Teachers' union boss: Charter schools are separate & uneqeal; serve fewer disadvantaged students As New York finalizes its application for the federal Race to the Top program, a proposal to end the cap on the number of charter schools has been promoted as key to our success in getting these new federal funds. But promoters of this proposal are ignoring two other critical issues: The small role that charter schools play in the Race to the Top application, and the fact that city charters are not serving a representative sample of our neediest students. 2010-01-17
Union Workers Remember Martin Luther King, Jr. While people of color have made tremendous progress in the past 50 years, there is still a long way to go before Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of justice and equality is realized. The union movement can play a big role at the front of the effort to create that new America, many participants said during the annual AFL-CIO King Day celebration. One of the hallmarks of a more just society is that people take care of each other. On Friday, the more than 400 participants in the King Day celebration, which began Jan. 14 in Greensboro, N.C., spent the day in a mass community service project sorting clothes, supplies and other goods for distribution to local homeless shelters, unemployed people and others in need. 2010-01-17
Brothers Plead Guilty in Conspiracy to Hold Thai Workers in Forced Labor in Hawaii Defendants Alec Sou and Mike Sou, co-owners of Aloun Farm, pleaded guilty on Jan.13, 2010, in federal district court in Honolulu, to conspiring to commit forced labor. The two defendants, who are brothers, each face up to five years in prison for their respective roles in a labor trafficking scheme that held Thai agricultural workers in service at Aloun Farm through a scheme of debts, threats, and restraint. 2010-01-17
Gennaro Montello's conveyor belt death at Brooklyn sewage plant was 'willful violation': report When a city worker who had gone seven years without a raise was crushed under a conveyor belt at a Brooklyn sewage plant last year, it wasn't just an accident - it was a "willful violation." That's what the state Labor Department concluded in its report on the death of Gennaro Montello, 45, a father of two teenagers who died a year ago this month. "The employer failed to keep the workplace free of a recognized hazard that caused death and serious physical harm to its employees," says the report, obtained by the Daily News. 2010-01-17
Wage drop is steepest since 1990 The notion that consumers will help lead the economic rebound received a stark rebuttal Friday: The spending power of American families is being squeezed. Workers saw their inflation-adjusted weekly wages fall 1.6 percent last year - the sharpest drop since 1990 - even as consumer prices rose only modestly. 2010-01-16
Labor, student groups push for immigration reform A coalition of labor, student and immigrant rights groups has gathered in downtown Las Vegas to push for comprehensive immigration reform. The group on Thursday launched the local part of a national campaign. 2010-01-15
A coup attempt in the Teamsters A COUP against the reform leadership of a big Teamster local in Chicago is underway--and it's aimed at restoring the corrupt old guard leadership to power and snuffing out union democracy. 2010-01-15
The Student Voice Reverberates Today, thousands of student activists from around the country are cheering loudly - and for good reason.
A nation-wide alliance, the United Students Against Sweatshops, drove a persistent group of protesters to fight for the rights of sweatshop laborers who had been stripped of their jobs at a Russell Athletic factory after workers tried to unionize. 2009-11-19
U.S. labor group unveils plan to tackle joblessness The head of the largest U.S. labor federation urged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to use the $700 billion Wall Street bailout fund to help cash-starved small businesses as a way to stem rising joblessness.
In a preview of labor's contribution to Obama's December jobs summit, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program could be lent directly to small- and medium-sized businesses at commercial rates. 2009-11-17
Street Report from the G20 The G20 in Pittsburgh showed us how pitifully fearful our leaders have become.
What no terrorist could do to us, our own leaders did.
Out of fear of the possibility of a terrorist attack, authorities militarize our towns, scare our people away, stop daily life and quash our constitutional rights.
For days, downtown Pittsburgh, home to the G20, was a turned into a militarized people-free ghost town. Sirens screamed day and night. Helicopters crisscrossed the skies. Gunboats sat in the rivers. The skies were defended by Air Force jets. Streets were barricaded by huge cement blocks and fencing. Bridges were closed with National Guard across the entrances. Public transportation was stopped downtown. Amtrak train service was suspended for days. 2009-09-27
Fatal Sunshine: The Plight of California's Farm Workers
The bountiful harvest of California strawberries, melons, grapes, peaches and nectarines overflows the nation's summer tables. But that luscious crop mostly emerges from farm workers who labor in flat fields under a scorching sun - and has a price higher than the grocery store bill. Every year many farm workers become sick, and some die. Typical of the fatalities was Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, who was just 17. In May 2008, she died after picking grapes in Merced County for nine hours in 95-degree heat. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attended her funeral and promised to do more to protect workers.
Did Warren Burger Create the Health Care Mess? On May 15, a 25-year-old woman named Hilary Carpenter had an operation at the Colorado Orthopaedic and Surgical Hospital in Denver to replace a shunt valve in her brain. After the surgery, Carpenter experienced a severe headache and nausea. After consulting with a physician on duty, a registered nurse at the hospital administered Demerol, but the dosage was wrong, and Carpenter's heart stopped. In a scene that state investigators later described as "chaotic," hospital staff was unable to locate quickly the equipment needed to revive Carpenter. According to the investigators, there were only a few people on hand that day to deal with the crisis, and those present lacked training to handle such emergencies. Eventually the staff did something you wouldn't normally expect a hospital to do: They called 911. A paramedic team took Carpenter to a different hospital, where she died.
Foe of union boss Roger Toussaint gets $205G in back pay A federal jury has slapped Roger Toussaint's transit union with a $205,000 bill for docking the pay of a foe who challenged the union boss' iron-fisted rule.
Ainsley Stewart was awarded the money - to be paid by Transit Workers Union Local 100 - after a trial in Manhattan Federal Court.
Stewart, 50, accused Toussaint of cutting his union pay and overtime between 2004 and 2006 because he and several others challenged Toussaint's viselike grip of the local. 2009-07-02
Retirees Are Road Kill in Rush to Sell GM A three-day hearing on the sale of General Motors assets to the U.S. government, conclusively demonstrated that the U.S. Treasury Department decided to strip more than 50,000 GM retirees of their right to health care.
Harry Wilson, a member of the Treasury's auto task force, repeatedly stated that there was no "commercial necessity" in picking up the liability for retiree health care for members of non-UAW unions since they had very few active members. 2009-07-02
Regular and Special Sessions Fall Short on Labor's Agenda New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes, representing 2.5 million members throughout the state, today
issued the following statement:
It goes without saying that the 2009 Legislative session has been, to put it kindly, unique. And considering that the
ongoing "Special" session looks like it may go on for quite some time, it is safe to say that in terms of enacting labor
oriented bills to help working families in New York State, the legislature and Governor have fallen well short of
Workers and allies shake up Rite Aid shareholder meeting in NYC Rite Aid workers charged their employer with "abusive, disrespectful, and illegal treatment" at the company's annual shareholder meeting in New York City on Thursday morning, June 25.
Standing up for employees at the company's annual meeting was veteran Rite Aid employee Angel Warner, who attended representing 600 of her co-workers at the company's massive million-square-foot distribution center in the high-desert community of Lancaster, California, located about 60 miles from Los Angeles. 2009-06-27
Union members anticipated Bell strike for at least a year Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. employees picketing at the company's offices in Fort Worth on Monday said they weren't surprised that a proposed new labor contract was overwhelmingly voted down Sunday. As they shuffled along in the blossoming heat to the occasional honked car horn, several workers said they'd expected for some time that the proposal from Bell would be unpopular, largely due to increases in health insurance costs. 2009-06-16
Unions Challenge Governor's Furlough Plan The budget fight goes to court. Three major unions filed lawsuits Tuesday, to prevent the furloughs of more than 40,000 state workers. They say forcing them to take unpaid days off is illegal. The governor said it is the legal use of her emergency powers and necessary to avoid massive layoffs that could cripple the economy. 2009-06-16
Union reverses role in GM rescue plan With General Motors (GM) facing bankruptcy, the United Auto Workers (UAW), the normally militant union, has played a key role in forging the deal - and in return has gained a large stake in the company. 2009-06-01
Lee seeks 23% pay cut from Post-Dispatch union Lee Enterprises, parent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is seeking a 23 percent wage cut from members of the newspaper’s union. The newspaper publishing company proposed pay cuts of 15 percent in the first year, and 5 percent each in the second and third years of the contract, according to information posted on the St. Louis Newspaper Guild’s Web site. 2009-06-01
Union recommends ways to avoid furloughs for Fort Myers city employees The union that represents the staff of the city of Fort Myers could hear by the end of the week if they’re expected to take unpaid days off work. The union met with a representative from the city to discuss the furloughs, which if adopted would mean each city staff member would take two unpaid days off work a month. 2009-06-01
UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta shares stories of union struggles in Salinas Behind every good man there is a good woman, said Salinas City Councilman Sergio Sanchez as he introduced Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union. Huerta, 79, who along with Cesar Chavez founded the UFW in the 1960s, stood in front of about 150 people at the Cesar Chavez Library on Sunday and spoke about the early days of the union and its struggles. 2009-06-01
Supporters try to win votes for union bill Organized labor is keeping the pressure on Maine's congressional delegation to support a bill that would make it easier to form unions in workplaces. The Change That Works campaign, funded by the Service Employees International Union and other labor groups, has been holding news conferences around the state to highlight the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007 (H.R. 800). 2009-06-01
Profitable newspaper wants to bust union Nationally, the newspaper business is in a depression, due mostly to the Great Recession's impact on advertising and partly to stupid decisions made by newspaper chains large and small. But many newspapers are still profitable, if less so than before, on an operating basis, and some of them see the current crisis as an opportunity to screw their employees. This diary will be about one such profitable newspaper -- the Albany Times Union (TU), the major daily for the Capital District of New York state, owned by the billionaire Hearst family. In early April, the TU unilaterally canceled its contract with the Newspaper Guild, which represents about 240 people in the newsroom, the sales staff, and elsewhere. The Guild is fighting back, taking out ads and billboards encouraging people to cancel their TU subscriptions. 2009-06-01
Starbucks agrees to sixth labor settlement in three years Starbucks signed a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board last week agreeing to let Minneapolis-area employees post union materials in their break areas and discuss union issues while on the job, as long as it doesn't interfere with their performance. The settlement does not include financial payment, and it will not be final until the NLRB decides whether to address objections to the settlement by union organizers at the Industrial Workers of the World, according to Marlin Osthus, acting director of the NLRB's upper midwest region office. 2009-06-01
Kennebec Journal union accepts concessions The union that represents workers at the Kennebec Journal has voted to accept wage and benefit concessions sought by the company trying to buy Blethen Maine Newspapers. 2009-05-31
Chrysler eliminates jobs bank for now Chrysler LLC has eliminated -- at least temporarily -- the controversial "jobs bank" program that gives union workers most of their pay and benefits while they are laid off, according to a union official. 2009-01-24
Governors seek concessions from public workers Governors across the nation are seeking significant concessions from public employee unions in hopes of helping to balance their teetering budgets during the economic downturn. From Maryland to California, Ohio to Hawaii, governors have asked or ordered state workers to accept furloughs, salary reductions, truncated workweeks or benefit cuts. They say the concessions are a better alternative to further job losses in the face of record-breaking unemployment. 2009-01-24
Can Labor Revive the American Dream? The financial markets are in tatters, consumer spending is anemic and the recession continues to deepen, but corporate America is keeping its eyes on the prize: crushing organized labor. The Center for Union Facts, a business front group, has taken out full-page ads in newspapers linking SEIU president Andy Stern to the Rod Blagojevich scandal. The Chamber of Commerce is capitalizing on the debate over the Big Three bailout to claim that "unions drove the auto companies off the cliff," while minority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators insist on steep wage cuts. A December 10 Republican strategy memo revealed their central obsession: "Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor," the memo read. "This is a precursor to card check" -- a clear reference to the Employee Free Choice Act 2009-01-19
Can Labor Mount a Comeback? The changes so evident in many aspects of American life appear to favor the resurgence of a powerful labor movement. How likely, in fact, is that to occur? Union leaders like John L. Lewis, George Meany, and Walter Reuther once helped shape American economic and political life. Labor's halcyon days are not about to return anytime soon - if ever - but after three decades on the defensive and still lacking in household names, the labor movement is poised to recapture a share of its former clout. 2009-01-15
One in Five Union Organizers Gets Canned One in five union activists gets illegally fired in the run-up to unionization elections, economist Dean Baker said at an event held at the National Press Club, Tuesday. Baker's estimate is based on data compiled by the National Labor Relations Board and analyzed by Baker’s colleagues at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) - a liberal economic policy think tank in Washington. 2009-01-14
City unions win support in opposing backruptcy Ironically, receiving government protection when a city has run out of money is a very pricey process, a truth Vallejo has begun to face.
And not less so for the city employees who are scrambling desperately to stop city officials from forcing the renegotiation of contracts, long in the making, in order to cut city costs. 2009-01-05
Kaleida union to vote on contract Members of a major union at Kaleida Health are scheduled to vote Wednesday on a tentative contract. The workers are represented by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. They belong to the seven bargaining units that rejected a tentative deal with Kaleida in November. Two other units voted to accept that deal. 1199 SEIU represents a total of 3,200 employees at Kaleida, including 1,700 at Women and Children’s Hospital. The bargaining units voting on Wednesday represent about 86 percent of 1199 SEIU's membership at Kaleida. 2009-01-05
Union Launches Blog Exposing Disney's Unfaithfulness to Workers UNITE HERE Local 11 has launched www.disneyisunfaithful.org, a blog created to document how Disney is being unfaithful to workers, communities and customers around the world. The website exposes Disney's deteriorating wages for employees and the impact this has on the Anaheim and Orlando economies, it reveals environmental practices by the company, and exposes exorbitant CEO salaries and expenses as well as the negative impact on families of Disney's proposed cut to hotel workers' benefits. 2009-01-05
Grand Rapids Starbucks Union vs. Starbucks; Trial Starts Wednesday Starbucks' is preparing to fight its second trial against Unfair Labor Practices. Last week, in an 88 page decision, an administrative law judge found, among other things, that Starbucks maintained multiple policies which interfered with workers' right to communicate about the union and about working conditions; terminated three workers in retaliation for union activity; and repeatedly discriminated against union supporters. 2009-01-05
Marcus Courtney, the guy who tried to unionize Microsoft Marcus Courtney, a one-time Microsoft contract worker, left his job as president of the Seattle-based WashTech technology labor union last year for a new position at the UNI Global Union in Switzerland. He left without fanfare, but he was back in Seattle visiting relatives for the holidays, and we got a chance to sit down with him. 2009-01-04
Tom Colicchio: Top Chef or Top (Wage) Thief? We have watched hundreds of cooking shows on television. One of our early favorites was Top Chef, in which a group of talented cooks compete in an elimination format for a large monetary prize and designation as "Top Chef." The chief judge on the show is Tom Colicchio, a noted chef who has won five James Beard awards. Colicchio has parlayed his cooking prowess into a career as an entrepreneur and is now the owner of the Craft group of restaurants, with venues in New York City and around the country. 2008-12-30
Labor Faces Hard Times Two recent images of the labor movement in this time of crisis stand out for their stark contrast. One is a photograph of UAW President Ron Gettlefinger sitting at the witness table before a Congressional committee with the heads of the Big 3 auto makers, pleading for help. The other is a photo of jubilant workers celebrating their victory after a six day sit-in at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago. It is not stretching things to say that these images crystallize the problems and possibilities of organized labor today. 2008-12-23
Union-Made Lattes On Aug. 31, the light-rail train from Minneapolis to the Mall of America was boisterous. During the ride, several dozen Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) members - known as Wobblies - belted out the radical workers' anthem "Solidarity Forever" in unison. The reason for their elation was because Erik Forman, 23, was returning to work as a Starbucks barista. 2008-12-22
Boycott McDonald's: Every Big Mac Eaten Attacks Workers McDonald's really knows how to celebrate liberty and justice. On the eve of the international recognition Human Rights Day, McDonald's announced it will launch a massive campaign to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act. So, let's respond in kind: boycott McDonald's. 2008-12-10
Don't Fire Greg After 32 Years of Service Dear Mr. Signor,
I write to demand that you rescind the planned termination of long-time IWW member Greg Giorgio. Greg has spent his entire adult life announcing horse races for your company. Now after 32 years of service with Capital and just three years left until his pension fully matures, you seek to throw him out of work. 2008-12-10
Chicago workers end sit-in at closed factory With cheers and chants that echoed President-elect Barack Obama's campaign of change, jubilant workers agreed to a $1.75 million settlement that ends their six-day occupation of a shuttered Chicago factory that became a symbol of the plight of labor nationwide. 2008-12-10
370 grocery workers bag $750G award A grocery store owner will pay workers an average of more than $2,000 each to settle claims they were stiffed on overtime pay.
Long Deng, who owns three stores in Manhattan and Queens, agreed to pay $750,000 to settle allegations he forced employes to work extra hours without paying them overtime. 2008-12-09
Reluctance to Help Detroit Reeks of Class Bias . . . Implicit in the criticism of UAW compensation packages is that union-represented automobile workers are being paid above their social class. Greedy, bad people. They are supposed to be satisfied with wages that cover only the basics -- food, acceptable clothing and housing. They are not supposed to receive pay that allows them to aspire to or dream of more. They should be happy with the development of America's Wal-Mart economy, one in which less-expensive skills, talents, products and services are imported to satisfy the American consumer's insatiable lust for the highest-quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices. 2008-12-07
Smithfield Workers To Vote on Union In a surprise settlement, Smithfield Foods dropped its multimillion-dollar racketeering lawsuit against the United Food and Commercial Workers, Jobs with Justice, and the Change to Win federation October 27.
The company agreed instead to a set of rules that will govern a vote on December 10 and 11 for union representation at its hog slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, North Carolina. 2008-12-07
Auto Workers Hit the Hill, Monday December 8 Auto workers and retirees have organized a caravan from several Midwest states to Congress Monday, December 8, to speak with lawmakers and media about the need for a strong manufacturing base. They see the crisis facing the Big Three as an opportunity to transform the auto industry and to lay the foundations for a more sustainable economy. They will hold a press conference Monday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. at 2226 Rayburn, on the 2nd floor.
Executives from the Big Three, dealerships, auto suppliers and union leaders have paraded before skeptical lawmakers. But the workers who make these vehicles and live in these communities - those who would be most impacted if the Big Three go under - need to be heard. 2008-12-07
Reluctance to Help Detroit Reeks of Class Bias It has happened repeatedly in the last several weeks -- well-paid, well-known journalists questioning the wisdom of "bailing out Detroit," of helping an industry whose union-represented workers have substantially better wages and benefits than other manual or skilled laborers, or, more precisely, who are better compensated than their nonunion counterparts working at foreign-owned rival companies building cars and trucks in the United States. 2008-12-07
Chicago factory occupied WORKERS OCCUPYING the Republic Windows & Doors factory slated for closure are vowing to remain in the Chicago plant until they win the $1.5 million in severance and vacation pay owed them by management.
In a tactic rarely used in the U.S. since the labor struggles of the 1930s, the workers, members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 1110, refused to leave the plant on December 5, its last scheduled day of operation.
"We decided to do it because this is money that belongs to us," said Maria Roman, who's worked at the plant for eight years. "These are our rights." 2008-12-06
Chicago Workers Occupy Their Plant and Show How To Fight . . . One worker I spoke to said that the company laid off 50 workers right before Thanksgiving and that they came to work one day and that much of the machinery had been dismantled and disappeared. He said that the boss never admitted to anything and that last Monday they came to work as usual but the next day (Tuesday Dec. 1st) they were told the plant was closing in three days. He said that the boss expected them to get their checks and go home Friday but they decided to stay in the plant until they got what was owed them.
At the rally outside the plant which was organized by a Chicago Interfaith group led by a Reverend CJ Hawkin, one worker, Melvin Maclan, said "It was time for the little man to stand up." "Like Obama says" he went on, "Yes we can." 2008-12-06
Labor Dept. Accused of Straying From Enforcement The next labor secretary will be taking charge of an agency widely criticized for walking away from its regulatory function across a range of issues, including wage and hour law and workplace safety. 2008-12-01
Union Responds To Death of Long Island Wal-mart Worker United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, New York State's largest grocery workers Union, has called for an immediate investigation by Federal, State and Local authorities into the "avoidable" death of a Wal-mart worker at the Valley Stream, Long Island Wal-mart. Specifically, the Union has called on the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the New York State Department of Labor and the Nassau County Prosecutor to investigate Wal-mart''s failure to provide a safe workplace. 2008-11-28
Report: Union, ArcelorMittal cut layoffs to 490 Union representatives and ArcelorMittal have reached a layoff agreement, reducing the number of layoffs at the Burns Harbor steel mill from the 2,444 proposed to 490, according to a newspaper report. 2008-11-28
Project brings unusual merger of union bosses and environmentalists "If we are to prosper as a nation," Teamsters head James Hoffa Jr., told union members in Oakland in July, "our future lies in a green economy."
That might seem like an unusual declaration for a union leader. But then, Hoffa went a step further in announcing that Teamsters was abandoning its push for oil drilling in the Arctic. 2008-11-27
Judge dismisses unfair practices case against nurses union A federal administrative law judge has dismissed a complaint brought by a nonunion nurse at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center alleging that the union representing nurses at the hospital engaged in unfair labor practices. 2008-11-27
Urgent Appeal: Save Iranian Union Leader from Hanging Iranian teacher union activist Farzad Kamangar may be hanged within the next few hours. According to the Education International, he has been taken from his cell in Tehran’s Evin prison in preparation for execution. The guards have told him he is about to be executed and they are making fun of him, calling him a martyr. 2008-11-26
Tyler Perry to Allow Union Writers The production company owned by the actor and director Tyler Perry, below, will unionize its writing staff under an agreement announced Wednesday with the Writers Guild of America. 2008-11-26
Chinese Labor: Epic Struggle in the Pearl River Delta While Americans were focused on their November presidential election, equally momentous decisions were being made in the Pearl River Delta area of China’s Guangdong Province. The industrial belt stretching from Hong Kong north through the cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan to the provincial capital city Guangzhou (formerly Canton) has become a crucible for an epic struggle over the future direction of Chinese society. 2008-11-25
Global Wages Declining, Inequality Up Later today, the International Labor Organization will release a sweeping report on global wages. I've got a copy and here is the upshot: wages declined in most countries, inequality increase and, thank you very much, a lot of that can be blamed on the wonders of so-called "free trade". 2008-11-25
Now The Auto Bosses Want To Feed At The Public Trough A stage play is being performed in Congress at the moment and the actors are the legislators and US auto industry executives. The auto bosses have come to Washington for their share of the taxpayer's money being handed out quite freely in that city, a city once known for its disdain for "big government". The play is a political drama being staged to convince the US working class that their intense opposition to bailing out the rich can only lead to catastrophe. Throughout the play the politicians chide the corporate heads whose company they frequently keep on the golf courses of America. They are angry with them for their bad management and want to ensure the public sees that they are angry too, and are really on our side.
The G-20 vs. the G-6 Billion The message from last weekend's G-20 summit meeting on the global economy must be a parody of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot: The game can't go on. The game must go on.
In the face of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, European leaders had flirted with the idea of actually trying to change something. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, "Laissez-faire, it's finished. The all-powerful market that is always right, it's finished." As a result, it is necessary to rebuild the entire global financial and monetary system from the bottom up, "the way it was done at Bretton Woods." 2008-11-19
The State of Organized Labor in the U.S. It is sobering to note that U.S. unions have been in decline for the entire worklife of the vast majority of today's workers. It was long ago, in 1955, when unions reached their highest density (that is, the proportion of the total workforce which are union members). Back then, one out of every three workers was a union member. Leaders of the autoworkers, steelworkers and other industrial unions were nationally recognized spokespersons for the majority of working people. At this level of representation, unions set the standard for wages and working conditions not only for their members but also for the non-union sector as well. 2008-11-18
Chamber urges Obama to defer union agenda The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to refrain from pushing legislation to make organizing unions easier until the economy recovers. The Employee Free Choice Act would force an employer to recognize a union if 51 percent of its workers sign cards stating they want to be represented by a union. An election would not be necessary. The bill is organized labor's top priority in the new Congress, and unions spent millions of dollars to help elect Democrats in the Nov. 4 election. 2008-11-08
Transit Union Leader Vows No More Strikes With the transit workers' union suffering from financially crippling penalties for its illegal strike in 2005, the union's president pledged in recently filed court papers that the union had no intention of going on strike again "now or in the future." 2008-11-07
Engineering union rips Boeing's first full contract offer Boeing presented its initial full contract offer to engineering union officials Thursday, including pay and pension increases. Details were not publicly released by either side, but union officials reacted negatively. Ray Goforth, executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), in a statement called the Boeing proposal "an offer that completely misses the interests of our members." 2008-11-07
Union requests clear proposal Another move has been made toward finding common ground between Grain Processing Corp. and its locked-out employees, including the members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 86D. The union held two meetings Thursday and a motion to vote on the latest contract proposal was accepted. The union asked the company to submit a clear proposal including all of the changes that have been made to the previous contract and then the membership will vote whether to accept it.
As Lear workers' jobs vanish, their prospects fade Working an auto electronics assembly line, Elizabeth Rondon, Nedra Banks and Eric Franks probably don't spend a lot of their busy lives contemplating the pros and cons of a merger between General Motors and Chrysler. 2008-11-02
First-Ever Layoffs Loom at Postal Service The U.S. Postal Service faces a serious financial shortfall that is accelerating reductions in its workforce and raising the possibility of the first-ever layoffs of career employees. Reduced mail volume, rising costs, and a newly enacted cap on rate increases all have taken a toll on the Postal Service's finances. A gradual shift to electronic communications and bill payment is shrinking the number of first-class letters, a mainstay of postal revenues. And the current economic downturn has led to drops in advertising mail volume. 2008-11-01
Social Movements 2.0 On September 27, 2007 the world experienced its first virtual strike. In response to a wage dispute, IBM workers in Italy organized a picket outside their company's virtual "corporate campus" based in the 3-D virtual world of SecondLife. According to a report in the Guardian, workers "marched and waved banners, gate-crashed a [virtual] staff meeting and forced the company to close its [virtual] business center to visitors...The protest, by more than 9,000 workers and 1,850 supporting 'avatars' from 30 countries", included a rowdy collection of pink triangles, "sentient" bananas and other bizarro avatars. 2008-10-31
Can "Card-Check" Lead to Labor's Comeback? Employers do everything in their power to make sure workers don't get a chance to vote for a union. They flout labor law, making a joke of the familiar National Labor Relations Board procedures where the government's job is to oversee a "fair fight" election between the union and the boss. As a result, unions have embraced neutrality agreements and card check procedures as an alternative road to growth. Since the mid-1990s their use has accelerated. 2008-10-29
Union votes Saturday on Boeing strike settlement The Machinists union has scheduled a vote on an agreement to end a strike against the Boeing Co. for Saturday. A notice posted on the Web site of Machinists District Lodge 751 in Seattle says voting will be conducted along with the distribution of strike paychecks. 2008-10-28
Union plans to picket at Sutter Roseville Members of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West plan to picket Wednesday at Sutter Roseville Medical Center in response to what the union claims are months of bad-faith negotiations by hospital management. This action coincides with a one-day strike at five Sutter hospitals, five hospitals affiliated with the Daughters of Charity and an independent clinic in Healdsburg. 2008-10-28
A revived grocery union aims at Fresh & Easy Five years ago, the union representing Southern California supermarket workers was a mess. The union locals were nearly bankrupt, members were quitting by the thousands, and the workers had just swallowed some of the biggest concessions ever in the recent Southern California labor movement. The 141-day strike and lockout that ended in 2004 turned grocery shopping into chaos, frustrated shoppers and brought the United Food and Commercial Workers union to its knees. 2008-10-28
Lenox spa reaches $14.75m settlement over tips For 19 years, Canyon Ranch has cultivated an image as a stress-free nirvana for the well-off. Guests of the luxury spa and hotel in the Berkshires plunk down thousands of dollars for weekends of yoga, hydrotherapy, and deep-kneaded body massage. Never did they have to fret over tipping a massage therapist or healing-energy practitioner; an 18 percent service charge, they were told, covered that.
Editor's Note: This settlement was spurred by an organizing drive by local members of the IWW. 2008-10-28
Big pork producer OKs union NC slaughterhouse vote Smithfield Foods dropped a racketeering and extortion lawsuit against a union, which in turn agreed Monday to end its bitter economic and publicity campaign against the nation's largest pork producer. 2008-10-27
Judge sides with union in battle over LAX Hilton Los Angeles labor leaders won a round in an ongoing dispute against the LAX Hilton this week, when a federal administrative judge found that hotel management had wrongfully suspended 77 workers and pushed and threatened others for engaging in work stoppages and other protected activities. 2008-10-25
Transit board imposes contract on union Port Authority of Allegheny County's board unanimously voted Friday to force its largest union to accept a contract that labor negotiators had rejected. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 said the board violated state labor law by imposing the contract and promised to contest the action on behalf of the 2,200 drivers, mechanics and clerical staff it represents. 2008-10-25
First Student School Bus Drivers in Michigan Choose Teamsters Union
School bus drivers with First Student in Mount Clemens, Michigan have taken the first step toward a better workplace by voting 17-10 to join Teamsters Local 614 in Detroit. Earl Walker, President of Local 614, said the Mount Clemens workers became interested in joining the Teamsters when some of them took available work in Pontiac, where drivers are already under a contract. 2008-10-24
Jobless claims increase as labor market weakens New claims for jobless benefits increased by more than expected last week as companies cut jobs due to the slow economy, the Labor Department said Thursday. The Labor Department said new applications for unemployment benefits rose 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 478,000, above analysts' estimates of 470,000. 2008-10-23
GM-Moraine workers may be offered another buyout eneral Motors Corp. will offer workers at its soon-to-be closed Stroop Road plant its second set of buyout- and early-retirement offers in four months, according to information posted by a union on its Web site Friday Oct. 17. 2008-10-17
Union attacks Wal-Mart for closing garage Union leaders accused Wal-Mart Canada Corp. of disregarding Quebec's labour laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, after the world's largest retailer yesterday closed its first garage with a collective agreement. 2008-10-17
Teachers union donates $1 million to oppose Proposition 8 The California Teachers Assn. donated $1 million this week to defeat a ballot initiative seeking to ban same-sex marriage in California, joining the ranks of wealthy gay rights activists and Hollywood politicos as one of the major donors to the campaign.
Judge Says No to Teachers' Campaign Buttons, but Yes to Certain Politicking A federal judge on Friday upheld New York City's policy prohibiting public school teachers from wearing political buttons in the classroom, but said the teachers could place campaign material into colleagues' mailboxes and hang posters on bulletin boards maintained by their union, as long as they were in areas off-limits to students. 2008-10-17
GM to lay off 1,600 workers at 3 factories Another 1,600 workers at three General Motors Corp. factories will be laid off indefinitely over the next few months as the company tries to control its inventory amid a worsening U.S. sales slump. About 700 workers at GM's pickup truck plant in Pontiac will be furloughed starting Feb. 1, while another 500 at the Detroit-Hamtramck sedan factory will be laid off starting Jan. 12, spokesman Chris Lee said Thursday. In addition, 400 workers at a two-seat sports car assembly plant in Wilmington, Del., also will be out of work starting Dec. 8. 2008-10-16
'We need slaves to build monuments' It is already home to the world's glitziest buildings, man-made islands and mega-malls - now Dubai plans to build the tallest tower. But behind the dizzying construction boom is an army of migrant labourers lured into a life of squalor and exploitation. 2008-10-08
Vote to determine future of group's ties to union A secret ballot vote will be taken Tuesday and Wednesday by 303 county employees represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395 to determine whether the union will continue to represent them. 2008-09-28
Mike O'Connell's death reminds of key UAW-Ford battle The death of longtime UAW member and Ford retiree Mike O'Connell Sept. 20 rekindled memories of a moment in the local labor movement with lasting repercussions in the American labor struggle. O'Connell, a tough-as-nails activist who had served as a bodyguard to former UAW President Walter Reuther, was one of only a handful of survivors from the infamous Battle of the Overpass 2008-09-28
Bailout plan makes strange bedfellows . . . Meanwhile, labor leaders, whose organizations have long supplied money and political muscle for Democratic candidates, erupted in dismay over the proposal. Terence M. O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers' International Union, angrily denounced the rationale for the plan. Wall Street investment bankers are "pigs at the trough," he said. "They put themselves in this position, and now they line up to get themselves bailed out by taxpayers. Where is the line for the 3 million ordinary Americans who face foreclosure? Tell me what line they get in. On behalf of our members, who are livid, I resent this." 2008-09-28
Labor Council boosts Armstrong food banks When economic times are at their worst, giving to those in need is at its best in Armstrong County. The Indiana Armstrong Clarion Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO showed how true that is when the organization gave the Armstrong County Community Action Agency food bank a $500 donation from its working families. The Central Labor Council donated to food banks in each of the three counties. 2008-09-27
Postal union leaders fight outsourcing
American Postal Workers Union leaders are fighting a U.S. Postal Service proposal to outsource processing work at the nation's 21 bulk mail centers, saying it could hurt service and result in lost union jobs. 2008-09-14
Tentative deal reached with state workers union Tentative agreement has been reached on a two-year contract that would provide 2 percent average pay raises for workers represented by Washington's largest state employee union. Under the deal announced Friday, there would also be additional raises for workers represented by the Washington Federation of State Employees in high-turnover jobs such as juvenile rehabilitation officers and an extra day off each year in 2009 and 2010. 2008-09-13
Labor Vanishes Organized labor has vanished, as if it were part of the story line of a science fiction novel. Labor Day 2008 came and went and . . . nothing. I searched through the newspaper . . . nothing. I looked at the TV schedule . . . nothing. It was as if there is not and never was anything called organized labor. 2008-09-04
Meatpacker in Brooklyn Challenges a Union Vote . . . If successful, the company's appeal could have repercussions at companies across the country: it is trying to persuade the Supreme Court to rule that illegal immigrants do not have the right to join labor unions. 2008-08-28
Build America so America works There's a saying that goes: The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's true. The struggles of a century ago are alive, here and now. The robber barons built their industrial empires on high finance and the backs of cheap labor. Their battle cry was "tax cuts and deregulation." But on the way to the bank, the industrialists ran into an immovable force -- the American labor movement. 2008-08-24
Union protests low wages, lost jobs About 30 members of a state workers' union rallied against what they called unfair pay and the privatization of jobs Saturday, within earshot of the Governor's Mansion. Members of UE Local 170 gathered on the Capitol steps to call for better wages and benefits before marching down Kanawha Boulevard to their union hall. 2008-08-24
Iowa meatpacking plant cited for safety violations The Iowa meatpacking plant that was the site of a large immigration raid this spring was accused Friday of 31 new and repeat safety violations, state labor officials said. The Iowa Division of Labor Services proposed fining the Postville plant $101,000 for 21 serious violations, six repeat offenses and four non-serious violations. 2008-08-23
Hawker Machinists union votes to strike Machinists union members at Hawker Beechcraft overwhelmingly rejected the company's proposal of a new three-year labor contract Saturday and voted to strike. A work stoppage begins and picket lines go up at 12:01 a.m. Monday, when the current contract expires. 2008-08-03
Union fights governor on pay cuts, layoffs California's largest state workers union filed two challenges Friday to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's order to lay off thousands of workers and drastically reduce the pay of most other state employees to save cash during the budget impasse. The Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents about 94,000 workers, filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court claiming the governor's move to lay off 10,300 temporary employees is unlawful. The lawsuit demands that laid-off workers be reinstated with back pay. 2008-08-02
Mounting job losses point to more economic troubles Employers shed jobs in July for the seventh consecutive month and the national unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday. The losses weren't of the size that signals recession, but analysts think that continued sluggish economic growth lies ahead. 2008-08-01
Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies -- including Wal-Mart. 2008-08-01
Hofstra prof: Young people hit hard by unemployment Hofstra professor Gregory DeFreitas edited and contributed two chapters to a book out this month: "Young Workers in the Global Economy: Job Challenges in North America, Europe and Japan." It gathers analysis by several economists, examining such issues as employment abuse among young workers, inequality of earnings among young workers, trends for health insurance and job fatalities. 2008-07-22
AFL-CIO Launches Union Veterans Council The AFL-CIO today is launching the Union Veterans Council, bringing together veterans and members of military families to hold our leaders accountable on the issues that matter most. 2008-07-10
Union Representing VA Workers Launch Nationwide Radio Campaign, Web Site and Viral Videos for Full VA Funding This week, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) launched a nationwide radio ad campaign raising serious concerns about Senator McCain's commitment to veterans' health care. In addition to the radio ads, AFGE, which represents employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs, launched a Web site, www.fundtheva.com, and a series of YouTube ads featuring union veterans voicing their concerns about McCain's controversial veterans health care platform. 2008-07-09
Court say California labor law abridged free speech AB 1889 enacted the nation's first law to prohibit employers that received state funds from using them to discourage employees from joining unions, although it claimed to be neutral by also prohibiting employers from using state funds to promote unionization, a highly unlikely event. Since it would be virtually impossible to distinguish "state funds" from any other revenues the employer might receive, in effect, it was a complete muzzle. 2008-07-09
Longshore union remembers pivotal 1934 strike Up and down the West Coast on Saturday, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union commemorated the historic maritime strike of 1934, which spurred the formation of one of the nation's strongest unions. 2008-07-06
Lufthansa Faces Flight Disruptions Over Walkouts for More Pay Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe's second-biggest airline, is facing disruptions tomorrow after the pilots' union called on workers to stage strikes over pay. The walkouts will start at midnight and last for 24 hours, affecting flights from all major German airports including the main Frankfurt hub, the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots' union said in an e-mailed statement today. Flights at Lufthansa's regional Cityline and Eurowings carriers will be affected. 2008-07-06
Labor battle line crosses Colo. The national fight over an ambitious effort by labor unions to reverse their generation-long decline is about to come to Colorado - and to the race for the U.S. Senate. Sensing a pivotal moment, unions are pouring $300 million nationally into pushing for a Democratic sweep in 2008, perhaps $100 million more than four years ago. And a bigger chunk than usual is going to congressional races, especially the battle for control of the U.S. Senate. 2008-07-05
Dockworker negotiations continuing A contract is not likely to be signed today between West Coast shippers and the union representing some 26,000 dockworkers, but negotiations are expected to continue running smoothly. 2008-06-30
Herald aims to slash jobs as it farms out printing The Boston Herald plans to lay off 130 to 160 employees this summer and outsource its printing to presses in Chicopee and Norwood. The Herald's president and publisher, Patrick J. Purcell, disclosed the decision after meeting yesterday with union leaders. 2008-06-25
Spirit workers vote to keep SPEEA Spirit AeroSystems professional and technical workers voted to retain union representation at the polls on Tuesday. Workers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace voted 1,073-895 to keep the union. 2008-06-25
Labor probing work of major immigration law firm The nation's largest immigration law firm is under federal scrutiny over whether it helped major U.S. corporations disqualify American job applicants and give thousands of high-paying positions to immigrants. 2008-06-24
United Steelworkers Union Pushing For Green Jobs Hundreds of people are losing their jobs, many of them manufacturing jobs due to the poor economy. The United Steelworkers union is working to create new jobs in the "green" industry for its members, many of whom have been laid off or fired from manufacturing jobs. 2008-06-23
Big win for free speech IN A VICTORY for free speech, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an ill-conceived California law that puts employers who received state money at a decisive disadvantage with labor organizers. 2008-06-23
Court rules bosses can speak against unions A labor-backed California law that barred companies from using funds from the state to campaign against union organizing drives violates federal labor law by limiting employers' free expression, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday. 2008-06-20
East Bay MediaNews workers vote for union Editorial employees at the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and other East Bay newspapers voted to unionize the publications on Friday, a victory for the Newspaper Guild in what some viewed as a test case for organized labor in the rapidly contracting industry. 2008-06-14
Union Workers Threaten Protest Several Dozen United Steel Workers Union members walked circles around the INL buildings in Idaho Falls today. Many of them carrying signs with phrases like "We don't expect more, we just want to be treated fair." 2008-06-13
Union accepts contract offer to end strike The nine-week-old strike at General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products in Marion has ended following a labor union's ratification late Friday of a new contract. Almost two hours after the 4 p.m. meeting began, votes were counted and tallied: 70 percent of the members favored a new contract GDATP offered Thursday. 2008-06-13
When Did the American Dream Turn Into Forced Labor? They sold their homes. They said goodbye to their families. After paying recruiters $20,000 for visas to take part in this nation's H-2B guest worker program, they traveled from India to Pascagoula, Miss. There, the Indian welders and pipe fitters were promised good jobs at the Signal International shipyard and the chance to bring their families here. 2008-06-12
A Leader, His Critics And a Union Divided Three years ago, Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern fomented an uprising against the AFL-CIO. Decrying the decline of membership and lack of focus on organizing, Stern marched a dissident coalition out of the 50th anniversary of the largest labor group in the United States. 2008-05-27
Some US farms outsourced to Mexico Antonio Martinez used to pay smugglers thousands of dollars each year to sneak him into the United States to manage farm crews. Now, the work comes to him. 2008-05-27
UC Workers' Union Votes to Begin Striking More than 1,200 UC Berkeley employees and other university employees across the UC system are scheduled to start striking June 4 if ongoing negotiations between the university and a local union do not yield improved wages for the workers. 2008-05-26
Three women rise to the top of AFT union Hillary Clinton's bid to become the first female U.S. president could falter, but another milestone for women probably will fall into place this summer with little fanfare: Three women are slated to become the first to run a major labor union 2008-05-26
Union pioneer's apartment to be restored The apartment inhabited by Kate Mullany, one of the American labor movement's first women leaders, will be restored under plans developed for the National Park Service. 2008-05-24
Key Ford union post undecided There will be a runoff election next month for union chief at Ford Motor Co.'s Louisville Assembly Plant, a critical post as the automaker prepares to eliminate the night shift this summer. 2008-05-22
Trustee refuses to sign union apology A Conejo Valley Unified School District trustee has refused to sign an apology letter to the teachers union and instead asked for mediation in a case that likely will now go to litigation. 2008-05-22
The battle for labor's future When an internal fight at a trade union erupts into the news, American culture has a ready frame. It's Marlon Brando versus Lee J. Cobb in "On the Waterfront" once again, perhaps updated by a recent episode of "The Wire," set among the corrupt and gritty longshoremen of the Baltimore docks. Or it's a modern-day retelling of the Jimmy Hoffa/Teamsters story, destined to end in another mysterious gangland murder. 2008-05-22
FAA, union disagree over South Bend airport staffing The control tower at South Bend Regional Airport closed for more than an hour this month because of a staffing shortage, and the head of the local air controllers union says it could happen more frequently unless changes are made. 2008-05-21
Arbitrator backs union in hospital dispute A third-party arbitrator has rejected the objections of Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center over a union election. The decision, announced Tuesday, means nearly 300 registered nurses will be represented by the California Nurses Association. 2008-05-06
Clashes mark May Day in Turkey Riot police in Turkey have clashed with labour activists trying to gather in Istanbul's Taksim square to celebrate May Day.
U.S. Unemployment Benefit Rolls Climb to 4-Year High The number of Americans receiving unemployment insurance climbed to a four-year high, a sign of a weakening labor market as employers remain reluctant to hire. First-time claims for jobless benefits also rose. 2008-05-01
Union wants to 'know what's going on' with city layoffs Atlanta union leaders said Tuesday that any layoffs of city employees should include the same percentage of upper-level management as lower-paid workers. Leaders of the 357-member Professional Association of City Employees said they suspect city officials will instead let go a higher percentage of non-supervisory employees to help balance a budget expected to have a $140 million shortfall. 2008-04-29
Longshore union strikes against war On Thursday, May Day, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will declare an eight-hour strike to protest the war in Iraq. Since the ILWU controls every port along the U.S. Pacific Coast, including Seattle and Tacoma, this strike demonstrates the collective power of workers willing to use it. 2008-04-29
May Day row stirs tension in Turkey Tensions ran high between the Turkish government and trade unions ahead of May Day Thursday as demonstrations were banned at an iconic square in Istanbul, the scene of bloodshed three decades ago. 2008-04-29
They've Got A Union Workers at a West River laundry plant ended a year-and-a-half-long labor struggle with a climactic vote. 2008-04-28
Union says rally successful Adrian King, president of UAW Local 235, said Thursday's rally at the headquarters of American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. was successful despite the arrest of one UAW member. "It was a very peaceful demonstration," King said. But while peaceful, it was also tense. At times, protesters blocked entrances to the company's parking lots by walking in front of cars and yelling at drivers. 2008-04-27
Longtime labor activist keeps on with GE fight SCHENECTADY, NY -- The General Electric workers trickled out of the factory Thursday and headed toward the island in front of the company's sprawling Schenectady campus, where they joined the aging retirees who have rallied here for years. Holding signs that say "COLA NOW" and "Current Guaranteed Minimum Pensions," the group marched slowly in a circle. 2008-04-20
UAW threatens another strike WARREN, Mich. -- General Motors Corp. dodged one strike at a key factory Friday, but the United Auto Workers threatened to walk out at the main plant that builds the hot-selling Chevrolet Malibu. 2008-04-19
Auto Workers Fight 50 Percent Pay Cut Demand Holbrook Avenue is a busy thoroughfare stretching from I-75 to downtown Hamtramck, a small town enclosed on all sides by Detroit. Cars honk in support of striking members of UAW Local 235 as they pass five picket lines filled 24 hours a day on both sides of the street along the large American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM) complex. 2008-04-15
State labor board rules against Hampton firefighter union The town did not commit an unfair labor practice when it laid off four firefighters in 2005 "due to lack of funds." The state Public Employee Labor Relations Board last week denied the firefighters union claim that the positions were cut in what they referred to a case of "political payback." 2008-04-04
Housing troubles immobilize U.S. labor Dr. Michele Morgan migrated last fall from Detroit to Phoenix, taking a job as a psychiatrist. She expected her husband, Sam Kirkland, to join her soon, since he was accepting an early-retirement package from his employer, General Motors. But he cannot move, he says, because he has not been able to sell the four-bedroom family home. 2008-04-03
In Kirk and Giannoulias Debate, Le Alan Jones Wins Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias debated on Meet The Press Sunday morning. After half-an-hour of Kirk hoisting a chart with the names of Broadway Bank’s mobbed-up customers, and Giannoulias failing to name even one issue on which he differed from the party, we have a winner: Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones. 0000-00-00