Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall


AUGUST 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall


REGION, July 22nd- The labor community will again continue to push for a increase in the federal minimum wage in the fall after legislators return from their summer recess.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC supports increasing the bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama has proposed.

The current minimum wage, which covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification, is $7.25. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

The AFL-CIO has been lobbying Washington legislators and organizing rallies supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

Some states have tired of waiting for the Republicans in Washington to support an increase and have began raising their bench-mark wage above the federal wage.

Maryland, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, while Republicans in Harrisburg have successfully blocked raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, currently the same as the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

There are 19 state’s and the District of Columbia that have a higher minimum wage than the federal standard. New Jersey’s minimum wage increased in January to $8.25 an hour.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage and has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm the economy.

Meanwhile, according to data released by the Department of Labor on July 18th, job growth in the 13 states that have increased their minimum wage has been more robust than states that have not. Average job growth in states that have increased the benchmark was 0.85 percent this year while in states that have not increase their wage was 0.61 percent.

Increasing the minimum wage has got a boost from a unlikely source with Wal-Mart Stores officials stating they would not oppose the increasing of the benchmark past the $7.25 an hour.

The nation’s largest retailer has 1.3 million employees and currently has 5,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage.

But, Wal-Mart officials have made it clear that while the retailer stated it would not oppose the raising of the benchmark it also does not support increasing it.

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall


AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall


REGION, July 22nd- The labor community will again continue to push for a increase in the federal minimum wage in the fall after legislators return from their summer recess.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC supports increasing the bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama has proposed.

The current minimum wage, which covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification, is $7.25.

The AFL-CIO has been lobbying Washington legislators and organizing rallies supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

Some states have tired of waiting for the Republicans in Washington to support an increase and have began raising their bench-mark wage above the federal wage.

Maryland, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, while Republicans in Harrisburg have successfully blocked raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, currently the same as the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

There are 19 state’s and the District of Columbia that have a higher minimum wage than the federal standard. New Jersey’s minimum wage increased in January to $8.25 an hour.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage and has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm the economy.

Meanwhile, according to data released by the Department of Labor on July 18th, job growth in the 13 states that have increased their minimum wage has been more robust than states that have not. Average job growth in states that have increased the benchmark was 0.85 percent this year while in states that have not increase their wage was 0.61 percent.

Increasing the mimimum wage has got a boost from a unlikely source with Wal-Mart Stores officials stating they would not oppose the increasing of the benchmark past the $7.25 an hour.

The nation’s largest retailer has 1.3 million employees and currently has 5,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage.

But, WalMart officials have made it clear that while the retailer stated it would not oppose the raising of the benchmark it also does not support increasing it.

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

Union to Represent Low-Wage Food Workers at Two Smithsonian Museums


Union to Represent Low-Wage Food Workers at Two Smithsonian Museums


After a series of one-day strikes, marches and demonstrations, about 220 food-service workers at two Smithsonian Institution museums will be represented by a union in contract negotiations for the first time, organizers said Monday…

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Mitch McConnell’s ‘Whack-a-Mole’ Dirty Politics Campaign


by Walter Brasch

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was mad. Not the kind of mad you get when your favorite team blows a big lead and loses its eighth straight game, but Red-Faced-Exploding-Blood-Pressure Mad.

“This is what you get from the political Left in America,” McConnell bellowed to the media. “That is what the political Left does these days.”

McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, added his opinion—“We’ve always said the Left would stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell.” They demanded the FBI launch a criminal investigation. The FBI response to the media was, “[W]e are looking into the matter.” Not long after, McConnell approved a campaign slogan, exhorting voters to “Stand with McConnell against the liberal media’s illegal and underhanded tactics.”

What McConnell and Benton were furious about was a leaked tape that revealed possible tactics they would use against movie star Ashley Judd if she were to oppose McConnell in the 2014 Senate race.

McConnell had no evidence there was any liberal plot or that the tape was the result of a bug deliberately planted in campaign headquarters, but tried to spin in circles to make people believe it was a liberal invasion of his soul.

David Corn of Mother Jones, which this week published a transcript of the tape that was made Feb. 2, said the tape was not the result of any bugging operation. It is entirely possible that the tape was made by someone in that room, not unlike the videotape of Mitt Romney who told a fundraising meeting of wealthy supporters that 47 percent of Americans were takers. However, unlike McConnell’s fury, Romney took the high road and tried to dance around his words rather than blame the liberals for leaking the tape that may have been the turning point in the campaign.

But the tactics of a five-term senator and his senior staff may be just as damaging to their campaign as the “47 percent tape” was to Romney’s. McConnell said he and his campaign should launch a “whack-a-mole” campaign—“when anybody sticks their head up, do them out.” In this case, McConnell’s team planned to attack Judd’s mental health, her political activism, her loyalty to President Obama, and that she is an “out of touch” Hollywood liberal.

“She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced,” said one of the staff, emphasizing the campaign could go after Judd for past bouts of depression that led to her being hospitalized. Laughter about her depression could be heard on the tape. Judd readily acknowledged that time in her life, even including it in her autobiography, All That is Bitter and Sweet.

A staff aide called Judd “critical . . . of traditional Christianity [and] anti-sort-of-traditional American family.” What the aide meant was that Judd opposes sexism in the Christian church, supports the Affordable Care Act, is pro-choice, believes in the rights of gays to marry, is an animal rights advocate who spoke against Sarah Palin’s campaign to eradicate wolves by shooting them in their dens, and opposes the use of coal and other fossil fuels to try to avoid climate change that could destroy the earth’s ozone layer.

McConnell and the staff also didn’t say that while McConnell has led the “Party of No” into blocking almost all major appointments and meaningful legislation, Judd is a recognized humanitarian who has worked vigorously to expose the wrongs committed against society’s most vulnerable. They also didn’t mention she is a Phi Beta Kappa honors graduate of the University of Kentucky, and earned a master’s in public administration from Harvard. They seemed more focused upon sliming her personal life and the fact her cell phone has a San Francisco area code.

In a subsequent story, Mother Jones revealed that some of the staff in the room when the recording was made, and that others who did the research about Judd, were Senate staffers. If they did the work on their own time, did not use any federal resources (including telephones and other communications devices), and did not do their work in any federal office they would not have violated the Senate’s own ethics standards. However, as Mother Jones reported, the three senior McConnell staffers they contacted “did not respond.”

Bound in a political black hole from which truth never escapes, McConnell and his staff launched a “scorch-earth” attack to divert the public from the facts on the leaked tape was the far greater sin than what was said.

Innumerable politicians, especially in the past decade, have proven that dirty politics has become the politics of choice. By attacking how the information was obtained and disseminated, unable to defend his own words and tactics, McConnell has made it obvious that truth and decency no longer have a place in either his campaign or his elected position.

[Dr. Brasch’s current book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an in-depth investigation of the controversial practice of hydraulic horizontal fracking. The book looks at the health, environmental, worker safety, and economic impact of fracking, and also discusses the collusion between politicians and Big Energy.]

U.S. Senate Opposes Plan to Cut Social Security by Changing Formula to Set Benefits



The plan to gut Social Security by changing the inflation formula used to calculate benefits is running into trouble.

The budget resolution passed by the U.S. Senate on March 30 includes an amendment opposing the funding formula known as the “chained CPI.”

Labor, veteran, senior and progressive groups have been lining up against the benefit cut since late last year when the Obama administration floated the proposal during the negotiations to avert the country from falling off the “fiscal cliff.” The administration has continued to support the proposal as it prepares to reach a “grand bargain” over the deficit.

“We are very pleased to see the Senate firmly reject chained CPI,” said Barbara J. Easterling, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, an AFL-CIO group. “Retirees and veterans paid into the system and they deserve their full Social Security benefits.”

Currently, Social Security benefits are determined by the Consumer Price Index, the most widely recognized inflation rate.

The “chained CPI” would create a formula linked to how seniors alter their consumption in response to price changes. The change, though, would reduce benefit increases.

“This is a strong signal that when push comes to shove the Senate is going to oppose any effort to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, disabled veterans and their survivors,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the amendment’s sponsor, after the vote.

Typical 65-year-old retirees would lose more than $650 a year by their 75th birthday and more than $1,000 a year would be cut from their benefits once they reach 85, according to Sanders.
Supporters of Sanders’ amendment included AARP, the AFL-CIO, the National Organization for Women, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and others.

Sanders is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus.

The proposed change also would affect more than 3.2 million disabled veterans receiving disability compensation benefits from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65, according to Sanders. Benefits for more than 350,000 surviving spouses and children also would be cut.

In a meeting with Republicans on March 13, President Barack Obama discussed an offer he made to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) during talks in December about the $1.2 trillion spending cuts over 10 years known as the sequester. Obama’s plan would scrap those automatic cuts and implement an alternative plan that would include $700 billion in new tax revenue and an additional $400 billion in savings from Medicare and $130 billion from Social Security through the chained CPI.

The Senate vote on the amendment comes after growing opposition to the chained CPI.

In January, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said at a news conference that the labor federation would launch a “full mobilization” against the chained CPI that would include leafleting, workplace visits and lobbying.

More than 100 Democrats in February signed a letter opposing entitlement cuts, including the chained CPI. In March, AARP sent out a letter to its members soliciting financial support for its campaign against the change.

Fifty-six million people receive Social Security. Considering that the typical recipient gets about $15,000 a year, the $675 cut resulting from the change in the inflation formula would represent a significant hit.

The reduction would be especially hard on women. Social Security is the only income of an estimated 70 percent of retired women.

This post was originally was published on the Daily Kos.

Hurricane Sandy message from Richard Trumka- President, AFL-CIO


I’m in Washington, D.C., right now and conditions are getting progressively worse.

I hope you and your family are staying safe. We wanted to share with you some resources and tips for dealing with Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.

Click here to check out this information now.

I also wanted to take a minute to thank all the workers who began preparing for the storm early, will be working through it and will keep up their work long after it passes to help repair and rebuild our communities.

Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, said it best in a statement yesterday:

We’re hopeful that preparations will prove unnecessary, but we have peace of mind knowing that union workers–public sector, private sector and building trades–will be there for us: supermarket and retail workers making sure that supplies are available; utility and communication workers laboring day and night to keep the lights and phones on; police officers, firefighters and EMS professionals maintaining our safety; transportation workers preserving our subway, commuter rail and bus infrastructure; state, county and municipal employees keeping the roads clear; construction workers repairing our homes, businesses and communities; hospital workers providing care to our family, friends and neighbors; teachers and child care workers keeping our children safe until we can be with them; and hotel workers making sure there is a place to stay for those who cannot remain home.

Their work and the work of others will get our communities back up and running.

Find important resources and information for dealing with Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath at the link below:

We hope you and your family and friends stay safe. Thanks for all you do.

In Solidarity,

Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

Is Union Busting to Blame for Power Outages in DC?


Is Union Busting to Blame for Power Outages in DC?

By Mike Elk, In These Times

On Thursday, 15,091 Washington, D.C.-area residents were without power for the sixth day in a row, according to utility company Pepco spokesman Marcus Beal. As D.C. residents face record heat waves, many are upset and attribute the lack of power to incompetence on Pepco’s end. However, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1900 members claim the failure to restore power outages is due to chronic understaffing and Pepco’s shift from hiring union utility workers to non-union temporary contractors.

“We have half the linemen we had 15 years ago,” says IBEW Local 1900 Business Agent Jim Griffin, whose union represents 1,150 Pepco workers. “We have been complaining for a very long time. They have relied for a long time on contractors. They are transients, they don’t know our system, and we typically have to go behind them to fix their mistakes. It’s very frustrating. We take ownership in our work, we make careers out of this.”

Griffin says that starting 15 years ago, Pepco stopped hiring workers to replace retiring electrical workers and offered incentive-laden buyout deals to get electricians to retire. In order to address understaffing problems, Pepco has at times hired non-union temporary contractors, instead of hiring new workers. Griffin estimates that Pepco currently employs 1,150 union workers and approximately 400 non-union contractors. The understaffing has led to problems that the IBEW warned about years ago…..

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Initial unemployment claims decrease from previous week


SEPTEMBER 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Initial unemployment claims decrease from previous week


REGION, September 2nd- According to the United States Employment and Training Administration, in the week ending August 27th the seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 409,000 a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 421,000.

The four-week moving average was 410,250, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 408,500. The numbers indicate jobs are still hard to find, in fact some economist have predicted a second recession is likely toward the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. The unemployment rate was reported to be 9.1 percent, however, besides the 14 million reported to be unemployed, there are 8.8 million American workers that are not counted, part-timers who want full-time work or those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. There are 14 million workers reported to be unemployed.

The advance unseasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate is 2.8 percent, unchanged from the prior week.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted unemployment during the week ending August 20th, was 3,735,000, a decrease of 18,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,753,000. The four-week moving average was 3,726,000, a decrease of 3,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,729,250.

The advance number of actual claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 334,372 in the week ending August 27th, a decrease of 10,498 from the previous week. There were 383,135 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010. However, since August 2010 thousands of workers have expired their benefits and are no longer counted as unemployed.

States reported 3,118,042 persons claimed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week, a increase of 31,261 from the prior week.

There were 4,556,751 claimants in the comparable week in 2010. The EUC weekly claims include first, second, third and fourth tier activity.

There are 31 states and the District of Columbia, which includes Pennsylvania, that extended unemployment benefits were available.

Pennsylvania was first among all fifty states with the highest insured unemployment rates in the week at 4.2 percent. New Jersey is second at 3.9 percent, Alaska, California and Connecticut were tied for third at 3.8 percent.

The largest increases in initial claims, (just recently laid-off), were in Pennsylvania, increasing by 1,904; Oregon, increasing by 698; Rhode Island, increasing by 634; and California, increasing by 615.

The largest decreases were in Massachusetts, dropping by 1,698; South Carolina, dropping by 1,058; Georgia, dropping by 978; Nevada, dropping by 695; and Florida, dropping by 670.

The Audacity of Hate: Birthers, Deathers, Deniers, and Barack Obama


by Walter Brasch

The latest garbage spewing hate as it circles the Internet in a viral state of panic continues a three year smear against Barack Obama.

The attacks had begun with the extreme right wing spitting out Obama’s full name—Barack HUSSEIN Obama, as if somehow he wasn’t an American but connected to the Iraqi dictator who, despite the Bush Administration’s best efforts, had no connections to 9/11.

When the right-wingers and Tea Party Pack get tired of their “cutesy” attempts to link Obama to militant Muslims, they launch half-truths and lies to claim he wasn’t born in the United States. Like Jaws, Jason, or Freddy Krueger, “birther” propaganda keeps returning, even when independent state officials and analysts proved the claims false.

The issue simmered on Fox TV and talk radio until Donald Trump, the man with the planet-sized ego and the bacteria-sized brain, inserted his persona into the issue, while pontificating about becoming the next president. The media, exhausted from having to cover the antics of Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, turned their news columns over to the man who would be God—if only it paid better.

The Wing Nut Cotillion, with Trump getting the headlines, then demanded Obama produce a long-form birth certificate—which he did while leading a combined White House-CIA-Pentagon effort to find and destroy Osama bin Laden. The truth still hasn’t quieted the conspiracy nuts.

Not willing to accept truth and logic, the extreme right wing, grasping for anything they could find, have attacked the raid that killed bin Laden. Among their screeches are that bin Laden isn’t dead . . . that he was killed a week earlier or even years earlier . . . that Obama had hidden the death until there was a more political time to reveal it . . . that it was George W. Bush (who publicly said six months after 9/11 that he didn’t care about bin Laden) who deserves all the credit . . . and that while Navy SEALS should get credit, Obama is too weak to have overseen any part of the mission.

And now from the caves of ignorance and hatred comes a much-forwarded letter, which the anonymous author says “shouldn’t surprise anyone.” Written as fact, the letter informs us Barack Obama: “never held a ‘real’ job, never owned a business and as far as we know, never really attended Harvard or Columbia since those transcripts have never been released and no one remembers him from their time at either school.”

The email of hate further “enlightens” us that “Being a community activist only gives someone insite [sic] on how to assist the less fortunate and dregs of society on how to acquire government housing and government benefits without ever contributing one penny in taxes.”

That’s right. The Whackadoodles Wearing Tinfoil Caps crowd has escaped again.

Among those community activists who worked with the “dregs of society,” apparently on ways to scam the government, are St. Francis of Assisi (1181–1226), founder of the Franciscan order and patron saint of animals and the environment; Jacob Riis (1849–1914), a journalist and photographer who exposed the squalor of slums and tenement buildings; Dorothy Day (1897–1980), a journalist who founded the Catholic Worker Movement that advocated nonviolent action to help the poor and homeless, and who the archdiocese of New York, at the direction of Pope John Paul II, began a process leading to beatification; and Jane Addams (1860–1935), who fought for better conditions for children and mothers, was active in the progressive campaigns of Teddy Roosevelt and who, like Roosevelt, earned a Nobel Peace Prize. Those who rail against community activists for not having “real” jobs would also oppose Saul Alinsky (1909–1972), who tirelessly established the nation’s most effective organizational structure to help the poor and disenfranchised to gain a voice against political, economic, and social oppression; Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903–1998), America’s foremost pediatrician, for leading antiwar campaigns; Cesar Chavez (1927–1993), who helped get farm workers respectable pay and decent working conditions; Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) who, with hundreds of thousands of others, forced a nation to finally confront its racism; and innumerable leaders of the feminist and gay rights communities who got America to confront their other prejudices. All were community activists.

Not dregs because they have “real” jobs are the bankers and Wall Street investors who brought about the housing crisis that led to the worst depression in the past seven decades. Also exempt from contempt are the business owners who downsized, right-sized, and shipped their production overseas, throwing millions of Americans out of work.

Barack Obama, castigated for not having a “real job,” worked more than a year as research associate and editor at the Business International Corp., three years as director of Developing Community Projects, a church-based group for eight Catholic parishes, and summer jobs at law firms. Other “not real” jobs include being an author, civil rights lawyer, and a professor of Constitutional law at one of the nation’s more prestigious colleges. Frankly, it’s rather nice to have a president who actually understands the Constitution—as opposed to the rabble who misquote, misstate, and misappropriate it all the time.

Those propagating the email of hate believe Obama couldn’t earn degrees from Ivy League colleges; the subtext is as clear as their refusal to believe in an integrated nation. So, I contacted the registrars at Columbia and Harvard. In less than 10 minutes, the registrar at Columbia confirmed that Barack Obama received a B.A. in political science, and the registrar at Harvard Law School confirmed Obama received a J.D. These are public records. Anyone can ask the same questions, and get the same answer. Logic alone should have shot down these accusations. Obama was editor of the Harvard Law Review, something as easy to verify as his graduation, and he passed the Illinois bar exam—which requires graduation from college and law school, and a personal character test—also a matter of public record.

Even if Obama provided official transcripts, which are confidential, the wing nuts of society will claim that, like the birth certificate and the death of bin Laden, the transcripts were faked.

The truth is that the politics of hate, combined with media complicity and Internet access, has led not to a discussion of issues but to character assassination, with racism and bigotry as its pillars.

[Walter Brasch’s latest book is Before the First Snow, literary historical fiction that explores the counterculture between 1964 and 1991. The book, to be published June 20, is available at Also check out this video book trailer.]




Press Release

Silver Spring, MD - The Washington D.C. Building and Construction Trades Council (WDCBCTC), and Communications Workers of America have announced early strong endorsements for Roger Manno, candidate for Maryland State Senate in the 19th District.

Appearing with Manno at his May 16th State Senate kickoff, WDCBCTC Executive Secretary and Treasurer Vance Ayres, representing 25,000 workers, stated “If we had more folks like Roger Manno in Annapolis, there wouldn’t be all the problems with people losing their houses, who have no health care. I know a lot of legislators. I know good legislators, and I know great legislators. He’s one of the great ones, and so we, the Washington DC-region building trades, formally endorse, Roger Manno.”

Echoing these statements, Ron Collins, Vice President of CWA District 2 said “Communication Workers of America is pleased to announce our strong, early endorsement of Roger Manno for the Maryland State Senate. While many legislators simply vote the right way on labor issues, Roger has tirelessly carried the water and walked the walk for workers in the State of Maryland. The 76 locals and 35,000 members of CWA District 2 stand united in our commitment to ensure that he is our next State Senator.”

Thanking WDCBCTC, and CWA for their early endorsements, Manno stated “I am honored to stand with these important AFL-CIO labor unions in their daily fight for decent wages, reasonable working conditions and comprehensive health care for the hard working families in our communities. By working together to build broad coalitions we can ensure that there are no compromises when it comes to the working families of Maryland. Today’s endorsements are a recognition that Leadership takes teamwork and I look forward to continuing this fight together.”

For more information or to join the Team, please visit

33 States Reported Job Growth in March


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…..

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Debate on TSA collective bargaining rights March 31


Frends, Brothers and Sisters:

I will be debating the Executive Director of an anti-union group in the Senate Dirksen Building at 2:00 p.m. on the issue of collective bargaining rights for TSA officers. For those not familiar with my history I’ve included a couple of links below.

Please spread the word!

In Solidarity,

Ron Moore
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EDITOR’S NOTE: For those of you who do not already know, Ron Moore is a great pro-union writer and union activist. This going to be a great event. I urge all who can attend make an effort to do so.

Obama Announces White House Jobs Summit


Obama Announces White House Jobs Summit

by Mike Hall, Nov 12, 2009

This morning, President Obama announced he will invite labor leaders, business executives, small business owners, economists and other financial experts to a special White House summit on jobs next month.

Obama says the summit will explore ways to slow the loss of jobs and quicken the pace of job creation at a time when the nation’s jobless rate is at 10.2 percent, its highest point since 1983. As Obama said,

We have an obligation to consider every additional responsible step that we can to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country.

Just this week, the AFL-CIO Executive Council met in Washington, D.C., to outline a national jobs creation strategy that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will announce Tuesday at a special Economic Policy Institute (EPI) jobs and economy panel and seminar. (Plan now to view the live webcast from 9-11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17, at

The summit announcement came as a new report showed there were 502,000 initial claims for unemployment benefits last week. Dire as that is, it’s lower than expected and is the smallest number of first-time claims since January. But, according to Obama:

Even though we’ve slowed the loss of jobs—and today’s report on the continued decline in unemployment claims is a hopeful sign—the economic growth that we’ve seen has not yet led to the job growth that we desperately need.

EPI President Lawrence Mishel calls the announcement of the White House jobs summit “necessary and welcome.”

President Obama is right to say that we should take “every responsible step” to help put Americans back to work. With a double-digit unemployment rate and nearly 16 million Americans looking for work, we should take decisive action as quickly as possible to create jobs. High rates of unemployment damage our economy in ways that can take years, if not generations, to fix, by casting millions of families and children into poverty and making it difficult for our nation to invest for the future. President Obama’s focus on job creation is necessary and welcome.

Currently 15.7 million workers are jobless and when the unemployment and underemployment rates are combined they soar to 17.5 percent—more than 27 million workers.

A date for the summit will be announced soon.

SEIU’s Andy Stern to lead Goldman Sachs protest


SEIU’s Andy Stern to lead Goldman Sachs protest


Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein may have had his tongue in his cheek when he said his bankers were doing “God’s work,” but the company’s critics aren’t laughing.

In fact, a couple hundred of them — led by Service Unions International Union president Andy Stern — plan to gather outside of Goldman Sachs’ Washington offices Monday morning to protest the firm’s mega-bonuses, and demand the end of the “too big to fail” doctrine, according to a press release.

The event will be held outside 101 Constitution Ave. N.W., an office building that’s home to many of the most powerful lobbyists and corporations in town, including Goldman. It’s also where you can find POLITICO’s Capitol Hill bureau (in the basement).

Among their demands, the protesters will say that Goldman bankers should donate their reported $23 billion in bonuses to foreclosure prevention programs.

Public Citizen will release a new report during the event analyzing how much the various bailout recipient like Goldman are spending lobbying on financial reform, which the groups say is aimed at squashing real reform.

Goldman is one of the few large financial firms that early on chose not to lobby against the left’s favorite part of the financial reform package — the creation of a consumer financial protection agency. And most if not all of the major Wall Street players say they agree no firms should be too big to fail and support at least the principle behind Democrats’ proposals to end the “too big to fail” era.

But Goldman and other Wall Street firms are very opposed to a new idea gaining traction on the “to big” front — legislation that would empower the federal government to preemptively break up big, complex or interconnected firms even if they’re healthy. Goldman is a member of a coalition, Partnership of New York City, that will meet with the New York congressional delegation next week to urge their resistance to such measures.

Measures like Kanjorski’s would “inflict particular damage on New York, … [and] we hope every member of the delegation will make it their business to oppose them,” the group wrote in a Nov. 11 letter to the New York delegation, which was full of statistics showing the importance of the financial industry to News York — directly employing more than 680,000 people statewide and each one of those Wall Street jobs generating or maintaining an additional 3.3 jobs in other areas.

“There are plenty of ways to achieve reform and reduce risk and taxpayer exposure without destroying institutions that are the anchors of our global financial center,” the group wrote.

D.C. Families, Trumka Demand Respect for Teachers


D.C. Families, Trumka Demand Respect for Teachers

by Seth Michaels, Oct 9, 2009

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka tells supporters of D.C. school employees the school district’s layoffs are ‘a cold hard case of union-busting.’

Thousands of students, parents, teachers and community members from across Washington, D.C., converged on the district’s Freedom Plaza yesterday afternoon to rally in support of hundreds of laid-off teachers.

Nearly 400 school employees have been laid off as a result of controversial decisions by D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee. The layoffs include 229 classroom teachers, many of them veterans. The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) has protested the layoffs, saying that many teachers have been targeted for their age and that the firings are poorly timed and an attempt to undermine the teachers’ contract.

At yesterday’s rally, reports Chris Garlock of the Metropolitan Washington Council, D.C. residents and students of all ages spoke out strongly in support of their teachers. It was one of the largest labor rallies in recent memory in the District. At the rally it was announced that a delegation of teachers sought to present to Mayor Adrian Fenty with a statement in opposition to the layoffs, but Fenty’s assistant wouldn’t even come to the door to accept it.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the firings “a cold hard case of union busting,” and said that union members across the city stand in solidarity with fired teachers:

The labor movement is right here with you. We’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with you for as long as it takes.

Here and across the country, public education and our school children are the victims of wrong-headed efforts to fill state and local budget gaps. Children are the scapegoats. Class sizes are growing beyond anything that makes a shred of sense. After-school and early education programs are disappearing. Teachers are buying school supplies out of their own pockets, and children are losing teachers they love and trust.

Listen, you don’t make better schools by firing teachers. You don’t engage students in learning by disrespecting their educators. You don’t teach children values by discarding values. You may close a short-term budget hole, but it’s at our children’s expense. And that price is too high to pay.

AFT President Randi Weingarten and other top union leaders, as well as members of the D.C. City Council, took part in the rally. City Council members have announced their intention to hold hearings into the public school system’s hiring and firing policies, and the WTU has filed suit to block the layoffs. Weingarten said that these cuts to vital teachers and school staff are hitting students the hardest.

Susan Dunn, a 23-year veteran teacher and the parent of a 6th grader, said the layoffs are exactly the wrong policy to sustain D.C. schools:

Rhee is just out of touch with what’s really happening in the schools. We don’t have a contract, we haven’t had a raise in five years and now they’re firing people without explanation. Morale is terrible

Georgetown University Grants Highest Honor to President John Sweeney


Georgetown University Grants Highest Honor to President John Sweeney

by Tula Connell, Sep 4, 2009

Georgetown University President John DeGioia (right) awarded AFL-CIO President John Sweeney the university’s highest honor.

It’s rare for a major university like Georgetown to grant honorary degrees. But rare are individuals like AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. Last night in a formal robe and gown ceremony followed by a celebration with Archbishop Donald Wuerl in Georgetown’s elegant Riggs Library, Georgetown University President John DeGioia conferred upon Sweeney the degree, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Sweeney has dedicated his life to improving the lives of America’s working families, motivated in large part by his religious faith, one infused with the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church. Recognizing how Catholic doctrine influenced Sweeney’s life-long quest for justice and fairness for working people, DeGioia explained the importance of honoring Sweeney:

For many years, John Sweeney has worked to champion the dignity of workers—and work. And we at Georgetown take seriously the Catholic commitment to social justice for working people that has inspired John Sweeney’s remarkable career. That commitment has recently led us, with the help of the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation, to inaugurate a new effort here, the “Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor,” which we will formally inaugurate later this fall—and in whose work we hope to engage many of you in the years to come. Through its work, we hope to contribute, in our own way, to the tradition that John Sweeney has so well exemplified.

Throughout Sweeney’s more than 50 years of serving those who toil to earn their pay, he has joined his work in the labor movement with dedication to the faith community. He was an original member of the Catholic Common Ground Project, formed by the late Cardinal Bernardin. He participated in an a Vatican Social Justice conference and has been honored by Catholic Charities of Washington, and by Catholic universities such as his alma mater, Iona College in New York, and Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

Noted labor historian and Georgetown professor Joseph McCartin, who was instrumental in the process which led Georgetown to recognize Sweeney, read the degree citation, which states in part:

Driven by family, faith, and a profound sense of justice, John J. Sweeney has had an indelible impact on the struggle for workers’ rights in this country and around the world. His efforts, as president of the AFL-CIO and with the many other organizations he has served, have always championed the right of all people to be able to live and work with dignity.

From an early age, John Sweeney understood the importance of worker solidarity and its role in Catholic social teaching. He credits his beliefs to the values and ethics instilled in him by his parents, to his father’s participation in the local transit worker’s union in New York City, and to his Catholic education at Cardinal Hayes High School, Iona College, and Xavier Labor School. Taken together, this formative upbringing instilled in Mr. Sweeney a sense of purpose that he has carried with him throughout his whole life.

Sweeney, who has been president of the AFL-CIO for 14 years, will retire at our convention in Pittsburgh that begins September 13. The degree citation further describes his dedication, fueled by his faith, to achieving justice for working families:

Imbued with an understanding of social justice and the dignity of work that was informed by his Catholic faith, Mr. Sweeney took his first position as a labor organizer with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers—an organization that later merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. From there, he joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), eventually becoming its president in 1980.

During his 15 years of leadership, Mr. Sweeney increased membership by 75 percent, despite an extremely challenging political environment for unions at the time. In 1995, pledging a ‘New Voice,’ John Sweeney was elected President of the AFL-CIO.

Under Sweeney’s leadership, the AFL-CIO became the nation’s strongest grassroots political action movement to work for progressive change. He enlarged the labor movement by founding Working America, an affiliate for people without a union on the job that now has 3 million members. He forged new alliances with communities of faith, academics, students and more—and through new partnerships with worker centers and workers who are doing groundbreaking organizing on their own.

As Sweeney said in speech at Georgetown:

The American labor movement has been working fiercely to stop [our nation’s] slide into inequality and we are gaining traction in our struggle to turn around our economy and make it work for the many, instead of the privileged few… Our values call us to bring even greater good to society with universal health care, job creation, stewardship of our planet’s resources, stronger regulations governing our financial industry, trade laws respecting workers rights’ around the globe, new protections for today’s immigrants and federal legislation to restore workers’ freedom to form unions.

Saying faith “has been the bedrock of my life,” Sweeney said at the ceremony that the “Holy Father [the Pope] reaffirms our belief in government as a legitimate tool for correcting injustice and inequality, and for regulating business. He writes: ‘The market is not, and must not become, the place where the strong subdue the weak.’

He also reinforces the spiritual teaching that society should honor work—work is a way of worshipping God and participating in God’s ongoing act of creation. Honoring the dignity of work is the core of our shared support for free labor unions, for the absolute right of workers to join together and bargain collectively, and the absolute obligation of corporations to honor those rights and hold themselves to higher standards of social responsibility.

As someone who has had the honor of working with President Sweeney for more than 18 years, it is my turn to recognize AFL-CIO President John Sweeney for holding me, and many of us in the labor movement, to these higher standards of social responsibility.

Chart: Has Your State Left Federal Unemployment Money Unclaimed?


Important information for workers in every state.

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D.C. labor family mourns the loss of three in Metro tragedy; ATU decries rush to blame operator


by Ron Moore

It is at times like this when the term Family of Labor takes on a poignant meaning that cannot be defeated by the opponents of labor. While mourning the loss of three labor Sisters, ATU Local 689 member Jeanice McMillan, CWA member Mary Doolittle and SEIU 32BJ member Ana Fernandez, the responsibility to represent Metro union members must not be neglected.

Shamelessly, the anti-union Drudge Report suggested that “texting” by the operator may be a contributing factor on its headline page while the actual story made no mention of texting. Attempts to determine causation and ensure the safety of workers and riders will take months of careful investigation and first reports indicate management not operator failure. But to reflexively blame management is unfair so early in the investigation.

In response to the tragedy Warren S. George, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the entire International Union, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of our fallen member, Jeanise McMillan, and all of those who lost loved ones as a result of this tragedy.

“With regard to the accident, I think it is unfair and unacceptable to speculate that the ATU operator may have been in any way responsible for the incident. Until a fair and thorough investigation is completed there will be no basis for statements implying that anyone or anything is to blame for the accident.

“The International fully supports [Washington, DC’s Local 689] President Jackie Jeter’s call for honesty and a full disclosure of the facts during the investigation.”

It is at times like this when the rallying cry Don’t Mourn Organize motivates the Family of Labor as members who will march today for health care for all, in support of Iranian freedom fighters and union leaders and lobby for the Employee Free Choice Act. It is a poignant reminder that a strong labor movement is the most effective way to build a strong community.

For additional information about supporting the families of those lost go the Community Services Agency of the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO donation site.

June 25th Democratic Talk Radio show on Healthcare


There is a huge Rally for Healthcare Reform in Washington, DC on June 25th.

Democratic Talk Radio will be broadcasting live that morning from the bus leaving from Allentown,PA. We broadcast from 8:05am until 9am Eastern.

Host Stephen Crockett will be on the bus talking with union leaders and others. Co-host John Morgan will be in the WGPA SUNNY 1100AM studio. The show will stream live on the Internet from the WGPA SUNNY 1100AM website.

John Morgan is a fairly recent addition to the Democratic Talk Radio line-up. Many of you will know him from his Pennsylvania Progressive blog and/or as a healthcare reform advocate.

House Roll Call Vote on the conference agreement on HR 1, American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act



H R 1 YEA-AND-NAY 13-Feb-2009 2:24 PM
QUESTION: On Agreeing to the Conference Report
BILL TITLE: Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year ending 2009








## ## YEAS 246 ##

Adler (NJ)
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Brown, Corrine
Carson (IN)
Castor (FL)
Connolly (VA)
Davis (AL)
Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
Davis (TN)
Donnelly (IN)
Edwards (MD)
Edwards (TX)
Frank (MA)
Gordon (TN)
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Hall (NY)
Hastings (FL)
Herseth Sandlin
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Kilpatrick (MI)
Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Klein (FL)
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Lewis (GA)
Lofgren, Zoe
Markey (CO)
Markey (MA)
McCarthy (NY)
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Moore (KS)
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Murphy, Patrick
Nadler (NY)
Neal (MA)
Pastor (AZ)
Pingree (ME)
Polis (CO)
Price (NC)
Rothman (NJ)
Ryan (OH)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Smith (WA)
Solis (CA)
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Van Hollen
Wasserman Schultz
Wilson (OH)

## ## NAYS 183 ##

Barrett (SC)
Barton (TX)
Bishop (UT)
Bono Mack
Brady (TX)
Broun (GA)
Brown (SC)
Brown-Waite, Ginny
Burton (IN)
Coffman (CO)
Davis (KY)
Deal (GA)
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Franks (AZ)
Garrett (NJ)
Gingrey (GA)
Hall (TX)
Hastings (WA)
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, Sam
Jordan (OH)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kline (MN)
Lewis (CA)
Lungren, Daniel E.
McCarthy (CA)
McMorris Rodgers
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Miller, Gary
Moran (KS)
Murphy, Tim
Poe (TX)
Price (GA)
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Ryan (WI)
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Thompson (PA)
Wilson (SC)
Young (AK)
Young (FL)



## ## NOT VOTING 3 ##

Lee (NY)

Information provided by Jeremy J. Funk

Communications Director, Americans United for Change