Another trade union leader killed in Colombia, why does our administration insist on Colombian FTA?

"2,510 killings of trade union leaders in the last ten years in Colombia" -IMF article

From International Metalworkers' Federation - IMF (3/27/08) :
Colombian trade union leader assassinated

COLOMBIA: The National Union of Coal Mine Workers, SINTRACARBON, has reported the deplorable news of the assassination of Adolfo González Montes, the union's leader and a member of the Barrancas branch committee.

The union said its leader was tortured and killed at his home on March 22. It also expressed its concern that several other union leaders have received threatening telephone calls and been subjected to harassment, with unknown persons prowling round their homes.

SINTRACARBON is the union of workers at the Carbones del Cerrejón company, owned by the multinationals BHP Billiton (Australia), Anglo-American (London) and Glencore/Xstrata (Switzerland). The company mines coal in the Guajira region of Colombia. Read Full Story
From Public Services International (3/27/08)
On 6 March hundreds of thousands of people participated in events in 102 cities in Colombia and around the world in solidarity with the victims of the paramilitary and the crimes of the State. By means of a public communiqué, the Government pointed out that it did not support this demonstration, but offered guarantees for the programmed events to take place. Nevertheless, Mr. Gaviria made public declarations referring to the planned demonstration as a march “convened by the FARC”. Despite a request by the organisers of the 6 March Global Action Day, no Government spokesperson withdrew these assertions. This situation generated an increasingly tense atmosphere which was further exacerbated by the declaration of the paramilitary group, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, claiming that guerrillas were responsible for instigating the march. In the lead-up to 6 March, organisations promoting the day of action in Nariño were threatened and on 28 February, gunshots were fired at march organiser, Adriana González, in her apartment in Pereira.

Four trade unionists were assassinated during the week of the 6 March protests:
  • Carmen Cecilia Carvajal, teacher. Killed 4 March, in Ocaña.
  • Leonidas Gómez Rozo, member of the bankworkers union, Unión Nacional de Empleados Bancarios (Uneb), President of the CITY-BANK Employees Union. Killed on 5 March, in Bogotá.
  • Gildardo Gómez Alzate, teacher and activist of the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (Adida). Killed 7 March, in Medellín.
  • Carlos Burbano, vice-president of the National Hospital Workers’ Union who led the local 6 March demonstrations, disappeared on 9 March in San Vicente del Caguán. His body was found in the municipal rubbish dump, his face disfigured by acid.
Read Full Story
From Afl-Cio Webblog story entitled "Act Now to Stop Colombia Free Trade Deal" (3/24/08)
Photo credit: Colombia Indymedia

A Colombian worker in Bogata protests the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
With the U.S. economy in near free fall, President Bush has said he will send the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to Capitol Hill and demand a vote before he leaves office next January. Bush has made passing this agreement, which will do next to nothing for the failing U.S. economy, a priority.

Despite objections by the Democratic congressional leadership, the administration may formally send the agreement to Congress as early as next week when Congress returns from its Easter recess on March 31. Under Fast Track trade authority rules, the House of Representatives would likely face an up-or-down vote on the Colombia deal before the end of July.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is calling for an all-out nationwide mobilization to let members of Congress know that working Americans oppose this deal because it is wrong for workers in both countries. (Click here to tell your representative to oppose a trade deal with Colombia until their government makes real progress in protecting the lives and rights of union members.)

Says Sweeney:

The Colombia FTA represents a continuation of the Bush administration’s failed trade policies, an agenda that has contributed to the loss of over 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, skyrocketing trade deficits and paychecks that are shrinking at an accelerating rate.

Meanwhile, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a union member—39 trade unionists were murdered in 2007, and another 11 to date in 2008. Of the more than 2,500 murders of trade unionists since 1986, only about 70 cases—around 3 percent—have resulted in convictions. Read Full Story
Act Now! Click Below!!

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Read more on what is happening in Colombia at Labourstart

Just the fact that the "independent" lobbyist for Big Business, the US Chamber Of Commerce, has posted a comment on this site which links to their "facts" about Labor Violence in Colombia can help you visualize exactly who stands to gain. Chamber Post even goes as far to state "We believe that free trade IS fair trade and it is time to level the playing field for American workers."

Edward Schumacher-Matos, CEO and editorial director of Meximerica Media, in a Op-Ed piece in the NY Times states in reference to Human Rights Watchs' position on the Colombia FTA, "they are harming Colombian workers in the process. The trade agreement would stimulate economic growth and help all Colombians.". I couldn't help but think of Bill Clinton selling us NAFTA under the "this will bring up the conditions of all workers in Mexico to the standards of the United States" idea.

It was bullshit then, history shows its bullshit now.

American Axle moves to hire strikebreakers

From: World Socialists Web Site (3/29/08) :
By Joe Kay

Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

Click here to download this article as a leaflet.

There are indications that American Axle & Manufacturing is preparing to hire strikebreakers to crush the nearly five-week-long walkout by 3,600 workers at plants in Michigan and New York. The workers are on strike against demands from the company that they accept a two-thirds cut in wages and benefits.

According to an article in the Detroit Free Press on Sunday, American Axle is hiring workers at all four plants shut down as a result of the strike, which began on February 26.

The company claims it needs the new workers to replace any workers who accept buyouts as a result of some future deal. No credibility can be given to this claim, however. American Axle and its Wall Street backers are determined to crush the resistance of the strikers whose opposition has become a focal point against the wage-cutting contracts imposed on auto workers throughout the industry.

Having failed to intimidate the workers thus far, the company is now threatening to bring in strikebreakers, knowing full well that this would lead to major picket line confrontations in Detroit and the Buffalo area, which the United Auto Workers union would have difficulty containing.

There are several signs that the company is stepping up its provocations against the workers as the strike begins to have a broader impact throughout the auto industry. Last week, American Axle CEO Richard Dauch threatened to move all American Axle operations to other plants in the US and internationally if he does not get the wage cuts he is demanding.

The Free Press cited a former president of United Auto Workers Local 235 in Detroit—the company’s largest location—as saying that the company will have at least 20 replacement workers brought into plants on Monday. Renee Rogers, a company spokeswoman, denied that any workers would go back on Monday.

American Axle has acknowledged, however, that it has asked workers laid off before the strike began to report back to work. According to WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, letters sent to 230 workers in New York instruct them to return to work on Monday or face the loss of unemployment benefits from the company.

The American Axle strike has already forced General Motors to partially or fully shut down almost 30 plants in the US, Canada and Mexico, affecting nearly 37,000 workers. On Monday, a car assembly plant in Detroit-Hamtramck that makes the Buick Lucerne and the Cadillac DTS will be idled. Another assembly plant, in Lordstown, Ohio, is expected to stop production on April 4. The strike has so far impacted the production of trucks and sport utility vehicles for which GM has high inventories. This is not the case with the passenger cars assembled at Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown.

The strike has also led to layoffs at other auto parts companies that supply GM and could lead to the idling of two Chrysler factories as well.

Major financial institutions are beginning to voice concern over the effect of the American Axle strike on GM. Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache has lowered earnings expectations for both GM and American Axle for the first quarter, according to the Free Press. Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s reported it may cut ratings for the two companies as well.

These moves will only increase the pressure on the company to force through concessions. Dauch is counting on the UAW bureaucracy to eventually agree to his demands, as it has at the Big Three and the other parts suppliers. If an agreement is not reached, American Axle will count on the union to contain any struggle of workers against the crushing of the strike.

The last time a major UAW walkout was threatened with strikebreaking was in the 1992 strike at Caterpillar. At that time, the union capitulated and called off the strike, dealing a devastating defeat to the Caterpillar workers. Since the early 1990s, the UAW has integrated itself even more closely with corporate management. In the process, membership in the union has fallen by one half.

The UAW has issued no statements on the company’s strikebreaking plans.

The company is demanding that workers accept cuts in pay from $28.15 an hour to as low as $11.50 an hour. American Axle also wants to lay off up to 1,000 more workers and cut back on benefits. Workers on the picket lines have shown strong opposition to accepting any concessions.

The WSWS spoke to workers in Detroit on Saturday. John, an electrician with ten years at the plant, complained of the media coverage of the strike, which is biased towards the company. “All the commercial media is highly biased in coverage of the strike,” he said. “We know whose side they are on in the local press. But in the New York Times, too, they close every article by saying that ‘concessions are inevitable.’”

Gene commented on the increasing difficulties facing workers at American Axle and throughout the country. “Food, gas, housing costs constantly going up,” he noted. “We’re taking wage cut without even taking a wage cut! Meanwhile Bush hands out billions to Wall Street for their mistakes and greed. Bush isn’t punishing the millionaires, he’s punishing us and rewarding them.

“What are we getting in this ‘stimulus’?” Gene asked. “What are we going to do with the money Bush gives us? This $600, $1,200, we’re going to take that money and turn right around and give it back to the banks.”

Gene also commented on the situation confronted by workers in other parts of the world. “In Mexico,” he said, “the plants the auto industry builds are isolated and enclosed, like a labor camp. Workers are bused in, and bused out, provided a meal once in the day. These are horrible conditions. We’re under attack everywhere—it’s a worldwide struggle.”

At the pickets, security trucks made rounds in and out of the plant. Some workers picketed in front of the trucks, blocking their way. As one truck pulled in, workers yelled, “There’s nothing to guard here, go home!”

Scott, a job-setter with 14 years at American Axle, told WSWS reporters that in the months preceding the strike, Dauch hired approximately 90 extra security guards. Scott suggested that the presence of the security guards was purely for intimidation of workers and disruption of the picket lines.

Scott also said that some workers had heard that Dauch was behind in electricity and property tax payments to the city of Detroit for the plant. “Of course you know what would happen if you or I got behind in payments,” he said. “The rich can get away with all that, and city officials bend over backwards and give people like Dauch whatever he wants. Dauch threatens to move out of the city, and he gets whatever he wants, on the house.”

Regarding Dauch’s previous statement that it was necessary to eliminate the “Detroit entitlement mentality,” Scott said, “To him, we’re not out here for our wages and pensions and all that. He’s fighting to break the union. He won’t even take a contract that includes buydowns or other concessions.”

Scott told the WSWS, “At this point, if I’m offered a $140,000 buyout, I feel like I’ll have to take it and move, buy a shack in Tennessee. I’ll have to take what they offer, because given the trend, what will they offer us in four years?”

Another worker, Dan, said, “We ought to open up the border and allow Mexican workers to come to the US. Let them work for the wages we are making here, instead of us working for their wages. The workers have tried to form unions in Mexico and face repression. Now the Chinese workers are involved in an uprising. You can’t blame them; they don’t want to work for slave wages either.”

Willie said, “I agree we need a political movement of the working class. The UAW is part of the capitalist system. They do whatever the corporations demand. The capitalists create the jobs and the unions collect the dues. They’re getting money from big business and the workers are stuck in the middle.”

The WSWS also spoke to workers at the Cheektowaga plant near Buffalo, New York. Bob, a worker for eight years at American Axle, expressed his sentiments about the massive wage cut being demand of the workers. “The middle class is gone,” he said. “No one can afford to live on the pay they want to give us. Everyone should be joining together to support us. The fight against the pay cuts is for everybody.” On the Democratic Party politicians, Bob asked, “Where are they? I do not see any politician helping us. Hillary Clinton promised New York 300,000 jobs, and the state has lost 30,000 since she became Senator.”

See Also:
American Axle strikers in Detroit respond to plant closing threats
[29 March 2008]
American Axle CEO Richard Dauch and the “right” of private property
[28 March 2008]
American Axle workers in Detroit discuss political issues in strike
[14 March 2008]

Get a union job: Tile, Marble and Terrazzo Local 7 in NY accepting applications, more trades in LI, NY

From NYS Dept. Of Labor
Long Island City, NY (March 17, 2008) - The Tile, Marble and Terrazzo Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, Local 7, will conduct recruitment on March 21 through October, 11, 2008 State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announced today. A total of six applicants will be accepted for the following trades: tile, marble and terrazzo apprentice; marble carver, cutter and setter; and terrazzo setter. Applications will be available in person only at the International Masonry Institute, 12-07 44th Ave., Long Island City, New York, on March 21 and July 11, 2008. Applications may be obtained at 3281 Route 206S, Bordentown, New Jersey on March 28 and July 18, 2008. Applicants will be admitted from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

The committee requires that applicants:

* Be at least 18 years old.
* Have a high school diploma.
* Have reliable transportation.
* Be physically able to do the work without threatening their health or safety or the health or safety of others.

For further information, applicants should contact the New York State Department of Labor office located nearest their home or the local at 718-706--7229.

Apprentice programs registered with the Department of Labor must meet standards established by the Commissioner. Under state law, sponsors of programs cannot discriminate against applicants because of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, disability or marital status. Women and minorities are encouraged to submit applications for apprenticeship programs. Sponsors of programs are required to adopt affirmative action plans for the recruitment of women and minorities.

Asbestos Removers and Bricklayers are also still accepting applications.

LONG ISLAND REGION

Please refer to "Get a Union job: Construction Laborers, Bricklayer and Asbestos Remover and more job openings in New York" for more information on other union opportunities. employment help for returning veterans and women in the construction industry.

Word has it the Painters DC9 and Ironworkers580 will be having applicants soon.

The New York apprenticeships are booming, while not only in the city, check out the NYS Dept. Of Labor site for other applications being taken

Wal-Mart wins "Worst person in the world"

From the Change to Win Blog (3/27/08):

So saith Keith Olbermann on his nightly news broadcast on MSNBC, Countdown:

The St. Louis Post Dispatch has more:

The family of a Missouri woman must reimburse Wal-Mart for nearly a half-million dollars in medical expenses now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review her case.

The court on Monday let stand a ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis requiring Debbie Shank of Cape Girardeau County to pay nearly $470,000 to Wal-Mart.

The appeal was the last legal recourse for the family of the 52-year-old Shank, a mother of three who was critically injured in a car accident eight years ago. She suffered a brain injury that took her memory and left her with very little ability to move or communicate. She has lived in a nursing home since she was released from the hospital...

Her family later settled a lawsuit with the trucking company whose driver was involved in the accident. After attorneys' fees and expenses, $417,477 was put in a trust for Shank's care. That settlement money, plus $51,739 that Shank will have to pay out of pocket, must be paid to Wal-Mart.

Note to corporations: when even the raving socialists at the Wall Street Journal ask if you're overreaching, you're doing something wrong.

Note to everybody else: If you want to help the Shank family, you can make a donation via Wal-Mart Watch to help cover Deborah's medical expenses.

Speaking of Wal-Mart

Score one for the little guy, from Public Citizen (3/21/08) :

Federal Court Rejects Wal-Mart’s Trademark Claim Against Web Critic
Public Citizen Argued First Amendment Protects Parody of Company’s Logos

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal judge today upheld a Georgia man’s First Amendment right to criticize Wal-Mart’s business practices by using satire to compare its destructive effects on communities to both the Holocaust and al-Qaeda terrorists.

In rejecting the company’s claim of trademark infringement, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta found that Charles Smith’s parody Web sites (www.walocaust.com and www.walqaeda.com) and related novelty merchandise were protected speech and that a reasonable person would not confuse their use with Wal-Mart’s legitimate trademarks. The court also rejected Wal-Mart’s claim that it has trademark rights in the “smiley-face” that Smith used in one of his parodies.

Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Foundation defended Smith after Wal-Mart sued the Conyers, Ga. man in 2006, claiming he infringed on its trademark by creating parody logos and Web sites built around the “Walocaust” and “Wal-Qaeda” concepts, including the image of an eagle clutching a yellow smiley face, similar to the one Wal-Mart uses in advertising. Smith also put the design on T-shirts, bumper stickers and other items that he sold on CafePress.com.

Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr.’s decision reaffirms an important point of trademark law – that even though a parody is placed on a T-shirt and sold, it nevertheless represents non-commercial speech that is fully protected by the First Amendment and, thus, is not a proper basis for a trademark action, said Paul Alan Levy, a Public Citizen attorney, who represented Smith along with Gerald Weber of Atlanta.

“This ruling shows that even the biggest company in America is subject to parody, and that trademark rights must yield to the right of free speech,” Levy said. “This is a resounding victory for First Amendment rights and sends a clear message to big corporations that would try to use their deep pockets to intimidate and silence their critics.”

Although Wal-Mart spent more than $200,000 on an “expert” witness to prove that consumers seeing these parody T-shirts were likely to be confused, the judge properly recognized that the expert’s testimony was junk science and flew in the face of common sense.

READ the decision.

LEARN more about Internet free speech.

200,000 dollars!!!! Are you kidding me, it's just a damn shirt.

Part 1: Labor in the year 2008, support immigrant farmworkers.

Labor in the year 2008 is a concept that has been on my mind for some time now, I am trying to get to the bottom of the manner in which we as Americans have driven wedges between ourselves, with the help of the main stream media, encouragement of the government and most importantly our own damn selfish and ignorant mannerisms. We stand as a country divided into small separate pieces of what was once a united force of working class families. Here is the first part of a new collection of thoughts on what has changed in the world around us. How we have helped the war against the American worker and what we can do to change the tide before it is too late.

How did we get here?

The year is 2008 and in my life experiences I have seen some changes, but lets go back to what we came from before I was conceived.

I come from an Italian, Irish, Scottish and German background. My grandparents on both side were either union members or in the case of my fathers mother, married to one.

All had a fair slew of children, and while times were hard, with the help of being union members and being part of tight knit communities, they were able to provide for their families.

I can go on about that much more, but heres the main point, one year after Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize, and 2 after the greatest speech ever told, with a little help from WikiPedia
In 1965, Filipino American farm workers initiated the Delano grape strike on September 8, 1965, to protest in favor of higher wages. Six months later, Chávez and the NFWA led a strike of California grape pickers on the historic farmworkers march from Delano to the California state capitol in Sacramento for similar goals. In addition to the strike, the UFW encouraged all Americans to boycott table grapes as a show of support. The strike lasted five years and attracted national attention.
I was brought up into a family that forever told the story of how absolutely no one would buy California grapes. Not your friends, not your butcher and not your landlord.

We were Americans, be it from Ireland, Italy or the Philippines, we had community and although there were great racial tensions, ignorance and fear. Working people stuck together. Communities of working class people stuck together.

America was healing from the racial divide, labor was on the rise and the American family could eek it bye on one salary.

What happened?

We now have a new slave class. New immigrants who are encouraged by their own governments to enter the country illegally. Why not? The US dollars wind up into the originating countries economy. From the meatpacking industry, construction, farming to service work, illegal immigration is a highly lucrative business. It lets companies get away with having the tax-paying citizens subsidize their own tax burden. It has also thrown back the labor standards into that of a third world country. It is the force that could potentially break the back of organized labor here in the US.

Slavery and/or slave like conditions are getting more widespread in the USA, more than 100 years after it was abolished.

While most of my readers have read about sweatshop construction practices, most recently the 400 or so pipefitters from India who came here for the price of $20,000 a head, were lied to and told that the investment would provide them an eventual Green Card, when all they actually got was an 11 month H2B Visa. The conditions in which they work were deplorable to say the least. Never mind the fact that the Visa's which were issued are for workers when there isn't a qualified American to do the job. I for one know matter of factly that there are quite a few Americans ready, willing and able to do that work. It's a blatant display of outright fucking of the American worker, and the by-product of which is that these Indian workers got screwed in the process.

What have we become?

Why are corporations so monstrous in their methods of totally screwing working people?

When is the beating of the working man and woman in the United States going to end?

Is it going to end?

Well heres a campaign which brings us to the original topic at hand, todays new immigrants on the farms are no longer from the Philippines, but the conditions have not gotten better. In fact according to the AFL-CIO's WebBlog, the tomato fields in South Florida are among the most deplorable slave like working conditions here in the US:
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More than 100 years after our nation ended slavery, the mostly immigrant workers who today pick tomatoes for the fast-food industry still are being treated like slaves. They are among the most exploited workers in the country, sometimes held against their will, beaten and forced to work for little or no pay. Thousands more are trying to survive on poverty wages with no sick leave and no freedom to join unions for a better life.

They are fighting back, demanding to be treated fairly, and they need your help. The workers are reaching out to 1 million people to sign a petition demanding that Burger King and food industry leaders work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to improve the wages and conditions for the workers who pick tomatoes.

You can act now to urge Burger King to do the right thing and treat these workers with common human decency and respect. Click here to sign the petition to eliminate modern-day servitude in America’s produce fields and join an industry wide effort to eliminate slavery and human rights abuses from Florida’s fields.

We can make a difference, Get E-Active, sign the petition, we owe it to our forefathers who 40 years ago would have boycotted, signing a petition is the least we can do. Here in America we have workers who are enduring...
  • poverty wages, rooted in an antiquated piece-rate pay system that hasn’t changed significantly in nearly 30 years;

  • long hours without overtime pay when work is available, unemployment and transience when it is not;

  • physical abuse and wage fraud by crewleaders, supervisors, and growers;

  • damage to body and soul from back-breaking labor, with no employment benefits such as sick days, paid leave, health insurance, or pensions;

  • retaliation against workers who protest or organize to alleviate these inhuman conditions;

  • and, most shamefully, modern-day slavery, with six successful federal prosecutions of farm labor operations for servitude in Florida over the past decade, and a seventh just initiated, involving well over 1,000 workers and more than a dozen farm employers;
The so-called greatest country in the world, we supposedly go after evil doers. Maybe we should look in the mirror. Our forefathers would have fought for a way for these workers to enter our country legally, would have fought for them to earn an honest living and held them to learn English as the standard language. It suits the big corps well that the division of the working class is widening.

They encourage it with their bipartisan donations and lobbying efforts.

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Clinton, McCain, and Obama SILENT on Strike



Cross Posted on Women, Unions and Our Stories and Dailykos. Picture from Detroit Free Press's Andre Jackson.

When strikes are called, they are the last resort for the union and workers. It usually means that the companies are pushing for things the workers just can't accept. In the case of American Axle, this strike is a problem for this country, not just these workers, but nothing has been heard from these candidates.

American axle is asking its HOURLY workforce to take up to a 60% pay cut but won't talk about management and executive salaries and perks.

From the Detroit Free Press (virtually the only source of news on the strike)

On Feb. 26, 3,650 UAW members at American Axle went on strike after negotiations on a new contract collapsed. The company is seeking to cut wages and benefits in half, saying it needs to cut labor costs to compete with other suppliers that have won concessions from their unions.

The UAW, which has said it needs more data to substantiate those demands, argues the cuts are too steep for a company that is not in bankruptcy and made a profit last year.


I asking everyone to help here because we've become so consumed with the current primary that we're missing the kind of impact this strike is having on these workers and our economy.

Again, from the freepress:

As companies draw closer to the end of the first quarter, a Wall Street analyst warned that he expects the strike to take a toll on profits. Earlier this week, Deutsche Bank auto analyst Rod Lache cut first-quarter earnings estimates for GM, American Axle, Lear Corp. and Magna International Inc. because of the strike.

"There is concern that the prolonged shutdown could cause significant distress amongst smaller suppliers, ultimately translating to additional costs for tier 1 suppliers and automakers," Lache said in a note to investors Wednesday.


The affects on GM:are very serious:

So far, the strike has forced GM to cut production or shut 29 factories. That number is expected to rise to 30 by Monday.

>snip<>

This strike has affected their suppliers as well as GM and that means, it is affecting other communities outside of the striking facilities from the Adrian Daily Telegram

ADRIAN — The strike at Detroit-based American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. has entered its fourth week, and its impact has extended to some local companies.

Inteva Products LLC in Adrian, which is the former Delphi Interiors and Closures facility, and Hi-Lex Controls Inc. in Hudson are among companies affected as a result of the strike that started Feb. 26 after American Axle failed to reach a contract agreement with the United Auto Workers union on economic issues.

UAW Local 2031 President Melissa Rogers said Tuesday the strike is the reason employees are experiencing job layoffs from Inteva Products. Those layoffs officially began March 3.


This is a HUGE ISSUE and we aren't discussing these families, these cities, these companies, we aren't asking any of the three candidates to even address these issues and we certainly aren't putting pressure on Dick E Dauch or his son, an executive with American Axle, Dick F Dauch, to fairly negotiate with the UAW.

So, today, I'm begging each of you to take a minute and do something, I'm asking you to:




1. contact the campaigns of Clinton, McCain, and Obama
2. ask them where they stand on the American Axle strike and
3. ask them what they're going to do about it.


When you've done that, let the strikers know by contacting the locals and the region. Your support is more important than you know.

Local 262
12432 ECKLES RD
LIVONIA, Michigan 48150-1037
Phone #: 734-464-2190

Local 235
Address: 1840 HOLBROOK ST
Detroit, Michigan 48212-3442
Phone #: 313-873-7250

Region 1
27800 George Merrelli Drive
Warren, MI 48092
TEL: (586) 427-9200
FAX: (586) 427-7142


Please Don't Let American Axle become an American Tragedy.

From Consumers Union, your words matter

www.ConsumersUnion.org
Minerva Novoa
Minerva signs off
Minerva Novoa,
Internet Advocacy Coordinator

Dear Joe,

Have you experienced the high cost of health care, the complexity of health insurance, or a problem with your care itself?

Help us take an in-depth look at all aspects of our health care system. Use this simple form to tell us your story, and we will follow up with you personally for more details.

Your story matters to us and to policymakers as we all move towards a national dialog about real solutions.



New York, support better bottle recycling

New York’s Bottle Bill, passed in 1982, requires a 5-cent refundable deposit on beer and soda containers--but doesn't include water and sports drink bottles. Billions of these containers end up in our landfills. Tell your lawmaker to support a bigger, better bottle bill in this year's budget.

Get the bill to the President next week!
Both the House and the Senate passed strong bills to fix our broken product safety system. It was a huge victory for you and your family. And yet the final bill hasn't gone to the President for signature yet. No more delays! Tell your lawmakers to send a strong bill to the President next week.

Share your credit card story!
Has a credit card company recently raised your rate, slapped you with penalty fees, increased your credit limit then claimed you were a higher risk? Have you tried to get a handle on your rights and no one will give you a straight answer? We want to hear about your experience!

Tired of all those drug ads?
One of you suggested that TV drug ads should have a 1-800 number to report side effects. A great idea, and we jumped on it. Sign on to this petition to the FDA and we will deliver all the signatures to the agency next week. Help make your great ideas happen!

Does my doctor know what's best?
Doctors don't have good information about the drugs and treatments that really work best. Drug companies fund many studies--and they don't compare their product with alternatives that might work better. Congress can fund unbiased research, with your support. Help fund unbiased studies!

Best Buy Drugs

Ask you first! Banks need to stop overdrafting first and charging you later.
New GAO report calls for change.

Want to know if those greener cleaners are really green? See our free overview.

Medicine from pig intestines? Really? What you didn't know about Heparin.
Consumer Scribbler

Guest commenter, NY Congressional district 20 candidate John Wallace responds to H1B Visa abuse

Congressional district 20 hopeful John Wallace is a self-employed businessman and also host a call-in blog talk radio show. He was a police officer for 30+ years and authored a book about a WWII Prisoner of War. He considers himself a Conservative with some ideas that can be considered Liberal. He along with some other Congressional candidates have agreed to only take donations from people within their districts(and online), from no Political Action Funds and a limit of $76 from any single donator. You can read more about him at his newly launched Freedom, Liberty and Sovereignty Blog. Check it out, while you may not agree with him on all the issues, he does bring up a lot of facts that are mostly ignored and is spot on in his writings about bribery funding for both sides in the upcoming elections, abolishment of the Federal Reserve, Free Trade agreements and limited government. I'd like to see his views on NCLB, Media Consolidation and toxic products

So, without further ado, here Mr.Wallace response to "Offshoring and H1B Visa abuse, the 1-2 punch to knockout US tech workers" from (2/26/08):

THE CURRENT H-1B VISA PROGRAM MUST BE ABOLISHED OR REFORMED!

The H-1B visa program was originally created to assist American employers who were having trouble finding American high-tech workers for their businesses. It allowed a fixed number of foreign workers come to the United States to “temporarily” fill those positions while the American companies and the federal government invested time and money in upgrading the training of American workers to meet the new skill levels required.

Although the program was originally designed to benefit American businesses, it has now become a program that benefits foreign companies with offices in America, rather than American companies, because the majority of the H-1B visas are now going to foreign-owned companies. Data just released by the federal government shows that offshore outsourcing firms, mostly from India, dominate the list of companies awarded H-1B visas in 2007. Indian outsourcers accounted for nearly 80% of the visa petitions approved last year for the top 10 participants in the program. These statistics should set off some alarms in congress that the H-1B visa program is not working as it was intended. Aqccording to data from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, Infosys Technologies and Wipro, two companies based in Bangalore, top the list of visa beneficiaries in 2007, with 4,559 and 2,567 approved visa petitions, respectively. Microsoft and Intel were the only two traditional U.S. tech companies among the top 10. Microsoft received only 959 visa petition approvals, or one fifth as many as Infosys, while Intel got only 369. How is this helping American workers and American businesses?

The H-1B work visa program was supposed to be used to bolster the U.S. economy by helping American-owned companies. Under the program, American companies can use the speciality visa to hire foreign software programmers or computer scientists with rare skills in order to encourage innovation and improving competitiveness. Instead, foreign companies such as Infosys and Wipro are using our own government program to undermine the American economy by wiping out American jobs. These foreign-owned companies are bringing low-cost workers into the U.S., training them in the offices of American business clients, and then rotating them back home after a year or two so they can provide low cost, out-sourced tech services that causes American IT workers to lose their jobs. How is this helping American workers and American businesses?

Even though approximately 80,000 Americans lost their jobs in the first two months of 2008, incredibly some members in the House of Representatives have introduced legislation to help these big foreign-owned international corporations bring in an increasing number of foreign workers that will put even more Americans out of work. Since its inception, the H-1B Visa program has been rampant with fraud. In the first half of 2006, the Programmer’s Guild, a group representing U.S. worker interests, filed over 300 discrimination complaints against companies who posted “H-1B visa holders only” ads on internet job boards. It’s obvious that these foreign-owned companies are only targeting foreign workers and undermining the system by bypassing the American worker. How is this helping American workers and American businesses?

While a bill to reduce illegal immigration (HR-4088) is stalled in Congress with the House leadership refusing to bring it to the floor for a vote, Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) has introduced “The Innovation Employment Act” (HR-5630) that would increase the cap of H-1B visas from 65,000 a year to 130,000 a year. In addition, there would be no cap on H-1B applications for foreign graduate students attending U.S. colleges and studying science, technology and related fields. Currently, there's a 20,000 student-a-year cap on visas for graduate students in all fields. The legislation would eventually increase the H-1B cap to 180,000 and the total number of foreigners admitted under this work and graduate education proposal could reach almost 300,000 a year. To make matters worse for the American IT workers, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has introduced the “Strengthening United States Technology and Innovation Act” (H.R. 5642), which would TRIPLE the current H-1B visa cap to 195,000 in 2008 and 2009 and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) wants to make Rep. Smith’s increase permanent. How is this helping American workers and American businesses?

There is no real shortage of American information technology workers. It’s just that the large high-tech international companies want to turn these hard earned information technology skills into as cheap a labor commodity as possible at the American workers’ expense. On March 12th Bill Gates appeared before Congress calling for an increase in H-1B visas. Two days later, without soliciting comments from any representatives of American IT workers, Congress introduced two bills that would double or triple the H-1B base cap. Why weren’t the representatives of American IT workers allowed to be heard? Could the average of $25 million dollars a year that members of congress receive in bribes (I mean campaign contributions) from the Computer Equipment and Services Industry, have something to do with this? Here’s some interesting campaign contribution statistics compiled by the Center for Responsible Politics at www.opensecrets.org that shows why congress may be so eager to support the requests of the Computer Equipment and Services Industry over the American IT workers. Here’s how much the high-tech industries have contributed to federal campaigns:

2000 - $38.9 million
2002 - $26.7 million
2004 - $29.0 million
2006 - $18.4 million
2008 - $15.5 million (partial)

These two bills (H.R. 4088 and H.R. 5642) will do nothing to curb the fraud in the H-1B visa program and they will have serious consequences for American citizens that are employed in the information technology field. The proposed legislation will displace even more American IT workers and outsource their good paying, high-technology jobs to foreign off-shore companies. We must learn from our mistakes. The current H-1B visa program has not served the best interests of American workers nor American companies. The current program has actually helped foreign competitors, with branch offices in the USA, hire almost no Americans and shift as many American jobs overseas as possible. How is this helping American workers and American businesses?

The current H-1B Program, as designed, is detrimental and harmful to the welfare of American workers and American high-tech businesses. It should be abolished. In it’s place and only if it is needed, H-1B type legislation should be written in a way that actually benefits American companies, American workers and American students thinking of embarking on a high-tech career.
Any new H-1B Visa legislation should be simple and have the following criteria to help Americans only:

IT MUST BENEFIT BOTH AMERICAN WORKERS AND AMERICAN COMPANIES: The H-1B Visa Program was originally designed to help American companies. Any new H-1B Visa Program should apply ONLY to American-based business entities and the H-1B visas should only be issued to foreign employees after proof is supplied that no American worker has either applied or is otherwise qualified for the position.

BENEFIT FOR AMERICAN STUDENTS: Companies that hire H-1B visa holders should pay an annual fee for each visa holder they hire to be used to fund scholarships for American citizen high school and college students interested in high-tech careers and enrolled in STEM educational programs (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).

By:
JOHN W. WALLACE
Candidate for Congress
New York’s 20th Congressional District
www.FreedomCandidate.com

MD/DC: Safeway and Giant getting scabs ready for possible strike

Safeway and Giant have over 20,000 union workers who are getting ready to be on strike. While the workers had given concessions in their last contract, including a higher copay for new hires, the company is now going for the jugular, stating they cannot compete with Non-Union stores such as Target and Wal-Mart, they have even been interviewing temp workers for the possibility of a strike, I would say this is an aggressive stance. According to the UFCW, ‘‘Strike preparations have gone very well and will be completely in place by Wednesday, March 26,”

UnionGal's Blog (3/24/08)
They're Called SCABS

They are not "replacement" workers and they are not "Temporary" workers. They are scabs and Safeway and Giant advertising in the store AND in the local media for scabs is beyond the pale.



I just wish Fox 5 News could have called a scab a scab.

From the UFCW site (2/24/08):
UFCW members of Locals 400 and 27 are standing together for a fair contract--and UFCW members nationwide are standing with them. Members last week wore stickers to show their support for locals, who are currently bargaining with Giant and Safeway. Their employers have so far been unwilling to agree to a fair contract for their workers, one that shares the success with those employees that made it possible.

Members are signing pledges to fight for a fair contract with wages that pay the bills and affordable health care. Their pledge also includes signing up to pass out info to consumers outside their stores, with info about the negotiations and a request that shoppers support them with their shopping dollars if the company won't settle a fair contract.

In addition, UFCW members will be asking for support from members and supporters nationwide, in telling the companies that they need to offer Baltimore/DC workers a fair contract now.
Recently the 2 companies have ran ad's for Scab's, according to Gazette.net (3/24/08):

Safeway recently ran advertisements in The Washington Post seeking applications for temporary employees ‘‘in preparation for a possible labor dispute,” while Giant ran a similar ad without mentioning labor issues, according to published reports.

Giant, the region’s top grocer, has about 13,400 employees in Maryland, and the company ranked fifth in the number of employees in Maryland among private companies, according to a survey released last year by the state Department of Business and Economic Development.

Safeway ranked ninth in the number of employees in Maryland with 8,680, according to the state survey.

What can we do to stand in solidarity with the workers? Stop shopping in Target, CVS and Wal-Mart.

Correction, the Colombia FTA and CAFTA are 2 different trade agreements

God, I'm such a dunce, see what happens when you don't know everything.

Thanks UnionGal for pointing that out

Urgent E-Action needed, tell your Rep. to stop Colombia FTA! 11 unionists have been killed in Columbia already this year

The Colombia FTA represents a continuation of the Bush administration’s failed trade policies, an agenda that has contributed to the loss of over 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2000- John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President

URGENT E-ACTION NEEDED BY ALL

from Afl-Cio Webblog story entitled "Act Now to Stop Colombia Free Trade Deal" (3/24/08)
Photo credit: Colombia Indymedia

A Colombian worker in Bogata protests the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
With the U.S. economy in near free fall, President Bush has said he will send the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to Capitol Hill and demand a vote before he leaves office next January. Bush has made passing this agreement, which will do next to nothing for the failing U.S. economy, a priority.

Despite objections by the Democratic congressional leadership, the administration may formally send the agreement to Congress as early as next week when Congress returns from its Easter recess on March 31. Under Fast Track trade authority rules, the House of Representatives would likely face an up-or-down vote on the Colombia deal before the end of July.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is calling for an all-out nationwide mobilization to let members of Congress know that working Americans oppose this deal because it is wrong for workers in both countries. (Click here to tell your representative to oppose a trade deal with Colombia until their government makes real progress in protecting the lives and rights of union members.)

Says Sweeney:

The Colombia FTA represents a continuation of the Bush administration’s failed trade policies, an agenda that has contributed to the loss of over 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, skyrocketing trade deficits and paychecks that are shrinking at an accelerating rate.

Meanwhile, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a union member—39 trade unionists were murdered in 2007, and another 11 to date in 2008. Of the more than 2,500 murders of trade unionists since 1986, only about 70 cases—around 3 percent—have resulted in convictions. Read Full Story
Act Now! Click Below!!

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Video: New Bush Money

Updated 75% after 2 weeks of my readers are for a 1 day US and Canada strike and the poll just started

UPDATE: (4/30/08): I took the poll down after 3 weeks, as it was just hanging there for a while and I wanted to set up a new one, heres the results:

img293/5500/1daystrikexm9.jpg

Heres the original Post, keep it in your mind, speak about it to others, we'll get the ball rolling if theres enough people who are interested in showing "them" who's boss.

http://img529.imageshack.us/img529/9656/animation6zm4.gif

Why a 1 days strike? Whats the reasoning?

A one day strike on what we can all agree on, they all have sold out the dream to do better for our children, to live a peaceful and private life, to one day be able to afford to retire and have enough to survive.

A one day strike where people of all jobs and backgrounds can unite together and say "We are not going to take it anymore"

A one days strike against taxable labor, taxable products and the damn TV. Fuck them and the brainwash machine. Say it with me, say it out loud "Fuck them and their "ask your doctor for ad's that we pay for with every prescription we buy"

A one days strike against the bureaucracy that is our governments handing our futures over to a select few corporations. Allowing the thought of "Free Trade" with the likes of Columbia who kills people who try to organize. "I don't want a Columbian Free Trade Agreement, I count"

A one day strike against the constricting noose around the necks of those whose labor made their corporations what they are today, while the government bails out mismanaged banks and airlines with our money, who's only claim to fame is how badly they have fucked our workers and citizens. Say it "Corporate responsibility, not corporate welfare"

A one day strike before there is a need for a revolution, a strike against the misinformed idea that there is nothing we can do about it. We can, we can stand together. Say it "Together we can change the world"

A one day strike against the 2 party system that bogs itself into partisan politics, like a sideshow, never accomplishing anything for us, but always making sure the corporations get everything on a silver platter.

A 1 day strike against the profiteers of the slave class and our government for allowing it.

A 1 day strike against the corporations who are killing the the good North American jobs and our kids with poisonous products.

A 1 day strike against the oil industry who has decided that we are going to pay 3 times as much as a few years back.

A one day strike where we can be with our families and friends and having a chance to enjoy what is really important, a life with dignity.

We will be heard, we will be united.

Spread the word.

sounds good? vote in your answer at the left.

Feel free to use the images

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CA: 4,000 nurses strike over health care, pension benefits and hospital closures in poor areas

From CNA, the California Nurses Association site:


Huge Walkout by 4,000 Sutter RNs

A Dramatic Stand for Improved Patient Care 10-Day Strike Underway Across Bay Area

Some 4,000 registered nurses began a 10-day walkout Friday at 10 Bay Area hospitals operated by the Sutter Health chain in a dramatic protest over patient care conditions. More than 95 percent of the RNs struck the hospitals. Guaranteeing safe RN staffing at all times -- especially ensuring that Sutter RNs are able to take rest breaks and meals -- is one of several key patient safety issues that is at the center of the dispute.

Associated Press (3/21/08)
About 4,000 nurses at eight Sutter Health hospitals in the San Francisco Bay area started striking Friday over a dispute about health care and pension benefits and the closing of hospitals in poor areas. The strike is expected to last 10 days. It affects hospitals in Antioch, Berkeley, Burlingame, Castro Valley, Oakland, San Francisco, San Mateo and Vallejo.

Hospital officials said they have brought in replacement nurses and that patient care won't be disrupted. All hospitals remain open. The California Nurses Association says the walkout was triggered by ongoing contract negotiations and Sutter practices that it says puts patients at risk.

Sutter Health said it has met the levels of staffing, health care and retirement benefits the union has demanded from other hospitals. It said the union's "real goal is more members and more dues money." Shum Preston, spokesman for the California Nurses Association, said that claim "is not what nurses are about. It's not why nurses are out here."

The California Nurses Association and its national arm, the National Nurses Organizing Committee, have a total of about 80,000 members in 50 states.
From CBS5 in CA (3/23/08):
Nurses To Protest Hospital Closure In SF
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) ― Striking nurses will be marching through the streets of San Francisco Monday to protest Sutter Health's possible closure of St. Luke's Hospital.

Some 4,000 registered nurses from the California Nurses Association began striking at 7 a.m. Friday to prove to Sutter Health they are serious about negotiating a new contract. This strike is the third the association has called since October, as well as being the longest walkout of the three.

A Blue Ribbon Panel has been convened to discuss the future of St. Luke's Hospital. The panel hopes to produce a viable plan for acute care and outpatient services at the hospital, California Pacific Medical Center spokesman Kevin McCormack said.

McCormack also said that there are no plans to close the hospital and officials are merely reviewing their options on what services to offer at the facility. St. Luke's Hospital falls under the umbrella of California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

Nurses at California Pacific marked the second day of their 10-day strike with a rally at noon Saturday. CNA spokesman Chuck Idelson said the rally went very well thanks to the "spirited group" of people who attended.

"We had quite a few nurses that were here, as well as representatives from community organizations," Idelson said.

Registered nurse Jonica Brooks said nurses are hoping the 10-day strike will push hospital officials back to the bargaining table. "We are ready to go back to the table unconditionally and at any time," she said.

Hospitals affected by the strike include St. Luke's Hospital and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, San Leandro Hospital, Alta Bates-Summit Medical Center in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano in Vallejo.

Representatives for the nurses have said they are striking to protest what they consider serious patient care issues including safe staffing even during rest and meal breaks, medical benefits and pension improvements. The nurses association is also protesting Sutter's alleged attempt to close three community hospitals in the Bay Area that serve a patient population that is poorer and composed of more people of color than other Sutter hospitals. Read Full Story

CA: Starbucks gets stuck with $100 Million bill for subsidizing its low level managers with employee tip money and more related information

Heres the story from Forbes (3/21/08):

Sometimes it pays to start a fight with the big guys. For some former Starbucks baristas that pay is going to total over $100 million.

Judge Patricia Y. Cowett of the Superior Court of the State of California ruled in a class action suit Thursday that the Starbucks Corp. (nasdaq: SBUX - news - people ) must pay 120,000 of its current and former baristas the sum of $86.7 million, plus awards interest of 7%, for tip pool money that the coffee retailer used to compensate shift supervisors.

Under California state labor laws, it is legal for employers to implement tip pools where employees are required to share tips, but recipients of the pool share may not be owners, managers or supervisors.

In the case of Chau vs. Starbucks the court ruled that Starbucks illegally distributed tips from the tip pool to compensate shift supervisors as well as baristas, expert espresso makers, and the plaintiffs are entitled to an injunction that Seattle, Wash.-based Starbucks no longer force employees to share their tips with shift supervisors.

Jou Chau, Starbucks barista from 2003 through 2004, filed the lawsuit in October 2004, complaining that he didn’t think it was fair to have to share tips with shift supervisors. “Tips really help those receiving the lowest wages. I think Starbucks should pay shift supervisors higher wages instead of making money from the tip pool.”
After reading a few comments by Starbucks employees I just couldn't hold back my anger of the stupidity of these workers who consider themselves Team Members and Partners, Jesus, I can call you sister and brother it doesn't mean we're related. This type of shit goes on in Toys' R Us and Wal-Mart to name a few. Where the corporations swindle the employees into thinking they are associates, a team or partners.

Do they even have a clue how stupid that idea is? If you are a partner at Starbucks, why the hell would I leave you a tip, let alone the lower level management. Geez, the general public are subsidizing the pay for their employees. How stupid could we be, $2-4 for a coffee and then we pay the employee too?

Wake up Starbucks workers, make your partners your fellow employees and form a damn union and force this giant multi-national piece of crap to reinvest in their partners, by giving you all a set schedule, a honest days pay and access to affordable medical for all their employees. Maybe even find a way for them to reinvent themselves to attract new customers, instead of just the overpriced coffee house that makes one feel obligated to tip.

My comment at Forbes:

I'm sorry, but I worked in Deli's and Bagel Stores when I was younger and there was no tip glass. The theory was that if there was a tip glass that the customers would think you didn't get paid enough.

It was a good theory. Starbucks should not use the customer to subsidize their employee pay. They should give their workers an honest days pay. You are not Baristas, team members or associates, you are just employees/workers and numbers to
the Starbucks corporation who has a lawful duty to make a profit in each quarter to satisfy the demand of the investors.

Got it, you work for Starbucks, they should pay you accordingly. I personally hate the way Starbucks makes customers feel obligated to tip someone who makes a cup of coffee, hell the way the brainwashed employees speak as if they are partners, make me wonder why the hell would I tip a multi-national chain store owner.

Think of it PARTNERS. Tell Starbucks to give you all full time hours, access to medical, the right of association and to freely form a union if so desired. Then maybe you can start calling them partners.
You can learn more about Starbuck's infractions against worker by checking out the IWW, Industrial Workers of The World website and the Starbucks Union site.

Heres one recent story of note from IWW (1/29/08) :
E-Mail Action: Fortune Magazine, Stop Lying About Starbucks Being a 'Best Company to Work For'
by intexile

Andrew Serwer
Managing Editor
Fortune Magazine
1 Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019

January 28, 2008

Dear Mr. Serwer,

I take serious issue with the erroneous information regarding Starbucks in Fortune Magazine's 2008 '100 Best Companies to Work For'. I am especially concerned about the reliability of Fortune given that the IWW Starbucks Workers Union wrote you an open letter before the 2007 '100 Best Companies to Work For' feature that pointed out the very same misinformation which you proceeded to include once again in the 2008 list.

The 2008 'Best Companies to Work For' list claims that the most common hourly job at Starbucks is a mysterious position called "Coordinator III" which takes in $37,390 per year. Once again, the most common hourly job at Starbucks, by far, is a position called "Barista" which likely takes in approximately $12,000 per year on average. The precise average pay for baristas is not known since Starbucks refuses to make that information public.

Security officer campaign escalates; 17 arrested in act of civil disobedience

From Workday Minnesota (3/21/08)
demonstrators occupy lobby
Inside the lobby of U.S. Bancorp Center (above), a group of 17 linked arms and sat down in an act of non-violent civil disobedience. Javier Morillo-Alicea addressed the crowd outside the IDS Center: "We are here to protect and defend community standards..."

Minneapolis - Security officers and community allies filled the lobby of U.S. Bancorp Center in downtown Minneapolis late Thursday afternoon to support a fair contract and 17 were arrested in an act of civil disobedience. U.S. Bancorp was targeted by Service Employees International Union Local 26, which is seeking a new contract for 800 private security officers who work for five security contractors. Members voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to reject a contract offer because it failed to include affordable health insurance.

women being arrested in security officer demonstration
Katherine Blauvelt, Workers Interfaith Network (left) and Lisa Amman, ISAIAH, continued chanting after being handcuffed.

The employers' contract offer would have made health insurance even more expensive than the current contract.

"We are here today to protect and defend community standards and say people who protect multi-million dollar real estate ought to be able to provide for their families," said Javier Morillo-Alicea, addressing a crowd of about 100 union members and supporters outside the IDS Center at about 4:30 p.m.

The group marched across the street and rushed into the lobby of U.S. Bancorp Center, chanting, "What do we want? Health care. When do we want it? Now!"

A group of 17 sat down and linked arms. The crowd continued chanting. Police arrived within minutes. When the seated protestors refused to leave at the request of police, they were arrested. All arrested cooperated with police by presenting their wrists for handcuffing and by walking out of the building.

Outside, the crowd continued chanting while those arrested sat on the edge of a planter, awaiting police vehicles that soon would take them away.

"U.S. Bank, do the right thing!" the crowd chanted. Members of the group arrested also continued chanting.

The security officers' contract expired Jan. 1.

SEIU Local 26 staged a one-day strike Feb. 25 to put pressure on the employers to settle the contract.

"On that one-day strike, we said if it has to get bigger, it has to get bigger," Local 26 president Morillo-Alicea told the crowd Thursday.

The employers group termed the contract that was rejected as their "last, best final best offer."

"They're not prepared to move forward but we're prepared to do more," said Greg Nammacher, SEIU Local 26 program director, speaking to the crowd after police took the 17 people arrested away.

The 17 arrested included SEIU members and staff as well as community supporters from ISAIAH, Workers Interfaith Network, and TakeAction Minnesota.

Steve Share edits the Labor Review, the official publication of the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council.
Photo by Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review

For more information
See the Workday special section on the Stand for Security campaign

In Greece more than 2.5 million workers have been on strike against Social Security reform, take note America

I prefer strike to Revolution.

Greek Unions to Keep Protesting Pension Law
The nationwide strike was from every sector

Bankers, Lawyers, Electrical and Municipal workers have shut down every industry

From Famagusta Gazette (3/20/08)
A number of domestic and international flights were reportedly cancelled, as air traffic controllers also joined the action.

Schools, ministries and banks were closed for the day.

In Athens, thousands of people took part in a protest rally, and demonstrations were held in several other cities.
From The Press Association (3/21/08):
Rubbish collectors have returned to work, removing mounds of waste which had piled up on city streets during their two-week strike, a day after Greece's parliament approved unpopular pension reforms despite widespread protests.

Rolling power cuts which Greeks had suffered for 17 days also ended after employees at the country's main power company returned to work.

But some sectors are still on strike. Lawyers are staying away from court for the fifth day of a week-long strike, while the bank workers' union declared a 24-hour strike.

A one-day general strike on Wednesday brought the country to a standstill.
From Javno via Reuters (3/21/08):
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The bill passed in the 300-seat house with 151 votes in favour, from conservative MPs and one independent, and 13 MPs from the Leftist Coalition against. All other parties, including the main socialist opposition, abstained.

"The nation demands that we proceed with the necessary changes, that we are not held hostage to the past but assert our future with courage and self confidence," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told parliament on Friday.

Several hundred protesters remained outside parliament throughout much of the evening vote. Some clashed with police. On Wednesday, millions walked off the job, grounding flights and closing ancient sites, schools and banks.

Bank workers, teachers and lawyers remained on strike on Friday, while workers at state power company PPC, on strike for more than two weeks, said they will meet later to decide how to continue their action.
From EuroNews (3/21/08):
Workers unions in Greece have promised to continue their fight against pension reforms approved by parliament yesterday.

The bill may still be blocked if legislators decide next week to hold a referendum on the issue.

More than two weeks of crippling strikes were followed by protests outside parliament, where the reforms were being passed by the narrowest of margins.

Many accuse the conservative government of going back on pre-election promises not to cut pension rights.

The changes include raising the retirement age for women to 65- the same as for men, offering incentives for people to work beyond 65, and streamlining the country's many private sector pension schemes.

Working mothers are the most affected. Paid maternity leave is extended from four to ten months, but whereas mothers were able to retire after 15 years of employment, they must now wait until they are at least 55.

Workers in so-called "hazardous" jobs will be required to work two years more than under current laws before they can take their early retirement.

The government insists the reforms are necessary to prevent the pensions system collapsing under the weight of an aging population.

How long before we must take the proactive stance and have a 1 day strike?

I prefer strike to Revolution.

TX, MO: Western Union screwing 640 CWA union workers in favor of non-union, Mexican and overseas operations

"Western Union is an American icon. Today, it has turned its back on the very employees who built the company into a multinational enterprise,"

A corporation is legally bound by law to show a profit to its investors at any cost. Western Union is now joining the group of corporate scum who are moving operations to the lowest bidder, who have subverted U.S. and/or Canadian wages, in favor of areas and countries with lower or almost absent labor conditions, this group includes Carhartt, Red Wing boots, Hersheys, Mens Wearhouse and so many others.

Found this on CWA Local 6377 website (3/21/08):
CWA Slams Western Union Plan to Close U.S. Facilities

CWA is condemning Western Union Financial Services Inc., for its announced plans to close three facilities in Missouri and Texas and shift that work to non-union and overseas operations.

Some 640 workers in Dallas, Texas, and Bridgeton and St. Charles, Missouri, members of CWA Locals 6377 and 6178, were told they will lose their jobs over the next five months.

"It's apparent to me that Western Union has determined that it would prefer to operate as a union-free enterprise," said District 6 Vice President Andy Milburn.

"CWA will do everything legally possible to stop these centers from closing and stop Western Union from moving our work to non-union operations, both in the United States and overseas," said CWA Staff Representative Mike Neumann, who heads the Western Union bargaining team.

Last month, CWA Local 6377 filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Western Union, charging that company managers have tried to coerce union members and subvert the bargaining process. The local also charged that earlier layoffs announced by Western Union – of 150 workers in Bridgeton and Dallas – were an act of retaliation against the workers and the union for refusing to engage in concessionary early bargaining.

Western Union said it plans to transfer the work to non-union locations including Denver and offshore facilities in Costa Rica, Manila, Mexico City and Mexicali, Mexico.

"Western Union is an American icon. Today, it has turned its back on the very employees who built the company into a multinational enterprise," said Earline Jones, president of CWA Local 6377.

Olivia Espinosa, president of CWA Local 6178 in Dallas, said "Western Union is a greedy, profitable company that doesn't seem to care about the excellent customer service our CWA members now provide. And that's bad news for customers."
Thats bad news for American Workers

The 200th. signature on the petition to change OSHA's useless explosive dust rules is none other than an OSHA employee.

#200 "As an OSHA employee, I was ashamed and deeply offended by my Agencies response at Rep Miller's Hearings. Like Rep. Miller said "I again see no sense of urgency from OSHA". The OSHA Watchdog has acted like a Lapdog again." - Bob Whitmore , Maryland

This is the petition that many web activists have supported, by linking and adding to their sites. It was created in the wake of the Imperial Sugar explosion, which now has a death toll of 13, there are still many victims in critical and severe condition. The petition in a nutshell asks OSHA to adopt a "Standard" for explosive dust, instead of the current "Voluntary" method. If there was a OSHA "Standard" in effect and it was adhered to, there most likely wouldn't be a need for this petition.

Please take a moment of you life to read my last article from March 16th. on how desperately this is needed and how OSHA is defending the current rule:
Imperial Sugar explosion death toll rises to 13, OSHA backs lack of standard before Congress, Ga. creates own standard, and we need more signatures

Once you have read the stories, click the pictures below, I'm sure your name will wind up on the list, you can even sign anonymously.

In Solidarity with the American worker,
Joe

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Bronx, NY: Victory! SEIU 32BJ comes to terms for better contract after strike is called

Update to this mornings->Bronx NY: SEIU 32/BJ walking off the job, 4,000 now on strike!

WOW! Got the news at the New York Central Labor council, sources say the agreement came around 1:00AM. Hope they saw the story on the site. Though it needs member ratification, there is now a tentative agreement on the table.

From NY1 (9 hours ago on 3/20):
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Video Link in Real Media format

A strike that would have put thousands of Bronx apartment building workers on the picket line has been avoided.

Local 32BJ announced Thursday morning that it had reached a tentative deal with the Bronx Realty Board after encouraging talks overnight.

Nearly 4,000 building workers threatened Wednesday to walk off the job. About 300 buildings would have been affected.

The new deal calls for a wage increase that amounts to $20 a week for the maintenance workers, porters, and doormen who have been working without a contract. Union leaders say that it is the largest increase ever negotiated with the Bronx Realty Advisory Board.

The new contract also calls for pension increases, along with improved health care and worker training programs.

"They reserve respect and dignity on the job," said Local 32BJ Executive Vice President Kyle Bragg. "One way of doing that is to be able to come to work with a peace of mind, knowing that you make a livable wage and that you have benefits in place that will provide security for yourselves and your family."

"We reached a package we were aiming for and I'm happy," said a union member.

Some local residents who spoke with NY1 said the workers deserve a fair wage.

"The building is clean and they keep in safe," said a Riverdale resident. "They're really great people."

"I hope the garbage doesn't pile up," said another. "But they work very hard and I don't understand why they don't get paid what they deserve."

The three-year contract still needs to be ratified by the union members.
I think the resident were going to be behind them 100%, Joe's Union Review and everyone who the guy who runs this site certainly was. Avoiding a strike is a victory for the workers and for the residents.