Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Every $1 Billion Spent on Rebuilding Infrastructure Creates 42,000 Jobs

04.30.08

April 30, 2008

A rebuilding program for the nation’s roads, bridges, schools, transit systems and electrical grid would create 42,000 jobs for every $1 billion spent and help us better compete in the global economy. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell points out that we often push infrastructure repair to the back burner because it is so expensive. But, he says, we can afford it, if we have the political will. Just as we found the money for the war in Iraq, we can find the money to rebuild the country, he says.

Every $1 Billion Spent on Rebuilding Infrastructure Creates 42,000 Jobs

http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/Qpa31_F1IPpY/

by James Parks, Apr 29, 2008

Too often, the only time lawmakers think seriously about rebuilding our nation’s aging and crumbling infrastructure is after a disaster like the collapse of a bridge in Minneapolis or the destruction of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Then a few months later, the issue is pushed back to make way for less-expensive priorities.

But the ability of the United States to compete in the global economy and continue its growth depends on our willingness to improve our roads, bridges, waterways, transit systems and the electrical grid, says Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D).

The price tag to rebuild is high, but we can afford it, Rendell told participants at a symposium today on “Investing in U.S. Infrastructure.” Sponsored by the Agenda for Shared Prosperity, the symposium brought together economists, policymakers and others to discuss ideas for moving America forward after 2008. Rendell told the meeting:

We always say we can’t afford to rebuild the infrastructure. But we can find the money for what we want to do. If we can afford the war in Iraq, we can fix our infrastructure.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates it will cost $1.6 trillion over five years to bring roads, rails, bridges, waterways, transit systems and other infrastructure components into “good condition.” Rendell points out that debt service on that amount is about what we spend in Iraq each year.

John Irons, research director for the Economic Policy Institute, which sponsors Agenda for Shared Prosperity events, told the symposium that infrastructure investments would provide short-term economic stimulus and build the foundation for long-term economic growth by creating new jobs and spurring investments.

Rendell estimates that every $1 billion spent on rebuilding infrastructure creates 42,000 jobs.

The AFL-CIO strongly supports an economic stimulus package that includes investing in infrastructure. Last month, AFL-CIO Chief Economist Ron Blackwell told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee the nation needs an economic stimulus package that frontloads public investment in infrastructure to maintain our schools and repair crumbling bridges and deteriorating highways. Spending that puts people to work on projects we desperately need is more likely to stimulate the domestic economy than tax cuts that may be saved or spent largely on imported consumer goods.

A spending program that focuses on rebuilding the infrastructure not only would create jobs but also change our quality of life, Rendell says. It could make our commutes faster and improve our drinking water. It would create more opportunities for workers to build a middle class life by becoming construction workers and help build businesses that supply materials for the rebuilding.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who introduced legislation to establish a National Infrastructure Commission, told the conference:

Bridges are falling down, levees are breaching, and antiquated water systems are putting both our environment and health at risk. We’ve got to address this for our economic vitality

If enacted, the legislation would set priorities and seek to achieve consensus at local and federal levels and among public, private, environmental, labor and other groups that agree on the need for revitalizing the infrastructure but are not always in agreement on the best way to go about it.

The speakers echoed AFL-CIO President John Sweeney’s call earlier this year for organizations with diverse interests to come together behind a comprehensive plan to rebuild America. Sweeney said:

We all have a stake in this—every one of us—and we all have different motives for wanting action. For the AFL-CIO, it’s good jobs. For others, it is something different. We also depend on our infrastructure to keep our families and our communities healthy, comfortable and safe, and to keep our country moving. We should be able to put some of our parochial concerns aside and come together behind a comprehensive long-range infrastructure plan.

In convention resolutions, the AFL-CIO repeatedly has urged the nation’s political leaders to address our aging infrastructure. At its summer meeting in Chicago last year, members of the federation’s Executive Council renewed their call for Congress and the president to rebuild America. The council’s statement said:

Our government must make the significant investments needed to upgrade and maintain the nation’s infrastructure. We need to find the resources to make this happen and ensure that we take advantage of this opportunity to create good jobs for America’s workers, both in construction and production of the materials needed. This will require courage, leadership and vision, but we cannot afford not to act.

20,000 Pennsylvania Child Care Providers Gain a Union

04.30.08

20,000 Pennsylvania Child Care Providers Gain a Union

by James Parks, Apr 28, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/04/28/20000-pennsylvania-child-care-providers-gain-a-union

Child care providers in Pennsylvania are gaining a voice by joining a union.

Some 20,000 home-based child care providers in Pennsylvania now have a voice after they overwhelmingly voted for representation by Child Care Providers UNITED (CCP), a joint effort of AFSCME and SEIU.

Gov. Ed Rendell (D), who was elected with strong union support, signed an executive order last June granting providers the right to join a union if they care for no more than three unrelated children in their homes. The executive order called for an election to take place after a union collected signed authorization cards from at least 30 percent of the providers.

The order also called for the commonwealth to develop a strategy to assist the providers, who are not required to register with the state, to register and gain access to tools to provide better quality care and education to children they serve.

This is the second group of child care providers in Pennsylvania to join a union. Last October, some 3,700 registered providers in the state voted for CCP. Those providers are required to register with the state in order to care for four to six unrelated children in their home.

Negotiations for the registered child care providers are scheduled to begin next month, says Bonnie Caldwell, CCP’s executive director. She says that after CCP won the election for these workers last year, the providers elected a bargaining committee, conducted a bargaining survey and held meetings across the state to determine the issues most important to them, with training and professional development among the key concerns.

In a statement, Caldwell says:

We are transforming the child care industry here in Pennsylvania. Studies have linked quality child care in the early years with better academic performance and less problematic behavior among schoolchildren, and with our new unified voice, we’ll be able to raise child care standards across the entire state.

AFSCME PA Council 13 Launches ‘Operation Veterans Hope’

04.29.08

http://www.afscme.org/publications/18155.cfm

April 25, 2008

Thermal clothing, computer game consoles, a large-screen television and other items were donated April 8 to residents of the Southeastern Veterans Center in Spring City by Pennsylvania Council 13 and District Council 88.

“To all the veterans here today, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ from every member of the AFSCME family,” said Council 13 Exec. Dir. David R. Fillman, who is also an International vice president. He noted the union’s “unique bond” with those serving in the armed forces. “Nationwide, more than a third of our 1.4 million members have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or have family members who have done so.”

Council 13 plans to make donations at six veterans’ centers throughout the state. Members from more than 20 locals have already donated thousands of dollars in cash, clothing and supplies, and fundraising will continue.

The council’s program is part of a new initiative, AFSCME’s Matching Fund for Veterans, which will provide support for state veterans homes throughout the country. Through matching grants, AFSCME affiliates are encouraged to “adopt” these homes and to initiate their own fundraising drives.

http://www.afscme.org/16788.cfm

AFSCME Launches a New Matching Fund Program to Give Back to Our Veterans

November 9, 2007

AFSCME has a unique bond with the brave men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line for our country. More than a third of our members have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or have family members who have done so. Likewise, many of our members provide care at veterans’ homes and hospitals across the country.

Now AFSCME is launching a new initiative to give back to our veterans. AFSCME’s Matching Fund for Veterans program seeks to provide support for state veteran homes throughout the nation.

AFSCME represents workers at veterans’ homes in 15 different states. The International Union is encouraging the affiliates in these states to “adopt” those homes and engage their communities in fundraising drives. For this purpose, it has established a fund that will match up to $5,000 of what each council raises for their veterans’ homes to provide those “extras” that can make a big difference to the veterans there. The program starts on Monday, November 12 – the legal public holiday for Veterans’ Day – and will run through June 1, 2008.

The initiative was inspired by members of Connecticut Council 4, which for the last four years has sponsored a Veterans Memorial Day Picnic fundraiser. Between donations of food, money and merchandise, AFSCME members in Connecticut have raised more than $250,000 over the period, paying for the construction of athletic fields, and the installation of computers and TVs, among other items. Members of Council 4 also contacted the renowned custom motorcycle manufacturer Orange County Choppers to build a veterans-themed motorcycle for a special raffle.

The Matching Fund for Veterans recipients will be announced during AFSCME’s 38th International Convention in San Francisco. For additional information, contact Diane Burke, Conference and Travel Services at (202) 429-1093 or dburke@afscme.org .

D.C. Security Guards Get Union Contract

04.28.08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlantic City Casino Workers Fighting for First Contracts

04.28.08

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/04/28/atlantic-city-casino-workers-fighting-for-first-contracts/

Atlantic City Casino Workers Fighting for First Contracts

by James Parks, Apr 28, 2008

Aneil Patel and his co-workers at Caesars Atlantic City want a first contract.

Despite overwhelming votes by workers at four Atlantic City casinos in favor of forming a union with UAW, management at the four casinos continue to stall and delay negotiations to avoid granting the nearly 4,000 workers a voice at work.

At a press conference last week, New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said:

The casino dealers and slot technicians fight to organize and management’s opposition to the workers’ freedom to form a union clearly illustrates that the current system for establishing a union in America is broken and is skewed in favor of employers. It is a system that is in desperate need of reform and thousands of workers in Atlantic City are unfortunately victims of this failed system.

Since March 2007, a majority of casino dealers, dual-rate dealers and other workers at Caesars, Tropicana, Bally’s and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City have voted in favor of UAW representation. Bargaining is under way at Caesars and Tropicana; the union at Bally’s has just been certified; and Trump Plaza is still trying to delay certification before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Aneil Patel, a dealer at Caesars, says the casinos have a history of not dealing workers a fair hand.

If you look at the history of the casinos, they don’t want to give us anything. Wages are falling, and benefits are falling. If you look at inflation, we don’t keep pace. The base salary, 29 years ago, was $3.75 and now, the starting rate for a dealer is $4. Are you telling me that in 29 years, the cost of living only went up by 25 cents? We are handling the money for the casino. It looks glamorous, but behind the scenes, we can’t even put food on the table.

The workers received good news last week when the NLRB confirmed a June 2007 election victory at Bally’s and certified the UAW as the union chosen by full- and part-time dealers, keno and simulcast workers. The NLRB ruling upheld the Oct. 18, 2007, decision of Administrative Law Judge David Goldman, who dismissed all of Bally’s objections to the election and found the vote to be valid and binding.

The workers are gaining strong backing from elected officials and the community for a fair contract. Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans, Atlantic and Cape May Counties Central Labor Council President Roy Foster and several members of the state legislature demonstrated their support of the workers by signing a petition defending their right to bargain fair contracts.

Mayor Evans says union jobs are good for the city:

Most workers in our gaming industry are members of labor unions. This has been good for Atlantic City. We are a better place to live when our citizens work under contracts with good wages and good benefits.

Earlier this month, Atlantic City Council members unanimously passed a resolution supporting the casino workers’ right to a fair contract and called on all casinos in Atlantic City “to stop treating gaming workers as second-class citizens, to negotiate fair contracts, and to join us in improving our community.”

Meanwhile, the casino workers are working to insure their workplaces are safe by pushing for a city ordinance that would guarantee all city casinos are completely smoke-free. City Council members unanimously supported adding casino workers to a measure banning smoking in public places.

Terry Shindel, a dealer at Caesars, says the ordinance is overdue:

This is exactly why we joined together to form our union. People have been talking about cleaning up the air on the casino floor for years—but now that we’re working together as a union, we’re getting real action.

The smoking ban, which will go into effect Oct. 15, was supported by the UAW, the New Jersey Group Against Smoking Pollution and other public health organizations.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn says the union is “committed to assisting casino workers who want a voice in public policy, just as we assist workers who want a voice on the job through collective bargaining.”

There is a powerful and exciting movement for change among gaming industry workers all across the country, and the UAW is proud to be part of it.

Don’t Call Me a Protectionist by Senator Sherrod Brown

04.28.08

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120891223498936727.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

It’s easy to play bumper-sticker politics with trade. But it gets us nowhere.

When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton came out against the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) in the run up to Ohio’s presidential primary last month, they also spoke about U.S. trade policy generally. They mentioned problems with China’s currency, toxic toys and contaminated food, and communities wrecked by plant shutdowns and lost jobs.

But conservative economists and a lot of newspaper editors heard only “Nafta” and saw only “protectionism.”

Our country deserves a real debate on trade, not a debate where labeling one side protectionist is game, set and match.

The supporters of our trade policy rarely mention our exploding trade deficits. In just 15 years, our annual trade deficit has mushroomed to over $800 billion from $38 billion in 1993. With Mexico, our trade surplus evolved into a $90.7 billion trade deficit. With China, our trade deficit jumped to $250 billion today from about $22 billion. President George H.W. Bush once estimated that a $1 billion trade deficit represents 13,000 lost jobs. Do the math.

One country’s deficit is another country’s surplus. Our annual trade deficit helps fuel the growth of government-owned investment funds overseas. Free traders rarely mention these funds even as they proliferate.

Nonetheless, today, five governments control more than $2 trillion that they use to buy stocks and other assets in America and other countries. So far, the funds controlled by the People’s Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates have been passive investors. So far.

Advocates of free trade rarely want to debate the fact that unregulated trade with China has recently allowed toys with lead paint, contaminated toothpaste and poisonous pet food into this country. We take for granted our clean air, pure food and safe drinking water. But these blessings are not by chance: They result from laws and rules about wages, health and the environment. Trade agreements with no rules to protect our health, the environment and labor rights inevitably create a race to the bottom and weaken health and safety rules for our trading partners and for our own communities.

But cheerleaders for current U.S. trade policy, while mostly shrinking from a debate about the issues that matter to middle-class America, insist that those of us who want more trade – but trade under a very different set of rules – are protectionists.

I guess it depends on what you want to protect.

Eight times I have taken an oath of office to “support and defend” the United States. My colleagues and I commit ourselves to protecting our nation “from all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That includes protecting our neighborhoods from unsafe products. And, yes, that also means protecting our workers and businesses from unfair competition.

The Colombia Free Trade Agreement is being shopped around Congress by an overzealous White House. Let’s put aside, for now, the debate about rewarding a country that has done little to stem the tide of rampant labor abuses and human rights violations – including dozens of murders.

Let’s focus on the merits of the agreement. Supporters sell it as a free-trade agreement, a great opportunity for American companies because it eliminates tariffs on our products. If that were true, the agreement would be a few lines long.

Instead, we have a trade agreement that runs nearly 1,000 pages and is chock full of giveaways and protections for drug companies, oil companies, and financial services companies, and incentives to outsource jobs now held by Americans.

Nafta. The Central American Free Trade Agreement. China. Now Colombia. We have a pattern in our trade policy that aims to protect special interests, but betray our workers, our environment, our communities.

Let’s stop accusing one another of being protectionists. And let us agree that U.S. trade policy – writing the rules of globalization to protect our national interests and our communities – is worthy of a vigorous national debate.

Mr. Brown, a Democratic senator from Ohio, is the author of “Myths of Free Trade” (New Press, 2004).

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Found this article on Teamster.org http://www.teamsters.org

How McCain Lost in Pennsylvania

04.27.08

New York Times
April 27, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

How McCain Lost in Pennsylvania
By FRANK RICH

IT’S a nightmare. It’s the Bataan Death March. It’s mutually assured Armageddon. “Both of them are already losing the general to John McCain,” declared a Newsweek columnist last month, predicting that the election “may already be over” by the time the Democrats anoint a nominee.

Not so fast. If we’ve learned any new rule in the 2008 campaign, it’s this: Once our news culture sets a story in stone, chances are it will crumble. But first it must be recycled louder and louder 24/7, as if sheer repetition will transmute conventional wisdom into reality.

When the Pennsylvania returns rained down Tuesday night, the narrative became clear fast. The Democrats’ exit polls spelled disaster: Some 25 percent of the primary voters said they would defect to Mr. McCain or not vote at all if Barack Obama were the nominee. How could the party possibly survive this bitter, perhaps race-based civil war?

But as the doomsday alarm grew shrill, few noticed that on this same day in Pennsylvania, 27 percent of Republican primary voters didn’t just tell pollsters they would defect from their party’s standard-bearer; they went to the polls, gas prices be damned, to vote against Mr. McCain. Though ignored by every channel I surfed, there actually was a G.O.P. primary on Tuesday, open only to registered Republicans. And while it was superfluous in determining that party’s nominee, 220,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (out of their total turnout of 807,000) were moved to cast ballots for Mike Huckabee or, more numerously, Ron Paul. That’s more voters than the margin (215,000) that separated Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama.

Those antiwar Paul voters are all potential defectors to the Democrats in November. Mr. Huckabee’s religious conservatives, who rejected Mr. McCain throughout the primary season, might also bolt or stay home. Given that the Democratic ticket beat Bush-Cheney in Pennsylvania by 205,000 votes in 2000 and 144,000 votes in 2004, these are 220,000 voters the G.O.P. can ill-afford to lose. Especially since there are now a million more registered Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania. (These figures don’t even include independents, who couldn’t vote in either primary on Tuesday and have been migrating toward the Democrats since 2006.)

For such a bitterly divided party, the Democrats hardly show signs of clinical depression. The last debate, however dumb, had the most viewers of any so far. The rise in turnout and new voters is all on the Democratic side. Even before its deathbed transfusion of new donations, the Clinton campaign trounced the McCain campaign in fund-raising by 2.5 to 1. (The Obama-McCain ratio is 3 to 1.)

On Tuesday, a Democrat won the first round of a special Congressional election in Mississippi, even though the national G.O.P. outspent the Democrats by more than double and President Bush carried this previously safe Republican district by 25 percentage points in 2004. A Gallup poll last week found Mr. Bush’s national disapproval rating the worst (69 percent) for any president in Gallup’s entire 70-year history. For all his (and Mr. McCain’s) persistent sightings of “victory” in Iraq, the percentage of Americans calling the war a mistake (63) also set a new record.

“I’m thrilled to be anywhere with high ratings,” Mr. Bush joked on Monday night, when he popped up like Waldo on the NBC game show “Deal or No Deal” to root for an Army captain who was a contestant. But it turns out that not even cash giveaways to veterans can induce Americans to set eyes on this president. “Deal or No Deal” drew an audience 19 percent below its season average. The best deal for Mr. McCain would be for Mr. Bush to disappear into the witness protection program.

But surely, it could be argued, the mud in the Democratic race will be as much a drag on that party’s eventual nominee as the incumbent president is on the G.O.P. ticket. The counterargument, advanced by Mrs. Clinton in justifying her “kitchen sink” attacks on Mr. Obama, is that the Democrats are better off being tested now by raising all the issues the Republicans will. It’s a fair point. The Wright, Rezko, Ayers, “bittergate” and flag-pin firestorms will all be revived by the opposition come fall. Voters should indeed see how Mr. Obama deals with them, just as Democrats also need to gauge how the flash points of race and gender will play out in the crunch.

The flaw in Mrs. Clinton’s refrain is her claim that she, unlike her challenger, has already been so fully vetted that her candidacy can offer no more unpleasant surprises. “I have a lot of baggage, and everybody has rummaged through it for years,” she says. Perhaps the delusion that she has a get-out-of-scandal-free card comes from her unexpected endorsement from Richard Mellon Scaife, the nutty Pittsburgh newspaper publisher who once spent a fortune trying to implicate the Clintons in the “murder” of Vince Foster. Or perhaps she thinks Fox News will call off the dogs now that her campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, is appearing in network promos endorsing its “fair and balanced” shtick.

But the incessant praise for Mrs. Clinton’s resilience as a candidate by Karl Rove, Pat Buchanan and William Bennett reveals just how eager they are to take her on. The dealings of the Bill Clinton post-presidency, barely alluded to by Mr. Obama in his own halting bouts of negative campaigning, have simply been put on hold while the Democrats slug it out. Close observers of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and Fox News can already read Rupert Murdoch’s tea leaves, and not just those from China. “Clinton Foundation Secrets” was the title of The Journal’s lead editorial on Friday profiling a rogues’ gallery of shady donors.

Mrs. Clinton’s supporters would argue that she’s so battle-tested she could fend it all off. She’s unlikely to get the chance. For all the nail-biting suspense being ginned up, the probable denouement remains unchanged. When the primary juggernaut finally ends — following picturesque day trips to Puerto Rico and Guam — the superdelegates will likely succumb to the math of Mr. Obama’s virtually insurmountable pledged-delegate total.

There’s also a way that two super-superdelegates, the duo on the Democrats’ last winning ticket, could trigger a faster finale. Bill Clinton could do so by undermining his wife once more with another ill-timed, red-faced eruption. Al Gore could possibly do so with a well-timed endorsement before his party gets mired in yet another Florida recount.

There’s only one way this can end badly, no matter how long it lasts. That would be if the loser, whoever it is, turns sore and fails to rally his or her troops around the winner. It’s all about “the way the loser loses,” as the Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who is neutral in the race, likes to say. While the Clintons are capable of such kamikaze narcissism, their selfish desire to preserve their own political future, if not the party’s, may be a powerful check on those impulses.

On the way to the finish line, the prolonged primary race, far from destroying the Democratic candidates, may do more insidious damage to the Republican nominee, lulling his campaign into an unjustified complacency. The Democrats should “take their time — don’t rush,” the McCain aide Mark Salter joked last week. Yet his candidate, as the conservative blogger Ross Douthat pointed out, keeps bumping up against a 45 percent ceiling in the polls even now, when the Democrats are ostensibly in ruins.

Mr. McCain is not only burdened with the most despised president in his own 71-year lifetime, but he’s getting none of the seasoning that he, no less than the Democrats, needs to compete in the fall. Age is as much an issue as race and gender in this campaign. Mr. McCain will have to prove not merely that he can keep to the physical rigors of his schedule and fend off investigations of his ties to lobbyists and developers. He also must show he can think and speak fluently about the domestic issues that are gripping the country. Picture him debating either Democrat about health care, the mortgage crisis, stagnant middle-class wages, rice rationing at Costco. It’s not pretty.

Last week found Mr. McCain visiting economically stricken and “forgotten” communities (forgotten by Republicans, that is) in what his campaign bills as the “It’s Time for Action Tour.” It kicked off in Selma, Ala., a predominantly black town where he confirmed his maverick image by drawing an almost exclusively white audience.

The “action” the candidate outlined in the text of his speeches may strike many voters as running the gamut from inaction to inertia. Mr. McCain vowed that he would not “roll out a long list of policy initiatives.” (He can’t, given his long list of tax cuts.) He said he would not bring back lost jobs, lost wages or lost houses. But, as The Birmingham News reported, this stand against government bailouts for struggling Americans didn’t prevent his campaign from helping itself to free labor underwritten by taxpayers: inmates from a local jail were recruited to set up tables and chairs for a private fund-raiser.

The Democrats’ unending brawl may be supplying prime time with a goodly share of melodrama right now, but there will be laughter aplenty once the Republican campaign that’s not ready for prime time emerges from the wings.

Colombia: Trade union leader disappears

04.27.08

http://www.ituc-csi.org/spip.php?article2003

Brussels, 25 April 2008 : The ITUC has expressed its outrage and firm condemnation following the disappearance of Guillermo Rivera Fuquene, President of the Public Servants Union of Bogota (SINSRVPUB), affiliated to the CTC Colombia, and a civil servant in the Colombian Comptroller’s office. This is the latest in a long line of daily violations of fundamental workers’ rights in Colombia.

Rivera Fuquene disappeared on 22 April at 6.30 in the morning in the “El Tunal” district as he was leaving his house to take his young daughter to school. This event, which has taken place against a background of harassment, threats and attacks against trade union leaders, firmly belies the claims by the government of President Uribe that the situation of workers and trade union activists in Colombia is improving.

In a letter to President Uribe the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), adds its voice to that of its Colombian affiliates in expressing its outrage and condemnation of the disappearance. The ITUC demands that the authorities open investigations immediately and ensure the trade union leader, whose life is in serious danger, is found safe and sound.

“This climate of constant violence must end” stated Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the ITUC. “The workers of Colombia are crying out for the respect of their most basic rights, as enshrined in the fundamental ILO conventions ratified by Colombia.”

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The ITUC represents 168 million workers in 155 countries and territories and has 311 national affiliates.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018 .

Lehigh Valley (PA) MSA unemployment rate remains at 5.2 percent

04.27.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley MSA unemployment rate remains at 5.2 percent

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, April 13th- According to labor data provided by the Department of Labor and Industry, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged from the previous month at 5.2 percent. The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 4.8 percent.

Of the fourteen MSA’s in the state, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area has the fifth highest unemployment rate.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 4.9 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the month before. There are 313,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,345,000 with 6,032,000 employed. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. There are 7,381,000 residents nationally unemployed.

The Johnstown MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.9 percent with the Williamsport MSA the second highest jobless rate at 5.8 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.7 percent.

The Lancaster MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.7 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.8 percent with the State College MSA the third lowest at 3.9 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force, workers between eighteen and sixty-five years old, in Pennsylvania at 416,800. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,958,500 with 140,900 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force in the state at 1,199,100, with 58,400 residents unemployed.

Within the MSA, Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate at 6.5 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Carbon County has 2,000 civilians not working within a labor force of 30,900, the smallest civilian labor force in the MSA.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 5.0 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Northampton County has 7,600 civilians without jobs, and a labor force of 150,500.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Lehigh County has 9,600 civilians not working, the most in the MSA, and a labor force of 175,500, the largest in the MSA.

Five new members appointed to the ERISA advisory council

04.27.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Five new members appointed to the ERISA advisory council

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, April 14th- The United States Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced on April 9th, the appointment of five new members to the leadership for the 2008 Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the ERISA Advisory Council.

The fifteen member council provides advice on policies and regulations affecting employee benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Members are selected by the secretary of labor and appointed to serve three-year terms.

The new appointees and their council positions are: David Evangelista of Stony Point, New York, representing the accounting industry; Sanford Koeppel of Iselin, New Jersey, representing the insurance industry; Mary Nell Billings of Memphis, Tennessee, representing employers; Marc LeBlanc of Alexandria, Virginia, representing employee organizations; and Kevin Wiggins of Clarksburg, West Virginia, representing the general public.

Marc LeBlanc is the fund administrator and general counsel of the Sheet Metal Workers International Union National Pension Fund, who oversees the management of the unions’ investment portfolio, supervises service providers, and directs compliance with reporting, disclosure and other legal requirements.

The ERISA Advisory Council announced on April 10th, the first 2008 meeting of the council will be held on May 6th in Washington, DC.

At the meeting the five new council members will be sworn in, new council leadership will be introduced, the assistant secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration will provide an update on agenda issues, and the council will select topics to be addressed in 2008.

David Evangelista is a CPA and a principal with MSPC Certified Public Accountants and Advisors, where he manages and supervises audits, reviews and compilations, and represents employee benefit plan clients in the public and private sectors.

Sanford Koepple is vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs at Prudential Financial with responsibility for all retirement security issues. Previously, he served as the lead attorney of the firm’s legal department dealing with employee benefits and the ERISA practice.

Mary Nell Billings is manager of retirement plans, government and strategic planning at FedEx Corporation, where she is responsible for governance, compliance, strategic design and employee commuications for all FedEx domestic qualified and nonqualified retirement plans.

Kevin Wiggins is an ERISA attorney at the lawfirm of Jackson Kelly PLLC. He has represented employers in ERISA litigation.

Labor Secretary Chao is the longest serving cabinet member of President George W. Bush. She is also the wife of Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

APWU amends charge filed against DHL Express Inc.

04.27.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

APWU amends charge filed against DHL Express Inc.

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, April 10th- In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging DHL Express Inc. violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) by discharging two employees of the company, however, the newspaper has learned the union “amended” their charge against the company.

In a story published exclusively in the April edition of the newspaper, it was reported the APWU, which represents workers employed by the United States Postal Service, filed on March 10th, 2008 with the NLRB, a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge alleging DHL fired two employees after participating in union activity.

According to the charge, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, “On or about February 4th, 2008, the employer fired employee Delvin Pena for engaging in protected, concerted activity in an effort to discourage other employees from exercising their right to self organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

Also, on or about March 5th, 2008 the employer fired Norma Flores for engaging in protected concerted activity in an effort to discourage other employees from exercising their right to form a union, alleges the charge.

DHL Express Inc. is a global package delivery system and operates a facility on Nestle Way in Breinigsville.

The NLRB conducted a representation election at the facility in September, 2007, to determine if approximately 400 DHL workers wanted to be represented by the APWU. The employees voted 217 against becoming union members to 135 for union representation. The union is attempting to organize the DHL system nationwide. The union filed other charges against the company while attempting to organize their workers. APWU filed numerous ULP’s against DHL alleging the company violated the NLRAct by conducting a anti-union campaign which included hiring a labor consultant that specializes in attempting to keep labor unions from representing employers workers.

According to the amended charge, file with the NLRB on April 8th and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Informationa Act, the name of Norma Flores no longer appears on the complaint.

The charge now states on or about February 4th, 2008, the employer discharge employee Delvin Pena for engaging in protected, concerted activity in an effort to discourage other employees from exercising their right to self-organization to form, join, or assist a labor organization.

According to the complaint, the charge was filed on behalf of Mr. Pena by Daniel Henderson, Union Organizer for the APWU in Allentown.

The ULP alleges Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act was violated by DHL representatives. Daniel Arrends, the company’s Human Relations Manager is named as the employer representative on the complaint.

ULP’s are amended when circumstances for the charge have changed or when new information is available that warrants the charge be altered.

Dispute between SEIU and AFL-CIO affiliate growing

04.27.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Dispute between SEIU and AFL-CIO affiliate growing

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, April 15th- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Association (CNA/NNOC) are engaged in a dispute with each other over jurisdiction and legislative agenda issues.

The SEIU is not affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation and is affiliated with the Change-to-Win (CtW) labor federation. The SEIU is the largest union in the nation with 1.9 million members.

The CNA is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and has 80,000 members and has grown by more than 375 percent during the past ten years. The CNA represents mostly workers employed within the healthcare industry while the SEIU represents workers employed within social services, government and the healthcare industry.

In the Lehigh Valley, the SEIU represents workers employed in government and social services but does not represent employees in the healthcare industry.

The CNA did not represent any workers in Pennsylvania until March when the union announced the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union would join the CNA. The union does not have members in the Lehigh Valley, but does represent nurses in the Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas.

PASNAP was not affiliated with either the AFL-CIO or the CtW labor federations prior to merging with the California Nurses Association.

Recently, both the SEIU and the CNA have provided information to the newspaper explaining their position regarding the dispute between the two unions. Both unions requested the newspaper report on this story, normally internal matters of disagreement between members of the labor community are not published.

According to the SEIU, the CNA has interfered several times with their organizing efforts including recently in California, Nevada and Ohio. More than 800 SEIU members traveled to Dearborn Michigan, where CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro was scheduled to speak on April 11th, to protest the CNA. The SEIU stated Ms. DeMoro cancelled at the last minute because of their protest.

The CNA responded to the SEIU by condemning the union for targeting their leaders and members alleging they are being intimidated and stalked at home and work by the SEIU.

On March 24th SEIU President Andrew Stern sent a letter to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who once served as President of the SEIU, calling for the labor federation leader to intervene and resolve the problem between the two unions. Mr. Stern in his letter provides several examples of AFL-CIO affiliated unions, including the CNA, alleging they have conducted anti-SEIU activities attempting to remove the union as the employees bargaining representative.

Despite the SEIU not being affiliated with the AFL-CIO, under a agreement between the CtW labor federation and the AFL-CIO, CtW unions can join local AFL-CIO labor federations through a “Solidarity Charter.” Under the program, any union receiving a Solidarity Charter would not be “raided” by a AFL-CIO affiliated union. According to the letter, provided by Mr. Stern’s Washington DC office, which was received by the newspaper without request, the SEIU alleges the AFL-CIO have not enforced the anti-raiding understanding in the Solidarity Charter agreement.

Mr. Stern ask President Sweeney in the March 24th letter, if the Solidarity Charters prohibit both AFL-CIO affiliates and SEIU affiliates who have received Solidarity Charters from raiding each other.

Unions show strength in winning representation elections involving healthcare industry workers

04.27.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Unions show strength in winning representation elections involving healthcare industry workers

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, March 18th- The number of representation petitions filed and elections held across all industries declined in 2007, according to data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
However, unions were successful in organizing healthcare industry workers the data shows.

Unions won 72 precent of representation elections conducted by the NLRB in healthcare in 2007, versus a union win rate of 62 percent in non-healthcare industries.

The data shows the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had a 79 percent win percentage, the California Nurses Association (CNA) had a 80 percent win percentage and various state nurses associations had a 83 percent win percentage in 2007.

The states with the highest number of representation petitions filed in healthcare in 2007 include California, Illinious, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Washington. Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon and Puerto Rico were the states and territories with the largest percentage increase in representation election petition filings.

Meanwhile, on March 29th, RN’s at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital in northwest Houston Texas, voted 119 to 111 to affiliate with the California Nurses Association in a representation election conducted by the NLRB. The union became the first in Texas to win union collective bargaining rights.

The union won the right to bargain for nearly 300 RN’s at the hospital.

The CNA has grown by more than 375 percent during the past ten years. The union has gained more than 30,000 new members since 2001 and has 80,000 members in all fifty states.

In Pennsylvania unions were successful in organizing workers employed within the healthcare industry. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) won the right to represent nurses employed at the Pocono Medical Center in Mornoe County and the CNA was voted in as the bargaining representative for RN’s employed at CMC Hospital in Scranton.

Republican Minority Denies Women Equal Pay Rights

04.24.08

Republican Minority Denies Women Equal Pay Rights

by James Parks, Apr 23, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/04/23/republican-minority-denies-women-equal-pay-rights/

One day after Equal Pay Day, a minority of primarily Republican senators once again made it harder for women workers to overcome pay discrimination.

The Senate failed to cut off debate on the Fair Pay Restoration Act (H.R. 2831) and bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The 56-42 margin fell four votes short of the 60 needed to end debate and vote on the bill. The House passed the legislation in July 2007. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill if passed by the Senate.

The legislation, also known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, would reverse a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision dismissing a suit by Lilly Ledbetter, an employee for 19 years at a Goodyear Tire plant in Alabama. Her suit alleged she was paid less than her male counterparts. (see video.)

Both Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, took time out from their campaigns to vote for cloture. But the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, didn’t bother to show up for the vote. Campaigning in Kentucky today, McCain said he opposes the bill and that there are better ways to help women find better-paying jobs.

They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else.

Apparently, McCain has not read the recent reports which show working women continue to earn less than men even though statistics indicate they are better educated.

Equal pay advocates, including the AFL-CIO and a constituency group, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), mobilized members to urge the Senate to pass the bill. If enacted, the act would restore the ability of U.S. workers to sue for pay discrimination.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), sponsor of the Fair Pay Restoration Act, says the combination of the credit crisis, the recession and unequal pay has “put many American women on the verge of financial ruin,” and it will be very difficult for them to recover.

That’s why Congress must take decisive action to help working families—and women in particular—cope with the troubled economy and create new opportunities for the future. To start, we must make it clear there must be zero tolerance in the United States for pay discrimination. When women earn less than men, it makes them more vulnerable to economic downturns.

Earlier this week, Kennedy’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released a report showing that women are at greater economic risk in today’s sinking economy than in past recessions. In the past year, women’s real wages fell by 3 percent, compared with half a percentage point for men’s wages.

In the Ledbetter ruling, the Supreme Court said she did not file her lawsuit against Goodyear within 180 days after the discrimination occurred, as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court let the company off the hook by calculating the deadline from the day Goodyear made its original decision to pay her less than her male colleagues. The law had previously made it clear the clock did not start until she received her last discriminatory paycheck. The bill would remove the 180-day limit.

Ledbetter says the ruling isn’t fair:

The Supreme Court believes that people like me should have to live with continuing discrimination if they don’t immediately challenge it. That rule doesn’t reflect American values. And it doesn’t value Americans’ opinions either. Poll after poll has shown that equal pay for equal work continues to be the highest-priority women’s issue around. If we’re serious about making equal pay a reality, this is a critical first step.

Deborah Vagins of the American Civil Liberties Union explains why the high court ruling is so bad.

Americans now have only 180 days from the time their employer decides to discriminate against them to file a claim. This standard is nearly impossible to meet. Employers don’t disclose when they decide to discriminate. Why should employees be forced to be discrimination detectives? Even if they should, how could they? In many workplaces, employees are discouraged, if not forbidden, from discussing their salaries. If unscrupulous employers can hide their unfair pay decisions for just a few months, under this new rule, they can never be held to task for discriminating.

Rosalyn Pelles, director of the AFL-CIO Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department, told a Capitol Hill press conference today the union movement is strongly behind pay equity legislation:

Like our founding fathers—and mothers—we in the labor movement have some basic beliefs that we hold to be self-evident. We believe in paychecks that reflect an honest day on the job. We believe in fairness. We believe that there is dignity in work—all work. Paying a woman less than a man is an affront to human dignity.

Because women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, they have $23 less for every $100 worth of work to spend on groceries, housing, child care and other expenses. Over a lifetime of work, the 23 cents on the dollar women are denied adds up. A 25-year-old working woman will lose more than $523,000 to unequal pay during her working life. For women of color, the numbers are even worse. African American women are paid 63 cents and Latinas 52 cents for every dollar men receive. As a result, working families lose about $200 billion in income every year because of this pay discrimination. It is clear that equal pay helps everybody.

Rep. Tom Allen (D-Ore.), who co-sponsored the bill in the House last year, said the Supreme Court’s decision in the Ledbetter case demonstrated once again that

President Bush’s appointees have moved the High Court decisively away from the interests and aspirations of ordinary, hard-working Americans.

You’d think everybody would be in favor of paying people a fair wage for a fair days work. But not some leading Senate Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday claimed the bill was a way to start new litigation. He said the Fair Pay Restoration Act would “dramatically” increase the amount of new litigation in the country. But the facts contradict McConnell. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported last year that the act would not increase the number of discrimination claims. Click here to read the CBO report.

Two other bills that would expand protection against pay discrimination—the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Clinton and the Fair Pay Act, introduced by Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-D.C.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)—are still in committee.

Pro-labor radio program broadcasting in Lehigh Valley

04.24.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Pro-labor radio program broadcasting in Lehigh Valley

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, April 15th- Stephen Crockett, representative for the American Income Life Insurance, a unionized company, announced his pro-labor, Democratic Talk Radio program can be heard in the Lehigh Valley.

Mr. Crockett, resides in Delaware, but often attends union events throughout the Lehigh Valley, and is host of the “Democratic Talk Radio” program, that until recently could only be heard by the internet or the web-site: http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com.

The progressive talk radio program went on the air in the Lehigh Valley on April 3rd and will be broadcast every Thursday from 8:05 am to 9:00 am on WGPA SUNNY 1100AM in Bethlehem. “The program is pro-union, and should be enjoyed by union members,” said Mr. Crockett.

The program will feature book authors, talk show hosts, journalists, labor leaders, office-holders, political candidates, policy experts, political activists and more as guests.

Mr. Crockett stated the mainstream media does a poor job of covering news events involving the labor community. He said the mainstream media neglects covering news events about what labor is thinking and cares about.

“The radio program is about us, union members, activists and political candidates that care about labor. You won’t hear any anti-union talk on my program,” said Mr. Crockett.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Union Local 1174 in Allentown, sponsored the entire first four programs. “The support for the program by labor has been wonderful. Hopefully, we can keep the program going right-up until November.”

Labor unions can sponsor the entire one-hour radio program for $180.00 or buy spot advertising at $20.00 for a 30 second advertisement.

Mr. Crockett stated WGPA streams live on the internet and all shows will be archived on the Democratic Talk Radio Program archives page for downloading.

For more information about advertising or the program Mr. Crockett can be contacted at 443.907.2367 or by internet at midsouthcm@aol.com.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: I actually reside in Maryland but my office is in the UAW Local 1183 hall at 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. My business cards and most of my published writings use the office address which often creates a misunderstanding about my residence. My apologies to Mr. Tucker for not pointing out this situation in advance of the article. I am spending a couple of days a week in the Lehigh Valley and expect to eventually become a Pennsylvania resident.

I thank the Union News and Paul Tucker for being a GREAT resource for working Americans in Pennsylvania.

Lehigh Valley (PA) Labor Council dinner to be held on May 3rd

04.24.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley Labor Council dinner to be held on May 3rd

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, April 14th- On Saturday May 3rd, the Lehigh Valley Labor Council labor federation will hold their 47th annual awards dinner at the Northampton Memorial Community Center in Northampton.

Cocktails are available at 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm with dinner being served at 8:00 pm.

The Lehigh Valley Labor Council is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation. The organization was formed in 2000 when the Northampton County Labor Council and the Lehigh County Labor Council merged.

According to Gregg Potter, President of the labor organization and a member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union Local 13500, Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner will be quest speaker. Mr. Potter said Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell was invited as well to participate.

Tickets for the event cost $40.00 per person for “an evening of politically charged conversation, humor and solidarity,” stated Mr. Potter. Comedian Jimmy Carrol will provide entertainment.

Affiliated unions are represented at the organization by their members which serve as delegates. The local labor federation meets on the third Wednesday of each month.

For more information or to purchase tickets Mr. Potter can be reached at 610.360.9491.

Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner held by USW in Bethlehem

04.23.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner held by USW in Bethlehem

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

BETHLEHEM, April 2nd- The United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union held their annual Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner-Dance on March 29th at the Steelworkers Union Hall, Lehigh Street in Bethlehem.

Approximately 120 tickets were sold for the event, which began at 5:30 pm.

The event was attended by active and retired USW members, elected officials, political candidates, political party officials, and members of the labor community, including James Hartman, Business Manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 1174 in Allentown.

According to Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, and Chairman of the USW Northeastern Legislative and Education Committee, the annual dinner-dance has been held since the 1960’s and was renamed after Mr. O’Brien in 2000.

Ed O’Brien was twice the Democratic Party nominee for the United States House of Representatives 15th Legislative District.

Mr. O’Brien first joined the United Steelworkers of America Union Local 2598 in 1964, and served in many positions within the union, both locally and with the International Union.

During his remarks, Mr. O’Brien stated both Illinois Senator Barack Obama and New York Senator Hillary Clinton, are friends of labor and would be better for the working people than Senator John McCain.

“Electing McCain would be like having a third Bush term. Our nation has suffered enough. What labor must do is support either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama in the fall. No matter who you supported in the primary, we must pull together and support the Democratic party nominee, and defeat McCain,” said Mr. O’Brien.

Sam Bennett, Democratic 15th Legislative District candidate told the group Republican incumbent Representative Charlie Dent can be defeated in November.

She said Mr. Dent’s voting record shows he supports President Bush’s anti-worker agenda.

“Charlie is a nice enough guy. But, he supports Bush’s opinion on labor. Everyone here knows what that means,” said Ms. Bennett.

Pennsylvania State Representative, 116th Legislative District, Todd Eachus was Honorary Speaker and also called for “unity” after the primary elections have concluded.

Mr. Green told the newspaper the Steelworkers Union political program was expanded for the 2008 campaign. He added the union conducted a voter registration drive that resulted in 200 members signing-up to vote.

Mr. Green stated the Legislative Dinner normally is held in October but, the union advanced the date for the event to better mobilize their members for the November election.

USW Local 2599 has around 1,600 active members throughout the Lehigh Valley, which includes 20 separate contract units.

Teen Works Board of Directors vote to support six youth projects in Lehigh Valley

04.23.08

May 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Teen Works Board of Directors vote to support six youth projects in Lehigh Valley

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, April 15th- On April 8th the Teen Works Board of Directors held a meeting at the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Union Local 677 building on Mack Boulevard in Allentown. At the meeting, the organization voted to help fund six community projects being conducted by area teens or school groups from throughout the Lehigh Valley.

Unions from throughout the Lehigh Valley contribute funds that is donated to area teens that are involved with a project to help the region. The program is a agency of the Greater Lehigh Valley United Way. All funds donated by the labor organizations is used to support the Teen Works program.

School students ask the Teen Works Board of Directors for financial help to conduct a community project in the Lehigh Valley. Under the program teen(s) must first complete an application for the financial help.

Boy Scout Troop 12 member Phil Riola of Allentown received $700.00 from the organization to paint the walls and trim in three rooms at the City Limits Assembly of God Church in downtown Allentown.

Boy Scout Troop 29 member Andrew Semanick of Easton received $750.00 by the group for his project at the St. Andrew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Palmer Township. His project is to renovate the ladies and men’s bathrooms inside the church.

Boy Scout Troop 43 member Joseph Light of Bath received $530.00 to widened the existing brick patio behind the house of Governor Wolf Historical Society in Bath.

The current patio only covers half the width of the house. The new addition will cover the remaining part of the patio.

The fifth community project to receive funding from the organization was to landscape the area located near Jordan Creek Parkway in Lehigh County. Boy Scout Troop 8 member Greg Altrichter of Allentown received $850.00 to help fund his project.

His project is to set up a location for wedding pictures or just a place to walk. The project will also be handicap accessible so even people in wheel chairs would be able to visit.

Under the project, paths at the park will be widened; soil will be added to the flower beds; a arbor with fence will be installed at the front entrance; three park benches, one statue, a split rail fence above the bank will be added and roses will be planted.

Boy Scout Troop 6 member Chris Foss of Stewartsville, New Jersey received $600.00 of funding by Teen Works.

His project is to clean and refurbish a 24-car parking lot at the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Easton.

For the Good of the Party and America, an Obama-Clinton Democratic ticket

04.23.08

For the Good of the Party and America, an Obama-Clinton Democratic ticket

Hillary Clinton should end her bid for the White House. Obama should offer her the Vice Presidency. Clinton should accept the offer. It would be a bitter pill for both to swallow but it is what both the Democratic Party and the American nation desperately needs. Neither Clinton nor Obama should place their personal ambition, pride or emotions ahead of the needs of the American people.

Clinton won a big victory in Pennsylvania but the election was tainted by the highly negative campaign and by serious election equipment and logistical flaws. At this point, she could easily withdraw with honor. Clinton is certainly not responsible for the defective voting equipment or the thousands of Republicans who switched their registrations in Pennsylvania to Democratic but were denied their right to cast even provisional ballots.

Brad Friedman of Brad Blog predicted in advance on his website and in an interview broadcast on my Democratic Talk Radio show that the election process in Pennsylvania was going to be a disaster logistically. He told our listening audience in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (WGPA SUNNY 1100AM) and our Internet audience that after the problems arose that the type of voting machines used in Pennsylvania made it impossible to fix errors likely to arise. The voting machines used made it impossible to verify the count or audit the results. Pennsylvania election laws and processes tainted Clinton’s victory through no fault of her own.

This writer believes she won big in Pennsylvania but the voting process was so bad that many voters will always doubt the size of that victory.

Regardless of the Pennsylvania win, Clinton has almost zero chance of gaining the Democratic Presidential nomination without changing the nominating rules to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida selected in unfair primary elections. Even with those delegates counted, Clinton has very little chance of gaining the nomination. It would take a nearly complete sweep of the remaining election contests in places like North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Puerto Rico, Guam and Idaho along with gaining most of the Super Delegates. Basically, it would take a whole series of miracles for her to gain the nomination and place her in a very weak position in terms of defeating McCain in the Fall.

Counting on a series of miracles to win a nomination that would split the Democratic Party in half is a pretty poor campaign strategy. Staying in the race would cast Clinton in a Democratic spoiler role in the minds of the American people should it result in a McCain victory in November. It would ruin her place in history.

A McCain victory would be an absolute disaster for the American nation. It would be basically a third term for Bush Republicanism and the insane policies that have wrecked the American economy. It would mean a foreign policy of endless, pointless, bloody wars. Make no mistake about it, John McCain is a war-monger who has no clue about how to run an economy.

McCain would pack our federal courts with the same kind of partisan, ideologically driven, Far Right judges that Bush appointed. Helping to elect McCain would gut the Bill of Rights and essentially destroy American Democracy. McCain would be both stubborn and inept in the White House just like Bush.

McCain is and always has been a tool of Corporate forces in politics- just like Bush. He and his wife are likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars although the so-called “straight talker” has refused to expose their full family finances. McCain is hiding his conflicts of interests and financially self-serving political position by hiding behind his wife! It is shameful and dishonest.

Electing McCain would mean millions more Americans would lose their homes, their savings and their jobs. It would mean the near collapse of the American dollar, the almost total destruction of America as a manufacturing nation and the end of our military dominance because of economic collapse. The destruction of our Constitutionally guaranteed personal freedoms started under Bush would become complete. It would be in a very real sense a third term for George W. Bush.

McCain was a war hero in Vietnam but since then he has been a disaster for working Americans. Read about McCain at McCain Revealed.com http://www.mccainrevealed.com if you think I am over stating the case against a McCain Presidency. His record and policy positions are about 95 % the same as George W. Bush.

The American nation cannot afford a Bush Presidency. Clinton and Obama should make any sacrifice necessary to spare the American nation of this impending disaster. I am calling on their proven patriotism to work together as a Democratic ticket to defeat Bush Republicanism in the form of John McCain. Please save the American nation!
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Written by Stephen Crockett (host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish or post without prior approval.

Philadelphia May Day event

04.23.08

May Day event
By John Oliver Mason
April 21, 2008

A movement is growing to recognize the American origins of May Day as a workers’ holiday. On May 1st, there will be a community celebration of May Day at Elmwood Park, 71st Street and Buist Avenue in South West Philadelphia.

In this event, students from the Tilden Middle School, located near the park, will come over and listen to the speakers and the music, provided by the rock and roll band Unskilled Labor. There will also be a monument to Organized Labor and its struggles inaugurated at the park; tables commemorating such famous Labor struggles and heroes as Eugene V. Debs, Karen Silkwood, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, will be placed in the park.

Leading the effort for May Day in Philadelphia is Jim Moran, a veteran labor activist who recently retired as Director of the Philadelphia Area Project for Occupational Safety and Health (PHILAPOSH). Before, Moran worked to develop an annual Labor Day parade and celebration in Philadelphia, saying, “I spent years working on Labor Day, and (the Labor day parade in Philadelphia) is about twenty years old.”

Of his work for May Day, Moran adds, “We’ve been robbed of our history. It goes back to 1886, with the AFL calling for a national strike for the eight-hour day.” The average working day at that time, says Moran, was up to fourteen and sixteen hours a day.

“In the Chicago area,” says Moran, “four men were shot to death on the picket line by the police. They went out on May 1, and on May 3, there were these killings on the picket line. On May 4, a rally was called at the Chicago Haymarket, and thousands came to the rally, and as it began to break up, two hundred police showed up…Someone, who remains unidentified, threw a bomb and a policeman was killed. The police opened fire, and shot a couple dozen people, killing many of them, (including) several policemen as well, caught in their own crossfire. In 1889, at an international Labor convention in Paris, the AFL had a delegate who urged them to adopt a proposal that May First be set aside as an international day to honor all workers, specifically the eight Haymarket Martyrs. After that so-called riot in the Haymarket, they rounded up a lot of Labor leaders, and eight were singled out and prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to be hanged. Four were hanged, one committed suicide to cheat the hangman, and the three that remained were later pardoned as were the whole eight by the governor of Illinois.

“Workers here have not been told” the true story of May Day, says Moran, “not through the history books. Most working people don’t realize that May Day originated in the United States, that it really is our day, and we should be a part of it, and we should join hands with workers all over the world and show international solidarity. We haven’t done that, and very few towns in the United States do anything on May Day, although there are several that do.

“A number of us (Philadelphia union activists) got together,” adds Moran, “and decided we should revive May Day. We’ve been working at this, meeting and organizing for the last two years,” Last year, adds Moran, the May Day activists joined with mushroom workers in Kenneth Square, Chester County, “ all of whom are Mexican,” he says. “They have demonstrations on May Day, because they’re used to that in their own country. Many countries outside of the United States have activities on May Day to honor (workers),. They do it in Kenneth Square, it’s done in Patterson, New Jersey, it’s done in Chicago, but there’s nothing done here (in Philadelphia).”