Mike Fishman. President of 32BJ, speaks of whats wrong and what must be done to avert the collapse of the middle class in America

Just trying to put everything together. Please if you have some time, check out the other stories I tagged on this subject, while they're not the only related articles, I learned a lot of how we got here, and what it's going to take to get us out of this mess.
Here again we have some more honest writing on the matter in an opinion piece by Mike Fishman(President 32/BJ), from City Limits entitled "Low wages, High wages and nothing in between" (7/28/08):
America must correct its vast earnings gap, or the 'working poor' will continue to include far too many of us.
Last week’s national minimum wage bump to $6.55 an hour didn’t affect New Yorkers who were already earning a higher $7.15 minimum set by the state. But the extra income does little for those who had been earning the previous federal minimum of $5.85 an hour – or the 6.1 million residents of New York state who are struggling to cover the skyrocketing prices of milk, bread and gas with low wages.

Today, nearly one-third of all Americans are trying to make ends meet on low wages. And the number of low-wage jobs – primarily service jobs in hotels, food prep, home health care and office cleaning – is growing. In the next decade, 5 million new jobs will pay poverty-level wages unless something is done.

Valentino Stronza, a security officer working at a Midtown office building owned by the Paramount Group, lives this struggle daily. He's doing his best to make ends meet, but earning only $10 an hour from Apollo Security isn't enough for him to provide the home he wants his son to have. To keep costs down, he and his son share a bedroom in his sister's apartment. He works overnight three days a week trying to put money aside so he and his son can move into their own place, but so far, the extra money has gone to paying off past medical expenses.

Valentino’s not alone – according to Mayor Bloomberg’s new poverty measurement, nearly one in four New Yorkers lives in poverty. Despite working hard to create better futures for their families, they are making little headway in an economy that's producing low-wage jobs like there's no tomorrow.

At the same time, this past year marked the fifth straight year in which the number of millionaires in our country grew – now at 10 million. The top 1 percent of households take home 21.8 percent of all income – more than double the 9 percent rate of 30 years ago. This is the highest concentration of income in the hands of the wealthiest 1 percent since 1928, a year before the great stock market crash.

At no time in our history has the disparity in income been so wide and in no other industrialized country does the disparity come close. CEO compensation is more than 400 times the take-home pay of an average American worker. For an industrialized country, there is no parallel to this growing income divide between the highest- and lowest-paid workers. Corporate executives in England make half as much as those in America, while the lowest-paid workers there earn a higher wage than their American counterparts.

As we look toward the upcoming election, which will put the fate of our country in new hands, we must demand national policies to change the direction of our economy. Pegging the minimum wage to a percentage of median income would raise it and then keep the lowest paid workers on pace with future increases of the rest of the workforce. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit – a cost that would be offset by closing tax loopholes for the very wealthy – would also help those low-income families teetering on the brink of poverty.

Locally, a citywide policy requiring publicly financed development projects to pay prevailing wages and benefits to the workers who build and maintain the sites would ensure that newly created jobs provide what New York families need to get by. At Willets Point and Greenpoint-Williamsburg developments where these provisions have already been set in motion, hundreds of good jobs will be created for working New Yorkers.

Aside from government action, companies, particularly those benefiting from tax breaks, must raise pay in low-wage industries if we are to make an immediate and wide-scale impact on poverty. Government programs alone will fall short of the mark, and unions have shown they can work with business responsibly to bring low-wage workers out of poverty.

In New York, low-wage union workers make 16 percent more in wages than their non-union counterparts and are 25 percent more likely to get employer-paid health care and a pension. But joining a union can be hard for many workers who fear employer retribution. Federal passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, a bipartisan bill which would create a more neutral environment for workers to decide on union membership, would help low-wage workers join a union and get the raises they need.

Americans have long held to the notion that having a job means you can make ends meet. But unless steps are taken to address the growing imbalance in our economy, we could wake up one day in a city of just the very rich and the working poor.

- Mike Fishman

Mike Fishman is president of SEIU Local 32BJ, with more than 100,000 members, including 70,000 in New York City, making it the largest private sector union on the East Coast.

Bill Moyers on LA Labor, the march and what it takes to get bye in today's America

"Working the best job I've ever had in my whole life, I'm still, I mean, I am a breath away from drowning. I'm $20 away from being on the street. I am one car payment away from being re-poed. I'm barely surviving. I'm leading a substandard lifestyle because I make substandard wages."- Jaron Quetel, American worker

This story appeared on the Bill Moyers Journal on June 13th.

Excerpt of script
What's happening to American workers is not the result of natural forces alone. No, it's happened because corporate and political powers connived to keep wages down while shredding their workers' safety nets. For some time now the Great American Wealth Machine has been cranking out jackpots for the people at the top and pushing working people further down the ladder. The growing divide - that roaring inequality - is the subject of this broadcast.

Consider this: For the past thirty years the productivity of American workers has increased by 76 percent. But their real hourly wages have risen less than two percent. So the paradox is that people are working harder but still falling behind. Take this young man we recently met in California in our report from producer Peter Meryash and correspondent Rick Karr.




Tell Bain Capitol to put our children first, Get E-Active, parents and workers to rally this Thursday


Can a private equity firm be trusted to take care of your children? Click here now to protect our kids!

Starting this year, tens of thousands of parents around the country will have no other choice. In June Bright Horizons, the third largest childcare center in the US, was sold to Bain Capital, a major private equity firm, with a poor track record of bankruptcy, layoffs and cost-cutting.

The $1.3 billion buyout endangers more than 600 centers serving over 70,000 children. It is no secret that private equity firms make money by saddling the companies they buy with hundreds of millions of dollars of debt. Just four years after it bought KB Toys, Bain Capital filed for bankruptcy, walking away with a 370 percent return on its investment.

Click here now to tell Bain Capital to that kids deserve better.

From Metro DC Labor Council

WORKERS, PARENTS RALLY FOR QUALITY CHILD CARE THURS

Child care workers, parents and labor activists will rally Thursday at 11:30A to save quality childcare in the District. The workers - who work for Bright Horizons, the third largest child care center in the US - are fighting potential layoffs and cost-cutting measures after the purchase of Bright Horizons by private equity firm Bain Capital earlier this year.

"Companies bought out by Bain Capital have faced layoffs, cutbacks, closures, and bankruptcy while Bain came out ahead," says the
Tell Bain to Put Kids First website.

"We're worried that Bain Capital won't do the right things for Bright Horizons children, parents, and staff unless we hold them accountable."

Workers and parents will demand that Bain invest in high-quality childcare, give parents and workers a say in decisions affecting them and their children, and commit to being open about its plans for Bright Horizons. For more info,
click here.
You can read more by clicking the link's above

West Coast Longshoremen and shippers reach tentative 6 year agreement, full coverage continues with pact

Haven't written much about this, but I'm glad a tentative agreement has been reached

From Google News
« View all web results for ilwu reaches 6 year tentative agreement

Labor Notes
West Coast dockworkers reach tentative 6-year deal with shippers
International Herald Tribune, France - 16 hours ago
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced a six-year agreement Monday after lengthy weekend negotiations with Pacific Maritime Association. ...
Tentative Agreement Reached Covering 25000 Workers at 29 West ... FOXBusiness
Union, shippers reach accord on contract San Francisco Chronicle
Dockworkers Reach Tentative Deal Wall Street Journal
Reuters - Los Angeles Business Journal (subscription)
all 272 news articles »
West Coast dockworkers reach deal with shippers
The Associated Press - 8 hours ago
The union previously reached an agreement with shippers on a health care plan expected to cost about $500 million this year. The union had sought to retain ...

Wall Street Journal
US West Coast dockworkers talks go past deadline
Reuters UK, UK - Jul 1, 2008
A six-year contract covering dockworkers up and down the West Coast expired at 5 pm (0000 GMT) on Tuesday but representatives for employers and for the ...
Ports labor talks still amicable Long Beach Press-Telegram
West Coast shippers, union still bargaining Philadelphia Inquirer
Clock ticks down on US West Coast dockworkers contract Reuters UK
all 129 news articles »
Here's an article that explains more, from Patrick Burnson, the Executive Editor of Logistics Managment, "Ocean cargo: ILWU and PMA reach tentative agreement on contract" (7/29/08):

SAN FRANCISCO—Following what has been described as “marathon weekend bargaining session,” leaders from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced a preliminary agreement on terms for a new six year contract covering more than 25,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports. The leaders shook hands in San Francisco over the proposed agreement late yesterday.

Shippers, who had been hoping that a contract would be signed before the last one expired on July 1, welcomed the news nonetheless.

“We are just happy that this (bargaining session) is through,” said Joel Anderson, president of the International Warehouse and Logistics Association (IWLA).“Now we can get back to the business of moving freight.”

The agreement is subject to ratification by the ILWU and PMA membership. The ILWU and PMA have agreed to extend the previous agreement and resume normal port operations.

ILWU president Bob McEllrath and PMA president Jim McKenna said the proposed agreement meets the needs of both workers and the industry. It allows West Coast ports to be competitive and provides the good jobs that workers and communities need.

The parties have agreed not to discuss details of the agreement until the ILWU a nd PMA leadership teams have communicated with their respective membership.

The West Coast longshoremen are the highest-paid blue-collar workers in America. Average full-time wages for fully registered workers exceed $136,000. ILWU members also enjoy fully employer-paid health benefits, with no premiums or deductibles and 100 percent coverage for standard medical benefits. Based on a tentative agreement, those fully-paid benefits would continue.

At the same time, the PMA has reminded shippers that West Coast ports generate almost $1.3 trillion in domestic business impacts – representing 11 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product – and support more than 8 million direct and indirect U.S. jobs.

Hope it works out OK for all parties.

Utah creates loophole to encourage use of more illegal alien's, workers no longer covered under workman's compensation, employers skate

clip from The Salt Lake Tribune article "Insurance loophole makes it easy for employers to exploit illegal workers" by Paul Rolley (7/26/08):
The law basically allows Workers Comp, or any other insurer that covers injured-worker benefits, to cancel disability payments to someone hurt on the job if it is shown that person has committed a crime, including being in the country illegally.

But, get this, there is no provision in the law to sanction the employer for hiring someone who is in the country illegally, and the injured worker denied the disability benefits cannot pay an attorney to represent him or her against the insurance company's actions, according to Labor Commission rules.

Call it the employer have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too bill.

Under the new law, and its interpretation by the Labor Commission, a construction company, say, can hire laborers to perform dangerous manual jobs and if a laborer gets hurt the company can escape liability by having the insurance company throw out the benefits if the employee cannot prove he or she is in the country legally. And, the employer isn't sanctioned for having certified the employee was legally eligible for work when he or she was hired in the first place.

Opponents of the law say it encourages employers to hire illegal immigrants because it guarantees not having its insurance company be liable, affecting its premiums, in case the worker is injured on the job.

In fact, the South Carolina Supreme Court said just that in a recent ruling against a similar law passed in that state.
Maybe I'm in the wrong field, with all the protections that companies have avoiding the use of American and legal labor, I could make a mint.

If they were in any way sincere, the employer would have to be liable directly if they hired the illegal alien, but no, that isn't good business.

This reminds me of another recent bill that was floating around Kansas, where it was proposed that any organization that help illegal aliens and collected dues would be subjected to fines of up to $2,000 USD, while the employer who hired them went without penalty.

Of course it took the vote of 19 Republicans in Kansas to pass the bill, you can read the entire article here entitled "KS: State passes bill that will encourage more illegal immigration and punishes unions who try to help the workers"(4/20/08):
This is a new low for the Kansas Senate. A majority of them are happy to turn a blind eye to the hiring of illegal aliens and will use immigration reform to bust unions.

So here is the scenario:
  • An employer, knowing that he will not be punished for hiring an illegal, puts the illegal alien to work side by side with unionized American workers.
  • The union, believing that the employer would not hire illegal aliens (that is illegal, you know), signs the employee up as a member of the union.
  • The union is now subject to criminal action and fines even though the union has no ability to verify the legal status of a worker
This is getting worse people, spread the word.Republicans, while pretending to want to close the borders, do everything in their power to allow the use of illegal aliens.

It was massive, several thousand CWA and IBEW members rallied outside Verizon headquarters, one main objective, stop subcontracting their work

UPDATE to-> CWA plans massive Verizon worker rally in New York, IBEW sending members, as contract negotiations continue with Aug.2nd deadline (7/22/08):

I would have been there in support, but I was attending a rally for New York's 13th Congressional district seat candidate Michael McMahon, who is running for the spot vacated by Vito Fossella. McMahon is a staunch labor supporter, from a NYS AFL-CIO press release (7/1/08):
Upon receiving the New York State AFL-CIO's endorsement, Michael McMahon stated, "I am honored to have the support of the AFL-CIO. As Councilman, I worked every day to improve the lives of the working men and women in my district. As Congressman, I will continue to fight for working families by creating good paying jobs, lowering taxes on the middle class and ensuring that Brooklyn and Staten Island receive our fair share of education, healthcare and transportation funding."
Saturdays Verizon rally in NYC
A Sea of CWA red

From The New York Times article "Unions Rally, Vowing Strike at Verizon" by By Javier C. Hernandez (7/27/08):
The unions representing 65,000 Verizon workers on Saturday resounded a pledge to strike if demands for higher wages, caps on health care payments and limits on outsourcing jobs are not honored.
Joe's Union Review staunchly supports the workers stance against outsourcing, on many occasions Verizon has had low standards on who they use as subcontractors. The Times continues
With one week to go before a contract expires, several thousand telephone workers affiliated with the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers gathered at Verizon headquarters in Lower Manhattan.

img174/7215/27rallylarge1xm2.jpgThey chastised Verizon executives for proposing sharp increases in health care payments and reductions in coverage for retirees. Some held signs reading “Hands Off Our Benefits,” vowing to take to the picket line on Aug. 3 if the two sides did not reach a settlement.

Joe Connolly, president of Local 1101 of the C.W.A., said that the union was pushing for a 5 percent annual wage increase, larger pensions and expanded medical benefits. “Right now, employees have to make a choice: Are they going to eat or get benefits?” Mr. Connolly said.

In light of the slow pace of negotiations, a strike was likely, he said. “There’s been nothing resolved on any level at this point.”

A major point of contention between the unions and Verizon is the outsourcing and subcontracting of jobs. Union members have said that work like telephone technical support and laying new wires should go to union laborers. But Verizon has said that awarding some jobs to outside firms gives the company the flexibility to create, for instance, a new call center on the spot, or to quickly find laborers for a one-time construction job.
Verizon's use of undocumented workers via subcontractors seems to be wide spread

Flexibility, sure, just pick them up from the corners of 65th. Street in Brooklyn.

Verizon is a scum corporation that puts profits over people every single step of the way. In February I wrote of one such Verizon subcontractor who was breaking every labor law on the books and found themselves fined and a possible jail term in the article "Claiming ignorance, Verizon tolerated illegal alien work force through a subcontractor"
"One worker told agents B&B paid him $100 per day for a 12-hour shift minus $60 a week for housing and utilities, according to records. Some said they were put up in a house off Oceana Boulevard in Virginia Beach."
Just last month a group of undocumented day laborers was protesting against Verizon in the same exact location over unpaid wages from a Verizon subcontractor. ABC news picked up the story on June 24th. in the article entitled "Day Laborers Rally Against Verizon for Unpaid Work"
"We're here today to demand that Verizon pay us," said Nerbin Rodriguez.

Rodriquez, an immigrant from El Salvador, says a Verizon sub-contractor owes him for two months of work, all 10-hour days. "We have the right to recover our money for the work that we've performed," he said.

"Verizon needs to tell the subcontractors to quit cheating the people out of their money in this way," said Carlos Ortiz..

"We certainly don't agree that anyone should do a hard day's work and not get paid for it," said Sandra Arnette with Verizon.

Verizon says they promise to investigate but says it's the responsibility of the contractor or sub-contractor and not Verizon to pay the workers.

When ABC 7 reporter Andrea McCarren tried to ask one of the day laborers protesting if they were in the country illegally or if the subcontractors were hiring illegally, she was interrupted by a CASA de Maryland lawyer. They said McCarren couldn't ask the question.

"We would hope that people are hiring workers that are documented, that can actually do the work and they're not doing it illegally," said Arnette.

Some of the laborers allege they haven't been paid for jobs completed as far back as three years ago. Some workers at the demonstration actually won judgments in federal court against Verizon sub-contractors, totaling more than $200,000.
Oh yeah, did I mention that I'm in Brooklyn and according to a former shop steward friend of mine at Verizon, in NYC, the company hasn't hired a single street mechanic for the last 6 years, guess they want to take advantage of all the day laborers they can muster up to install FIOS around the area. Yeah I'm still waiting.

Verizon, screwing the public and workers every chance it can.

NY: They don't want you to know that harmful bovine growth hormones are in your milk, tell NY commissioner of Agriculture "this is not acceptable"

From Consumers Union

Dear Joseph,

Monsanto wants you to get less information from your food label—and bureaucrats at a big New York state agency (the Department of Agriculture and Markets) might help them do it.

Don’t let them get away with it!

Some dairy farmers use an artificial growth hormone, produced and sold by Monsanto, to make cows produce more milk. But many retailers, as well as all organic dairies, sell milk products from cows that are not injected with this synthetic growth hormone. You can buy that milk by reading the label.

If Monsanto has its way, this distinction may become a secret kept from most shoppers. Monsanto has tried to eliminate rbGH labels all over the country. Don’t let them succeed in New York.

Tell the New York Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to stop this foolishness.

The federal government has already said these labels are not misleading. There is no reason for New York to make shopping more difficult for you and your family.

Take action today, and when you are done please forward this message on to your friends and family in New York so they can join their voices with yours.

Thank you,
Jean Halloran
NotInMyFood.org
A project of Consumers UnionConsumers Union

FOX News making McCain look younger?

Union Review needs donations for more hard hat stickers

A message from Richard Negri over at Union Review
I am trying to raise funds from friendly readers and activists to get a batch of hardhat stickers. I have one left from the last batch ... and it is mine! Now I want to get a few thousand to send to anyone who wants them; but I need to raise some funds. The $500 would go to the cost of the stickers and the shipping; the vendor I want to use are GCC-IBT members out of Texas. If you are in, please click the donation button and send over what you can ...

The last batch of stickers were donated and made the rounds. One of my favorite hardhat experiences was going to NY for a confernece and seeing the sticker on a construction worker's hat. We didn't know who each other were -- and it was great to introduce ourselves to one another. He told me he checks the site often and probably got the sticker from Joe, who got a 100 of them when they first came out.

Let's get together and get this going. So far I have put aside $50 toward the campaign, and earlier someone sent in a five, so ... we have 450 to go ... help out, get a sticker, have fun, work safe ...

Richard has informed us he now has $100 in the till, c'mon people, you like what we do help spread the word, the stickers help.

Bad builders in Arizona sue to stop labor backed legislation which would give consumers a warranty on their shotty product's, what are they afraid of?

Directly from DailyKos (7/24/08):
Conservative Groups Sue to Stop Labor-Backed Consumer Initiative in Arizona
by PaulVA [Subscribe] Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 09:03:18 AM EST

In December 2007, the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association(SMWIA) filed paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State to form the Arizona Homeowners’ Bill of Rights Committee. The goal was clear, to provide homeowners with improved rights to deal with construction defects and shady home sales practices that have been plaguing consumers across the country and in particular in the hot Arizona homebuilding market.

Last month, the committee presented petitions with more than 260,000 signatures to the state to allow Arizona voters to determine the outcome of this issue in the fall.

Tuesday, a small group of poweful GOP-backed homebuilders filed a lawsuit looking to stop homeowners from having any say about the construction defects in their homes.

Current Arizona law, passed in 2002 by a GOP dominated legislature, radically changed the rights of buyers in favor of builders and does not give buyers any reasonable degree of protection against deceptive sales practices and construction defects. The state GOP, back by the homebuilding industry. pressured the Arizona Legislature to pass this law as they have done in other states such as Texas and Florida. They claimed to be seeking relief from class-action suits filed against them.

What they got instead was a carte-blanche invitiation to run rampant over the Arizona residents who purchased their defective homes.

The Sheet Metal Workers joined forced with several consumer and community groups in an effort to help homebuyers with their construction defects, even including free inspections of their homes from a qualified union member. What was found was shocking and detailed in the website Poorly Built By Pulte Homes, the largest homebuilder in Arizona and in the nation.

It took over six months to complete the listed items on the walk-through, as well as the items that were discovered after we moved in. There were way too many problems with way too many service calls, which left me at their beck and call for over six months.

-An Anthem Parkside homeowner

This has been a horrible experience. Between all the problems, the non-responsive customer service, the poor "fixes", we are very saddened that our "dream home" has become a nightmare. It is unfortunate that so many problems have occurred, but even more disappointing that we are left to deal with them, no recourse at all. We had thought about getting a lawyer, but just wouldn't know where to start. The water damage to the house was because of negligence and was a problem that we noticed on our walk through.

The new initiative would serve as a big step in solving many of these problems by creating a Bill of Rights for Arizona homeowners, providing a 10-year warranty on new homes. In addition, homeowners would have the right to demand either the builder correct construction defects or compensate the homeowner. Homeowners also could participate in the selection of contractors to perform the repair work.

The initiative provides that homeowners can sue if the builder does not offer sufficient remedies and removes the threat of being liable for the builder’s attorney and expert fees while allowing the homeowner to recover these costs. Homeowners whom builders have subjected to emotional distress or great inconvenience can recover for these areas as well. The initiative also adds new protections in the home-buying process.

The rights of homeowners go hand in hand with the rights of the workers who are on the job building these homes. There are over 30,000 residential construction workers in Arizona. Unfortunately, working conditions and low standards in the residential construction industry are bringing standards down across the board for workers and consumers.

Safety, fair wages, and respect on the job are all missing from jobsites in the residential industry across the country. Last year, a group of workers were caught on video being sprayed down by a water truck as they peacefully demonstrated against the working conditions they faced at work.

To learn more about the SMWIA effort in Arizona, visit the Building Justice website. You can also take a survey and read some of the homeowner complaints at Poorly Build By Pulte.

This referendum is not just radioactive to the conservative groups who passed the carte blanche legislation restricting homeowner rights in Arizona - it is a threat to them everywhere. If this passes in Arizona (where it enjoys 80% support), it will be on the ballot elsewhere, including Texas where Bob Perry, the homebuilder who funded the Swiftboaters group, lobbied for and got legislation just like the one the Arizona homebuilders are using to trample over the state's homebuyers.

Daily Kos

CWA plans massive Verizon worker rally in New York, IBEW sending members, as contract negotiations continue with Aug.2nd deadline

UPDATED ->It was massive, several thousand CWA and IBEW members rallied outside Verizon headquarters, one main objective, stop subcontracting (7/27/08)

Verizon, who has been screwing it's wireless and business workers who want to join unions, who has taken down a veterans flag which was flown over Iraq and Afghanistan from it's Verizon business office, and has allowed subcontractors who enslaved undocumented workers to do Verizons work, is playing hard ball with it's 65,000 union workers on the East Coast, but these workers have been preemptive and are geared to storm New York with a contigent of workers from all around the East coast tomorrow at Verizon's headquarters.

Verizon, where should I start, first off I gave them the goodbye when they sent their tech support to India for their DSL services in favor of services from Optimum Online, which is also staunchly anti-union, but at least the tech support workers are here in Long Island, New York. Both companies are terrible when it comes to workers rights. In fact Verizon business has been so terrified of union organizing, when union leaflets were making their way around the cubicles and onto the common wall of their office up in Massachusetts, the word came down to remove everything from the walls. One of those items was an American flag, a flag that was flown over Iraq and Afghanistan by employee and Air National Guardsman, Terry Skiest. A co-worker of Skiest's reported that a local manager said that the American flag "could be considered to be propaganda" and "might be offensive to some workers."

AT&T is the only wireless company that is completely unionized

Unfortunately before I knew all this and how staunchly anti-union the company was I was already locked into one of their cell phone plans, that will change in a few months when I switch to AT&T, who when taken over by Cingular, continued with the American Free Choice like card check system of getting union representation, if the workers want to be union, all they need is 50+1% of the workforce to sign cards. Now that's a company for working people, they even have a discounts for union members, from the Union Plus website:

"For union families, AT&T is the clear choice for wireless service. AT&T is the only wireless company that is completely unionized, and that believes that fair treatment of employees is good for business and good for customers.

We urge every union member to make AT&T their wireless provider."

— Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of America

The scoop, as far as I've been reading

Verizon and the unions, including CWA and IBEW were in early negotiations as far back as about 1 year ago, the company wouldn't budge on health care issues and the CWA walked out until recently, members have on more than one occasion held preemptive pickets in many areas on the North-East, but according to some updates I've scanned through, there does not seem to be too much progress as of yet and according to Crain's New York, 91% of workers voted to authorize a strike if the negotiations fail. More at IBEW LU 2222

A little note, while awaiting the approval of the city of New York to alow inner city people to get FiOS, a high speed fiber optic system capable of delivering faster internet and a wide array of television programming, being the newest crap that Verizon wants to sling at us. Verizon has neglected their core landline and DSL customers to the point that we have all went on to bigger and better ventures, such as VOiP, the cable system phone service and eliminating the landline in favor of cell service. According to a friend and shop steward in my area, Verizon has not hired a single street utility worker in the last 6 years. Can't wait for FiOS, that should take around=, um, forever.

The Rally in New York

Many CWA workers from around the East coast along with affected IBEW member will gather in New York City at Verizon's headquarters to tell them thay will not back down and settle for less than what they deserve.

From PR Newswire:

Workers to Rally at Verizon Headquarters for Fair Contract

Media Advisory for Saturday, July 26

NEW YORK, July 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A mass rally outside Verizon Communications headquarters on Saturday, July 26 will bring thousands of Verizon workers and supporters to lower Manhattan, pressing Verizon to negotiate a fair contract. CWA President Larry Cohen, Vice Presidents Chris Shelton, District 1; Ron Collins, District 2 and Ed Mooney, District 13, among other speakers, will join the call for fairness for Verizon workers.

Contract negotiations between the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Verizon are continuing; the contract covering 60,000 workers expires at 12:01 am, Aug. 3.

CWA members from New England to Virginia will join the rally, traveling to show their support for the union bargaining team's determination to achieve workers' goals of quality jobs and quality benefits.

What: Rally to support a fair contract at Verizon

When and Where: Saturday, July 26, at 1 pm, 140 West Street, lower Manhattan.

SOURCE Communications Workers of America

More rally information and pictures from IBEW LU 2222:
Members Rallied at the Allens Ave. Garage in Providence, RI on July 24, 2008 as part of our series of "rolling rallies". Rallies will be held on Saturday July 26 in New York City, and will conclude with a massive rally on Thursday July 31 in Boston (185 Franklin Street, 6 PM)


Good luck CWA and IBEW members,
In solidarity
Joe

Joe's Union Review welcomes another Labor blog, a letter to the editor that made my day, SEIU performs ABBA at John McCain camp

Was noticing where my links were coming from and saw a new blog out there, I'm used to the US Chamber of Commerce and other anti-union agencies websites popping up unexpected, but it's always a pleasure to find yet another person who has been motivated enough to jump into the action and help promote our struggle, from the upcoming election and explaining that in his field videography, The Employee Free Choice Act is as necessary as in my own, the construction industry, so without further ado, a big welcome to Decision List, who's latest post is a great music video.

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON - NATALIE MERCHANT



Though many folks try to make things more complex than they really are, it really always comes down to a simple question.

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Hope to be reading more, and I hope he checks out Broadcast Union News, who has a lot of entertainment and broadcasting news.

Speaking of broadcasts, UnionGal posted a great video on her site, from 7/17, of a SEIU(Service Employees) theater production outside of John McCains headquarters on her site called "McCain as the "Loophole King"
Last week SEIU protested outside of McCain's campaign headquarters in Virginia. How they got ABBA to join them, I'll never know...


Richard at Union Review and Kirsten at UnionGal have been crazy busy, Richard attended Netroots Nation and Kirsten is running for office in DC, I will eventually be posting about all that sooner or later, I'm still reading through it, but I have a ton of stuff on my plate and a guy I worked with has passed away, a great guy who would give you the shirt off his back if you were in need, I feel really bad, I'm gonna miss him.

So I'm kinda doing all sorts of stuff, including getting more information about The Employee Free Choice Act petition for my own local to sign up, I'm meeting with the NYS AFL-CIO rep here in NYC tomorrow to get that stuff. Found a great article from over a year ago entitled "Who's afraid of The Employee Free Choice Act" from Common Dreams.

It's also nice to see Omaha Steve is still posting away at Democratic Underground, especially a letter to the editor he spotted from a The Providence Journal :
Brian Wilder: What union have brought us

01:00 AM EDT on Thursday, July 17, 2008

It’s tiresome reading such nonsense as the letter from Steve Lemois (June 18) who claims to know what unions are doing.

Here are some of the programs and laws that union workers have fought hard to create, many of which we still protect from regular attack by wealthy interests: Social Security, Medicare, the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, child-labor laws, family/medical leave with employer-paid insurance, unemployment insurance, temporary-disability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and the minimum-wage law. And we have much more hard work ahead of us, such as the need for affordable access to health care for everyone and human-rights protections for workers making our products both here and abroad.

We union workers sure do manage to do an awful lot for non-union people while just “looking after our own behinds,” which Mr. Lemois claims is all we do. Can he even be serious?

BRIAN WILDER

Cranston
Spread the word people, the American worker, the heart of the labor movement, will not go down without a fight.

That's about it for now, sorry for the lapse in covering recent news, maybe if we had a few more writers, ah, but we can all just dream a little...

NY: Nonunion construction, workers win back wages for unpaid overtime, why are companies like this allowed to stay in business?

“New York’s construction workers are the backbone of this city’s economy, but these companies sought to stiff almost 300 Bronx construction workers out of the overtime pay they earned and deserve,” - Andrew Cuomo, NYS Attorney General

Unreal, they will do anything to do the job as cheap as humanly possible, from hiring undocumented workers to not paying overtime, could you imagine how they cut corners on the building materials? Using employees with little or no training and little or no workplace voice, they are killing our area standards. I could go on and on about the reasons to use union and/or quality construction companies, who play by the rules, but I must go to sleep sometime

Found this over at Gangbox, a big thanks to Steven Greenhouse at the New York Times for writing articles of substance for working class people, from "Construction Workers in Bronx Split $1.23 Million in Back Pay " (7/22/08):
Two hundred and eighty-four construction workers in the Bronx will receive a total of $1.23 million in back pay as part of a settlement over unpaid overtime, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Monday.

Mr. Cuomo said the construction workers had not received time and a half for the overtime they had worked while renovating a dozen apartment buildings on the Grand Concourse, Gerard Avenue and elsewhere in the Bronx. He said the workers had received straight pay, regardless of how many hours they worked above 40 each week.

Mr. Cuomo’s office reached a settlement with two companies, J. Siebold Construction and Finkelstein-Morgan, which owns and manages real estate, without bringing a lawsuit against them.

“New York’s construction workers are the backbone of this city’s economy, but these companies sought to stiff almost 300 Bronx construction workers out of the overtime pay they earned and deserve,” Mr. Cuomo said.

“Today’s settlement will turn over $1.2 million to these workers and also send a serious message to employers across the state: Time-and-a-half pay for work over 40 hours a week is the law in New York State, and if an employer ignores that law, we will take action.”

The settlement is part of efforts by the attorney general and the State Labor Department to crack down on wage theft, which includes forcing employees to work off the clock, erasing hours they have worked and not paying time and a half for overtime.

The agreement calls for J. Siebold to pay $1.07 million in back wages and $160,000 in interest and penalties, while Finkelstein-Morgan serves as the guarantor of the payments. The violations occurred from October 2002 to August 2006, according to the attorney general’s office.

Under the settlement, the attorney general’s office will monitor the companies’ time and payroll practices to ensure their compliance until 2010.

Also under the settlement, the two companies are banned from retaliating in any way against employees who cooperated or were perceived as cooperating in the investigation.

Dennis A. Lalli, a lawyer for J. Siebold and Finkelstein-Morgan, said, “We cooperated fully with the agency, and I think the parties are in agreement that the final settlement was fair to all involved.”

Steven Finkelstein, a partner in Finkelstein-Morgan, said that his company owned the buildings and that J. Siebold was doing the renovations. Mr. Finkelstein said that because Mr. Cuomo came after both companies, “I had to be part of the settlement.” Of J. Siebold, he said, “They’re as embarrassed about this as we are.”
Wheres the jail time? That's grand larceny in my book. If I stole $1.2 million, I'm damn sure I would wind up in jail. Embarrassed? They should have a date with a fellow inmate. Hell, I wrote a comment over at the Times, if it gets published it will state:
Wheres the jail time? If I were to steal $1.2 million from my contractor, you bet you butt I would be spending time in Riker's, why the double standard for wealthy developers and construction companies who commit grand larceny?

I was kinda glad when I was reading this, then I thought about if it were the other way around, now I think it's a step in the right direction, a very, very small step.
While I appreciate what Mr.Cuomo has done, like I said, it's just not enough, not for the workers, not for the people of New York. We need higher standards for those who build in our city, higher standards for people who work in our city. Every single day I see, a most likely undocumented worker, on a scaffold with no safety equipment, is our governing body blind? How is this allowed to happen? Is this the building of the cross country railroads all over over again? Have we slipped into the early 1900's?

Workman's Compensation News: Big win for a NY cabbie who lost his eye being a good samaritan, 911 workers and volunteers claim deadline extended

God how I love the internet, I come home last night to find out there's more labor news this past week than I have time to even read about, and find out that there so much more that isn't even written about in the labor blogs that I have a ton of work on my hands. So while fumbling through the newest news via my Google RSS on the site I noticed a big win for a NYC Taxi driver who, while in a parking lot eating lunch decided to help out a person with a dead battery. Unfortunately the battery exploded blinding the man when he attached the wires. This is a really good article by a compensation attorney in Illinois and Iowa, Nick Avgerinos called "Something to Chew Over: Are You “On-the-Job” During Your Lunch Break?", here's a few key snips:
With personal injury claims, on the other hand, specifics are very important. Were you in any way at fault? How much were your medical bills? Can you continue to work? How does the injury affect your personal life? You’re the victim and yet you’re left to prove that you deserve compensation. Doesn’t seem fair, but it’s the way the system works. The best thing you can do is be upfront and honest. It’s up to you to report your injury early and seek legal advice regarding how to proceed.
He then continues explaining the differences, and then with the case at hand, our cab driver:
So, what about lunch breaks? As with most questions, the legal answer is “it depends.” A recent New York workers’ compensation case provides an interesting example. Like Illinois , New York Workers’ Compensation law requires that the injury arise both out of and in the course of employment. In this case, a cab driver was parked in a parking lot, eating his lunch, when approached by another motorist for assistance in jumping his car. The cab driver graciously agreed, but the battery exploded as he was securing the jumper cables, resulting in the cab driver losing his left eye. He filed for workers’ compensation….but he was on his lunch break when the injury occurred.

The case ended up in the New York Court of Appeals , which agreed with the employer that meal breaks are generally not compensable. They ruled, however, that this case was an exception. Testimony showed that drivers routinely took 15-20 minute breaks with the express permission of the employer at a location convenient for the employer. Reasoning that the general rule doesn't apply when the nature of the job dictates the time and place of the meal and the employee is still “on-the-job” at the time the break occurs. Thus, the court determined that the cab driver was injured in the course of employment.

But did his injury really arise out of employment? The New York Court of Appeals determined that if an employee is injured while involved in an activity that benefits the employer, while in the course of employment, then that employee has a workers’ compensation claim. But the cab driver here was just being a Good Samaritan , right? Wrong. The court ruled that, because the cab was clearly marked with the employer's name, the assistance created a good-will benefit to the employer. In other words, the cab driver was providing free advertisement for the employer.

That information is very helpful for all of us, I'm glad I got to read it, another thing I noticed is an article by Chrissie Cole that points out the extensions to register for Workman's Compensation for all 911 workers and volunteers, the new filing date is August 13th. 2008:

Those who helped assist in the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts of the World Trade Center destruction - have an extended deadline of August 13, 2008 to register with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.

The law has been changed to allow for claims by those that have 9/11 related illnesses.

The change applies to workers and volunteers that may not be sick now, but how become sick in the future due to toxic exposure following 9/11.

To ensure eligibility, all workers and volunteers must register before August 13, 2008 to preserve your right to file a claim in the future.

Workers and volunteers who assisted in cleanup work, recovery and rescue should register as soon as possible, to avoid the deadline. Those who were exposed to psychological trauma and/or toxic dust should protect their rights by filing a claim. If you are not sure if you qualify to make a claim, registering is suggested.

Detailed information can be found by visiting the NYCOSH website at www.nycosh.org or by calling 1-866-WTC-2556 24-hours a day.
Check out Injury Board for a lot more info about Workman's Compensation, nice site indeed. They even have a ton of articles for Construction Safety Month
http://newyorkcity.injuryboard.com/images/injuryboard-logo.jpg

2nd. Largest Teamsters union, UPS workers in Chicago vote to strike July 31st. if necessary

Members of IBT Local 705 have voted to strike when contract expires if company does not raise starting wages among other issues at hand.

From WIN Radio (Workers Independent News - 7/22/08):

Big Chicago Teamsters Local Ready To Strike UPS If Necessary - 07/22/08

By Doug Cunningham

img236/5265/hotrodupstruckvj8.jpgTeamsters Local 705 in Chicago – second largest in the nation - has authorized a strike against UPS with a deadline of midnight July 31st. Job security and working conditions are among the issues. Joe Balkis is a Teamsters Local 705 worker.

[Balkis]: “The companies keep on getting’ richer and the working classes keep on getting’ poorer. Enough is enough! It’s time we draw a line in the sand. We can’t take it anymore. The starting pay alone has only been increased once since I’ve been workin’ here for twenty years. We deserve better. Payin’ people $8.50 - $9.50 an hour to start is immoral.”

Juan Campos is Recording Secretary for Local 705.

[Campos]: “This is a company that’s made – since 1997 ‘til today over twenty billion dollars profit. This is not a company that’s crying for money or needs money or needs flexibility or needs concessions. This is a company that needs to get back to the membership.”

Campos says Local 705 doesn’t want to strike but his guts tells him the union may have to.

[Campos]: “I am very hopeful. I’m looking forward to settle this. But my gut tells me their arrogance won’t allow them to address the issues that we need to be addressed.”

I'm usually in the business of pushing UPS along with the US Postal Service and DHL as union delivery options for us union folks, it would be unfortunate if there isn't a raise for starting employees, I recently learned that here in NY new hires take a long time to get past their initial try out before union members, it definitely is a hard working job, I see those guys and girls breaking their asses off in Manhattan every day. Joe Balkis hit the nail on the head, read that again
“The companies keep on getting’ richer and the working classes keep on getting’ poorer. Enough is enough! It’s time we draw a line in the sand. We can’t take it anymore. The starting pay alone has only been increased once since I’ve been workin’ here for twenty years. We deserve better. Payin’ people $8.50 - $9.50 an hour to start is immoral.”
Joe, they would pay us a dirt sandwich if they had their way, its not just UPS, it's all workers worldwide, I know a lot of readers will come here just for the UPS info, but why not take a look around, I have stories about working people from all walks of life just struggling and getting screwed in every direction, from computer programmers to pipefitters to grocery store clerks. The huge corporations are working together to 3rd worlditize our nation and drag the entire planet down to a lowest bidder labor force, even the doctors are finding it hard to make ends meet, unbeknown to many there are many doctors who now belong to unions.

Doctors have recently taken on the health care insurance industry in more ways than one, they are supporting the "single-payer" health bill (United States National Health Insurance Act, H.R. 676), as mentioned in another recent article here, and they have come forward to tell the world how workman's compensation insurance companies have coerced them into mistreat and undertreating injured workers. We as working people must rally behind those that dare to fight the corrupt system that, like I stated wouldn't care if our families, our American families, ate dirt for dinner. Look at Levi's Straus, that American Jean Company, their factories now reside in such high labor standard places as Haiti, where recently they were rioting because of lack of food, and some families are eating dirt just to not hurt from the pain of hunger, and to places like Bangladesh, where even the cops and teachers must wait on lines with thousands of people just to buy government subsidized rice.

Thats what they want for us, thats what they want for the U.S.!

So while you are here, sign the Employee Free Choice Act petition on the upper right hand side of the site, or read about why its necessary first, but do something for yourself, for your children for your friends and neighbors, learn about it and what is important for working Americans, take a step and educate yourself and those you are close to about what the dangers we will face if we don't take action now.

Note about the picture above:

The picture above is from lolcars.com, I noticed a story about how UPS was adding more natural gas powered vehicles to their fleet, it's pretty interesting, especially since the trucks can drive indoors due to the lower emissions, according to Jalopnik (4/4/08):
In a courageous example of marketing, UPS has distributed another 167 compressed natural gas vehicles to its fleets in Texas, Georgia, and California. This brings the total number of CNG vehicles deployed to around 950, and the total green fleet number to 1692 in their army of over 88,000 ground vehicles. While painting this as an integral part of their environmental strategy, the truth is probably more that CNG vehicles are allowed freer reign to operate inside enclosed structures and aren't as often subject to special permits for operation inside of factories and warehouses like gasoline or diesel trucks.
There has to be some reasoning why? Usually it's not for the public at large, probably got some tax write offs for doing it. Check out the Jalopnik site, they have some funny comments in that thread.

http://www.laborradio.org/misc/winbanner.jpg

Joe's taking a few days off

Please allow me to take a little vacation from the site. I'll probably be scarce for the rest of the week.

MySpace is paying off: Why union members have a responsibility to register to vote

Wow, after a week, the MySpace thing is paying off, I got a bulletin with a great message, from a Teamster in Local 170, Sherri, here's what she had to say
Will you...........
We all have a responsibility as citizens, as parents, family members and as friends. It is our chosen position to take ownership of what belongs to us and defend what needs to be defended. Without hesitation we will come to the aid of our children and care for our parents. We will get up at 4 am to reach those early bird specials the day after Thanksgiving. We will go to extreme measures to save a dime and waste not a minute to reach out for that impulsive purchase.

We will ignore those in need, mistreated by the corporations they work so hard for. We will make excuses that Wal-mart is cheaper and we have to be able to support our families before we worry about the economy of our country. We will not take any opportunities given us to learn who the law breakers of labor are, because as humans we are selfish and absorbed in our own lives. We can justify it, because it is a sinking economy that is responsible. And while we long for easier times, we will choose not to assist in making it happen.

We must all realize that the economy suffers because of an irresponsible government. From unemployment to the rising costs of health care, we have become prisoners in this land of the free. Until we admit our responsibilities and live up to them, we will continue to suffer along with the future of our children and grandchildren.

Register to vote and ask your family members to register to vote.

If we can come together, we can make a difference. Every vote does count, especially yours.

Will you help us? Take one for the team, ask a neighbor to GET OUT AND VOTE!!! Save some time in line and vote early!

Sherri H****
Teamsters Local 170

I challenge every Union Member to express yourselves and ask your my space friends to register and vote early! How can we possibly ask others what we will not do ourselves! Union Members all over the world are the examples of Unity and we must share our knowledge and encourage others to stand up and fight for a better tomorrow.

In Solidarity, brothers and sisters everywhere!!!

Telling our veterans about the Employee Free Choice Act and John McCain's record

Had to say something, so I was reading through the NY Times article about how the AFL-CIO has launched a Veterans Vs. McCain website and when readin the comments I just had to chime in, from the NY Times, "Union Veterans’ Group Starts Ad Campaign Against McCain"
(7/11/08):
Wow, reading through I can see the paid for posts, yes that’s right, today’s Big Law firm fat cats pay people to post on major news sites spreading bull misinforming people about The Employee Free Choice Act, the one true good piece of legislation that will allow people, that’s right American working people, to decide if they want to be in a union by signing a card. If more than 50% sign they get a union. The current method allows these union avoidance law firms to swoop in and divide and conquer the work force in the interim before the vaunted “secret ballot” election, using any means necessary, whether legal or not, by the time the election is over they deal with the legalities. This is a multi-billion dollar industry. Union avoidance and busting, a bunch of lawyers who spread the misinformation, and terrorize workers in their business see the passage of The Employee Free Choice Act as a tremendous loss to their cash cow, when was the last time you saw a “non-profit” so adamantly oppose legislation under the guise of taking away our democracy, where obviously money is no object, creating and running TV ad’s at will, that takes BIG money, even bigger than the AFL launching this campaign. Don’t let the billion dollar lawyers tell you how to think. They have owned the NLRB for the past 8 years under the guidance of a Bush appointee, Robert Battista, who has thoroughly contracted the power of all workers and given even more power to multi-national corporations who are ruling our world. He has done such a good job that when his appointment as the chairman came up this year, he decided to refuse in order to join one of the biggest union busting law firms in the world, that’s a fact that Main Stream Media doesn’t speak about.

And yes, Mr.McCain, who would make us all pay for our own health insurance with taxed money, and feed us into the hands of the big insurance companies is not the choice for any American worker, union or otherwise.

He also opposed the new GI Bill. I have been writing about the new GI Bill for quite some time and was completely surprised that this maverick veteran, ex-pow, would allow our returning vets to not get the care they needed, to not get funding to higher education, to not get the mental health care they needed. While both Republicans and Democrats supported the GIBILL 2008, McCain threatened cloture, and Bush threatened Veto, until a few weeks ago. This bill will allow our returning veterans a chance to become workers, company owners, supervisors, and modern day heroes, not the Vietnam era bill that flooded our country with homeless returnees. McCain did not want this! Bush did not want this! The military industrial complex did not want this! We the American people wanted this!

As a labor writer, do I staunchly back Obama? absolutely not, I despise the current 2 party system, I despise the fact that MSM censored the candidates I would have easily voted for in favor of the ones they could control through campaign finance. But Obama has a better chance of helping working people here in our country, and is a little less of a world eating profiteer that the reagan/bush/clinton/bush travesty that has lead us to where we are today. Especially if we, as working American’s hold Obama accountable if lected, remember, if you have 1 term in office, you will want another.

We can change the world a bit if Obama is elected, we can not if McCain is.

All of you here are among the Americans who can read independent news on the internet, do it, don’t just read the NY Times(no offense Mr.Greenhouse, I read your stuff, and it has been heading in a much better direction lately), don’t just read USA Today, spread yourself out onto Mother Jones, The Man Common blog, Peoples Weekly World, UTNE Reader, Consumers Union, Corp Watch, the list goes on, see the social interests links on my site. We have many issues, if this country continues on its path of separatism, the powers that be will take it all away from our little satellite groups at a whim.

As far as unions destroying America’s workplace, keep thinking that way.

Did the unions allow our industry to go to Haiti, where the people eat dirt sandwiches and the ones who are lucky enough to work in the former US Made Levi’s factory make about $2 a week, yeah blame the unions for that, or the other place where they make Levi’s, Bangladesh, where even the school teachers and policemen have to wait on thousand people lines to get government subsidized rice because they are paid so poorly, or in Vietnam, home of sneakers that were made her, where workers work 12 hours a day and recently went on strike to make a whopping $62 a month, instead of their current $58.

Yeah, the unions killed American jobs, yep

Open your eyes.

Gotta run, going to attend a function of the Wounded Warriors Project, where my friend, a retired union Steamfitter, who, along with a retired Firefighter, sell shirts and help our severely wounded returning vets do things they wouldn’t think they were capable to do.

Today they are scuba diving, yeah, that’s right, guys and girls with no legs going scuba diving, and union workers help, not because we want to, because in our hearts, just like running down to the trade center site after 9/11, we have to.

Joehttp://www.blackcoralgroup.net/bug.gif
Joe’s Union Review
http://joesunionreview.com

— Posted by JoeUnionReview

GI Bill 2008: 2 million vets can now get higher education, a big thanks from the IAVA, Senator's Hagel and Webb

With all the quagmire of politics, left, right, democrat, republican, all the crap that usually goes split between the sides, something finally got taken care of, the new GI Bill that will give access to all of our returning veterans to get a higher education and pave a better path for their futures has passed. Here's the video I received in my e-mail.


Thank you all for helping to support this cause.

NY: Teamster local 282, the concrete drivers, back to work with tenative agreement, ending 10 day strike

“The strike is officially over. Workers will be back to work on Monday.” -Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for IBT Local 282

Steven Greenhouse at The NY Times (7/11/08) reports:
The union local representing striking concrete truck drivers in New York City announced on Thursday night that it had reached a tentative contract with the city’s concrete producers.

Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for the union, which has been on strike since July 2, said: “The strike is officially over. Workers will be back to work on Monday.”

The strike, which affected 450 concrete-mixing trucks, has halted or greatly slowed construction at scores of projects across the city, including the Freedom Tower at ground zero; the Second Avenue subway; the new Yankee Stadium; Citi Field, the ballpark that will replace Shea Stadium; and many high-rise apartment buildings.

Ms. Daly said the union, Local 282 of the Teamsters, and the Association of New York City Concrete Producers reached the agreement after three days of intense negotiations.

On Thursday afternoon, the Quadrozzi Concrete Corporation, which provides concrete for the Freedom Tower, among other major projects, announced that it had reached an agreement with Local 282.

John Quadrozzi Jr., president of Quadrozzi Concrete, said his company, which has 50 trucks, decided it would be better to negotiate independently of the concrete producers’ association.

“We reached an understanding and I think everyone’s happy about it,” he said. “Most important, we’ll get concrete to our sites, starting tomorrow.”

Neither management nor the union would discuss details of the association’s settlement or the separate Quadrozzi agreement.
Read it in it's entirety at the Times

Labor bloggers to promote Employee Free Choice Act at NYC Labor Day parade? Strike updates, got a Joe's MySpace, and HR676 US National Health Care Act

Firstly, Labor Day 2008 in New York, trying to promote the Employee Free Choice Act

Myself, Richard from Union Review and Kirsten from Uniongal, the Women, Unions and Our Stories blog, are looking for sponsors to get some Employee Free Choice Act shirts, with our sites listed as supporters, to be given away at this years Labor Day Parade in New York, if all goes well we will have a major labor union donation to help us get our message out there, we are hoping that all our readers, and some people who are not as active out there in the streets will get educated on the Bill and spread the word of the facts on this legislation. It is possibly the most important bill in my lifetime.

Many law firms stand to lose a tremendous cash cow if The Employee Free Choice Act is enacted

Usually, unless the company agrees to a card check vote, when a MAJORITY of workers signs cards to be in a union there is a wait time, usually over a month later, when the employees get a chance to vote via "secret ballot" to be in a union. That's where the Lawyers and Union Avoidance law firms come into play, they make multi-billions in figuring ways to turn workers against the idea of being in a union, turning workers against one another and using any means , such as unlawful firing.
. These law firms thrive on fear. They make companies whose workers are engaged in organizing drives terrified of a collective voice , which unfortunately in today's day and age is really not looking at the facts at all.

Many companies could stand to gain a great deal if they mimicked the business practices of COSTCO, who has a hands off policy and allows their workers to join a union by a simple MAJORITY card signing, some stores sign up and some do not, but their employees all benefit from not being denied that basic right. Consider how disgruntled almost every Home Depot employee is, it's a down right shame, they don't care about their shit job one bit, give them a fairs day wage, nice pension to worry about keeping, and decent medical and they would likely make the Home Depot experiance a much better one for customers and would most likely raise their share value far beyond just the next quarter. Corporations however usually do not think like that, you can learn more at "The Corporation- 23 chapters in YouTube playlist form", but let's get back to the facts in this matter.

What employers and law firms do to keep workers from joining unions and who's on their side, why America needs the Employee Free Choice Act

FACT: Many companies have closed door meetings with employees without their own pro-union workers in attendance, brain washing them to fear being in a union and in fact fear to even mention the word. In one recent article I wrote about a construction contractor here in New York, whose MAJORITY of employees signed cards to be in a union, were sent to another jobsite for a closed door meeting, were told they would get a $5 an hour raise if they voted against joining a union and in fact a former supervisor, who stood to gain nothing testifying, in an affidavit to Federal labor officials, stated when he asked his boss about the union:"
He said he had about six guns on the job, and he had people there who would do whatever needed to be done. He said that he could dig a hole and put me in it and make the records showing I worked for the company disappear.", the workers fearing reprisal and thinking they were going to get a raise wound up voting overwhelmingly against the union. From: "High-Cost Condos, Low-Cost Labor—and Threats of Violence to Union Organizers"- Village Voice (6/24/08)
Last November, the NLRB ordered Auringer to post a notice promising not to make such threats. A new vote was canceled after Auringer fired 10 pro-union employees on the election's eve.
This is a good reason that America needs the Employee Free Choice Act. They sign the cards, they get into a union. No guns, no threats, no bullshit propaganda.

More reasons that the current NLRB "secret ballot' hurts working Americans

FACT: 30% of pro union employees are fired during an organizing drive, even though it is against the law, they just don't care as the NLRB has been battered by lobbyist and mega-corporations to the point of intellectuality. This is in no small part due to President Bush's appointment as NLRB Chairman, Robert Battista who just recently declined the reappointment to join a union avoidence and union busting law firm, from American Rights at Work, which I first published here on 5/5 in a story, titled "Former Bush NLRB Chairman Robert Battista, joins union avoidance law firm" which highlights the deterioration of the rights of workers during his tenure at the NLRB:

For years I've been writing that Robert Battista, former chair of the National Labor Relations Board, has been doing the bidding of anti-union employers by dismantling protections for workers under the law. Apparently, he's now going to be doing the bidding of anti-union employers and making a lot more money at notorious unionbusting firm Littler Mendelson (see a sample of their unionbusting strategies: Littler Mendelson’s Dos & Don’ts).

Battista asked Bush to withdraw his nomination as Labor Board chair, which was going nowhere, and joined the firm that John Logan of the London School of Economics called one of the "nation’s first law firms to conduct aggressive union avoidance campaigns."

Now Battista can make money telling employers how to exploit the law he helped to weaken in order to prevent their workers from organizing.
Battista is not alone, spin-doctor lawyer and lobbyist Rick Berman, the self proclaimed "Dr.Evil", corporate lobbyist for Big tobacco and the liquor industry among others, and creator of such fun filled sites as The Center for Union Facts is working hard on getting the American public against the Employee Free Choice Act, by advertising on local networks against the bill, using that d1ckhead who played Johnny Sachs in the Sopranos (probably a rank-and-file SAG member like Ronald Reagan, except a hell of a lot less talented), to scare people into thinking that if the Bill is
One Million Strong for the Employee Free Choice Act
passed that their Democracy will be erased by ending 'secret ballot'. It's more like it will end
Mr.Berman's and other lawyers cash cow. Lawyers, corrupt politicians and corporations are the modern day gangsters, I'm starting that when they went after the Mafia they really wanted to eliminate their competition.

The commercial shows a gangster over the card signers shoulder, yeah maybe it should show a corporate lawyer counting money if this doesn't get passed
**Click the image to add your name to the petition that will wind up on the desk of the next US President


Strike News and Job Loss
UA LU 699, IBT 282 NY Concrete drivers, American Axle updates

Lots of news going on, I've been trying to contact the Business Manager for UA Local 699 Sprinklerfitters to see if I can get any more info on the strike in Seattle Washington, last night I sent him an e-mail, still waiting for a response, I'm sure the guy is busy.

I have read that the New York concrete truck Teamsters Local 282 have gone back to the negotiating table as of yesterday, the NY Times reports that there is some progress.

Also received news of American Axle, who I recently wrote is gearing up to destroy the environment, is now looking to get rid of 400 white collar workers in the United States, now that they are escaping the land of labor rights to distant shores. What a disgrace, maybe they can rename the company to "3rd. World Nation Axle"


Health Care For All, supported by doctors and now the Mayors Council


Big news, the single payer health care bill is being endorsed by the US Conference of Mayors(The U.S. Conference of Mayors is a nonpartisan organization of mayors representing cities with a population of 30,000 or more. It currently has about 1,100 members.), this is a bill that would get health insurance for all Americans and is strongly endorsed by a whopping 59% of American doctors, here's the text of the resolution in support of the United States National Health Insurance Act, H.R. 676:

Submitted By:
The Honorable Lois
J. Frankel, Mayor of West Palm Beach, Fla.
The Honorable Wayne
J. Hall Sr., Mayor of Mayor of Hempstead, N.Y.
The Honorable Carolyn
K. Peterson, Mayor of Ithaca, N.Y.
The Honorable John
E. Marks, III, Mayor of Tallahassee, Fla.
The Honorable Sheila Dixon, Mayor of Baltimore, Md.
The Honorable Becky Tooley, Mayor of Coconut Creek, Fla.
The Honorable Ryan Coonerty, Mayor of Santa Cruz, Calif.

WHEREAS, every person deserves access to affordable quality health care; and

WHEREAS, the number of Americans without health insurance now exceeds 47 million; and

WHEREAS, millions with insurance have coverage so inadequate that a major illness would lead to financial ruin, and medical illness and bills contribute to one-half of all bankruptcies; and

WHEREAS, proposals for “consumer directed health care” such as Health Savings Accounts or Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) would only worsen this situation by penalizing the sick, discouraging prevention and saddling many working families with huge medical bills; and

WHEREAS, managed care and other market-based reforms have failed to contain health care costs, which now threaten the international competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers; and

WHEREAS, administrative waste stemming from our reliance on private insurers consumes one-third of private health spending while the single payer Medicare system has administrative costs of less than 5 percent; and

WHEREAS, U.S. hospitals spend 24.3 percent of their budgets on billing and administration while hospitals under Canada’s single payer system spend only 12.9 percent; and

WHEREAS, Harvard researchers estimate that more than $300 billion could be recovered by replacing private insurance companies with a single public payer, enough to cover the uninsured and to improve coverage for all those who now have only partial coverage; and

WHEREAS, entrusting care to profit-oriented firms diverts billions of dollars to outrageous incomes for CEOs and threatens the quality of care; and

WHEREAS, The United States National Health Insurance Act (H.R. 676) would assure universal coverage of all medically necessary services, contain costs by slashing bureaucracy, protect the doctor patient relationship, assure patients a completely free choice of doctors, and allow physicians a free choice of practice settings; and

WHEREAS, most polls show that the majority of Americans support universal health care; and

WHEREAS, as of the date of this resolution, the majority of American physicians (59 percent) believe that Single Payer is the best method of securing universal health care; and

WHEREAS, The United States National Health Insurance Act (H.R. 676) will guarantee every mayor that all residents and employees of his/her city will be fully covered for health care and save millions of taxpayer dollars now spent on premiums to provide less than full health insurance coverage for government employees; and

NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors expresses its support for The United States National Health Insurance Act (H.R. 676), and calls upon federal legislators to work towards its immediate enactment and further urges the adoption of a process to insure that health care providers justify any increase in health care costs.


Got the MySpace up, and a shoutbox. Next we will change the layout here.

Finally did it, got a dedicated Joe's Union Review MySpace account that mirrors the blog here into the MySpace social network, it's how I met Richard at union review, theres a whole lot more to that story, but in a nutshell, I'm looking to meet more Richard's, Joe's and Kirsten's.

I also added a "shoutbox' to this site, you can easily add messages onto the site by entering text into the box and submitting it, try it out, it's right under the title "Say something even if it's wrong"

Seriously thinking of updating the site, I have been working with a layout that has more features, like having just the story introduction on the front page, with a read more lnk, ala Union review and the Building Bridges Radio blog i have been working on, let me know what you think.

Working behind the scenes a bit lately, a great win for the future of New York's labor solidarity was achieved yesterday, I'm waiting for a press release to write on it, stay tuned, and finally I leave you with...