Friday, May 29, 2015

Today's Teamster News 05.29.15

Teamsters
Red Cross workers vote to join Teamsters local in Wichita  Wichita Eagle  ...The Teamsters union said a group of American Red Cross workers who collect blood for the organization in Kansas have voted to join Teamsters Local 795 in Wichita. According to a Teamsters news release, the Wichita bargaining unit will represent 91 workers. The workers voted 64-13 to join the Teamsters, the release said...
Port Truckers Revive Drive for Employee Status  Wall Street Journal  ...Backed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, port truckers have been filing formal complaints against their employers for years, arguing that they’ve been classified illegally as independent contractors. Alex Paz, a drayage driver in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area who participated in protests earlier this year, said vehicle payments and maintenance often are deducted from drivers’ paychecks, which he believes is unfair...

Global Labor & Trade
New Polls Spotlight Damage of Past Trade Deals, Reveal Opposition to TPP Content  Public Citizen  ...You may have seen the headlines about today’s Reuters/Ipsos poll and yesterday’s Pew poll, touted as showing public support for trade deals. A close look at the polls  reveals that they did not even ask about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Fast Track, the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), or any other element of the controversial current trade policy agenda. The U.S. public likes the general notion of trade but opposes the documented results of past trade deals...
Top Dem: Trade deal could restrict access to cheaper medicines  The Hill  ...Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, says a new trade deal could be a “major step backwards” on access to affordable medicines. In an op-ed Thursday, Levin raised concerns that the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which the U.S. is negotiating, will curtail access to generic drugs...
Just in time for House trade debate, opponents find new ammunition  McClatchy  ...The global trade body (World Trade Organization) in Geneva set off a scramble on Capitol Hill last week when it sided with Canada and Mexico in a dispute over the U.S. country-of-origin meat-labeling law, saying it put foreign competitors at a disadvantage.
Obama Trade Bill Seen Gaining Enough Support for Final Passage  Bloomberg  ...Passage of the measure in the Senate last week -- after a brief rebellion by Democrats -- has proven to uncommitted House members that the legislation will come up for a vote. Lawmakers will have to choose between the business lobby, which backs the bill, and labor, environmental and other groups that bitterly oppose it...
AFL-CIO leader warns labor could sit out 2016 fight over trade  The Hill  ...AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka warned Hillary Clinton that his powerful labor union coalition might not endorse her presidential campaign if she comes out in support of the controversial trade deal making its way through Congress. Trumka first said in an interview with USA Today that it would cost Clinton the enthusiasm of organized labor if she backed the Trans-Pacific Partnership...
Is US Trade Rep a Wall Street Crony? Groups Demand Transparency.  Common Dreams  ...Noting deep ties between the country's top trade negotiator and Wall Street banks, ten groups representing millions of Americans are calling on the White House to make public all communications between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the massive financial institutions that stand to benefit from proposed trade deals...
Nigeria Petrol Strike Hits Country  BBC  ...Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, is hit with a strike by petroleum companies. Shops are forced to close their doors as delivering goods becomes impossible, and factories across the country shut down production...

State & Living Wage Battles
Michigan May Add Another Hurdle To Getting Welfare  Think Progress  ...Experts say tying welfare benefits to school attendance isn’t the best way to encourage kids to stay in school. Researchers agree that the problem is more of an economic one than a matter of insufficient financial rewards or punishments for parents whose children are frequently absent...
Right-to-work loses in Illinois house, heads for Missouri veto  People's World  ...In a huge rebuke to right-wing GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's anti-worker agenda, the Democratic-run Illinois House voted his so-called right-to-work bill down, 72-0. While 37 state House Republicans, following Rauner's orders, voted present, another four didn't vote at all. One, Raymond Poe, joined the Democrats in opposing RTW...
Walker says he would be 'pleased' if prevailing wage repeal part of state budget  Star Tribune  ...Gov. Scott Walker says he would be "pleased" if a repeal of Wisconsin's prevailing wage law were a part of the state budget, but he'd also be satisfied with significant changes to the requirement setting construction wages for public works jobs. Walker reiterated his support Thursday for a full repeal, saying he believes that makes sense and is what he prefers...
Irvine bucks the trend as council votes to repeal living wage law  LA Times  ...As cities across the country are warming to the idea of increasing the minimum wage, Irvine is headed in the opposite direction. City Council members voted Tuesday to repeal the 2007 ordinance. A second council vote is needed to finalize repeal of the living wage law. The council meets again next month...
House Leaders: Bill Expanding Worker's Compensation Needs Further Study  Hartford Courant   ...A bill that would significantly expand the workers compensation system for police and firefighters is unlikely to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives this year. House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Minority leader Themis Klarides both said Wednesday that further study is needed before the legislation is ready for a vote...

U.S. Labor
AFSCME pushing bill to prevent state workers from going on strike, being locked out  State Journal-Register  ...The state's largest public employee union is pushing a bill that would prevent state workers from striking or being locked out in the event talks on a new labor contract stall. Instead, the labor dispute would be handed over to an arbitrator to resolve through binding arbitration...
How We're Voting on the Union, and Why  Gawker  ...Yesterday, Gawker Media announced that we will be holding an election next week to vote on whether our editorial staffers want to form a union. The vote next week is to decide whether we want to agree to collectively bargain as a group, and join the Writers Guild of America, East...
No agreement reached between BP and USW at Oregon refinery  NBC  ...According to a spokesman for BP, the United Steelworkers Union and BP have not reached an agreement. Scott Dean, BP spokesman, says a new collective bargaining agreement has not been reached for employees working at the BP-Husky Toledo Refinery. Even though local issues are not resolved, the union wants to call off the strike and return its members to work...
Union Demands That The Streetcar Open And Fired Workers Be Rehired  DCist  ...The ATU has filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, but it could be weeks or months before it gets resolved. In the meantime, a handful of union members and supporters took to the corner of H and 14th streets NE last Friday to show support for the fired workers and pressure the city to finally open the project. "[The streetcar] needs to become the job creator they said it would be"...

Miscellaneous
Detroit Shuts Off Water For 1,000 Poor Residents Despite City Council’s Call To Stop  Think Progress  ...The Detroit Water and Sewage Department began shutting off water to about 1,000 delinquent accounts on Tuesday, against the wishes of the city council. The department would not make the exact number of households affected available. It distributed about 3,000 door hangers earlier in the month warning residents...
US economy shrinks 0.7% in first quarter as strong dollar eats into growth  The Guardian  ...A harsh winter, a strong dollar and falling oil prices took their toll on the US economy in the first quarter, the Commerce Department revealed on Friday. The quarterly economic decline is the first since the economy shrank by an even sharper 2.1% annual rate in the first quarter of 2014. A bleak winter also contributed to that decline as consumers stayed home and some businesses closed...
Extreme Wealth And Absolute Squalor: Homelessness In Silicon Valley  Think Progress  ...In Silicon Valley, abundant wealth commonly lives alongside absolute squalor. The same county that houses Yahoo!, Google, and scores of other digital money mines is mired in a costly ongoing failure to address rampant homelessness. “The dichotomy here is just astonishing,” Destination: Home executive director Jennifer Loving told ThinkProgress...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Albuquerque YRC drivers reach 19M accident, injury-free miles

Albuquerque YRC drivers are honored for their achievement.
YRC Freight recently held an employee safety ceremony to celebrate two years of accident-free driving by its Albuquerque, N.M. drivers. It’s a continuation of an all-time YRC company record, marking a total of 19 million consecutive accident and injury-free miles by all 85 Albuquerque line drivers.

The company presented the specially designed and updated trailer saluting the drivers' achievement at the celebration, which proudly includes the names of all the drivers and the logos of the New Mexico Teamsters and the IBT.

The trailer was originally presently last September at the 15 million mile celebration, when each driver received a die-cast replica of the equipment and tee-shirts commemorating the amazing accomplishment. In January 2015 drivers reached the 19 million mark and the trailer was updated to reflect that.

As of last September, 35% of these YRC Teamster drivers had driven one million miles or more, two had driven over 4 million miles, two over 3 million miles and 27 drivers had worked more than 25 years injury free.

The IBT and Local 492 are very proud of our brothers at YRC and wish to congratulate them on this amazing record. And thanks to Local 492 for the heads up!

Today's Teamster News 05.28.15

Teamsters
American Red Cross Workers Choose Teamsters Union  Teamster.org  ...American Red Cross workers who collect blood throughout the state of Kansas have voted overwhelmingly, 64-13, to join Teamsters Local 795 in Wichita, Kan. There are 91 workers in the bargaining unit.
Stephanie Daniels, a three-year Collection Technician II at Red Cross, helped lead organizing efforts...
Edgewood Center Employees Vote to Become Teamsters  Teamster.org  ...After a hard-fought 11-month campaign, direct care staff at Edgewood Center for Children and Families in San Francisco finally got the news they’ve been waiting for — they are officially Teamsters. “It feels so incredible to finally be able to call ourselves Teamsters,” said Residential Counselor Ashley Nims...
A Foolish Attempt to Weaken Truck Safety  New York Times  ...Public interest groups such as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; the Teamsters, which represents truck drivers; and the Obama administration have objected to the trucking provisions in the House bill. And with good reason. In 2013, the latest year for which data is available, 3,964 people died in accidents involving large trucks...

Global Labor & Trade
How The White House And Paul Ryan Are Making Sure Forced Labor Remains Part Of Their Trade Deal  Huff Post  ...The House of Representatives will quickly get down to unfinished business once it returns from the holiday recess: defending trading partners that engage in slavery. The House, according to sources familiar with trade deal negotiations, plans to strip Senate language from fast-track legislation that would ban countries that are the worst human-trafficking and forced-labor offenders from being part of big trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership...
Here’s how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill  The Guardian  ...Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes. The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters. The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors. The amounts given rise dramatically when looking at how much each senator running for re-election received...
State Department Officials Pass Through Revolving Door, Lobby for Passage of TPP  The Intercept  ...While Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is refusing to reveal her position on the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, other former State Department officials are actively supporting the agreement. They’re just not bothering to reveal their conflicts of interest...
Obama’s Asia trade deal faces mounting opposition in House  Washington Times  ...After a victory in the Senate, President Obama’s push for a huge free-trade deal with Asia faces a higher hurdle in the House, where an unusual coalition of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats oppose granting him more executive power. While Republican lawmakers have been fighting Mr. Obama’s “power grab” for years, even some members of the president’s own party are now using the argument about executive overreaching to defy his request for special trade-promotion authority...
Why Is The U.S. Desperate To OK Slavery In Malaysia?  Huff Post  ...Observers are left with a deeper question: Why, in the year 2015, is the White House teaming up with Republican leaders essentially to defend the practice of slavery? Understanding this is key to understanding why President Barack Obama has been pushing so aggressively for a trade deal that so many of his allies insist will harm American workers...
Democrats recount labor's pressure tactics  Politico  ...The real fight over the trade agenda has always been in the House, and that’s where organized labor has been focusing for months. The aggressive effort has left even members who’ll be voting labor’s way bruised, and others who’ll be supporting President Barack Obama anxious enough that many won’t discuss their experiences publicly, instead dispatching staffers to speak on their behalf...
Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership is more treaty than trade deal  (opinion) The Hill   ...The latest draft of the TPP comes out to around 1,000 pages, making public review a challenge even without the severe time constraints fast-track would impose. In reality the deal is more treaty than tariff reduction measure and should not even be eligible for fast-tracking. This deal needs to be fully reviewed as a treaty, debated and voted on by the U.S. Senate in full sunlight, with a two-thirds vote requirement to ratify...
Pro-TPP arguments show desperation   (opinion) Aljazeera America  ...In the last few weeks, TPP advocates have repeatedly tripped up, getting their facts wrong and their logic twisted. This hit parade of failed arguments should be sufficient to convince any fence sitters that this deal is not worth doing. After all, if you have a good product, you don’t have to make up nonsense to sell it...
Cameron Sets Up Battle With Labor Unions Over Strike Laws  Bloomberg  ...U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron set himself on a collision course with labor unions as his government announced legislation limiting the right to strike. Ballots for strike action will only be valid if more than half of eligible workers take part...

State & Living Wage Battles
New Jersey Workers Are Making Paid Sick Leave A Big Question For Christie On The Campaign Trail  Think Progress  ...Members of NJWF organized a protest outside a New York City fundraiser for the likely presidential contender’s super PAC, the latest in a series of demonstrations the group has held at Christie fundraisers in cities which already have paid sick leave legislation. “We need to pass a statewide bill that will cover the 1.2 million workers who regularly have to choose between their livelihood and their heath and the health of their family”...
Scott Walker Dumped as Chair of the Jobs Agency He Created  Truthout  ...Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won his election in 2010 on a promise to create 250,000 new jobs. To lead the effort, Walker created his flagship Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in 2011 and named himself Chairman. Now, as allegations of cronyism and corruption engulf WEDC, the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee has removed Walker...
Scott Walker is a giant fraud: Reagan worship, bizarre religious beliefs, and the real story of his long crusade for 2016  Salon  ...In 2011, Walker blamed teachers, snow-plow drivers and other public workers for the budgetary problems caused by the Great Recession, cutting their benefits to “repair” state finances. Four years later, Wisconsin has an almost identical budget deficit. His response to the current budget crisis is to force public schools and the University of Wisconsin system to shoulder the brunt of the cost...
Minimum wage hike to $9.60 gets R.I. Senate panel approval  Providence Journal  ...Rhode Island moved another step closer to a fourth increase in its minimum wage in four years Wednesday.
The Senate Labor Committee unanimously approved an amended bill that would raise the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $9.60 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016. There was no committee discussion...
Florida Senate offers Medicaid compromise, Rick Scott and the Kochs reject it  Daily Kos  ...Florida's Senate President Andy Gardner offered a compromise Tuesday to try to get the state's legislature out of a budget impasse. That impasse could be resolved, the Senate has maintained, by accepting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. So, to try to get a recalcitrant House and Gov. Rick Scott to agree, Gardner modified the Senate proposal. That was quickly rejected by Scott and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli...
GOP lawmakers advance prevailing wage repeal  Journal-Sentinel  ...s Assembly Republicans moved a bill repealing Wisconsin's prevailing wage law out of committee Wednesday, Gov. Scott Walker made clear he supports ending or overhauling the 84-year-old policy that sets a minimum wage for construction workers building publicly funded projects...
Don’t Like Minimum Wage Increases? Be Mad at the Top Earners  TIME  ...Some argue that increasing the federal minimum wage would be bad for the economy, would cause layoffs, and would kill small businesses. These arguments have been disproven not only by time and experience, but also by longitudinal research studies, according to the Department of Labor...

U.S. Labor
UAW Rival at VW Represented by 'Union Avoidance' Expert  ABC News  ...The rival group to the United Auto Workers union at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee brands itself as local, independent and free of outside influence or political agenda. But the American Council of Employees won't divulge how it is funded, and the lawyer who recently filed the group's overdue disclosures with the U.S. Department of Labor touts his expertise in "union avoidance"...
10 reasons Wal-Mart is the worst company in America  Salon  ...The retail giant’s famous anti-union policies are nothing new and appear to be getting worse all the time. As further proof of this, a new Walmart training video leaked online has illustrated the specific propaganda the company feeds their employees to prevent them from organizing...
UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta's story to be featured at Smithsonian  Bakersfield Californian  ...The accolades keep coming for Bakersfield resident Dolores Huerta, a pillar of the agricultural labor movement of the 1960s ande '70s. She'll be featured starting this summer at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The story of the modern agricultural workers' movement and Huerta's colorful life are deeply intertwined...
Negotiations continue between UAW, Ford  Lima Ohio  ...nited Automobile Workers Local 1219 and Ford Motor Co. Lima Engine Plant are currently negotiating the next contract, though national discussions have not yet started. The first meeting between local UAW representatives and Ford was April 28, said Mike Felix, plant manager at the Lima Engine Plant...

Miscellaneous
Dems Back Debt-Free College as Issue Moves Into Election Spotlight  Common Dreams  ...Nine additional Democratic senators on Wednesday came out in support of a resolution calling for debt-free public college, bringing to 20 the total number of Senate Dems who support the measure, introduced only a month ago by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The resolution calls on federal and state governments, along with higher education institutions, to work in concert to lower tuition costs, increase financial aid, and reduce the burden of existing student debt...
Given Rampant White-Collar Crime, FIFA Raid Raises Questions About DOJ Priorities  Common Dreams  ...While the early morning raid and arrest of several high-ranking officials with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) captivated the international news circuit Wednesday morning, many observers were left wondering: With so many corrupt bankers, politicians, and other one-percenters still free to walk the streets here in the United States, why has the U.S. Department of Justice set its sights on FIFA?...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Former SEC members call out agency for inaction on corporate contributions

Secret corporate political spending is a scourge on U.S. democracy. And despite inaction by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the matter, a bipartisan collection of former SEC members are speaking out saying something has to be done now.

The Teamsters joined with others to call out the SEC last fall.
In a letter sent today to SEC Chairman Mary Jo White, former SEC Chairmen William Donaldson (R) and Arthur Levitt (D), as well as former SEC Commissioner Bevis Longstreth (D) said it is time for the agency to put in place mandatory political spending disclosure laws so that investors know about corporations' giving practices.

They noted when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the 2010 Citizens United case, the court expected the SEC to issue rules that would give investors transparency on the company donations. And a petition signed by a record-breaking 1.2 million people also called for intervention. The three wrote:
To date, the Court’s expectation of disclosure, which can only be assured by SEC rule, has been denied. It is now five years since Citizens United and almost four years since Petition 4-637 was filed. The Commission’s inaction is inexplicable. Its failure to act offends not only us, who are alumni of this agency struggling to retain our deep pride of association, but investors and the professionals who serve them. And it flies in the face of the primary mission of the Commission, which has since 1934 been the protection of investors. To use a metaphor, mandatory disclosure of corporate political activities should be a “slam dunk” for the Commission.
The Teamsters have been outspoken critics of this inaction as well. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa wrote in a Reuters column a year ago:
Companies increasingly are playing an outsized role in U.S. elections. In many cases, they donate money to advocate controversial policies that could antagonize their customers and undermine their businesses. Because so many of these contributions are not disclosed, however, shareholders are left in the dark and unable to evaluate potential conflicts or risks.
That's not how it should be. Unions need to disclose their contributions. And millions of people making retirement investments have a right to know about how the companies they’ve purchased shares in are spending their cash. Many times, political contributions end up biting corporations in the backside and cost their investors dearly. Teamsters, through affiliated pension and benefit funds, have more than $100 billion invested in capital markets. The union relies upon the SEC to ensure that as investors the Teamsters are provided accurate and transparent financial reports by the companies with whom we invest.

Government needs to be responsive to its citizenry. Corporations shouldn’t get a pass on following the same rules as organizations that represent workers.

Today's Teamster News 05.27.15

Teamsters
Retired Funeral Directors, Teamsters Local 727 Reps Stand Up For Workers at Shareholders Meeting  Teamster.org  ...Longtime employees and Teamsters Local 727 representatives on May 13 called out funeral industry giant Service Corporation International’s poor business practices and called on its Board of Directors to take action during the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Houston...
National Red Cross Negotiations Begin  Teamster.org  ...Last week, leaders from eight national unions met with representatives from American Red Cross in Washington,  D.C., and reached an agreement to formally enter into national negotiations. This is a significant step in ensuring Red Cross’ mission and its employees are moving towards a brighter future...
Can the Taxi Union Get the Courts to Shut down Uber and Lyft in DC? DC Inno  ...Uber, Lyft and Sidecar were given an unfair advantage by the regulations approved last year by the D.C. Council according to the Metro Area Taxi Operators Association. The taxi union, which is affiliated with the Teamsters, filed a class-action lawsuit with six D.C. taxi drivers in U.S. District Court against the city on Friday...

Global Labor & Trade
House GOP split jeopardizes trade deal  Politico  ...Democrats in Congress are in open warfare with President Barack Obama over his pitch for fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals, but conservative dissenters are conducting their fight quietly behind closed doors — even though they may be the key to approving the deal...
GOP turns to Tea Party to win trade powers for Obama  The Hill  ...House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and GOP leaders have turned to some unlikely allies to rally support for a key trade bill: Tea-Party conservatives, including some prominent names from the raucous House Freedom Caucus. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently tapped Rep. Tom McClintock to give the weekly GOP address, in which the conservative Californian declared: “Trade means prosperity”...
Forced Trade and the Damaging Effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership  (opinion) In These Times  ...Senators who voted last week to Fast Track ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) call it a free trade deal, but really, it’s forced trade imposed on protesting American workers who have endured its damaging effects for decades. Under the free trade regime, rich and powerful corporate interests have hauled in ever-higher profits as they shipped manufacturing overseas to low-wage, no-environmental-regulation countries...
WaPo Takes Another Shot at Senator Warren on Behalf of the TPP (opinion) CEPR  ...The fast-track authority needed to get the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress must be in real trouble. Why else would the Washington Post devote so much space to pushing the deal and attacking its critics? The latest was a diatribe by editorial board member Jonathan Capehart which is directed largely at Senator Elizabeth Warren. The piece starts by basically calling Senator Warren a liar for describing the TPP as "secret"...
How One Country Is Poised To Hold McDonald’s Accountable  Think Progress  ...Brazil’s Senate will hold public hearings on worker allegations that McDonald’s has flouted the country’s strict labor protections for decades, union officials announced on Thursday. When politicians solicit worker testimony at the August hearing, they will create a second forum within the Brazilian government for a slate of allegations that echo accusations in the United States...
Why the Philippines’ Deadly Factory Fire Will Not Be the Last  The Nation  ...The deaths of 72 workers at a sandals factory in the Philippines earlier this month is sadly not shocking news; risk of mass death is practically considered a regular cost of doing business in the regional factories. But the blaze coincides with two grim anniversaries for Global South labor: the death of more than 1,100 workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, and the subsequent launch of a landmark safety program for Bangladesh factories...
Striking Mineworker Injured, 6 Arrested in Peru  Solidarity Center  ...Six mineworkers were arrested and one injured from police gunfire yesterday as some 100 workers protested at the Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion in Lima, Peru. The miners, who have been on strike for 17 days at Buenaventura’s Uchucchacua silver mine in the coastal region north of Lima, are calling for immediate improvement in safety and health conditions in the mines...

State & Living Wage Battles
John Kasich on campaign trail: No need for right-to-work law  Cincinnati  ...Gov. John Kasich says he still believes Ohio doesn't need a right-to-work law, even though he last week rescinded union rights for roughly 15,000 health-care and child-care workers. The governor's increasingly moderate stance on unions had drawn criticism from fellow Republicans – whom he's courting as he explores a possible bid for president...
Prevailing wage supporters plan defense as repeal petitions are approved for circulation  MLive  ...Construction trade groups say they plan to publicly defend Michigan's prevailing wage law in the face of a petition drive seeking to repeal it. "Let me tell you one thing, we're not going to take this lying down by any means," said Patrick "Shorty" Gleason, legislative director of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council...
Bucking GOP leadership, Assembly panel to take up prevailing wage law  Journal Sentinel  ...Three weeks after an effort to repeal the state's prevailing wage law failed in a Senate committee, an Assembly panel will make its own attempt to get rid of the policy that sets a minimum wage for those building roads, schools and other public infrastructure. The move goes against GOP legislative leaders. They have said they want to rewrite the law, not repeal it...
Ted Cruz's Iowa Chairman Spent $250K to Stop People From Voting  Mother Jones  ...By tapping Schultz, Cruz also tied himself to Schultz's leading cause: trying to restrict voting under the guise of combating voter fraud. During his four years as secretary of state, Schultz spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to unearth evidence of fraud but ended up finding little and being cited for the mismanagement of public funds...
LA’s Min. Wage Will Be $15 by 2020. But This Bay Area City’s Minimum Will Be $14.44 By July.  In These Times   ...Most of the increases will be implemented gradually over several years. LA’s minimum wage, for example, will reach $15 by 2020. But earlier this month, one small California city decided that its low-wage workers shouldn’t have to wait that long for a living wage. This summer, Emeryville will set a new national precedent when its minimum wage surges to nearly double the federal rate...
Senate committee to vote on proposed minimum wage hike  WPRI  ...Rhode Island’s lowest paid workers could soon be getting another raise. The Senate Labor Committee is set to vote Wednesday on legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. If approved, the $1.10 increase would go into effect January 1...
Better Pay Comes Only When We Demand It  (opinion) CounterPunch  ...The nation’s second-biggest city joins Seattle, San Francisco and little Emeryville, Calif., in forging the way to a decent minimum. These victories are a product of the demonstrations and protests of fast food and other low-wage workers. They risked their jobs to demand decency. They put a human face on workers who labor full time but can’t lift their families out of poverty. They exposed the lie that these were transitory jobs for the young while they went to college or high school..

U.S. Labor
Public-Sector Jobs Vanish, Hitting Blacks Hard  New York Times  ...The decline reverses a historical pattern, researchers say, with public sector employees typically holding onto their jobs even during most economic downturns. Because blacks hold a disproportionate share of the jobs, relative to their share of the population, the cutbacks naturally hit them harder...
NLRB dismisses union complaint against Boeing’s North Charleston site  Post and Courier  ...The National Labor Relations Board said it has dismissed a complaint filed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in the wake of the union’s canceled vote at Boeing Co.’s North Charleston operations. The IAM had accused Boeing of “deliberately encouraging and promoting harassment, assaults and threats of violence against union supporters”...
T-Mobile US touts workforce gains, draws CWA ire  RCR Wireless  ...T-Mobile US continues to court controversy with its labor practices as the mobile operator announced the expansion of a call center in Alabama while at the same time the Communications Workers of America has asked T-Mobile US parent company Deutsche Telekom to “protect” worker rights at those locations...
Why turning the Postal Service into a bank isn’t nearly as ridiculous as it sounds  Salon ...The American Postal Worker’s Union, which represents over 200,000 clerks and support service staff, is in the middle of contract negotiations, and has vowed to make postal banking part of their core demands. APWU President Mark Dimondstein praised the Inspector General’s report, saying it “confirms that the Postal Service can act now to provide consumers with affordable financial services while strengthening our trusted national treasure, the public Postal Service”...

Miscellaneous
Robert Reich: Corporate Collusion Is Rampant and We All Pay the Steep Price  Alternet  ...The banks had engaged in the biggest price-fixing conspiracy in modern history. Their self-described “cartel” used an exclusive electronic chat room and coded language to manipulate the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency exchange market. It was a “brazen display of collusion” that went on for years, said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. But there will be no trial, no executive will go to jail, the banks can continue to gamble in the same currency markets...
8 Ways Robots Are Taking Over Our Jobs and Our World  Alternet  ...One of the next great challenges American workers are starting to face is the increasing automation of jobs that previously could only be done by a living, breathing human being. Here are eight jobs that robots are taking over as they take over the world...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Los Angeles shows a $15 minimum wage is possible

The $15 an hour minimum wage fight gained some serious momentum last week when the Los Angeles City Council approved such a pay rate for workers in the nation's second-largest city. And those pushing to bring a living wage nationwide are making it clear they aren't done yet.

Thousands protested for a $15 minimum wage last week.
Getting local elected leaders to sign off on such an increase, which will be phased in between now and 2020, was not easy. It took months of back-and-forth with members of the City Council and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to get it done. But the 14-1 vote in favor of the raise shows the measure had broad support.

It also shows, as the New York Times wrote in an editorial, how badly needed it is:
Workers’ share of the economic pie has been shrinking for decades, as the gains from labor productivity have flowed increasingly to profits rather than pay. A result has been an economy that is less resilient and more unequal. Low-wage workers who have been demonstrating for higher pay are leading politicians where they need to go, and the real leaders among those politicians are following the workers.
More efforts like this are essential because income inequality is a growing problem is this country. A report released late last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that wealth inequality has soared in the last three decades, with the top 0.1 percent share of wealth growing from seven percent in 1978 to 22 percent in 2013.

A proven way to level the playing field is to join a union like the Teamsters. The labor movement takes a stand for increased wages, raising the standard of living for hardworking Americans, ensuring quality working conditions and better benefits for workers and their families. And the median union employee makes more than $200 a week more than a non-union one.

But that isn't possible for all workers. Which is why the efforts of workers, unions and community groups in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle -- which all have approved plans to increase their minimum wages to $15 -- are so essential.

The campaigns may not ultimately be the same in other places. But they will still result in more pay for low-wage workers. As reported in the Washington Post:
Supporters in other cities and states know that a $15 minimum wage just won’t fly. Some have much lower wage levels already, like Kansas City, where activists are pushing a new $13 minimum wage. Some boosted their minimums recently and don’t have an appetite for more. Still, activists are exploring other options.
The push for a living wage is alive and well. It's time for more elected officials -- including those in Congress -- to join the party.

Today's Teamster News 05.26.15

Teamsters
Teamsters Local 986, Valet Workers Temporarily End Strike at SLS Hotel  Teamster.org  ...Today, valet parking attendants at SLS Hotel and Casino, along with Teamsters Local 986, are temporarily ending the unfair labor practice strike launched Wednesday at SLS Hotel and Casino. The strike could resume at any moment should SLS management continue to disregard the National Labor Relations Act and refuse to allow its 50 valet parking attendants to exercise their federally protected rights...
Teamster Taxi Drivers File Lawsuit Against D.C. Over Legislation Favoring Ride Services  Teamster.org  ...Today, D.C. taxi drivers and their Washington, D.C. Metro Area Taxi Operators Association filed a class action lawsuit against the District of Columbia over an unfair, two-tiered system that gives a competitive advantage to ride services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar over taxi operators...
Hoffa Statement on Senate Fast Track Vote  Teamster.org  ...Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa in response to the Senate’s approval of a fast track bill today that will make it easier for bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to move through Congress: “The Teamsters are taking a stand against fast track because it’s right for U.S. workers and right for this country. That doesn’t change because of this disappointing outcome in the Senate"...
Teamsters: Any Delay in Infrastructure Funding Costs Jobs, Economic Opportunities  Teamster.org  ...Today, the Senate followed the House, and approved a two-month extension of the Highway Trust Fund, yet again choosing to delay finding a long-term solution on how to fund the repair and maintenance of our aging infrastructure. This marks the thirty-third short-term funding measure passed by Congress in six years and the third in the last year alone...
A Memorial Day Message From Jim Hoffa  Teamster.org  ...For more than a century, the Teamsters have seen some of our union brothers and sisters go off to war and not come home. We also know that many of our members have lost family and friends in such conflicts as well. The Teamsters are humbled by the sacrifice made by all these soldiers, and we wish those affected by their loss comfort and peace...
Teamsters, Basic Crafts Unions Reach Deal With Producers  Variety  ...Hollywood Teamsters and four other Basic Crafts Unions have reached a tentative agreement with producers on a three-year successor deal to the master contract. The new deal — which covers about 5,000 below-the-line employees — was concluded Thursday after four days weeks of negotiations between the unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers...

Global Labor & Trade
U.S. Fast-Track Vote Bolsters Talks on Pacific Trade Pact  Wall Street Journal  ...The U.S. Senate’s passage of fast-track legislation has injected fresh momentum into talks on a landmark Pacific trade deal, with negotiators saying they are in the final stages of discussions after more than five years of wrangling. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said he feels good about progress on the deal...
‘Fast track’ trade fight advances  Politico  ...The US Senate on Friday approved a “fast track” trade promotion authority bill that will help President Barack Obama conclude a massive agreement with the Asia-Pacific and with European Union. The 62-37 vote followed two weeks of debate on the measure, which would allow the White House to submit trade agreements to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without any amendments...
No Pacific trade deal meeting until U.S. fast-track passes - Chile  Reuters  ...States hoping to set up a free trade zone across the Pacific can not hold a key meeting until both houses of the U.S. Congress pass legislation speeding the passage of the deal, a Chilean minister said, underscoring another major hurdle for the pact. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would cover about 40 percent of the world's economies from Japan to Chile, is nearing completion after more than five years of often heated negotiations...
Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks in ‘Last Stage’  Wall Street Journal  ...Chile says negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal are at the final stage, and the passage of a major legislation in the U.S. Friday moves negotiators a step closer to holding concluding meetings. “We are in the last stage of TPP negotiations,” Chile’s Deputy Trade Minister Andres Rebolledo, who is representing Chile in negotiations for the trade pact, told The Wall Street Journal...
The TPP Is Corporate America's 'Precious,' but the House Is Mount Doom  Huff Post  ...For all the unexpected drama of the U.S. Senate, though, the real threat to fast track and the TPP has always been in the very heart of Republican political power: the House. Although corporate Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner are eager to pass fast track, tea party insurgents are suspicious of handing President Obama the power to negotiate trade agreements in secret...
Unions plan nationwide trade protests  Politico  ...Unions are keeping their fight against a trade bill alive. The AFL-CIO and its allies are organizing dozens of events over the Memorial Day recess to keep the pressure on House Democrats and Republicans as the chamber nears consideration of “fast-track” trade legislation...
Farmers Fight Real Estate Developers for Kenya's Most Prized Asset: Land  Truthout  ...In the early 20th century, this region was the site of territorial clashes between the British imperial army and native Kikuyu warriors. Today, the colonial threat has been replaced by a different challenge: real estate developers. Ramadhan Njoroge told IPS that his community’s worst fears came to life this past January, when several smallholder families “awoke to find markers demarcating land that we had neither sold nor had intentions to sell”...

State & Living Wage Battles
Backers of bid to repeal prevailing wage law seek initial OK  WLNS  ...The group announced last week the submission of a citizens’ initiative to repeal Michigan’s law requiring workers on state-financed construction projects to be paid prevailing union-scale wages. If roughly 252,000 valid voter signatures are collected, the bill would go to the Legislature...
Voter photo ID initiative petition filed by Missouri Secretary of State candidate  Missourinet  ...A Republican candidate for Missouri Secretary of State has filed an initiative petition aimed at requiring voters in Missouri to show photo ID at the polls. Jay Ashcroft’s petition, if successful, would ask voters to change Missouri’s Constitution to allow photo ID to be required when voting...
How States Are Trying To Make Life Harder For The Poor  Think Progress  ...At the beginning of July, a new restriction will go into effect for recipients of welfare in Kansas that will only allow them to withdraw $25 in benefits a day. But it’s not the only state that has been looking for ways to make life harder on the poorest. Others have imposed drug tests and harsh limits without evidence that the policy changes would do much good...
Not Lovin' It: Thousands Storm McDonald's Head Quarters to Protest Low Wages  Truthout  ...In the largest protest of its kind, thousands of McDonald’s employees stormed the company’s headquarters on May 20 to demand that it stop spending millions manipulating stock prices, and start paying workers a living wage. McDonald’s cashiers and cooks came to the company’s shareholders meeting, at its corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. More than 100 were arrested for refusing to leave the property...
LA’s Minimum Wage Workers Just Won $15 an Hour—How Many Will Actually Be Paid That?  The Nation  ...Nearly half of Los Angeles just gave itself a raise. Following a wave of state and local minimum-wage bills and initiatives, Los Angeles became one of the largest cities to dramatically raise its hourly base pay. Still, with sky-high housing costs, Los Angeles will remain unaffordable for a large swath of low-income families, even on a steady job at $15 an hour...

U.S. Labor
If You Get Memorial Day Off, You’re Lucky  Think Progress  ...There is no law guaranteeing that workers get paid holidays in the United States. That makes it stand out from 13 developed peer countries that do require companies to offer at least some paid holidays, ranging from one day in France to 13 in Austria and Portugal. But in all other developed peers, workers can at least be assured that they will get paid vacation days that they could use to take a holiday if they wanted...
Tunkhannock teachers strike, promise unfair labor practice complaint  Times Leader  ...Tunkhannock Area School District teachers abruptly hit the picket lines Friday and their lead negotiator promised an unfair labor practice complaint will be filed following the school board’s rejection of a new contract Thursday. Walking the picket line outside the district administration building this morning, lead negotiator John Holland put the blame for the strike on the shoulders of School Board Member Kimberly Teeters...
Union representatives urge UC to support bill guaranteeing contractors, UC employees receive similar pay  Daily Californian  ...Union representatives called on the UC Board of Regents to support a bill that would ensure that workers employed by private university contractors are compensated comparably with university employees doing similar work. Advocates of Senate Bill 376 — including union AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger and California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski — publicly asked UC President Janet Napolitano to support the measure...
Why don't poor people just get jobs? Because they already did.  Daily Kos  ...The contrast between hardworking Americans and shiftless, lazy, poor people is a favorite of Republicans as they try to cut safety net programs like food stamps or housing assistance. But—even if you believe that people who don't work should starve—it's a contrast based on a lie. In reality, a majority of people living in poverty who can work, do work...

Miscellaneous
America’s Housing Developers Are Almost Exclusively Building Luxury Units  Think Progress  ...America’s housing developers have been hard at work in the past three years. But their labor has only exacerbated the affordable housing crisis that afflicts most of the country’s population centers. Out of every five multifamily rentals built in the country’s biggest cities from 2012 to 2014, four were luxury apartments “that command rents in the top 20 percent of the market”... 
Bernie Sanders Takes It to Wall Street With Financial Transactions Tax  Truthout  ...Last week Bernie Sanders, the Senator from Vermont and only announced challenger to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, took a strong stand for everyday people. He proposed a financial transactions tax (FTT), effectively a Wall Street sales tax, and to use the revenue to make public colleges tuition free. While making college affordable to low and middle income families is important, the proposal for an FTT is a real game changer...
America will die old and broke: The systematic right-wing plot to ransack the middle-class nest egg  Salon  ...Private pensions have indeed been systematically destroyed in recent decades, and replaced by “defined contribution” 401k plans. The conventional wisdom is that pensions are “too expensive,” but this is the heart of the lie. A great many private pensions were once over-funded, but a change in law allowed companies to “invest” the “excess” funding in other parts of their business...
Farmers Cut Back as Beleaguered California Hit by Water Loss  Common Dreams  ...A day before California accepted voluntary water cutbacks by farmers, vandals targeting an inflatable dam in Fremont sent 50 million gallons of water meant for the city's residents flowing into the San Francisco Bay. "This is a very significant loss of water under any circumstances, and more so in the drought conditions we are experiencing," Robert Shaver, the Alameda County water district general manager...