Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

How FirstEnergy CEO Is a ‘Poster Child for What Is Wrong in Our Country Today’


How FirstEnergy CEO Is a ‘Poster Child for What Is Wrong in Our Country Today’

FirstEnergy Corp.’s lockout of 150 utility workers in central Pennsylvania has stirred up a hornet’s nest that CEO Anthony Alexander already regrets.

Throwing workers off their jobs right before the holidays has energized working families in four states and focused negative international attention on the nation’s largest investor-owned electric utility company. As a result, Alexander has made himself the poster child for what is wrong in our country today.

“Our members were exercising their legal right to collectively bargain, something FirstEnergy obviously does not respect,” Utility Workers (UWUA) President D. Michael Langford said Nov. 25, the day the company locked out UWUA Local 180 members employed by the company’s Penelec utility in central Pennsylvania…

(read more of this article by clicking on the link below)

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

Labor Community reaching-out to members regarding election


OCTOBER 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Labor Community reaching-out to members regarding election


REGION, September 17th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation and the rest of the labor community have begun reaching-out to their membership requesting they support Democratic United States of America President Barack Obama and vote on November 6th.

According to Roxanne Pauline, Field Representative of the Northeastern Area Labor Federation (ALF), which AFL-CIO labor councils throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania are affiliated including the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, the grassroots labor federation political program “Labor 2012″ is underway.

The program is intended to better educate union members and their households about how Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney if elected would not support the working people and legislation important to the labor community.

The grassroots political program includes visits by fellow union members at unionized job sites, making phone calls to members homes, and knocking on doors of union members. The home addresses and phone numbers are provided by the members labor organizations.

Ms. Pauline stated visits to union members homes is underway and fliers provided by the AFL-CIO in Washington are being left at union members homes.

According to a flier, Mitt Romney has been called a “pioneer” of outsourcing jobs as CEO of Bain Capital, and supports a tax plan that will encourage companies to ship even more jobs overseas.

Mr. Romney stated we should, “Let Detroit go bankrupt,” the flier points-out. The AFL-CIO stated Mr. Romney’s opinion makes sense considering he made his fortune destroying American companies and forcing them to close plants, lay-off workers and eliminate pensions and health care.

The AFL-CIO also wants to make sure union members votes count on November 6th due to changes made to the Pennsylvania election law.

The Repubican controlled General Assembly in Harrisburg passed H.B. 934 in the spring that will force voters to show identification in the fall election. Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed the legislation into law even though Democrats and others opposed the legislation believing it will result in longer lines at polls and was nothing but a “Trojan horse” designed to tip election battles in Republicans’ favor.

Approximately 21 million American adults do not have a government issued photo identification card. Around 15 percent of low-income people, which do not own or drive a car, lack a valid card.

According to all major polls in Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama has a big lead over Mr. Romney.

On September 15th the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported Mr. Obama leads his Republican opponent by 11 percentage points in Pennsylvania.

Also, Republican affiliated super PAC’s have cut or stopped advertising on television since Labor Day in the state instead investing into other swing states like Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin. According to the Wall Street Journal on September 14th, Mr. Obama holds leads outside the margin of error in Ohio, Florida and Virginia.

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…..

Read the rest of this article at

Northern Virginia Labor Federation- Labor Day Picnic


Labor Day


Hosted by the NoVA Labor Federation
Monday, September 6, 2010
12:00 noon to 5:00 pm
Large Pavilion at Veteran’s Park
14300 Featherstone Rd., Woodbridge, VA
(Park pool & water slide across the street from the pavilion)
BBQ by Suzy-Q’s

* Smoked spare ribs
* Italian sausage & peppers
* Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
* Corn-on-the-cob Pasta Salad
* ‘Favorite’ beverages

*CALL Linda at 301-918-8832 or 916-844-5969 to volunteer *

18 states refuse to run insurance pools for those with preexisting conditions


18 states refuse to run insurance pools for those with preexisting conditions

By David S. Hilzenrath
Washington Post Staff Writer

Eighteen states have said they will not administer a stopgap program to provide insurance coverage to people whose preexisting conditions have left them uninsured, forcing the federal government to do the work.

The states’ decisions increase the challenge the government faces as it sets out to translate the far-reaching health-care legislation into action, and they hint at the complexities to come.

At issue is a provision to extend temporary relief to people with preexisting medical conditions beginning this year, instead of making them wait until 2014, when insurers will be prohibited from turning people away or charging higher premiums based on health status. The health-care law sets aside $5 billion for the “high-risk pools.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told state officials last month that she wanted to build on state programs, and she asked state governments to let her know by April 30 whether they would run the pools at the state level.

As of Monday, 29 states plus the District of Columbia had said they would do so, and 18 said they would leave the job to HHS. Others were undecided.

Some governors said they were unwilling to take on the task because it appears that Congress has allocated too little money.

Meanwhile, it was unclear how soon coverage will be available. The pools will be funded by July 1, but the earliest enrollment dates will vary, depending on such factors as whether states must first adopt new laws or regulations, said Jay Angoff, director of the HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

“There’s not a date certain,” Angoff said. “Some states will be able to come up with this more quickly than others.”

The health-care law says that the high-risk pools are meant to give people with preexisting conditions “immediate access to insurance,” and it requires that they be established within 90 days of the law’s March enactment. To qualify, individuals must have been uninsured for six months. The premiums are supposed to match those for a “standard population.” Out-of-pocket expenses will be capped ## in the case of individuals, at $5,950.

The states that declined to administer risk pools are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming, according HHS.

Most of those states are led by Republican governors. Three of them ## Delaware, Tennessee, and Wyoming ## are led by Democratic governors. Florida’s governor was elected as a Republican but is now running for a Senate seat as an independent.

HHS has been exploring the possibility of hiring nonprofit insurance companies to operate the pools.

Most states already have high-risk pools, but they can be prohibitively expensive and they generally do not meet the new federal requirements.

The chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has predicted that the $5 billion allotted for the new program will run out as early as next year.

In a letter Friday to Sebelius, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said the state, which will not establish its own high-risk pool, estimates that the $113 million in federal funds available to it will be used up within 22 months. Virginia’s secretary of health and human resources, William A. Hazel Jr., said Monday that setting up the pools “is an enormously complicated undertaking.”

Maryland opted to run its own high-risk pool. John M. Colmers, the state’s secretary of health and mental hygiene, said he did not know if federal funding would be sufficient, but he said the fact that Maryland already has such a pool might mean that the new demand will not be as heavy.

If funds run out, state and federal governments could face difficult choices: reduce benefits, raise premiums or limit enrollment.

“I don’t think any of those options are very attractive,” said Jean P. Hall, an associate research professor studying the matter at the University of Kansas. If it comes to that, “I strongly suspect that they will come up with more money.”

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…..

Read the rest of this article at

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



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

Tuesday’s Elections and the Democratic Agenda

Losses in New Jersey or Virginia could spook Congress.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Karl Rove

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

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

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

Or, you can send him a Tweet@karlrove.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginians Prefer Welfare to Work? Ally of Gov. Candidate Says So


Virginians Prefer Welfare to Work? Ally of Gov. Candidate Says So

by Seth Michaels, Aug 4, 2009

In a meeting with Republicans on Thursday, Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins—a key ally of gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell—audaciously claimed that Virginia businesses are closing because Virginians “preferred welfare to work.”

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, in a conversation with Republican leaders in western Virginia, Mullins claimed a Wise County insurance company closed two offices because it couldn’t recruit enough employees from a local community college. Mullins contended it was because Virginians would rather be on welfare than get a job.

What news has Mullins been reading? Is this the kind of cluelessness Virginia can expect from Republican leaders?

Virginia’s workers are demanding an apology from Mullins and McDonnell. Mullins’ comments are an insult to hard-working Virginians who are facing the toughest economic crisis in decades—a crisis brought about by stagnant wages, disappearing jobs and rapidly rising inequality.

According to the Recorder, Mullins made another absurd claim. Although the nation’s economic crisis resulted from eight years of Bush administration mismanagement, he had this to say to Virginia voters:

If you’re not better off now than you were eight years ago, you had better vote Republican straight ticket.

Mullins is flat-wrong about Virginia’s workers. Virginia voters are sick of this out-of-touch attitude toward the economy, and they chose change last year. They need leaders who are going to work to fix the economic crisis, not dismiss it.

Fighting healthcare reform by arresting your customers????


703 Concord Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22903-5208
(434) 984-4655 • (434) 984-2803 fax

Dear Friends,

Have you ever had really bad customer service? Then you will love this story…

I asked to speak to a representative of VOP’s health insurance company in person Friday and I got arrested for trespassing!

Last Friday, the last thing I expected was to get arrested. But there I was, a little after noon, getting my mug shot taken and being fingerprinted in the Henrico County Jail.

So what was my crime?

It all started last month when Anthem raised our health insurance premiums 14.1 percent — with no additional risks and no new health care services to justify the increase — and we also discovered that Anthem was spending millions of dollars to lobby Congress against health care reform.

We wanted to find out how much of our premiums were being used for lobbying, and ask for that money back.

So on Friday, I accompanied three VOP State Governing Board members in an attempt to meet with Anthem officials. But as we approached the building a little after 11 a.m., they locked the front door and would not let us in.

VOP Chairperson Jay Johnson called through the locked door, “We want to meet with someone about our rate increase.”

“We are your customers. Can someone meet with us?” I added. “We want to know why our rates were increased 14.1 percent.”

The two men inside told us to call our customer service representative. They were not going to let us in. They gave us the number and I took out my cell phone and called it. I told the woman who answered that we were an Anthem customer and we wanted to know why they increased our premiums 14.1 percent last month. She asked me to hold on, she needed to check. After about four or five minutes on hold, she came back and said she wanted to connect me to a Scott Holden, who we later found out is their public relations representative.

“OK, thank you,” I said.

Before we knew it, at least six police officers arrived. One of them got off his motorcycle and the two Anthem employees let him in the front door. Then they locked the door again.

Soon, the police officer came out and said we had to leave.

“But they told us to call the customer service representative and I am on hold,” I said.

“You have to leave or you will be arrested,” said another police officer.

Within minutes, my hands were handcuffed behind my back, and I was sitting in the front seat of a police cruiser, with the doors locked and the windows closed. Two police officers took a statement from an Anthem official as I waited. Boy, was it hot!

After my mug shot and fingerprinting, a magistrate eventually let me go, as long as I promised to show up on Monday morning for my arraignment.

On Monday, the judge set my trial date for September 22 at 11 a.m. I am charged with trespassing, which is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a possible jail sentence of 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

“As we reach out in support of health care reform, our own insurance company uses their increased premiums to lobby against it,” Jay Johnson said. “We pay over $25,000 in premiums every month to Anthem. We expect that our money will go to pay for health care and not for corporate lobbying.”

Not only is Anthem spending our premiums to directly lobby Congress, but they are trying to get their customers to do so as well. VOP recently received an e-mail asking us, as customers, to call our members of Congress to oppose a public health insurance option.

Getting locked out of the Anthem headquarters is an excellent example of the relationship the health insurance industry has with its customers. They don’t feel that they have to explain or account for anything. Anthem has little competition and they know their customers have few choices. Anthem and other health insurance corporations are spending $1.4 million per day lobbying Congress to make sure that Americans don’t have any other choice.

That is why we need a public health insurance option that forces the private health insurance industry to compete. The private health insurance industry has given us a greedy health insurance system where customers have to deal with skyrocketing premiums, denied claims, and even trespassing charges for asking to speak to a representative in person. We all deserve better than this.

The Virginia Organizing Project has been working hard to push for a public option. We have canvassed more than 140,000 doors all across the state, and four of five people tell us they agree that there is a real need for health care reform. We have held more than two dozen community meetings asking people to share their experiences with the current broken health care system. The horror stories keep coming.

So what can we do about it? There are two things you can do to help:

First, please call Senator Mark Warner and your member of Congress with this toll-free number:


Ask them to support a public health insurance option that will provide quality, affordable health care for everyone.

Second, please donate to the Virginia Organizing Project so that we can expand our field staff and get more people active in the fight for health care reform. You can donate by going to:

or by sending your donation to:

Virginia Organizing Project
703 Concord Avenue
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-5208

Thanks for all your help.

Take care,

Joe Szakos

Executive Director

Virginia Organizing Project

434.984.4655 x222

P.S. You can see some videos of the events last Friday at Anthem headquarters by going to:

Virginia offers employees $500 loans


Washington Business Journal - by Jeff Clabaugh Staff Reporter

State employees in Virginia may be eligible for emergency loans of up to $500, under a new program announced by Gov. Tim Kaine Monday.

The governor’s office has established the Virginia State Employee Loan Program, a partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign and Virginia Credit Union. Loans are available in amounts between $100 and $500 to state employees facing financial difficulties.

In order to qualify for the loans, state employees must complete an online financial fitness course and pass a brief exam.

“This program will allow our state employees to receive small loans without having to go to predatory lenders,” Governor Kaine said in a statement. “If the Commonwealth can offer this kind of program, other large employers may consider similar initiatives of their own.”

The loans don’t require a credit check, but won’t come cheap. They will carry an interest rate of 24.99 percent and be payable within six months. Employees must also belong to Virginia Credit Union and have a savings account with a balance of at least $5.

Loans will be backed by the Virginia State Employee Assistance Fund.

Chart: Has Your State Left Federal Unemployment Money Unclaimed?


Important information for workers in every state.

Please share this link widely.

From the Field: the Grassroots Fight for Employee Free Choice


From the Field: the Grassroots Fight for Employee Free Choice

by Seth Michaels, Feb 19, 2009

This week at the Virginia AFL-CIO’s annual legislative conference, attendees wrote letters to their members of Congress in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. In Colorado, 55 religious leaders representing a wide array of faiths, cities and backgrounds sent a letter in support of the Employee Free Choice Act to Colorado’s U.S. House and Senate delegation. They asked for elected leaders to support workers’ freedom to bargain for a better life. In Raleigh, N.C., workers spoke out at a rally about the need for the Employee Free Choice Act.

You can read about grassroots actions like these at the new national Employee Free Choice Act Blog, where you can hear from workers and local union leaders, find out about events in their area and get the facts about what lawmakers representing your state are saying about the Employee Free Choice Act.

State federations in Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin have set up blogs to follow the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, and more states will set up blogs soon. These blogs also will be updated regularly with photos and videos highlighting local efforts in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

The biggest challenge to passing the Employee Free Choice Act is overcoming the national corporate disinformation campaign—and the best weapon is people power. Union members and activists working at the local level will be vital in creating the impetus needed to restore the freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life, and these state blogs are a great resource to find out more about this campaign.

The Employee Free Choice Act earned the support of bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress in 2007 but was blocked by a filibuster in the Senate. This year, with more pro-worker senators and a supportive White House, the freedom to form unions and bargain is closer than ever to realization—but it will require a broad national campaign to fight corporate lies, promote workers and hold elected leaders accountable. Check out the new Employee Free Choice Act blogs to find out more.

Across the Country, Unions Are Good for Workers, the Economy


Across the Country, Unions Are Good for Workers, the Economy

by Seth Michaels, Dec 19, 2008

As economic uncertainty continues, the incoming administration and Congress will be tasked not only with restoring the economy in the short term, but also with making it sustainable in the long term. That means making sure working families around the nantion have the benefits, wages and lasting economic security that comes with the freedom to form unions and bargain.

New reports by the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) show that state economies benefit from giving working families the power in the workplace and the wages, benefits and job security that come with the freedom to form a union.

CAPAF says:

Unions paved the way to the middle class for millions of workers and pioneered benefits such as paid health care and pensions along the way. Even today, union workers earn significantly more on average than their non-union counterparts, and union employers are more likely to provide benefits. And non-union workers—particularly in highly unionized industries—receive financial benefits from employers who increase wages to match what unions would win in order to avoid unionization.

CAPAF has reports examining what the effect of broader access to unions and bargaining would be in California, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

As CAPAF notes, the decline in union membership has corresponded to a decline in the share of economic growth that goes to working families. That means families are less able to afford housing and consumer goods and less likely to have health care coverage and retirement security. The weaknesses in our economy can be attributed to the failure to broadly share prosperity. To make the economy work for everyone, we need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act and restore the freedom to form unions and bargain with employers.

Workers in states like California, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania and Virginia will benefit from the Employee Free Choice Act. It needs to be at the top of the agenda for the next Congress.

Telecom Embarq for Sale?


Report: Embarq put self up for sale, but buyers can’t raise cash in turbulent market
Tom Gerke, Embarq’s CEO, likes to say ## over and over and over again ## that running his company as well as possible is the best way for Embarq to control its destiny at a time the landline telephone industry is consolidating.
Apparently running the company well also includes hiring an investment banker to look for a buyer.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Embarq hired J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to sniff around for any possible buyers.
“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” Debra Peterson, an Embarq spokeswoman told me this evening.
Embarq spun off as a stand-alone company from Sprint Nextel two years ago. We have been reporting for months that Embarq is a likely player in a consolidating landline industry.
Windstream, the landline operation that once was a part of Alltel, was cited as the most likely buyer. Qwest Communications in Denver was another possibility.
The deadline for bids came and went in recent weeks, according to the report. Any interested buyers were crunched by the turmoil in the markets that prevented them from raising the cash needed to buy the Overland Park, Kansas Company. Embarq closed the day Wednesday with a $40.20 share price and a market cap just north of $5.7 billion.

This story from SprintConnection is backed up by the Wall Street Journal article;

Now for the spin from CEO Tom Gerke, a former attorney specializing in Acquisitions and Mergers;

Dear employees:

I had the pleasure of being in Tennessee and Virginia yesterday and this morning for meetings with employees, customers and community leaders. I heard from employees who had questions about the recent Wall Street Journal article speculating on telecom industry consolidation and EMBARQ’s role in that activity. I’m sure many of you have similar questions. As I shared with employees, we, like all of the other companies mentioned in the article, and like virtually all public companies, have a policy that we do not comment on rumors and speculation.

However, I want to share with you some thinking on this issue to consider as you focus on your daily work:

• It was disappointing to see a story based on rumor and speculation published by the newspaper. It is an unnecessary distraction to the EMBARQ team and our customers.

• Under public company standards and securities laws, the company does not, and should not, comment on rumors and speculation.

• Public speculation is a fact of life in business and certainly in our industry sector. As employees, it is natural to be interested in speculative discussion, but we also have to maintain awareness of the fact that this speculation is not in our best interest from multiple points of view, not the least of which is the natural distraction that it can create in our business and day-to-day results.

• Consolidation is already happening in our industry and likely will continue. Our board, like every public company board, has an obligation to regularly look at our strategy and possible strategic alternatives to enhance the future value and success of the company.

• The best we can all do is to focus on producing results, because positive results give each of us the greatest amount of control over our near term performance and our future. As an employee, you best position yourself for the future by being invaluable to the organization. So, work to ensure the company is maximizing its value and you are maximizing your value to the company. Our competitors are only waiting for us to be distracted – let us not do them that favor.

• What can we do? We can strive to execute our five-gear strategy and do so consistent with our values – the EMBARQ Essentials. Successful execution of our strategy will lead to positive results for the EMBARQ team at a time when industry changes and economic factors make success more elusive than ever.

While we cannot control additional media speculation, we can control whether we stay focused and continue to produce enhanced customer experiences and positive financial results.

Thank you for maintaining your focus and for all you do for EMBARQ each day.


Northern Virginia Area Labor Federation largest Labor Day picnic in nearly 20 years



The Northern Virginia Area Labor Federation hosted “the largest Labor Day picnic the Northern Virginia Area Labor Federation has hosted in the nearly 20 years of doing so,” reports NoVa’s Dan Duncan. “About 300 people attended, including Labor-endorsed Congressional candidates Gerry Connolly (VA 11th District) and Judy Feder (VA 10th District) as well as state senators, delegates and local officials from Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties. Members contributed several hundred dollars to the Fire Fighters’ MDA ‘Fill the Boot’ drive and many Employee Free Choice Act pledge cards were signed.”

Business fears election will boost labor


Business fears election will boost labor
By Jordan Fabian lobby/business-fears-election-will-boost-labor-2008-08-05.html

Business leaders say a Democratic sweep of the presidency and key Senate contests this fall could lead to major changes in U.S. labor law.

Business has viewed the Senate as a bulwark to bills backed by the AFL-CIO and other labor groups since Democrats took over Congress in 2006. Measures making it easier to form unions and strengthening the rights of workers to sue for discriminatory pay practices have passed the House. But they have not been able to win the votes necessary to move forward in the Senate.

Even if they had, a final bastion remained: President Bush’s veto pen.

Next year, however, the dynamics could change dramatically if Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) wins the presidency and Democrats edge closer to the 60 votes necessary to break a Senate filibuster.

“This is one of the most important elections the business community faces,” said Bill Miller, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“If the Republicans lose four or five seats [in the Senate] some of the labor measures probably will succeed over the minority’s wishes,” said Jade West, senior vice president of government relations at the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors.

West mentioned the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which would allow workers to sue employers over past payment discrimination, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, which increases penalties for employers found to have discriminated against women by paying them less than male workers, as examples.

But the issue business leaders most often mention in worried tones is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would make it easier for workers to form unions by eliminating a requirement that unions be launched via a secret ballot vote.

A business coalition is already running ads in Maine and Minnesota, where it touts Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) opposition to the bill. Coleman is in a tough contest with Democrat Al Franken, who, like most Democratic Senate candidates, is supporting EFCA.

Even Democratic senatorial candidates in more conservative states, such as Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (Miss.) and Bill Lunsford (Ky.), are supporting EFCA. Their campaigns took in $55,000 and $93,500 respectively from unions over the last five months.

Many observers think winning four or five Senate seats is reachable for Democrats this fall. West, a longtime GOP operative active in Republican campaigns, said Democrats would have to do even better than that to move EFCA next year. West predicts they would need to win eight or nine seats.

Only GOP Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) sided with Democrats in the Senate last year on EFCA, also known as card-check legislation because union members would only have to check a card saying they want to form a union for one to be launched. But other Republicans might face pressure to switch sides if their opposition were seen as the only hurdle to a president signing the bill into law.

“It’s not always the case that we need 60 [Democratic] votes; we often get support from a handful of Republicans,” said Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s director of government relations.

The AFL-CIO recently announced a massive grassroots political mobilization, in which the coalition’s unions will spend more than $200 million on the 2008 elections. The statement said the AFL-CIO will “be engaged in every viable Senate race” during the cycle.

According to Samuel, those races will include the open seats in Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico, along with competitive contests in New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota and Oregon, where Democrats hope to unseat sitting Republicans. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) are seen as tougher candidates, but Samuel said both states could also be in play.

Samuel said that grassroots efforts, such as neighborhood canvassing and local labor meetings, would focus on the presidential election as well, particularly in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“It’s key to have a president who wants to sign these bills,” Samuel said. “We’ve had just the opposite the past eight years.”

Business groups, meanwhile, are spending millions of dollars on anti-card check coalitions to build grassroots opposition to labor’s push, and are targeting donations in a few key races.

The wholesalers’ political action committee (PAC), for example, has given nearly $100,000 in hard-dollar contributions to GOP candidates, with much of it going to Republicans running for Senate. This includes more than $7,000 to Coleman and more than $6,500 to Bob Schaffer, a Republican running for an open seat in Colorado.

The International Franchise Association, which also opposes EFCA, has given more than $228,000 through its PAC to Republicans in this cycle, compared to just $47,500 to Democrats.

And the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), an alliance of pro-business groups backed by the Chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers, is running ads about EFCA in Minnesota and Maine.

“We are absolutely concerned what the 111th Congress would do about issues like the Employee Free Choice Act,” Miller said.

The Chamber and CDW are conducting town hall meetings, conference calls and media buys to get out their message about the candidates’ positions on labor legislation, Miller said.

Business and labor groups justified their efforts, saying that these issues, especially EFCA, resonate with voters outside the Beltway. “It’s one of those issues that’s a wedge issue,” West said. “There’s no gray area.”

Both groups tout polls supporting their positions. According to a business poll, 79 percent of likely voters oppose card-check, including 78 percent of Democrats. Business contends its polls show the measure is unpopular in union households and among independents.

An AFL-CIO poll concludes that 69 percent of likely voters support EFCA. It finds that 65 percent of those polled in right-to-work states support EFCA.

“Voters are becoming increasingly aware about the economy. People want to remain comfortably in the middle class,” Samuel said.

Repost: Perriello walks the walk!



Virginia’s 5th Congressional District Democratic candidate Tom Perriello doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. Rather he puts his signature on it. In this instance, it was a Communication Workers of America’s Million Member Mobilization card in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Tom has long been a supporter of Unions, and in fact his great-grandfather was a Glassblowers Union leader. When he began his campaign, Perriello sought out the input of union leaders on the issues important to working families and the conditions of local economies . He continues to ask for their ideas and suggestions.

From personal experience, most politicians don’t mind having the support of labor or the money they receive, but would rather no one knew the union was behind them. That is not the case with Tom. I was invited to speak at the press conference for Perriello’s 7-point Economic R.E.V.I.V.A.L Tour in Martinsville on July 7, 2008.

After 6 terms of Congressman Virgil H. Goode Jr’s “Do Nothing - Aw Shucks” attitude, a win in November by Perriello will be like a breath of fresh air. Ousting the entrenched incumbent may be a reality for Tom and the 5th. Perriello has reached the $1 million dollar mark and is still raising money at an impressive rate. A recent whirlwind fundraising tour brought author John Grisham (The Firm, The Pelican Brief) to south side Virginia. Grisham stumped for Perriello because for 15 years, he has been Tom’s neighbor in Charlottesville.
Perriello’s campaign was recently designated “Red to Blue” by the DCCC, and will now attract national attention and greater financial backing from the Democratic Party.

9,400 Philadelphia Workers Settle New Contract and More Bargaining News


9,400 Philadelphia Workers Settle New Contract and More Bargaining News

by May Silverstein, Jul 28, 2008

Thousands of Philadelphia workers and Southwest Airlines attendants settle contracts, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 900 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.

AFSCME, Philadelphia: Some 9,400 blue-collar workers and members of Philadelphia’s largest union, AFSCME District Council 33, agreed to a one-year contract that includes no raises but holds the line on health care costs.

AFA-CWA, Atlantic Southeast Airlines: More than 1,000 flight attendants at Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest, represented by the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), reached a new three-year contract with the carrier. Details have not been released.

USW, Latrobe Specialty Steel: In Pennsylvania, steelworkers at Latrobe Specialty Steel, represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1537, voted to end their 81-day work stoppage by approving a five-year labor agreement. The contract gives each steelworker a $6,000 lump sum payment this year and a $5,000 lump sum payment in 2009, plus a 50-cent-an-hour raise in the third year.

USW, MeadWestvaco: Members of USW Local 8-490 at MeadWestvaco in Low Moor, Va., ratified a four-year agreement that includes a $2,000 lump sum payment, a 2 percent immediate wage increase and additional 2.25 percent wage increases effective Aug. 31, 2009, and Aug. 30, 2010.

CWA, Kaleida Health: In Buffalo, N.Y., about 3,900 workers and members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) at Kaleida’s Flint Road Labs and Kaleida Health facilities, including Buffalo General, DeGraff Memorial, Millard Fillmore Gates Circle and Millard Fillmore Suburban hospitals, ratified a three-year deal containing a 12.5 percent wage increase.

AFM, Shreveport Symphony Orchestra: In Louisiana, Shreveport Symphony Orchestra musicians, represented by American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) Local 116, are working under the terms of an imposed contract. The new contract switches full-time musicians to a per-service pay structure, resulting in a 75 percent salary cut and the elimination of 24 full-time core positions as of Sept. 1.


USW, Calgon Carbon: A four-month lockout that began March 1 could end after members of USW Local 5032 at Calgon Carbon, outside of Pittsburgh, accepted a tentative three-year agreement. Health care benefits and pensions were two of the sticking points in the new contract, whose details have not been released.

IAM, Moncure Plywood: In North Carolina, some 200 workers at Moncure Plywood plant in Chatham County, represented by the Machinists (IAM), went on strike, after rejecting the company’s contract offer. The contract expired April 30, and parties have previously negotiated with the assistance of a federal mediator. According to union officials, key issues concern seniority rights, the company’s right to hire temporary workers, overtime, worker drug testing, health insurance premiums and the creation of a joint committee comprised of management and union workers to improve safety at the plant.


UAW, Foxwoods: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint against the Mashantucket Pequot tribe for refusing to bargain with the UAW, which represents nearly 3,000 dealers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino. The UAW won a representation election last November.


ILWU, Pacific Maritime Association: Some 10,000 port workers across California, Oregon and Washington State, represented by 30 locals of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), are continuing to push hard for a new contract, after the previous one expired on July 1. According to ILWU President Robert McEllrath: “We’re making progress and moving in the right direction, but it’s going to take awhile longer.” The Longshoremen (ILA) union, which represents East Coast longshore workers, unanimously passed a resolution to offer full support to members of the ILWU in its negotiations.

ATU, Port Authority: A fact-finder is scheduled to visit Pittsburgh next week to start meetings with Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Port Authority, as part of ongoing efforts to reach a new contract. Some 2,300 bus-trolley operators, mechanics and other hourly workers remain on the job under terms of their contract that expired June 30.

AFSCME, Philadelphia: AFSCME District Council 47, made up of Philadelphia’s white-collar city workers, publicly stated the district would be amenable to signing a one-year contract, as did the members of the independent Fraternal Order of Police (FOP-Ind.)—if the city agrees to the same raises and other terms the police received. The police officers’ contract awards the officers a 4 percent pay raise that will be instituted in two phases, plus a 1 percent longevity increase.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy; readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.

VA-05 Candidate Tom Perriello in Martinsville July 7


Democratic Congressional candidate Tom Perriello will be in Martinsville July 7 at 11 a.m.o announce his 7-point economic revival plan. In an area that has been hard hit by NAFTA’s less than American worker friendly agenda, Tom has turned his results driven attention to the problems.

In what is now a bygone era, Martinsville-Henry County was a booming area with companies like Bassett Furniture, DuPont, and Tultex driving the economy. Good wages, lower cost of living helped turn the area into a thriving haven.

Enter NAFTA.

Goodbye to a thriving furniture industry led by Hooker, Bassett and Stanley Furniture companies, goodbye Tultex and Dupont. and just this week American of Martinsville announced it will layoff 400 workers by the end of August.

On Monday, Perriello will be joined by local Union leaders and members and some of the displaced workers and their families.

Where: Historic Martinsville Court House
1 Main St., Martinsville, VA

Date: Monday, July 7, 2008

Time: 11 a.m.

Please come out and support Tom and his candidacy. Working families in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District needs leadership in Washington that will help restore real American values to America’s working families.

Visit Perriello’s website at;