Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Completely cover my car with union stickers -1st Labor Day Parade in Bethlehem, PA in 50 years

08.26.08

Please help me completely cover my car with union bumper stickers for the 1st Labor Day Parade in Bethlehem, PA in 50 years. I am going to drive my “union-mobile” in the parade.

I am driving up from Maryland to be with my union brothers and sisters in Bethlehem, PA where I also broadcast my pro-labor Democratic Talk Radio show Thursday mornings on WGPA SUNNY 1100AM.

The goal is to completely cover both sides, the hood & the roof of my 1997 Ford Explorer. We are going to turn it into a rolling billboard for the union movement.

If you are close enough to the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, you are invited to personally apply stickers from your union to my vehicle the morning of the parade -and to march in the parade.

If not, you can mail them to me at 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. My cell phone number is 443-907-2367.

Or drop them off at the USW Local 2599 Hall in Bethlehem, PA (53 East Lehigh Street).

Or at drop them at The Mailroom union print shop in Allentown, PA (1231 Airport Road).

Please get them to me by Saturday if you are not personally bringing them to the event on Labor Day.

I would love to have your local or international represented on my vehicle. All of the stickers will stay on the vehicle as long as it runs!

Thanks,

Stephen Crockett

Editor, Mid-Atlantic Labor.com
Host, Democratic Talk Radio

From the Lehigh Valley edition of The Union News

“Mr. Green also told the newspaper Local 2599 is sponsoring a Labor Day event in Bethlehem which will include a parade and picnic.

On September 1st, Labor Day, the USW will conduct a parade starting at 10:30 am at Main Street and Spring Street in Bethlehem and march up Main Street and back to the unions picnic area on East Lehigh Street in the city. Tickets for the picnic are $10.00 and will include food, beverages, music and games.

Tickets for the picnic must be purchased in advance and can be obtained by calling the United Steelworkers at 610-867-3772 or e-mail at USWGreen@aol.com.”

Biden Hailed as Helpful to House Democrats

08.26.08

Biden Hailed as Helpful to House Democrats

By Jonathan Allen and Edward Epstein, CQ Staff

From the perspective of Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, the party activist who’s the Democratic challenger in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley-based 15th Congressional District, Barack Obama could not have picked a better running mate than Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of neighboring Delaware.

“There’s a reason that he’s called the third senator from Pennsylvania,” she said by telephone after a day of politicking at an annual fundraising event for local charities in Coplay, which is about a five-mile drive north of Allentown. “The folks I was shaking hands with were all talking about Sen. Biden.”

Bennett has more reason than most Democratic candidates to welcome Biden’s selection, as he was born in Scranton to the north and has long bought time on the Philadelphia airwaves, which also carry into the Lehigh Valley, to communicate to Delaware voters.

But she joined Democratic officials Sunday in predicting that Biden would be a help to candidates in competitive House districts across the country, not just to the eight Pennsylvanians — four challengers and four incumbents — who are in competitive races in the state. “I’m confident that he will help every Democrat on the ticket,” she said.

Party leaders clarified early on that they wanted Obama to pick a running mate with a more centrist bent ## a position informed by their desire to help incumbents and challengers in competitive seats.

Biden fits that bill, according to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who has leanings similar to Biden’s on a range of foreign and domestic policies. “The president makes change. The president is the leader,’’ he said. “What a six-term senator does is bring experience to make the agent of change effective.’’

He said one reason Biden will help Obama is that voters will trust him. “I think people think he could be president, which is important,’’ Hoyer said.

Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, a leader of the conservative Democrats known as Blue Dogs who often represent very competitive districts, echoed Hoyer’s assessment of Biden. “Joe Biden’s been in the United States Senate since I was in the sixth grade,” Ross noted. “If anyone was criticizing the ticket before for a lack of experience, that should now be put to rest.”

Democrats are excited about an election in which analysts uniformly predict they will pick up seats in both the House and Senate for the second consecutive cycle.

But that excitement is tempered by a sensitivity to the needs of incumbents and challengers who are better off not identifying squarely with the party. They have encouraged candidates such as Bennett to spend this week in their districts rather than in Denver at this week’s national convention.

In Biden, they see a national candidate who can play particularly well in swing districts, reassure voters who are concerned about Obama’s credentials and help deliver a call for change that they are sounding up and down the ticket.

“This guy has served in Washington, but he has never become old Washington,” House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina said, noting that Biden commutes home to Wilmington each day the Senate is in session.

Bennett, who faces second-term Republican Rep. Charlie Dent in November, said about half of the people she talked to while campaigning in Pennsylvania on Sunday wanted to talk about Biden. “They were bringing him up,” she said. “He’s got our values.”

http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=news-000002940489

Steelworkers hold veterans round table seminar -and announce plans for 1st Labor Day Parade in Bethlehem, PA in 50 years!

08.26.08

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

Steelworkers hold veterans round table seminar

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

BETHLEHEM, August 20th- The United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 sponsored a round table seminar on August 11th in the Lehigh Valley to discuss issues important to military veterans.

The event was held at the United Steelworkers Union Hall on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem.

According to Local 2599 President Jerry Green, the event was attended by approximately fifty former members of the arm services, union members and their families, and invited quests.

Mr. Green moderated the event with nine veterans from the Lehigh Valley participating on the panel including: John Stoffa, Northampton County Executive; Bob McAuliff, United Steelworkers International Staff and USW District 10 Rapid Response Lead Coordinator; Charlie Kelly, a member of the United Steelworkers Union; Paul Coaches, a United Steelworkers Union retiree; Mike Dzwonczyk, a United Steelworkers Union retiree; Don Trexler, a United Steelworkers Union retiree; Rich Kulick, a United Steelworkers Union retiree; Joe Long, a United Auto Workers Union Local 677 retiree and Chairman of the Northampton County Democratic Party; and Jim Wasser via phone from Chicago, representing the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation and a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union.

The speakers discussed the need for improved spending for the Veterans Hospitals, health care, and prescription drugs.

They agreed the George W. Bush Administration has failed to improve veteran services and cuts have been made to most veteran programs. The feeling of the group was if Republican Senator John McCain is elected in November, the veteran system will be cut further. The group showed their admiration for Mr. McCain’s service to the nation as a Vietnam veteran but suggested his leadership as President of the United States would be a disaster and he would not help the military veterans.

The panel shared some personal stories with the audience involving their experiences dealing with veteran issues. Mr. Green discussed how Steelworkers Union members that were veterans lost their health care coverage when Bethlehem Steel Corporation went bankrupt and the need for the United States Veterans Administration benefits became that much more important.

Mr. Green also told the newspaper Local 2599 is sponsoring a Labor Day event in Bethlehem which will include a parade and picnic.

On September 1st, Labor Day, the USW will conduct a parade starting at 10:30 am at Main Street and Spring Street in Bethlehem and march up Main Street and back to the unions picnic area on East Lehigh Street in the city. Tickets for the picnic are $10.00 and will include food, beverages, music and games.

Tickets for the picnic must be purchased in advance and can be obtained by calling the United Steelworkers at 610.867.3772 or e-mail at USWGreen@aol.com.

Building Trade unions protest hiring of out-of-the-area (non-union) workers

08.26.08

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

Building Trade unions protest hiring of out-of-the-area workers

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, August 21st- The unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley protested the hiring of out-of-the-area nonunion workers at the Lehigh Valley Mall in Bethlehem Township by holding a labor rally on August 15th.

Approximately seventy-five union members and representives attended the protest to bring public attention to the hiring of construction workers, mostly from the southern states, by some retail stores under construction at the Lehigh Valley Mall.

According to William Newhard, President of the twenty local unions member affiliated labor federation, most of the affiliated unions were represented at the event.

Mr. Newhard said the hiring of the out-of-the-area workers was not the doing of the owners of the Lehigh Valley Mall. If fact, the labor federation and the retail center owners for more than a decade have had a “cooperation agreement” for any renovation work inside the mall. However, a retailer can hire an out-of-the-area general contractor and in turn hire out-of-the-area subcontractors for the project.

Mr. Newhard, who is the Business Manager and Principal Officer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 in Allentown, said his members have not been hired for the retail construction project.

Local 375 represents IBEW members employed within the electrical construction industry throughout the Lehigh Valley except in the Easton and Phillipsburg, New Jersey area. IBEW members employed within the electrical construction industry in that area are represented by Local 102 in Parsippany and has a office in Easton.

Mr. Newhard said hiring workers from outside Pennsylvania does nothing for the local economy because the workers will return to their home region and spend the money they earn in the Lehigh Valley there.

500th Union Member Set to Be Elected to Public Office in New Jersey

08.26.08

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/08/25/500th-union-member-set-to-be-elected-to-public-office-in-new-jersey/

500th Union Member Set to Be Elected to Public Office in New Jersey

This in from the field.

The Eagleton Institute of Politics hosted the 12th Annual Labor Candidates School of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO earlier this month. Twenty-two rank-and-file union members running for local office participated in interactive exercises and heard from leading experts on fundraising, election law, research, message development, public speaking, media relations, voter contact, volunteer recruitment, targeting and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The Labor Candidates School is the cornerstone of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s successful COPE program. After the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates program began in 1997, union members won 499 elections to public office. This year’s graduates will include the 500th union member elected to public office through the labor candidates program.

Says New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech:

The 499 rank-and-file union members elected to public office since 1997 through the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Labor Candidates Program make improvements in the lives of working families every day, by ensuring that municipal properties are built and maintained by union labor through Project Labor Agreements and passing into law key legislation like Paid Family Leave and a first-in-the-nation check-check neutrality guarantee for public employees.

Further, says Wowkanech:

Our labor candidates program is the catalyst, which drives our progressive labor agenda here in New Jersey. We look forward to celebrating our 500th labor candidate’s election to office in New Jersey, who will have graduated from our Labor Candidates School.

John Sweeney speaks in Denver

08.26.08

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney will speak tonight at the Democratic National Convention. Following is the text of his speech as written;

All over America, children like Marcus Lewis are riding their bikes, starting sixth grade and dreaming of breaking Olympic records—or just finding a good job and raising a family. But unless we turn our country around, they’re not going to make it, not even into the middle class.

Marcus’s mom, Annette, is a single mother who worked hard to get her children where they are today. She works full time and is struggling to send her 18-year-old daughter to college. But after the rent and the bills, there’s hardly enough left over for food.

Dan Luevano is an electrician who worked for a construction company for 10 years, six of them without a raise. When he told his boss he’d be voting for a union so he could bargain for a better life, he was fired.

Steve Skvara is a retired steelworker who learned about unfair trade the hard way—when the giant company where he’d worked went bankrupt, cut his pension by a third, and eliminated his family’s health care.

These are good people, strong people. They work hard and believe in their country, their faith and the future. They can’t afford four more years like the last eight. They need change, and that’s why they all support Barack Obama for President of the United States.

They deserve a better America—an America where every worker can count on a good job, where every family has health care, where every senior enjoys a decent retirement.

They deserve an America that works for everyone, where all workers have a free choice to join unions, to collectively bargain, to lift up their communities and our economy and build a better life for their children.

Whatever happened to the promise of a better America? What happened was that the Bush administration—with the support of Senator McCain—broke that promise, undermined our values and turned our economy into a threshing machine for big business.

Brothers and sisters, this is our chance to create much-needed change for young people like Marcus and rebuild this country we love. We can create the better America that Annette, Steve and Dan—and all of us—deserve. A country whose heart is as big as the hearts of its people. A country that lifts up our families here at home and lights up the world with our vision and values.

On behalf of America’s unions, with 28 million voters in union households, we will win for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and we will create a better America. Thank you and God bless America.

FAA owes overtime to half of all air traffic controllers

08.25.08

FAA owes overtime to half of all air traffic controllers

http://www.workdayminnesota.org/index.php?news_6_3756

19 August 2008 WASHINGTON - Even as the Federal Aviation Administration continues to battle its air traffic controllers over their pay and working conditions, a federal court in Washington has come down hard on the agency, ruling it owes almost half of its controllers 12 years worth of unpaid overtime.

The July 31 ruling by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims said the agency broke the Fair Labor Standards Act by denying 7,438 air traffic controllers overtime pay starting in 1996. The FAA argued it was exempt from the overtime pay law under a personnel system that Congress passed that year. Republicans controlled Congress then.

The ruling is separate from the ongoing struggle between the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which represents approximately 14,000 controllers and 6,000 other workers, and the Bush FAA. That battle dates back to 2001, when the Bush administration unilaterally dumped a contract NATCA signed with FAA in the closing days of the Clinton administration. Bargaining resumed, with some progress over the years.

But in September 2006, the Bush FAA unilaterally declared a bargaining impasse and imposed its own terms: 20% pay cuts for the most-experienced controllers, a pay freeze for the rest and longer workweeks for many in one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S., keeping planes from crashing into each other in the air or at airports.

As a result,2,687 controllers have retired## out of a total force of just over 16,000## just in the last six months, NATCA says. All but 30 retired early due to the pay cuts and freeze. And through all of that, the controllers haven’t been paid overtime. That’s wrong, the judges said.

“The agency’s actions in implementing and maintaining the comp time and credit hours programs violated the FLSA,” the court ruled. In place of overtime, FAA had imposed a comp time system on the controllers, with “credit hours” for the amount of overtime they worked.

In practical terms, with the controller force being short-staffed the controllers got neither time-and-a-half pay for overtime nor the credit hours and comp time. NATCA brought the suit against the FAA last year. The suit noted, and the judges agreed, that that same 1996 FAA personnel system law barred the credit hour and comp time plans.
That left overtime as the only legal compensation for the controllers’ extra hours.

NATCA President Patrick Forrey called the court ruling “a resounding victory” for the union and the controllers.

“The court’s decision that our members are due financial compensation is an affirmation the FAA cannot railroad everything past NATCA without any oversight or accountability of federal laws, rules and regulations. This is a very important step in making our members whole again,” he said.

Biden: A Friend of Working Families

08.25.08

http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/6pa31_F1fuY1/

Biden: A Friend of Working Families

by Donna Jablonski, Aug 23, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama has chosen as his running mate a friend of working families in Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.). Biden earned a 100 percent voting record on working family issues in 2007 and a lifetime record of 85 percent.

In addition to working-family-friendly positions on health care, Social Security, Medicare and other critical issues, Biden is a staunch supporter of workers’ freedom to form unions and “bargain with their employers for a better life for themselves and their families.” A co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, Biden told a Fire Fighters union presidential forum last year: “There is a middle class for one reason and only one reason in America. Organized labor. That’s why it exists.”

The Bush administration, he said, has been “waging a war on labor’s house….This administration has lined up 10 deep to strip away a hundred years of labor progress.”

The AFL-CIO has endorsed Obama and launched a website, Meet Barack Obama, to educate and mobilize union members. This fall, the AFL-CIO is carrying out an unpecedented grassroots mobilization to elect champions of working families to Congress and the White House.

Watch the AFL-CIO Now blog for more about Biden’s record and positions on working family issues in the coming days.

Public Overwhelmingly Supports Employee Free Choice Act

08.24.08

Public Overwhelmingly Supports Employee Free Choice Act

by Tula Connell, Aug 21, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/08/21/public-overwhelmingly-supports-employee-free-choice-act/

A new nationwide poll demonstrates again the popular support behind workers’ freedom to form unions—and, specifically, the strong support for the Employee Free Choice Act, which last year passed the House but failed to come to a vote in the Senate.

The new Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI) poll is bad news for representatives in Congress who voted against the Employee Free Choice Act: 68 percent of middle-class adults would have liked their representative in the U.S. House to vote for the bill. That includes 80 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Independents polled.

At the worker advocacy organization American Rights at Work, executive director Mary Beth Maxwell puts the poll in perspective:

This new poll reinforces that a clear majority of Americans—be they Democrats, Independents, or Republicans—want policies like the Employee Free Choice Act that will help working families struggling in this economy. Momentum for the Employee Free Choice Act is real, and while anti-union corporations and their front groups are spending millions to mislead the public, Americans aren’t buying it.

American Rights at Work also points out another finding in the DMI survey:

60 percent of those who say they are likely to vote for John McCain for president favor legislation making it easier for employees to join unions even though Sen. McCain voted for the filibuster that killed this bill.

McCain is strongly opposed to workers’ freedom to form unions. Sen. Barack Obama strongly backs the Employee Free Choice Act and has said, as president, he will sign it into law when passed.

Couldn’t get any clearer.

Free Obama-Biden stickers from MoveOn.org

08.24.08

Hey,

Want a free Obama/Biden sticker? MoveOn’s giving them away totally free## even the shipping’s free. I just got mine, and wanted to share the opportunity with you.
Click this link to get a free Obama/Biden sticker:

http://pol.moveon.org/barackstickers/?id=-2908252-jCJptGx&rc=

Thanks!

Pa. Power Plant Workers Win IBEW Representation

08.21.08

Pa. Power Plant Workers Win IBEW Representation
August 21, 2008

http://www.ibew.org/articles/08daily/0808/080821_lu777.htm

Power plant workers at AES Ironwood in Lebanon, Pa., were feeling the squeeze. Their workload had doubled – some days tripled – due to a shortage of new hires. Promised performance bonuses never seemed to materialize and basic plant maintenance and upkeep was ignored, causing the more than a dozen employees to worry for their own safety.
Power plant workers at AES Ironwood voted for IBEW representation in July. From left to right: Organizer Joe Sanna, AES Ironwood employee Tony Schiavo, Reading, Pa., Local 777 Unit Chairman John Levengood and President Rich Drey.

It got too be too much for one AES employee who contacted the IBEW through its Web site in March. After meeting with Organizer Joe Sanna, the employee recruited some of his co-workers to form a volunteer organizing committee. In only a couple of months the committee won over the majority of the workforce.

After getting union cards signed, Reading Local 777 petitioned for an election. Despite management opposition, which included captive audience meetings, the employees won the election 11 to 2 in July, becoming the latest independent power producer to go union. “We prepped them on the all the anti-union arguments they would hear so they would be ready for those meetings,” Sanna said.

Independent power producers are privately held power generators that have sprung up in the United States in the last decade, prompted by deregulation.

Largely nonunion, such producers are beginning to experience some of the same difficulties that have already plagued the major utilities, such as aging equipment and lack of recruitment, causing many plant owners to increase their employees’ workload and cut back on wages and benefits.

“Most independent producers about five years behind where a lot of the traditional utilities are,” Sanna said. “Like the big power companies, they put off worrying about investing in their infrastructure or training and hiring a new workforce until problems started hitting them all at once.”

AES Ironwood is the IBEW’s eleventh utility win this year. The victory opens the door to further inroads in an area that is an increasingly ripe target for organizing, said Brian Ahakuelo, Director of Professional and Industrial Organizing. “Wins like this show how we can increase our density in the industry.”

In April, more than 50 workers at Trigen, a Philadelphia independent producer, gained IBEW representation after they were hit with higher medical deductibles and reduced wages and vacation.

“Utility locals need to take a look at IPPs in their area,” Sanna said. “They’re small operations, but it’s like building a wall, and each one organized is like another brick.”

AFL-CIO Files Complaint with FEC on Wal-Mart Electioneering

08.16.08

AFL-CIO Files Complaint with FEC on Wal-Mart Electioneering

by James Parks, Aug 14, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/08/14/afl-cio-files-complaint-with-fec-on-wal-mart-electioneering

The AFL-CIO joined other workers’ rights groups today to file a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) demanding an investigation into Wal-Mart’s intimidation of workers.

The complaint stems from a Wall Street Journal article reporting that Wal-Mart is requiring employees to attend meetings http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/08/12/take-action-to-stop-wal-mart-from-telling-workers-how-to-vote where they are told that if Democrats like Sen. Barack Obama http://www.aflcio.org/issues/politics/obama.cfm?source=meetbarackobama are elected, the Democrats will pass the Employee Free Choice Act http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca/ . Obama is a co-sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, while his Republican opponent for president, John McCain http://www.aflcio.org/issues/politics/mccain.cfm?source=mccainrevealed , opposes the bill.

According to the complaint:

There is reason to believe that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has made prohibited corporate expenditures by expressly advocating against Senator Obama’s election to employees who were not in its restricted class…We request that the Commission immediately open an investigation to determine whether a violation occurred and, if so, to take all appropriate steps to remedy that violation of federal election law.

Wal-Mart is one of the leaders in a well-financed corporate campaign to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, which levels the playing field and allows workers to make a free choice of whether to join a union without employer interference. You can tell Wal-Mart to stop intimidating workers. Send a message here http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/wal_mart_petition_clone_7 .

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, noting that “Wal-Mart has bullied its workers and managers for years,” says:

Now it wants to bully the political process, and the FEC should take Wal-Mart’s threats very seriously. Wal-Mart has shown exactly why our nation needs the Employee Free Choice Act. We must outlaw the kind of behavior for which Wal-Mart is famous and give workers a free and fair choice on whether to form a union.

The complaint also points out that the Employee Free Choice Act would go a long way toward rectifying the imbalance that currently exists between workers seeking to form unions and employers that oppose them. Currently, the law fails to effectively protect workers seeking to organize, and employers are able to violate the law with virtual impunity.

Wal-Mart’s actions coincide with a broader effort by corporate groups to stop the Employee Free Choice Act. In state after state, deep-pocket front groups, such as the so-called Center for Union Facts and the Employee Freedom Action Committee, are running ads that assail congressional candidates for their support of the bill.

Wal-Mart is the largest member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, one of the main funders of the $30 million anti-union campaign called “Coalition for a Democratic Workplace http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/the-anti-union-network/chamber-of-commerce/coalition-for-a-democratic-workplace-exposed-20080424-557-273.html .”

The corporate front group came under fire Tuesday from the Brunswick (Maine) Times Record (link) . In an editorial, the paper attacked a new ad by the group as “slick but sleazy.”

They insult (Democratic Senate candidate Tom) Allen, union members, the history of the U.S. labor movement—and the intelligence of all Mainers.

The despicable ads focus on the internal issue of union balloting to distract voters from the coalition’s broader agenda, which continues to hinge on muting workers’ voices during the process of lawmaking. They should require a disclaimer that reads: “Brought to you by the people who fought family leave, collective bargaining, a livable wage, the 40-hour work week and occupational safety laws.”

The workers’ advocacy organization, American Rights at Work http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/ , has lots of information on Wal-Mart’s actions attacking the Employee Free Choice Act here http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/employee-free-choice-act/latest-updates/wal-mart-mobilizing-against-the-employee-free-choice-act-20080801-605-83-83.html and a detailed report here http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/wal-mart/wal-mart/wal-mart-rolling-back-workers-wages-rights-and-the-american-dream.html on how Wal-Mart rolls back workers’ wages in an assault on the American Dream. The worker advocacy group also tracks the front groups behind the Employee Free Choice Act smear campaign with info here http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/the-anti-union-network/chamber-of-commerce/coalition-for-a-democratic-workplace-exposed-20080424-557-273.html .

Quebec Wal-Mart Workers Unionize

08.16.08

Quebec Wal-Mart Workers Unionize
Pact Ordered By Labor Board Covers 8 Employees

Washington Post link

By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 16, 2008; Page D01

A small group of employees at a Wal-Mart store in Canada secured yesterday the only union contract with the company in North America, a victory for labor groups that have campaigned for years to organize the world’s largest retailer.

The three-year contract covers eight workers in the tire and lube department of a Wal-Mart in Gatineau, Quebec, and increases starting wages from $8.40 to $10.89 an hour. The contract was imposed by the Quebec Labor Relations Board after negotiations between the company and employees fell apart. In its decision, the board called the contract “reasonable, realistic and equitable.”

“I think the employees at that particular location should be congratulated,” said Michael Forman, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada, which organized the employees. “I think no doubt what’s happening at Gatineau will be encouraging.”

Wal-Mart spokesman Andrew Pelletier said yesterday that the company was still reviewing the contract and its implications for employees.

“Our priority is to continue to run an efficient operation to ensure that we can fulfill our commitment to provide customers the everyday low prices they expect from Wal-Mart,” he said.

The contract is a significant step in the ongoing battle between Wal-Mart and labor groups, which say that the retailer pays low wages and is stingy with health benefits. Earlier this week, the AFL-CIO and other unions filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over reports in the Wall Street Journal that Wal-Mart managers were discouraging workers from organizing and advocating against electing Democrats, who they say are likely to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

That proposal would allow unions to organize through signature drives or by signing authorization cards, similar to Canadian labor laws, Forman said. Companies can request that workers vote by secret ballot. The UFCW and the Service Employees International Union have tried for years to organize Wal-Mart employees and have met staunch resistance from the company.

In 2000, 11 meat cutters at a Texas store won union recognition, the first in the United States. Soon after, Wal-Mart eliminated such positions at 180 stores in six states. It said the two events were not related. In 2005, Wal-Mart shuttered a store in Jonquière, Quebec, after workers voted to unionize. At the time, the company said the employees’ demands would have made it impossible to sustain business.

“U.S. workers continue to wait to get the same respect from Wal-Mart,” said David Nassar, executive director of the union-funded Wal-Mart Watch. “If higher wages, better benefits and fair treatment are incompatible with Wal-Mart’s way of doing business, it’s time for the company to change ## which is what Wal-Mart Watch has been saying all along.”

The UFCW began conducting organizing drives in Canada six years ago, winning union certification of tire and lube workers at the Gatineau store in 2005. A contract is also expected soon for workers in the tire and lube departments and main store of a Wal-Mart in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. In addition, Wal-Mart began allowing the All-China Federation of Trade Unions to set up outlets in its stores in China in 2006.

In the 1990s, employees at a Wal-Mart in Ontario joined the United Steelworkers union and negotiated a collective agreement with the company. That contract no longer exists, Wal-Mart said.

Staff writer Binyamin Appelbaum contributed to this report.

School Administrators Back Obama

08.15.08

School Administrators Back Obama

by Seth Michaels, Aug 13, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/08/13/school-administrators-back-obama/

The School Administrators union (AFSA) has endorsed Barack Obama for president.

AFSA’s General Executive Board voted this week to endorse Obama and mobilize the union’s more than 20,000 members to elect him this fall.

AFSA president Jill Levy says Obama would be a president who fights for good schools and other issues critical to the nation’s future:

There are many reasons AFSA has elected to endorse Sen. Obama for president. Unlike his opponent, Obama is an ardent supporter of exemplary public education and the education professionals who are accountable for the quality of teaching and learning. Unlike his opponent, Obama has pledged to fully fund and overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act and fully fund early childhood education. Unlike his opponent, he supports workers’ rights—particularly the right of professionals to belong to unions and collectively bargain—and he will work to ensure that every working American in this country has the health care they need.

Our members take pride in leading our schools, and they want a president who will respect them and provide them with the resources and support necessary to meet a multiplicity of challenges. AFSA is proud to endorse Sen. Obama.

The AFL-CIO has endorsed Obama and launched a new website, Meet Barack Obama to educate and mobilize union members. This fall, the AFL-CIO is carrying out an unprecedented grassroots mobilization to elect a working family-friendly Congress and president.

IAFF Announces Barack Obama Endorsement At 49th Convention

08.15.08

IAFF Announces Barack Obama Endorsement At 49th Convention

Get the facts on Obama at http://www.firefightersforobama.com

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger announced the union’s endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for president of the United States August 14 during the IAFF 2008 Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Praising his support of fire fighters and working families, Schaitberger said, “On every issue important to fire fighters, Senator Obama is and has been in our corner. The IAFF is the most bipartisan union in the AFL-CIO, and we support those who support us. We can’t overlook Senator McCain’s service to our country, but we also can’t overlook his poor record on issues critical to the financial security of our 290,000 members.”

Compare Candidate Records http://www.firefightersforobama.com/index.cfm?Section=16&PageNum=130

In a message to Convention delegates, Senator Obama expressed his support of collective bargaining rights for fire fighters, stating that collecting bargaining rights “won’t become law unless we have a president who’s willing to sign it, and I’ll be that president,” he said. “It is unacceptable when fire fighters do not have collective bargaining rights. But it’s not just collective bargaining. For too long on too many issues, fire fighters have not been treated with the dignity, respect and honor you deserve.”

Watch Obama’s Message http://www.firefightersforobama.com/index.cfm?Section=10&PageNum=176

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) addressed fire fighters on Senator Obama’s behalf.

Watch Biden’s Speech http://www.iaff.org/events/08convention/Biden.asx

The IAFF made its endorsement for the candidate who will protect your retirement security, your rights on the job and other issues affecting your lives and livelihoods. Senator Obama is clearly in the IAFF’s corner on these issues, Senator McCain is not.

Senator Obama co-sponsored and voted for the IAFF’s collective bargaining bill, this union’s top legislative priority, while Senator McCain opposes collective bargaining rights for fire fighters and police officers and voted against the IAFF’s collective bargaining bill in 2001 and refused to return to the Senate in May 2008 for a vote.

Senator Obama supports the rights of fire fighters to collect overtime pay, a right established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), while Senator McCain favors appointing judges to the federal bench who could overturn court decisions that guarantee overtime pay to fire fighters and other rights outlined in the FLSA.

Compare Candidate Records http://www.firefightersforobama.com/index.cfm?Section=16&PageNum=130

Senator Obama opposes forcing fire fighters into Social Security, while Senator McCain has refused to sign a letter opposing mandatory Social Security, saying, “we need to keep all options open.”

Obama wants to strengthen the system of employer-provided health care. Senator McCain’s health care plan encourages the elimination of employer-sponsored health care, and instead wants to place the burden on individuals to find and purchase their own health care or require employees who continue to receive health care coverage through their employer to pay taxes on those benefits.

Senator Obama has also worked to increase funding for the SAFER grant program, while Senator McCain has sided with the Bush administration in its attempts to zero out funding for that program.

These issues are critical issues facing our members that relate to your safety on the job and financial security ## the issues I call the IAFF’s basket of issues. We understand and honor your right and responsibility to weigh the many personal issues ## right to life/choice, Second Amendment rights, prayer in the schools, same-sex marriage ## that are important to you when deciding who to vote for.

Watch Kitchen Table Discussion Video With General President Schaitberger
http://www.firefightersforobama.com/index.cfm?Section=10&PageNum=176

But it’s your union’s responsibility to let you know where the candidates stand on our basket of issues.

Senator Obama has a record of looking out for fire fighters and working families as a state senator in Illinois and as a United States senator. Let’s elect the candidate who has been and will be there for us. Let’s elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.

Get the Facts http://www.firefightersforobama.com/

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You can meet “The Real McCain” courtesy of Cliff Schecter

08.14.08

You can meet “The Real McCain” courtesy of Cliff Schecter

http://www.americablog.com/2008/04/you-can-meet-real-mccain-courtesy-of.html

Why is the mainstream media ignoring this book?

Social Security at 73: Strong as Ever But Not if McCain Takes Office

08.14.08

http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/01a31_F1BcTg/

Social Security at 73: Strong as Ever But Not if McCain Takes Office

by Mike Hall, Aug 14, 2008

Seventy-three years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Today, more than 42 million Americans count on that monthly check to help buy groceries, pay the rent or get medicine. For all these 73 years, Social Security has never missed a payment.

But if retirees, people with disabilities and other Social Security beneficiaries had to count on Wall Street and the stock market to ensure Social Security’s stability—as Sen. John McCain, President Bush and other Republican privatizers of Social Security have long sought—that reliability would replaced by an unacceptable risk.

That’s the message members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are spreading this week in more than two dozen Social Security celebrations and rallies across the country. In Pennsylvania and Colorado, alliance members will be shadowing McCain during his campaign stops to protest his Social Security privatization plan and his recent description of Social Security as “a disgrace.”

Unlike McCain, who has voted to privatize Social Security, Sen. Barack Obama has voted to strengthen Social Security and strongly opposes privatization. He also pledged not to cut benefits or raise the retirement age, two options McCain says are “on the table.”

Today at the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 743 union hall in Reading, Pa., alliance members will celebrate, but also warn that McCain’s privatization plan—patterned after Bush’s failed scheme—is too risky.

Says Pennsylvania Alliance President Jean Friday:

With the rising prices of gas, groceries and health care, leaving Social Security to the whims of the stock market through privatization is a gamble few Keystone State retirees can afford to take.

Alliance for Retired Americans President George Kourpias notes that McCain has not backed off from his recent comments that Social Security is a “disgrace.”

John McCain receives nearly $24,000 each year in Social Security. If he thinks Social Security is a “disgrace,” why doesn’t he mark “return to sender” on the envelope?

For most seniors, their Social Security check is a cornerstone to retirement security; to McCain, it’s chump change. If he did send it back, as a recent AFL-CIO mailer to union voters points out, he could just dip into his $100 million of personal wealth or look for some loose change in the couch cushions of his 10 homes and under the seats of the $12.6 corporate jet he flies around in.

Alliance Executive Director Ed Coyle says retirees are marking today’s birthday with “mixed feelings.”

Social Security is one of our nation’s greatest success stories—it has kept millions out of poverty and has allowed older Americans to retire with dignity. But at the same time, Sen. McCain and his allies continue to slander Social Security and promote dangerous privatization schemes.

We are reminding retirees that Sen. McCain continues to support President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. This would create Social Security accounts tied to the roller coaster of Wall Street. With all the turbulence in the stock market, and the rising prices of gas, groceries and health care, this is a gamble few retirees can afford to take.

Bruce Slater for Congress fundraiser in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

08.14.08

Visit, Shop, Refresh and Meet Bruce at
Stoudtburg Village.

Come to deLyn¢s Gallery, 6 S. Village Circle, Stoudtburg Village, Stoudtburg Road, Adamstown, PA for refreshments and to meet Bruce Slater on Saturday, Sept. 6th

Visit the charming shops in the Village, and delight in all there is to see and buy. 10% of the sales at deLyn¢s Gallery on Sept. 6th will be donated to the Slater for Congress campaign fund. Please R.S.V.P. by Sept. 2. Email: delyn@delyn.net or call 717-484-1339.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Bruce is a very pro-labor candidate and an associate member of the Steelworkers.

AFL-CIO and CtW labor federations working together

08.13.08

August 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

AFL-CIO and CtW labor federations working together

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, July 30th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC political program is intended to get out the union member vote on November 4th and elect Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Obama is the Democratic party presidential nominee-in-waiting. The AFL-CIO endorsed Senator Obama for President over Republican party presidential nominee-in-waiting Arizona Senator John McCain. The labor organization did not endorse any presidential candidate during the primary election season.

The Change-to-Win (CtW) labor federation endosed Mr. Obama for the primary election and their affitiated unions will participate with the AFL-CIO political program called, “Labor 2008.”

The Pennsylvania presidential election contest was decided by a few percentage points in 2000 and 2004 with the Democratic party nominee winning in both elections. Many political observers predict this years election will also be decided by a few percentage points.

According to Rod Muchnok, AFL-CIO Field Representative who is the co-ordinator for the political program in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Labor 2008 is mobilizing union members across the state through worksite leafleting, door-to-door labor walks, (contacting union members at their homes), and contacting union members by phone at their residents.

Mr. Muchnok told the newspaper Barack Obama supports the working class and if elected President, will fight for raising the minimum wage, improving the prevailing wage, and will sign into law card check for union elections legislation.

Mr. Muchnok, a former coal miner and member of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), said the program is intended to better educate union members about issues pertaining to their working lives and then understand why voting for Mr. Obama is in their best interest.

The AFL-CIO political program will be conducted at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 building in Dunmore Borough in Lackawanna County and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 building in Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County.

According to Sam Bianco, President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, this years election may be the most important for the labor community in the more than 30 years he has been the President of the labor organization. “This guy in the White House has damaged this country so bad it will take years to fix his mess,” said Mr. Bianco.

Mr. Muchnok said Senator McCain will oppose the union supported Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) if elected in November.

Under the legislation, employers would be required to recognize unions that receive majority support by employees through a card-check system. EFCA would replace government overseen elections in the workplace which are held following a sometimes lengthy campaign.

National Association of Letter Carriers Union Branch 162 files Unfair Labor Charge against Postal Service

08.13.08

August 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

National Association of Letter Carriers Union Branch 162 files Unfair Labor Charge against Postal Service

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

PITTSTON, August 1st- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union Branch 162 have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United States Postal Service (USPS) alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

On July 1st, 2008, Branch 162 in Pittston, filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Charge with the NLRB Region Four in Philadelphia alleging USPS Postmaster Walter Shumlas violated the NLRAct.

According to the complaint, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union alleges on July 10th, Postal Carrier Jeff Wojcik was scheduled to take an in-house exam for possible advancement in Harrisburg at 1 pm and was approved 8 hours annual leave.

The ULP states Mr. Shumlas called Mr. Wojcik and told him the exam was cancelled and report for work. However, he was later marked a no show for the exam.

The charge alleges Postmaster Shumlas was unreasonable and caused an unacceptable level of stress on Mr. Wojcik.

The union believes Mr. Shumlas lied to Mr. Wojcik about the cancelling of the exam causing him to resign because he did not have an opportunity to advance in the Postal system.

The charge states the carrier was considered a great worker by all and had a great deal of respect from his fellow workers. The union contends Management violated the collective bargaining agreement by its various actions in preventing Jeff Wojcik from taking the in-house postal exam and rescinding its approval of his annual leave request.

“Our intention is to enforce that every employee at every level of the Postal Service be treated at all times with dignity, respect, and fairness. Those who do not respect thses rights should not be tolerated. Along with this charge the Union has filed a grievance against this practice in an effort to prevent a reoccurence and have a more productive workplace,” states the NALC in the complaint.

The charge was filed by Erica Kuratnick, President of Branch 162 which represents approximately 85 mail delivery employees at the USPS Pittston Post Office.