Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

“Free Trade” Policy Craze is Crazy, Like Healthcare

08.31.07

“Free Trade” Policy Craze is Crazy, Like Healthcare

The most recent statements coming from Ford and General Motors, demanding massive cuts in the benefits paid to auto workers or those companies will move their factories to low-wage countries, demonstrates the complete failure of current government economic policies. The automobile manufacturers should not be able to make such threats nor should they need to make such demands. The failures of current government economic policy make both a reality. Changes in government economic policies can quickly correct the situation.

Our falsely named “free trade” policy craze is simply crazy. The very idea that American workers should be forced to compete in our own domestic market with the poorest of the poor workers from all over the world is a recipe for long-term economic decline for America. It undermines the entire economic and political structure of the American nation.

We are seeing a sharp decline in the quality of life for much of the American Middle Class. Our government is losing billions upon billions of dollars in taxes that would have been paid by American workers if good American jobs had not been sent out of the country. Globalization of our economy is not inevitable to the degree that currently exists. It is the result of deliberate changes in trade policy and taxes. It is time to reverse course.

Junk NAFTA, the WTO, CAFTA and all other “Free Trade agreements signed since the 1980’s immediately. They are not benefiting the nation. Replace them with a Wage Equalization Import Tax.

A Wage Equalization Import Tax should impose duties on imported goods and services to increase their price to American standards. We can give other nations the choice of paying their workers high enough wages that they could afford American goods and services or pay the difference into the federal government treasury.

Wage Equalization Import Tax could help replace the taxes that American workers would have paid to the federal government if their jobs had not been exported. The revenue generated could be used for several specific purposes including (1) reducing the massive government debt accumulated under Reagan and both Bushes, (2) national health insurance, (3) rebuilding our economic infrastructure, (4) college scholarships and (5) job training.

In economics, everything is related to everything else. Economic government policies can have unexpected results. This is very true when it comes to defense and national security. Economic globalization is a two-fold threat to our national security. It is draining the federal treasury of money that we need to fund our number one military status in the long-run. We are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign manufacturing to supply essential elements needed to fight wars.

It is vital that our manufacturing base in America remain sufficiently healthy that we need no imported goods to fight wars if forced to do so. Our current trade policy does not meet this common sense goal and should be changed. Exporting our manufacturing base is military suicide for the short-term profit of a few giant corporations and their CEO’s.

American companies should not be forced to provide for the healthcare needs of their employees. No other industrialized nation requires their companies to meet these needs. Out of the top 75 industrialized nations, only the United States does not have government provided, universal healthcare.

Companies like Ford and General Motors would be very profitable if the government provided for the healthcare of the employees, retirees and their families. There would be no need to threaten to move manufacturing jobs out of the country. The auto makers should join with their workers to push for an immediate expansion of Medicare to cover all American citizens as the first step. Every other business in America should join them.

American businesses should not be put at a competitive disadvantage by poorly designed government healthcare policies. American citizens should not suffer from poorer health because of poor government policy. Americans should not be losing good jobs because of badly designed government trade policies. We should not be undermining our national security and military strength because of a insane, ideological belief in a false god, called “free trade.” Our national debt should not be growing because of crazy “free trade.” It is not really free, if it costs our nation so dearly, in so many ways!

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.MidAtlanticLabor.com ). Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com . Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish without prior approval at no cost as a Democratic Voices column, OpEd, Letter to the Editor or guest editorial.

Ford and GM say factories in US face axe: Ailing car giants push union to agree pay cuts

08.30.07

Ford and GM say factories in US face axe

Ailing car giants push union to agree pay cuts

James Doran in New York
Sunday August 26, 2007
The Observer

Ford and General Motors have threatened to leave Detroit and take their car manufacturing operations overseas if unions do not agree to a massive pay cut for hourly paid workers.
The threat to quit the city they call Motown because of its rich automotive heritage would be a crippling blow to Detroit, which is suffering amid a prolonged economic downturn and has been hit by the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Ford and GM are in the thick of negotiations with the United Auto Workers union, the most powerful labour group in the industry. The car makers maintain they must dramatically reduce manufacturing costs if they are to survive in today’s global economy.

Their biggest burden is the current labour cost per vehicle - an estimated $71 (around £35) per man hour. Workers earn about $27 an hour with the remainder made up of overheads such as pensions and healthcare costs for the thousands of retirees on their books.
Ford and GM have made it clear that they expect to reduce the hourly cost from $71 to about $50 - a cut of about 30 per cent. The companies are keen not to cut workers’ hourly pay, but they insist that other overheads must be reduced.

If a deal cannot be reached, Ford and GM negotiators have said the companies will have no choice but to move their North American operations to countries in Latin America and Asia where manufacturing costs are cheaper.

The current credit crisis is not helping the ailing US car manufacturers to reverse their fortunes. Many senior figures in the industry are calling for action from the Federal Reserve to spur markets and the economy. Bob Nardelli, the new Chrysler CEO, has been most vocal in calling for an interest rate cut to help boost consumer activity.

Alan Mulally, the Ford chief executive, said last week that economic conditions were proving to be a ‘big headwind’ working against the company’s turnaround plan. He stopped short of calling for an interest rate cut but stressed the importance of ‘focusing on economic growth’.

A GM spokesman said: ‘From a GM perspective, the focus of the talks is on closing the competitive gaps and building a viable long-term future for the company and our people.’

Sources close to senior GM executives confirmed that the prospect of shifting operations away from North America was very real. ‘We have seen it in every other industry,’ one said. ‘There are no sacred cows today. Globalisation means just that, it’s a worldwide playing field.’

Dave Cole, chairman of the Centre for Automotive Research, a leading car industry think tank in Detroit, said: ‘This threat is very real and the UAW is aware of it. Both GM and Ford have made it clear to the union that you do whatever you have to do to stay in business.’

The car makers are also discussing ways in which they can work together with the UAW to offload billions of dollars of pension and healthcare costs they have amassed. It is understood the talks focus on creating a ‘Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association’, which would be part-funded by the companies to take care of retiree health care costs. The talks must reach a conclusion before their current contract with the UAW expires on 14 September.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,,2156191,00.html

AFL-CIO likely to sit out primary endorsement

08.30.07

AFL-CIO likely to sit out primary endorsement

Link to article at The Hill

By Ian Swanson
August 29, 2007

A day after two unions announced their presidential endorsements, AFL-CIO leaders said Wednesday their union is still unlikely to throw its support behind a candidate during the primary season.

Under current rules, a candidate would need the support of two-thirds of the union’s membership, making it difficult to see how an endorsement could be offered anytime soon, according to Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

However, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said affiliated unions are free to make endorsements earlier in the process, but he stressed that they should do so only after thoroughly evaluating the views of their members.

The International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), while the United Transportation Union endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Sweeney said both unions had extensively examined the candidates before making endorsements.

Sweeney announced that the AFL-CIO would launch a new drive to win universal healthcare after the 2008 election. He said all candidates running for office would be held responsible for providing comprehensive healthcare reform.

The AFL-CIO president added that the union was not endorsing any specific healthcare approach at this time, but said legislation offered by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) to create a single-payer system could easily be supported. He said a number of proposals that have been floated would fit in with AFL-CIO principles for healthcare reform.

Sweeney also said every presidential candidate would be held accountable on trade, and that the AFL-CIO will be closely watching the positions that presidential candidates take on votes expected this fall on trade deals with Peru and Panama.

“I do not think we will be supporting those agreements ourselves,” said Sweeney, even though he noted that the deals had been improved with regard to workers’ rights in those countries.

Mid-Atlantic.com site information

08.30.07

This site was founded by Mid-Atlantic Labor.com Editor & Publisher, Stephen Crockett. He is a member of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) and OPEIU Local 277. Crockett serves on many Central Labor Councils in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland as an OPEIU 277 delegate including Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley and Delmarva. In 2006, he was a NWU delegate to the National UAW CAP convention in Washington, DC. He is an associate member of the United Steelworkers (USW).

Stephen Crockett is co-host and founder of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and writes the Democratic Voices opinion column. His writings routinely appear on numerous sites like OpEd News.com, Buzzflash and American Chronicle. Crockett is a union public relations specialist for American Income Life Insurance.

Mid-Atlantic area and national unions are invited to send event notices for submission to the Mid-Atlantic Labor Calendar or other correspondence to demlabor@aol.com . Event listings can be seen at http://www.midatlanticlabor.com/appiesnet/appiescal/cal1/ .

Press releases are desired on any activities of your union. As many as possible will be published. Union activists are invited to post the site. The posting rules are no attacks on other unions or unionists.

The site has extensive links to unions and union-related resources. It is designed to be a tool for the busy unionist. Suggestions are invited. Please let us add your union website to our links if it is not already listed.

Early Presidential Campaign Endorsements by Labor Unions

08.29.07

2008 Democratic Presidential Primary:

    Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York

Endorsed by United Transportation Union this month.

    Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut

Endorsed by International Association of Fire Fighters this month.

Fire Fighters Back Dodd for President
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/h1a31_F1gqnW/

United Transportation Union Endorses Clinton
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/yda31_F1gqnb/

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Clinton racks up 2nd labor endorsement
By Sam Youngman
August 30, 2007
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) won her second labor union endorsement of the week, announcing Thursday that the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is backing her bid for the Democratic nomination for president.
The IAM, an AFL-CIO union, has more than 700,000 members, and the campaign pointed out in a release Thursday that 450,000 of those members will be in 25 states voting on or before Feb. 5.

“Hillary Clinton earned the IAM’s endorsement by focusing on jobs, health care, education and trade — the bread and butter issues of the American middle class,” Tom Buffenbarger, IAM president, said in a release. “She is the only candidate of either party to come forward with a comprehensive manufacturing policy and the only candidate to connect with millions of Americans who feel invisible to the current administration.”

The Clinton campaign effectively bracketed an announcement from the International Association of Fire Fighters endorsement of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) Wednesday by announcing her endorsement from the United Transportation Union early in the week and the IAM’s support Thursday.

“I am honored to receive the support of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers,” Clinton said. “It is time for America’s working families to again share in our nation’s prosperity. They will not be invisible to my administration.”

The IAM also took the “unusual step” of endorsing a Republican candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

“Mike Huckabee was the only Republican candidate with the guts to meet with our members and the only one willing to figure out where and how we might work together,” said Buffenbarger. “He is entitled to serious consideration from our members voting in the upcoming Republican primaries.”

The IAM said in its release that about one-third of its members are Republicans, leading the union to endorse candidates from both parties.

“The dual endorsement is intended to involve all IAM members in the upcoming election,” said Buffenbarger. “It is fitting for the union whose early members gave birth to Labor Day to reach beyond traditional partisan boundaries to establish new relationships for the benefit of all working Americans.”

Link to article in The Hill
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Edwards gets in the union-endorsement game
By Sam Youngman
August 30, 2007
Former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) announced Thursday afternoon he has won the endorsement of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, joining fellow Democrats Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Chris Dodd (Conn.) in announcing labor union endorsements this week.

The carpenters union became the fourth union to endorse a presidential candidate this week, joining the International Association of Fire Fighters, which announced it is backing Dodd, and the United Transportation Union and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which are both supporting Clinton.

“I am honored to receive the support of the Carpenters Union,” Edwards said in a statement. “For more than a century, they have been fighting for working Americans and standing up for the values that have made our country great — hard work, responsibility and fairness. America was built by men and women who worked with their hands, and it’s labor that made our country great. I look forward to joining with the Carpenters to build one America, where every person has the chance to work hard and get ahead.”

The union has more than 520,000 members, and Edwards is the first presidential candidate it has endorsed in the primaries in “several” cycles.

“Our endorsement is based on the senator’s outspoken support for all of organized labor and his focus on America’s working families,” union President Douglas McCarron said. “In addition to his support for labor, our leadership was particularly impressed with the senator’s strong stand on trade.”

McCarron added: “We also believe that Senator Edwards will have a great appeal in a general election. He has the ability to reach out to moderate voters, including the members of our union, and to address their very real concerns about jobs, healthcare and the economy.”

Edwards has built much of his 2008 campaign around poverty and union issues.

The carpenters’ union endorsement will not officially be announced until Sept. 8 in New Hampshire, but the campaign released a statement just hours after Clinton announced her support from the IAM.

An Edwards spokeswoman said the campaign did not move up its announcement to follow Clinton’s.

“Edwards is in a competitive position to gain the support of several unions, but each of the Democratic candidates, especially Sen. Clinton, is doing everything they can to secure endorsements,” Edwards spokeswoman Colleen Murray said in an e-mail. “The truth is it’s a dogfight, but no matter what, Edwards will continue to be a strong voice for working families and the middle class as the campaign continues.”

Link to The Hill article

Edwards gets fresh union backing for White House bid
By Jim Wolf - Sept. 3, 2007

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards won trade union backing on Monday from steelworkers and mineworkers, putting him ahead of rivals in declared union support, his campaign said.

The former senator from North Carolina, endorsed by the carpenters’ union on Thursday, now has the support of unions representing more than 1.8 million members and retirees, more than any other candidate in the November 2008 White House race, Edwards’ campaign said.

Edwards picked up the backing of the United Steelworkers, which calls itself the largest U.S. private-sector industrial union with 1.2 million members and retirees, and the United Mine Workers of America, which represents 105,000 active and retired coal miners.

The endorsements were to be announced formally at a Labor Day rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Edwards, Democrat John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate in 2004.
“These are the workers who built the middle class in America, and they are the backbone of the American labor movement,” Edwards said in a statement. “They understand how important it is to fight back when jobs, safety, standards and our values are at risk.”

The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, the biggest federation of U.S. unions, last month freed its 55 member unions to make their own recommendations in the presidential race.

Last week, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, with about 720,000 active and retired members, made its first-ever dual endorsement. It backed both Democrat Hillary Clinton, her party’s front-runner, and Republican Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor.

Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, another Democratic hopeful, won the endorsement last week of the 280,000-member International Association of Fire Fighters.

Clinton has won the backing of the United Transportation Union, with 125,000 active and retired members, which on August 28 became the first AFL-CIO union to name its choice for the 2008 vote.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070903/ts_nm/usa_politics_edwards_dc
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Transport Workers Union endorses Edwards
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, AP Labor Writer - Thu Sep 6, 2007

The New York City-based Transport Workers Union of America endorsed John Edwards on Thursday, saying the former North Carolina senator was the most electable of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Edwards was to be in New York City to accept the endorsement.
In a statement, he said the Transport Workers “keep the city moving and help keep New Yorkers safe.”
“As president I’ll fight for them every day, so we can honor their hard work and make our infrastructure safe and secure,” Edwards said.

Union president James C. Little said they chose Edwards because he has the best chance to beat the Republican candidate in November 2008.
“We think he can win,” Little said.

Little also said Edwards has been a steadfast supporter of organized labor.
“He’s never deviated,” Little said. “If we look at the other candidates, most of them triangulate between Wall Street, corporate America and unions, and John has pretty much stayed on track with working families.”

The endorsement is Edwards’ fourth from a union. He was endorsed on Labor Day by the United Steelworkers and the United Mineworkers unions. He also has been endorsed by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

The Transport Workers Union has 200,000 members and retirees in airlines, railroads, public utilities and public transportation, including workers at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City, the nation’s largest public transit system. They also represent workers at Amtrak and at American and Southwest airlines.
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On the Net:
Transport Workers Union: http://www.twu.org

Link to article

Atlantic City, N.J- Casino Workers Say ‘Pay the Dealer’ and Vote for UAW Card

08.28.07

Casino Workers Say ‘Pay the Dealer’ and Vote for UAW Card
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/Xda31_F1tckB/

Aug. 28, 2007

In Atlantic City, N.J., casino workers say they have better odds
for job security, wages and benefits with a union card in the
hole. Last week, nearly 1,000 dealers and other workers at the
Tropicana and Caesars voted to join the UAW. They join the more
than 2,600 Atlantic City casino workers who have voted for UAW
representation this year. Another election is set for Saturday.

Received from the AFL-CIO Blog News

Philadelphia (PA) Labor Day Parade and Festival

08.28.07

20th Annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade & Family Festival this Mon. 9/3

From Patrick Eiding, President, Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO
http://phillyunions.com/aflcio

Monday, September 3, 2007

WHERE: Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 19 Union Hall
Columbus Blvd. & Washington Ave.

8:00 AM: Tri-State Labor Day Parade Gathering

9:00 AM: Program

10:00 AM: Parade to Penn’s Landing Great Plaza
Columbus Blvd. & Market St.

11:00 AM - 3:00 PM: Philadelphia AFL-CIO Family Celebration

Food, refreshments, kids’ activities, make and take crafts, pony rides, and music - Featuring:

The Urban Guerilla Orchestra (UGO)
The Business
Jimmy and the Parrots
And much more!

Co-Sponsored by Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO and The Tri-State Labor Day Parade Committee. 215-665-9800.

Please visit http://www.phillyunions.com for parade materials including a printable parade flyer, a detailed Labor Day Event sheet, and a map of Penn’s Landing.

Only Fair and Balanced Trade Is Free

08.26.07

Only Fair and Balanced Trade Is Free

Trade policies are finally starting to get serious consideration in Congress, and among Presidential candidates, for the first time since the 1993 NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) debates. Trade policy, by our federal government in the past 14 years, has been a disaster for the working people of America. Federal government trade policies have very seriously undermined the American Middle Class, weakened our economy, threatened our national security, crippled our self-reliance in war preparation, distorted our foreign policies and created social tensions been our economic classes.

The “so-called free trade,” ideology-driven, policy has been a radical experiment that fails the tests of being fair and balanced. While the alleged “free traders” use economic theories taught at American universities to justify these policies, the real force behind the “so-called free trade” agenda seems to be monetary greed by the largest corporations in the world including some formerly American ones. These corporations are loyal only to the power of international wealth. They are absolutely not acting in American national interests or as loyal American citizens. They are being motivated solely by greed instead of American patriotism.

Our government should be run by elected officeholders who only serve American interests. Officeholders should never place ideology or corporate greed over practical results in developing government policies. Since the current Bush was established in the White House, America lost 3 million manufacturing jobs. Our yearly trade deficit to foreign nations has exploded. It currently stands at around $800 billion a year and with Communist China alone at $233 billion!

We export $55 billion a year to Communist China mostly in raw materials, machine tools and similar products designed to help them grow their export industries and become stronger economic competitors. In return, we import $288 billion mostly in finished consumer goods. This trade has financed the rapid military growth of the Communist Chinese military. It has costs astronomical numbers of good paying American jobs. American trade policies toward Communist China have weakened the export position of American manufactured good in other nations around the world.

The Chinese market was going to be a huge consumer of American manufacturers when the policy was first designed or so the American people were told. It has instead been only a cheap pool of labor for American corporations seeking ever larger profits by fleeing the American nation with their factories.

The Chinese example has been repeated in nation after nation like Taiwan, Korea, Jordan, Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt, Guatemala, etc. The list has been growing rapidly along with our trade deficits. The number of shipping containers rolling into the United States without proper inspection is a serious threat to national security. The “so-called free traders” ignore the national security threat posed by runaway, largely unregulated foreign trade.

Some newer members of Congress are finally fighting strongly against the policies of these “so-called free traders.” Recently, I heard Congressman Phil Hare (17th Congressional District of Illinois) call himself a ”fair trader,” as he explained the crippling impact of unfair “so-called free trade” on the communities he represents like Moline, Galesburg and Decatur. Congressman Hare supports trade but stated he will not support “fast-tracking” of new trade agreements or any trade policies that result in the outsourcing of good jobs from his District. I want to know why Republican members of Congress like Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee are not standing with Hare instead of against him on this issue!

Congressman Michael Michaud (2nd Congressional District of Maine) has long been a leader in the movement for fair and balanced trade that protects the jobs of American workers. Unlike most other members of Congress, Congressman Michaud worked in a mill in Maine before being elected to Congress. This writer had the pleasure of hearing Congressman Michaud speak to some auto workers in Washington, D.C. in 2006. He should be one of the main role models for every member of Congress especially on trade and worker issues. With luck, Michaud will someday be on a Democratic Presidential ticket.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (9th Congressional District of Ohio) is a real expert on trade policy. Kaptur often says she supports “free trade among free people.” The wisdom of this remark cannot be overstated! Communist China is not a free nation. It is not a democracy. It still has a closed and regulated economy. Japan is a democracy but still does not truly have an economy open freely to imports. Kaptur explained on the floor of Congress examples of trade barriers imposed by the auto industry in Japan that keeps American goods out of the country. She discussed the negative impact of “so-called free trade” on the Mexican peasants. Congresswoman Kaptur explained how labor union organizers and workers are killed in South American nations that Bush wants to include in new “so-called free trade agreements.”

President Bush has been pushing “so-called free trade deals” with nations that kill labor union leaders and organizers, have almost no excess income to buy American goods and no desire to have imported American manufactured products compete with their domestic producers. Nations agreeing to these deals offer only low, low wages along with lax or non-existent environmental and worker safety laws to large corporations. They are ideal locations to locate factories that exploit and abuse workers. Child labor and prison labor are often readily available. There is zero benefit to American workers in these deals. America should not permit imports from these nations much less give them favorable access to our markets.

The federal government needs to change our trade and tax policies to punish corporations (and their officers) who export manufacturing facilities. We need more protection from unfair trade. Our trade policies and tariffs should be changed to bring imports and exports into a rough balance. Trade policies should be designed to maintain or improve the living standards and economic security of American workers. Selling foreign goods in America should be a privilege given only as a reward to our closest allies and when it serves our national interest. Free trade between other developed nations, who are democracies that return the privilege equally, is fine. In all other cases, it should be rather rare. It is time to demand our elected officeholders hold these views or be replaced.

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com). Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com .

Feel free to publish without prior approval at no cost.

Letter from Executive Director of Delaware State AFL-CIO on upcoming Delaware union events

08.26.07

Greetings Brothers and Sisters:

This year marks a very special moment in Delaware labor history as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our state federation. On October 4, 1957, the Delaware State Labor Council, AFL-CIO was chartered; however the original charter was amended on July 9, 1976 to reflect the current status of the Delaware State AFL-CIO. Our theme for this year’s celebration is “Solidarity, Strength and Service, 50 Years and Growing”.

With our anniversary in mind, we prepare for three very special occasions this year. The first of course, is our 7th Annual Labor Day Parade and Rally to be held on Monday September 3rd beginning at 10 AM. The parade will step off at 12th and King Streets in Wilmington and proceed south on King Street to conclude with a rally to be held in Tubman-Garret Park (Riverfront). Assembly for the parade begins at 8:30A.M. There will be free parking in the Wilmington Parking Authority Bus Station lot located on Martin Kuther King Boulevard between King, French, and 2nd Streets.

For our second event we encourage all of you to attend our 50th Anniversary Celebration Banquet to be held on Friday evening, October 12, 2007 at the Dover Downs Hotel and Convention Center. Please see attached brochure for more information.

The organized labor community has a distinguished and rich history here in the State of Delaware, and we as the AFL-CIO are proud to accentuate the accomplishments of all the men and women who have strived to improve the standard of living and the foundations of our communities. The event will premiere the accomplishments we have made and also honor the four past presidents of our organization.

We are pleased to announce that Linda Chavez-Thompson, Executive Vice President AFL-CIO will be the guest speaker for our event. Linda was elected executive vice president of the AFL-CIO at the federation’s 1995 convention and was re-elected to a new four-year term in 2005. She is the first person to hold the post of AFL-CIO executive vice president, and she is the first person of color to be elected to one of the federation’s three highest offices.

Our final event for this year will be marked by our 31st Constitutional Convention to be held on Saturday, October 13, 2007, also at the Dover Downs Hotel and Convention Center. All locals and affiliates will receive a convention call shortly notifying delegates of exact details. All information will be mailed directly to affiliates.

This truly is a momentous year for the AFL-CIO. We appreciate the efforts demonstrated by our membership over the last half century and once again are proud to boost of our, “Solidarity, Strength and Service, 50 Years and Growing”.

In Solidarity,

Gerald L. Brady
Executive Director, Delaware State AFL-CIO

Come to Williamsburg for Justice @ Smithfield to Protest Smithfield Foods’ Annual Shareholders Meeting

08.26.07

Come to Williamsburg for Justice @ Smithfield
to Protest Smithfield Foods’ Annual Shareholders Meeting

Wednesday, August 29th at 11:00 AM
First Baptist Church
727 Scotland St, Williamsburg, VA 23185

Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel, NC is
responsible for:
• Widespread environmental degradation;
• Retaliation against workers who stand-up
for their rights;
• Assaults and false arrests of workers;
• A record of racial tension between
African American and Latino workers.
Stand with Smithfield workers on Aug.
29th to demand an end to the abuse!

Wilmington, Delaware Bus
6:30 AM Depart UFCW Local 27 - Newark, Delaware Office
1501 Casho Mill Rd, Suite 11
Newark, DE 19711

Contact: Courtney Foley - Local 27
Office: 302-292-6670 Ext. 12

Edwards touts trade policy for workers

08.26.07

Received this article by email- good one!

Edwards touts trade policy for workers

By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press Writer
24 minutes ago

With intensity that matched the heat, Democratic presidential hopeful John
Edwards continued his scorching criticism of special interests Saturday,
telling voters his trade policies would work for them, not big corporations.

As temperatures hit the upper 90s, the former senator wondered jokingly
whether he actually was in his home state of North Carolina before turning
serious.

“The question that has been asked as we negotiate our international trade
deals has been: ‘Is this good for the profits of big multinational
corporations?’ That’s the wrong question,” he said outside an elementary school. “The
question should be: ‘Is this trade agreement good for working middle-class
Americans?’”

Edwards said he will insist that the nation’s trade partners meet strict
labor and environmental standards and will enact regulations barring other
countries from manipulating their currencies.

“And we’re going to close down these tax loopholes that actually give
incentives to take jobs and go overseas,” he said. “This is crazy.”

In response to an audience question later, Edwards said the measures he
outlined would help reduce the nation’s debt to China. He said he also would push
to enforce existing laws that require goods to be labeled with their country
of origin, encourage people to buy locally and give the government more
authority to inspect products and food from elsewhere.

“We all know the problems we’ve seen with Chinese toys and Chinese food
products coming into this country,” he said. “The basic idea is to have a trade
policy that works and to be clearer that we have not just smart trade but safe
trade, where we actually identify problems and encourage people to buy
locally because it’s good for the American economy.”

Three days into a four-day bus trip of the state, Edwards has been framing
his campaign as a fight against the lobbyists and other “Washington insiders”
he argues stand between Americans and change. After his brief remarks on trade
policy, he took questions, often bringing the subject back to his universal
health care policy.

Edwards supports a plan that he estimates would cost $90 billion to $120
billion a year. Employers would be required to cover their workers or pay into a
government insurance fund, and workers would get to choose among plans.

Asked how he’d get it through Congress, Edwards said he would be flexible on
the details as long as the final plan ensured all Americans would be covered.

Edwards said he also would tell the public not to be swayed by the millions
of dollars he predicted health insurers will spend on ads criticizing his
plan.

“Every time you see one, I want you to ask yourself who’s paying for them?”
he said. “The very people who are charging you so much for your health care.”

Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Visit my blog at: http://journals.aol.com/proudliberal7/infrequent-rants/

Using this site

08.25.07

Please send all email to demlabor@aol.com about events you want placed in the Labor Event Calendar. Anything in Delaware, DC, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey or Pennsylvania… but will include some outside the region.

Please do not attack other unions or union activists on my site.

Please register if you wish to comment often. Send me an email with a little bio if you have time. There are different levels of users and background will help me rate your level. For most users, your level will rise over time. The top level permits direct use without approval of posts.

If you union has a website, we would like to add a link to it. We hope you will add us to your links.

Thanks,

Stephen Crockett

Helping the Mine Workers in Utah

08.25.07

I received this forwarded email from Harry Gravell (Sprinklerfitters 669 Business Agent and President of the Delaware Building Trades Council). He received it from LU 669 Organizer Kelly Oveson. I thought we should share it with all union activists. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those families!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I write this e-mail as I prepare to travel south to my Hometown of Huntington, UT. Where I will pay respects and say goodbye to a life long friend. Dale “Bird’ Black and I have known each other since our birth. Our Mothers were pregnant with us at the same time and they as well, have remained very close friends for over 70 years. Bird and I grew up together and shared a lot of memories and had many wild times in our youth. Last Thursday, showing his true character, Bird gave the ultimate sacrifice while trying rescue his co-workers trapped in the Crandall Canyon Mine, near Huntington.
I write this not as a request of sympathy for me, but rather for your prayers and thoughts for Dale’s family as well as all the others who have lost those near to them in this horrible tragedy. Utah’s coal country communities are very small and tight knit. It would be hard to find anyone down there who has not been impacted by this.
The International Vice President for the UMWA District 22, (He is also the Mayor of Helper, UT) Mike Dalpaiz, has put together a fund for the families of the victims of this mine disaster. We are asking that you donate anything you can for the wives and children of these fallen miners.

Donations can be made at any branch of Wells Fargo Bank, payable to “Helper Crandall Canyon Fund”
or you can mail your donations to:
Helper Crandall Canyon Fund
C/O Debbie Jones
P. O. Box 547
Helper, UT 84526

Thank you in advance, for your thoughts, prayers and generousity.
God Bless you, Kel

Organized Labor Is Alive and Well (In Pennsylvania)

08.25.07

Organized Labor Is Alive and Well (In Pennsylvania)

Organized labor is alive and well in Pennsylvania! Despite much of the prevailing gloom about the future of the labor movement in media pundit circles, the hopeful future of organized labor was apparent during a recent visit by this writer to the Lehigh Valley region (Allentown, Bethlehem, Northampton) of eastern Pennsylvania.

Much of the doom and gloom over the future of unions in America comes from the decline in the percentage of American workers represented by unions. Some pundits see the decline as resulting from a lack of energy by the workers seeking to unionize their places of employment and the union leadership. Some of these pundits are intentionally seeking to malign the union movement by spreading corporate disinformation. Others are just poorly informed.

The decline in union numbers really has two mutually related roots. They are changes in laws, government regulations and government enforcement efforts that tilt the union election system heavily in favor of the companies fighting their workers. The second is unfair trade policies. The first issue can easily be corrected by passing the Employee Free Choice Act. The second issue will require extensive efforts to renegotiate or repeal all so-called free trade agreements passed since (and including) NAFTA.

My trip to the Lehigh Valley started with the annual Lehigh Valley Central Labor Council dinner in Northampton. Over 315 union activists, political figures and civic leaders attended the event. Among the union locals that were represented include; UFCW Local 1776, USW Local 2599 and 412, IBEW Local 375 and 1600, Laborers Local 1174, AIM Local 917, PSEA, AFSCME District Council 88, and Local 1435, Teamsters Local 773, Berks County Labor Council, Schuylkill County Labor Council, CWA District 13 and Local 13500, IAFF Local 735, SEIU/PSSu Local 668, USW District Council 1, APWU, IUPAT Local 1269, NALC, Allentown Firefighters, ATU and OPEIU 277.

Elected officials attending included; Pennsylvania AFL-CIO president Bill George, Keynote speaker and Pennsylvania Representative Joseph Preston 24th District, Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and State Senator Lisa Boscola. Pennsylvania State Representatives, Jennifer Mann, Bob Freeman, Steve Samuelson and Joe Brennan were in attendance and recognized by all involved.

Allentown City Councilman Mike D’Amore, Northampton Mayor Tom Neehock. Northampton and Lehigh County Democratic chairs, Joe Long and Rick Daugherty, Salisbury Township Treasurer Linda Minger , Lehigh County Commissioner Kurt Derr were among the local dignitaries at the CLC event. Northampton County Councilwoman Ann McHale, Northampton County Councilman Charles Dertinger, Northampton County Councilman Lamont Maclure, and Lehigh County Sheriff Ron Rossi were there and recognized from the podium.

Mike D’Amore became on of my new political heroes when I learned that he is trying to get the Allentown City Council to pass a resolution supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. I hope his example of political courage is copied by local politicians from coast to coast!

Other political figures in attendance included political candidates like Allentown City Council hopefuls Peter Schweyer, Mike Donovan and David Jones. Christine Donohue, candidate for superior court judge, attended. Siobhan “Sam” Bennett candidate for 15th Congressional district was working the crowd. IAFF member Rich Gawlik who is a candidate for Lehigh County Commissioner was well-received. Court of Common Pleas candidates, Michelle Varricchio, Tom Lonardo and Glenn Clark, Superior Court candidate Jim Lynn and Bethlehem City Council hopeful Willie Reynolds were campaigning vigorously during the event.

No doubt this writer has unintentionally overlooked some of the notables who should have been mentioned. The large attendance proves that organized labor is not dormant in the Greater Lehigh Valley. The long list of political figures shows that organized labor is politically important in Pennsylvania.

At the event, Ron Achey was presented with a lifetime achievement award for community service. Ron serves as the Labor AFL-CIO liaison for the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Dale Krasley of UAW Local 677/Mack Trucks was presented with the William Werkheiser Community Services award. It was obvious that he was a favorite of all the local unionists present.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bill George gave an excellent, short speech that impressed the audience greatly. It was easy to tell that the crowd was very supportive of President George. George noted that Pennsylvania was having more Worker Memorial Day ceremonies that weekend than every other state in the nation.

He was followed by Pennsylvania State Representative Joseph Preston, who drove in from the western part of the state (Pittsburgh area). Joseph Preston gave an amazing speech. He was able to speak from the heart and shared personal experiences as a union worker and son of a union worker in the steel industry. He talked about worker safety and those who had died on the job. Preston spoke eloquently about how financial decisions by large corporations often place profits over the safety and lives of American workers. He spoke against unfair trade practices and unfair tax structures. Preston brought the applauding crowd to their feet!

It was a great night that spilled over into a very moving tribute to workers killed on the job in the Greater Lehigh Valley the next afternoon at the Lehigh Valley Workers Memorial. This was another Lehigh Valley Central Labor Council event.

The Lehigh Valley Central Labor Council Executive Vice President John Werkheiser and Pete DePietro jointly serve as Chairmen of the Lehigh Valley Workers Memorial Board. Lehigh Valley CLC President Gregg Potter and Recording Secretary John Weiss serve on the board as well. The Workers Memorial Day ceremony was held at the Bethlehem park were the Lehigh Valley Workers Memorial is permanently on display.

At the ceremony, Superior Court Judge Jack Panella was the keynote speaker. He gave a passionate and moving speech about his own family. He spoke about his late father who had a heart attack on the job and had great difficultly getting workers compensation. He passed away shortly after getting his first check.

This writer cannot even begin to recount the tale like Judge Panella. I was so moved that I immediately called my co-host on Democratic Talk Radio, Al Lawrence. We scheduled an interview with Judge Jack Panella which will soon be available on our website at http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com . I would like to see Panella in the US Senate!

After the speeches, many of those unionists and political figures present read the names of those who were killed on the job. John Weiss rang a bell after each name was read. He unfortunately rang the bell 784 times this past Sunday for workers who have died on the job in the Lehigh Valley. Each reader placed a flower on the Workers Memorial.

It was a sad ceremony. It was a beautiful ceremony. I thought about all those hurting families there and the thousands more across our nation. I thanked God that we have a vibrant union movement fighting to reduce the number of families that have to feel such pain and loss.

The union movement is alive and well in Pennsylvania. It is fighting vigorously for a better future for all working Americans!

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and union activist). Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com .

Feel free to publish without prior approval at no cost.

Organized Labor (and You) Can Defeat Republican Corporatism

08.25.07

Organized Labor (and You) Can Defeat Republican Corporatism

Progressive Internet activists, local Democratic Party stalwarts and reformists of all stripes need to unite under the leadership of organized labor to take back our government and economy from the Republican-Corporate alliance. The coalition should include efforts to win elections, change trade policies and unionize workplaces all over America.

The labor union movement has the resources to change the direction of American politics if firmly and actively supported by allies outside organized labor. No other institution in America understands the serious threat that Bush Republicanism poses to a Middle Class American lifestyle and American Democracy as well as American labor unions.

Corporations have totally captured the modern Republican Party and corrupted it thoroughly. The so-called Christian Right has fallen victim to the same corrupting influence of Corporate money. The infection is spreading in Republican circles, as demonstrated by Ralph Reed, Conrad Burns, Jack Abramoff, Katherine Harris and many others. Conservatism has been completely destroyed as a coherent ideology and replaced by a “Greed Is Good” creed.

Corporations have been buying up media, blocking campaign financing reform, using outsourcing to undermine the American Middle Class, blocking minimum wage increases, denying the American public access to universal health care, curtailing consumer ability to hold corporations responsible for abuses in courts of law and crippling workers rights to unionize. The Bush Republicans are actively promoting this anti-American and un-Christian set of political activities completely.

They are additionally making it more difficult for American youths to gain a college education. Workplace safety rules and regulations have been weakened. This has directly resulted in the deaths of American workers in our mines, factories, highways, etc. We have been price-gouged for gasoline, home heating oil, prescription drugs, electricity, insurances, loans and more.

Americans simply cannot afford to leave Corporations to completely set all the rules controlling our economy and government. The personal impact on ourselves and our families has been devastating!

We need to fight back. Our best hope of victory is to unite under labor union leadership. Bloggers, community activists, local political leaders, civil libertarians, environmentalists, writers and all other reformers bring vital skills and broader societal connections that make victory, under union leadership, more likely.

We can all contact unions to help start more union locals in our community. We can rally community support for the political agenda of local unions. We should support unions in their collective bargaining efforts and lobbying. Local Democratic groups should routinely work with local union leaders.

Nationally, we should vote based on issues instead of emotional nonsense and fear promoted by the Bush Republican machine. We should promote boycotts of Corporations who try to break unions, abuse consumers or send American jobs outside our national borders to exploit cheap labor (or weaker environmental laws.)

Americans must demand that modern Corporations take their role as good citizens seriously. Corporations must not abuse workers, consumers, small investors or taxpayers. Corporations who fail to act in the national interest should be controlled by legislation and government regulation.

Politicians who ally themselves with the Corporations are the enemy and should be defeated at the polls. Organized labor can be counted on to be in the forefront of the effort. Will you be an active ally?

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com ). Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com .

Feel free to publish at no charge without prior permission in your newspaper, newsletter, website or blog.

Employee Free Choice Act and Republican Disinformation

08.25.07

Employee Free Choice Act and Republican Disinformation

Republicans opposing the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act are lying up a storm to swing public opinion against the proposed law. Their primary attack claim is that the bill denies workers a free, fair election by secret ballot. Unfortunately, there is nothing free or fair about the current system of voting on unionization. The law is tilted heavily in favor of company power and against the workers.

I have been involved in an unsuccessful attempt to unionize a business. I saw disturbing examples of intimidation and unfair tactics that the Employee Free Choice Act would have prevented.

Companies are able to hold “captive audience meetings” to argue against unionization. They are legally able to include certain workers and exclude others. Attendance is mandatory for some and prohibited to others. They are held on company time.

Workers trying to unionize are not able to meet on company property without permission of the company. Strong union supporters are usually excluded from “captive audience meetings” so the company position is the only one heard by the workers forced to attend. Sometimes illegal threats or statements are issued at these meetings when the company feels certain that workers attending them will not report them to the federal government.

The burden of proof by law regarding illegal tactics by companies in complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board definitely tilts toward the company. Most companies fail to see violations of labor laws by anti-union “so-called worker committees” (often comprised of quasi-management employees) while pro-union workers are threatened frequently with being fired if suspected of engaging in pro-union activities. The anti-union “so-called worker committees” can operate on company time (which is illegal) without much fear. While most companies will deny knowing about such activity, it seems likely that these companies often secretly organize these anti-union “so-called worker committees” and direct their operations. In almost every case, the company has complete knowledge of their activities.

Supervisors will often threaten employees when no witnesses are present. Threatened workers are often afraid of reporting the threats or do not know the procedure for reporting them. These threats are illegal but very difficult to prove. The company can fire pro-union workers during the election process to intimidate other workers even if the federal government or courts eventually get their jobs back. In the meantime, the union vote will often go against unionization out of fear.

The company will sometimes threaten to close the business or move it if the workers vote for a union. This is illegal but it does happen. It is very difficult to prove. Illegal activity by the company is difficult to prove in part because many companies make rules against bringing recording devices or cameras into the work area. This also makes it difficult to document unsafe working conditions. Workers can lose their jobs trying to document violations of labor or safety laws by the company.

Union organizers and union officials do not have access to company property during the election cycle to discuss the benefits of unionization. They are not supplied with phone numbers of employees although the companies do have that information.

If you distribute any union materials including union pledge cards on company property during working hours, you can and usually will be fired. Pro-union workers are often warned about this even when they are not actively involved in the distribution of pledge cards or materials just to intimidate them from speaking up for unionization.

The current union election system is not fair or free. It is much like the “free elections” held in Communist countries or other dictatorships. The Republicans and their large corporate masters are being completely dishonest in the way they frame the issue and describe the current situation.

Republicans falsely claim that workers are intimidated into signing union pledge cards. This is so rare as to be almost non-existent. The intimidation is almost entirely on the side of the companies. Companies are in a position of power over workers. Co-workers are simply not in a similar power situation. Only the company is really in the kind of power position to intimidate workers.

Criminal behavior influencing union votes is almost always on the side of the company. The Employee Free Choice Act is designed to stop this criminal behavior and all intimidation of workers. The legislation says that if a majority of workers sign pledge cards in favor of unionizing the union will be automatically recognized by law. It is majority rule. It eliminates the opportunity for the company to block the majority desire for unionization by using illegal tactics and intimidation.

A vote against the Employee Free Choice Act is a vote in favor of the current rigged system. It is a vote in favor of company intimidation and illegal company behavior. It is a vote against the workers.

Democrats overwhelmingly support the Employee Free Choice Act. In the House vote, only 2 Democrats voted against the legislation. 13 Republicans voted for the Employee Free Choice Act. The final vote was 241 in favor and 185 against.

Some Senate Republicans may attempt to block a vote on this legislation. If they do, every working American should vote against them. If any Democrat joins them, they should be defeated at the next election. Workers should contact their Senators immediately and let them know their vote on this legislation will determine your vote in the next election.

It has been reported that Cheney has pledged that Bush will veto the Employee Free Choice Act. This is the best reason I can think of for voting Democratic in the 2008 Presidential Election if Bush vetoes this pro-worker legislation.

The Employee Free Choice Act is a vote for worker rights. A vote against it is a vote against worker rights no matter how the Republicans spin it.

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com ). Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com . Feel free to publish or distribute without prior approval.

Stephen Crockett is a member of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) and the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). He is an associate member of the United Steelworkers (USW).

C.L.E.A.N.- Community, Labor, Environmental Action Network

08.25.07

C.L.E.A.N.- Community, Labor, Environmental Action Network

The best ideas emerge unexpectedly from the grassroots in seemingly unlikely places. One of those ideas is an organization called C.L.E.A.N. which stands Community, Labor, Environmental Action Network. The story behind the creation of this group is both enlightening and interesting. The concept is very sound. I hope C.L.E.A.N. chapters will eventually be in every state.

C.L.E.A.N. resulted from a Delaware UFCW Local 27 organizing drive. While organizing, the UFCW realized that workers were being exposed to dangerous chemicals in the work environment. As they explored the worker safety issue, they realized that adverse health effects impacted workers, their families and the surrounding community. As a result, the UFCW reached out to other unions, churches and community groups to build a coalition. C.L.E.A.N. was born. The growth has exploded in just 4 months.

Among the unions and other groups who have joined in Delaware are A. Philip Randolph Institute, AFSCME Local #640, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 842, Christiana Presbyterian Church, Sprinklerfitters Local 669 , Delaware Ecumenical Council on Children and Families, Delaware State AFL-CIO, Community Services , Democratic Talk Radio , Interfaith Coalition Building Block for Wilmington, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees- Local 284, IBEW Local 313, LIUNA Local 1029, LIUNA Local 199, Methodist Action Program, OPEIU Local 277, Pacem in Terris, Progressive Democrats for Delaware, St. Paul’s Church, 23rd RD Committee, UAPP Local #74, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27, USW, District 4, Voices Without Borders and Young Democrats Movement. C.L.E.A.N. is actively seeking new member organizations.

Here is their story. While looking into the connection between worker safety and the health impacts of pollution in the larger community, the UFCW discovered some shocking facts. Below are just a few examples:

The rate of asthma among adults in Delaware is 11.7% while nationally it is 10.8%. In the most populous county in Delaware (New Castle), the American Lung Association graded them F for pollution.

Delaware’s 1999-2003 overall cancer incidence rate was 5.3% higher than the national estimate. There were a shocking 20,793 cases reported during this period.

919 total cases of urinary bladder cancer were diagnosed among Delaware residents during 1999-2003. A 1195 study found that “A total of … 21% to 27% of bladder cancers are estimated to be related to occupational exposure.”

Luckily, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in Region 2 had many top notch leaders, organizers and staffers on the job when these facts came to light. UFCW Regional leadership under Director Alvin Vincient, Jr. and his Executive Assistant Pat Burgwin had long emphasized the need for unions to reach out to the community and get more involvement in organizing drives.

Fortunately, UFCW Local 27, under the enlightened leadership of President Buddy Mays and Organizing Director Tim Goins, placed union resources at the disposal of the larger community in order to get C.L.E.A.N. started. Buddy Mays truly understands the significance of the problem. He stated, “We realize that the problems are not just local issues. The problem is a national one. Employers often knowingly place the health of both workers and the community at risk by exposing them to dangerous chemicals. It is our obligation and civic duty to expose these situations when we discover them.”

In Delaware, the UFCW had help from the International in the form of organizers Gina Swinea and Courtney Foley working closely with UFCW Local 27 Business Agent Donna Smits. As a member of the Delaware State AFL-CIO Executive Board and head of the UFCW political effort in Delaware, Donna Smits helped broaden the coalition by identifying and recruiting key players in labor, politics and community organizations.

Samuel Lathem, President of the Delaware State AFL-CIO stated that they “are fully in support of the C.L.E.A.N. effort and applauds the UFCW for their lead role in getting the group started. The Delaware State AFL-CIO wants to work with allies in the larger community on a variety of issues.”

Delaware State AFL-CIO Executive Director and state legislator Gerald Brady was an early supporter. Courtney Foley said, “Gerald Brady was very instrumental in getting labor onboard.” She cited many other leaders, both inside and outside organized labor, as very helpful including President of the Delaware Building Trades Council Harry Gravell, Executive Director of the Interfaith Coalition Building Block of Wilmington Ed Klinge, Mark Brunswick from A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and Reverend Dr. Greer of the Ezion Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church to name just a few.

Courtney Foley was given primary responsibility for building the coalition because of her deep background in community organizing. Although still very young, this young lady from Mississippi has extensive experience. She started her efforts organizing on behalf of Congressman Jim Moran in Virginia. In 2005, she worked for Paul Hackett in the Ohio Congressional special election that received so much national attention. She was working for Sherrod Brown in 2006 in his successful bid to become a US Senator from Ohio.

Early in 2007, Foley was helping in New York with SEIU in their successful public relations effort to stop a proposed billion dollar cut in health care that politicians in Albany were pushing. In New York, she realized “how powerful and important the faith-based community can be in rallying public support to promote progressive change.”

While the original mission statement of C.L.E.A.N. reads:

It is the mission of C.L.E.A.N. to promote a safe and healthy environment for families in Newark and the surrounding areas.

Objectives
To increase the awareness of toxic substances being used in local industries and their effects on workers and the environment
To protect the welfare of workers and residents from the dangers of toxic and carcinogenic substances
To educate and empower the workers and families of Newark
To hold local industries accountable for the abuse of safety and environmental regulations
To facilitate change in regulatory safety statutes

The organization is already becoming active statewide in Delaware. Gina Swinea stated, “If C.L.E.A.N. is successful in Delaware, the UFCW would look into expanding the coalition into other states.” She went on to state that the coalition grows daily as more partner organizations take leadership roles in the coalition.

In addition to worker safety and environmental issues, the organization can be expanded into other areas were labor and community groups can work together. In Delaware, one of these expanded areas of interest is a pre-apprenticeship training program which is a part of the South Wilmington Special Area Management Plan (SAMP).

“In a system of positive and progressive movements occasionally one such initiative distinguishes itself above the others due to its diverse yet comprehensive approach and profound impact. This year that program is C.L.E.A.N. (Community, Labor, Environmental Action Network)”, said Gerald Brady. This writer agrees completely!

Readers should contact Courtney Foley by calling her at 1-800-809-4303 ext. 12 or emailing her at cfoley@ufcw.org for details about C.L.E.A.N. Ask about the “Clean-up Delaware Day” project and other future activities. Please visit their C.L.E.A.N. website at http://www.cleanindelaware.blogspot.com.

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com ). Email: midsouthcm@aol.com . Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish without prior approval at no cost.