Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

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

06.27.09

http://www.examiner.com/x-2071-DC-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2009m6d25-DC-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. http://partners.guidestar.org/controller/searchResults.gs?action_donateReport=1&partner=networkforgood&ein=52-1718506

June 25th Democratic Talk Radio show on Healthcare

06.20.09

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

02.13.09

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll070.xml

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 70

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
Nays
PRES
NV

Democratic
246
7
1
1

Republican

176

2

Independent

TOTALS
246
183
1
3

## ## YEAS 246 ##

Abercrombie
Ackerman
Adler (NJ)
Altmire
Andrews
Arcuri
Baca
Baird
Baldwin
Barrow
Bean
Becerra
Berkley
Berman
Berry
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Blumenauer
Boccieri
Boren
Boswell
Boucher
Boyd
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Brown, Corrine
Butterfield
Capps
Capuano
Cardoza
Carnahan
Carney
Carson (IN)
Castor (FL)
Chandler
Childers
Clarke
Clay
Cleaver
Cohen
Connolly (VA)
Conyers
Cooper
Costa
Costello
Courtney
Crowley
Cuellar
Cummings
Dahlkemper
Davis (AL)
Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
Davis (TN)
DeGette
Delahunt
DeLauro
Dicks
Dingell
Doggett
Donnelly (IN)
Doyle
Driehaus
Edwards (MD)
Edwards (TX)
Ellison
Ellsworth
Engel
Eshoo
Etheridge
Farr
Fattah
Filner
Foster
Frank (MA)
Fudge
Giffords
Gonzalez
Gordon (TN)
Grayson
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Grijalva
Gutierrez
Hall (NY)
Halvorson
Hare
Harman
Hastings (FL)
Heinrich
Herseth Sandlin
Higgins
Hill
Himes
Hinchey
Hinojosa
Hirono
Hodes
Holden
Holt
Honda
Hoyer
Inslee
Israel
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Kagen
Kanjorski
Kaptur
Kennedy
Kildee
Kilpatrick (MI)
Kilroy
Kind
Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Kissell
Klein (FL)
Kosmas
Kratovil
Kucinich
Langevin
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Levin
Lewis (GA)
Loebsack
Lofgren, Zoe
Lowey
Luján
Lynch
Maffei
Maloney
Markey (CO)
Markey (MA)
Marshall
Massa
Matheson
Matsui
McCarthy (NY)
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McIntyre
McMahon
McNerney
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Melancon
Michaud
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Mitchell
Mollohan
Moore (KS)
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Murphy, Patrick
Murtha
Nadler (NY)
Napolitano
Neal (MA)
Nye
Oberstar
Obey
Olver
Ortiz
Pallone
Pascrell
Pastor (AZ)
Payne
Pelosi
Perlmutter
Perriello
Peters
Pingree (ME)
Polis (CO)
Pomeroy
Price (NC)
Rahall
Rangel
Reyes
Richardson
Rodriguez
Ross
Rothman (NJ)
Roybal-Allard
Ruppersberger
Rush
Ryan (OH)
Salazar
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sarbanes
Schakowsky
Schauer
Schiff
Schrader
Schwartz
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Serrano
Sestak
Shea-Porter
Sherman
Sires
Skelton
Slaughter
Smith (WA)
Snyder
Solis (CA)
Space
Speier
Spratt
Stark
Stupak
Sutton
Tanner
Tauscher
Teague
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Tierney
Titus
Tonko
Towns
Tsongas
Van Hollen
Velázquez
Visclosky
Walz
Wasserman Schultz
Waters
Watson
Watt
Waxman
Weiner
Welch
Wexler
Wilson (OH)
Woolsey
Wu
Yarmuth

## ## NAYS 183 ##

Aderholt
Akin
Alexander
Austria
Bachmann
Bachus
Barrett (SC)
Bartlett
Barton (TX)
Biggert
Bilbray
Bilirakis
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Blunt
Boehner
Bonner
Bono Mack
Boozman
Boustany
Brady (TX)
Bright
Broun (GA)
Brown (SC)
Brown-Waite, Ginny
Buchanan
Burgess
Burton (IN)
Buyer
Calvert
Camp
Cantor
Cao
Capito
Carter
Cassidy
Castle
Chaffetz
Coble
Coffman (CO)
Cole
Conaway
Crenshaw
Culberson
Davis (KY)
Deal (GA)
DeFazio
Dent
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Dreier
Duncan
Ehlers
Emerson
Fallin
Flake
Fleming
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foxx
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Gallegly
Garrett (NJ)
Gerlach
Gingrey (GA)
Gohmert
Goodlatte
Granger
Graves
Griffith
Guthrie
Hall (TX)
Harper
Hastings (WA)
Heller
Hensarling
Herger
Hoekstra
Hunter
Inglis
Issa
Jenkins
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, Sam
Jones
Jordan (OH)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kingston
Kirk
Kline (MN)
Lamborn
Lance
Latham
LaTourette
Latta
Lewis (CA)
Linder
LoBiondo
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lummis
Lungren, Daniel E.
Mack
Manzullo
Marchant
McCarthy (CA)
McCaul
McClintock
McCotter
McHenry
McHugh
McKeon
McMorris Rodgers
Mica
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Miller, Gary
Minnick
Moran (KS)
Murphy, Tim
Myrick
Neugebauer
Nunes
Olson
Paul
Paulsen
Pence
Peterson
Petri
Pitts
Platts
Poe (TX)
Posey
Price (GA)
Putnam
Radanovich
Rehberg
Reichert
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rohrabacher
Rooney
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Royce
Ryan (WI)
Scalise
Schmidt
Schock
Sensenbrenner
Sessions
Shadegg
Shimkus
Shuler
Shuster
Simpson
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Souder
Stearns
Sullivan
Taylor
Terry
Thompson (PA)
Thornberry
Tiahrt
Tiberi
Turner
Upton
Walden
Wamp
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Wilson (SC)
Wittman
Wolf
Young (AK)
Young (FL)

## ## ANSWERED “PRESENT” 1 ##

Lipinski

## ## NOT VOTING 3 ##

Campbell
Clyburn
Lee (NY)

________________________________________
Information provided by Jeremy J. Funk

Communications Director, Americans United for Change

http://www.AmericansUnitedforChange.org

Students, Workers Urge Georgetown to Defend Workers’ Rights

02.04.09

Students, Workers Urge Georgetown to Defend Workers’ Rights

by James Parks, Feb 2, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/02/02/students-workers-urge-georgetown-to-defend-workers-rights/

Students at Georgetown University today called on the school to honor its ethical commitments and cut ties with an apparel manufacturer that students say busted a union and violated workers’ rights at a plant in Honduras.

At a rally on the university’s campus in Washington, D.C., Moises Elias Montoya Alvarado and Norma Estela Mejia Castellanos, who work at Russell Athletics’ Jerzees de Honduras factory—which produces Georgetown logo apparel—described how the company closed the plant this past weekend and shipped the work to cheaper nonunion plants. The Jerzees de Honduras factory, located near Pedro Sula, Honduras, is the only unionized Russell plant in the country.

“We have been campaigning for a year and a half to end the abuses in our factory and ensure that we are treated with dignity and respect,” said Montoya Alvarado.

Because I have stood up for my rights and the rights of my co-workers, I have been the subject of violent retaliation, including death threats written on the factory walls and threatening notes left at my sewing machine. I came here today, together with these students, because Georgetown has the power to help put an end to the abuses and death threats that my co-workers and I face at home.

Russell announced its plan to close the plant in October 2008. Prior to the closing, several universities including Miami of Florida, the University of Minnesota and Georgetown, urged the company not to close the plant or delay the action.

The Georgetown students say closing a factory due, partially or wholly, to the formation of a union is a violation of the school’s codes of conduct for apparel production. They delivered a letter to university President John DeGioia, urging him to immediately cancel the school’s apparel deal with Russell.

Marley Moynahan, a sophomore at Georgetown and a member of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, an affiliate of United Students Against Sweatshops, says it’s the right thing to do.

As a Jesuit university, we expect our campus community and Georgetown as an institution to be a leader in worker rights and to stand in solidarity with those whose dignity is neglected and whose voices are being suppressed. Georgetown should remain true to its contracts and its codes of ethics.

The University of Miami, a major licenser of logo apparel, already has terminated its licensing deal with Russell over the violations, and other universities are considering similar moves, Moynahan says.

Russell is the largest supplier of athletic team uniforms in the United States and also sells sweatshirts, T-shirts, fleece and other casual wear throughout the world. It has more than $1 billion in annual sales and employs more than 15,000 employees worldwide.

IOUE union member daughter whistleblower advocate

01.11.09

January 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

IOUE union member daughter whistleblower advocate

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, December 30th- Jack Williams, a member and officer of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 in Wilkes-Barre, daughter Attorney Lindsey M. Williams is the Advocacy Director for the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) in Washington, DC.

According to Ms. Williams, the National Whistleblowers Center is an advocacy organization with a 20-year history of protecting the right of individuals to speak out about wrongdoing in the workplace without fear of retaliation.

Since 1988, the National Whistleblowers Center has supported whitleblowers in the courts and before the United States Congress, achieving victories for environmental protection, nuclear safety, government ethics and corporate accountability, Ms. Williams told the newspaper.

The National Whistleblowers also sponsors several educational and assistance programs, including an online resource center on whistleblowers rights, a speakers bureau of national experts and former whistleblowers, and a national attorney referral service run by the NWC’s sister group, the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense and Education Fund (NWLDEF).

Ms. Williams stated the NWC is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that have represented some of the most high-profile whistleblowers including: Bunny Greenhouse who exposed the no-bid contract to Halliburton in the run-up to the Iraq war; Bassem Youssef the Federal Bureau of Ivestigation (FBI) agent who exposed the National Security Letters program that allowed the government to illegally spy on American citizens; Aaron Westrick who blew the whistle on defective bullet proof vests that killed a police officer; and Jane Turner the FBI agent who exposed the agency’s thefts at Ground Zero in New York.

The National Whistleblowers Center web-site address is: www.whistleblowers.org. Background information on the cases mentioned above can be reviewed on the web-site and the organization operates a blog.

The National Whistelblowers Center sponsors several educational and assistance programs including:

• an online resource center of whistleblowers rights
• publications for download or purchase
• a speakers bureau of national experts and former whistleblowers
• a national attorney referral service run by the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund

Stephen Kohn, President of the NWC stated new rules recently established by the federal government will help employee whistleblowers step forward and report fraud regarding federal contractors and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

On December 12th, 2008, the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and its Department of Defense announced the approval of new rules governing federal contracting.

These rules, the result of a rulemaking proceeding initiated by the General Services Administration and the Department of Defense, now require all major federal contractors to implement “internal controls to detect and prevent improper conduct.”

The new rule also requires all contractors to self-report violations of the False Claims Act. Failure to implement these reforms can result in contractor “suspension or debarment.”

For some Senate Republicans, a vote against the bailout was a vote against the United Auto Workers, and against organized labor in general.

12.15.08

For some Senate Republicans, a vote against the bailout was a vote against the United Auto Workers, and against organized labor in general.

By Jim Puzzanghera
December 13, 2008

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-fi-gopunions13-2008dec13,0,1950236,full.story

Reporting from Washington ## The congressional push to help U.S. automakers was generally cast in terms of protecting the reeling national economy from another body blow ## the collapse of one or more of Detroit’s Big Three.

But in killing the stopgap rescue plan worked out by President Bush and congressional Democrats, conservative Republicans ## many from right-to-work states across the South ## struck at an old enemy: organized labor.

“If the [United Auto Workers], which is perceived as one of the strongest unions in the country, can be put under control, that may send a message across the whole country,” said Michigan State University professor Richard Block, a labor relations expert.

Such antipathy to unions was an undercurrent through the weeks of negotiations leading up to Thursday’s Senate vote rejecting the plan.

Handing a defeat to labor and its Democratic allies in Congress was also seen as a preemptive strike in what is expected to be a major battle for the new Congress in January: the unions’ bid for a so-called card check law that would make it easier for them to organize workers, potentially reversing decades of declining power. The measure is strongly opposed by business groups.

“This is the Democrats’ first opportunity to pay off organized labor after the election,” read an e-mail circulated Wednesday among Senate Republicans. “This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.”

One of the leading opponents of the auto bailout, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), said: “Year after year, union bosses have put their interests ahead of the workers they claim to represent. Congress never should have given these unions this much power, and now is the time to fix it.”

Of course, for Democrats’ part, they were fighting for one of their most loyal supporters in backing the $14-billion bailout.

The UAW, which represents about 150,000 employees of the Big Three, delivered campaign contributions and foot soldiers to help elect Barack Obama president, especially in crucial states such as Michigan and Ohio.

What lent a bipartisan gloss to Senate Democrats’ effort was the fact that party leaders had negotiated for days with the White House and made a string of concessions that toughened the bill and won active support from the Bush White House.

Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), a strong auto industry supporter, acknowledged that some of his colleagues simply did not want to help the UAW.

“We have many senators from right-to-work states, and I quite frankly think they have no use for labor,” he said. “Labor usually supports very heavily Democrats and I think that some of the lack of enthusiasm for this [bailout] was that some of them didn’t want to do anything for the United Auto Workers.”

One major car dealer said conservatives let political ideology get in the way of protecting the country’s interests.

“Being a Republican myself, I feel very betrayed by the Republican Party right now,” said Beau Boeckmann, vice president of Galpin Motors Inc. in North Hills. Galpin has the nation’s largest Ford dealership as well as lots where it sells eight other foreign and domestic brands.

The anti-union sentiment rose to the surface in the final desperate hours of negotiations. Republicans insisted that the UAW agree to cut its wages to be competitive with foreign companies such as Honda, Toyota and BMW by a set date.

UAW officials and their Democratic allies balked, saying the autoworkers were being told to make sacrifices that had not been demanded of other industries receiving government bailouts.

“We could not accept the effort by the Senate GOP caucus to single out workers and retirees for different treatment and to make them shoulder the entire burden of any restructuring,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said, arguing the union had gone further than any other stakeholder in making concessions to help the companies avoid bankruptcy.

But DeMint argued that the unions had helped create Detroit’s plight.

“It is no coincidence that the healthy automakers in the United States are located in ‘right-to-work’ states and are not unionized by the UAW,” he said. “Right-to-work” states bar agreements between trade unions and employers making membership or payment of union dues or “fees” a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.

Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), a labor ally, said Friday that Republican senators who opposed the bailout might have “wanted to crush a longtime political rival, the United Auto Workers,” without concern for the economic consequences.

Democrats lauded the UAW as a hero in the bailout process for agreeing to new concessions on top of major ones given in 2005 and 2007. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) called the union “courageous” just before the House approved the bailout Wednesday.

But some Republicans framed the UAW as the villain, criticizing what they called lavish wages and benefits that they said had driven General Motors, Chrysler and, to a lesser extent, Ford to their knees.

“I’m sure that I’m going to be asked, ‘Congressman, I work at Honda’ or ‘I work at Mercedes. I get $40 an hour. Why are you going to take my tax dollars and pay it to a company that’s paying their employees $75 an hour?’ ” Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said last month.

That wage figure ## widely used by opponents of the auto industry bailout ## is not in fact the wage paid to current workers. It is an approximation of the costs of salaries and benefits for current and retired workers. After wage concessions in recent contracts, the UAW says its workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler plants range from $33 an hour for skilled trades to $14 an hour for new hires.

Precise wages and extrapolated benefits costs for U.S. workers at nonunionized foreign companies, such as Honda and Toyota, are difficult to ascertain, but Block estimated salaries for current workers are approximately the same.

The Big Three automakers have higher labor costs primarily because they have operated factories in the U.S. much longer than their foreign counterparts, so have many more retirees receiving pension and healthcare payments, Block said.

Even if UAW workers at GM took a 20% pay cut, it would only save the company about $1.1 billion annually because the company’s unionized workforce in the United States has decreased dramatically in recent years, to 55,000, he said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) characterized the GOP opposition as “class-warfare assault by the Republicans.”

“They never ask about banker salaries. . . . They never asked they give money back,” he said.

When Congress convenes in January, the expanded Democratic majorities are expected to push for an Employee Free Choice Act, also known as the “card check,” under which companies would recognize unions if a majority of workers signed cards saying they favored a union. That would replace the traditional method of a secret ballot among workers.

Block and other analysts believe the looming fight added to the political maneuvering over the bailout.

“The opposition might be as strong, but it might not be as urgent,” Block said.

“If the public could be convinced the problem with the auto industry is the UAW . . . then it will be easier than otherwise to marshal public support against unions and their legislative agenda.”

Puzzanghera is a writer in our Washington bureau.

jim.puzzanghera@ latimes.com

Times staff writer Ken Bensinger contributed to this report.

Putting Labor on D.C.’s Map

12.09.08

Putting Labor on D.C.’s Map

by Mike Hall, Dec 7, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/12/07/putting-labor-on-dcs-map/

Forget a tip of the hat. A huge round of applause is in order for Chris Garlock, editor of the Metropolitan Washington Council’s Union City, for launching an interactive labor map.

Click here for map http://www.communitywalk.com/washington_dc/dc_labor_map/map/315109

The just-launched D.C. Labor Map lets users find current and historic labor sites in Washington, D.C., along with union hotels, restaurants, international and local union organizations and labor art.

Whether you are using it for a virtual tour of labor in the nation’s capital or planning a real-life walking tour, the map offers a bunch of great information.

Click on the legend prompt to view and choose a category from a list that includes labor art, union struggles, union restaurants and historic makers. Selecting “labor art” will pop up 11 sites around town where you can take in murals, sculptures and other artwork dedicated to workers and their jobs.

For example, you can get directions to murals from Depression-era artist Harold Weston.

One of the best-kept labor and art secrets in D.C. (and there seem to be many) are the murals of Harold Weston. Depicting the construction of government buildings and office activities, these murals are excellent examples of New Deal art projects of the 1930s; they were designed to represent the recovery being made from the Great Depression.

Labor history buffs can check out memorials, statues and other sites honoring early labor leaders, including the “Abe Lincoln of the Seas,” Andrew Furuseth, who founded the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, an affiliate of the Seafarers (SIU); and Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor. Also, somewhere in the National Archives, we understand there is a packet of Joe Hill’s ashes. Union hotels, eateries, and national and international offices are just a click away.

Kudos also to Jon Garlock, Lisa Garlock, Saul Schniderman and Peter Winch who helped put labor on the D.C. map.

Auto Worker Caravan headed for Washington, DC

12.05.08

http://www.autoworkercaravan.org/

Please spread the word!

Hope other union members and retirees join in this effort.

DC area labor daily news from Union City

09.23.08

Monday, September 22, 2008

LABOR UPDATES: Dairy Workers Beat Unionbusting at Quickway: Dairy workers at Quickway Transportation won a major legal fight last Monday when an NLRB judge ruled against Quickway’s unionbusting tactics during contract negotiations in 2007. This is “a stunning and complete victory for our members,” says Teamsters Local 639 Recording Secretary Phil Giles. Workers – who deliver Marva Maid dairy products to Giant stores in the Metro DC area - stuck Quickway in January 2007 after the company locked out workers and refused to bargain in good faith (Dairy Workers Still on Strike 1/18/07 UC). The NLRB ruling orders Quickway to reinstate locked out drivers with full back pay, benefits and interest. Giles said he hoped the ruling would send a warning other employers that would think about using the same tactics and added that Local 639 “will do whatever it takes to make Quickway comply with their legal obligations.”

NEW TRADES LEADER A FIGHTER: Vance Ayres has been standing up to bullies since he was a kid. “I always stood up for the kids being picked on,” Ayres told Union City, “and I always picked them for my team because they fought harder and we won!” These days Ayres is taking the fight for justice to a bigger sandbox as the new Secretary-Treasurer of the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, the umbrella organization for over a dozen area construction trades locals. The 42-year-old’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious and he seems hard-put to sit still for an interview. Though most folks these days know him as an Elevator Constructor – his home local for the last 11 years (he’s still Recording Secretary) – he began his union career in 1990 as an organizer for UFCW after a brief stint playing semi-pro football. “Organizing really woke me up to poverty and why people needed a union,” Ayres says, “I’d go into rowhouses there were huge holes in the walls and the people had no food, in stark contrast with my neighborhood, where families had plenty of food, pensions and health care.” Click here for the rest of the interview.
- report by Chris Garlock

HEALTH CARE SQUAD TO QUARANTINE INSURANCE CONFAB: Warning that “The health insurance industry is hazardous to your health,” uniformed nurses and doctors will stage a protest at an insurance industry conference today. Area activists are urged to join the healthcare professionals as they attempt to quarantine the Capitol Hilton hotel at 12:45P when Newt Gingrich is scheduled to address the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Conference on Medicare and Medicaid. “Despite spending twice as much as other industrialized nations, our mostly private health insurance system performs poorly,” says the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, which is coordinating the protest. “One third of every health care dollar is taken up by paperwork and other administrative costs of private insurance that have little to do with addressing disease or injury. Poor health and poor health care hold down the U.S. economy and reduce productivity. A guaranteed health care program patterned after Medicare can provide coverage for all, while at the same time saving close to $300 billion per year.”

WILLIAMS CHAIRS UNITED WAY LABOR DIV: Metro Washington Council President Jos Williams has been tapped to chair this year’s United Way Labor Division. “The United Way has long been a great partner for our own Community Services Agency,” Williams said, “and this year’s campaign slogan – “Live United” – is completely consistent with the union movement’s commitment to working together to change the world.” With the Community Services Agency launching its workplace giving campaign this week, Williams urged area union members to “Give generously this year; times are tough but the labor movement is tougher!” The CSA’s United Way designation number is 8253.

LABOR PHOTO: Protest Against Colombian Prez Draws Huge Lunchtime Crowd: Over 100 activists rallied outside the National Press Club Friday to protest the visit of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe and 80 other Colombian government officials were in town to lobby for passage of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which critics argue should not be passed until the Colombian government addresses the increasing violence against workers and activists and the agreement includes significant labor, human and environment rights. “In the past eight months, 41 Colombian trade union members have been murdered, more than in all of last year,” reports James Parks on AFL-CIO Now Weblog. “Nearly 2,700 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia since 1986, including some 471 during the Uribe administration. And the killers are getting away with it. The impunity rate for murdering a trade unionist in Colombia remains at more than 96 percent.” Click here to read Parks’ full report.

UNION CITY VOICE: Readers Write: The Real Battle in Seattle: “I saw that [last Wednesday’s] Union City reviewed the new movie Battle in Seattle,” writes Georgetown Solidarity Committee activist Sarah Heydemann. “Here at Georgetown, we’ve been debating whether this movie is a positive or negative force! I’m not against the Hollywood version per se, I just worry that those who know nothing about the issue or the event before they see the movie will think that’s the only version out there.” For activists’ accounts of the historic 1999 protests, check out the Real Battle in Seattle website and the documentary This is what Democracy Looks Like, which uses actual footage shot by hundreds of activists on the ground during the protests. Click here for a debate on the film, which aired on Democracy Now! last Thursday, with Director Stuart Townsend and David Solnit, a key organizer of the shutdown of the WTO in Seattle and creator of The Real Battle in Seattle website. Battle in Seattle continues this week at the E Street Cinema; click here for details on showtimes and tickets.

TODAY’S LABOR HISTORY: Emancipation Proclamation passes (1862); Great Steel Strike begins; 350,000 workers demand union recognition. The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee calls off the strike, their goal unmet, 108 days later (1919); Martial law rescinded in Mingo County, WV after police, US troops and hired goons finally quell coal miners’ strike (1922); US Steel announces it will cut the wages of 220,000 workers by 10 percent (1931); United Textile Workers strike committee order strikers back to work after 22 days out, ending what was at that point the greatest single industrial conflict in the history of American organized labor. The strike involved some 400,000 workers in New England, the mid-Atlantic states and the South (1934); Some 400,000 coal miners strike for higher wages in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio (1935); The AFL expels the International Longshoremen’s Association for racketeering; the union was readmitted to the then-AFL-CIO six years later (1953); OSHA reaches its largest ever settlement agreement, $21 million, with BP Products North America following an explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas plant earlier in the year that killed 15 and injured 170 (2005); Eleven Domino’s employees in Pensacola, FL form the nation’s first union of pizza delivery drivers (2006); San Francisco hotel workers end a two-year contract fight, ratify a new five-year pact with their employers (2006); More info & ammo for unionists is available online from Union Communication Services.

Material published in UNION CITY may be freely reproduced by any recipient; please credit the Council as the source.

Published by the Metropolitan Washington Council, an AFL-CIO “Union City” Central Labor Council whose 200 affiliated union locals represent 150,000 area union members. JOSLYN N. WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT.

Story suggestions, event announcements, campaign reports, Letters to the Editor and other material are welcome, subject to editing for clarity and space, and should be directed to:

Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Andy Richards
streetheat@dclabor.org
Voice: 202-974-8153
Fax: 202-974-8152

Metro DC Labor Council newsletter- UNION CITY

06.13.08

Friday, June 13, 2008

LABOR REPORTER/AUTHOR TO ATTEND COUNCIL MEETING: Meet the author of “one of the best books in years on the labor movement” at Monday’s Labor Council meeting. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Philip Dine, whose labor reporting has been nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize, will discuss his new book “State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy and Regain Political Influence” at the meeting, where copies will also be available for sale and autographing. The Bricklayers call Dine’s book “a must read for anyone concerned about the future of our country,” CWA says it’s “packed with colorful anecdotes and careful research” and Congressman Chris Van Hollen termed it “a masterful job.”

HUNDREDS HONOR LABOR, COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS AT DC JWJ AWARDS: Hundreds of activists filled the Gompers Room of the AFL-CIO last night to honor labor and community leaders at the 6th Annual DC Jobs with Justice (JwJ) “I’ll Be There” Awards. This year’s honorees included Metro Council President Jos Williams, Foundry United Methodist Church, Empower DC, and DC public school activists Mary Spencer and Marc Borbely. The evening started with a lively performance by Sin Fronteras followed by an adaptation of the popular Indian street theater play “The Pit” by the ACT Theater Collective. The event helped to raise funds for the work of DC JwJ. To donate to DC JWJ online, click here. https://secure.ga6.org/08/DCdonate

CASINO DEALERS SEEK BETTER DEAL: The June 21 mobilization to support casino workers in Atlantic City is gathering momentum. Space is available on buses traveling up from DC for the day; the buses leave from the Greenbelt Metro at 8A and return around 8P (lunch will be provided); click here http://www.dclabor.org/ht/display/EventDetails/i/69431/pid/538 for details. Last year in Atlantic City nearly 5,000 table game dealers and slot machine technicians organized at six casinos and the overwhelming majority at four of the casinos voted for the United Auto Workers. One year later these workers are still without a contract.

GOLF TOURNEY FORMS NOW ONLINE: Registration forms are now available online for the 13th Annual Community Services Agency (CSA) Golf Tournament planned for Monday, September 29. “Last year we had perfect weather and raised badly needed funds for the CSA’s Emergency Assistance Fund,” says CSA Executive Director Kathleen McKirchy. Click here http://www.dclabor.org/ht/display/EventDetails/i/22084/pid/538 for more info and to download registration forms.

WEEKEND LABOR HISTORY: American Railway Union, headed by Eugene V. Debs, founded (6/13/1893); Medgar Evers, civil rights leader, assassinated (6/13/1963); “Battle of Century City,” as police in Los Angeles attack some 500 janitors and their supporters during a peaceful Service Employees International Union demonstration against cleaning contractor ISS. The event generated public outrage that resulted in recognition of the workers’ union and spurred the creation of an annual June 15 Justice for Janitors Day (6/15/1990); More info & ammo for unionists is available online from Union Communication Services.

Material published in UNION CITY may be freely reproduced by any recipient; please credit the Council as the source.

Published by the Metropolitan Washington Council, an AFL-CIO “Union City” Central Labor Council whose 200 affiliated union locals represent 150,000 area union members. JOSLYN N. WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT.

Story suggestions, event announcements, campaign reports, Letters to the Editor and other material are welcome, subject to editing for clarity and space, and should be directed to:

Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Andy Richards
streetheat@dclabor.org
Voice: 202-974-8153
Fax: 202-974-8152
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EDITOR’S NOTE: I highly recommend signing up for this informative newsletter. There is a sign-up link on the tool bar on the right side of this site under Labor Media.

D.C. Security Guards Get Union Contract

04.28.08

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/13/AR2008041301764.html

By Alejandro Lazo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 14, 2008; Page D01

Four private security contractors have reached an agreement with a union to raise wages and provide benefits to about 1,500 security guards working in the District’s office buildings.

The agreement, signed last week by the Service Employees International Union and Admiral Security, AlliedBarton, Guardsmark and Securitas, is the first union contract for private security guards working in commercial buildings in the District.

The agreement is part of a national campaign by the SEIU to organize security guards. The deal covers about three-quarters of the District’s office building security guard workforce, the union said.

The security guards will earn at least $12.40 per hour or receive a raise of at least 50 cents per hour, whichever is more. The final contracts went into effect Wednesday.

“It means they are starting to respect the security guards,” said Raquel Mack, 21, of Northeast Washington, who began working for AlliedBarton two years ago while attending the University of the District of Columbia. “We are the first line of defense if anything happens downtown. We have to protect most of the people and their property.”

The companies agreed to pay for health insurance for all full-time workers. Part-time officers will not get health insurance, but they and their families will receive employer-paid benefits such as prescription drugs, dental care, vision care and life insurance.

“We are very excited,” said Valarie Long, vice president of SEIU Local 32BJ. “There are about 1,500 workers whose lives are going to improve, at least economically.”

The agreement caps a four-year organizing effort by Local 32BJ, which represents more than 100,000 workers in six states.

The SEIU has about 10,000 workers in the Washington area.

The union worked with the D.C. Council last year to pass the Enhanced Professional Security Amendment Act, which sets the minimum wage for security workers at $11.51 per hour and benefits at $3.16 per hour. The law went into effect Wednesday, the same day as the contract, and gave the union extra leverage in its negotiations.

“By requiring fair wages, we are taking an important step to address our City’s staggering poverty rate,” council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), the lead sponsor of the act, said in a statement.

AlliedBarton said in a statement that it was “pleased” to have reached the agreement.

Todd Carroll, a senior vice president with Admiral Security Services, said, “I think it is good for the industry. There are a lot of companies that don’t give the wages and benefits they should to their officers.”

The commercial office buildings where the security officers work include Gallery Place, the Watergate offices, the National Press Building, the National Geographic building and National Public Radio headquarters.

Washington, D.C., May Become Second City with Paid Sick Leave

03.06.08

by Mike Hall, Mar 5, 2008

Washington, D.C., could soon become the second city in the nation to require employers to provide workers with paid sick leave days if the mayor and Congress approve a measure the District of Columbia City Council passed yesterday. But union members and communities allies who worked for the bill’s passage are decrying efforts by local corporations that ultimately persuaded the City Council to weaken the original bill. The most damaging change was an amendment that requires workers to be on the job for 12 months before becoming eligible.

Metropolitan Washington (D.C.) Council President Jos Williams, quoted in the council’s daily news update Union City, summed it up:

Sick workers shouldn’t have to wait to take the time needed to get better. This onerous requirement is a fatal flaw in this landmark legislation.

There are some 200,000 workers in the district who have no paid sick leave—and who work in the shadow of the Capitol and White House, where members of Congress and President Bush receive paid sick leave at taxpayer expense. Because of the many workers—including part-time and seasonal workers—in low-wage food service, retail and construction jobs, these workers are unlikely to meet the one-year requirement.

The bill provides full-time workers at companies with 100 or more employees seven paid leave days a year. It reduces the number of leave days on a sliding scale for smaller companies, down to three days per year for workers at businesses with 24 or fewer employees.

It allows workers to use the leave as “safe” days for victims of stalking, domestic violence or abuse. It also allows workers to use the paid sick or “safe” days to care for family members.

Opponents in the business community turned out in force and won other concessions in addition to the one-year requirement. But the bill’s backers—a coalition of unions, community and family groups—packed the council chambers and their presence helped beat back several attempts to further weaken the bill. Mackenzie Baris of DC Jobs with Justice told Union City.

Our strong presence at the vote and our full court press leading up to the vote made a critical difference in overcoming the intense pressure the council was getting from the business community. While we’re disappointed in the compromise, we know the bill would not have come this far without the work our coalition has done.

Mayor Adrian Fenty must still sign the bill and because of the district’s lack of complete self-governing rights, Congress has 90 days to intervene.

San Francisco was the first city in the nation to require employers to provide workers paid sick leave. In 2006, voters approved paid sick leave referendum and the law went into effect last June. Earlier this month, California state Assemblywoman Fiona Ma introduced a bill modeled after the San Francisco law that would mandate sick leave for all workers in the state. More than a dozen municipalities are considering similar legislation.

On the national level, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) last year introduced the Healthy Families Act (S. 910 and H.R. 1542) that would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide workers seven paid sick leave days a year to take care of themselves or a family member.

For more information on the campaign to win paid sick leave, visit the National Partnership for Women & Families and join the online rally for the Health Families Act.

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/03/05/washington-dc-may-become-second-city-with-paid-sick-leave/

Take Back America: The Conference, The Goal

03.03.08

Take Back America: The Conference, The Goal

by Seth Michaels, Feb 29, 2008

Progressive leaders and thinkers from around the country will meet next month in Washington, D.C., at Take Back America 2008, a conference to discuss the challenges facing our country and the way forward.

The annual conference has become a ritual gathering place for activists and organizers to discuss strategies and tactics necessary to confront problems in the economy, foreign policy, the media, health care and more. The conference runs Monday, March 17, to Wednesday, March 19, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka will take part in a discussion on the economy and shared prosperity and AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stewart Acuff will join in a session on empowering workers. For political campaign junkies, AFL-CIO Deputy Political Director Mike Podhorzer, along with Maryland congressional candidate Donna Edwards and others, will head up a session on the Electoral Map. Other workshops address housing, health care, green jobs and the “second Gilded Age” that has enriched corporate elites at the expense of working families.

You can register for Take Back America 2008 here https://secure.ourfuture.org/tba08/ . Look for coverage of the seminar here at the AFL-CIO Now blog.

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/02/29/take-back-america-the-conference-the-goal/

Maryland-District of Columbia AFL-CIO Endorses Frank Kratovil

01.08.08

AFL-CIO Endorses Frank Kratovil.

The Maryland-District of Columbia AFL-CIO has endorsed Frank Kratovil’s candidacy for Maryland’s First Congressional District. The AFL-CIO represents 350,000 working Marylanders…

http://frankkratovil.com/pdfsR/PR1708.pdf

Employees at CBS News Vote to Authorize a Strike

11.21.07

Employees at CBS News Vote to Authorize a Strike
by Brian Stelter

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/20/business/media/20strike.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Several hundred CBS News employees represented by the Writers Guild of America have voted to authorize a strike against the company, union officials said yesterday.

The vote enables the guild to call a strike at any time, although a walkout is not imminent. A strike could affect CBS television and radio newscasts, both nationally and in four local markets.

A wider strike by 10,500 television and film writers started two weeks ago.

Approximately 500 CBS News writers, producers, editors, artists and assistants are represented by the guild; 81 percent of the nearly 300 who voted last week supported a strike. The contract with CBS expired in April 2005, and the president of the guild said he hoped the vote will bring both sides back to the negotiation table for the first time since January.

“This is a wake-up call to CBS News management. We’re saying that we are really at the end of our rope,” said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East.

In a statement, CBS called the vote unfortunate and said the company’s contract offer remained on the table. The network said it had proposed a 3 percent salary increase for television and network radio employees and a 2 percent increase for their local radio counterparts in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.

“They want this two-tier wage system, and we don’t feel that’s fair,” Mr. Winship said.

In the event of a strike, about 200 employees would be affected on a given day. Nonunion staff member would most likely handle the writing and production responsibilities for newscasts. In the statement, CBS said it was fully prepared.

The guild also represents writers at ABC News, who have worked without a contract since January 2005. Negotiations between the guild and ABC stalled a year ago, but no strike authorization vote has been held.