Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Firefighters Rip Obama For Breaking Campaign Promise Over Cadillac Tax

01.14.10

Firefighters Rip Obama For Breaking Campaign Promise Over Cadillac Tax

by Brian Beutler

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/firefighters-rip-obama-for-breaking-campaign-promise-over-cadillac-tax.php

The International Association of Fire Fighters## an influential union that belongs to the AFL-CIO## has released the strongest condemnation yet of President Obama’s support for taxing high-end health insurance plans as a means of financing a major health care overhaul## accusing him of breaking a campaign promise, and threatening to hold him accountable.

“If candidates make a promise to us, we hold them accountable. We held President Bush accountable when he made decisions that had a negative impact on our members’ jobs and lives. We will do the same with President Obama,” reads a statement from IAFF President Harold Schaitberger. “In 2008, then-candidate Obama promised three things: he said he would not raise taxes on folks making less than $250,000 a year; he vowed not to tax health insurance benefits; and he promised that under his health reform plan, people would be able to keep their existing coverage.”

Now, President Obama supports the misguided excise tax passed by the Senate. The Senate bill will either subject the health care coverage provided to thousands of America’s fire fighters to a tax or those benefits will be slashed to avoid the tax….

The president’s support for the excise tax is a huge disappointment and cannot be ignored. If President Obama continues to support it and signs a bill that includes the excise tax on workers, we will hold him accountable.

The rebuke comes as Obama meets with a host of labor leaders, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, at the White House tonight to sell them on his support of the tax, and find common ground.

Trumka made clear earlier today, that his organization’s top priorities in health care reform are the public option, the employer mandate, and the elimination of the excise tax. With the public option gone, and Obama still foursquare behind the excise tax, it seems evident that the country’s largest labor federation will walk away from the health care fight badly disappointed. Trumka, however, declined to say whether he could ultimately support a bill that didn’t address his top priorities.

Tomorrow evening, House Democrats, who overwhelmingly oppose the excise tax in the Senate bill, will gather to discuss health care reform at a caucus meeting. You can bet the excise tax will be a key focal point for them.

You can read Schaitberger’s entire statement below.

“The core political principle of this union is ‘we support those who support us.’ If candidates make a promise to us, we hold them accountable. We held President Bush accountable when he made decisions that had a negative impact on our members’ jobs and lives. We will do the same with President Obama.

“Throughout the debate on health care reform - even before excise tax on so-called high-cost health plans was proposed - this union made it clear to Congress and President Obama that our goal is reducing health care costs, preserving the benefits our members already have and avoiding piling more taxes on the backs of hardworking Americans.

“In 2008, then-candidate Obama promised three things: he said he would not raise taxes on folks making less than $250,000 a year; he vowed not to tax health insurance benefits; and he promised that under his health reform plan, people would be able to keep their existing coverage.

“Now, President Obama supports the misguided excise tax passed by the Senate. The Senate bill will either subject the health care coverage provided to thousands of America’s fire fighters to a tax or those benefits will be slashed to avoid the tax.

“We have made it clear to every senator and representative on Capitol Hill and President Obama that we are fully and completely opposed to this tax.

“The health care reform bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives does not contain the excise tax, and the House leadership continues to stand with us. We applaud our House allies for their courage as they wage this battle. This union will continue to fight to keep the excise tax out of the final bill.

“The president’s support for the excise tax is a huge disappointment and cannot be ignored. If President Obama continues to support it and signs a bill that includes the excise tax on workers, we will hold him accountable.”

Machinists Union Leaders Vote to Oppose Health Benefits Tax

01.11.10

Machinists Union Leaders Vote to Oppose Health Benefits Tax

Mon. January 11, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C., January 11, 2010 – The Executive Council of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has voted unanimously to oppose any health care reform legislation that is funded by taxing the value of workers’ existing health care benefits.

“For decades, IAM members exchanged substantial wage increases for the best possible health insurance,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Now, in a bizarre turn of events, their insurance premiums will be subject to a forty percent excise tax if the Senate version of health care reform becomes law. Democratic leaders have the power to stop this travesty and I urge them to do so, quickly and completely.”

“IAM members are rightfully outraged over the bait and switch tactics at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue,” said Buffenbarger. “They were promised health care reform. Now they face health care deformed by backroom deals.”

No single issue brought more union members onto last year’s campaign trail than Republican threats to tax health care benefits, and the Democrats’ pledge to protect those benefits.

“Like NAFTA, the health care excise tax is an issue with the potential to reverberate for years,” said Buffenbarger. “Machinists have long memories. And they will long remember who taxed their benefits after pledging on the campaign trail not to do so.”

The IAM is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing nearly 700,000 active and retired members in dozens of industries. For more information about the IAM, visit www.goiam.org.

http://www.goiam.org/index.php/news/press-releases/6657-machinists-union-leaders-vote-to-oppose-health-benefits-tax

Distributed by:
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care## HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
Email: nursenpo@aol.com
http://unionsforsinglepayerHR676.org
01/11/09

For the unemployed, new job often means a pay cut

01.10.10

For the unemployed, new job often means a pay cut

By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD

Unemployed for nearly a year, David Becker was relieved to land a new job in information technology last summer.

The offer carried a price, though: It was a lower-rung job than the one Becker had lost. He had to uproot his family from Wisconsin to Nevada. And, like many formerly jobless people who find work these days, Becker is now paid far less than before — $25,000 less.

It’s one of the bleak realities of the economic recovery: Even as more employers are starting to hire, the new jobs typically pay less than the ones that were lost.

In the government’s data, a job is a job. More jobs point to a growing economy. But to people who used to earn $60,000, a new $40,000 job means they’ll spend less — and contribute less to the recovery.

“In most cases, it means a subdued expansion, for sure,” said Marisa Di Natale, director at Moody’s Economy.com.

Worse for those affected, people hired at lower wages in a tight job market tend to lag behind their peers for years, sometimes decades. For example, workers laid off during the 1981-82 recession earned 20 percent less than people who remained in a job — even 20 years after they were rehired, a Columbia University study found. The study examined pay for white- and blue-collar workers, managers and hourly workers….

(Click on link below to read the rest of this article)

Article link

The Other Plot to Wreck America

01.10.10

The Other Plot to Wreck America

by Frank Rick, New York Times

THERE may not be a person in America without a strong opinion about what coulda, shoulda been done to prevent the underwear bomber from boarding that Christmas flight to Detroit. In the years since 9/11, we’ve all become counterterrorists. But in the 16 months since that other calamity in downtown New York — the crash precipitated by the 9/15 failure of Lehman Brothers — most of us are still ignorant about what Warren Buffett called the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that wrecked our economy. Fluent as we are in Al Qaeda and body scanners, when it comes to synthetic C.D.O.’s and credit-default swaps, not so much.

What we don’t know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a more devastating scale than any Qaeda attack. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. Without that reckoning, there will be no public clamor for serious reform of a financial system that was as cunningly breached as airline security at the Amsterdam airport. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses.

The window for change is rapidly closing. Health care, Afghanistan and the terrorism panic may have exhausted Washington’s already limited capacity for heavy lifting, especially in an election year. The White House’s chief economic hand, Lawrence Summers, has repeatedly announced that “everybody agrees that the recession is over” — which is technically true from an economist’s perspective and certainly true on Wall Street, where bailed-out banks are reporting record profits and bonuses. The contrary voices of Americans who have lost pay, jobs, homes and savings are either patronized or drowned out entirely by a political system where the banking lobby rules in both parties and the revolving door between finance and government never stops spinning.

It’s against this backdrop that this week’s long-awaited initial public hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are so critical. This is the bipartisan panel that Congress mandated last spring to investigate the still murky story of what happened in the meltdown. Phil Angelides, the former California treasurer who is the inquiry’s chairman, told me in interviews late last year that he has been busy deploying a tough investigative staff and will not allow the proceedings to devolve into a typical blue-ribbon Beltway exercise in toothless bloviation.

He wants to examine the financial sector’s “greed, stupidity, hubris and outright corruption” — from traders on the ground to the board room. “It’s important that we deliver new information,” he said. “We can’t just rehash what we’ve known to date.” He understands that if he fails to make news or to tell the story in a way that is comprehensible and compelling enough to arouse Americans to demand action, Wall Street and Washington will both keep moving on, unchallenged and unchastened……

(Click on link below to read the rest of this article)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/opinion/10rich.html

Unions Rally to Oppose a Proposed Tax on Health Insurance

01.09.10

Unions Rally to Oppose a Proposed Tax on Health Insurance

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE, New York Times

When millions of blue-collar workers were leaning toward John McCain during the 2008 campaign, labor unions moved many of them into Barack Obama’s column by repeatedly hammering one theme: Mr. McCain wanted to tax their health benefits.

But now labor leaders are fuming that President Obama has endorsed a tax on high-priced, employer-sponsored health insurance policies as a way to help cover the cost of health care reform. And as Senate and House leaders seek to negotiate a final health care bill, unions are pushing mightily to have that tax dropped from the legislation. Or at the very least, they want the price threshold raised so that the tax would affect fewer workers.

Labor leaders say the tax would hit not only wealthy executives with expensive health benefits, but also many rank-and-file union members who have often settled for lower wage increases in exchange for more generous health benefits.

The tax would affect individual insurance policies with annual premiums above $8,500 and family policies above $23,000, which by one union survey would affect one in four union members.

The House bill does not contain such an excise tax, and many House Democrats oppose adding it to the combined House-Senate legislation. But the tax is a critical revenue component in the Senate’s bill. If the bill does too little to cover its costs, it might be defeated. Many economists support the tax, saying it will help hold down costs.

With labor groups warning that the tax will infuriate a key part of the Democratic base — union members — President Obama has agreed to meet with several top labor leaders on Monday to address their concerns and try to defuse their anger. The group includes the presidents of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., Teamsters and the steelworkers’ and service employees’ unions.

But whether the tax is negotiable remains unclear. Not only has Mr. Obama specifically endorsed the idea, but the White House and Senate leaders see the tax as pivotal in paying for the health care overhaul and addressing runaway health care costs.

Many Democrats and union officials fear that if both sides dig in on the issue, it could create a rift between the White House and labor — with some union leaders hinting they might lobby aggressively against the entire health care bill if it contains such a tax.

Union leaders have repeatedly warned the White House about the strong rank-and-file dismay, which could hurt the Democrats in Congressional elections this fall, especially in battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Ron Gay, an AT&T repairman in Youngstown, Ohio, who spent much of the summer of 2008 urging co-workers to vote for Mr. Obama, said, “If this passes in its current form, a lot of working people are going to feel let down and betrayed by our legislators and president.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 19 percent of workers — or about 30 million employees — would be affected by the tax in 2016. Economists say most of them would be nonunion, although it is organized labor that has the lobbying clout to take a stand.

In recent days, labor’s strategy has become clear. Unions are urging their members to flood their representatives with e-mail messages and phone calls in the hope that the House will stand fast and reject the tax. The A.F.L.-C.I.O., a federation of nine million union members, has declared next Wednesday “National Call-In Day” asking workers to call their lawmakers to urge them not to tax health benefits. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is urging members to tell their representatives that “such a tax is simply a massive middle-class tax hike that this nation’s working families should not be forced to endure.”

Many Democrats fear that enacting the tax will hurt their re-election chances.

“This would really have a negative impact on the Democratic base,” said Representative Joe Courtney, Democrat of Connecticut, who has enlisted 190 House Democrats to sign a letter opposing the tax. “As far as the message goes, it’s a real toughie to defend.”

While union leaders would prefer killing the tax, some say privately that they could live with it if the threshold is lifted to $27,000, say, or $30,000. They argue that many insurance policies above $23,000 are typical of the coverage in high-cost areas like New York or Boston, or policies that cover small businesses or employers with older workers.

According to a union survey, one in four members would be hit by a $23,000 threshold, but only one in 14 if the threshold were raised to $27,000.

White House officials, however, voice concern that raising the threshold that much would lose $50 billion of the $149 billion in revenue that the tax is expected to generate over 10 years….

(Read the rest of this article at the link below)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/09/business/09union.html?hpw

Teamsters Union Local 401 members ratify new five-year labor agreement

01.09.10

January 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Teamsters Union Local 401 members ratify new five-year labor agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 23rd- Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401, South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, ratified a new five year labor agreement with Altadis USA in McAdoo, Luzerne County.

Teamsters Local 401 represents approximately 140 employees of Altadis USA.

According to James Murphy, President and Business Agent for Local 401, the contract was ratified on December 20th with around 67 percent of the participating members voting in favor of the successor agreement.

“This is a fair package for our members and it also allows for the company to remain competetive and continue to provide jobs for our members,” said Mr. Murphy, who negotiated the agreement for the Union.

Mr. Murphy told the newspaper Local 401 members will receive two percent pay increases each year of the pact.

Also, employees health insurance benefits will be paid for by the company. Employees can choose from several health insurance plans of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. For family coverage there is a deductible for medical attention.

Mr. Murphy stated under the terms and conditions of the agreement there
was contract language improvements including:
• layoff language;
• bereavement language; and
• shift differential

United States Chamber of Commerce challenges labor law

01.09.10

January 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

United States Chamber of Commerce challenges labor law

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 27th- The United States Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit on December 22nd alleging that a new State of Oregon law is unconstitutional because it is too pro-union.

The business organization jointly filed the lawsuit with Associated Oregon Industries and is arguing a new Oregon law “unconstitutionally eliminates an employer’s right to conduct mandatory meetings with employees to rebut union rhetoric and provide information about drawbacks of a unionized workplace.”

“Organzized labor hasn’t been able to muster the votes or the public support to pass Card Check, so they’ve moved on to “Plan B” to muzzle employers during union organizing drives. Just like Card Check, this law flies in the face of the country’s democratic values,” said Steven Law, chief legal officer and general counsel for the business organization.

Oregon is the first state in the nation to pass such a law that would prohibit employers from conducting mandatory meetings with their employees during union organizing campaigns. The Oregon legislation is modeled after language in the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct) legislation that is currently being held-up in Washington, DC.

The United States Chamber of Commerce told the newspaper the federal law pre-empts the Oregon law, which runs counter to fifty years of federal protection for employers’ right to hold mandatory meetings to rebut labor leaders’ rhetoric about unionizing. The business organization lawsuit also alleges the law violates employers’ speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The legislation became law on January 1st, 2010.

The law, known as SB 519, and the case is Associated Oregon Industries and Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Brad Avakian and Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 296.

“This legislation is organized labor’s first salvo in an apparent state-by state assault on federally protected employer speech,” said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the United States Chamber of Commerce public policy labor firm.

Organized labor has urgued for decades that the conducting of mandatory meetings with workers by employers during organizing campaigns were unfair because all employees must attend or face being discipline or termination.

House Bill 50 would ban unions from gaining union security clauses

01.09.10

January 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

House Bill 50 would ban unions from gaining union security clauses

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 28th- On November 10th, 2009 legislation was referred to the Committee on Labor Relations of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Harrisburg that if passed would ban labor organizations and employers from entering into agreements that make joining a union part of a compulsory condition of work or employment. Such legislation is often referred to as “right-to-work.”

House Bill 50 has 32 co-signers with Republican House of Representative Daryl Metcalfe (12th Legislative District) and a member of the Committee of Labor Relations being the lead sponsor of the legislation.

“The General Assembly finds that to require a person to be a member of, or not to be a member of, a private organization as a compulsory condition of work or employment is not in accord with fundamental principles of individual liberty and freedom of choice. It is therefore declared to be the public policy of this Commonwealth that membership or no membership in a labor union should not be made a condition of the opportunity to work or to be or remain in the employment of any employer,” states House Bill 50. No local representatives were co-signers of the legislation.

“The legislation is an insult to the workers of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Democratic Pennsylvania House of Representative Ken Smith (112th Legislative District). “In a region known for the labor movement, this legislation is an insult to all those hard working miners and laborers that were killed while working,” added Mr. Smith who made it clear he would oppose the legislation should it be introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Smith added he is surprisedthat House Bill 50 has 32 co-signers. “I really don’t know what they are thinking. They should be more interested in finding ways to improve wages, not decreasing them.”

“I will not support any anti-union legislation,” said Democratic Pennsylvania House of Representative Kevin Murphy (113th Legislative District).

Mr. Murphy was a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union prior to gaining a seat in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2008.

Democratic Representative Eddie Pashinski (121st Legislative District) did not immediately return several phone messages from the newspaper regarding the legislation. Mr. Pashinski was a member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union and is a member of the American Federation of Musicians Union.

Mr. Smith stated Mr. Metcalfe often supports anti-union legislation, including legislation that would prohibit the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) on public projects in Pennsylvania.

“No person may be required to become or remain a member of a labor organization as a condition of employment or continuation of employment,” states the legislation.

Should I vote against Obama (and others) in 2012 over his backing Senate healthcare taxing provision?

01.08.10

Obama is totally wrong in backing the tax provisions of the Senate version of the healthcare reform bill. Taxing health insurance benefits (like the Senate bill does) is a tax on the middle class. The House bill taxes the very, very wealthy.

Obama promised not to push for middle class tax increases.

I am considering not voting for Obama in the future and publicly pushing for real economic populist Democratic primary challengers for Obama and all corporatist Senate or House Democrats. We need real Democrats in office from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. We need pro-working class, pro-middle class, pro-labor Democrats!

In solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Democratic Talk Radio Advisory Board & Funding Needs

01.06.10

Democratic Talk Radio is now in our 9th year. We are facing unique challenges and opportunities in 2010.

We have added 3 co-hosts- Dana Garrett (Delaware), John Morgan (Pennsylvania) and Walt Garvin (Pennsylvania) to our WGPA SUNNY 1100AM Thursday morning show. We expect to soon offer a college radio version of the show and are actively exploring new commercial stations.

We are moving from just a show to a “brand” concept that will hopefully have many new Democratic Talk Radio shows each unique to their market/station. All will work together with various DTR hosts being frequent guests on other DTR shows. We have been doing something similar with other progressive and labor radio shows for years.

We badly need money to move forward or even stay on the air in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. We need your help in raising funds.

We need new ideas and allies in new markets. Our top fundraisers will be invited to join the new Democratic Talk Radio Advisory Board. This group will steer our expansion efforts, help raise funds, plan activities and play a role in our future programming.

If interested, please contact me at demlabor@aol.com. My cell phone number is 443-907-2367. Our mailing address is: Democratic Talk Radio, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702.

Even if you are not interested in joining our Advisory Board, we could still use any donations in any amount.

We can run ads or you can sponsor a whole show for just $250. Sponsors can sometimes be guests or play a role in guest selection provided the desired show fits with our larger mission.

In solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

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

90 Things President Obama Accomplished The Media Didn’t Report | Seferm Post

01.05.10

## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ##

It is obvious that our President is taking non-stop hits from the right. It is also obvious that the President is losing some support from union members. It is incumbent upon us to inform our membership of the GOOD things that have been happening and continue to happen by this administration.
I have included a link about 90 things that President Obama has done but the media didn’t report. Of particular interest are items 3,10,11,48,53,54,56,74,76,77,78. Overlooked here was his choice for Labor Secretary. Ms. Soltis has been doing extraordinary work and we are fortunate to have her on our side..
The second link is from Newsweek and discusses the inability of the GOP to raise money for important races in 2010. It is important that we stay focused and continue to educate our members.
United we bargain, divided we beg!
In unity & solidarity,
Gregg Potter
President, Lehigh Valley Labor Council
610 360-9491

http://www.sefermpost.com/sefermpost/2009/11/90-things-president-obama-accomplished-the-media-didnt-report.html

http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thegaggle/archive/2010/01/04/fundraising-woes-could-hold-back-the-gop-in-2010.aspx

Americans’ job satisfaction falls to record low

01.05.10

Americans’ job satisfaction falls to record low

By JEANNINE AVERSA

WASHINGTON – We can’t get no job satisfaction.

Even Americans who are lucky enough to have work in this economy are becoming more unhappy with their jobs, according to a new survey that found only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work.

That was the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board research group in more than 22 years of studying the issue. In 2008, 49 percent of those surveyed reported satisfaction with their jobs.

The drop in workers’ happiness can be partly blamed on the worst recession since the 1930s, which made it difficult for some people to find challenging and suitable jobs. But worker dissatisfaction has been on the rise for more than two decades.

“It says something troubling about work in America. It is not about the business cycle or one grumpy generation,” says Linda Barrington, managing director of human capital at the Conference Board, who helped write the report, which was released Tuesday.

Workers have grown steadily more unhappy for a variety of reasons:

• Fewer workers consider their jobs to be interesting.

• Incomes have not kept up with inflation.

• The soaring cost of health insurance has eaten into workers’ take-home pay.

If the job satisfaction trend is not reversed, economists say, it could stifle innovation and hurt America’s competitiveness and productivity. And it could make unhappy older workers less inclined to take the time to share their knowledge and skills with younger workers……

(Click on link below to read the rest of this article)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100105/ap_on_bi_ge/us_unhappy_workers

House Bill 50 would ban unions from gaining union security clauses

01.05.10

JANUARY 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

House Bill 50 would ban unions from gaining union security clauses

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 13th- On November 10th, 2009 legislation was referred to the Committee on Labor Relations of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Harrisburg that if passed would ban labor organizations and employers from entering into agreements that make joining a union part of a compulsory condition of work or employment. Such legislation is often referred to as “right-to-work.”

House Bill 50 has 32 co-signers with Republican House of Representative Daryl Metcalfe (12th Legislative District) and a member of the Committee of Labor Relations being the lead sponsor of the legislation.

“The General Assembly finds that to require a person to be a member of, or not to be a member of, a private organization as a compulsory condition of work or employment is not in accord with fundamental principles of individual liberty and freedom of choice. It is therefore declared to be the public policy of this Commonwealth that membership or no membership in a labor union should not be made a condition of the opportunity to work or to be or remain in the employment of any employer,” states House Bill 50. No local representatives were co-signers of the legislation.

“The legislation is anti-union, anti-labor. There is nothing in it I like. It’s a bad bill,” said Democratic Pennsylvania House of Representative Joseph Brennan (133nd Legislative District).

Mr. Brennan said the legislation stands no chance of passage because there is enough pro-worker legislators in Harrisburg to stop it from even getting to the floor for a vote. “I oppose any legislation that is anti-union. We need more legislation that will provide more rights to workers, not less,” Mr. Brennan added.

Mr. Brennan told the newspaper such legislation would be blocked in Harrisburg because the Democratic party has the majority in the House of Representatives and many Republicans also won’t support making Pennsylvania a right-to-work state. The majority of right-to-work states are in the southern United States.

“I didn’t read the bill, and I don’t plan to,” said Democratic State Representative Jennifer Mann (132nd Legislative District), who agrees with Mr. Brennan the legislation will not be introduced on the floor of the General Assembly. “The bill does not reflect the view of the majority of the legislature. I won’t support such legislation and with a Democratic Governor and with Democrats in the majority in the House, this bill has no chance,” said Ms. Mann.

Ms. Mann told the newspaper she was raised in a pro-union household with her father working as a union organizer with the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union at Mack Trucks.

“The weakening of collective bargaining has influence the decrease of the standard of living for Americans. Legislation such as this bill would just continue the weakening of the American worker ability to provide for their family,” Ms. Mann added.

Commonwealth Court upholds decision on PLA project

01.05.10

JANUARY 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Commonwealth Court upholds decision on PLA project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 9th- The Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg is praising a decision of the Commonwealth Court upholding a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) between the federation and the State’s Department of General Services (DGS). The letter of commitment between the parties was to assure union workers will be hired for the construction of a 4,100 bed, $400 million prison project at Graterford Prison in Montgomery County.

A PLA is a comprehensive agreement signed by a builder and local craft unions under which a defined construction project is agreed to be completed by workers from local union halls, in return for the union’s guarantee of no strikes, a steady labor supply, and general labor peace. Under a PLA a nonunion contractor could still be hired for a project, however if they are selected, local unionized workers must be hired.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council said the decision reaffirmed that PLA’s can be beneficial on government funded building projects because they guarantee on-time completion of construction projects without diminishing community standards for working conditions and quality of workmanship.

PLA’s have come under attack in Pennsylvania in 2009 with the introduction in Harrisburg of legislation intended to ban the signing of the agreements with the building trades unions.

In September, Republican Pennsylvania House of Representative John Bear (97th Legislative District) introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) on public projects in Pennsylvania.

The legislation’s biggest supporter is the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC) construction group. The ABC group is made-up of nonunion contractors and often lobbies for anti-union legislation.

Mr. Sirianni stated the ABC group participated in seeking injunction relief from the Court to prevent the DGS from entering into PLA’s for state funded construction projects. The ABC has vehemently opposed PLA’s for economic reasons.

“The fact of the matter is that many non-union contractors here in Pennsylvania and all over the country bid on projects with PLA’s and win those bids. They then go on to complete those projects using local crafts people and still earn a reasonable profit. They do this because PLA’s work. It is clear from this case that the ABC and their legislative allies are not really interested in creating jobs for Pennsylvania skilled crafts people. They are more interested in finding ways to line their pockets with our tax dollars and with little protection of our community standards as possible,” stated Mr. Sirianni.

The grim state of the states- great videos!

01.05.10

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=74&jumival=506

Part 1 - James Heintz: 900,000 state workers across the US could lose jobs as state deficits explode (Jan. 3)

Part 2 - James Heintz: Unemployment and low wages cutting state revenue from sales and income taxes (Jan. 4)

Part 3 - Heintz: Higher wages a solution, but states not making unionization easier and cut public sector wages (Jan. 5)

PRESS RELEASE: Democratic Talk Radio -”Heroes and Villains of 2009 Awards”

01.04.10

PRESS RELEASE: Democratic Talk Radio -”Heroes and Villains of 2009 Awards”

The cast of characters in American politics who could have received our Hero and Villain Awards for 2009 was huge. It was a very busy year in American politics. We have multiple winners in both categories but still were unable to recognize everyone who deserved to win.

One of the villains was an easy and obvious choice. Fox News commentator and author Glenn Beck wins a Democratic Talk Radio Villain of 2009 Award for unashamedly spreading lies, myths and innuendos with no conscience.

The Editor of Buzzflash.com Mark Karlin wins a Democratic Talk Radio Hero of 2009 Award for unselfishly devoting all his time and energies to debunking them. The role the Internet played in counteracting the corporate dominance and bias in the realm of political news in 2009 cannot be overstated.

Paul Krugman wins a Hero Award for his role of speaking truth to power in his multiple roles as economist, New York Times columnist and Book author. Congress and the Obama Administration should be listening to him in dealing with the current economic crisis. Every American citizen should read his recent book The Conscience of a Liberal. It will help you understand the current economic crisis, healthcare reform and much more.

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) wins a Villain Award for politicizing national security and putting every American flying on a commercial airline at risk by placing a hold on the confirmation of the head of the TSA. His rationale for this action is nearly as outrageous as the action. He does not want TSA employees to have the right to unionize and bargain collectively for better pay, benefits and working conditions. DeMint claims that TSA would not be as effective with a unionized workforce. Exactly why having demoralized, underpaid workers doing security screening at airports will make us safer escapes all of us here at Democratic Talk Radio. Union haters abound in Republican Right circles but DeMint has taken his bias to dangerous extremes.

The entire Republican Party power structure and the few corporate Democrats undermining healthcare insurance reform in America collectively win a Democratic Talk Radio Villain of 2009 award for their outrageous public behavior, serving corporate interests instead of the public good and lying to the American public. Single-payer, government provided healthcare should have been seriously considered as a policy option but was not because of these villains. The final bills passed by both houses of Congress are much weaker than they should have been (although the House version does have a better funding mechanism and a weak public option provision). Americans will suffer and die as a result of the actions of these villains by the millions in coming decades! Jobs will be lost because American businesses will still be paying for health insurance while foreign competitors will not.

Former Vermont Governor and DNC Chair Howard Dean wins a Hero Award for publicly speaking the truth during the healthcare insurance debate. Unlike the Republican medical doctors serving in Congress, Dr. Dean understands and lives by the medical ethical slogan “do not harm.” This ethical standard should be applied in both the medical and political fields.

For more information, please contact Democratic Talk Radio at demlabor@aol.com or by phone at 443-907-2367.Our website is http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com .

Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers

01.02.10

Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers

By Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 2, 2010

For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households. But since 2000, the story is starkly different.

The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation’s growth.

It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism ## there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the past. By the end, there were two, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable.

There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well.

Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 ## and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s.

And the net worth of American households ## the value of their houses, retirement funds and other assets minus debts ## has also declined when adjusted for inflation, compared with sharp gains in every previous decade since data were initially collected in the 1950s.

“This was the first business cycle where a working-age household ended up worse at the end of it than the beginning, and this in spite of substantial growth in productivity, which should have been able to improve everyone’s well-being,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.

Question of timing

The miserable economic track record is, in part, a quirk of timing. The 1990s ended near the top of a stock market and investment bubble. Three months after champagne corks popped to celebrate the dawn of the year 2000, the market turned south, a recession soon following. The decade finished near the trough of a severe recession.

But beyond these dramatic ups and downs lies an even more sobering reality: long-term economic stagnation. The trillions of dollars that poured into housing investment and consumer spending in the first part of the decade distorted economic activity.

Capital was funneled to build mini-mansions in Sun Belt suburbs, many of which now sit empty, rather than toward industrial machines or other business investment that might generate economic output and jobs for years to come.

“The problem is that we mismanaged the macroeconomy, and that got us in big trouble,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight……

(Click on link below to read the rest of the article)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/01/AR2010010101196.html

DeMint rails against TSA collective bargaining while Obama fails to act

01.02.10

DeMint rails against TSA collective bargaining while Obama fails to act

by Ron Moore

http://www.examiner.com/x-2071-DC-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2009m12d30-DeMint-rails-against-TSA-collective-bargaining-while-Obama-fails-to-act?cid=examiner-email

Once again TSA is in the headlines as an aviation-related terror attempt on an international flight returns the issue of security after 9/11 back on the front pages. Once again TSA’s Transportation Security Officers are inundated with news cameras describing the attack on traveler’s peace of mind and sense of security creating the impression that something needs to change. They are right.

When TSA was created President Bush was adamant that this new security workforce be relegated to workplace conditions not seen in the last half century all in the name of ‘national security’. In other words, Bush and his advisors saw an opportunity to bust federal unions and open the door to re-privatize most of the public sector even transportation security. This fell under the myth that ‘if only government was run like a business’ it could be more efficient. Nonsense.

Since the beginning TSA has been a virtual case study on the detrimental effect of running a vital government program for profit. Today’s business culture that encourages union-busting considers every regulation imposing safety and employment standards as unreasonable costs. What is the result? A demoralized workforce, record high attrition and injury rates and a backlog of employment discrimination cases. For this reason, many TSA officers leave the service if they can and the Agency’s mission is undermined by low staffing and irregular training.

In 2002 I stood up to serve our nation in time of crisis and became a part of the early roll out of TSA officers at BWI airport. Since I didn’t leave my belief in my rights as a worker at the door I became the first elected president of AFGE Local 1, the organization created by the American Federation of Government Employees who supported TSA officers from the beginning. Even without collective bargaining, we stood up for ourselves while we waited for the deleterious effects of TSA’s poor management to make it clear that the Bush rights rollback was a threat to the Agency’s mission. I published an op-ed article in The Washington Post in 2004 after an attack in Russia led to new security procedures implemented with inadequate training. I was terminated and literally lost everything for calling on Congress publicly to provide oversight for this Agency. AFGE successfully forced TSA to admit the termination was wrongful one year later and I immediately published another article calling for collective bargaining and was met with another termination threat. The official who terminated me was promoted to headquarters and serves today as the Assistant Federal Security Director at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

When TSA needs assistance from law enforcement, firefighters or EMS, the officers who respond are working under a collective bargaining agreement. When Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) bellows against granting TSA workers collective bargaining rights he is making a political not a national security calculation. But this is not just the fault of anti-union politicians and their benefactors. President Obama shares the blame. As candidate Obama he promised in writing to correct the footnote in the law that created TSA effectively stripping their workers of basic workplace rights. The current obstruction by anti-union pols could have been avoided with the mere stroke of a pen. Obama created a needless benchmark by vowing that once a new TSA administrator is confirmed that person would make the appropriate change.

The president miscalculated and as a result TSA still suffers under a Bush holdover as Acting Administrator. Transportation Security Officers do not have collective bargaining today because it was not a priority for the Obama Administration. It was an easy promise to put off to another day. Now we have a security breach that was not caused by TSA, was not handled in any way by TSA and was not a result of any TSA policy. Thanks to the news media the public has the impression that this is all TSA’s fault and things must change. Even the recent disclosure of TSA’s Standard Operating Procedures was apparently mishandled by a contractor not a TSA employee yet headlines gave the opposite impression.

In this environment it is easy for anti-union demagogues like DeMint to rail against the workplace partnership with management known as collective bargaining. Let him tell that to the U.S. Capitol Police who protect him in his workplace under the protection of collective bargaining. Its time for the president to stand up for the workers who stand and serve at the security checkpoints in our nation’s airports every day. Mr. President if not now when? If now you who? That’s called leadership and the TSA’s mission is too important to continue to suffer under the yoke of poor management. That was the change we believed in yet we continue to hope and sadly to wait.

“The Brother Stan Labor Show”

01.02.10

“The Brother Stan Labor Show”

Labor News on Talk Radio!
Wednesdays, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM ET
(Replay: Wednesday evening, 9 – 11 PM – both sites)

Work and Worksite Issues!/Union News!
“Our Weekly Update On the Labor Beat”

Featuring:
Weekly Interviews With Special Guests!
Weekly reports from National Correspondent …
Anne Feeney – “The Union Maid”

Based in Jacksonville, Florida
Regional Coverage – Signal Reaches:
South Georgia
North-Central Florida

Listen In! – Call In!

“North Florida’s Progressive Talk Network”

FM 105.3 – WJSJ – Jacksonville, Florida
On World-Wide Web: www.radiofreejax.com

Call In # = 854-TALK (854-8255) ## AC 904
Your Host: “Brother Stan the Union Man”

“North Florida’s Progressive Talk Network”

FM 105.7 – WHJX – Jacksonville
FM 92.5 – WFJO – Folkston
FM 105.5 – WSJF – St. Augustine
www.radiofreejax.com ## Worldwide

Progressive Talk Radio 24/7!

Featuring:
“Down to Business Andy Johnson”
Monday through Friday, 3:00 – 6:00 PM

LISTEN IN! – CALL IN!
Call-In # = 694-1057 (AC 904)