Monday, March 2, 2015

Wisconsin Teamsters Continue the Fight Against Right to Work


Local 344 President Bill Carroll.
Wisconsin's indefatigable Teamsters were out in the cold wind in the state capital on Saturday, Sunday and today to protest the probable passage of a right-to-work (RTW) bill. That's not all they're doing, though. They are giving speeches, training stewards, holding craft meetings, testifying before the Senate and the Assembly and contributing to DRIVE.

Rob Moss, Business Agent for Teamsters Local 695 in LaCrosse, was at all the rallies. He tells us Bill Carroll, President of Teamsters Local 344 in Milwaukee, Joint Council 39, revved up the crowd on Saturday: 
Brother Bill Carroll gave a very inspiring speech on behalf of all Teamsters. He was very well received by the entire crowd. He was spot-on with his accuracy in regards to the right-to-work legislation. Brother Bill is one of joint Council 39's political liaisons. Brother Carroll was very informative about the needs of all of the unions to keep their members informed and most of all to keep up the members' involvement in the union efforts in the political arena.  
It's important that everybody understands -- especially our members -- this is not the end of the world. We have to deal with the results of next week's vote if it comes to pass and is negative. We are holding steward seminars and craft meetings in our Joint Council 39 effort to enlighten our members as to the effects of RTW. Locals 695, 200 and 662 held those Steward Seminars the last two weeks with the help of our legal counsel. 
It's our hope that some of the Republicans would come to their senses and realize the harm Governor Walker is imposing on American working men and women.
Mike Westphal (l) and Tom Millonzi. 
Here's the kind of effort Wisconsin Teamsters are putting into the fight: Tom Millonzi, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 200 in Milwaukee, told us the subject of DRIVE came up during Saturday's stewards' training. And then:
Mike Westphal, who has been out on a workers' comp back surgery issue -- and who will not be returning to the job -- pulled out his checkbook and made a one-time $100 donation to DRIVE. 
The Center for Media and Democracy reported something we all know: The right-to-work bill is being pushed by special interests linked to the Koch brothers:
As the Wisconsin legislature gets ready to ram through a union-busting bill that will significantly impact the economy of the entire state, Wisconsin's newest member of the Senate asked perhaps the most pertinent question of her Republican colleagues: "what beating hearts are for this bill?" 
The question was posed by Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) who was elected to the Wisconsin Senate in November 2014. She represents the far north where bitter winds and waves make spectacular ice caves that bring thousands to the frozen shores of Lake Superior. 
Bewley noted that the bill, which harms unions by allowing workers to opt out of paying their fair share for union representation, was moving so fast that most of her constituents, who get their news from weekly newspapers that come on Thursday, would not even learn about it before the Senate vote. 
While Democratic senators read letter after letter from workers and business leaders objecting to the measure that will lower wages and up-end critical training programs for builders and laborers, Brewley highlighted something the average observer might not notice: "I have not heard one person in the outer ring [of Republicans] speak of a single beating heart that is for this bill." 
But that matters little to the array of special interests that have arrived in Wisconsin to provide "experts" and astroturf cover for the anti-worker measure.
Good advice.
We'll try to post Brother Bill Carroll's speech soon. Keep an eye out!

Today's Teamster News 03.02.15

Teamsters
Wage Segregation Robs Women in Peak Earning Years  WeNews   …Some women are beginning to challenge these practices. Among them is Teamsters Local 237, the union that represented the 5,000 school safety agents in New York in the four-year lawsuit against the city...
Trade
Bernie Sanders Calls Out Media For Not Covering Obama's Trade Deal  Huffington Post   …Adding to the chorus of protest over President Obama’s push for a controversial new trade pact with Asia, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sounded off on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and accused mainstream media of not covering what could be one of the biggest trade agreements in history...
Why big trade deals never seem to work for America  The Week   …The boosts to America’s conglomerate national income brought about by recent free trade deals have gone overwhelmingly to the elite, while overseas competition has hollowed out a lot of the manufacturing jobs that supported the middle class. If you look at changes in global income over the last quarter-century, just about the only group that hasn’t seen any serious growth is roughly the top quarter — right where the U.S. working and middle class sits. But the global elite have made out like bandits...
State Battles
Right-to-Work legislation heads to the Assembly; public hearing set for Monday morning  WITI   …The Wisconsin Assembly on Monday, March 2nd will take up “Right-to-Work” legislation. This, after the Wisconsin Senate last week voted 17-15 to send Senate Bill 44 to the Assembly...
Scott Walker, GOP presidential hopeful, is poised to sign Wisconsin's right-to-work law  Los Angeles Times   …For Gov. Scott Walker, who ignited a spate of anti-union activity in recent years and has risen to become a national figure in the Republican Party, the new law is part of a platform that some see as strong enough to carry him to the presidential nomination...
War on Working Hoosiers  Times Herald Online   …House Democrats introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage in Indiana to $9 an hour. Predictably the Republican controlled House killed the measure quickly in committee. ... The state has gained a reputation as a low wage alternative for less than skilled jobs. A recent study found that of the 50 states Indiana now has one of the highest percentages of its workforce working at or below minimum wage. Almost 7 percent of all Hoosiers are minimum wage workers...
War on Workers
Corporate Borrowing Now Flows To Shareholders, Not Productive Investment: Study  International Business Times   …fresh research shows that in the past three decades corporations increasingly borrow simply to reward shareholders...
"Accounting Gimmicks" in Social Security  The Economic Populist   …The first attack on Social Security this year was with the false accusation that there was rampant fraud in the disability program, when two different reports show only 0.4% fraud in the program — far less than any other government program — and probably far less than employee theft in the private sector — and much less that's found in the defense industry...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Today's Teamster News 03.01.15

Teamsters
Teamsters picket car hauler outside GM Lordstown plant  WFMJ   …A local union gathered in Lordstown at the General Motors plant – not to protest GM, but to picket the company that transports the finished cars…
Nashville Chapter TNBC Holds Successful Awards Banquet  teamster.org   …The Nashville Middle TN Valley Chapter of the Teamsters National Black Caucus (TNBC) held its Third Annual awards banquet titled “Education and Accountability” on February 21, 2015 in Nashville, TN. The event was successful despite the icy weather conditions that night...
Trade
Wyden should side with Merkley, working families on trade agreement (OPINION)  oregon Live   …Because of his seniority on the Senate Finance Committee, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has a pivotal role in determining the future of the TPP… Given what we know of the trade pact, Wyden's stated concern for the middle class should make him a skeptic, if not an adamant opponent, of the TPP...
State Battles
Thousands Protest Wisconsin's Right-To-Work Bill At The State's Capitol  Reuters   …Wisconsin unions bused in thousands of workers from around the state on Saturday to demonstrate against the impending adoption of a law that would ban private sector workers from being required to join a union or pay dues...
War on Workers
Austerity Kills: Economic Distress Seen as Culprit in Sharp Rise in Suicide Rate Among Middle Aged  naked capitalism   …Suicide rates for adults between 40 and 64 years of age in the U.S. have risen about 40% since 1999, with a sharp rise since 2007. One possible explanation could be the detrimental effects of the economic downturn of 2007-2009, leading to disproportionate effects on house values, household finances, and retirement savings for that age group...
Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work  New York Times   …The share of American men with criminal records — particularly black men — grew rapidly in recent decades as the government pursued aggressive law enforcement strategies, especially against drug crimes. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, those men are having particular trouble finding work. Men with criminal records account for about 34 percent of all nonworking men ages 25 to 54...
Education Department Terminates Contracts With Debt Collectors Accused Of Wrongdoing  Huffington Post   …The U.S. Department of Education, under fire for its lackluster oversight of student loan contractors, said Friday it will terminate its relationship with five debt collectors after accusing them of misleading distressed borrowers at "unacceptably high rates."...
How wages in services vs. goods-producing jobs explain relative GDP growth during Recoveries (Hint: producing goods is better)  Angry Bear   …The singular difference between losses in the Great Recession and the 3 previous ones is that, in prior recessions, service jobs were relatively untouched, while in the Great Recession, nearly as many service jobs were lost (4.5 million) as were goods-producing jobs (5.0 million)...

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Today's Teamster News 02.28.15

Teamsters
Drivers For Apple, Yahoo, EBay, Zynga, Genentech and Amtrak Join Teamsters  teamster.org   … Drivers who transport employees for six big Silicon Valley companies have voted overwhelmingly 104 to 38 in favor of representation by Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif...
CDT Workers Ratify First Union Contract  teamster.org   ...Nine months after emphatically voting to join Teamsters Local 727, nearly 700 paratransit drivers, garage attendants, dispatchers and customer service representatives at Cook DuPage Transportation (CDT) in Chicago have ratified their first union contract...
Shaw’s fights Teamsters’ effort to unionize Maine pharmacists  Bangor Daily News   ...Shaw’s Supermarkets is fighting an effort by the Teamsters union to organize the chain’s pharmacists at 16 stores in Maine, arguing its pharmacy managers are supervisors and therefore are not able to join a labor union...
Trade
Trade critics take to Senate floor — Cutler: U.S., Japan close to deal — Anti-TPP group threatens Wyden with primary  Politico   ...A group of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats took to the Senate floor Thursday to oppose his flagship trade initiative, the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which they said would lead to big job losses and give big corporations too much power over public health and safety laws...
Sen. Elizabeth Warren Kicks Off Assault Against Secret Trade Agreement  Crooks and Liars   ...Elizabeth Warren is going after the TPP (yay!) and the White House is saying, oh, you misunderstood. But we've already seen the kind of insane copyright protections this administration wants - the kind that makes it impossible for other countries to make generic copies of needed medication, for instance...
TTIP: Transatlantic Trade Deal Text Leaked To BBC  BBC News   ...The trade union Unite said "real risks" remained because of the dispute resolution mechanism TTIP is expected to include. The union's Scottish regional secretary, Pat Rafferty said: "Last week Lord Livingston tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the Scottish people...
Canada Won't Take 'No' For An Answer On Keystone XL  Forbes   ...Canada’s leadership, including its prime minister, Stephen Harper, has repeatedly made clear its annoyance with the Obama administration’s Hamlet-like deliberations over the pipeline, suggesting that American rejection of the proposed project — which requires a special permit from the White House to cross the border — was simply not an option...
State Battles
WV Senate Leader Says Right-To-Work Bill Dead This Session  Associated Press   …Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael said a push to make West Virginia a right-to-work state is dead this session...
No One in Wisconsin Asked to Kill Unions Except Special Interests  The Daily Beast   ...This death warrant for unions wasn’t drafted in Wisconsin though. The fingerprints of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing special-interest group, were found all over the bill. Nevertheless, Governor Scott Walker is ready to sign it after dealing unions a mortal wound in 2011 by ending the right to collective bargaining for public employees...
Construction Workers Rally Against Eliminating Prevailing Wage  Las Vegas Sun   ...Union and nonunion workers overwhelmed hallways and committee rooms. They marched outside, waved banners and filled committee rooms to watch lawmakers vet SB119, one of the most controversial bills in this year's legislative session...
Maine Shows That Publicly Financed Elections Really Can Work  Moyers and Company   ...It worked well for several cycles. Hundreds of candidates were able to run and win office without prostrating themselves before big donors and lobbyists. Farmers, waitresses, and others who usually can’t make their voice heard in politics were able to go to Maine’s state capital Augusta and represent their constituents free from the influence of special interest cash...
War on Workers
How One Community Is Kicking The Koch Brothers' Harmful Black Dust Out Of Their Neighborhood  Huffington Post   ...It’s not easy to take on a wealthy, multi-national corporation and win. Especially for residents of Chicago’s struggling southeast side. But that’s exactly what's happening on the banks of the Calumet River, where the steel plants that used to give residents of a mostly Hispanic neighborhood access to a middle-class lifestyle were replaced, nearly two years ago, with black dust called petroleum coke (“petcoke”) piled five or six stories tall...
Oil Train Wrecks Increase Pressure For Tougher Safety Rules  Philadelphia Inquirer   ...Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries...
Railroads Want One-Man Crews On Massive Freight Trains  NBC News   ...Railroads have proposed eliminating the job of on-board conductor on most trains, leaving just an engineer aboard. The workers argue that one-person crews will mean more out-of-control trains, like the runaway that caused the Lac-M├ęgantic disaster in 2013...
L&I Probing Death Of Mabton Dairy Worker  Yakima Herald Republic   ...State workplace safety officials are investigating the drowning in a manure lagoon Wednesday of a 27-year-old old dairy employee...
Miscellaneous
Gas’s Drop Drives U.S. Into Deflation Territory  Wall Street Journal   ...Driven by a tumble in oil prices since mid-2014, the consumer-price index fell 0.1% in January from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the first year-over-year decrease since October 2009. Prices fell 0.7% from December...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Teamsters and allies rally against fast track trade authority for TPP

Teamsters and allies have a message for U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen. 
Teamsters rallied today in Rockville, Md., to urge congressman Chris Van Hollen to stand with Marylanders and all working families to oppose fast track legislation.

They were joined by concerned citizens and environmentalists in Courthouse Square Park near the congressman's office. Van Hollen, a Democrat, has not committed to opposing a bill to fast track secretive trade deals that lower wages and cost jobs.

Thomas Ratliff, President of Teamsters Local 639 in Washington, D.C., said fast track is the wrong track:
Fast track will let Congress rubber-stamp the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will lower wages, send jobs overseas, and undermine our food safety.
Our allies at the Sierra Club sent out a press release about the action:
Fast track would allow the executive branch to send already-signed trade agreements to Congress for limited debate, no amendments, and a straight up-or-down vote, thereby limiting the ability of Congress to ensure that trade agreements protect communities and the public. This would include the TPP and any other trade deals going forward.

“Communities across the country are taking action to rebuild their broken food systems from the ground up,” said Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Director of International Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “The trade rules in TPP would threaten those achievements. We need to find ways to raise food, environment, and climate standards to their highest levels on terms that are fair to farmers and consumers. But to do that we need to say no to fast track, and yes to democracy and food sovereignty.”

Environmentalists are concerned that fast tracking the TPP would threaten environmental safeguards and encourage corporate attacks on clean air and water protections. Previous fast track bills have failed to address how trade deals should adequately protect the environment.

“Trade policy should include strong and binding environmental provisions that commit to reduce air and water pollution, protect endangered species, ban trade in illegally taken wildlife, and fight climate disruption. It must be legally binding with enforcement provisions, obligating countries and investors to uphold domestic environmental protections and safeguards,” said Stan Boyd, Executive Committee Member of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We call on Congressman Chris Van Hollen to vote against fast track, which rushes trade pacts through Congress without oversight and protections.”
The rally was hosted by the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Teamsters, Food and Water Watch, Communication Workers of America, AFSCME and others.

Today's Teamster News 02.27.15

Teamsters
Teamsters Seek To Unionize More Tech Shuttle Bus Drivers In Silicon Valley  San Jose Mercury News   ...Shuttle bus drivers for five prominent tech companies will decide whether to unionize on Friday in a vote that has the potential to dramatically expand organized labor's territory in Silicon Valley and embolden others in the tech industry's burgeoning class of service workers to demand better working conditions...
Teamsters-Represented Rail Traffic Controllers In Canada Ratify Labour Deal  RTT News   ...Canadian National Railway Co. announced that members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference-Rail Canada Traffic Controllers union have ratified a new labour agreement. The four-year agreement covers approximately 180 rail traffic controllers in Canada...
Roma Warehouse Workers In California Win Teamster Representation  teamster.org   …California warehouse workers at Roma Food, a Performance Food Group company, have voted by a 3-1 margin in favor of joining Teamsters Local 630 in Los Angeles, Calif. All 53 workers in the bargaining unit participated in the Feb. 25 election...
Bill To Eliminate Michigan's Film Incentives Gains Traction In House Committee  MLive   ...Unions and supporters of the film industry testified against the bill in the House Tax Policy Committee on Wednesday. "We took those jobs from Hollywood and brought them here," said Bill Black, Legislative Liaison for the Teamsters Local 337 in Michigan...
Swissport/Servisair YYZ Below-The-Wing Workers Pick Teamsters Over USW  Aviation Pros   ...Servisair and Swissport below-the-wing employees in Toronto chose the Teamsters over the United Steelworkers as their union, in a representational vote conducted by the CIRB...
Trade
The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose (opinion)  Washington Post   ...The United States is in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free-trade agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other countries. Who will benefit from the TPP? American workers? Consumers? Small businesses? Taxpayers? Or the biggest multinational corporations in the world?...
Elizabeth Warren’s next target: Trade deals  Politico   …The Massachusetts senator is stepping up her criticism of the administration’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a centerpiece of the president’s second-term agenda, saying it could allow multinational corporations to gut U.S. regulations and win big settlements funded by U.S. taxpayers but decided by an international tribunal...
White House sees China as trump card in trade debate  Reuters   ...The Obama administration is confident lawmakers will warm up to a proposed Pacific free trade deal on the grounds that it is a chance for America to dictate the rules of Asian trade rather than China, a top official said on Thursday...
Nurses sound a CODE BLUE in D.C. on Fast Track and TPP  Daily Kos   ...With the White House and some of the biggest multinational corporations lobbying Congress to “fast track" the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal between the United States and 11 other countries, National Nurses United today converged on the nation’s capital to explain that what’s good for investors’ balance sheets is not necessarily good for patients...
NAFTA’s Specter May Haunt Keystone Verdict  Politico   ...The 21-year-old free-trade pact allows foreign companies or governments to haul the U.S. in front of an international tribunal to face accusations of putting their investments at risk through regulations or other decisions. The CEO of Keystone developer TransCanada has raised the prospect as a potential last resort if Obama rejects the $8 billion project, although for now the company is focused on getting him to say yes...
State Battles
Walker: I took on unions, I can take on ISIS  The Hill   …Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) argued his fight with unions has prepared him to be commander in chief during his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. "If I can take on 100,000 protestors, I can do the same across the world," Walker said in response to a question about international terrorism...
Wisconsin, Workers and the 2016 Election  New York Times   ...In a nation where the long decline in unions has led to a pervasive slump in wages, Republicans’ support for anti-union legislation is at odds with their professed commitments to helping the middle class...
Wisconsin is poised to become the 25th right-to-work state  Los Angeles Times   ...Sometime in the next few weeks, Wisconsin will likely become the 25th state to get a right-to-work law, opposed by organized labor because it eliminates the requirement that workers must pay union fees...
House Passes Right-To-Work Bill On 37-30 Vote  Albuquerque Journal   ...A bruising political battle over whether to add New Mexico to the list of states with right-to-work laws is moving on to the Senate after the House voted 37-30 late Wednesday to approve the change in state labor laws...
‘Right-to-work’ clears House but faces tough battle in Senate Santa Fe New Mexican   ...Last week, both Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith of Deming and Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces publicly committed not to helping Senate Republicans “blast” the bill to the Senate floor if the legislation gets stuck in a Senate committee, as expected. Without those two conservative Democrats, even backers of the bill say privately that this greatly hurts the chances of the bill to pass...
Logan County Becomes Right-To-Work  News-Democrat Leader   ...By passing a Right-to-Work ordinance, Logan County officially agrees with a law that prohibits union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers, that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees’ membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring...
Michigan Right To Work Law Would Extend To Police, Firefighters Under Midland Lawmaker's Proposal  MLive   ...A newly-elected state representative from Midland has drafted legislation to extend the reach of Michigan's Right to Work law to public safety personnel, the only union members exempt under the 2012 law...
Prevailing Wage Bill Clears First House Hurdle  West Virginia Metro News   ...The measure, which has passed the Senate, would transfer the responsibility of determining the wage from the Division of Labor to WorkForce West Virginia and business experts from West Virginia University and Marshall...
War on Workers
Why It's So Difficult to Repair Stuff: It's Made That Way   of two minds   ... once Corporate America books the sale, they're done with customers...
New York Couple Accused of Torturing Housekeeper Over Missing Jewelry  Gawker   …A couple in Bayside, Queens is accused of kidnapping their housekeeper at knifepoint, allegedly burning her body with a plumber's torch while questioning her about missing cash and jewelry...
Worker killed by lift at Sarasota mall  FOX 13 Tampa Bay   …Deputies say a man was crushed to death by a scissor lift at the Westfield Sarasota Square shopping mall...
Miscellaneous
FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules For 'Open Internet'  NPR   ...The Federal Communications Commission approved the policy known as net neutrality by a 3-2 vote at its Thursday meeting, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the policy will ensure "that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet."...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Teamsters protest Sprouts Farmers Market in Bakersfield, Calif.

Protesting Sprouts in Bakersfield, Calif.
Teamsters protested Sprouts Farmers Market at its Bakersfield, Calif., grand opening yesterday because the company is supplied by UNFI, which violates health codes and abuses communities and workers.

Teamsters were joined at the protest by grocery distribution workers and community leaders. They distributed balloons and leaflets that read, “Sprouts: Unhealthy for our Community,” and fly swatters that read, “Shop & Swat at Sprouts.”

Marc Moran, an organizer at Teamsters Joint Council 42 in Pomona, Calif., said:
UNFI and Sprouts both claim to be values-driven organizations. Both companies have benefited from consumers’ shift toward food and groceries that are perceived to be ethically sourced in a sustainable manner. We are here today to inform the public about UNFI’s unconscionable behavior.
UNFI has $6 billion in revenue and is America’s largest organic and natural foods wholesaler. Sprouts Farmers Market was taken public by private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which is still a major direct holder of Sprouts.

In Moreno Valley, Calif., UNFI broke federal laws that protect workers’ rights when it intimidated, threatened and fired workers. In November 2014, the federal government certified the Teamsters Union as the drivers’ union in Moreno Valley after UNFI managed to delay the ballot counting for over a year on a technicality. Yet, UNFI still refuses to recognize the workers’ union.
Another view of the protest against Sprouts.
Steve Vairma, Teamsters Warehouse Division Director, said:
It’s time for UNFI to stop the bullying and stop the intimidation. Over the years, UNFI has tried to undermine workers who have asserted their rights protected by United States law, even where the Teamsters have been certified as the workers’ union through federally supervised elections. UNFI wants to destroy its workers’ fundamental rights to join together to improve their working conditions.
Randy Korgan, Organizing Director for Teamsters Local 63 in Covina, Calif., described how UNFI intimidates workers:
Whenever a group of workers at a UNFI warehouse or truck yard attempt to form a union, UNFI management brutalizes them with a barrage of tactics based on contempt and fear, solely for the purpose of intimidating their own workers. It's time Sprouts took a stand to stop this illegal bullying behavior in their supply chain. We expect that Sprouts, with its claim to be values-driven, would tell its suppliers to treat the local workers and local community with respect.
Across America, UNFI has taken massive tax subsidies while local school systems struggle. UNFI recently built a warehouse in this manner in Hudson Valley, N.Y. The company took 15 years’ worth of tax breaks, even though the community has experienced major cuts in the local school district’s education budget and has seen property taxes rise.

Organic consumers also worry that UNFI, with its acquisition of Sacramento, Calif.-based Tony’s Fine Foods, is veering away from a professed commitment to organic food – possibly straying toward factory farming and undermining the further growth of sustainable farming and food consumption.