Video: New ad campaign the truth about the Employee Free Choice Act

David Macaray: Union busting alive and well: Inside The Burke Group

I love David Macaray's articles, this one is 1/6/09
Inside the Burke Group
Union-Busting is Alive and Well

By DAVID MACARAY

Established in 1982, with headquarters in tony Malibu, California, The Burke Group (after president and CEO David Burke) advertises itself as the world’s largest management consulting firm specializing in “union avoidance and preventative industrial labor relations.” Which is more or less a euphemism for “union busting.”

The Burke Group (TBG, for short) earns its keep by defeating union organizing efforts. Torpedoing membership drives is their self-declared “specialty.” When hired by a company to dissuade employees from joining a labor union, TBG representatives swing into action, utilizing every manner of high-powered, negative propaganda to make sure the referendum fails.

TBG’s anti-union presentations (and, typically, there are several of them, spread over weeks) are conducted on company turf, where employee attendance is mandatory. Those who refuse to attend the presentations can be terminated.

Basically, what TBG does at these captive audience meetings is bombard the well-intentioned but impressionable employees with smears, innuendo, flattery, and scare tactics, using a standard, two-pronged assault: one-part economic and one-part psychological.

The economic part consists of pretending that, contrary to what they’ve heard, workers don’t actually “gain” materially by joining a union. Any wage or benefit increase will, in fact, be eaten up by ever-increasing monthly dues that are used to pay the inflated salaries of greedy union bosses, and by debilitating strikes, where employees are thrown out of work for months at a time, with no say in the matter. That’s their pitch.

Of course, these assertions are not only counter-factual and purposely misleading, they’re downright insulting to anyone who’s been paying attention. Union wages alone (not even counting benefits) are, on average, 15% higher than non-union wages. And, because dues run about $50-$60 per month, and amount to but a tiny fraction of that differential, the suggestion that higher wages will be off-set by monthly dues is absurd.

As for strikes, their impact is also wildly exaggerated. In truth, given the economic climate and status of organized labor, how many actual strikes are there anymore? The reason strikes make the evening news and front page of the newspaper is because they occur so infrequently; and the ones that last for “months” are rarer still.

Moreover, a union cannot raise the monthly dues without a majority of the membership voting to raise them. And federal labor law stipulates that voting on dues increases (as well as officers salaries) must be conducted by secret ballot. It couldn’t be any clearer. Yet, these professional union-busters try to make it sound like joining a union means abandoning democracy and common sense, and placing oneself at the mercy of money-hungry despots.

The same goes for strikes. Because a strike is such a momentous undertaking, a union negotiating team cannot call one unless the membership has already given them authorization to do so. That stipulation is spelled out in the by-laws. Again, it couldn’t be any clearer.

In fact, some unions, such as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), require even more than a simple majority; they require a 75% mandate for strike authorization. In short, no matter what these union-busters claim, a union doesn’t hit the bricks unless the members themselves choose to do so. Yet, companies like TBG continue to sell the idea that union members have no say in what happens to them.

The psychological part of the presentation is equally misleading. TBG reps try to convince employees that once they join a union they no longer have unrestricted or unimpeded access to management. They are told that, by virtue of signing up, they automatically define themselves as management’s “enemy,” and, accordingly, can expect the company to treat them with hostility and contempt.

The propaganda is unremitting. Workers are warned that, if they ignore the sound advice being offered them and choose, instead, to join a union, they will go from being free, self-sufficient and valued employees to mere foot soldiers in organized labor’s vast army of minions. They paint an unbelievably demoralizing picture.

It’s also not uncommon for professional union-busters to use visual aids. Typically, they’ll show footage of downtrodden workers manning picket lines, union goons battling the police, and scowling, overweight union bosses doing the perp walk as they’re led away by federal agents for violating racketeering statutes or stealing money from the union’s treasury. Anything to make organized labor look bad.

As heavy-handed and coarse as these methods are, TBG has been surprisingly successful using them. Among its “victorious” customers are General Electric, Honeywell, Coca-Cola, the Eaton Corporation, Virgin Air, T-Mobile, K-Mart, and the Chinese Daily News. With TBG’s help, all of these businesses were successful in keeping their employees from joining unions.

Because so many of the workers being targeted by organized labor these days are Latinos, many of whom are recent immigrants working at jobs at the bottom of the economic ladder, TBG has convinced employers that they need qualified Spanish-speakers to do their dirty work.. And TBG speaks fluent Spanish. (Their consultants also speak Tagalog, French, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and several dialects of Chinese.)

Indeed, TBG takes great pride in customizing its service. When the Chinese Daily News (CDN) came to TBG for assistance in crushing its employees’ organizing drive, the firm chose as its representative one Larry Wong, an ethnic Chinese. They rarely miss a trick. Predictably, TBG’s services don’t come cheaply. According to reports, CDN alone has paid TBG more than $800,000 in consulting fees.

So next time people are tempted to criticize organized labor for not recruiting more new members, they should take a moment to consider the opposition. When it comes to keeping the unions out, American businesses are willing to pay cash. TBG is just one of many companies willing to accept it.

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright (“Borneo Bob,” “Larva Boy”) and writer, was a former labor union rep. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net
From the pages of:

Video: Wal-Mart save money, live better

Video Link

Q: Averaging just $17,000 a year, $4,000 below the poverty line, how on earth is a Wal-Mart employee able to have a truck and a mortgage?

Video: Letterman releases last appearance of Bill Hicks

I didn't even know this existed, last night David Letterman has Mary Hicks, Bill's mom, on his show and released a 1993 appearance, Bill's last, which originally did not air.

Video Link for my text subscribers

“No Justice, No Cookies” Jan. 31 march to support Stella D’Oro workers

From Talking Union by dsalaborblogmoderator

stella-doro-picketlineOn Saturday, January 31, a rally and march will be held to support striking Stella D’Oro workers in New York City. The company is attempting to destroy their union The 135 workers of Stella D’Oro, the biscuit producers, most of whom are Latina women and immigrants from Asia and Africa are confronting a cold winter on the streets. They have been on strike since August 13, 2008. The company, Brynwood Partners, has refused to negotiate and is demanding that the workers return to work without a contract in an attempt to destroy their union.

JOIN THE MARCH DOWN BROADWAY!

Saturday JAN. 31 * 11AM * 237 St & Bway

#1 train to 238th St. (at Broadway); map

In front of Stella D’Oro plant on 237th Street & Broadway

“No Justice, No Cookies!”

BOYCOTT STELLA D’ORO PRODUCTS

The workers have gone on strike because the company wants to: Slash wages by as much as 25% Make health insurance unaffordable by imposing crushing premiums Eliminate holidays, vacations, sick pay & current pension Eliminate extra pay for working Saturdays

The strikers are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 50. They are on the picket line everyday!

PRODUCED BY:

Committee in Support of the Stella D’Oro Strikers

WEBSITE: www.stelladorostrike2008.com

YOUTUBE VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQgv3n-A5Cs


Vice President Biden quote of the day

From SEIU Blog 1/30/09:
"I do believe--and I make no apologies for it--that over the last 100 years the middle class was built on the back of organized labor. Without their weight, heft and their insistence starting in the early 1900s we wouldn't have the middle class we have now, in my view. So I think labor getting a fair share of the pie is part of it."

President Obama- "We cannot have strong middle class without strong labor union"

This is from DailyKOS, go there and give a recommend or a comment, we need to let President Obama know that the workers are behind him if he is behind us. Not only that tell the people out there in internet land that labor is the number one priority. Without a fair and honest days pay, we are all screwed.
Obama- "Cannot have strong middle class without strong labor union"
by NathanNewman


That was Obama statement repealing a number of Bush-era anti-union executive orders and creating a White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, chaired by VP Joe Biden and no doubt staffed by former-Economic Policy Institute leader Jared Bernstein, who is working for Biden on economic issues

I'll skip the substance of the exec order actions and emphasize that Obama statement as far more significant. We have not had a President that so forthrightly identified the health of the nation with the health of the labor movement. I'm sure Clinton and Carter never did and I'd be curious if anyone has quotes from LBJ or JFK said so strongly.

Remembering that much of the upsurge in labor organizing in the 1930s came BEFORE the Wagner Act was allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court in 1937, in many ways the most significant tools of the labor movement that decade was FDR's statement early on that, President Roosevelt declared publicly, "If I were a worker I would join a union." Union leaders used that statement to rally workers across the country. Whether Obama's statement will have the same galvanizing effect is unclear, but it may help significantly -- and may help undercut the anti-union stance of Congressional opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act and other labor bills pending.

Bumper sticker ready

Tension Rises at San Diego Unified School District Over Proposed PLA

The concept of San Diego Unified School District having a project labor agreement is starting to really heat things up here. (and you thought it was the sun) Eric Christen and his cohorts have really inflated their PR campaign and are trying to spread fear like it is butter. The Voice of San Diego has been covering the issue.

For starters Mr. Christen (someone not from my community) has resorted to name calling and ultimately threatening to recall our elected officials.
"We are targeting the three board members who are handmaidens for the union," said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, a group that lobbies against labor agreements. Christen added, "The public has a right to know what their school board has been up to."
This is the same guy that could not figure out how to legally qualify a ballot measure in Chula Vista. I doubt he has the skills to pull off a recall.

Well here was some more information about Mr. Christen:
Christen's group is part of a nationwide nonprofit called Congressional District Programs, a public charity that that is itself a subset of National Heritage Family. Christen earns more than $160,000 annually as a consultant to Congressional District Programs, according to its most recently available tax return. Prior to its merger with Congressional District Programs four years ago, it pulled in roughly $33,000 in revenue in a year.
Since when do consultants of non profits make more than state legislators, city council members, and over $60,000 more than the mayor of San Diego? I think his efforts and bombastic threats are the way that he justifies his salary.

Board member Sheila Jackson penned a letter to the editor supporting the agreement. You can read it here. It is on point.

Stay tuned...

Bank Of America takes $25 Billion of our money and organizes conference call against unions

From SEIU.org

MSNBC Reports on Bank of America's Anti-Worker Conference Call
By Brad Levinson

Reaction to Sam Stein's recent Huffington Post article on Bank of America's anti-Employee Free Choice conference call has been sweeping.

Wednesday night, on MSNBC show 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., host David Shuster reported on the call during his "Hypocrisy Watch" segment. Airing some of the tape from the call, Shuster makes the following comment:

"Bernie Marcus is entitled to his opinion on unions. Likewise, every American citizen is welcome to get involved in elections - elections matter. However, Bank of America and other financial institutions helped create the financial mess that our country faces, to begin with. For Bank of America to take taxpayer bailout money in order to 'improve the company's health' and then use that money to organize a conference call and get so involved in fighting in fighting workers who are trying to improve their own financial health...that's hypocrisy and that's wrong."
Watch the clip here:

Executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting, speaks out about The Employee Free Choice Act

"The Employee Free Choice Act will go a long way toward expanding workplace democracy. Progressive religious leaders, whatever their disagreements might be, must come together to support the restoring of dignity to those who labor honestly"

Wow, I can't even edit this down, it's perfect, directly from Religion Dispatches, By Peter Laarman (sorry for the full cut and paste)
Restoring Dignity: The Employee Free Choice Act

If you know anything about politics, it is a
game changer. It is a total game changer for the next 40 to 50 years if the Democrats are able to get this legislation.
—Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada)

We like driving the car and we’re not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us.
—Lee Scott, former Wal-Mart CEO

I once worked professionally in the labor

movement, and I often say that I have never felt the slightest discontinuity in moving from labor organizing and labor strategizing to ordained ministry. To me all of it has been the Lord’s work—and here is why.

All the people straining at the gnats in biblical

interpretation—namely, what God may or may not think about various forms of sexual expression—consistently miss the big theme within the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. That theme is deliverance from bondage and God’s call to build just community, to resist Egyptian ways of oppression and sweated labor. As many have pointed out, the Bible has far more to say about economic justice than any other

subject, to the point that right worship of God is directly equated with dealing justly with one’s fellow humans (witness the Isaiah 58 text used by Sharon Watkins, who preached at the national prayer service held on the day after Barack Obama’s inauguration). The biblical Sabbath and Jubilee keynotes—keynotes also struck by Jesus right at the start of his public ministry—contain within them God’s main message to us about maintaining just community. And what “proclaim liberty throughout the land” means, in practical terms, is abolish debt peonage and correct corrosive imbalances in wealth and social power.

Does this land of ours suffer from debt peonage and corrosive wealth imbalance? Is that even a question??

I was moved beyond measure to see the inauguration-related concert at the Lincoln Memorial open with Bruce Springsteen’s “Come On Up To The Rising” and end with Pete Seeger leading the multitude in singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” Bringing Seeger up there wasn’t corny. It connected this moment to the last great economic crisis of 75 years ago. And I was glad that Pete made sure to include this little-known verse of Guthrie’s anthem:

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

It’s not 1934, and we’re not at the point of mass hunger quite yet. But to pretend that working families haven’t been hit really hard—and with many more blows to come—is delusional.

The Employee Free Choice Act

For more than three decades US policy actively facilitated the corporate/conservative agenda of concentrating wealth at the top. We’ve seen where that got us. And there is no better engine than the power of workplace democracy and collective bargaining to put more money into the hands of regular people—and also to restore some of the dignity that creation theology says rightly belongs to those who labor honestly. That is why progressive religious leaders need to get behind the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which will come before the new Congress within the next few months.

EFCA would strengthen the labor movement, and I should acknowledge from the get-go that religious progressives historically have had mixed feelings about trade unions. Catholics and Jews have generally had much more favorable views of unionization than white Protestants, in part because of the vast number of Catholic immigrants to the United States who benefited significantly from their union membership but also because of the impact of Catholic and Jewish social teaching. White Protestants (my peeps) have too often tended to cling to a by-your-bootstraps ethic of individual achievement, joined to a suspicion that there is something slightly sinister and foreign about union leaders and about the union concept of class solidarity.

I grew up ten miles from the Kohler Company’s sprawling furnaces and factories in eastern Wisconsin during the seemingly endless and ultimately victorious struggle by the UAW to unionize those facilities. The Dutch Calvinists I grew up among—those who worked at Kohler—were mostly strikebreakers. It was a religious conviction among many that the owners should be able to operate their works without union interference.

But I am here to argue that at this moment in American life, all clear-thinking people of faith should be rallying around the union banner. If we’re going to draw analogies between Obama’s challenge and FDR’s challenge, we would do well to recall that what drove the New Deal and significantly remade American politics during the Roosevelt years was the tripling of US union membership that took place over the ten years following 1935—the year that workers first got real bargaining rights under the Wagner Act.

Led by the United Steelworkers, United Auto Workers, United Mine Workers, United Rubber Workers, and United Electrical Workers, the Depression-era labor movement raised wage standards and working conditions for a vast swath of the workforce, but it did much more than that. The CIO—Congress of Industrial Organizations—used its considerable political muscle to back the full range of New Deal reforms: close to home matters like workplace safety and wage/hour laws, obviously; but also banking reform, food and drug safety, Social Security expansion, interstate commerce regulation, the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps—a very long list of changes that built the social house we still live in, despite all the Republican efforts from 1980 onward to tear that house down.

And although this dimension is still little understood or appreciated, industrial unionism also nurtured the seeds of the nascent civil rights revolution. Let it be said that it was the Communist element within the CIO that took the most advanced positions on civil rights—an aspect of the movement that J. Edgar Hoover had a lot of fun with during his overly long career, but something I feel should be celebrated today as a badge of honor for the old American Communist Party, despite any other nefarious designs it entertained.

The revived US labor movement thereafter made a signal contribution to the fight against Hitler and Tojo by means of a grand compact struck with the government regarding war production. The government got labor peace (for the most part) and an incredible output of planes, ships, and tanks; the unions got to keep their representation rights along with a voice in production councils. Union density—the percentage of private-sector workers represented under collective bargaining agreements—continued its steady rise into the 1950s and 1960s, creating something new on the face of the earth: a working class capable of enjoying a middle-class living standard.

As late as 1973—also the peak year for real worker income in the United States—union density hovered at around 25% in the private sector. Today that number is just 7.4%. The bargaining power and the political clout of organized labor have been effectively eviscerated.

Why the drastic fall-off in union density? The standard explanations offered by corporate propagandists and neoliberal economists—technology, globalization, and outsourcing—tell part of the story but only part.

The story that doesn’t get told is a bit uglier; it is the story of brutal union suppression by employers who figured out that it’s much cheaper to take the penalties currently handed out for labor law violations (which are extremely weak and rarely delivered) than to allow workers to unionize without interference in free and fair representation elections.

By the Numbers

The cold, hard facts are these:

Polls consistently report that 60 million Americans would join a union tomorrow if they could, which clearly suggests that there’s something wrong with the current system for allowing workers to decide this question.

Just going by official National Labor Relations Board numbers (which surely underestimate the magnitude of violation), 27,000 workers had their workplace rights violated in 2006; many of these were fired outright for union activity.

44% of workers who do win union representation never get to a first contract because of employer stalling and other chicanery.

According to a Cornell University study, 92 percent of private-sector employers use closed-door “captive audience” meetings to snuff out union organizing efforts; 80% require line supervisors to assist in union-avoidance activities; 75% hire outside consultants (union-prevention specialists) who set up command centers within the company to wage all-out war on the union; 50% threaten to shut down operations to scare workers; and 25% illegally fire union supporters.

These aren’t just economic issues or labor abuses; they are human rights issues, and they were recognized as such in a Human Rights Watch report issued in 2000. In the years since that report came out, the odds against American workers trying to organize have only gotten worse.

The proposed Employee Free Choice Act will fix this fatal imbalance in straightforward ways. First, it will impose real penalties for labor law violations so that employers would no longer find it cheaper to take the penalty than to obey the law. Second, it will provide for impartial arbitration of first contract terms if no agreement has been reached within 120 days of union recognition, thus preventing the common employer practice of dragging out negotiations so that workers lose faith in the union—sometimes even decertifying it. Third, EFCA will simplify the recognition and certification process by enabling unions to gain legal recognition upon producing a majority of valid worker signatures on union authorization cards: i.e., the “card-check” method, against the more traditional practice of petitioning for an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election.

This, needless to say, is the provision that has the employers foaming at the mouth. They have already spent millions—and will spend millions more—on misleading print and TV ads asserting that if secret ballots were good enough to elect Obama, they should be good enough for union supporters as well. The slick kill-EFCA misinformation campaign is being coordinated by Mark McKinnon, the former media advisor to George W. Bush and John McCain.

The reality is that the card-check method is already widely used—accepted by employers as diverse as AT&T and Kaiser Permanente—and there is absolutely no evidence that it is any less democratic than voting by ballot: a method that often allows bosses to use every trick in their book to turn workers against the union. For employers to assert that it will be absurdly easy for unions to collect a majority of worker signatures, or that unions will browbeat workers into signing authorization cards, is not only a fantasy but is also fantastically hypocritical in view of the well-documented intimidation that employers themselves routinely bring to bear to defeat unionization drives.

A Game-Changer

But enough about the technical aspects; here is the bottom line: conservatives who call EFCA a “game changer” are absolutely right. Whether you think the game needs changing depends on whose side you are on, to quote the venerable labor anthem. Imagine what a doubling or tripling of union membership during the hoped-for eight years of Obama time could mean for progressive advancement in this new century!

Because make no mistake: the new labor movement is solidly progressive. It has been the biggest single force promoting universal, government-supported health care coverage, protecting Social Security from Wall Street privatizers, and advancing a green jobs/green energy future. But that’s not all. The racist, jingoist, homophobic, misogynistic movement of American labor’s worst years—the George Meany/Lane Kirkland years—is long dead and buried. Today’s labor leadership is solidly aligned behind LGBT equality, comprehensive immigration reform, and much more within the broad human rights and civil rights agendas. Labor’s near-death experience in recent years taught it to be much better at alliance-building than the movement of 40 years ago—much better at practicing an ethic of genuine reciprocation in relation to other social movements.

In other words, progressive clergy and lay folk have no excuse for hanging back from lending their full support to EFCA at this crucial hour.

For a long time we’ve been hearing that the religious right played the same role in maintaining nearly 30 years of Republican hegemony that the labor movement once played in maintaining Democratic hegemony. The religious right is now in some considerable disarray, though by no means disabled. What better time, and what better way, for religious progressives to help spur a big turn in our politics than to lend some help right now in restoring the central role of a progressive labor movement in advancing social justice?

Preachers, start your engines!

Video: Kim Bobo author of Wage Theft speaking before Congress in July 2008

Wage theft is bad for America, it hurt's workers, it puts competitive employers at a disadvantage - Kim Bobo

Kim Bobo's idea in this video would seem to be a model for the Wage Watch program in New York, she is the founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, is the author of Lives Matter: A Handbook for Christian Organizing, Organizing for Social Change (the best-selling organizing manual in the country), and most recently the Best Seller, Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid—And What We Can Do About It (December 2008).

Video Link for my text subscribers


I learned of Kim's work over at the Religious Dispatch

Here are some of her most recent articles, gonna add her RSS to my Labor feed

A leading worker justice organizer writes a book on how and why employers are stealing from the workforce, to the tune of billions every year.

People are lined up at soup kitchens in congregations across the country. Religious communities, the first line of support for struggling families, need to be be vocal in the call to improve conditions for the American worker.

Religious leaders have joined the protest against workplace raids, urging the government to implement a rational and humane approach to immigration reform.

In which our columnist on faith and worker justice takes a family vacation — just a few weeks before Labor Day — and takes the occasion to reflect on workplace conditions across the American labor landscape...

A major union's Labor Day concession to Muslim workers sparks anti-immigrant outrage in a Tennessee town...

A rural town in Iowa is the home of the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant, a facility that–while already under scrutiny for its poor treatment of workers and animals–was recently the scene of the largest immigration workplace raid in history...
Just found another article on Kim Bobo's new book A New Vision for the Department of Labor

Super Bowl halftime sponsor Bridgestone Firestone continues to exploit workers in Liberia

http://www.stopfirestone.org/img/logo.png
Firestone Tire image

This Sunday, millions of sports fans around the world will watch this year’s National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl Halftime show sponsored by Bridgestone and featuring Bruce Springsteen. Meanwhile, the halftime show’s title sponsor will continue its long history of exploitation of workers and the environment in Liberia .

Since 1926, Bridgestone Firestone has operated the world’s largest rubber plantation in Harbel , Liberia . Workers on the plantation have long faced incredibly poor living and working conditions. Firestone rubber tappers live in crowded shacks without running water, electricity or indoor latrines and are required to meet an unreasonably high production quota in order to receive their meager pay.

After a long struggle, workers finally held the first free and fair union election and signed their first contract negotiated by a democratically elected and independent union leadership in August 2008. The agreement was a major step forward in the long struggle of workers to protect their rights. However, since the time the agreement was signed, Firestone management has failed to implement many of the important improvements in the new contract. For example, the new contract reduced the size of the production quota, but many workers throughout the plantation report that they are still being forced to produce at the old quota level which means they must hire subcontractors or use the labor of their family members in order to finish their work and be paid. Firestone has also not fully implemented health and safety improvements in the new contract and has not provided transportation for all of the children on the plantation to access schools as the contract says they should.

Bama Athreya, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum, said, “Bridgestone Firestone needs to stop playing games with workers and their families in Liberia . The halftime show sponsor should immediately honor its commitments in the historic contract signed with the workers in Liberia and the NFL should refuse to renew any contracts with Bridgestone until they can play fair in Liberia .”

Robert Nyahn, Program Officer of Save My Future Foundation-Liberia, said, “If Bridgestone Firestone could stop spending money to fake its public relation and spend half of that money to provide basic social services for its employees and respect their rights, that would be one the best public relations campaigns and one that we would all support. Unfortunately, they chose to sponsor the Super Bowl Halftime show as a clear deception to the sports fan and a disservice to the ill-treated ‘slave-like’ employees in Liberia .”

Concerned sports fans are being encouraged to participate in an e-mail action campaign targeting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Bridgestone Americas CEO Mark Emkes: http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/NFL09

For more information about the Stop Firestone campaign, please visit www.StopFirestone.org.

Laborers Union Demands that the Stimulus Plan Get "Americans Back to Work"

The Laborers have rolled out an ad campaign to push the economic stimulus to create jobs. There seems to some parts of the stimulus plan that are developing that are not going to provide jobs. Well the Laborers have a response and a solution.



A copy of the press release can be found here.
“Working Americans need paychecks, not stimulus checks”

LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – today launched an effort to increase the share of job-creating investment in the economic recovery plan under consideration in Congress. The effort by LIUNA, with a half-million members, will include intense member mobilization, supported by TV ads initially in Washington, D.C. and four states.

LIUNA General President Terence M. O’Sullivan will deliver automated phone messages to members, allowing them to immediately patch-through to the office of their Senator. This effort will be supported by TV ads, which will air in Nevada, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa and Washington, D.C. Additional markets may be added. As the bill currently stands in Congress, less than 20 percent of the $825 billion cost will directly create jobs.

LIUNA has called the economic recovery proposal a major step forward, dedicating badly needed
resources to building America, including its roads, bridges, transit systems, schoolhouses and energy systems. However, the union believes at least a third of the package should directly create “build America” jobs.

“The current proposal is true progress, but falls short,” O’Sullivan said. “It fails to fully take advantage of the opportunity to put America back to work building the essential and long neglected basics of our country, which would leave behind real assets for future generations.”
I really like the tone of the campaign...lets hope those in the halls of power hear it.

Wage Watch, NY Dept. of Labor reaches out to grass-roots campaign to fight wage violations


"New York Wage Watch is labor law enforcement at the purest, most grassroots level. This program will allow unions, community groups and churches to engage in the fight against the exploitation of workers in our neighborhoods. It is critical that employers do not take advantage of workers and their families during these difficult economic times."-Stuart Appelbaum, President of the 100,000 member Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union

When a worker gets screwed, when they work for sub-par wages, no overtime and sometimes no wages at all, we are all getting screwed. It's called slavery. I know that even though I am a good worker, I can not compete with someone who gets no wages. Now thanks to the efforts of 6 http://img144.imageshack.us/img144/1005/wagewatchwo5.jpgorganizations and the New York State Dept. Of Labor we will have a new grass-roots pilot program where we can get back at the scumbags that rob working New Yorkers.

It makes me crazy to think that not only are there people who are competing against construction workers for less than minimum wage, for well over 70 hours a week, and sometimes they don't get paid at all. This has been a long time coming, last year, we learned about the Yellow Rat Bastard workers who were shorted over $1.5 million and just as recently as last month the delivery men at Manhattan's Food Emporium received $3 million for unpaid wages and there have been over a million workers who have been screwed in between. Just take a look at some of the headlines over at Gangbox :
I love how all the anti-union jackasses say that unions were necessary at one time, but now we have laws that do their job, open your eyes, the laws have been ignored for far too long, even Wal-Mart just got pinched for $640 million in back wages.

From the New York State Dept. Of Labor press release:
In recent years, the Labor Department has uncovered widespread labor law violations in a broad range of industries and locations throughout the state. An industry-based investigation of car washes in 2008 revealed that over 78% of New York City car washes inspected were not paying minimum wage or overtime. Nearly half of 303 employers visited on joint enforcement sweeps in Buffalo, Albany, the Bronx, and Queens required follow up for wage and hour violations. The Labor Department found serious violations at ordinary stores, restaurants, and offices statewide, as well as at state icons like the Saratoga Race Course, where over a hundred backstretch workers interviewed reported a pattern of illegal wages, and at the Erie County Fair, where bathroom attendants were paid no wages and were even forced to give half of their tips to a subcontractor.

"These violations are far more common than many people realize, but they plague our communities and diminish the quality of life for New York's workers," said Commissioner Smith. "We are enforcing the law as creatively and aggressively as we can, but the government cannot do it alone. We need concerned members of the public to help raise awareness about wage theft, to educate workers and employers about the law, and to help serve as a bridge between our agency and workers who might be unlikely to come to us on their own."

Over the past few years, the Department of Labor has forged informal partnerships with advocacy groups and grassroots organizations on behalf of workers. A more proactive approach by the Division of Labor Standards, combined with efforts of the newly created Bureau of Immigrant Workers' Rights, has resulted in more sustained and effective partnering. One such relationship, with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), and Make the Road New York, led the Department to investigate a commercial strip in Bushwick, Brooklyn. During the course of this investigation, the Labor Department found $350,000 in wage underpayments were owed to 60 workers. In the ensuing weeks and months, the RWDSU and Make the Road New York maintained a presence in the area, talking with businesses and workers about labor law. A labor law seminar was also conducted for employers in the area. Labor law compliance appears to have increased in Bushwick as a result of this joint effort. New York Wage Watch aims to replicate the enhanced effectiveness resulting from the coordination of law enforcement efforts with ongoing presence and involvement of community members.
Bruce Both, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 continues:
"Can you imagine getting up in the morning, going to work, if you get a tip, you get paid. If not, you work for free. We cannot and won't allow that,"
No, in my America we can not. So here's how it's gonna work, from NY1(video at link):
Labor Laws Focus Of New Watch Program
The State Department of Labor unveiled a new pilot program Monday to protect workers from employers who break labor laws. NY1's Taunia Hottman filed the following report.

Among the businesses in New York, what's described as an invisible crime is about to be attacked by a new and longer arm of the law.

On Monday, the department of labor launched a wage enforcement program called Wage Watch. It will use community groups and ordinary people to be on the lookout for employers who pay under minimum wage, don't give overtime pay, steal tips or those who simply don't pay at all.

"If you go to the neighborhood and you see workers working really long hours, seven days a week, you know there are problems there," said Patricia Smith, Labor Department Commissioner.

Last year, the labor department collected $25 million in unpaid wages for 17,000 workers throughout the state. SoHo retailer Yellow Rat Bastard agreed to pay almost $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit over unpaid employees.

Others found to be violating state wage laws included the Saigon Grill on the Upper West Side and the Rico Car Wash in the Bronx.

Fernando Hernandez, a construction worker, says he blew the whistle when his boss continued to string him along.

"They never paid us. We worked for weeks sometimes and we got paid for a couple of days, never got paid what we were owed," said Hernandez.

The labor department says industries that employ mainly immigrant workers are among the biggest violators. Many are encouraged more will be caught now that Wage Watch is putting more eyes and ears on the street.

"We're very excited about this initiative because it not only helps to enforce the law but helps to strengthen it in the future," said Jei Fong, Chinese Staff and Workers Association.

"Before we didn't have any support, now we do. We can come together to get our rights protected," said Hernandez.

On another front, a bill in the state legislature would raise the fine, currently up to $2,000, for employers who fire workers who report wage violations. It would also force those employers to give the workers their jobs back.

The New York Times in part continues in the article "Street-Level Groups Enlisted to Report Labor Violations":
The six-month pilot will begin with six participants: the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association, which will focus on Chinatown, Flushing and parts of Long Island; Make the Road New York, which will focus on Bushwick; the Workplace Project, based on Long Island; the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which will look at high-end supermarkets; the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which will focus on retail stores in Lower Manhattan, Bushwick, the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx and parts of Queens; and the Centro del Inmigrante, based on Staten Island.

The six groups will conduct know-your-rights training, providing employers with information about compliance and distributing brochures to workers in supermarkets, laundromats, nail salons, day-labor sites and other work areas. They will have a designated contact in the Labor Department’s Division of Labor Standards, which enforces wage and hour laws, to whom they can refer violations or questions.

The department is to provide training and materials to the groups starting on Feb. 7.

After the first experiment in New York City and on Long Island, the Labor Department will seek additional groups for the program. The groups must be nongovernmental and nonprofit, and can include religious organizations, student groups, labor unions, business associations or neighborhood groups.
The first six groups that will be involved in the pilot program will be:
Centro del Inmigrante in Staten Island; Chinese Staff and Workers' Association; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); Make the Road New York; United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500; and The Workplace Project in Long Island.
I know quite a few places that screw their workers, let's ask the Indian and Pakistan workers in the newsstands, the Mexican and Ecuadorian workers in the Bagel stores, they are all doing it for less than I did when i was a kid.

Plumber's, Lather's, Workers Independent News and The Employee Free Choice Act

<--Wage Watch, NY Dept. of Labor reaches out to grass-roots campaign to fight wage violations

"the Employee Free Choice Act, because all American's who work hard to make this nation great ought to be payed fairly for their labor and allowed to choose who represents them"

WIN Radio, check em' out

Workers Independent News is the independent labor radio show founded by Frank Emspak in 2000, with the aim of broadening the availability of high-quality, worker-oriented news on commercial and community radio. Frank, along with many other dedicated journalist's, advocates and producers has done a fantastic job of getting workers new out to the public. I have chatted with Frank a few times, and know the dedication he has to getting the word out about labor. Frank along with Doug Cunningham, the voice of WIN, have always been very supportive of Joe's Union Review. As a matter of fact it is one of the first sites dedicated to labor which I came across. Here's WIN's headlines from the past week which was airing from Jan.23-25 (download MP3):



Just recently Frank let me know that there is a free phone number to get WIN on your cell phone, I have a bit of a hard head so I had to ask a few times how exactly is it free? It seems that there are a few area codes that are saved for "absolutely free' phone communications. You can get Workers Independent News directly on your cell phone 100% FREE, just call 425-527-7001

New York Construction unions support WIN, launch site and urge President Obama to support The Employee Free Choice Act

Two of New York's construction unions, the Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 46 and the United Association Plumbers Local 1, http://img412.imageshack.us/img412/3807/logobridgetc8.gifhave teamed up to sponsor Workers Independent News so the independent show can get some airtime on the local news station 1010WINS AM here in New York. In one of their most recent promo ad's leading up to the Workers Independent News clip's, which aired during the week of President Barack Obama's inauguration, both the Plumbers and Lather's while congratulating newly elected President Obama, urge both him, Congress and the American people "to support the Employee Free Choice Act" stating "because all American's who work hard to make this nation great ought to be payed fairly for their labor and allowed to choose who represents them"http://img156.imageshack.us/img156/9794/ualogorl7.gif
The 30 second clip ends with "Free choice, after all, isn't that what this country is all about?"

Here's the clip, hosted on The Internet Archive


It's great to hear our construction unions stand up for all worker's, and it's great that we are getting the benefit of hearing a little clip of the Worker's Independent New's program on the highest rated radio news program here in New York. Unfortunately the slot is limited to 30 seconds due to costs of the airtime.

The alliance between WIN, New York's construction unions and their contractor's has spawned a brand new website, called A Union Built New York, whose mission is:
a new web resource for learning about union labor's role in building a better New York.

Each day you'll find updated Headline News Briefs on Labor Union stories that impact our city and our country. You can listen via streaming audio, or download to an iPod of other mp3 player for listening later. You can also email stories to your friends.

In addition to the latest Labor News, we're developing in interactive map of major union construction sites around the Greater New York Area, as well as a series of feature stories on Union Labor's contribution to our region's economic well-being.

You'll also find links to definitive listings of union-affiliated contractors, and facts and figures on how union construction can save you time, money, and aggravation.
While the site is under construction, it's shaping up nicely, with many of the WIN headline news being hosted there already, I have gotten word that a list of contractor's for the Lather's and Plumbers is being worked on and we will see the interactive map in the near future. The site is being built by our friends at Prometheus Labor Communications.

Here's the latest New York Headlines from WIN which are hosted at A Union Built New York, of course the internet is a never ending Rubik's cube to me and I have to mess around with yet another widget, so enjoy.
Click the arrow next to the headphone, for those not seeing the widget, check out the page at Spring Widget's for more info.

http://aunionbuiltnewyork.com/sites/aunionbuiltnewyork.prometheuslabor.com/files/unionproud2_logo.jpg

Workers Independent News can use more help

Of course what Worker's Independent News really needs is more sponsors, without money they do not exist. It's great that the New York construction unions are contributing, in fact the Concrete Alliance, the NYC District Council of Carpenter's(UBC) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers(IBEW) Local 3 have all been sponsors in the past year, but the sponsorship only spreads so far due to the production and airtime expense.

One of the easiest ways to sponsor WIN is for your local union to purchase WIN's headlines for their own site, the rates are reasonable, starting at $150 a year for organizations with fewer than 500 members to the highest donation of $1500 for organizations with 5001+ members, please take a look at WIN's subscription page for more details. Help spread the word of the American worker. Help spread the solidarity.

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http://prometheuslabor.com/sites/prometheuscommunication.com/files/plc_logo.jpghttp://www.freechoiceact.org/page/-/efca/OMSBannerARAW.jpg

Global unions behind US passage of The Employee Free Choice Act

<--Martin Luther King died in the midst of supporting workers in a struggle to form a union

spotted this over at Labourstart, the 15 million member strong UNI Global Union has issued a statement in support of The Employee Free Choice Act, they are standing in solidarity with us world wide, click the petition and send it, let's not let them down.
Passage of US Employee Free Choice Act is Key to Global Organising Drive

- Labour news from UNI global union - for trade unions in a global services economy.

UNI Global Union has pledged the support of its 15 million members to build a worldwide solidarity campaign for US legislation that allow workers to join unions without fear of management retaliation.

The passage of the Employee Free Choice Act in the United States will benefit workers around the globe, said UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings.

Jennings on Tuesday chaired a meeting with leaders of US unions affiliated to both the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win federation, who are working together to get the legislation passed. UNI President and UFCW President Joe Hansen and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney spoke at the opening of the meeting, which also included representatives from the International Trade Union Confederation and trade union centres from around the world.

The unions and union centres formed a task force to support joint global action to ensure the Free Choice act becomes law. They plan to use this model in other countries to support union organising and recognition.

“Having a law that protects workers’ right to unionise in the United States is vital to winning union recognition and bargaining rights world-wide,” Jennings said. “American companies have been exporting their abusive labour practices to every country they do business in and foreign companies have eagerly embraced those practices when they cross the US border. It is clear that without legislation protecting workers, multinational companies will treat workers as poorly as they can.”

If passed, the Employee Free Choice Act would give US workers a free and fair chance to form a union, hold anti-union employers accountable and force employers to stop dragging out contract negotiations.

More than half of U.S. workers—60 million—say they would join a union right now if they could but US-based companies routinely deny workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively. The current labour law in the US allows these companies to fire pro-union employees and wage intimidating anti-union campaigns before elections. Even when unionising drives are successful, companies will contest the results, which can lead to years of delays or invalidation of a pro-union vote.

US-based employers like Wal-Mart have fought unions and engaged in illegal labour practices in countries like Argentina, Mexico and China.

European-based companies have entered the race to the bottom when it comes to their labour practices in the United States. Deutcshe Telekom, which has a collective bargaining agreement with German union ver.di in its home country of Germany, has waged a vicious anti-union campaign at its American subsidiary T-mobile.

“For too long, the US has led the race to the bottom on labour rights,” Jennings said. “Passing this new law would be a major victory for US workers and, in the midst of this global recession, it is more important than ever.”

UNI is calling on its member unions around the world to tell their government leaders to urge the Obama administration to make the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act a top priority.

Martin Luther King died in the midst of supporting workers in a struggle to form a union

<--Global unions behind US passage of The Employee Free Choice Act

On April 3, 1968, the day before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King stood in solidarity with the sanitation workers in Memphis, the workers were trying to be recognized collectively as members of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees.

Dr. Martin Luther King died in the midst of supporting workers in a struggle to form a union.



Link to YouTube Video

For more of the history of AFSCME and Dr. Martin Luther King please check out the AFSCME site

Wal-Mart, $640 million in back wages, would never have happened if the employees were represented by a union

<--Martin Luther King died in the midst of supporting workers in a struggle to form a union
Had the employees of Wal-Mart been represented by a labor union, the company wouldn’t be forced to pay $640 million in back wages to employees who were cheated out of that money. It never would have happened. Period.- David Macaray

http://img356.imageshack.us/img356/6936/walmartstompvk7.jpgI've noticed that Wal-Mart has been pushing it's advertisements every 10 minutes or so here in New York, could it be the Black Friday death at the local Valley Stream store? Or could it be the fact that unbeknown to many, Wal-Mart got caught cheating it's employees out of $640 million US dollars and quietly settled without much ado.

Good olde' Wal-Mart, it wouldn't want any bad publicity , but our friend David Macaray has posed this note, that the very employees that Wal-Mart brain washes into their team mentality would have never gotten ripped off if they were represented by a union, so heres a clip from a David Macaray article at CounterPunch called "The Economics of Cheating: Wal-Mart Caught Stealing" from 1/9-11/09:
But there’s one thing we can be absolutely certain of. Had the employees of Wal-Mart been represented by a labor union, the company wouldn’t be forced to pay $640 million in back wages to employees who were cheated out of that money. It never would have happened. Period.

Things in the workplace fall through the cracks all the time; they get dismissed, put off, overlooked, rescheduled, piled up, mishandled, etc.. But in a union shop, no one—and that means no one—fails to get paid. You can ask union people to work harder, to work safer, to work quicker; you can ask them pretty much anything, and they’ll do it. Just don’t ask them to work for free.

Predictably, even though Wal-Mart clearly got caught with its hand in the cookie jar (the settlement was the result of 63 class-action lawsuits), the company has tried to put a happy face on it, claiming that the whole thing was rather “complicated,” and that the incidents in question occurred “a long time ago” and are in no way indicative what the company stands for today.

An employer trying to cut corners by cheating workers out of their pay isn’t really that “complicated” a concept to grasp. It’s pretty basic, actually. Moreover, it’s a form of what is commonly known as “theft.” And Wal-Mart did it knowingly and for the basest of reasons: they wanted to save money, and thought they could do it without getting caught. But they got caught. That’s why they’re paying $640 million.

Of course, the biggest shocker in all this is the fact that, despite Wal-Mart’s history of stinginess and deceit, the company’s employees are still independent. The world’s largest retailer, with over 1.4 million employees, remains immaculately non-union (at least in the U.S.). Given that labor unions, across-the-board, offer superior wages, benefits, and working conditions, that circumstance is absolutely astonishing. Over 4,000 stores in the U.S., and not one of them is unionized? That is mind-boggling.
David continues:
After all, look at the facts. If a company spends millions of dollars trying to keep the union out, and preaches to its employees that unions are bad—that they’re unnecessary, that they’re a hindrance, that a union wouldn’t help them—and then turns around and steals wages from the very people who are loyal to that company and who can barely make a living on the wages they’re already being paid, what does that tell us?

Corporations cheat all the time. They cheat the competition by engaging in illegal or unethical business practices, they cheat the public through false advertising and poor quality, and they cheat Uncle Sam by not paying their fair share of taxes. The public has become inured to it

But when a corporation steals from its own people—especially ones as fiercely loyal as Wal-Mart employees—doesn’t that cross the line? Doesn’t that totally blow their minds? What’s it going to take for these Wal-Marters to realize they’re being exploited?
I really don't understand it at all, are they that fucking stupid? It amazes me how many of these employees in big box/corporate structered chains consider themselves associates, team members or partners.

Writer, producer and director for over 3 decades explains the need for the Employee Free Choice Act

<--Wal-Mart, $640 in back wages, would never have happened if the employees were represented by a union

Caught this over at CounterPunch:
The Battle for Collective Bargaining
Card Check
By STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN

Note to the new prez: a stimulus package won’t do you a damn bit of good unless you can create a surge of purchasing power that will raise spending to lofty heights.

Note to the new working class: demography and immigration have now made you the vanguard; Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, Pakistanis, Middle Easterners, Africans, and others who have migrated to the United States to partake in the American dream. The Jews, the Irish, the Italians, the Germans, the Scandinavians, the Slavs and other middle Europeans have moved up the ladder to fresher fields.

The former union leaders are gone, too; the Gene Debs’, the David Dubinskys, the Sidney Hillmans, The Walter Reuthers , the John L Lewis’, all dim memories.

Today, you are fighting new battles for a fundamental idea—collective bargaining.

The Wagner Act, otherwise known as The National Labor Relations Act was passed during the Roosevelt Administration in 1935. It established a Federal law to protect the rights of workers in the private sector to organize unions, to engage in, and encourage, collective bargaining for labor, permit strikes and other forms of concerted activity in support of their demands. The corporate oligarchy, or “economic royalists” as Franklin Roosevelt called them, fought it, tooth and nail, all the way.

The Act worked well for about 50 of its 75 years. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States, founded by Samuel Gompers in Columbus, Ohio in 1886. The AFL consisted (and still consists) mainly of craft unions.

John L. Lewis, former head of the United Mine Workers, saw industrialism in the US expanding in the first half of the 20th Century. He saw the need for organizing workers in mass production industries. He formed the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), encompassing steel workers, mine, mill and smelter workers, auto workers, electrical and communication workers, and so many others all open to African Americans and other minorities.

Both federations grew rapidly during the Great Depression. By 1955, they merged, forming the new entity known as the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), as we know it today.

A strong labor movement was welded in the United States that lasted through the 1970s that raised the standard of living for workers. Unions fought for higher wages, better working conditions, health benefits and pension plans. It formed the basis of a broader middle class, the pride of America.

The attack on labor by corporate power was, nevertheless, unrelenting. The “economic royalists”, as Roosevelt called the corporate oligarchy at the time, fought the trade union movement from the very beginning. The profit system necessitated squeezing every bit of labor’s surplus value out of the worker.

Trade unions were forced to fight for survival with bargaining, boycotts and blood. Most of the time, union violence was provoked by industry, exemplified in 1937 when Chicago police killed ten striking steel workers in a bloody, historic battle—the Memorial Day massacre.

Eventually, of course, the employers succeeded.

You could say that the current problem began with the Reagan “revolution”. He struck the first blow by breaking the air-controllers’ (PATCO) strike. It proceeded from there. Corporate power went on a crusade to crush the organized labor movement in this country.

Under capitalism, the assault on labor has always been overwhelming, continuous, inhuman and destructive from the beginning of the industrial revolution to this very day. No wonder unions are dysfunctional and chaotic. So are most of their leaders. If they’re not coerced, co-opted or corrupted, they’re framed, jailed or neutralized in some way. At this stage in our history, corporate America has done a pretty smashing job.

The battle today roils around the attempt in Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It could give labor organization a fresh boost.

The Act, if passed, would establish a level playing field for workers and union organizers in their struggle against employers and contractors who exploit and intimidate their employees.

Under an Employee Free Choice Act, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would recognize the union's role as the official bargaining agent if a majority of employees authorized representation via a card check (signing a card stipulating their preference), without requiring a secret ballot election.

The bill was passed by the House in 2007 and had majority support in the Senate, but was never voted on due to a Republican-led filibuster.

In the new Obama Administration, passing the EFCA will become a number one priority for organized labor. Barack Obama has expressed his support of the measure.

It would get his stimulus package off to a flying start to see a little more of workers’ surplus value lifting purchasing power rather than flowing up into the pockets of the economic royalists.

Stephen Fleischman, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir, "A Red in the House" is now in print. See www.amahchewahwah.com, e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.com



You can be heard by signing the petition for The Employee Free Choice Act

http://www.freechoiceact.org/page/-/efca/OMSBannerARAW.jpg

Jack Ahern: An introduction to the new head of the NYC Central Labor Council

“It never seemed to me to be a choice that I would be anything but a union member,” - Jack Ahern

Found a great article in Crain's: New York Business about our new leader of the New York City Central Trades and Labor Council:
Jack Ahern: Organizing his world
NYC Central Labor Council head will work to protect jobs, bring federal stimulus to city
Daniel Massey

Jack Ahern got his first union card while still in high school, mopping floors in New York City public schools.

Earlier this month, he took charge of 1.4 million card-carrying workers, becoming president of the New York City Central Labor Council.

Mr. Ahern grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in an Irish-American family of carpenters and firefighters—one where dinnertime conversation centered on the union.

“It never seemed to me to be a choice that Ihttp://img183.imageshack.us/img183/8322/image1mw9.jpg would be anything but a union member,” he says.

Mr. Ahern dropped out of Brooklyn College in 1973 to become an apprentice with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30. As a union member, he worked at Starrett City and Madison Square Garden, but his real education took place at a recycling plant in Hempstead, L.I., where he helped workers organize to win their first union contract.

“Coming from a union job, I could see the difference in working conditions and the way people were treated,” he says.

Over two decades, he worked his way up through Local 30, winning election as business manager and financial secretary, the union's top position, in 1996.

Many successes

He has successfully negotiated hundreds of contracts for the 4,000-member Queens-based local, including one for 76 workers at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center off Long Island following a two-year strike earlier this decade. Mr. Ahern got Sen. Hillary Clinton and others to intervene, helping the workers win a new deal.

In 2006, Mr. Ahern became vice president of the CLC, helping the organization regain its footing after the Brian McLaughlin racketeering scandal. He was instrumental in securing the group's deal with the city for union jobs and good wages at Willets Point. And he cemented his reputation as an even-keeled consensus builder when he brought Buildings Department, labor and elected officials together last year following several high-profile construction accidents.

"He knows people sometimes start from different points or have different perspectives," says City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was involved in the safety discussions. "Instead of saying, 'Forget about it,' he says, `How can we execute it?' "

Big task

But now, Mr. Ahern faces perhaps his toughest challenge: taking control of the umbrella group for the city's 400 unions during an unprecedented financial crisis.

He replaces Gary La Barbera, who left to head the powerful state Building and Construction Trades Council.

“The economy is the biggest issue in every union hall,” Mr. Ahern says.

Atop the union leader's agenda is making sure the city gets a fair share of the federal economic stimulus. He's also working on the city's congressional delegation, encouraging them to make passage of the Employee Free Choice Act—which would help workers organize—a priority. Shielding New Yorkers from layoffs and working with the city on economic development deals like the one for Willets Point are also part of his plan.

“Whenever there's an issue, he gets everybody in the room and makes sure all voices are heard,” said James Callahan, president of IUOE Local 15. “You have so many diverse opinions and personalities, and he's the guy that can get them all together.”

PERSONNEL FILE
ORGANIZATION New York City Central Labor Council
TITLE President
AGE 55
RÉSUMÉ Business manager, IUOE Local 30; floor cleaner, NYC public schools
MANAGEMENT STYLE Consensus builder
HOBBY Reading history books

The NYCCLC site also add's to Mr. Aherns resume:
In addition to his positions with the Operating Engineers, Jack also serves the labor movement as an Officer and a Delegate to many labor affiliates and councils. He serves as Vice-Chairperson to the NYC Municipal Labor Committee and on the U.S. Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship. He also served on the NYS Governor's Transition Team, Vice President Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Council, Long Island Federation of Labor, and the Nassau-Suffolk Building Trades Council. Jack holds positions on the Stationary Engineers Committee, I.U.O.E., the Executive Board of the Northeastern States Conference of Operating Engineers and as a Trustee of the National Association of Power Engineers Chapter 11 and the Irish American Labor Coalition.
Jack, like his predecessor Gary Labarbera, is another strong labor leader who can empathize with the needs of the 400+ member unions and the common worker's here in New York.

Any member union that would like a story covered online can contact me via e-mail

Retiring the latest links added a test widget

Here are all the latest links from the sidebar
I have retired that part of the site and now am testing the latest Labor News widget, this one has the most recent headlines from over 40 websites, feeds, blogs and searches.

As always lease feel free to use it on your site.

Here is the newest RSS labor feed

Here is a link to the Yahoo Pipes version
Be sure to click the "List" view to get a better view of what it lists

As with all of my widget goodness, they are a work in progress

In solidarity,
Joe

Workers Save The Day, heroes on the Hudson

Veteran Air Force, airline safety advocate , former Airline Pilots Association(ALPA) and current USAPA member makes emergency crash landing into the Hudson River, quick action by all parties involved saves every single passenger.

155 passengers and crew of US Airways Flight 1549 are safe!

I salute all the workers who pulled off an amazing rescue in New York's Hudson River. From the veteran 40 year pilot who navigated the craft to an emergency landing, to all the ferry captains and crew members who raced to scoop up the passengers to the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit divers who grabbed the remaining passengers and pulled them to safety.

Story at NY Newsday: No shortage of heroes in Hudson emergency landing
Emergency crews and commuter ferries sprang into action from New York and New Jersey and met freezing, panicked passengers _ some of whom let out cheers when the boats arrived.

"We had to pull an elderly woman out of a raft in a sling. She was crying. ... People were panicking. They said, 'Hurry up, hurry up,"' said Vincent Lombardi, captain of the first boat to get to the plane. "We gave them the jackets off our backs."

The New York City Fire Department got the first emergency call at 3:31 and was on the scene less than five minutes later. NY Waterway ferries shuttling passengers to and from New Jersey deployed within moments. In total, 14 vessels responded to the scene, with crews trained to respond to people overboard.

Across the river, Weehawken, N.J., police, firefighters and emergency medical service workers boarded ferries awaiting rush hour and headed to the plane, minutes after the pilot heroically guided the jet into the water after the engine failed.
Pictures from The New York Times (click link for full size and more images)

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Pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III is a true hero

I'm still amazed, so what about the pilot, here's a tidbit from examiner.com, by Ron Moore entitled "Miracle on the Hudson happened thanks to the skill and dedication of union workers " which is the first thing I thought when I was listening to the details of the rescue:

Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III, the pilot credited with landing US Airways flight 1549 gently on the Hudson River is a veteran of 40 years. The “miracle on the Hudson” is really a result of professional pilots organizing to ensure that they get the best support and training at the highest standards in the industry. Captain Sullenberger is a former safety chairman, accident investigator and national committee member for the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA). His ALPA safety work led to the development of a Federal Aviation (FAA) Advisory Circular.

The next time you see the scurrilous advertising by the opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, remember they are insulting union members like Captain Sullenberger. From the pilots, to the flight attendants to the members of the FDNY, the “miracle on the Hudson” happened thanks to the skill and dedication of union workers.
More info via Google News:
NY divers, ferries plucked air passengers from river
Reuters - 33 minutes ago
By Ellen Wulfhorst NEW YORK (Reuters) - Passengers from the US Airways plane that crash-landed in New York's Hudson River huddled on the wings in freezing ...
A Quick Rescue Kept Death Toll at Zero
New York Times, United States - 44 minutes ago
By MICHAEL WILSON and AL BAKER The police divers found two women, going limp, with minutes to live in the frigid waters between New York and New Jersey. ...
Text Message: ‘I Landed in the Hudson’
New York Times, United States - 44 minutes ago
By JAMES BARRON Sheikh Ali was at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on Thursday afternoon waiting for Matt Kane, a co-worker aboard US Airways Flight ...
Pilot's actions make him an instant hero
Globe and Mail, Canada - 45 minutes ago
By all accounts, Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger is just the guy you'd want at the controls of a troubled and falling airplane. A seven-year Air Force veteran ...
'A miracle on the Hudson'
Globe and Mail, Canada - 48 minutes ago
NEW YORK — Jeff Kolodjay could hardly have picked a better time to head south for a golf trip. Temperatures had dipped to -10 – easily one of the coldest ...