Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Virginia—It’s Time for an Intervention!- from AFL-CIO Blog


Virginia—It’s Time for an Intervention!

Eileen Toback, AFL-CIO political organizer in the Voice@Work campaign, updates us on what’s at stake for working families in the November elections in Virginia, where state Senate races are expected to be decided by just a few hundred votes.

Joyce Putnam, a member of Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 2, is one the superstar activists working on Virginia’s Labor 2007 program. As a working mother, she understands why it is so important to elect representatives who advocate for working families.

Putnam knows she has more opportunities with better pay because of the union. As she notes (see video):

Unions have opened doors for women that have traditionally been closed.

She has benefited from getting a job on a survey crew because she had reliable union seniority.

Union membership helps raise workers’ pay and narrow the income gap that disadvantages minorities and women. Union workers earn 30 percent more than nonunion workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary work were $833 in 2006, compared with $642 for their nonunion counterparts.

The union wage benefit is even greater for minorities and women. Union women earn 31 percent more than nonunion women. African American union members earn 36 percent more than their nonunion counterparts. For Latino workers, the union advantage equals 46 percent and for Asian American workers, the union advantage is 8 percent.

However, working women in Virginia are not as far along the road to equal pay as women in many states. In 2000, Virginia’s working women earned 75.9 percent as much per hour as men, while nationwide, women earned 77.6 percent as much per hour as men. Virginia ranked 32nd among all states in equal pay.

At the current rate of change, working women in Virginia—as well as working women nationwide—won’t have equal pay until after 2050. This time frame is not acceptable! We need allies in the state legislature to speed up the clock.

It is time for an intervention on Nov. 6! We can make the difference. This Saturday, Nov. 3, all of us need to be at our final labor-to-labor walk—and bring a friend. Click here to find out dates and times for Virginia phone banks and walks.

AFSCME Endorses Hillary Clinton for President



Wednesday, October 31, 2007

AFSCME Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

Politically Active Union Pledges to Mobilize Volunteer Army for Senator Hillary Clinton in Iowa and Across America

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 1.4-million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, today endorsed New York Senator Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

“The next president is going to play a critical role in rebuilding America’s middle class and ensuring that everyone shares in our country’s prosperity,” said AFSCME International President Gerald W. McEntee. “President Hillary Clinton will make us stronger at home and respected abroad.”

AFSCME’s International Executive Board voted to endorse Senator Clinton following an extensive 10-month, member-driven endorsement process – including candidate appearances, interviews and membership polls. The union’s polls show that Senator Clinton enjoys deep support among its members.

“We’ve looked at these candidates closely, and we’ve drilled down deep into the union to see who was inspiring our members, who has what it takes to take back the White House and govern effectively when they get there,” McEntee said. “We looked for the candidate who will fight for working families and who has the greatest ability to win, the candidate who will motivate our members to make calls, knock on doors and talk to their co-workers like never before.”

The politically savvy public service union, known for waging grassroots campaigns, is preparing to launch a major effort in the critical early state of Iowa, where it represents more than 30,000 workers.

AFSCME plans to spend more than $60 million on the 2008 campaign

Latest on the Lehigh Valley (PA) United Way- Organized Labor Conflict



The United Way’s labor committee postponed until at least 2008


REGION, October 12th- After some members of the labor community announced they would no longer pledge funds to support the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley because of the removal of the union that represented the organizations employees, there was a plan discussed that would establish a “labor committee” at the organization to help union members in need of financial help.

But the plan to create the “Lehigh Valley Union Members Emergency Fund,” has been postponed at least until 2008 because of lack of support from the labor community.

Many within the labor community throughout the Lehigh Valley are disappointed with the dertification of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599, Bethlehem. In May the union was removed as the bargaining representative for nine administrative secretaries employed at the organization’s Bethlehem office.

According to Jerry Green President of Local 2599, he believes Ms. Gilmore was behind the decertification vote by persuading employees to sign a petition requesting the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) conduct a election to determine if they wanted to continue to be represented by the union. “I have no doubt what-so-ever, she was behind it,” said Mr. Green.

Ms. Gilmore denies Mr. Green’s charges. “I feel bad about the situation. I was not involved. We worked too hard of building relationships with people and with the labor community to destroy it over something like this,” said Ms. Gilmore during a interview with the newspaper in July.

She has been President of the community organization for more than two years, and told the newspaper prior to moving to the Lehigh Valley, had no relationship with organized labor. “I was raised in Texas, a right-to-work state. I didn’t have any involvement with labor, but I respect them.”

The vote on whether to remove the union was originally tied at four to four after the union challenged the right to count the ballot of Jane Hontz, the person signing the petition requesting the election.

Ms. Gilmore told the newspaper the idea of creating the committee was hers. She realizes the labor community believes she encouraged the removal of the union and hopefully something can be worked out that keeps organized labor involved with the United Way.

However, after most of the larger unions from throughout the Lehigh Valley indicated they would not support the committee, unless Ms. Gilmore leaves the United Way, the plan was postponed until at least next year.

REGION, October 11th- The United Way of America in Washington wants the labor community to know they had nothing to do with the decertification of the union at the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and does not hire or pay any employee at their Bethlehem office.

According to Margaux Bergen, Vice President, and Field and Media Communications Director for the United Way of America in Washington, the organization did not hire Susan Gilmore, the President of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, and does not pay her salary.

“We would like to make it clear that United Way of America does not pay Ms. Gilmore’s salary,” Ms. Bergen told the newspaper.

Ms. Bergen was responding to a statement made by the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 President Jerry Green in the previous edition of the newspaper, that Susan Gilmore is being paid $142,000 a year to bust unions by the United Way of America, and should resign.

“We don’t pay Ms. Gilmore. Her salary was established by the local United Way, which we have no control over,” said Ms. Bergen.

Recently the National Association of Letter Carriers Union Branch 274, Allentown, has joined the growing number of unions calling for Susan Gilmore to resign and is asking their members to boycott contributing funds to the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Bill Newhard, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley labor federation agrees with Mr. Green that Ms. Gilmore encouraged some of the employees at the United Way to decertify the union.

The labor federation represents 20 affiliated construction trade unions throughout the Lehigh Valley. Mr. Newhard is also the Business Manager and Principal Officer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 in Allentown.

He told the newspaper, Ms. Gilmore is anti-union and the construction trade unions will not support the United Way until Ms. Gilmore is gone.

Edward Balukus, President of the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Union Local 677 in Allentown, which represents around 1,200 workers employed at Mack Trucks, said his union members will no longer support the United Way because of Ms. Gilmore.

Ms. Gilmore was hired by the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley more than two years ago. The board established a “search committee” to interview candidates to become the President of the organization.

According to Gregg Potter, President of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council labor federation, he served on the committee but only attended one meeting because of his work schedule. The committee recommended hiring Ms. Gilmore after conducting a national search and interviewed the candidates. Mr. Potter is employed by Verizon Communications and is a member of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) Union Local 13500.

The United Steelworkers of America wants workers in the Lehigh Valley to make direct contributions to charity, rather than donating their funds to the United Way, until Ms. Gilmore resigns or is replaced.

U.A.W. Members Agree to Chrysler Deal


U.A.W. Members Agree to Chrysler Deal

DETROIT, Oct. 27 — United Automobile Workers members at Chrysler approved a new agreement with the automaker, the union said today, clearing the way for talks to accelerate at Ford Motor.

The union said 56 percent of assembly workers and 51 percent of skilled trades workers voted in favor of the contract. Voting concluded early today, with Chrysler’s plant in Belvidere, Ill., the last to vote. The Belvidere plant rejected the contract with a vote of 55 percent against approval. But that was not enough to defeat the contract nationwide.

“Our members had to face some tough choices, and we had a solid,

democratic debate about this contract,” the union’s president, Ron

Gettelfinger said in a statement this morning.

“Now we’re going to come together as a union — and now it’s on the company to move ahead, increase their market share and continue to build great cars and trucks here in the U.S.”

Chrysler’s co-president, Thomas W. LaSorda, said, “We are pleased that our U.A.W. employees recognize that the new agreement meets the needs of the company and its employees by providing a framework to improve our long-term manufacturing competitiveness.”

Mr. Gettelfinger and the union’s vice president for Chrysler, General Holiefield, put on an intense push for ratification over the past few days. A number of local leaders credited Mr. Holiefield’s efforts, in particular, for the contract’s approval.

“There’s no question this was a difficult set of negotiations during difficult times for the U.S. auto industry,” Mr. Holiefield said in the union’s statement.

The Chrysler vote was far more turbulent than the process at General Motors, where 66 percent of the members who voted approved the contract this month after a two-day strike.

Workers at Chrysler walked off the job for six hours, but local union leaders were split over the agreement. It was rejected by four assembly plants, but received support at a number of smaller factories as well as four big plants in the Detroit area, which approved the contract on Wednesday.

Opponents voiced concerns that the Chrysler pact did not provide as many guarantees of future work as the G.M. contract. That issue is front and center at Ford, which lost $12.6 billion last year and does not expect to earn a profit in North America before 2009.

Talks there, which continued at a slow pace during the Chrysler vote, are expected to step up over the weekend. Generally, the U.A.W. expects to win the same contract terms under its practice of pattern bargaining, but as at Chrysler, the union may have to settle on something apart from the G.M. pact.

“There’s a lot of confusion at my plant, with all the things that have happened” at G.M. and Chrysler, said Jim Stoufer, the president of Local 249 at Ford’s assembly plant outside Kansas City, Mo.

“We don’t know where we’re at, how Ford’s going to be approached and how it’s going to work for us, since we’re in worse shape than everybody else.”

Ford, with a market share in the United States that has dropped by nearly 2 percentage points this year, to 16 percent, has yet to identify all the plants it expects to close under a restructuring plan called the Way Forward.

“If there’s going to be a difficult issue, that’s it,” said Richard Block, acting director at the Michigan State University School of Labor and Industrial Relations. “The U.A.W. is going to want Ford to reveal any product development plans that it has.”

Chrysler’s disclosure that it had no plans for a future investment at the St. Louis South plant outside Fenton, Mo., prompted workers there and at the adjacent St. Louis North plant to reject the contract. Chrysler workers in Newark, Del., where the plant is scheduled to close, also rejected the contract.

Rather that risk such no votes, Ford instead may try to give as little information as possible about any factory whose future is on the line, said David L. Gregory, a professor of labor law at St. John’s University in Queens.

“Ford I don’t think is in a position to make anything beyond the barest good-faith declaration of principle that they’re going to do their best,” he said.

Workers, however, are likely to want reassurances before they will vote in favor of the contract. Even those promises are no guarantee, however. G.M. has announced plans to eliminate shifts at two Michigan factories since its contract was approved.

It remains to be seen whether Ford workers will be in as feisty a mood as their Chrysler counterparts. But there is cause for concern, analysts said.

Two years ago, Ford workers barely approved a series of cuts in health care benefits that G.M. workers voted to accept. The slim margin at Ford was a reason Chrysler workers were never asked to vote on similar cuts, for fear they would turn them down.

Ford workers, in addition, have the benefit of having watched their counterparts at the other companies wrestle with the cuts in their contract.

“At G.M. and Chrysler, the auto workers really rose up to give a big fight against concessions,” said Ron Lare, 60, who has worked at Ford’s assembly plant in Dearborn, Mich., for 20 years.

Mr. Lare said he was concerned that the contracts created a two-tier wage system that meant newly hired workers would be paid less than their elders.

“The issue seems to be whether we’re going to sell out the next generation of auto workers,” Mr. Lare said.

Nick Bunkley and Mary M. Chapman contributed reporting.

What’s the Connection Between Fiber Optics and Virginia Elections?


What’s the Connection Between Fiber Optics and Virginia Elections?

Click here to connect to links in the original post below

Eileen Toback, AFL-CIO political organizer in the Voice@Work campaign, updates us on what’s at stake for working families in the November elections in Virginia, where state Senate races are expected to be decided by just a few hundred votes.

We keep talking about the paramount importance of union members getting involved with the upcoming election and about advocating for working families. What does that really mean?

Stacie Adams, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 2222 in Northern Virginia, broke it down in real terms (see video).

Adams and Local 2222 are putting a lot of sweat-equity into this election. They are sending out mail to their members, and volunteers are following up by visiting union members at their homes on weekend labor-to-labor walks. They also are running a phone bank from their union hall. (Click here for phone bank and walk info.)

She explains that Local 2222’s largest collective bargaining unit is Verizon. By turning the state Senate completely around to include a majority of elected officials who support working families, CWA will gain more allies for the union’s battles to keep future work for CWA-represented workers. CWA constantly has to go to the Federal Communications Commission to challenge the possible sale of copper lines and to safeguard jobs in the future that will deal with fiber optics (FiOS).

Now, you don’t have to know about fiber optics or copper lines to become an advocate for working families. Union leaders like Stacie Adams are figuring out how to defend good union jobs now and in the future, in an increasingly complex world. What we need to focus on is to create a political landscape that prioritizes and advocates for working families.

USW Campaign against Toxic Trade Heads into the Home


USW Campaign against Toxic Trade Heads into the Home

Last week, our Women of Steel activists hosted their third “Safe Home Session” in Pittsburgh to educate families about how to screen for lead contaminants in toys and other products. Previous sessions were held in the Minnesota Twin Cities and in Detroit. The next session is schedule for Birmingham, Alabama this week. With numerous recalls of more than 500,000 toys made in China, media coverage of our events has been incredible. This threat to the health of our children and families is a direct result of unregulated trade and it won’t stop until these flawed trade policies are replaced. Check out or

Another Organizing Victory in the Lehigh Valley for Pennsylvania Organized Labor!


Good evening,
Following is information regarding, yet another Organizing Victory in the Lehigh Valley!!!
Congratulations to all at SEIU 1199P!!
In unity,
Gregg J. Potter
President, Lehigh Valley Labor Council

-## Original Message ## ##

Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 5:38 PM
Subject: SEIU Healthcare PA - Cedar Brook Organizing Election


Just to forward along that SEIU Healthcare PA (formerly 1199P) won their election today in organizing the RN’s at CedarBrook Nursing Home in Lehigh County (I believe it was a final tally of 120 to 24).

Have a great weekend.

In Unity,

Chris Snyder
Field Representative,
Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine Joins Union Members in Voter Mobilization


Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine Joins Union Members in Voter Mobilization
by Tula Connell, Oct 22, 2007

Link to post on AFL-CIO Blog

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) joined union volunteers in Norfolk on Saturday for a get-out-the-vote rally.

It’s great to see grassroots momentum building in Virginia, where the state legislature has a good chance of becoming far more working family-friendly after the Nov. 6 elections. Hundreds of union volunteers have turned out in Northern Virginia over the past few weekends to get out the vote among union members and their families, and the union movement picked up more steam this past weekend when Gov. Tim Kaine (D) joined union members in Norfolk.

Speaking to union members at the Iron Workers Local 79 hall, Kaine said, “Politics needs still to be about person-to-person contact.”

And about that kind of ground effort of neighbor convincing neighbor and friend convincing friend. We should never lose that.

Back up in Northern Virginia, Tony Perez, government affairs coordinator for United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, is psyched about the possibilities of this election and urges everyone in the area to come out and join the walks over the next two weekends before the elections (see video). Says Perez:

We have a real opportunity to make change here. We’re going to be out here every Saturday for the next three weeks, walking, knocking on doors, talking to our members, making a change. It really does make a difference. I’ve had great experiences talking to our members, going door to door. One member came out and…wanted to talk to me for 10 minutes because they were so excited to have labor out here and taking these elections very seriously.

You have to ask people to volunteer. If you’re doing it, then talk to your friends. All it takes is one asking another to make a change….If we’re going to change the labor movement in Virginia and keep moving forward, we have to get involved.

Four Amtrak unions reject arbitration, more expected


Four Amtrak unions reject arbitration, more expected

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Amtrak unions representing 7,000 workers are all expected to reject arbitration to end fruitless contract mediation, triggering a countdown that could lead to White House intervention to avert a possible strike, officials said on Oct. 19, Reuters reports.

The Transportation Communications Union (TCU) and three other labor groups turned down Thursday’s (Oct. 18) arbitration offer by the National Mediation Board. Five other unions are expected to soon follow suit, rail industry and labor sources said.

The nine unions, comprising about half Amtrak’s unionized workers, represent maintenance, clerical and electrical workers. They have been in contract talks or mediation for seven years.

Although the transportation communications group said a walkout was unlikely after a 30-day cooling off period, it is preparing to seek permission from its members to call one, if necessary at some point.

What is likely, the union said, was the creation of a special panel by the White House ## a Presidential Emergency Board ## in late November to try and facilitate a contract.

If no agreement is reached after that step, the unions could call a strike early next year, or Congress could intervene to legislate contract terms.

“We are under no illusion about the tough fight that lies ahead,” said a TCU statement.

Amtrak called the unions’ decision to reject arbitration “a step in a long process” that is “designed to avoid disruption of vital transportation services.”

The unions are bound by the Railway Labor Act, the federal law that governs rail and airline contract negotiations and goes to great lengths to discourage strikes.

Virtually all of Amtrak’s 13 unions have not had a new contract in seven years, although their old agreements have remained in place. Sticking points include proposed work rule changes and back pay. Other unions at the railroad are not involved in the current mediation decision.

The escalating labor problems come as Amtrak continues to turn around its business with stronger ridership and revenues. Amtrak also appears to be ironing out its perpetual funding problems with Congress and, for the moment, has fended off an attempt by the Bush administration to dismantle its operations and privatize a vital asset.

In 1992, the White House intervened to facilitate a contract between Amtrak and several unions. In 1997, Congress imposed terms on one union.

During the Bush administration, the White House has intervened to stop or prevent strikes at several airlines, but has not faced a similar situation at Amtrak.

Chrysler UAW Contract Rejected by Bigger Union Locals


Chrysler UAW Contract Rejected by Bigger Union Locals

By Mike Ramsey and John Lippert

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) ## Chrysler LLC’s contract with the United Auto Workers has been rejected by most large union locals representing auto-assembly plants during the first four days of voting and supported by smaller groups, dimming prospects for the accord’s approval.

Workers at a Jeep assembly plant today became the latest factory employees to turn down the contract, the Detroit News said. Three other Detroit-area union locals, most of them office employees, voted in favor, the News said.

Assembly workers are resisting because UAW President Ron Gettelfinger wasn’t able to secure work for Chrysler plants as far into the future as he did for General Motors Corp. factories last month, said Bill Parker, chief of the UAW committee that negotiated the Chrysler contract and an opponent of the deal.

“I think we’ll see some real hardball if they turn this down,'’ said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, referring to Cerberus Capital Management LP. The New York private-equity firm bought Chrysler from the former DaimlerChrysler AG in August.

Four of six locals that have rejected the deal represent workers at assembly plants with 1,500 or more employees, according to union officials and press reports. Most of the eight locals that have accepted have fewer than 1,000 members and don’t build vehicles.

Chrysler’s 45,000 UAW employees will vote on the four-year contract through Oct. 24. A majority of those voting must approve the contract for it to pass.


Roger Kerson, a UAW spokesman, declined to comment on the outcome of the votes.

Locals representing a sport-utility vehicle plant in Newark, Delaware, and minivan and Dodge truck plants near St. Louis were among those that turned down the contract. At each St. Louis plant, more than two-thirds of workers rejected it.

“If the Chrysler contract is voted down, Gettelfinger has to go back to the company and say, `I need more product guarantees,”’ said Dan Luria, an analyst at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center in Plymouth.

Dissatisfaction is growing inside the UAW because its new contract contains concessions the union has resisted for decades, Luria said.

One of the locals that passed the deal represents about 100 workers at an auto-parts depot in Georgia.

Jeep Plant

At the Jeep plant in Detroit, 57 percent of production workers and 80 percent of skilled-trades employees rejected the contract, the Detroit News reported, without saying where it got the information. The plant employs 2,200.

Workers at Locals 412 in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and 889 in Warren, which represent office workers, approved the contract by 76 and 94 percent, respectively, the News reported. The locals have a combined 2,300 people.

Local 212 in Detroit, with 750 workers, approved the contract by 85 percent, the News said. One of the three manufacturing sites represented by the local builds the low- volume Dodge Viper sports car. It is the only local with auto assembly plant workers to approve the contract.

Tomorrow, workers at Local 51, representing two engine plants in Detroit, are scheduled to vote.

Patterned After GM

Among other things, the GM and Chrysler agreements create a union fund for retiree health care, instead of imposing this responsibility solely on management. The accords also will pay new workers about half as much as the current workforce. The GM agreement followed a two-day strike and was ratified by two- thirds of workers. Chrysler employees walked out for six hours before their settlement was reached.

The UAW patterned its Chrysler agreement after GM’s, and hopes to use the same basic approach at Ford Motor Co. GM is the biggest U.S.-based automaker, followed by Ford and Chrysler.

Chrysler, of Auburn Hills, Michigan, plans new investments totaling $15 billion for 55 of its 59 UAW-represented facilities during the next four years, spokesman Mike Aberlich said in an e-mail. At GM, some UAW factories were promised they’d start building newly designed models starting in 2013.

Plant Votes

At UAW Local 110 at the St. Louis minivan plant, 79 percent of non-skilled workers who voted rejected the contract, said Lou Moye, bargaining chairman. He declined to comment further. At UAW Local 122 at a stamping plant in Twinsburg, Ohio, 53 percent of those who participated voted no, according to the local’s Web site.

The Associated Press reported that at the Delaware plant, 54 percent of Local 1183 workers who voted rejected the contract. The plant, which is closing in 2009, represents 1,581 workers, AP said.

At UAW Local 961, representing an axle plant in Detroit, 54 percent of workers who voted turned down the contract, the Detroit Free Press said.

Workers at Local 372 at an engine plant in Trenton, Michigan, and at Local 1435 at a machining plant in Perrysburg, Ohio, accepted the contract, the Free Press said, without giving vote totals.

Workers at the Georgia parts depot passed the accord, the Wall Street Journal said. About 200 employees at a parts depot in Milwaukee voted by a 94 percent margin in favor, the Detroit News said.

Push Harder

At the Dodge plant near St. Louis, 81 percent of Local 136 workers turned down the deal. At an engine plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 82 percent of Local 72 employees voted in favor.

The latest rejections may heighten pressure on Gettelfinger to push harder for votes.

Union leaders were at plants this weekend trying to persuade workers to ratify the deal, said Sean McAlinden, an analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The ratification vote is the first for Chrysler as a closely held company.

Gettelfinger and his aides belong to the Administration Caucus, a group that has controlled the union since 1946. Parker was a member of a rival group called New Directions that mounted its strongest challenge in 1989, when it sought unsuccessfully to unseat two members of the union’s international executive board.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Lippert in Southfield, Michigan, at ; Mike Ramsey in Southfield, Michigan, at

Last Updated: October 21, 2007 22:01 EDT

‘No fly’ on steroids


Patt Morrison:
‘No fly’ on steroids

Link to LA Times article

Under Homeland Security’s ‘Secure Flight,’ your union card or reading preferences could help keep you off a plane.
October 18, 2007

Don’t look now ## by which, of course, I mean do look now.

Look at all the ink and airtime lavished on the titillating stories about Southwest Airlines threatening to boot a couple of passengers off flights unless they tidied up their ensembles. A student/Hooters waitress had to tug her miniskirt down and pull up her neckline, and a man flying home to Florida had to turn his T-shirt inside out to hide its “Master Baiter” joke tackle-shop logo.

While we were all getting some giggles out of that, the Department of Homeland Security and its Transportation Security Administration have been going ahead with something that could keep a lot of blameless people off planes, no matter what they’re wearing, and might fill up dossiers with stuff they have no business knowing. Never mind cleavage top or bottom: Someone may be taking note of what we do in the sack, who we travel with, what we read and whether we belong to a union.

“Secure Flight” is the latest remake of a TSA program that’s undergone as many changes as Britney’s hair. This time it would, among other things, make it the government’s job ## not the airlines’ ## to check passengers’ names against watch lists and then clear them to check in and travel.

Haven’t heard of Secure Flight? That’s the way they like it in D.C. But some of the people who do know about it are not pleased.

Canadians are peeved: Some airline flights that merely fly over the United States, without so much as touching a wheel to U.S. soil, would have to fork over more information about passengers, and do it as much as three days before the flights take off. Canada already worked with the U.S. to craft its own no-fly list and security policies. “What’s the point of this cooperative approach if our list isn’t deemed to be good enough for the United States?” asked Air Transport Assn. of Canada Vice President Fred Gaspar.

The AFL-CIO is peeved: A July 26 letter from Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff to the head of the Council of the European Union raised alarms. Detailing new air safety policies, Chertoff outlined privacy safeguards for any personal data about EU passengers that reveal “racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership and data concerning the health or sex life of the individual.” Since when is union membership ## not to mention the sex lives of French, Dutch, British or Italian tourists ## a terrorist risk factor?

Edward Wytkind, who heads the AFL-CIO’s transportation trades department, is dumbfounded: “We don’t think collecting data on union membership has anything to do with running homeland security or weeding out security risks . . . it really crosses over into a very dangerous place.”

Privacy advocates, already peeved by no-fly list mix-ups, are dismayed by Chertoff’s letter and Secure Flight. They wonder: Could all that EU data collection apply to Americans too? Race, health, sex life, political opinions? We’re mostly just flying to see our mothers, not applying for work at the CIA. Who’s gathering that info, and how would they get it? Would they get it right?

I’m happy to say some U.S. senators are peeved too: They ragged on a TSA official but good this week ## why is the agency not inspecting a jet’s cargo as rigorously as it inspects its passengers and their toiletries? Why no security checks for foreigners repairing U.S. jets in places such as Egypt and Singapore? The sarcasm in Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s voice jumps off the page: “I hope you can be as righteously indignant about the foreign repair stations as you are about mascara.”

Finally, businesspeople and the travel industry don’t seem thrilled, judging from Web discourse. The 72-hour government security check and requests for yet more passenger data will apply to more than just Canadian overflights. When someone says “government,” the word expeditious doesn’t come to mind. What will befall the last-minute traveler? With all this going on, the one thing we shouldn’t do is put our tray tables up and bury our noses in any old bestseller. Bill Scannell is with the Identity Project, a privacy-rights group funded by IT rich guy and civil libertarian John Gilmore. He told me that customs and border records he’s seen for five Identity Project sympathizers noted that one carried a book called “Drugs and Your Rights.” Another file noted chattily that the passenger had been traveling for about a month, had gone to a computer conference, visited friends and is ## in quotes ## a computer software “entrepreneur.” Which, when you put it that way, sounds more alarming than “union member.”

Oh, am I busted. On my recent home-to-mother flights, I read Susan Faludi’s new book, “Terror Dream,” about post-9/11 America; the New Yorker with a piece on Jenna Bush’s first book; and a comic volume called “Unusually Stupid Politicians.”

TSA is accepting public comments on Secure Flight’s latest plans; the deadline is Oct. 22. Be careful what you say, unless you don’t mind getting home for Christmas . . . in January.

Union-Member Candidates Pack the Field in New Jersey Elections


Union-Member Candidates Pack the Field in New Jersey Elections

This article is definitely worth reading. Please click on the link above to read it. Mid-Atlantic highly recommends reading the article.

Did you know that approximately 25 percent of the American workforce has no legal right to form a union and collectively bargain?


32 million and counting

by Ron Ennis, Lehigh Valley Postal Workers
Editor, Lehigh Valley Labor Council

Did you know that approximately 25 percent of the American workforce has no legal right to form a union and collectively bargain? Roughly 32 million workers are denied the freedom to join a union, according to American Rights at Work, an advocacy organization for workers.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, farmworkers, domestic employees, independent contractors, many supervisory employees and millions of public employees are excluded from legal protections and the freedom to join a union.

Unfortunately, more workers continue to be denied the right to join a union under recent rulings of the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency assigned to administer the law. With the majority of board members appointed by President George Bush, the NLRB’s rulings have stripped more workers of their opportunity to join a union.

At Brown University, the NLRB ruled in 2004 that graduate research and teaching assistants are not workers eligible to join a union, despite their lecturing classes, grading papers, advising students, and performing research.

In another 2004 decision, Oakwood Care Center and N&W Agency, the Labor Board banned temp agency employees from organizing and bargaining together with permanent employees without the consent of both their employer and temp agency.

For more information on these and other NLRB rulings, log onto

Say good-bye to Messrs. Taft and Hartley: Why the 1947 “slave-labor” bill has to go


Say good-bye to Messrs. Taft and Hartley
Why the 1947 “slave-labor” bill has to go

by Ron Ennis, Lehigh Valley Postal Workers
Editor, Lehigh Valley Labor Council

Ask any union activist what is the chief cause for the decline in union membership and you’re bound to hear a variety of answers. Whether it’s the decline in the manufacturing sector, the rise in conservative ideology or the lack of labor history taught in the public schools, each response has merit.
However, there is one obscure explanation that predates and, perhaps, supersedes all other reasons for labor’s current predicament: the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. Regarded by union leaders as one of the worst pieces of labor legislation in American history, its 60-year impact on the labor movement is little understood and, consequently, grossly underestimated.

The enactment of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 and the Supreme Court’s decision to validate its constitutionality infuriated the business community, which immediately sought to launch a counterattack at the opportune time.
That moment came in the 1946 mid-term elections. President Franklin Roosevelt had died the previous year and corporate-financed Republicans, joined by southern Democrats, saw an opportunity to undo many of FDR’s New Deal achievements. With a vigorous and well-funded campaign the GOP, chanting “Had enough?” seized the Senate 51 to 45, and the House 246 to 188.
For the first time in 16 years, the conservatives were now in control of Congress and they set their sights immediately on reducing, if not eliminating, the roughly one-quarter of the workforce that was unionized. The intent of the Taft-Hartley Act, sponsored by Senator Robert Taft (R-Ohio) and Rep. Fred Hartley (R-NJ), was to gut the NLRA.
The Act was a large and complex proposal written with the approval of the National Association of Manufacturers, labor’s historic antagonist for nearly half a century. Unfortunately, few union leaders understood at the time of the bill’s introduction that FDR’s protective labor legislation, the NLRA, had made union members more dependent on and more vulnerable than ever to the power of government and what was given on the one hand by the law could just as easily be taken away. This painful lesson would soon be learned.
When President Harry Truman received the bill in late June, he denounced it as a “slave-labor bill” and vetoed it. But the GOP-controlled Congress had the votes to override Truman’s veto, and did so promptly, with more votes in favor the second time around. In fact, more Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill and the override than voted against it.
Truman’s Council of Economic Advisors predicted that the law would “inject the Government into almost innumerable details in the internal affairs of labor organizations of all sizes and in the collective bargaining process.” Sixty years later, those predictions have held up.

 Outlawed the closed shop, which required that persons join the union before being eligible for employment with a unionized employer.
Effect: This provision opened the floodgates for right to work (for less) legislation. Currently, 22 states, mostly in the south and Midwest, have open shop or right to work (for less) laws.

 Gave the President the authority to seek injunctions against unions in essential industries.
Effect: In the first year after the passage of Taft-Hartley, Truman requested seven court actions to stop strikes and four 80-day injunctions were granted. This government intrusion into the free association of workers profoundly reduced the number and severity of strikes, which declined immediately and never again approached the high water mark of the 1945-46 level. As recently as 2002, the “national emergency” clause was invoked by President George Bush in connection with the employer lockout of the Longshoremen’s Union during negotiations with West Coast shipping.

 Mandated that union officers had to file affidavits that they were not members of the Communist Party.
Effect: This rekindeled an era of red-baiting that conservatives and business leaders had used for decades – and still do – to silence labor’s more progressive voices. Corporate leaders were never subjected to the same loyalty oaths. Until this clause was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1965, it created harmful divisions within the labor movement.

 Forced national and local labor organizations to file yearly financial statements with the Department of Labor.
Effect: These reports have become more burdensome under the Bush administration. Interestingly, though not surprisingly, private companies are not obligated to reveal any of their finances.

 Federal government was given the right to define “employee” as excluding supervisiors and independent contractors and they were no longer afforded protection of the NLRA.
Effect: Since the law’s implementation, floor supervisors are now corporate storm troopers in anti-union organizing campaigns. Furthermore, the pool of workers eligible to be unionized has diminished, most recently seen in the Supreme Court case NLRB v. Kentucky River Community Care. This has denied labor’s right to decide who their potential members are and to use that decision in their campaigns, contracts and negotiations.

 Mandated a 60-day cooling off period before a union could resort to a strike.
Effect: Another state intrusion into how a free and democratic union conducts its business with the employer. This has caused the near extinction of the wildcat strike.

 Outlawed the secondary boycott, which encouraged neutral employers to pressure a corporation with which the union has a dispute.
Effect: Another usurpation of government power by prohibiting the speech and actions of union members. This was a powerful labor-organizing tool prior to 1947.

 Gave management the right to petition for a union certification election.
Effect: This undermined the ability of workers and their unions to control the timing of an election and underscores the right of an association of free individuals to determine their own election process.

 Banned government workers from striking and if they did “shall be discharged immediately from employment… shall forfeit (their) civil service status, … and shall not be eligible for re-employment for three years by the U.S. or any such agency.”

Effect: This harsh penalty has no equal in corporate discipline. It opened the door for stronger measures against government employees. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan barred for life fired air-traffic controllers from ever sitting in a control tower.

While the Taft-Hartley Act stripped labor of some its most potent weapons, it sent an even stronger message to management: the government was giving the green light to bust unions and deny workers their rights to organize.

156 Members of Congress Are Enemies of Children


Hi Stephen, See below for a statement from Campaign for America’s Future Co-director Roger Hickey on today’s House SCHIP vote. Let me know if you’d like to schedule an interview. Anne

Anne Thompson, Campaign for America’s Future


Vote Marks The Beginning Of A Major National Fight; Conservatives Continue To Block And Veto Popular Reforms

WASHINGTON – Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey said that 156 House Members declared themselves enemies of children and families in today’s vote on children’s health care. Hickey said today’s override vote marks the first round in a major fight to fix our nation’s broken health care system and illustrates the latest obstruction to progress by conservatives.

The bill would reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance program for 6.6 million children and provide coverage to nearly 4 million more children in working families. The expansion of SCHIP is widely popular, according to a new poll released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. Given the basic parameters of the expansion – its cost, the number of new children who would be covered, and how it would be paid for – seven in 10 Americans say they back the plan.


One hundred and fifty-six House Members declared themselves enemies of children and families with this vote. Ignoring the will of the people, a conservative minority in the House sustained the president’s veto and denied nearly 5 million children access to health insurance. Upholding the president’s veto is only the latest obstruction to progress by Washington conservatives.

An overwhelming majority of Americans support populist reforms, but conservatives have repeatedly used filibusters and vetoes to block this progress and then they hypocritically blame others for a lack of congressional action. The record is clear. Congressional conservatives and the president are the culprits who have stood in the way of a new progressive direction for our nation. Our children will pay a steep price for their cruel politics.

Conservatives celebrate the veto at their own peril. Voters are calling on their government to solve the health care crisis for Americans of all ages. Where legislators stood on expanding children’s health care is a good indication of where they will stand on critical reforms needed to provide affordable health care for all – an issue that will be at the center of our political debate in next year’s elections.

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**NOTE: To obtain a copy of today’s poll, please visit See Campaign for America’s Future SCHIP video at Media representatives interested in scheduling an interview to discuss today’s override vote and the health care crisis in America should contact Anne Thompson at or 202-587-1614.**

The Truth About Wal-Mart & Food Safety


Wal-Mart is the #1 importer of Chinese goods. So, after the spree of high-profile recalls and outright bans on dangerous Chinese products, wouldn’t it be logical for Wal-Mart to take the offensive against unsafe imported goods? Shouldn’t Wal-Mart stand up for the safety of American consumers?

Wouldn’t you?

The truth is that Wal-Mart is putting profits over people - again - by blocking laws requiring disclosure of where food comes from. Instead of looking out for consumer safety, Wal-Mart is watching its own bottom line.

That’s why we put together a new ad to expose the truth about Wal-Mart and China.

Click here to watch our new ad and send it to five friends:

Even among nations, Wal-Mart is China’s sixth largest trading partner: it buys more Chinese goods than industrial giants like Germany and Britain. This gives Wal-Mart the power to demand safer products from its Chinese suppliers. Unfortunately, it has demanded nothing more than lower prices, and has tried to cover up the consequences of its race to the bottom.

As consumers, we have the right to know that the products we buy are safe. Don’t let irresponsible corporations like Wal-Mart cut us out of the loop. Please watch our new ad today, and send it to five friends:

The more people learn the truth about Wal-Mart, the more public pressure grows for Wal-Mart to change.

You - together with more than 402,000 fellow supporters of - have the power to make Wal-Mart put people first.

Amidst seemingly endless recalls of dangerous products, Wal-Mart has tried to keep American consumers in the dark.

Let’s shine a light.

Thanks for all that you do,

The Team

Amtrak Continues Their Outrageous, Extreme Bias Against Their Unions


Editor’s Note: The Amtrack unions have not been able to get decent negotiations with Amtrack ever since the Bush Administration started. They are treating our union brothers and sisters in all those different unions poorly. Organized labor should rally to support our union brothers and sisters at Amtrak! We should contact our members of Congress to pressure Amtrak to negotiate fairly, in good faith and finally give all their workers decent contracts.

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Bruce Carlton, Vice President of the Transport Workers Union Local 2015, wrote a stinging letter to Amtrak President Kummant in response to Kummant’s Amtrak Employee Advisory and meetings with Kummant at the negotiation table. It is a very direct letter and gives you an idea of what Kummant is like behind the scenes. The letter can be read here

You can download a 11 x 7 poster that shows Kummant for what he really is - a union buster, a puppet of the Bush administration. Post it at your favorite location. Click here for the poster Link

8 years without a contract and Kummant thinks we will bend over and take the lousy deals he lays on the table. He underestimates the solidarity and will power of Amtrak workers.

To date the following Amtrak Unions have rejected Amtrak contract offers;
Fireman’s Union
Machinists Union




Close to one million SEIU members choose Edwards because he has the strength and vision to win both the primary and the general election

Des Moines, Iowa – Today, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) state councils from Iowa, California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, West Virginia, Ohio and Oregon announced they have endorsed Senator John Edwards for president, totaling close to one million SEIU members.

Representatives from several of the ten state councils joined Edwards for a press conference at the Eckstein Medical Research Building in Iowa City. The endorsements will allow these SEIU state councils, which collectively represent over 930,000 members, to organize efforts to turn out caucus goers on Edwards’ behalf within Iowa, and in any other state where the SEIU state councils have also endorsed Edwards. SEIU state councils across the country will be determining their endorsement decisions in the coming weeks.

“John Edwards is the only Democratic candidate with the vision, leadership and strength needed to win, not just the primary but also the general election,” said Dave Regan, representing the state councils of Ohio and West Virginia. “In the battleground states that I represent, Edwards’ broad appeal and strength at the top of the ticket will help Democrats in races at every level. He will help us build a true mandate that will bring real change to Washington, end the war in Iraq, bring truly universal health care, labor law and immigration reform – and these are the things that will improve the lives of working families across America.”

“As a Registered Nurse who knows first hand the need for health care reform, it’s a great honor to announce that the members of SEIU Iowa have chosen to endorse John Edwards for president of the United States,” said Iowa SEIU Local 199 president Cathy Glasson. “In Iowa, we are uniquely positioned to see and hear the candidates, and members are well informed on the issues important to working families. John Edwards earned our support by taking a strong stand on health care and because he offers our members the greatest hope for restoring the American Dream.”

“California SEIU members know that John Edwards will be the best labor president in the history of the United States,” said Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West. “His proposals are far and away the best among the candidates on the issues that matter most to working Americans. Edwards has taken principled stands on workers’ behalf, when others took more cautious positions on issues that demand bold action.”

Added Tyrone Freeman, president of United Long Term Care Workers West, “We embrace his vision for opportunity for working people, and are proud to join his campaign of optimism, conviction and action that will bridge the divide between the two Americas. We will do everything in our power, in Iowa, California and across America to ensure that he ends up in the White House.”

“John Edwards understands the everyday struggles faced by working families across the country,” said TJ Janssen, a homecare worker from Wenatchee, Washington. “His commitment to ensuring quality affordable health care for every American is why I’m so excited to be supporting his campaign.”

The 2,000 members of the Iowa SEIU voted to endorse Edwards for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening. On Friday, the membership of the California state council of the SEIU, which represents more than 656,000 working families, also voted to endorse Edwards. SEIU state councils from Washington (103,000 members), Michigan (70,000 members), Idaho (450 members), Montana (500 members), Minnesota (28,000 members), Ohio (22,000 members),West Virginia (4,000 members), and Oregon (46,000 members), also announced their endorsements on Monday.

“SEIU is at the forefront of the fight to make work pay and provide economic security to hardworking families. I have proudly stood with them on the frontlines of the fight for working Americans for years, and I am honored to earn their members’ support in each of these states today,” said Edwards. “Together, I believe we can fix the broken system in Washington that has been rigged by corporate interests, and we can make this country work for regular Americans again.”

The state SEIU endorsements bring Edwards close to the three million mark in union support. In September, Edwards earned the endorsement of the Transport Workers Union of America (200,000 active and retired members), the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (520,000 active members), the United Steelworkers (1.2 million active members and retirees), and the United Mine Workers of America (105,000 active members and retirees).

UAW Reaches Deal with Chrysler


I had the great pleasure of walking a picket line with some of the guys from UAW Local 404 in Newark, Delaware. This excellent local is headed by President Gary Stolling.

It was very interesting to see how great the public support for the strike was in the local community. Hundreds of cars honked, waved or gave us the thumbs-up in the few hours I was there.

SEIU To Skip Endorsement


(AP) None of the Democratic presidential primary contenders will get the endorsement they’ve been fervently seeking from the Service Employees International Union, an especially painful blow to John Edwards.

The union said Monday it won’t choose a national candidate for the primary elections, underscoring divisions that had been apparent among SEIU supporters of Edwards and the Democrats he trails in national polls: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

“Any one of these candidates would help create a new American dream for workers and their families,” SEIU Secretary Treasurer Anna Burger said.

Instead of making a national endorsement, the union will allow its locals to make decisions state by state.

“Given the importance of this election, we are encouraging members and leaders to act on their passion for the candidates and get involved on a statewide basis,” SEIU President Andy Stern said.

SEIU backing was one of the most important labor endorsements available. The organization has donated more than $25 million, mostly to Democratic candidates, since 1989.

Edwards had hoped a national SEIU endorsement would energize his campaign in the crucial early primary states. The former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee has spent considerable time the past couple of years walking picket lines, speaking out for workers’ rights and seeking labor support.

Clinton and Obama also have been working SEIU hard, with the union endorsement being one of the endorsement plums still left.

But now instead of spending its money in a primary campaign, the international union will devote its funds to national issues until the Democrats have picked a candidate.

“We will continue to work on issues like health care, the war in Iraq and other issues while our locals decide whether they want to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary,” SEIU spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller said.

The 1.8-million member union winnowed the Democratic field to Clinton, Obama and Edwards after the three were the clear favorites at an SEIU forum in Washington in September. The union delayed an endorsement because of the deep divisions among its members, and delayed the decision again after hearing from the candidates anew in Chicago at the Change to Win labor federation conference.