Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Fair Trade Victory


Fair Trade Victory
by Todd Tucker and Lori Wallach | November 21, 2008

Editor: Emily Schwartz Greco

Foreign Policy In Focus

As the dust starts to settle from the historic election of our nation’s first African-American president and first president who ran on fair trade, we have some time to contemplate other impressive changes voters brought to Congress. At least 41 new fair-traders were elected to House and Senate seats, which represent a net gain of 33 in Congress’ overall economic justice contingent. This comes on top of the 37 net fair-trade pick-ups in the 2006 congressional elections. These new members campaigned to oppose further NAFTA-style agreements and advocate for positive alternatives that ensure widely shared prosperity. Obama himself made many fair-trade commitments, including a pledge to replace “fast track” trade negotiating authority, renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, and oppose a NAFTA-like pact with Colombia.

In 2009, the U.S. government will be squarely in the hands of people who have contemplated the global economic architecture built up through the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush, and found it fundamentally flawed. Or at least they have realized that an overwhelming majority of Americans have had it with the current “race to the bottom” trade and globalization status quo — and are systematically voting for those who join them in demanding change and against those who want more of the same.

Either way, this is a good thing not only for the millions of people living in this country who have their jobs offshored, wages stagnate, and environmental and consumer protections gutted by current trade policies, but for the billions of people worldwide who have suffered under our country’s worldwide exportation of this model.

Candidates Catalogued
Public Citizen’s report, Fair Trade Gets an Upgrade, listed positions on trade for all 130 candidates in competitive or open-seat races, with an accompanying website displaying a cornucopia of TV ads calling for trade reform. The demand for a new approach to trade and globalization has hit a tipping point, demonstrated by the unprecedented 140-plus TV ads on trade used in this cycle — including a dozen by President-elect Barack Obama run mainly during the general election. This compares to roughly 25 ads in congressional races in 2006, when criticism of status-quo globalization and trade policy showed an exponential jump from all past election cycles.

This includes Democrat Jeff Merkley in Oregon, who shattered conventional political wisdom by winning a Senate seat after running as a fair-trader in the Pacific Northwest. He made the failure of U.S. trade and globalization policies a top focus of his campaign, which ran seven paid trade ads to defeat 100% anti-fair trader and GOP incumbent Gordon Smith. Democrat Kay Hagan also used seven different trade-focused ads in North Carolina to beat GOP incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole. And, the defeat of the two representatives who provided the two final votes to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) — Representatives Phil English (R-PA), a senior House Ways and Means Committee member, and Robin Hayes (R-NC) in campaigns focused on their trade betrayals — will warm the hearts of veterans of past trade battles.

Our research found numerous indicators of how far trade politics have shifted. Campaigning on fair trade is no longer just a Democratic tactic. Eighteen Republicans, including Walter Jones (R-NC) and Representative-elect Steve Austria (R-OH), beat back tough primary and general election challenges by campaigning on a fair-trade platform. In a dozen races, both the Republican and the Democrat competed in an “anti-NAFTA off,” battling to be the most critical of the status-quo trade model. The Democratic congressional and senatorial campaign committees ran 29 ads on the issue, supporting candidates in 17 states. The trade issue proved to be so powerful that we found the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) running attack ads against Republicans in races where the Democrat had an anti-fair trade voting record, such as in Florida and Indiana.

Public Citizen’s report also reviews the extended national “anti-NAFTA-off” that consumed the Democratic presidential primaries, with Obama and Hillary Clinton competing to be most critical of the pact pushed by former President Bill Clinton. Presidential primary candidates provided written commitments on an array of trade and globalization reform issues that were never a part of past presidential races. Obama’s primary campaign trade-reform commitments became part of the Democratic platform, which also presented a trade-reform agenda not seen in the past. For example, the platform states:

We will not negotiate bilateral trade pacts that will stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors; require the privatization of our vital public services; or prevent developing country governments from adopting humanitarian licensing policies to improve access to life-saving medications.

This political shift follows a path the American public has taken for years. Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that a “free trade agreement” has had a negative effect on their families. Majorities oppose the North American Free Trade Agreement across every demographic, with Catholic, swing, independent, and Hispanic voters among the blocs most opposed to NAFTA. Republican voters, by a two-to-one majority, agree that “[f]oreign trade has been bad for the U.S. economy, because imports from abroad have reduced demand for American-made goods, cost jobs here at home, and produced potentially unsafe products.”

Just the Beginning
As inspiring as these electoral changes are, the fight to change the current globalization model has only just begun. There will be powerful pressures from within the Beltway and Wall Street for Obama and the new lawmakers to accept Bush’s hangover NAFTA-expansion agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.

In recent days, both The New York Times and The Washington Post editorialized that Congress should approve the Colombia pact. Moreover, the press has reported that the bilateral deal — which official U.S. government projections show would increase the U.S. trade deficit — is one of the few issues Bush has raised in talks with the incoming Obama administration. That such harmful policies would be raised in the context of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression shows the level of anti-fair trade determination in many elite quarters.

Moreover, there are the ongoing attempts in the dead-again, alive-again Doha Round to expand the World Trade Organization’s antidemocratic strictures to ever more aspects of our lives: farm and food policy, essential services, industrial development, and yes, more financial services deregulation and privatization.

Within the United States, perhaps the most persuasive and pragmatic argument for overhauling the global regime is that doing so is necessary for tackling Obama’s urgent domestic priorities. As we showed in earlier reports, the WTO and NAFTA-style trade agreements must be shrunk, sunk, or otherwise renegotiated to create the policy space to implement Democrats’ programs for climate change, health care, financial re-regulation, and food and product safety. Changes to the current rules are needed to avoid urgently needed domestic reforms from being subject to challenge or sanction in the unaccountable trade tribunals established by these pacts.

The good news is that the next occupant of the White House — and a growing number of lawmakers — are now on the record as favoring changes to the NAFTA-WTO model. Come January, Americans will have to be relentless in reminding them of these commitments.

Lori Wallach is director and Todd Tucker is research director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, and they blog at EyesOnTrade.Org.

Teen Works continues to provide funds for area projects


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

Teen Works continues to provide funds for area projects


LEHIGH VALLEY, November 11th- The Teen Works Board of Directors voted to help fund five community projects being conducted by area teens or school groups from throughout the Lehigh Valley. The organization held a meeting on November 11th at the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley building in Bethlehem Township.

Unions from throughout the Lehigh Valley contribute funds that is donated to area teens 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 44 member Michael Flesher received a grant of $750.00 from the organization to build a bird sanctuary for Angel 34 in Nazareth. Angel 34 supports families battling childhood cancer. They are establishing a bed and breakfast that will be free for the families.

The Liberty High School Teen Summit received $1,000.00, the maximum grant, from the organization to help fund their 7th Annual Diversity Celebration in Bethlehem. The goal of the Diversity Celebration and Converence is to promote unity throughout Liberty High School and the local community. The event comprises of students in all grade levels.

Boy Scout member Daniel Reinert of Alburtis received a grant of $500.00 from Teen Works to construct a fence along a property line at the Alburtis Campfire Cabin, a local community Boys and Girls club. The project when completed will offer their cabin and activity area privacy from the adjacent new development.

Boy Scout Troop 63 member Wesley Lambert of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, received a grant of $500.00 by the group for his project at the Warren County Technical School. The youth will replace brick pavers to improve the courtyard and put in new shubbery, plants and mulch in the a area where students eat their lunch at the school.

The youth also plans to put a butterfly garden in the courtyard and build picnic tables for the students to use during their lunch break.

The final project to receive funds from the organization will benefit the Lehigh Valley Division of the American Red Cross in Bethlehem Township.

Boy Scouts of America member Tanner Coles of Emmaus received a $600.00 grant from the organization for his project.

The youth will take out shrubbery around the Red Cross building air-conditioning system and place a fence around the air-conditioning system vents in the front of the building. The fence is a wooden fence with lattice privacy screen. The youth stated the posts that will anchor the fence will be anchored in cement.

United Auto Workers again volunteering their time to provide holiday dinner for less fortunate


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

United Auto Workers again volunteering their time to provide holiday dinner for less fortunate


LEHIGH VALLEY, November 14th- The United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers (UAW) Union Local 677 for the fifth consecutive year will participate with an organization that helps the less fortunate celebrate the holdiday season in the Lehigh Valley.

According to Dale Krasley, Local 677 Community Services Committee Chairman, this Christmas Eve will mark the 16th year for the Spirit of the Lehigh Valley Dinner for those less fortunate.

The Spirit of the Lehigh Valley is organized as a domestic non-profit corporation under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is eligible to receive tax-exempt contributions. Mr. Krasley stated any union member or local union wanting to make a financial contribution can contact Local 677 at 610.797.7722.

Mr. Krasley is employed at Mack Trucks Inc. in Macungie Township. In 2007 approximately 60 members of Local 677 volunteered their time to help provide a free holiday banquet, held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Breinigsville.

This years event will again be held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center and will be held between 11 am and 5 pm on Christmas Eve.

Typically over 4,000 people attend the event, made possible by community donations including from Jaindl’s, Linny Fowler, Coca Cola of the Lehigh Valley, Singer Equipment, and Sysco Foodservice. Transportation will be made possible by Trans Bridge Lines and their drivers.

DHL announces Breinigsville facility will be closed


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

DHL announces Breinigsville facility will be closed


LEHIGH VALLEY, November 10th- The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) several years attempt to organize workers employed at the DHL distribution center on Nestle Way in Breinigsville has ended with the recent announcement that the company will close the facility.

In September 2007, DHL workers employed at the Nestle Way facility rejected being represented by the APWU, 217 to 135. The election was conducted by the Nation Labor Relations Board (NLRB). During the campaign, the APWU filed numerous complaints alleging the company violated the NLRAct by conducting a anti-union campaign which included hiring a labor consultant that specializes in keeping labor unions from representing employers workers.

For more than a year before the NLRB conducted the election and since, the APWU contacted employees of the facility with the intent of again requesting for the NLRB to conduct another election.

Also, the APWU has filed numerous Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the agency alleging DHL management has violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper reported exclusively in the previous edition, the APWU filed a ULP with the NLRB Region Four in Philadelphia on October 6th alleging DHL, “has interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of their rights 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, by among other actions, since in or about October 2008, and continuing to date, denying employees access to outside areas of the facility to engage in union activity such as handbilling and by summoning police to expel them.”

The complaint was obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act. The local DHL facility employs approximately 375 employees and will be closed by early 2009.

USW President Leo W. Gerard: A Special Message about the Emergency Assistance Package for the U.S. Auto Industry


Nov. 24, 2008

A Special Message about the Emergency Assistance Package for the U.S. Auto Industry

Sisters and Brothers,

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, let us not forget that our nation’s economy is in crisis. We’ve all felt the effects of this difficult time and we need to do what we can to prevent the crisis from getting worse.

That means supporting an emergency assistance package for the U.S. automakers. Let’s be clear: this is not a bailout that only helps Wall Street. This is an absolutely necessary loan to aid Main Street and protect our jobs.

The auto industry employs millions of hard working men and women and provides health care and pensions to millions more retirees. These family-supporting jobs are vital to communities across the nation. But this issue goes far beyond that – millions more jobs, including tens of thousands of USW jobs - are directly tied to the auto industry.

If the auto industry goes bust, chances are our jobs will go with it, and our entire economy will spiral deeper into peril.

So supporting this package isn’t just about solidarity for our brothers and sisters at the United Autoworkers and other unions, although that on its own would make this a worthy cause. It’s about saving our economy, protecting the middle class and fighting for our families.

Here’s what you can do right now:

Visit our Web site, or the UAW’s site at and get the facts about the emergency assistance package. You can also download a PDF version of the talking points by clicking here.

Call and write your Congressmen and Congresswomen, state leaders and governors to express support for the emergency assistance package and request that they support the UAW-endorsed plan. You can e-mail Congress using our easy tool by clicking here.

Pass along this information and ask your co-workers, friends and families to also take action.

Here’s the message we need to send: Congress must act in December to avoid the terrible consequences that would result from a collapse of the domestic automakers. It must pass legislation providing an emergency bridge loan to enable the domestic auto companies to continue their operations. At the same time, it should include requirements that will protect the taxpayers, and ensure the accountability and long term liability of the domestic auto companies.

As always, thanks for all you do.

In Solidarity,

Leo W. Gerard

35,000 Theatrical Stage Employees Set to Get New Pact and More Bargaining News


35,000 Theatrical Stage Employees Set to Get New Pact and More Bargaining News

by May Silverstein, Nov 24, 2008

Some 35,000 members of Theatrical Stage Employees agreed to a tentative three-year contract, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 900 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.

IATSE, Major Studios: Some 35,000 members of the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) agreed to a tentative three-year contract with the major Hollywood studios. The current agreement is set to expire in August 2009. The proposed replacement agreement was modeled on similar pacts negotiated by writers, directors and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) that established pay terms for programs streamed on the Web.

SPEEA-IFPTE, Boeing: Some 21,000 engineers and technical staff workers at Boeing, represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace-IFPTE (SPEEA-IFPTE), reached tentative pacts that provide engineers an increase of at least 2 percent each year and technical workers increases of at least 2.5 percent during each year of the contract. “These agreements are the result of lots of hard work by all parties,” SPEEA Executive Director Ray Goforth said in a statement. “It’s gratifying that we could reach an agreement and put the decision in members’ hands.”

MTC, Electric Boat: Some 2,400 Metal Trades Council workers at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., approved a new 65-month contract that includes pay raises, higher pensions and other benefits.

IBEW, Qwest Communications: Qwest Communications workers in Montana, represented by the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 206, ratified a new contract that is closely modeled after a four-year pact that Communications Workers of America (CWA) members ratified earlier this month.

AFSCME, Buffalo: Buffalo, N.Y., city workers, represented by AFSCME Local 264, reached a nine-year tentative contract agreement with the city that would give raises averaging 20 percent to blue-collar workers who haven’t seen pay hikes since 2001.

AFSCME, Buffalo: Also in Buffalo, 410 food service workers and cooks in city schools, represented by AFSCME Local 264, have new collective bargaining contracts that provide 10 percent raises over the contract duration.

USW, General Chemical: In Green River, Wy., some 400 workers at the General Chemical plant, represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 15320, approved new three-year agreements. Details have not been released.

IAM, Vought Aircraft Industries: Following a failed mediation effort, members of Machinists (IAM) Local 735 at Vought Aircraft’s plant in Nashville, Tenn., continue their strike. [You must be a subscriber of BNA-DLR to access this article.] According to Mike Worrell, president of IAM Local 735, a federal mediator met separately with union and company representatives Nov. 12 and concluded that the parties were “just too far apart” to continue negotiations at this time. For updates, check out the IAM Local 735 website.

IUE-CWA, Hubbel: Ten days after the start of a strike, workers at Hubbell Inc. in Missouri, represented by IUE-CWA Local 86821, reached a new three-year agreement and will return to work.

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

Help for U.S. Automakers Is a Good Deal for Everyone


Help for U.S. Automakers Is a Good Deal for Everyone

by Donna Jablonski, Nov 14, 2008

The U.S. auto industry “cannot succeed in today’s unstable economic environment without immediate help from the federal government. And the costs of failure are unacceptable,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a Washington Post op-ed today.

If even one U.S. automaker fails, he warned, it would cost the entire country millions of lost jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in lost sales and revenue.

The auto industry crisis, exacerbated by stalled consumer spending and lack of credit, affects much more than the Big Three automakers and the 240,000 people who work for them, Gettelfinger said. It also endangers thousands of car dealerships, small and medium-size businesses that provide parts and services to the auto giants and more than a million retirees and dependents who receive pension and health care benefits from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

According to Gettelfinger:

If these companies are unable to meet their obligations, the human toll on retirees and their families will be devastating. It’s also possible that the failure of these companies could impose severe costs on the federal pension guaranty program and public health care programs.

Gettelfinger also took exception to “Detroit-bashing.”

It is not the actions of our members that have caused the crisis in today’s auto industry; the crisis is being driven by economic factors that have nothing to do with labor costs or factory performance. To the contrary, our contracts have put our employers in a position to compete. The reality of today’s auto industry is that union-made vehicles are winning quality awards and that union-represented factory workers are winning productivity awards.

Recent auto industry labor negotiations are reducing or eliminating cost differences between union and nonunion car makers, Gettelfinger said.

The various demands for cuts in the wages and benefits of active and retired autoworkers as a condition of federal assistance are curious—and extremely unbalanced. To my knowledge, no one has proposed cutting the compensation of everyday active or retired bankers, bond traders and office or building personnel who work at AIG, Bear Stearns or the numerous banks that have received billions in federal aid. Why is it only autoworkers who are singled out for this dubious honor?

Gettelfinger said bipartisan efforts under way in Congress to aid U.S. automakers are “a good deal for U.S. taxpayers—because the alternative is lost jobs, closed businesses and shattered communities, which would impose severe human and economic costs on all of us for many years to come.”

Toyota, BMW, Hyundai Workers’ Senators Oppose Rescue


Toyota, BMW, Hyundai Workers’ Senators Oppose Rescue
by Alison Fitzgerald and Jonathan D. Salant

Article link

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) ## Senators from southern states with factories owned by Asian and European car manufacturers oppose a bailout of U.S. automakers, saying the industry can thrive without General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

Republican Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and James DeMint of South Carolina, are among lawmakers trying to derail Democratic plans, supported by President-elect Barack Obama, to provide at least $25 billion in loans to the three U.S. companies.

“We have a very large and vibrant automobile sector in Alabama,'’ Sessions told Bloomberg Television on Nov. 11. “I don’t feel like this is the end of the world.'’

Alabama has two assembly plants owned by Stuttgart, Germany- based Daimler AG, one operated by Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co. and one by Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Co. Munich-based Bayerische Motoren Werke AG employs about 4,500 people at a Spartanburg, South Carolina, assembly plant.

The proposal to loan automakers $25 billion from October’s $700 billion financial rescue package will be debated during a post-election lame-duck session of Congress this week.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd plans to hold a hearing tomorrow on the legislation, which he supports. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, who is drafting the legislation with Michigan Senator Carl Levin, plans a hearing the following day. GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner and Ford CEO Alan Mulally are scheduled to testify before the committees.

`Tough Sell’

The bill will likely be a tough sell with many Republicans who, in principle, oppose government intervention in the private sector.

“Companies fail every day and others take their place,'’ Shelby said on CBS’s “Face the Nation'’ yesterday.

Bush said he opposes using money from the $700 billion fund designed to ease a global credit crisis. Instead he called on Congress Nov. 14 to use money from a previously approved proposal for auto-industry loans originally intended to aid development of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“Taxpayers should not have to subsidize private companies that are unwilling to show they can be viable,'’ White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said today in an e-mailed statement. “It is clear that U.S. automakers must restructure in order to be viable.'’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Nov. 15 that diverting money from the earlier plan to ease a current cash crisis would be “a step backward'’ in promoting long-term auto-industry competitiveness. Democratic leaders want to use some of the money from the $700 billion financial-rescue package to meet automakers’ emergency needs.

Senate Action

The outcome may depend on action by the Senate, where Democrats’ narrow 51-49 working majority gives Republican opponents a better opportunity to block a bailout. While the party will pick up at least a half-dozen seats as a result of Nov. 4’s elections, those changes won’t take effect until January.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Nov. 14 urged his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to allow a vote. McConnell made no such promise.

“Senator Reid has not yet provided us with the text of his proposed spending bill, or the cost to the taxpayer, or its impact on the deficit,'’ McConnell said. “So it would be a real challenge to promise any level of support or opposition sight unseen.'’ Kentucky has Ford, GM and Toyota Motor Corp. assembly plants, and a Toyota engine factory.

Sales Plummet

The U.S.-based automakers are seeking a cash infusion as industrywide sales have plummeted to a 17-year low as the economy slides into a recession. GM this month said it lost $4.2 billion in the third quarter, and almost $73 billion since the end of 2004. The largest U.S. automaker said it may not have enough cash to get through the year. Ford lost $2.98 billion in the third quarter as sales fell 22 percent

Job losses would total 2.5 million from an automaker failure in 2009, including 1.4 million people in industries not directly tied to manufacturing, according to a Nov. 4 study by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A collapse of General Motors would cost the government $200 billion in aid to states and extended unemployment benefits, said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.

While sales are also falling for Asian and European manufacturers, their financial conditions aren’t as bleak.

“We have a number of profitable automakers in America, and they shouldn’t be disadvantaged for making wise business decisions while failure is rewarded,'’ DeMint said. “If the Big Three can’t make it with their current structure, they can protect jobs by reorganizing under bankruptcy protection.'’

Cornyn Also Opposes

Wesley Denton, a DeMint spokesman, said the senator plans to offer amendments to any bailout legislation approved by the House, which could make it more difficult to quickly get a bill to Bush’s desk. Senator John Cornyn of Texas said Nov. 14 that he also opposes the plan. Texas is home to assembly plants for GM and Toyota.

“The financial straits that the Big Three find themselves in is not the product of our current economic downturn, but instead is the legacy of the uncompetitive structure of its manufacturing and labor force,'’ Shelby said. The Big Three’s current crisis is “not a national problem, but their problem,'’ Shelby said.

That problem could spread beyond Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, where the U.S.-based companies and their suppliers are most heavily concentrated. U.S. automakers buy parts in many states: Ford, for example, spent $2 billion in Alabama last year and $3.5 billion with Kentucky suppliers, according to a Ford document. Companies that make parts for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler also often count Toyota, Honda and other overseas-based companies among their customers.

Slump Hits Everybody

“We’re worried. We’re concerned about it,'’ said Mike Goss, a spokesman for Toyota’s North American manufacturing unit in Erlanger, Kentucky. “The vehicles we build in North America use about 75 percent local content, and much of that is coming from the same companies that supply the Detroit Three.'’

Mike Michels, Toyota’s U.S. vice president of media relations, said the failure of one or more of the U.S. automakers would be “devastating'’ for the entire industry.

Failure to get a federal bailout won’t be for lack of Washington clout. The U.S. automakers’ lobbying and campaign giving dwarfs contributions from their Japanese competitors. GM, Ford and Chrysler spent $20.3 million on lobbying this year through Sept. 30, compared with $8.6 million for Nissan, Toyota and Honda.

Voinovich Backs Bailout

Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich is working with Michigan’s two Democratic senators on a letter to colleagues to make the aid “a reality'’ during the lame-duck session, his spokesman Chris Paulitz said.

“The senator believes helping the automakers remain viable is truly putting Main Street over Wall Street,'’ Paulitz said.

Ohio has seven automotive assembly plants: Chrysler, GM and Honda each have two facilities, and Ford owns one. There are at least 20 additional auto-related plants in Ohio, including engine factories and stamping plants, most owned by the Detroit carmakers, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

United Auto Workers union President Ron Gettelfinger said Nov. 15 on a conference call and again today on WJR radio in Detroit that all three U.S. automakers may fail without federal financial assistance.

“We’re on the cliff here; we have to make our case,'’ Gettelfinger told reporters Nov. 15. “Would you buy a car from a bankrupt automaker? We don’t see bankruptcy as a viable option.'’

To contact the reporters on this story: Alison Fitzgerald in Washington at ; Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at
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EDITOR’S NOTE: If these Senator’s are successful in blocking the loan, they will threaten the pensions and healthcare of over a million retirees. These very same Republican political leaders have opposed government provided universal healthcare while supporting unfair, “so-called” free trade deals with nations whose governments pay for the healthcare needs of their workers.

Foreign governments pay for nearly all R&D (Research and Development) in their auto industries. Healthcare and R&D in America is paid for by our auto Companies.

The international auto trade is rigged against American car companies with the active help of these Republican Senators opposing the auto industry loans by our federal government.

If these Senators help kill the auto industry, we should pressure our political leaders to close all military bases in Alabama and South Carolina and relocate them to communities where the auto industry job losses are concentrated like Detroit, Delaware, etc.

Workers should wonder if the Republicans opposing the auto industry loans are intentionally undermining our economy in an attempt to have an election issue to use against the Democrats in 2010 and 2012.

Robert H. Zieger: Labor did it’ again


By Robert H. Zieger
Special to The Sun

In 1948 when Harry Truman was asked to what he attributed his stunning upset victory over Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey, he replied “Labor did it.”

He was referring to the unprecedented commitment of financial and manpower support to his candidacy contributed by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial organizations (CIO), at that time separate national labor bodies.

The endless TV, newspaper, and Internet discussions in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s remarkable victory brought Truman’s quip to mind. Pundits have highlighted a number of factors to account for Obama’s showing.

African-Americans turned out in massive numbers, awarding the Democratic candidate a remarkable 97 percent of their votes.

Obama, it appears, won the battle for the “hearts and minds” of Latino and Hispanic voters, seemingly by a two-to-one majority.

Fifty-five percent of women supported him, as apparently did a majority of voters earning over $200,000 in family income.

Virtually every expert has highlighted the vote of young people, noting both the massive turnout among those in the 18-to-29 year-old bracket and the 70 percent support they awarded Obama.

Neglected in most of these postmortems, however, is the role that organized labor played in the campaign. Indeed, in this election the AFL-CIO and its affiliated organizations conducted labor’s largest political mobilization ever.

Consider these facts:

* Union members and their families comprised about 21 percent of the voting public.

* Union voters backed the Obama-Biden ticket overwhelmingly. Sixty-nine percent supported the Democratic candidate. In key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio and Florida, Obama-Biden outpolled McCain-Palin by 41 points among union voters.

* More than 250,000 union volunteers walked the neighborhoods and distributed flyers. They made 70 million phone calls.

* The AFL-CIO’s My Vote, My Right program protected voters from harassment and petty challenges by placing 2,700 union volunteer poll monitors at key locations.

* While McCain captured a majority among those over 65 years old, retired union members supported Obama by a 46 point margin.

* McCain won among veterans, but union veterans went for Obama by a 25-point margin.

Labor activist are well aware that President Obama and the Democratic congressional majority will face difficult issues and will have to be responsive to a wide diversity of viewpoints.

At the same time, however, working people and their unions do expect that their efforts in the campaign entitle them to sympathetic consideration of their legislative and political goals. They are determined to promote health care reform, more equitable taxation, and changes in economic policy that will benefit low-wage and middle-income families.

They seek pro-worker appointments to regulatory bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Labor Relations Board.

High on their legislative agenda is passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would facilitate the efforts of workers to gain union representation and to achieve the benefits of collective bargaining.

Despite organized labor’s role in Truman’s 1948 victory, few of its legislative goals were subsequently realized. Recognition of the unions’ efforts in the recent election may help to prevent history from repeating itself.

Robert H. Zieger is a distinguished professor of history emeritus at the University of Florida.

Labor support Teen Works provides funds for projects


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

Labor support Teen Works provides funds for projects


LEHIGH VALLEY, October 30th- The Teen Works Board of Directors approved to help fund four community projects being conducted by area teens or school groups from throughout the Lehigh Valley. The organization held a meeting on October 9th at the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Union Local 677 building on Mack Boulevard in Allentown.

Unions from throughout the Lehigh Valley contribute funds that is donated to area teens 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 439 member Frank Winger of Elm Street in Allentown received $300.00 from the organization to refurbish the bleachers at Ruhe Memorial Park in Allentown. The youth will strip the rust and paint off each support, repaint them with rustoleum enamel and put in new bolts, washers, and nuts. There are five bleachers and twenty-six planks.

The Team Skills USA “Promoting Autism Awareness” group of Bethlehem received $1,000.00, the maximum amount, from Teen Works Board of Directors. Team Skills USA is working to construct 500 puzzle pieces within the shops in vocational school in Northampton that will benefit children with Autism.

Boy Scout Troop 54 member Shawn Piell of Phillipsburg, New Jersey received $750.00 by the group for his project at the Phillipsburg Cemetary. The youth is removing the flagpole of the cemetary and installing a new vandal-resistant flagpole a short distance from the current location.

The final project to receive funds from the organization will benefit the Saint Andrew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Easton. Boy Scout Troop 29 member Michael Nelson of Easton received $791.00 from Teen Works to restore and refurbish the church’s parish administration office, parking lot light bases, parking bumpers, pastor’s study, door frames, and entry doors that are badly in need of repair.

The youth stated the first task is to thoroughly sand, clean, prime paint, and apply finish onto the four outside lightpost bases.

Next, the youth will refinish seventeen white parking bumpers in the parking lot.

Walls in the pastor’s study will be sanded, cracks will be repaired, and spackle will be applied.

The church will receive three new double-sided entry doors that will be painted with interior and exterior paint. The church’s business office known as the H.O.P.E. House will be powerwashed and the foundation will be repained along with two doors.

All spouts will be scrubbed and powerwashed. The youth will completely powerwash the H.O.P.E. House sidewalks, front sides and foundation.

Teen Works usually meets the second Tuesday of each month providing the organization has received any applications seeking funds for community projects.

Teamsters Union Local 773 withdraws petition but files to conduct election for bus company employees


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

Teamsters Union Local 773 withdraws petition but files to conduct election for bus company employees


LEHIGH VALLEY, October 31st- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia will not conduct an election to determine if employees at the Kraft Foods facility at 7352 Industrial Boulevard in Allentown wants to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, because the union withdrew their petition.

The newspaper reported in the previous edition the union filed with the NLRB a petition requesting the agency conduct a Representation Election to determine if employees wanted to be members of Local 773.

According to the petition, filed with the NLRB on September 15th and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the petition was supported by at least 30 percent of the workers at the Kraft Foods facility. Kraft operates a warehouse and distribution center at the location. The newspaper has learned the union withdrew the petition on October 15th. Under NLRB rules, the union could refile the petition after six months. The NLRB had scheduled to conduct a election for October 24th. Should the union have lost the election, another election could not be conducted for at least twelve months.

Meanwhile, Local 773 has filed with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if approximately 130 employees of First Student Transporation, which provides student busing for the Pleasant Valley School District in Brodheadville, wants to be repressented by the union.

According to the petition filed on October 14th, and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union wanted all full-time and regular part-time bus drivers, transportation aids, and mechanics to participate in the election.

The NLRB will conduct a election on November 14th at the company’s facility in Brodheadsville.

Bread and Roses Awards Event


John Oliver Mason
October 22, 2008
Bread and Roses Awards event.

The Bread and Roses Community Fund held its annual Tribute to Change program at Hamilton Hall, University of the Arts, on Broad and Pine Streets, on Thursday, October 16, 2008.

Bread and Roses was founded on the theme “Change, not Charity.” It distributes funds to groups working on social change issues, such as health care, economic justice, environment, peace, and civil and human rights. Bread and Roses also provides technical assistance and leadership development to grantees and donors.

Casey Cook, Executive Director of Bread and Roses, opened the program, saying, “Each year, Bread and Roses’ Tribute to Change brings together hundreds of people to honor the contributions of local leaders of social change, as we recognize the continuing struggle for racial and economic justice.” Referring to the presidential campaign, the bailout of financial institutions by the federal government, and Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s criticism of community organizers, Cook added, “The events of the last several weeks have shown us, in no uncertain terms, a Luta continua, (Portuguese for) the struggle continues.

“Wall Street and Washington,” added Cook, “are just now waking up to the reality that people on the ground live with every day. Our economy is a disaster. The gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing exponentially. In the last eight years, working family income decreased by more that two thousand dollars, while corporate CEOs now make 400 times their typical employee. Since January of this year, the unemployment rate has increased 24 percent, and is at its highest in the last five years. Most than 131,000 Philadelphians are without health insurance, and over half of those people are employed. Across the country, more than a million families have lost their homes to foreclosure. If we do not change our policies, that number is likely to grow to five million over the next few years. “

This is not news, said Cook, to Bread and Roses grantees of donors, nor to the communities they represent, “that we have an extremely troubled economy. We are all here tonight, because we all know that concentrated wealth and power corrupt our democracy, deepen the racial and ethnic divides, and destroy the fabric of our communities. What kind of democracy do we live in where we can socialize the banks, but not health care? Where our policy makers and elected officials didn’t see this coming? Where working families lose their jobs, their homes, and their retirement, while the four hundred richest Americans increased their combined net worth by $700 billion in just eight years?

“These are hard times,” added Cook, “and yes, we’re all scared. It seems like things are crumbling around us, but like the Phoenix that rises from the ashes, an opportunity exists for us to take back our government, and rebuild our economy in ways that work for all Americans. But it required the commitment of each and every one of us to make sure the work gets done, and real change happens.” Cook noted that the national presidential election was coming up, but she added, “Real change begins at home. Local grassroots organizations need us now more than ever; as allies, let’s give our bodies, our time, and our money by supporting their actions, by volunteering our time and expertise, and by writing checks. Right here in this room, we have the leadership needed to make real change happen.”

Tom Segrue and Denise Brown, co-chairs of the Bread and Roses Board of Directors, presented the awards. Video clips were played, showing the accomplishments of each of the awardees.

“The Tribute to Change,” said Segrue, “is our opportunity each year to honor the individuals and organizations, who are doing the challenging work to advance social justice in our region. Over the last few months, we heard a lot of mocking and derision on the political right about community organizers and community organizations. Tonight’s awardees are an inspiring group of four individuals and one organization who are doing the hard work of organizing from the bottom up, working on the grassroots for social change.”

Denise Brown presented the Community Empowerment Award to Casino-Free Philadelphia, a group working to prevent casinos opening in Philadelphia. The award was a bullhorn with an engraved plaque on it. “I hope Casino Free Philadelphia will put it to good use,” said Segrue, “I know they will.”

The Emerging Leader Award, presented to someone emerging as a community organizer, was presented to Thomas Robinson, who has chaired Jobs With Justice’ POWR (Philadelphia Officers and workers Rising) campaign in organizing security guards at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Robinson said of POWR, “It’s a campaign geared in the City of Philadelphia geared toward revolutionizing security guard interests, who want to go after (The security firm) Allied Barton…and to get them to raised their standards of the way that they treat their workers,” which would cause other security companies to follow suit.

“Before I got involved in this campaign,” added Robinson, “I never knew anything about organizations such as Jobs With Justice. I never before thought about how I could help people change their lives, through changing the conditions of their jobs. “ Robinson urged people to challenge the situation “Where the company continues to grow and continues to expand, and at the bottom of the totem pole, the employees get nothing.”

The Emerged Leader Award went to Wayne MacManiman, Chairman of SEIU’s Mid Atlantic District 32BJ. “IT was the lack of action that inspired me” into activism, said MacManiman. “I really felt that we as a unit could do better. We talk about change, but someone has to be willing to step up and take a hold of that change.” MacManiman led service workers into gaining new contracts that improved their health coverage and salaries.

The Robin Hood Was Right Award was presented to Linda Lee Alter, a local artist who founded the Leeway Foundation, which is dedicated to recognizing and supporting women and transgender artists. “For my own art,” said Alter, “I always feel like I want to communicate, that each piece of artwork has a story and a message. It always seemed like a tool for me for change.” Alter received “financial resources that I never expected to have. When I got those resources, I felt a real need to give back in some way. It came to me that I can start a foundation (that) supported and encouraged women in the arts.” Alter and her board “wanted to reach out to people that were less well served in the women’s community.”

The Paul Robeson Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to Father John P. McNamee, who recently retired as pastor of St. Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church. McNamee has been active in labor and peace activism, and has published several volumes of poetry and a memoir, Diary Of A City Priest.

McNamee recalled his time in the seminary when he found a copy of The Catholic Worker newspaper in the reading room. “The founder of the Catholic Worker (movement),” he said, “was Dorothy Day. She had come out of radical labor politics. I began to be taken with her concern for the poor, and I had a special feeling for the United Farm Workers. Whenever they came to Philadelphia, they would contact me and ask me to help them, and so I spent a lot of time contacting labor leaders in Philadelphia. The peace community discovered me as someone who would come to a draft-card burning.” At that time, McNamee was on the board of the Central Committee of Conscientious Objectors, and he recalled being on the stage with someone who said, “with four letter words…what he felt about the government or the war.”

New Congress: A Mandate for Economic Change


New Congress: A Mandate for Economic Change

by Seth Michaels, Nov 10, 2008

Last Tuesday, it wasn’t just President-elect Barack Obama who won a historic victory. The 111th Congress that will take office in January will have a stronger pro-worker majority and a mandate to make the economy work again for everyone.

Working families added U.S. House and Senate seats in every region of the nation, from Florida to Oregon and from New Hampshire to New Mexico. As of the latest totals, it looks like working families have added more than 20 new House members and six new senators. A party hasn’t picked up so many new seats in the House and Senate for two consecutive election cycles since the 1950s, so Tuesday’s results, together with the change of power in Congress in 2006, are a striking sign that voters are looking for new policies and new ideas.

Voters around the country strongly rejected anti-working family incumbents. Some of Bush’s key allies in the House and Senate lost their races after a career of voting against workers on trade, health care and the freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life. Here are just a few of the incumbents whose anti-worker records were repudiated. Each of the incumbent House members listed below supported the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), opposed the Employee Free Choice Act and voted to uphold Bush’s veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Betsy Markey defeated Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado, with a 7 percent lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO.

Suzanne Kosmas beat Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida, with a 10 percent AFL-CIO rating.

Gary Peters and Mark Schauer defeated Reps. Joe Knollenberg and Tim Walberg of Michigan, with 8 percent and 13 percent lifetime ratings, respectively.

Steve Driehaus defeated Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, with a 10 percent AFL-CIO voting record.

In Senate races, working families won crucial victories, defeating anti-worker incumbents and challengers alike.

Rep. Tom Udall, with a 97 percent lifetime rating, and Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico, with a 13 percent lifetime rating, squared off in a race for an open U.S. Senate seat. Udall won by 22 points.

In Colorado, Rep. Mark Udall, with a lifetime 93 percent AFL-CIO score, won the race for an open U.S. Senate seat against former Rep. Bob Schaffer, whose career AFL-CIO voting record was 11 percent.

Jeanne Shaheen won a strong victory over Sen. John Sununu, who had a 10 percent lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO.

AFL-CIO-endorsed candidate Jeff Merkley defeated Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, who had a 24 percent lifetime rating.

Kay Hagan defeated Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, with a 21 percent lifetime AFL-CIO voting record.

These were some of the most consistent votes against workers in Congress. And working family voters sent them packing.

Through a strong get-out-the-vote effort by union volunteers and a nationwide momentum for pro-worker policies, incumbents like these were defeated and dozens of great AFL-CIO-endorsed candidates are headed to Congress.

Polls are showing voters didn’t just vote for Obama and a new Congress—they want and expect them to govern and be able to implement an agenda. A new Democracy Corps poll shows that 71 percent of voters want Republicans and Democrats in Congress to help Obama enact a progressive agenda, not block it. The consequences of obstruction and delay will be more lost jobs, more stagnant wages and a continuation of the Bush administration failures that have put our economy in this position to begin with.

In particular, the new Congress has a chance to implement the Employee Free Choice Act, to restore the freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life. The power to form unions is a vital tool to ensure economic growth is broadly shared and sustainable in the long term. A new poll by American Rights at Work, the workers’ advocacy organization, shows a strong majority of voters approve of unions and the Employee Free Choice Act and want to see it passed.

David Bonior, chairman of American Rights at Work, says that the election results—especially in light of the multimillion-dollar smear campaign by corporate front groups—demonstrate that voters are serious about demanding real change that puts workers first.

Americans know we can’t continue the status quo of stagnant wages, rampant outsourcing, reduced healthcare coverage, and high unemployment. Unions make a difference in improving not only working conditions, but wages, access to medical care and job security. Through an aggressive public education and grassroots campaign, workers’ rights advocates and unions were able to remind and convince the public that policies to help more workers join unions ultimately will help save our failing economy.

Working family voters sent a clear message by electing so many new faces to Congress. We need to keep up the pressure and make sure the new Congress listens and fights for the Employee Free Choice Act and the new economic agenda we need.

Last-Minute Bush Push Threatens Safety, Family Leave, Environmental Rules


Last-Minute Bush Push Threatens Safety, Family Leave, Environmental Rules

by Mike Hall, Nov 12, 2008

The Bush White House is making “a last minute assault on the public” with a slew of end-of-term regulations that could roll back or weaken rules on job safety, family leave, airline safety and pollution.

Matthew Madia, of the nonprofit watchdog group OMB Watch, told reporters earlier this month:

It’s environmental regulations, it’s workers’ safety, it’s reproductive health, it’s traffic safety, but the common theme is in a lot a cases the Bush administration is trying to remove restrictions on business and allow them to operate without any kind of government oversight….It’s intended to make sure that the kind of ideology and priorities that the Bush administration believes in are affecting the country for many years.

According to The Washington Post, at least 90 new regulations are in the works and if they become final before Bush leaves office: they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.

New regulations become final after they are published in the Federal Register but usually don’t go into effect until a 60-day congressional comment period expires. But ABC News reports that some of the proposed regulations have had the comment period drop from the traditional 60 days to just over 30 days.

Such a short comment period ensures last-minute regulations will be in effect when President-elect Barack Obama takes office Jan. 20. That’s why, the Post says, the business community is pressing hard for the Bush administration to move quickly.

…lobbyists…fear that industry views will hold less sway after the elections. The doors at the New Executive Office Building have been whirling with corporate officials and advisers pleading for relief or, in many cases, for hastened decision making.

The incoming Obama administration does have a tool it could use to undo the last minute regulations—the Congressional Review Act (CRA). It is the same procedure Bush used to overturn the Clinton administration’s workplace ergonomics rule that wasn’t finalized until the end of Clinton’s second term.

Under the little-used CRA, a regulation that is enacted within 60 days of congressional adjournment—Oct. 3 this year—can be reviewed and overturned by a simple majority vote in both houses and Senate filibusters are not allowed. Politico reports congressional Democrats are considering a CRA strategy for some of the last-minute Bush rules.

OMB Watch says some of the controversial Bush rules have been finalized and the comment-clock is ticking, including a regulation that will make it more difficult for workers to use family and medical leave and another easing air pollution emissions standards on refineries.

One of the rules that has not been finalized but could be any day is the “secret rule” that could lead to increased exposure of workers to dangerous chemicals and toxins by changing the way worker exposure is measured.

The rule was pushed by Bush political appointees over the objections of career health and safety professionals and kept secret until media reports in July revealed the plan.

While the Bush White House is moving quickly to ease rules on industry, workers, as they have been for the past eight years, remain shut out.

There are dozens of important workplace safety and health rules that remain buried in the Bush administration. Those proposals include rules to protect workers from exposure to dangerous substances and chemicals such as silica, which can cause serious respiratory disease; diacetyl, a flavoring additive linked to “popcorn lung”; and beryllium, a light metal that can cause lung damage, especially to metal and dental workers.

In addition, the Bush administration refuses to develop combustible dust rules that could help prevent explosions like the one in February at an Imperial Sugar plant that killed 13 workers.

Group wants China to be forced to trade fairly


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

Group wants China to be forced to trade fairly


NORTHAMPTON, October 25th- The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) held a town-hall panel discussion on trade at the Northampton Community Center in Northampton on October 23rd.

The AAM, is a non-partisan, nonprofit partnership between labor and manufactures in the United States that brings together a select group of leading manufactures and the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union.

Executive Director of AAM, Scott Paul stated the organizations mission is to promote creative policy solutions on priorities such as international trade, energy security, health care, retirement security, and other issues of mutual concern.

The AAM event in Northampton was free to the public and was one of nine conducted throughout Pennsylvania.

The labor representative panel participant was Jerry Green, President of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599, Lehigh Street in Bethlehem. Local 2599 has approximately 1,600 active members throughout the Lehigh Valley and once represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel Corporation.

Scott Paul, a former union lobbyist, said China is the biggest violator of unfair trade practices and is harming the manufacturing base of the nation.

He said because of the import of cheap China made products, manufacturing jobs are being lost. A typical manufacturing job pays more than service jobs, and each production job supports three to four other jobs.

According to information provided by the AAM, in Pennsylvania alone, 207,400 manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000, roughly 1/4 of all Pennsylvania factory jobs. Mr. Paul estimates 37,000 of those jobs have been moved to China. Also, a recent study found that Pennsylvania lost more than 78,000 jobs between 2001-2006 just because of the United States trade deficit with China.

In the nation, more than 3.5 million, mostly manufacturing jobs, have been lost in the last ten years, with low wages, law environmental standards, no labor laws, and combined with billions of the Chinese government subsidies, make it impossible for American manufacturing companies to compete, said Mr. Paul.

Discussed was the fact that the Chinese goverment manipulates its currency, the yuan, to keep its value artificially low and the value of the United States dollar artificially high, to maintain the Chinese competitive advantage. “The Chinese must be forced to play fair. The U.S. manufactures can compete if the trading system is not tilted to China’s favor,” said Mr. Paul.

The panel agreed Washington must enforce its trade laws if the nation is to remain a world economic power.

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton (PA) MSA unemployment rate decreases to 5.9 percent


November 2008 Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

MSA unemployment rate decreases to 5.9 percent


REGION, October 25th- According to labor data provided by the Department of Labor and Industry, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by two-tenths of a percentage point from the month before to 5.9 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 4.4 percent.

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

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.7 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. There are 367,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,444,000 with 6,077,000 employed. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.1 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. There are 9,477,000 residents nationally unemployed.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.5 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.4 percent, unchanged from the month before with the Williamsport MSA third at 6.1 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month.

The Lebanon MSA and the Lancaster MSA are tied for the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.4 percent. The State College MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.5 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force, workers between eighteen and sixty-five years old, in Pennsylvania at 420,100, increasing by 4,300 from twelve months before. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,996,100 with 168,800 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force in the state at 1,223,700, with 65,800 residents unemployed.

Within the MSA, Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate at 6.7 percent, decreasing by eight-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Carbon County has 2,100 civilians not working, decreasing by 200 from the month before and increasing by 400 from twelve months ago. Carbon County has a labor force of 31,000 the smallest civilian labor force in the MSA.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 5.8 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Northampton County has 8,800 civilians without jobs, decreasing by 400 from the month before and increasing by 2,200 from twelve months before. Northampton County has a labor force of 152,000.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 5.9 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and five-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Lehigh County has 10,300 civilians not working, the most in the MSA, decreasing by 700 from the previous month and increasing by 2,600 during the past twelve months. Lehigh County has a labor force of 176,500, the largest in the MSA.

The Future of Democratic Talk Radio after the 2008 Election


Dear Friends,

Democratic Talk Radio wants to thank everyone for their support of our mission. We have been devoted to bringing the Democratic message to America’s airwaves since I first bought airtime the night that the US Supreme Court imposed the Bush Presidency on our nation in December of 2000.

The show went on the air in January 2001 in Tennessee on a small AM station and soon moved to a more powerful FM station reaching a much larger audience in both northern Alabama and central Tennessee. I largely funded the effort out of personal resources. I invested over $35,000 keeping Democratic Talk Radio on the air in Tennessee.

Briefly, we broadcast nationally on the now defunct i.e. America Radio Network which was backed by the United Auto Workers union.

In the early Spring of 2008, we moved Democratic Talk Radio to the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. Our show broadcasts Thursday mornings on WGPA SUNNY 1100AM in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Sponsors paid the majority of the costs although I did invest nearly another $4,000 personally.

I want to thank all our sponsors.

The Mailroom union print shop in Allentown has been hugely helpful and supportive. I am going to be working with them as a new addition to their sales team on a commission basis. I exclusively use them for all my printing needs. The prices, service and quality are just excellent. Please let me know if I can connect you with them to meet your printing needs. We all need to print union.

The labor movement in Pennsylvania has been our greatest base of support in sponsoring the show. Laborers’ Local 1174 helped us get started by sponsoring our first 4 shows. Carpenters Local 600 and Steelworkers Local 2599 were both significantly large sponsors. The Lehigh Valley Labor Council, Steelworkers Local 10-1, Steelworkers Local 1165 and IBEW Local 380 all helped sponsor shows.

The Bethlehem City Democratic Party sponsored one show.

Collectively, they covered about 60% of the airtime costs. I paid the rest and all the travel expenses mostly out of my income as public relations representative for American Income Life Insurance. Unfortunately, my ability to help finance the show has been exhausted at least in the near term.

The travel costs and airtime costs about $250 per show. We would like to stay on the air. Democratic Talk Radio needs your financial help in sponsoring the show.

If your union or organization can help by sponsoring a show, it will help keep a pro-labor, pro-Democratic, progressive message on the air in Pennsylvania. Our show streams live on the Internet for those outside the broadcast area. Checks in any amount will be appreciated. You can sponsor a whole show or buy ads. One minute ads are $30. A thirty second ad is only $20. Personal ads are welcome.

Checks can be sent to: Democratic Talk Radio, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. For more details, I can be reached by phone at 443-907-2367 at almost any hour. My email address is

If your union does not have cash, you still might be able to help by signing up in the American Income Life Insurance program with me personally. By doing so, you can get additional, new benefits for your members at no cost to them or your local. American Income is always a great program but signing with me personally helps give you additional advantages on the political action and public relations fronts.

By participating in the American Income program, you can show your support for the “buy union” idea while supporting my ability to bring you Democratic Talk Radio.

Currently, our funds are nearly exhausted. We will resume broadcasts as soon as sufficient funds arrive.

Today, we have just received a couple of checks from SEIU Local 668 and Teamsters Local 773. Together, they are almost enough to pay airtime costs for one more show. We have received pledges for the costs of a few more shows. With luck, we might not miss any broadcasts, or (more likely) only one.

Donors are always welcome as guests.

In time, we hope to expand our program into new markets and stations. The greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania market is probably next followed by Delaware and Maryland or the Scranton area.


Stephen Crockett

Host- Democratic Talk Radio

P.S.- I am always available as a free speaker to the membership or executive board of your union or organization. Besides business opportunities like the American Income Life Insurance program or union printing services from The Mailroom, I can speak on topics like “The Employee Free Choice Act”, “How Unions Can Work Better With The Media” or various other political topics.

Disaster: 240,000 Jobs Lost in October


Disaster: 240,000 Jobs Lost in October

by Tula Connell, Nov 7, 2008

In more stunningly bad news for America’s workers, 240,000 U.S. jobs were lost in October, pushing the nation’s unemployment rate to 6.5 percent—the worst in 14 years, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today. October’s job loss represents the 10th straight month job numbers declined, putting the Bush administration on track to complete an entire year in which the nation saw no job gains.

More than 1 million American workers have lost their jobs already this year, and more than 10 million are out of work and looking for new jobs.

The financial and manufacturing sectors were particularly hard hit. The Institute for Supply Management in recent days reported a steep decline in manufacturing activity, which in October fell to its lowest in 26 years. The jobs report is another indication that Congress needs to pass a stimulus rescue package even before the new president takes office. Says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:

We need urgent action on an economic recovery package in the lame-duck Congress that dedicates enough money to matter to help working people get back on track. The recovery package must include an extension of unemployment benefits and increased funding for food stamps while providing aid to local and state governments to maintain vital services. It should also include an immediate investment in infrastructure spending to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and schools and put people to work.

The official government jobless number shows only part of the picture. Analysts estimate that the unemployment rate would be over 11.8 percent if it counted discouraged and underemployed workers, who are not technically considered unemployed under the definition used by BLS.

Yesterday, the BLS reported the number of U.S. residents collecting state unemployment benefits reached the highest level in 25 years, rising by 122,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.84 million in the week ending Oct. 25. Compared with the same week a year ago, new jobless claims are up about 45 percent, while continuing claims are up 46 percent.

Economist Larry Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), says we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

We are looking at several years of high unemployment (peaking at 8 percent or more) and widespread income losses that will take many more years to overcome.

A spokesman for payroll manager ADP, Joel Prakken, told CNN

he didn’t anticipate a turnaround for these numbers until the second half of next year, and added that it was “highly likely” that unemployment numbers will be in excess of 200,000 job losses per month for the next several months.

The jobs report followed the Commerce Department’s announcement that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 0.3 percent in the third quarter, the worst such drop since 2001. The GDP’s decline was fueled by falling consumption spending, which had up to now provided the only gasoline in the nation’s economic engine.

In fact, as Mishel points out:

The last business cycle from 2000 to 2007 failed to generate any growth for middle-class working families—on average, they lost over $2,000 a year in inflation-adjusted income. This erosion of earning power happened even as the economy, through its workers, became increasingly productive.

An erosion of workers’ earning power—some 1 million people are expected to file for bankruptcy this year—and the massive home foreclosure rate, in which 2 million people are expected to lose their homes, make the jobs picture even more dire.

President-elect Barack Obama has inherited the biggest set of domestic and foreign policy disasters likely ever to have converged simultaneously in the history of this nation, gratis the Bush administration. On the domestic side, progressive analysts agree the first step must be to staunch the blood letting. The AFL-CIO has called for an economic rescue package that gets people back to work in jobs that support their families, provides a moratorium for home foreclosures and other measures.

Beyond immediate measures, the new Obama administration must reshape the nation’s economy to address decades in which corporate profits soared and workers’ wages stagnated, health care access declined and retirement security dwindled. Throughout the past year, EPI has compiled an Agenda for Shared Prosperity as a guide for lawmakers and the new president to help get the nation back on track. The reports were prepared by a network of analysts on issues such as jobs, health care and the freedom to form unions. Another set of policy recommendations to check out is at New Progressive Voices, a project of EPI, the Campaign for America’s Future, the Roosevelt Institution and other progressive policy organizations.

It’s time to get to work.

Polling data and the Employee Free Choice Act


Insider Update

Dear Friends,

I’m excited to share the results of a poll we conducted with Peter D. Hart Research Associates to set the record straight on what role the Employee Free Choice Act played in the Senate and Presidential elections, and to set the stage for our critical post-election efforts to advance the bill.

For months, corporate interests funded opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act in key Senate battleground states. Despite spending nearly $20 million, they had little or no effect on the Senate races.

Voters saw right through the dishonest corporate campaign. Often those candidates supporting the bill steadily rose in the polls despite massive advertising on the issue.

Voters support measures to strengthen the middle class, like the Employee Free Choice Act. Sixty percent of voters believe even in these tough economic times, it is important to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, and nearly one-third (31 percent) of voters strongly believe it should be a priority for Congress.

The bill will help America’s working families improve their standard of living, fix a broken system that gives corporations far too much power, and restore fairness and the promise of the American Dream.

Below, you will find our press release; attached are post-election talking points. I hope you find them useful and will share with others.

We Need You to help push back against the narrative that is taking shape: that only labor cares about the Employee Free Choice Act. Here’s a great example from the Center for American Progress’ Wonk Room.

I’ll send you more updates and new research in the next couple of weeks.

In solidarity,

Mary Beth Maxwell

November 6, 2008

Josh Goldstein
202-822-2127 x118
954-254-4900 (Cell)

» Results from a Survey Among Voters in Senate Battleground States, Peter D. Hart Research Associates (PDF)
» Commentary and Analysis by David Bonior (View/PDF)
» Presentation: Anti-Employee Free Choice Act Ads Failed to Affect Senate Races (View)

Workers Win, Corporate Interests Lose in the Election

Peter D. Hart Poll Shows Voters’ Strong Support for Employee Free Choice Act Despite Corporate Attack Campaign

Washington, DC - Despite an extraordinary $20 million spent in nine battleground states to defeat candidates who support the Employee Free Choice Act, voters soundly rejected this misleading anti-union campaign from corporate interests and overwhelmingly backed candidates who support working families. A poll by Peter D. Hart Research Associates commissioned by American Rights at Work shows that anti-union advertising was among the least important factors in determining voters’ choices for Senate, and further indicated that they continue to support making it easier for workers to join unions.

Throughout this historic campaign season, the economy has been the most dominant issue on the minds of American voters. But as the middle class bore the burden of this struggling economy, corporate interest groups have vigorously fought to mislead the public on the Employee Free Choice Act - a reasonable legislative proposal that would help restore balance in this economy by making it easier for workers to form unions.

According to David Bonior, Chair of American Rights at Work, “No matter how hard corporate interests tried to mislead voters, it just didn’t work. State by state, millions were spent, but the fact remains the Employee Free Choice Act never became the wedge issue corporate interests sought.”

In fact, not only did the opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act fail to affect these races, often those candidates supporting the bill steadily rose in the polls despite massive advertising on the issue.

The poll reveals that nearly two-thirds (60%) of voters believe even in these tough economic times, it is important to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, and nearly one-third (31%) of voters strongly believe it should be a priority for Congress. President-elect Barack Obama has already signaled his strong support of the measure: “I’ve fought to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate. And I will make it the law of the land when I’m President of the United States of America” (Philadephia, 4/2/08). Newly-elected Senators Kay Hagen, Mary Landrieu, Jeff Merkley, Jeanne Shaheen, and Mark Udall also voiced their strong support for the bill, despite the millions of dollars spent in a misleading campaign waged against them for their stance.

“We have only seen the beginning of the fight to restore workers’ rights in this country as we can expect more sound and fury from opponents of this bill,” Bonior commented. “But voters have clearly spoken. In our current economic climate, the American public is hungry for measures to strengthen the middle class, and our new Congress should heed this call and make it a priority to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.”


American Rights at Work is a leading labor policy and advocacy organization dedicated to educating the American public about the barriers that workers face when they attempt to exercise their rights to freely and fairly form unions and engage in collective bargaining.


Mary Beth Maxwell
Executive Director
American Rights at Work
1100 17th Street, NW
Suite 950
Washington, DC 20036
tel: (202) 822-2127 ext. 102
fax: (202) 822-2168

LIUNA- New Report Says More Housing Market Problems Coming in 2010 and 2011


Contact: Dawn Page at (480) 619-9263 or Jacob Hay at (202) 942-2285,

New Report Says More Housing Market Problems Coming in 2010 and 2011

Many Subdivisions are Ticking Time Bombs Waiting for Interest Rate Resets

Angry Homeowners Tell Corporate Home Builders to “Fix This Mess”

Los Angeles, CA (August 7, 2008)

## Today the Laborers’ International Union of North America – LIUNA – released a report detailing the implications for homeowners and the nation’s economy when five-year adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) reset in 2010 and 2011. The report was released during a news conference outside of the headquarters of KB Home in Los Angeles.

LIUNA was joined by six homeowners from a KB Home development in Buckeye, Arizona as well as religious leaders and community representatives who believe the worst is yet to come in the housing and mortgage crisis.

The report, The Ticking Time Bomb: Adjustable Rate Mortgages and Depreciating Home Values in New Subdivisions examines mortgages originated between 2005 and 2006 in Maricopa County, Arizona by the lending subsidiaries of three of the nation’s largest corporate home builders: Richmond American, Lennar, and KB Home. Report findings reveal that more than one third of all the mortgages are five-year ARMs that will reset in 2010 and 2011.

The report indicates that many homeowners with five-year ARMs will be trapped in their loans and unable to refinance before their interest rates reset due to high loan amounts and decreasing home values. According to the report, home values in the area have declined an average of more than $50,000 in just the last year with the value of Lennar homes declining $61,600, KB homes by $55,600 and Richmond American homes by $49,500. “We need real and immediate action to help struggling homeowners, to bring the creation of good jobs back to the construction industry, to protect our retirement security from tainted investments and to stabilize the mortgage and housing industry,” said LIUNA General President Terence M. O’Sullivan. “Since just last year, foreclosure activity has more than doubled, 493,000 construction workers have lost their jobs and we have an economy that is spiraling towards recession. Congress and regulators must scrutinize those who helped cause this crisis – including corporate home builders – and consider action to both defuse this ticking time bomb and prevent a recurrence.”

Case Study: the KB Home Santarra Development in Buckeye, Arizona The problems resulting from the mortgage and housing crisis threatens entire communities. The case of the KB Home Santarra development in Buckeye Arizona is an example: Fifty-five percent of the mortgages are five year ARMs. Sixty-three percent of the purchases had a first and second mortgage. Home values have decreased $78,800 in the last year alone.

Many new subdivisions, like the Santarra development, now have an unhealthy number of vacant homes due to foreclosures and speculators who purchased homes intending to flip them. This glut of homes exerts a downward pressure on home values and each new foreclosure brings values down even further. Although the greatest threat looms in 2010 and 2011 when the largest number of loans will have their interest rate reset, many homeowners are currently facing foreclosure or have already lost their homes.

Caught in a Trap

When Joni Lynn bought a KB Home in the Santarra subdivision in 2006, she said she told the Realtor that she wanted a conventional mortgage with a fixed rate and without “bells and whistles.” When Lynn closed on her home in 2006, Countrywide KB gave her two mortgages. Although she is retired and her income is from Social Security and a pension, the first mortgage is an interest-only ARM with an initial interest rate of 6.5 percent. After five years the interest rate can go as high as 11.5 percent. Although Lynn is current on her mortgages, she is struggling and is worried about what will happen when her interest rate increases. She now owes about $204,000 between the first and second mortgages. Meanwhile, the Maricopa County tax assessor has lowered the value of Lynn’s house from $210,000 to $148,800 since just last year.

LIUNA Calls for Action to Help Homeowners and Stabilize the Industry

LIUNA was instrumental earlier this year in stopping corporate home builders from receiving billions of dollars in tax breaks under a provision of the Foreclosure Prevention Act being considered by Congress. LIUNA exposed the role that home builders played in creating the current crisis and successfully persuaded Congress to remove the corporate home builder bailout from the final housing bill.

The union is now calling on Congress to take the next step in confronting the housing and mortgage crisis. Lawsuits and whistleblowers have revealed numerous cases of bad lending practices on the part of America’s largest home builders. For example, former Countrywide-KB Home Loans Regional Vice President Mark Zachary has said in court that KB Home pressured its lending joint venture to engage in systematic mortgage fraud to drive sales, including encouraging inflated appraisals, assisting buyers in supplying false income information, and approving loans without review or documentation.

LIUNA is also calling for agencies which buy or securitize mortgages, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD, to exercise greater scrutiny of mortgages originated by corporate home builders or by lenders which home builders control.

The half million members of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of 10 million workers who build America.

For copies of The Ticking Time Bomb: Adjustable Rate Mortgages and Depreciating Home Values in New Subdivisions, please contact Dawn Page at (480) 619-9263, or Jacob Hay at (202) 942-2285,