Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Aging Worker Initiative Grant for Maryland

07.30.09

News you can use from Senator Mikulski

Marianne Kreitner

Notice of funding from the U. S. Department of Labor

The Aging Worker Initiative: Strategies for Regional Talent Development is designed to train workers age 55 and older for jobs in high-growth, high-demand industries, and increase the public workforce system’s capacity to effectively serve an aging worker population. The grants target older individuals who have been laid off and are seeking re-employment; need to stay in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age but need training to increase their skills; and face other barriers to employment such as disabilities or low levels of English proficiency. Below is information on the grant:

Grantee: Baltimore County Office of Workforce Development (Maryland)

Industry Focus: Healthcare

Location of Grant Activities: Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Maryland

Key Partners: Baltimore County Workforce Development Council; Mayor’s Office of Employment Development; Baltimore Workforce Investment Board; Governor’s Workforce Investment Board; Baltimore County Department of Aging (SCSEP grantee); Baltimore City Commission of Aging and Retirement Education; Maryland AARP; Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare; Johns Hopkins Health System; University of Maryland Medical Center; Northwest Hospital; Maryland Hospital Association; Community College of Baltimore County; Baltimore City Community College; University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Grant Amount: $967,005

Leveraged Funds: $829,216

Challenge: A shortage of skilled workers is a pressing concern among healthcare employers, and vacancy rates for skilled positions are steadily increasing even though older workers could meet the industry’s workforce demand. Older workers – many of whom are displaced or retirees attempting to return to work – face unique challenges as they seek employment, such as lack of computer/technological skills, gaps in employment history, and desire for flexible or part-time hours. In addition, One Stop Career Center professionals are not sufficiently trained to address barriers to employment among older workers, and regional employers are not developing comprehensive strategies to attract or retain older employees.

Addressing the Challenge: To address the region’s high demand for skilled workers in healthcare, the Maturity Works: Tapping Older Workers for High Growth Healthcare Careers project will strengthen the pipeline of entry-level older workers into the industry; move lower-skill older workers up career ladders; and retain experienced technical and professional workers after retirement age. One- Stop Career Center capacity will be expanded to provide job readiness opportunities tailored to older adults’ learning styles and to provide career guidance to older workers on employment and training opportunities in the healthcare industry. Participants in the project will receive training in four types of health occupations, as well as basic skills training in language and math targeted to the health field. In addition, a regional campaign that encourages employers to hire and retain older workers will be implemented.

Projected Outcomes:

312 older workers will begin education/training activities.
260 older workers will complete education/training activities and receive a degree/certificate.
249 older workers who complete education/training activities will enter training-related employment
20 workforce development professionals (Older Worker Specialists) will receive training on serving older workers.
A self-paced instruction tool for the Older Worker Specialists will be developed.
500 employers will be educated through various employer engagement strategies.
An employer outreach communication toolkit will be developed.

MIKULSKI ANNOUNCES STEP FORWARD IN PUTTING MORE THAN $57 MILLION IN THE FEDERAL CHECKBOOK FOR THE PORT OF BALTIMORE

07.30.09

SENATOR MIKULSKI SUPPORTS THE PORT OF BALTIMORE

Marianne Kreitner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 30, 2009

CONTACT:

Rachel MacKnight

Cassie Harvey

202-228-1122

MIKULSKI ANNOUNCES STEP FORWARD IN PUTTING MORE THAN $57 MILLION IN THE FEDERAL CHECKBOOK FOR THE PORT OF BALTIMORE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced Senate passage of the fiscal year 2010 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. It includes nearly $70 million for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in Maryland, including more than $57 million for the Port of Baltimore.

“This bill is a federal investment in the lives and livelihoods that depend on Maryland’s waterways. These projects will help ensure that freight carriers and cruise ships can safely navigate Baltimore’s channels so the Port of Baltimore can continue to serve as an important economic engine that creates and sustains jobs in Maryland,” Senator Mikulski said. “I will continue to make the Port of Baltimore and Maryland’s waterways a priority in the federal checkbook.”

The Port of Baltimore is a major economic engine for Maryland and America, supporting more than 50,000 jobs in Maryland, including more than 16,500 direct jobs. Among U.S. ports, Baltimore receives the top rank for handling noncontainerized roll on/roll off cargo, trucks, imported forest products gypsum, sugar and iron ore. It ranks 12th in the nation in total value of foreign cargo handled. It also is the largest automobile exporter in the country, the second largest in total automobile tonnage, and the 13th largest in foreign cargo tonnage. The Port’s activities support approximately $2 billion in business revenue, $3.6 billion in personal wages and salaries, and $388 million in state, county and municipal taxes annually.

Funding for the Port requested by Senator Mikulski and approved by the Appropriations Committee includes:

• $20 million for annual maintenance dredging of the Baltimore Harbor and its shipping channels.

• $28.4 million for operation and maintenance dredging of the C&D Canal and approach channels. The C&D Canal currently carries 40 percent of all ship traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore. It provides a shortcut for vessels traveling between Baltimore and points north.

• $8.6 million for the continuation of the Poplar Island environmental restoration project, which is taking clean dredged materials from the shipping lanes leading to the Port of Baltimore and using it to stabilize the shoreline, create habitat areas and restore the wetlands of one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most valuable island ecosystems in Talbot County.

• $483,000 for the Mid Chesapeake Bay Island Study, which is examining the potential beneficial use of placing clean dredged material from the Port of Baltimore’s shipping channels to restore the habitat and protect the shoreline of James and Barren Islands in Dorchester County.

In the next step of the appropriations process, the House and Senate will work out the differences between their versions of the bill, which will then be voted on by both Houses of Congress. After it’s passed, the Appropriations bill will go to the President for his signature. Once these steps are completed, the funds will become available in Maryland.
## ## ## ##

Rachel MacKnight

Communications Director

Office of U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski

202-228-1122

Department of Labor (DOL) announces Tama employees are one of twenty to receive new TAA program certification

07.30.09

Department of Labor (DOL) announces Tama employees are one of twenty to receive new TAA program certification

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, July 3rd- The United States Department of Labor announced the certification of 20 petitions for benefit eligibility for workers under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which provides training and employment services for workers who have lost their jobs due to competitive foreign trade. The 20 are the first certifications under the new TAA law that took effect on May 18th, 2009, which among other changes, expanded program access to previously ineligible service industry workers. One of the 20 includes a employer in the Lehigh Valley.

Tama Manufacturing in Allentown received TAA certification. The employers workers are represented by Workers United (SEIU), formerly UNITE HERE Union, located on Hamilton Street in Allentown.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded the pool of eligible TAA recipients to include; workers in companies that supply services; workers whose companies have shifted production to any foreign country; workers in public agencies; workers whose companies produce component parts of a finished product; workers in companies that supply testing, packaging, maintenance and transportation services to companies with TAA-certified workers; and workers whose companies are indentified in an International Trade Commission “injury” determination listed in the Trade Act of 1974.

Workers experiencing a loss or decrease in employment due to trade may submit a petition to the DOL for certification. Workers certified as eligible have access to a variety of resources such as re-employment services, job search allowances, relocation allowances and various types of income support. The expanded TAA has resulted in more than 1,200 petitions filed since May.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate increases to 8.8 percent

07.30.09

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate increases to 8.8 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, July 6th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry in Harrisburg Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report to 8.8 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 5.4 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area has the sixth highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.2 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks ago. There are 532,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,467,000 and 5,936,000 of them have employment. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 9.4 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. There are 14,511,000 residents nationally unemployed with more than 13,400,000 receiving unemployment benefits, which does not include workers who benefits have expired. The national unemployment rate is 16.4 percent when workers who have recently lost their jobs but were unable to find full-time employment are counted in.

The study shows the Williamsport MSA and the Erie MSA are tied for the highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.3 percent. The Reading MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.1 percent, with the Johnstown MSA third at 9.0 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate at 8.9 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.9 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point form the previous report. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.8 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The Harrisburg/Carlisie MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 425,800, rising by 6,000 during the past twelve months.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,013,800 with 248,500 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 1,229,700, with 92,300 residents unemployed. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 287,600, with 20,600 residents unemployed. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force in the state at 285,400 with 25,500 residents unemployed.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 60,400. The Altoona MSA is the second smallest at 64,900 followed by the Johnstown MSA at 69,600.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.5 percent, increasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the report before and rising by four and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Carbon County has 3,400 civilians not working, increasing by 300 from the previous report and increasing by 1,400 from twelve months ago. Carbon County has a labor force of 32,100, the smallest civilian labor force within the Metropolitan Statistical Area. The labor force rose by 600 residents the past twelve months.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.3 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by three full percentage points during the past twelve months. Northampton County has 12,900 residents not working, increasing by 600 from the previous report and rising by 4,800 during the past twelve months. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 154,500, increasing by 900 from the previous report and rising by 1,600 during the past twelve months.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 8.8 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by three full percentage points from twelve months ago. Lehigh County has 15,900 residents not working which is 1,000 more than four weeks ago andbut 5,200 more than one year ago. Lehigh County has the largest work force in the MSA at 179,800 residents, which rose 1,300 during the past twelve months.

Goods-producing jobs decreased by 5,200 during the past twelve months with manufacturing leading the decline dropping by 5,200 jobs. Construction jobs was the second highest decliner dropping by 1,300 jobs.

Service-producing jobs decreased by 5,300 during the past twleve months. Retail jobs were the biggest decliner within the sector dropping by 1,800 jobs during the past twelve months.

Teen Works agrees to sponsor six projects in Lehigh Valley

07.30.09

Teen Works agrees to sponsor six projects in Lehigh Valley

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, July 15th- What was the last Teen Works Board of Directors meeting attended by Ron Achey, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation Greater Lehigh Valley United Way Labor Liaison, the go-between the labor community in the Lehigh Valley and the organization, and co-ordinator of the labor sponsored Teen Works program, who will be retiring on July 30th, the organization voted to help fund six community projects being conducted by area teens in the Lehigh Valley.

The organization held a meeting on July 14th at the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley office in Bethlehem.

Unions from throughout the Lehigh Valley contribute funds that are 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. The program began in 2000 under the leadership of Mr. Achey. The newspaper attends the monthly meetings and reports on projects supported by the organization.

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 and attend a meeting. It is requested youths purchase materials to be used for their project be union or American made.

The most funds that can be provided for any community project is $1,000.00.

Mr. Achey has served as the AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison since 1997, after the United Way combined two AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison positions into one. The Greater Lehigh Valley United Way Community Services Liaison geographical area includes Lehigh and Northampton Counties of Pennsylvania.

It was announced at the meeting Gregg Potter, President of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council labor federation and local political activist, was chosen to replace Mr. Achey as the AFL-CIO Community Services Labor Liaison.

Boy Scout Troop 317 member Jonathan Yu of Easton received a grant of $500.00 from the organization for his project. The youth will design and build an observation deck overlooking the Lehigh River to educate the public at the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Canal in Freemansburg.

Boy Scout Troop 5 member Ryan Kloss of Allentown received a $800.00 grant from the organization for his community project. The teen received the grant to help purchase materials to install benches, a table and planters on a patio in front of the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown.

Youths involved with the Camelot for Children in Allentown received a grant of $1,000.00 to help buy materials for their annual activities event for their JCC Camp ground in August.

Boy Scout Troop 8 member Jonathan Whittaker of Allentown received a grant of $600.00 to help purchase materials to repair the walls in Fellowship Hall at UCC Greenawalds Church in Allentown where there is water damage. The project includes painting the walls.

Boy Scout Troop 102 member of Allentown received a grant of $660.00 to help renovate a rundown chapel area in the Wildlands Conservancy in Emmaus. Fencing will also be added.

And finally, Boy Scout Troop 78 member Nathan Serfass of Nazareth received a grant of $325.00 to help purchase materials for his project that will involve building a new closet at the St. John’s UCC Church in Nazareth. The closet will be divided to two equal spaces and lighting fixtures will need to be moved.

Fighting healthcare reform by arresting your customers????

07.28.09

703 Concord Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22903-5208
(434) 984-4655 • (434) 984-2803 fax
http://www.virginia-organizing.org

Dear Friends,

Have you ever had really bad customer service? Then you will love this story…

I asked to speak to a representative of VOP’s health insurance company in person Friday and I got arrested for trespassing!

Last Friday, the last thing I expected was to get arrested. But there I was, a little after noon, getting my mug shot taken and being fingerprinted in the Henrico County Jail.

So what was my crime?

It all started last month when Anthem raised our health insurance premiums 14.1 percent — with no additional risks and no new health care services to justify the increase — and we also discovered that Anthem was spending millions of dollars to lobby Congress against health care reform.

We wanted to find out how much of our premiums were being used for lobbying, and ask for that money back.

So on Friday, I accompanied three VOP State Governing Board members in an attempt to meet with Anthem officials. But as we approached the building a little after 11 a.m., they locked the front door and would not let us in.

VOP Chairperson Jay Johnson called through the locked door, “We want to meet with someone about our rate increase.”

“We are your customers. Can someone meet with us?” I added. “We want to know why our rates were increased 14.1 percent.”

The two men inside told us to call our customer service representative. They were not going to let us in. They gave us the number and I took out my cell phone and called it. I told the woman who answered that we were an Anthem customer and we wanted to know why they increased our premiums 14.1 percent last month. She asked me to hold on, she needed to check. After about four or five minutes on hold, she came back and said she wanted to connect me to a Scott Holden, who we later found out is their public relations representative.

“OK, thank you,” I said.

Before we knew it, at least six police officers arrived. One of them got off his motorcycle and the two Anthem employees let him in the front door. Then they locked the door again.

Soon, the police officer came out and said we had to leave.

“But they told us to call the customer service representative and I am on hold,” I said.

“You have to leave or you will be arrested,” said another police officer.

Within minutes, my hands were handcuffed behind my back, and I was sitting in the front seat of a police cruiser, with the doors locked and the windows closed. Two police officers took a statement from an Anthem official as I waited. Boy, was it hot!

After my mug shot and fingerprinting, a magistrate eventually let me go, as long as I promised to show up on Monday morning for my arraignment.

On Monday, the judge set my trial date for September 22 at 11 a.m. I am charged with trespassing, which is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a possible jail sentence of 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

“As we reach out in support of health care reform, our own insurance company uses their increased premiums to lobby against it,” Jay Johnson said. “We pay over $25,000 in premiums every month to Anthem. We expect that our money will go to pay for health care and not for corporate lobbying.”

Not only is Anthem spending our premiums to directly lobby Congress, but they are trying to get their customers to do so as well. VOP recently received an e-mail asking us, as customers, to call our members of Congress to oppose a public health insurance option.

Getting locked out of the Anthem headquarters is an excellent example of the relationship the health insurance industry has with its customers. They don’t feel that they have to explain or account for anything. Anthem has little competition and they know their customers have few choices. Anthem and other health insurance corporations are spending $1.4 million per day lobbying Congress to make sure that Americans don’t have any other choice.

That is why we need a public health insurance option that forces the private health insurance industry to compete. The private health insurance industry has given us a greedy health insurance system where customers have to deal with skyrocketing premiums, denied claims, and even trespassing charges for asking to speak to a representative in person. We all deserve better than this.

The Virginia Organizing Project has been working hard to push for a public option. We have canvassed more than 140,000 doors all across the state, and four of five people tell us they agree that there is a real need for health care reform. We have held more than two dozen community meetings asking people to share their experiences with the current broken health care system. The horror stories keep coming.

So what can we do about it? There are two things you can do to help:

First, please call Senator Mark Warner and your member of Congress with this toll-free number:

1-888-436-8427

Ask them to support a public health insurance option that will provide quality, affordable health care for everyone.

Second, please donate to the Virginia Organizing Project so that we can expand our field staff and get more people active in the fight for health care reform. You can donate by going to:

http://www.virginia-organizing.org/donation.php#1

or by sending your donation to:

Virginia Organizing Project
703 Concord Avenue
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-5208

Thanks for all your help.

Take care,

Joe Szakos

Executive Director

Virginia Organizing Project

434.984.4655 x222

szakos@virginia-organizing.org

P.S. You can see some videos of the events last Friday at Anthem headquarters by going to: http://www.virginia-organizing.org/.

Why All Progressives, Democrats, Unionists and Reformers Should Join ACORN

07.28.09

Why All Progressives, Democrats, Unionists and Reformers Should Join ACORN

We are all familiar with the highly partisan and blatantly dishonest attacks on the low and moderate income advocacy group ACORN that dominated Fox News election coverage last Fall. Republican Right Wing partisans have remained loyal to their absurd talking points after the November election and continue to intentionally spread lies about the ACORN organization that all progressives, Democrats, labor activists and reformers should actively refute. These politically-motivated attacks on ACORN are based on two ridiculous ideas.

The first ridiculous idea is that this relatively small group of relatively poor individuals somehow is responsible for the mortgage crisis and the collapse of the economy. After decades of Reagan-Bush Republican mismanagement, Wall Street greed, assaults on unionized labor, unsound tax policies, unfair trade policies, disastrous healthcare policies, runaway corporate corruption, huge sweetheart government contracts going to Republican connected corporations and absurd financial deregulation, we need to understand that the structure of our economy needs serious fundamental reform. Reagan-Bush Republicanism ruled the market economically and politically to create the economic crisis.

The economic collapse has many more serious fundamental causes than just the collapse of the mortgage market. Income inequality, speculation, ending anti-usury laws, not enforcing anti-monopoly laws and excessive credit card debt can be added to the previous list of root causes underlining the current economic crisis. The Republican Right bears most of the responsibility for this situation. ACORN bears none!

First of all, sub-prime mortgages did not create the mortgage crisis. The notable economist Paul Krugman has debunked this Republican myth very effectively. The mortgage crisis has been spread across all income levels. Foreclosures are not limited just too poor people.

ACORN has never issued any mortgages nor has it pressured lenders to issue high-rate, unaffordable loans to poor and middle class Americans. Instead, for over a decade, ACORN has been the national leader in the fight against predatory lending.

The roots of the mortgage foreclosure problem are in the deregulation of the financial sector of our economy. Readers can find an excellent article outlining this situation, The Conservative Origins of the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis by John Atlas and Peter Dreier http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_conservative_origins_of_the_subprime_mortgage_crisis. The article effectively refutes most of the Republican talking points on the root causes of the mortgage meltdown.

Secondly, ACORN has never been involved in election fraud. ACORN never tried to rig any election. The accusations are both false and politically-motivated in the extreme. The FBI investigation of ACORN for voter fraud so widely publicized during the election does not appear to exist. Every state and local investigation has proven ACORN to be innocent of any wrong-doing!

Every informed political person knows that voter registration forms once signed cannot be legally discarded even if the organization collecting them suspects fraud. It is a crime to discard those registration forms. ACORN has a policy of trying to verify the validity of voter registration forms and bundling suspect forms together before turning them in to election offices. ACORN is not required by law to do this extra step but voluntarily does so to help local election offices prevent voter registration fraud.

The real reason that the Republican Right has smeared ACORN on the voter registration issue is that ACORN helped register upward of 1.3 million new voters during the 2008 election cycle. The majority of these voters were low and moderate income Americans. Since they are low and moderate income voters, they tend to support Democrats more than Republicans. Everyone knows that the Republican Party supports the economic interests of the Super Wealthy and international corporations over those of poor and moderate income Americans.

Voter suppression targeting low and moderate income Americans by Republican operatives have been documented in almost every state in the nation in recent elections. The attacks on ACORN were designed to support legal action attempting to keep low and moderate income citizens from voting. Republican lawyers filed lawsuits in dozens of states as part of this effort during the 2008 elections with a special emphasis being placed on swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. The lawsuits failed basically everywhere because they lacked any merit or validity.

However, the illegitimate Republican lawsuits attacking ACORN were effective propaganda tools in keeping the hardcore Republican partisans fired-up and motivated during the election. These false attacks are still being used to keep the ever-shrinking Republican base motivated to fight the Obama economic recovery agenda. ACORN has lobbied hard in favor of much of this legislative agenda. It is easy to understand the Republican attacks if you read ACORN: The Bogeyman in the GOP Closet http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bertha-lewis/acorn-the-bogeyman-in-the_b_162138.html .

When the attacks on ACORN began, I joined ACORN and became strongly involved in their political action, lobbying and community organizing activities. While ACORN consists of mainly poor and moderate income people, they accept anyone regardless of income who cares about the issues that impact poor and moderate income Americans.

ACORN is an important ally of progressives, Democrats, labor unions and reformers everywhere. ACORN is a strong supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act. They are fighting foreclosures and predatory lending. ACORN fights hard for equality before the law. ACORN helps bring millions of new voters into the political process. They fight to make our economy work for all Americans and not just the economic elite. ACORN is good for American Democracy.

Every progressive, Democrat, union activist and reformer in America should seriously consider showing their support by joining ACORN and becoming actively engaged in their efforts. You can join ACORN by contacting your local ACORN office or signing up via their website at http://www.acorn.org/.

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host, Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor, Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Email: demlabor@aol.com. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish or re-print without prior approval as a Democratic Voices column, OpEd, Letter to the Editor, guest editorial or as a flyer.

The Baucus Bill’s Bad Math

07.28.09

The Baucus Bill’s Bad Math
by Nate Silver

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/07/baucus-bills-bad-math.html

The Associated Press has some speculative details of the “compromise” health care bill that looks ready, at long last, to emerge from Max Baucus’s Senate Finance Committee:

[Any] legislation that emerges from the talks is expected to provide for a non-profit cooperative to sell insurance in competition with private industry, rather than giving the federal government a role in the marketplace. The White House and numerous Democrats in Congress have called for a government option to provide competition to private companies and hold down costs.

Officials also said a bipartisan compromise would not subject companies to a penalty if they declined to offer coverage to their workers. These businesses would be required to reimburse the government for part or all of any federal subsidies designed to help lower-income employees obtain insurance on their own.

Democratic-drafted legislation in the House includes both a penalty and a requirement for companies to share in the cost of covering employees.

So there’s not a public option in the Finance Committee’s bill ## which should come as no great surprise to anyone who’s been following this debate. Instead, there’s Kent Conrad’s plan for regional, non-profit cooperatives. The real fight over the public option will take place when the HELP Committee’s bill, which does include a public option, is reconciled with the Finance Committee’s version, and/or when the Senate’s version is ultimately reconciled with the House version.

The bigger news, rather, is that Baucus’s bill will not contain an employer mandate ## a requirement that employers provide health insurance to their employees ## even though it does contain an individual mandate.

Does this look familiar to anyone?

## No employer mandate
## No public option
## But yes, an individual mandate

It should ## because this particular permutation on health care reform looks an awful lot like the incomplete draft of the HELP Committee’s bill that the CBO scored last month, which also lacked an employer mandate and a public option but contained an individual mandate. That bill, the CBO estimated, would cost about $1.0 trillion ## but would only cover a net of about 16 million people. In contrast, the revised version of the HELP Committee’s bill, which did include both a public option and an employer mandate, would cost about the same amount but cover a net of 37 million people.

It’s not quite right to say that the public option and the employer mandate would allow us to cover an additional 21 million people for “free”. That’s because the employer mandate represents a burden on businesses, and could in turn result in some additional costs in the form of lower wages and/or reduced employment. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that in the state of Hawaii, which does have an employer mandate, wages dropped but by a “statistically insignificant” amount. It also found that there was an increase in the reliance on sub-part-time workers (people working fewer than 20 hours a week are not subject to Hawaii’s requirement) but no overall drop in “employment probabilities”. The upside, however, is significant: Hawaii has both the broadest coverage among adults aged 18-64 (only 11 percent are uninsured) and (!) the cheapest premiums. Although some of this has to do with Hawaii’s climate, ethnic makeup, and diet, that seems like a pretty good trade-off.

Baucus’s bill makes a different trade-off. In order to placate business interests on the employer mandate, and what are frankly ideological interests on the public option, it sacrifices coverage. If I’m reading this right, in fact, 16 million might be on the high end in terms of the net gain in coverage. That’s because whereas the HELP Committee’s unfinished draft subsidized insurance at up to 500 percent of the poverty line (meaning $54,150 for an individual or $110,250 for a family of four), the assistance in Baucus’s draft would end for people making more than 300 percent of poverty ($32,490 for an individual or $66,150 for a four-person family).

The AP may be right that Baucus’s bill will cost less than $1 trillion, but it accomplishes that by shifting the burden to middle-income families, some of whom have poor balance sheets and will face a really tough choice between paying for health insurance they can’t quite afford and facing some kind of penalty. Odds are that many of them will take the penalty, which is why coverage probably won’t expand very much. Or, the enforcement mechanisms could be more stringent, in which case they’ll have to buy health care, at the cost of reducing their spending in other areas ## and in probably being very teed off at the Democrats who passed the bill**.

This is a pretty poor combination of attributes for a health care reform bill to have. If Baucus & Co. wanted to get the cost below $1 trillion, they could have chopped the subsidies down to, say, 350 percent of poverty, while keeping the employer mandate and the public option. As a very rough guess, a bill like that might insure another 30-35 million people at a gross cost of about $850-$900 billion. The actual Baucus bill is going to cost about the same but will be lucky to insure half as many.

The good news is that the math on this bill is so bad that I doubt it will survive intact. Personally, I think the public option is probably a goner, but that the employer mandate will probably be restored ## especially if Baucus dares to put his bill before the CBO and see what they think of it.

__
** Just to underscore this point: when it scored a similar bill, the CBO estimated that 15 million people would lose their employer-provided coverage. Most of these people are likely to be lower-to-middle income persons with somewhat tenuous employment situations, a group that tends classically to be swing voters.

Now, how are those 15 million people going to feel about health care reform when they find out that:

a) Although the bill was supposed to guarantee access to health insurance, they’ve in fact lost theirs;
b) They’re required to buy an expensive, private plan on their own, or to pay a fine;
c) They’re probably not getting any government assistance;
d) They certainly don’t have any Medicare-like alternative to fall back upon;
e) All of this cost the country about $1 trillion dollars.

You think those 15 million people are going to vote for the Democrats again, like, ever?

EDIT: The Politico article on the subject implies a little bit more of a compromise approach toward the employer mandate.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) confirmed that the three Republicans and three Democrats negotiating the Senate Finance bill are moving away from a broad-based mandate that would force employers to offer insurance. The senators instead are leaning toward a “free rider” provision that requires employers to pay for employees who receive coverage through Medicaid or who receive new government subsidies to purchase insurance through an exchange.

This is better ## maybe a lot better ## than having nothing at all, although it potentially leads to some distortions in the market. Say that you’re picking between a job candidate who has a family of five, and a job candidate who is single. The job pays $40,000 per year, but for whatever reason, you’ve decided that it’s not cost-effective to provide your employees with health insurance. The former candidate, the one with the family of five, will be eligible for the government subsidy, which you will ultimately have to foot the bill for. The single guy will not be. Who are you going to hire?

Pa. Unemployment Benefits Could Get Relief

07.28.09

Pa. Unemployment Benefits Could Get Relief

http://www.kyw1060.com/Pa## Unemployment-Benefits-Could-Get-Relief/4888051

by KYW’s Tony Romeo

It appears that legislation to provide another seven weeks of unemployment benefits to Pennsylvanians whose benefits have expired is headed for approval in the state Senate.

The first big wave of Pennsylvanians to lose their benefits – about 18,000 – saw their jobless payments expire earlier this month.

Erik Arneson, spokesman for the Senate Republican leader, says a bill to extend benefits for another seven weeks should get a floor this week. He says the bill was amended by a Senate committee to make sure the additional benefits are retroactive:

“There were some question as our attorneys looked at the bill, and later confirmed with some informal communication we had from the Rendell administration, that they agreed that it was best as a matter of state law to make it clear that these [benefits] would be retroactive.”

If the bill passes the Senate, it will have to go back to the House because of the amendment. While the federal government picks up the tab for costs to businesses, Republicans were concerned about the potential cost to state and local governments that have laid off workers.

From the White House: CEA Releases Report on the Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees

07.28.09

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
________________________________________

July 24, 2009

CEA Releases Report on the Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees

WASHINGTON, DC – The Council of Economic Advisers released a report today that examines the challenges currently faced by smaller firms in the health insurance market and the likely impacts of health care reform on small businesses and the workers they employ.

During the weekly address, the President will ask for feedback from the small business community both through WhiteHouse.gov and, in an innovative outreach effort, through LinkedIn, a social networking community for professionals that counts twelve million small business owners and employees as members.

CEA Chair Christina Romer will answer some of those questions during a live online video chat on Wednesday.

The report is live at http://www.whitehouse.gov .

Key findings of the report include the following:

Small businesses are crucial to the economy

Small businesses are an important source of job growth in the United States. Firms with fewer than 20 employees accounted for approximately 18 percent of private sector jobs in 2006, but nearly 25 percent of net employment growth from 1992 to 2005.

Small businesses account for a large majority of jobs in start-ups, a key source of innovation and economic growth.

The current health care system is not working well for small businesses and their workers

The U.S. health care system imposes a heavy “tax” on small businesses and their employees. Due to high broker fees, fixed administrative costs, and adverse selection, small businesses pay up to 18 percent more per worker than large firms for the same health insurance policy. Some of these higher costs are passed on to small firm employees in the form of lower wages, and some eat into the profits of small businesses that could otherwise be used for research and development and for much-needed investments. This implicit tax disadvantages small firms in both the market for the best workers and the market for their products.

Because of their higher health care costs, small businesses are far less likely to provide health insurance for their workers than larger businesses. Only 49 percent of firms with 3 to 9 workers and 78 percent of firms with 10 to 24 workers offered any type of health insurance to their employees in 2008. In contrast, 99 percent of firms with more than 200 workers offered health insurance. Workers in small firms that do offer health insurance also tend to have less generous plans than their counterparts at large firms.

The fraction of small firms offering health insurance has been declining in recent years. From 2002 to 2008, the fraction of firms with 3 to 9 employees offering health insurance to their workers declined from 58 to 49 percent.
Health care reform as envisioned in the current draft legislation would reduce the current burdens on small firms and their workers

Small businesses that meet certain criteria would be able to purchase health insurance through an “insurance exchange” – allowing them to choose among a multitude of plans that would provide better coverage at lower costs than they could find in the current small group market.

Many small businesses that provide health insurance for their employees would receive a small business tax credit to alleviate their disproportionately higher costs and encourage coverage. The tax credit would be targeted to those firms with employees whose average wages fall below a certain threshold.

The current reform options provide financial incentives for medium- and large-sized firms to provide health insurance coverage through so-called “pay-or-play” provisions. Firms with payrolls or employment levels below a certain threshold, which would include the vast majority of small businesses, would be exempt from the pay-or-play provisions.

The creation of an insurance exchange would also provide better and lower-cost options for workers in small businesses that do not offer health insurance. Low-income individuals and families would receive sliding scale subsidies to help them purchase insurance. Additionally, health insurers would not be allowed to screen potential enrollees for pre-existing conditions.

The proposed reforms could help spur entrepreneurial activity by increasing the incentives for talented Americans to launch their own companies, and could increase the pool of workers willing to work for small firms.

Further, successful reform would reduce the phenomenon of “job lock,” in which workers are reluctant to leave a job with employer-sponsored health insurance out of fear that they will not be able to find affordable coverage. Small firms that are unable to provide health insurance for their employees bear the greatest cost of this phenomenon

Reductions in absenteeism and improvements in worker productivity resulting from better health outcomes because of expanded coverage would particularly benefit small businesses.

Pennsylvania ALF-CIO President William George to be honored by community group

07.28.09

Pennsylvania ALF-CIO President William George to be honored by community group

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

BETHLEHEM, July 16th- William George, President of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation, will be honored by the “Home of the Saints” community group.

According to Steve Curto, a retired business representative of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, who is a advisory board member of the organization, Mr. George will be honored at the 14th annual community dinner event held at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel in Bethlehem on November 8th.

Mr. Curto stated William George will be the first labor leader to be honored by the organization. He said 275 people attended last years event. Proceeds from the event benefit the Easton Area Community Center, Washington Street in Easton.

The cost of the event, which includes dinner, is $60.00.

Legendary local sports announcer of Lafayette College and the Phillipsburg and Easton High Schools, Dick Hammer will also be honored by the organization on November 8th.

For more information or to purchase tickets contact Mr. Curto at (610) 252-2933.

Three nominated by Obama Administration to serve on NLRB

07.28.09

Three nominated by Obama Administration to serve on NLRB

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 14th- The Obama Administration announced on July 9th that it had sent to the United States Senate the nominiations of Craig Becker, Mark Gaston Pearce, and Brian Hayes to be members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the Senate, the NLRB would have a full complement of five members for the first time since December 7th, 2007. The sitting members are Chairman Wilma Liebman and Member Peter Schaumber.

On April 24th, President Obama announced his intention to nominate labor law attorney’s Craig Becker and Mark Gaston Pearce for the two vacant Democratic seats on the NLRB. The intent to nominate Mr. Hayes to fill the vacant Republican seat was announced shortly before the nominations were sent to the Senate.

Mr. Hayes currently serves as the Republican Labor Policy Director for the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Mr. Hayes’s term would expire on December 16th, 2012. Mr. Pearce, in private practice with a Buffalo, New York law firm, would have a term ending August 27th, 2013. Mr. Becker, Associate General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), would have a term ending December 16th, 2014.

Chairman Liebman’s term expires on August 27th, 2011, and member Schaumber’s term ends August 27th, 2010. By tradition, three of the five NLRB seats are filled by individuals of the same political party of the President in office.

According to the NLRB, Mr. Hayes was in private practice for more than twenty-five years. His practice was devoted exclusively to representing management clients in all aspects of labor and employment law. He has represented employers in scores of cases before the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and various state fair employment practice agencies. He has served as chief trial counsel in the full range of employment claims in both state and Federal courts.

Mr. Hayes also has extensive experience in negotiating labor contracts on behalf of management clients, as well as representing clients in arbitrations, mediations and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Before entering private practice, Mr. Hayes clerked for the Chief Judge of the National Labor Relations Board and thereafter served as Counsel to the Chairman of the NLRB.

Jobs report signals more job loss to come in Pennsylvania

07.28.09

Jobs report signals more job loss to come in Pennsylvania

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 5th- The Keystone Research Center (KRC), a Harrisburg based nonprofit, nonpartisan economic research organization, analysis of the Pennsylvania economy suggest the Commonwealth must maintain spending to forestall additional job loss.

The Keystone Research Center said the carnage in the national job market continued unrelenting in June, with the United States shedding 467,000 jobs and the national underemployment rate reaching 16.5 percent, roughly one in every six Americans in the labor force.

KRC believes the decline in the United States jobs report signals more job loses are to come for Pennsylvania.

The KRC stated the June national job report number place the debate about Pennsylvania’s state budget in a new context. It is well known to economists that the best way for state government to limit job loss in an economic recession is to maintain spending levels.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and others have shown that direct spending reductions may generate more adverse economic consequences than tax increases, particularly tax increases on higher-income households. That means tax increases can be the least damaging way to close state fiscal deficits in the short run and provide for long-term economic growth.

Basic economics underscores that Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell’s proposal to balance the state’s budget in part through an increase in the state’s personal income tax is on target and that alternative course of draconian cuts in state spending would reduce job creation and increases unemployment. So far Pennsylvania unemployment remains about a percentage point lower than the national rate, an advantage that translates into 60,000 jobs. The wrong budget agreement would jeopardize that Pennsylvania advantage, the KRC wrote.

The Keystone Research Center analysis states the basic economic reasons that maintaining state spending ideally through revenue increases that fall on higher earners are straight forward:

• Government injects every dollars it raises into the economy.
• Taxpayers, by contrast, save some of their income and those savings do not stimulate the economy in the short run. The income of higher earners is most likely to be saved rather than used for consumption or investent in a deeply depressed economy.
• State spending financed through bonds, in effect, through future state revenues, can be especially stimulating to the state economy in the short run, one reason that bond-financed water and sewer infrastructure and the state’s $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund are so well timed.

The organization states from the point of view of maximizing short-term creation, an even better alternative to the Governor’s current proposal would be to collect needed state revenues more substantially from higher earners, through a differentially higher tax on investment income. It can be done in Pennsylvania without a constitutional change.

While Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is lower than the national one, it continues to move higher as the United States labor market weakens further. Moreover, initial claims for unemployment benefits were above 40,000 in Pennsylvania this past week, for the third week in a row.

According to the Department of Labor and Industry, the unemployment rate is higher in every part of Pennsylvania from twelve months ago.

Sestak & Specter to speak at Bethlehem City (PA) Democratic Committee Annual Picnic

07.24.09

Bethlehem City (PA) Democratic Committee Annual Picnic

Annual Summer Picnic

Saturday, August 1st, 2009
12noon-5pm
Tri-Boro Sportsmen Club
21st & Canal Streets
Northampton, PA.

$15.00 Per Person Includes:
Unlimited Food, Refreshments & DJ

Guest Speakers:

Senator Arlen Specter
Congressman Joe Sestak

Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham
Mayor John B. Callahan

PA. Supreme Court Candidate Judge Jack Panella

PA. Superior Court Candidate Anne Lazarus
PA. Superior Court Candidate Judge Robert Colville
PA. Superior Court Candidate Kevin McCarthy

PA. Commonwealth Court Candidate Linda Judson

Governor Candidate Tom Knox
Lt. Governor Candidate Jonathan Saidel

Tickets & Information Call 610-217-5123 or schlen@unions-america.com

CEOs Get One-Third of All Pay; Bank of America Uses Taxpayer $$ for Lobbying

07.24.09

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/07/22/ceos-get-one-third-of-all-pay-bank-of-america-uses-taxpayer-for-lobbying/

CEOs Get One-Third of All Pay; Bank of America Uses Taxpayer $$ for Lobbying

by Tula Connell, Jul 22, 2009

Two news items out today highlight how far the nation needs to go in re-balancing the economy toward working people.

First, Think Progress points to a Wall Street Journal analysis that shows more than one-third of all pay in the U.S. now goes to executives and other highly-paid employees.

Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total U.S. pay in 2007, the latest figures available. The compensation numbers don’t include incentive stock options, unexercised stock options, unvested restricted stock units and certain benefits.

The Wall Street Journal based its analysis on Social Security Administration data, which doesn’t count billions of dollars more in pay that remain off federal radar screens that measure wages and salaries.

Next, it turns out that Bank of America, which received $45 billion in taxpayer-funded bailout support, has spent more than $1.5 million lobbying on Capitol Hill.

The Charlotte, N.C., company wants flexibility on spending the bailout funds and also wants to fend off restrictions on executive compensation, home mortgage lending and credit card fees. The bank also is lobbying on a consumer rights bill, on student lending issues, on a bill that would’ve allowed bankruptcy judges to alter mortgages and on a proposed federal regulatory oversight agency.

And none of its positions on any of these bills would help working families.

As we noted in April when we released the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch data, the Bank of America lost nearly $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 due to deeper than expected trading and loan losses. Even after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money, the bank plans to eliminate up to 35,000 jobs over the next three years—but CEO Kenneth Lewis collected nearly $10 million in 2008, more than 400 times the average amount a bank teller is paid each year. Since becoming CEO in April 2001, Lewis received $134 million in pay, bonuses, stock awards and pension accruals.

As Think Progress notes, between 1979 and 2006, the inflation-adjusted after-tax income of the richest 1 percent of households increased by 256 percent, compared with 21 percent for families in the middle income quintile.

While U.S. worker productivity has skyrocketed over the past 30 years, wages have not kept pace.

America’s working middle class made it clear last November that they wanted change—and reshaping the nation’s economic framework to strengthen the middle class and close the wage disparity between the very top and the rest of us, is fundamental to that change.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I highly recommend clicking on the link to view this article. It is full of embedded links on the AFL-CIO Blog that will give tons of additional information and documentation.

Concerned Autoworkers, Retirees And Supporters: Auto Industry Crisis & Global Climate Change

07.24.09

Autoworkers Letter to Obama

To: President Barack Obama

From: Concerned Autoworkers, Retirees And Supporters

Re: Auto Industry Crisis & Global Climate Change

Date: July 14, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Your administration has reported that 400,000 jobs in the auto industry have been lost during the economic downturn. Though some jobs have been saved, many more will be lost through the bankruptcy restructuring implemented by the Auto Task Force at Chrysler and GM. Economists are predicting a slow recovery at best and, in any event, the market for autos and trucks will remain diminished for years to come. We in Detroit and in the automobile and manufacturing centers throughout the Midwest are faced with a major crisis for which a comprehensive solution is required.

We believe that the economic crisis is interwoven with an environmental one - that, in the words of NASA scientist Jim Hansen, we face an “irreversible tipping point” if we don’t act swiftly to reduce our carbon footprint and therefore positively impact global climate change. We believe this fact requires rethinking our country’s manufacturing priorities. Instead of laying off workers and devastating working- class communities, we believe the combination of crises demands a bold proposal that can put people back to work and address global climate change. We believe this can be done, and done creatively.

Until the recent fall in vehicle sales, auto use was contributing 20% of all annual U.S.greenhouse gas emissions (more than four tons per person) and 40% of all U.S. oil consumption. Yet of the 90% of Americans who drove to work in 2007, 76% drove alone. Fewer than 5% used public transportation. Eighty percent of the total U.S. population lives in metropolitan areas, with 30% in the cities. Yet few cities outside New York City have an adequate system of public transportation.

Clearly we must turn from an energy-inefficient, auto-centered society to one that increasingly uses mass transit along with energy-efficient vehicles. That means prioritizing buses, light rail, high-speed trains and the tracks they run on. Manufacturing also needs to be geared toward building wind and water turbines as well as solar panels. Instead of attempting to resuscitate automobile companies, we should be building a Transportation and Energy Industry for the 21st century.

Your administration has taken a positive first step by creating two blue ribbon task forces; The White House Task Force on Middle Class Families, called “Promoting American Manufacturing in the 21st Century”, chaired by Vice-President Biden, and the “White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers”, under the leadership of Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis and Larry Summers, your Chief Economic Advisor. You have charged them with the tasks of preparing American industry for the future and supporting “manufacturing communities and workers.”

We welcome these initiatives and urge you to ensure that the size of the ideas being considered match the size of the problems we face. The problems confronting us must be addressed holistically, the leadership must be visionary in its approach and the solutions must be innovative and far-reaching rather than politically expedient crisis management. To that end, we offer the following ideas:

First, because, we the people are now major stockholders in GM and Chrysler, we believe that it would be in the national interest to assume direct ownership of the GM and Chrysler plants that are closed or closing (as interest on our investment) to expedite the retooling and conversion of these plants for the manufacture of the products that we have mentioned above.

We must start now, so that by 2010 we will be well on our way to creating the jobs of tomorrow. We have the facilities, the equipment, the skilled workers to be able to complete this in record time. All we need is the political will to do so.

We know this is not a pipe dream because it was at the start of U.S. involvement in World War II that a massive conversion of existing auto plants for war-time production was completed in just eight months. The obstacles that had to be overcome were not technical, but political. It behooves you and your administration to take on the threat of global climate change - and the dislocations in the automobile industry - with the same sense of urgency and gravity that President Franklin Roosevelt acted upon then.

Additionally, it is our understanding that Chrysler and GM own a large number of patents for green technology. We encourage a thorough review of these patents and believe that any technology that GM and Chrysler own that they have no plans on utilizing in the next three years, be appropriated (again, as interest on investment) and uses found for these technologies.

Your administration is in a position at this moment of great peril, to create a new paradigm - for addressing the US role in industrial manufacturing and taking the lead on combating global warming. We urge that - in this defining moment - you reiterate your pledge that “yes we can!”

Signed,

Bill Alford, former President, UAW Local 235 (AAM),
Detroit, MI

Theresa Barber, UAW Local 663, Anderson, IN

Al Benchich, former President, UAW Local 909 (GM),
Warren, MI

Edward Blakley, UAW Local 653, Pontiac, MI

Michael Bloom, UAW 549, Mansfield, OH

Tony Browning, UAW Local 1700, Sterling Heights, MI

Brenda Caldwell, retiree, UAW Local 977, Marion, IN.
Metal Fabricating Plant

Allen Cholger, Staff Rep., United Steelworkers,
District 2

M. Crosby, UAW Local 2209, Ft. Wayne, IN

Connie DeVol, retiree, UAW Local 2151,
Coopersville, MI(closed)

Dave Elsila,

Katie Elsila, UAW Local 1981

Dianne Feeley, UAW Local 235 (AAM), Detroit, MI

Bill FletcherJr., Center for Labor Renewal,
co-author - SolidarityDivided

Lydia Fischer Ghana Goodwin-Dye,
President, UAW Local 909, Warren, MI

David Green, Detroit Democratic Socialists of America,

Frank Hammer, UAW-GM International Representative,
retired

Julie Hurwitz, Attorney

Michael Heaton, C.A.W Local 1285 (Chrysler)

Robert Ingalls, UAW (retired)

Barbara Ingalls, ITU/CWA

Glenn Jackson, UAW Local 5960, Lake Orion, MI

Cheryl Jameson, UAW Local 292, Kokomo, IN

Michael S. Japowicz Sr., UAW Local 594, Pontiac, MI

Florence Katroscik, UAW Local 909 Retiree, Warren, MI

John Kavanaugh, UAW Local 235(AAM) Detroit (retired)

Jack Kiedel, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY

Thomas Lacas, G.M. Unit, CAW Local 199, St. Catharines,
Ontario, Canada

Sharon McAlpine, UAW Local 235, AAM, Detroit MI,
Toolmaker

Lew Moye, UAW Local 110 Retiree, St Louis, MO

Elly Leary, UAW Local 422, Framingham, MA

Robert E. Niethe, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY,
retired

Hiroko Niethe, UAW Local 686, Lockport, NY, retired

Glenn Brian Reday, GM UAW recently retired, Local 435
Wilmington, DE

Eric V. Reuther, son of UAW pioneers, Victor and Sophie
Reuther

John S. Reuther, son of UAW Pioneer, Victor G. Reuther

Alexander “Sasha” Reuther, grandson of UAW Pioneer
Victor G. Reuther

Michael Rynca, UAW Local 5960, Pontiac, MI

Joretta Rynca, UAW Local 651, Flint, MI

Paul Schrade, former UAW International Executive
Board Member

Clay Smith, UAW Local 2166, Shreveport, LA

Jeffrey Stallman, IUE798, GM Moraine (closed Dec.
23, 2008)

Sam Stark, UAW retiree

Thomas W. Stephens, Policy Analyst, City of DetroitCity
Council

James Theisen, UAW Local 212, Sterling Heights, MI

Wendy Thompson, former President UAW Local 235
(AAM) Detroit, MI

Carole Travis, former President,UAW Local 719,
LaGrange, IL (retired)

Jerry Tucker, former UAW International Executive
Board Member

Brett Ward, UAW Local 1700, Sterling Heights, MI

L. M. Wittek, UAW Local 2151, Retired, Coopersville, MI

Robert M. Woods, UAW Local 699, Saginaw, MI

Please send all correspondence to:

Autoworker Caravan
c/o Frank Hammer
20033 Renfrew
Detroit, MI 48221
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an interesting effort. I agree with some of the goals but have some serious issues with some elements of the proposal. Turning the GM and Chrysler facilities into Green manufacturing centers is exactly the right move.

I disagree that reviving American auto companies as auto companies is not a worthwhile goal. We still need private autos in large numbers for many reasons. Increased public transportation is badly needed but will never replace the roles private autos serve. Rural Americans will always need them as the primary means of transportation. More products will require them. Service vehicles and those used in private business will need them. We can revive the auto industry and promote public transport at the same time. We do need “green” autos! Electric and hybrid cars along with alternative fuel vehicles and higher mileage vehicles should be part of reviving the American auto companies for energy, environmental and economic reasons.

Green technology should not be kept from the marketplace by GM and Chrysler! However, it should be sold to American companies, not just appropriated. The terms of the sale should require the buyer to put the technology into productive use within 3 years unless good reason can be demonstrated for a longer time span extension. The proceeds of the green technology sales could help American car companies get back on their feet and eventually help them meet promises made to retirees in terms of healthcare and pensions that they currently are not meeting.

Atlantic City Casino Workers Authorize Strike

07.22.09

http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/Jpa31_F1caaw/

Atlantic City Casino Workers Authorize Strike

by James Parks, Jul 21, 2009

Johanna Moon

Gaming workers at Bally’s and Caesars casinos in Atlantic City voted overwhelmingly over the weekend to authorize a strike if they are unable to reach a contract agreement with management.

The workers have been trying to gain a first contract for two years after voting to form a union with the UAW in 2007.

Says Ed Hendricks, a Caesars slot technician for 15 years:

Nobody wants a strike, but we’re going to stand up to enforce our rights. We have negotiated for almost two years, but instead of reaching an agreement the company keeps cutting back. Harrah’s [owner of both casinos] has cut our 401(k) match, increased our benefit costs and laid off our fellow workers.

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has called on union members to rally in support of the casino workers this Friday. State federation President Charles Wowkanech and Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan said in an e-mail to local unions:

Contract negotiations for the UAW in Atlantic City have gone beyond the point of unacceptable. This contract fight plainly shows the extent certain employers are willing to go in order to suppress a worker’s right to a fair contract.

If the Employee Free Choice Act was law, this dispute would have been settled months ago. The legislation provides the mediation and arbitration assistance to help settle a contract when a company and a newly certified union cannot agree on a contract after three months.

Workers at Trump Plaza also are working without a contract. Johanna Moon, a 25-year employee, says the two-year delay in getting a fair deal shows why Employee Free Choice is so important.

All workers need the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s not fair as it is now. Something’s got to change.

Read Moon’s story here. http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceatwork/efca/efca_profile_jm.cfm

Harrah’s rakes in some $10.8 billion in annual revenue, yet workers at both casinos make as little as $4.50 an hour on top of tips, according to the union.

Harrah’s has negotiated at Caesars for only 50 out of 655 available days and has refused to negotiate at Bally’s. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Bally’s broke federal labor law by refusing to bargain. An enforcement order requested by the NLRB is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Says UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union’s Technical, Office and Professional Organizing Department:

UAW members negotiate successfully with all kinds of employers—including casinos—and we know how to get the job done. The reason we haven’t succeeded in Atlantic City is plain and simple: Management either won’t come to the table, or they engage in stalling tactics once they get there.

Workers at Bally’s and Caesars are sending a very strong message with their votes: We’ve had enough. We voted for a union two years ago, we want our votes to mean something and we’re ready to take action to make it happen.

More than 8,000 gaming industry workers are members of the UAW in Atlantic City, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan and Rhode Island.

Keystone Progress is proud to present video training for progressive organizations and union locals in Pennsylvania

07.22.09

Keystone Progress is proud to present video training for progressive organizations and union locals in Pennsylvania. Our first training will be held in two locations in August. The first class is:

YouTube 101

So you have a video camera but you’re not sure what to do with it. This training gives you the basics on messaging with online video and then shooting, editing and posting a video online. You start the day getting the low down on messaging and visual storytelling and then you are given an assignment and sent out to create and post your video online. By the end of the day, everyone will have created and posted video online.

Location/Time:

We will hold the training in Philadelphia on August 11 and in Pittsburgh on August 12. The classes start at 10:00 AM and run until 5:00 PM. The Philadelphia location is still being determined, but will be in Center City near public transportation. The Pittsburgh training will be at the United Steelworkers Building, Five Gateway Center, Pittsburgh 15222.

Trainers:

Award winning television producer Jen Caltrider brings journalistic instinct and know-how to ProgressNow.org. A network producer for CNN, specializing in technology journalism, Ms. Caltrider traveled the United States to cover the latest in high-tech happenings. With accurate investigative research and diligence, Ms. Caltrider entered the hidden world of computer hackers and provided viewers rare glimpses of these secretive people and their incredible skills. Her television background and work on a Masters Degree in Artificial Intelligence give her insight and understanding into a wide variety of technology trends and issues. Ms. Caltrider created and produced a two-time nationally award winning magazine program about Denver titled @ altitude. Media and tech savvy, Ms. Caltrider has also produced interactive DVDs for international businesses.

Jen will be assisted by Michael Morrill, the executive director of Keystone Progress. Mike has created and posted videos on YouTube that have gotten over 3 million views. His videos have also been picked up by national and international media including CBS, MSNBC, BBC and Agence France Presse.

Cost:
The cost for the training is normally $150. Keystone Progress has received a matching contribution, allowing us to offer this training to our partners for only $75, including lunch.

Class Size:

Each class is limited to the first 16 students who register. No exceptions.

Registration:

You can register online at https://secure.keystoneprogress.org/page/contribute/pavideo

Or you can mail your registration to:

Keystone Progress
421 Ann St.
West Reading, PA 19611

For mail-in registrations, make check payable to Keystone Progress. Include the name of the student and the organizational affiliation and mailing address, email address and phone number.

More Information:

Call Mike Morrill at 610-568-0937-cell or email at mike@keystoneprogress.org

Michael Morrill

Executive Director

Keystone Progress

mike@keystoneprogress.org

http://www.keystoneprogress.org
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EDITOR’S NOTE: I signed-up for the Philadelphia training.

July 21, 1926- “The Voice of Labor” goes on the air

07.22.09

http://morrillmajority.org/blog1/

July 21, 1926- “The Voice of Labor” goes on the air

On July 21, 1926, WCFL, “The Voice of Labor,” went on the air for the first time in 1926. WCFL was the first, and longest-lasting labor union radio station in the United States. It was owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor and lasted as a union-run station until 1978. Its founding purpose was to “influence or educate the public mind upon the meaning and objects of trade unions and of the Federation of Labor, correct wrong impressions by broadcasting the truth, and advance progressive economic ideas.” It was supported by contributions from union members and by local union sponsorship. In the beginning the station broadcast political and ideological information and speeches mixed with music and more entertaining shows. In the end, the station could not compete with the other major broadcasters in Chicago and the CFL sold it to the Amway corporation.

Today that tradition is carried on by three Pennsylvania radio programs. In the Lehigh Valley, Democratic Talk Radio (http://www.democratictalkradio.com) from WGPA SUNNY 1100 AM radio (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) on Thursdays from 8:05am to 9am.

In south central PA, the Rick Smith Show (http://www.ricksmithshow.com) is on Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 2:00 pm on WHYL 960 AM.

And in southwest PA, the Union Edge (http://www.theunionedge.com) is on Monday-Friday from noon to 1:00 PM on WKFB 770 AM.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) records show no union organizing underway throughout region

07.22.09

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) records show no union organizing underway throughout region

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 2nd- A review by the newspaper of petitions filed by labor unions requesting for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia to conduct a representation election indicates no union in Luzerne or Lackawanna Counties is currently attempting to gain new members through organizing. The newspaper reviewed NLRB records filed during the past five weeks.

NLRB Region Four in Philadelphia office jurisdiction includes all counties of northeastern Pennsylvania including: Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming and Susquehanna.

Under NLRB rules, before a labor organization can request the agency to conduct an election to determine if employees want to be represented by the union, at least 30 percent must sign authorization cards. The petition is investigated by the National Labor Relations Board and before an election is scheduled they determine which employees will be eligible to participate.

Before a labor organization can be recognized as the bargaining representative of a unit of employees, at least 50 percent plus one of the workers must vote in favor of the union.

As of July 3rd, the newspaper is not aware of any organizaing campaigns involving workers employed in Northeastern Pennsylvania.