said. “He would represent a continuation of the Bush agenda.”

Feldman, the McCain spokesman, said such “charges are more about partisan politics than any supposed interest in American working families.”

Union members represented about 35 percent of the U.S. workforce in the mid-1950s, but have dropped to about 12 percent today, and only 8 percent in the private sector.

Peter Francia, an East Carolina University professor and author of “The Future of Organized Labor in American Politics,” said despite reduced membership, union households made up 23 percent of the electorate in 2006, and 24 percent in 2004.

“Even though their numbers have dropped as a percentage in the workforce, labor unions are good at getting members out to the polls,” Francia said.

My pro-labor radio show (Democratic Talk Radio) has a great opportunity but needs funding help

07.15.08

We have an opportunity to get a great time slot during Tuesday evening drive time from 4pm until 5pm. I need to raise another $480 by next Monday to secure the slot. As you likely know, Democratic Talk Radio is a militantly pro-labor show with all guests either aligned with the union movement or union activists themselves.

Can you help us raise the required funding in time to secure this opportunity to advance the labor agenda over the airwaves in time?

We do not have to start broadcasting immediately but should be able to begin within a month.

WNJC 1360AM reaches greater Philadelphia, southeastern Pennsylvania, northern and central Delaware and southern New Jersey. Additionally, it streams live on the Internet.

The station is owned by the son of a former International President of the Seafarers Union. He is militantly pro-labor. He has offered to give labor unions backing the show some free spots to help with organizing or other goals. With this owner, we have a real friend in the media.

I can be reached by cell phone at 443-907-2367. The Democratic Talk Radio office is located at the UAW Local 1183 union complex in Newark, Delaware. The address is 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702.

Our website is http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com. My labor website is http://www.midatlanticlabor.com.

If your organization can help, please contact me. If you know anyone else who can assist, please make them aware of this opportunity. If possible, please contact your District, Region or International to see if they are interested.

We are currently broadcasting on WGPA SUNNY 1100AM in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Thursday mornings from 8:05am until 9am. We can provide numerous labor leader contacts in the greater Lehigh Valley that can vouch for our strong labor commitment and approach.

Sincerely,

Stephen Crockett

Host, Democratic Talk Radio
Editor, Mid-Atlantic Labor.com

NJ State AFL-CIO ENDORSES OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

07.06.08

NJ State AFL-CIO ENDORSES OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

Vocal Support for Labor Issues & Message of Change Illustrates Strong Contrast with the Anti-Labor McCain / Bush Agenda

http://www.njaflcio.org

Trenton- With over 1 million members, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO today announced its endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President. The national AFL-CIO also endorsed the Senator earlier in the day.

“If New Jersey’s working families ever needed a change in direction, a change we can believe in, the time is now more than ever,” said New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. “There is a very clear contrast with the divisive politics of the past, represented by John McCain and George Bush, and the politics of inclusion that embraces social and economic justice for the workers of this state, represented by Senator Obama.”

Senator Obama has earned a 98% AFL-CIO voting record as a U.S. senator, compared to 16% for Senator McCain. More information can be found at www.MeetObama08.com.

Wowkanech continued, “The policy positions offered this year gives voters a very clear choice. Senator Obama has proposed balancing our tax policies to benefit the middle class, whereas McCain will continue the Bush tax cuts for only the wealthiest Americans. Senator Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act, which will allow workers to freely join a union without employer intimidation and harassment. McCain voted against that bill. Senator Obama has a realistic, affordable health care plan to cover all Americans while McCain’s plan continues the failed polices of the Bush Administration.”

The endorsement of the State Federation follows a unanimous recommendation of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Executive Board and over 600 delegates who voted in support of the Illinois Senator on June 11, 2008, in Atlantic City at the 27th Annual Constitutional Convention.

Dealers win election ruling at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino

06.27.08

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - The National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) has confirmed an election victory at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and certified the UAW as the union chosen by a majority of full- and regular part-time dealers.

“I think it’s great,” said Trump Plaza Dealer Doug Migliore, of the board’s ruling. “We’ve been trying to get to the bargaining table for over a year. Now we can move forward to get a contract.”

The decision, said workers and union officials, will give an added boost to a major labor rally planned for Atlantic City on June 21, when trade unionists, community leaders, and supporters from throughout the tri-state area will demonstrate for a “Fair Deal for All Atlantic City Workers.”

“Management’s efforts to prevent workers from exercising their legal rights have failed,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “It’s way past time for them to come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with the union.” Gettelfinger and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney will be among those speaking at the June 21 event.

Information on the rally is available at http://www.June21ACRally.org.

“The NLRB ruling confirms what we already knew: This was a clean campaign and a clear victory for Trump Plaza dealers,” said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union’s Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department.

Dealers at Trump Plaza voted 2-to-1 in favor of forming a union on March 31, 2007. But the company filed objections with the board claiming expressions of support by federal, state and local elected officials during the organizing drive had tainted the representation vote. The boards May 30 ruling upheld an earlier decision by Administrative Law Judge Robert Giannasi, who dismissed all of Trump Plaza’s objections to the election and found the vote to be valid and binding.

Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey, said the board’s decision has further motivated Atlantic City dealers and other casino workers. “The dealers at Trump Plaza and throughout Atlantic City are geared up and moving ahead, and we’re looking forward to a terrific event on June 21.
“We’ve won six representation votes over the last year, every major board decision, and a first-ever smoking ban to protect the health of casino workers,” said Ashton. “Casino management needs to quit the stalling and give workers and families the respect they deserve.”

Since March 2007, a majority of casino dealers, dual-rate dealers and other workers at Caesars, Trump Plaza, Bally’s and Tropicana in Atlantic City have voted in favor of UAW representation. Bargaining is under way at Caesars and Tropicana; the union at Bally’s has just been certified by the NLRB.

The UAW, one of the nation’s largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,500 gaming employees in Detroit, Atlantic City, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Indiana.

http://www.uaw.org/news/newsarticle.cfm?ArtId=487

UAW organizes workers in Cherryville and Northampton

06.24.08

July 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

UAW organizes workers in Cherryville and Northampton
By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, June 4th- The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Amalgamated Union Local 677 in Allentown won the right to bargain for 111 employees of First Student Inc. after winning a representation election conducted by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) in Harrisburg. Employees at First Student Inc. facilities in Cherryville and Northampton voted 76 for to 27 against to join Local 677 for the purpose of collective bargaining. The company provides bus services to the Northampton Area School District.

According to Edward Balukus, President of Local 677, the union will soon begin bargaining for mechanics and drivers of the company. Local 677 has 1,680 active members which includes representing four units of workers employed at Mack Trucks Inc. and employees of AmeriCold Logistics and workers of Lower Saucon Township. There are 235 Local 677 members employed at those two units.

The First Student Inc. unit members must first hold elections for their bargaining committee before contract negotiations can begin. “We will see who wants to serve on the committee, and then we will go from there,” added Mr. Balukas.

Mr. Balukas has been President of Local 677 since July, 2007, replacing long-time serving president Carl Breininger who retired.

“The workers reached-out to us. The company ran a fair campaign, nothing anti-union,” said Mr. Balukus. He told the newspaper other workers have shown an interest in wanting to be organized by the union.

There are currently 377 UAW members laid-off at Mack Trucks because of the economic slowdown. “We have really been hit hard because of the high fuel prices. It has hurt the industry, big-time.”

The United Auto Workers contract with Mack Trucks Inc., which is owned by Volvo of Sweden, expired on October 1st, 2007. Volvo purchased Mack in 2000. The two sides mutually agreed to several extensions of the pact, meaning they are working under the terms and conditions of the previous agreement, while they continue to negotiate for a new contract.

The union represents production workers at the truck manufacturing plant in Macungie Township, workers at the company headquarters office in Allentown and the employees of Mack Trucks engineering department.

Mr. Balukas told the newspaper although the contract expired in October 2007 his members are receiving a cost-of-living wage increase every three months under the terms and conditions of the previous contract. “The language provides a COLA increase every quarter,” said Mr. Balukas.

There are 377 Local 677 members currently laid-off which includes voluntary separation workers.
Mr. Balukas also stated four buses of Local 677 members participated in a labor rally on June 21st in Atlantic City, New Jersey to support workers that voted to be represented by the United Auto Workers but have not yet been able to gain a contract.

Around 850 casino dealers in Atlantic City voted to be unionized on March 2007. However, the union has been unsuccessful to reaching a agreement with the casino.

NLRB Upholds Trump Plaza Dealers’ Vote for UAW

06.06.08

NLRB Upholds Trump Plaza Dealers’ Vote for UAW

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/06/04/nlrb-upholds-trump-plaza-dealers-vote-for-uaw/

by James Parks, Jun 4, 2008

More than a year after they voted for a union, dealers at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., finally can celebrate their victory. The National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) last week certified the UAW as their union.

The dealers at Trump Plaza voted by a 2-1 margin for the union on March 31, 2007. But the company filed objections, claiming statements of support by federal, state and local elected officials tainted the vote.

Says UAW President Ron Gettelfinger:

Management’s efforts to prevent workers from exercising their legal rights have failed. It’s way past time for them to come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with the union.

For workers like Trump Plaza dealer Doug Migliore, the ruling means he and his colleagues finally can begin to change their working conditions. Says Migliore:

We’ve been trying to get to the bargaining table for over a year. Now we can move forward to get a contract.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn says:

The NLRB ruling confirms what we already knew. This was a clean campaign and a clear victory for Trump Plaza dealers.

Bunn directs the union’s Technical, Office and Professional Organizing Department.

On June 21, a united labor movement, backed by community supporters, will hold a major demonstration in downtown Atlantic City to demand that casino owners end their stalling tactics and come to the bargaining table. (Click here to find out more and how to join in the rally.)

Since March 2007, more than 5,000 casino dealers, slot machine technicians and others have voted overwhelmingly to join the UAW in six union-representation elections at four major Atlantic City casinos–Caesars, Trump Plaza, Bally’s and Tropicana. Yet for more than a year, casino owners have delayed and stalled negotiations.

Be sure to check out the new A Fair Deal Website for All Atlantic City Workers. You can download fliers for the rally and read the latest news about the Atlantic City casino workers.

The UAW now represents more than 8,500 gaming employees in Detroit, Atlantic City, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Indiana.