Blatant discrimination! Another disposable worker death in New York's underground sweatshop construction industry

First day on the job, untrained worker sent to his death and no one gives a fuck!

Has taken me a few days to try to convey my point of view into this article, unfortunately it's not a book, I'm not getting a dime from it and I need a slight break myself so you now have my second not-finished piece in front of you. Anyone want me to write for money and give me a large advance, I'm all for it. Enjoy...


Family members are mourning the loss of a man who died Wednesday during his first day on the job at a construction site in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. Police say 43-year-old construction worker Jose Palacios plummeted 13 floors to his death when a scaffolding collapsed on Clinton Avenue. Officials with the Department of Buildings say fast winds caused the scaffolding to give way.

(Fellow worker Ricardo) Uribe said it was Palacios' first day on the job.

Palacios leaves behind a wife and 17-year-old daughter in Mexico City. He left them behind once before when he came to the States seeking more opportunities. "He comes here for work, to give his family a better life. Just for that," nephew Octavio Solis. Now his family in the States, the niece and nephew he lived with in Astoria, Queens, have the grueling task of telling his family in Mexico."All his family is in Mexico. How are we [going to] talk to them?" said Solis. Palacios' mother's health is fragile, Solis says. "She's 74 years. She's old. She's sick with diabetes. She could die, too," said Solis.

The DOB had sent out an advisory Wednesday morning about the high winds, urging all builders, contractors, developers and property owners to secure their construction sites and buildings.
Another illegal alien Hispanic construction worker has died right here in Brooklyn, this time it was his very first day on the job. While my heart goes out to the families affected by this tragedy. I cannot help but wonder if this is possibly another sweatshop construction accident?

The workers allegedly were building or working off a 3 tier or suspended scaffold on the rooftop of a 13 story building to do stucco work, by OSHA regulations if the scaffold was being erected they should have been wearing an independent safety harness, the DOB warning about winds should have stopped that detail from taking place and the relative interviewed, who also worked on the site, did not speak a word of English. The New York Times has pointed out that the deceased was here illegally. Could this be yet another death caused by the underground construction industry in New York? Those companies that employ and abuse undocumented workers every day of the week. How bad is it to be a undocumented worker here in New York? It's real bad, it's a modern slavery and it's in every industry. From blatant racism to horrendously unsafe working conditions and without the proper equipment.

Let us focus once again on my term sweatshop construction, or what one could call the underground work force and the modern day slave like conditions in which undocumented immigrant workers must endure to maintain a job for unscrupulous contractors and the effect it has on it's competition, the state and the public.

Where to begin, well we can start with where I first learned about the inequality. It was a few years back when the New York Times reported about construction deaths in NYC, explaining that in the year ending Sept, 2006:
Of the 28 incidents in which the 29 workers were killed, 19 involved companies with 10 or fewer workers and 21 involved workers who were immigrants or had limited English proficiency and 24 involved nonunionized workers.
If you do the math, according to the NYT, a nonunion construction worker is 500% more likely to die at work in NY, thats a disgusting fact. We are over a year past that report and it doesn't seem like it's getting much better. 2 deaths that I'm aware of in the first month of 2008.

Aside from death and injuries, lets get into labor violations. Lets start with misclassification, this term is used for contractors who term their employees "independent sub-contractors", according to a very good explanation by Mark Reihl, executive director of the Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters:
“This is a growing cancer on the industry, one that will lead us in a race to the bottom in wages and benefits – if it isn’t stopped,” and adds “Rather than withhold payroll taxes and pay Workers Comp and unemployment insurance, an employer can just hand workers a 1099 form and say ‘Here, you’re an independent contractor’,”
A very large portion of these misclassified workers are illegal aliens, this is parg of a story in which the Brooklyn based grassroots organization, Make The Road By Walking, has tried to help these workers and level the playing field:
During 2005, we collected over $600,000 in unpaid wages and overtime, in cases like that of “Luis M.”

Luis worked as a non-union laborer doing heavy digging and cement work for a major utility company’s subcontractor. He had to report at 6am every morning to load the crew’s truck; but his first hour of work each day was unpaid. Luis also worked at least 60 hours a week but never received time-and-a-half overtime pay as required by law. Make the Road by Walking filed a lawsuit on Luis’s behalf in federal court. After several months’ litigation, Luis received $35,000 and reinstatement with the company, but this time with union protection and union pay – a raise of more than $7 per hour, to $24 an hour.
And speaking about the pay scale and working conditions for above mentioned workers, heres an excerpt of a story I wrote called: Why All The Anti-Union Sentiment?
Currently we have a large percentage of contractors (aprox. 1/4 of all current construction in NY has employees that work off the books or are misclassified as independent contractors) here who pay their undocumented employees below the minimum wage and misclassifying them as independent contractors. Entitling them to let the "employee' bear the burden of making sure his taxes are being payed, workers comp insurance is in place, supply their own safety equipment and working conditions.

Currently our Building and Construction Unions, local politicians from a bipartisan background and a host of other agencies, like the Brennan center for Justice and the Fiscal Policy Institute have been bringing to light the reckless behavior of these unscrupulous contractors, their safety violations, their shotty and dangerous work, their unskilled workers, the slave wages (according to the Brennan report some are forced to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for $6-$12 an hour), the public safety concern, the nonpayment by employer of taxes for said employees(in fact 2 construction companies are facing jail time(NY Newsday reported one for $220,000 and another $394,788 in evading employee taxes), The Governor himself has declared an Executive order to end this misclassification of workers, this doesn't even mention the tax burden these contractors push off onto the general public and those contractors who(according to Fiscal Policy Institute) cost workers lost wages and benefits and local, state and federal governments nearly $500 million in 2005.
When one of these 50,000+ workers gets sick and winds up in the hospital who do you think winds up paying for that? We do.Who winds up paying for their kids schooling, the upkeep of our infrastructure, our public employees wages? the list goes on. What is the cost to us for the lowest bid?
Heres some more evidence of the modern Racism in sweatshop construction from PLP.org in a story from Nov.06 entitled: Racism Killing Immigrant Construction Workers
"His dream was to save money and go back home," said construction worker Julio Jara. But that dream was shattered forever when his brother, 25-year-old Clever Jara, fell 17 stories to his death near Union Square in Manhattan. The Ecuadorian immigrant was putting up netting to prevent bricks from falling during repair work on the building's facade. Witnesses said wind gusts may have caused him to slip from the building's ledge.

A good many of the construction workers repairing building facades here are Latino and other immigrants, forced to work under hazardous conditions in order to support their families, both here and in their home countries. Amid a building boom, scofflaw developers are allowed to "self-certify" themselves, so they simply ignore safety and pursue profits. When 27-year-old Arturo Gonzalez was struck and killed last year by an 800-pound steel girder, the Buildings Department "fined" the realtor and owner the grand sum of $1,400!
$1,400, that was the fine, could you imagine? For a human life, how far down the tubes has this country gone? They continue:

The racism of building contractors like Town Restoration -- the company fixing the above facade -- was evident in their ignoring safety precautions for these predominantly Latino immigrant workers. The company didn't have the proper permit for the project, maintained no on-site supervision and apparently had not provided Clever with the proper training for the job, given the absence of such certification. Workers trained for the rigs were not on the site.

According to the latest OSHA "report card" on construction-site deaths, 86% occur on non-union jobs. And the vast majority of these jobs involve immigrant laborers and therefore many cases are unreported. "When a union guy is injured, reports are filed," according to immigrant lawyer David Perecman, but when it involves undocumented workers, "the boss tells them if it still hurts in the morning go to the hospital and tell them you tripped and fell."

Alongside this is the racism of the construction unions which historically have refused to admit or organize black and Latino workers, so now the chickens come home to roost -- thousands of construction workers are unorganized and prey to the bosses lowering wages and conditions for all workers.

While anti-immigrant hysteria is whipped up against workers like Clever Jara, they end up sacrificing their lives for profiteering bosses who figure they can get away with it because such workers are "expendable" -- more evidence that a system that produces such needless deaths must be destroyed.

And from an FROM: NY Carpenters' Union Embraces Immigrant Organizing
Thirty Irish and South American workers filed unpaid wage claims with the state because they weren't receiving overtime pay, even when they sometimes worked 70 hours a week.

According to Puerta, the New York attorney general took the case on civil-rights grounds because Irish immigrants were being paid $10 more an hour than South American immigrants doing the same work.

"It was the Irish immigrants who said, 'look, it's not fair, we perform the same work and we get paid more than these guys do,'" Puerta said.
I don't get it one bit, if you were to call someone a chink, cracker, towel-head, wetback, ginny, mick, spook, square, polock, fag, were to hang a noose or draw a swastika, you would likely go to jail for a hate crime. Of course I'm not endorsing that type of behavior, but...

Think about how backwards that logic is when compared to these unscrupulous employers that are continuously hiring and discriminating against mostly Hispanic undocumented immigrants, and for the most part are the direct cause of their death when an accident occurs ,they get fined $1,400 from the Buildings Department and it seems the only other agencies that actually go after them legally are Taxation and Finance, who usually makes a deal, for less than what was owed, and might seek jail time.

Did you follow that?

Word Knot or Picture= Jail Time

Racism Murder or Grand Larceny= A slap on the wrist

What happened to "sticks and stones"
It should be:

"Words, Knots and Pictures will get Jail Time but Murder, Racism and Larceny Will Never Hurt The Employer"

Where was Al Sharpton screaming like a madman? Where was Hillary getting bills passed against this at the Senate level? Where is Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz making a statement, or giving a flying fuck for that matter? From a close source, he dosen't give one shit who works on the jobs as long as the developing in Brooklyn continues. Where is OSHA reform to deter the next death? According to the AFL-CIO there are only 129 inspectors in the entire state, and it would take 96 years to visit every workplace just once. Why aren't these construction sites considered crime scenes? Why do we still allow illegal aliens to flood this country, instead of creating some sort of legal paths to citizenship when a person comes here to work, learns the nations language and has equal rights at work? Where is the jail time for the employers of these undocumented workers?

I would think that it is those that use alien workers, squeezing their lives out of them like the juice from a lemon, are the ones with all the money and lobbying power. They tend to like us having all sorts of different opinions about Illegal Aliens. And the neglect of enforcing English as the standard language suits them even better. If we cannot communicate, we cannot unite. For communication of knowledge is the ultimate power, and those that prey on this new slave class want a country divided. All the things that our fore-fathers fought for are getting raped in succession. The 40 hour week, most people cannot make it by working 40 hours, just take a view at HBO's The Wire when Baltimore cut back Police force funding and all the overtime stopped one of the cops states "I have my mortgage". With that goes the weekend too, as a matter of fact there are tons of union contracts here in the us where the companies want "Mandatory Overtime" embedded into their contracts. Safety laws are neglected and unenforced. Child Labor Laws, undocumented and underground kinda makes that unenforceable, even such Bib-Box enterprises such as CVS don't bother to abide by such trivial things as Child Labor Laws. Sweatshop conditions, just read above, or do one better grab a copy of Unregulated Work in The Global City, and see how widespread the abuses go. Overtime, pensions, social security, health care are all being attacked. And while we are being separatists, and yes we do it to ourselves, the products we buy are getting smaller, there is an invisible inflation movement going on in this country. From the 11 ounce pound of coffee, to the 1.75 quart of ice cream. We are all doing more for less and have become a complacent 'silent majority" of people who must go through the doldrums of life eking it bye and not having the time to focus on what we need to do to change the world for ourselves and our neighbors. When we don't like it, all we have to do is look in the mirror and realize that we can change the world, it just takes a tiny bit of effort.

As I once stated:
"Such a small percentage try to make the world a better place , leaving the work to a scarce few . If those that did next to nothing did just a tiny bit the world could be a better place for all ."

We all suffer because of this and it will only get worse if it continues.

Images which I created in this post and 3 more are available for download in 9 panel cut and glue poster format at UnionReview: Labor Movement Posters for Download


Getting killed at a Wal-Mart construction site and using undocumented workers isn't a new thing

This is additional info for my story:A nonunion construction worker dies and another seriously injured while building a new Wal-Mart in Omaha note it's a bit mish-moshed as I have to run

I stand corrected on one point, according to KPTM (who's story is now unavailable, damn it was working yesterday when I first posted this information) only one of the workers, the survivor, is a citizen of Mexico.
Police say 34-year-old Jose Sanchez of Texas died and 21-year-old Luis Alejuandro Azeona Rocha of Mexico was critically injured, when the ironworkers fell onto some metal around noon Sunday. "According to our report and our tape measure it was 25 feet," said Scott Fowler of Graham Construction. Graham Construction is building the store, but the two injured men were subcontractors for a Texas-based company. "They target Wal-Marts and go from state to state," Fowler said. Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration spent Monday looking for any hazardous conditions that may have contributed to the accident. But Graham's district manager says both construction companies have above average safety records. "It's a risky business, but yet we mitigate risks and we have plans to avoid risks and we have to review and make sure everything is right," Fowler said. Fowler says grief counselors are available to meet with coworkers of the two men. Their employer, D&BR Building Systems, isn't commenting.

Is Luis Alejuandro Azeona Rocha of Mexico here legally here to work? I don't see how if there are plenty of good American citizens who would like to be IronWorkers. Has the US employee pool in this particular field runs dry? I wonder how many more of their workers are Mexican citizens? As far as I know, Visa's are for highly skilled professionals and seasonal workers, and only when the demand cannot be met with US citizens and when there is a need for them.

It has also been learned that getting killed at a Wal-Mart construction site isn't a new item:
(2006) Family Sues over Wal-Mart Construction Accident Death

And I have learned that Wal-Mart and their construction sites have had immigration problems in the past according to Litwin and Associates:

(2006) Following raids at 61 Wal-Mart stores several years ago that netted arrests of about 250 undocumented workers on cleaning crews, a new raid at a Pennsylvania Wal-Mart construction site resulted in about 125 arrests for alleged immigration law violations. Wal-Mart said the employees were working for a subcontractor, and denied that it had done anything wrong. A federal agency affidavit unsealed this past November in a civil lawsuit reportedly stated that two Wal-Mart executives knew about the hiring of unauthorized cleaning crew workers.

Heres the story of the raid with even more infractions, according to Elliot and Mayock :
On Nov. 17, 2005, federal agents raided a Wal-Mart construction site in Pennsylvania, arresting 125 workers. This enforcement action followed a 2003 federal investigation of Wal-Mart's subcontracting practices, which resulted in Wal-Mart paying an $11 million settlement.
So wheres the enforcement agencies checking these guys out, why is it that they are the most active when there is a union organizing drive. Why is it that when ICE comes a calling when workers are fighting for their rights, but is very transparent when it comes to the underground construction industry? Where is the corporate responsibility? Why do you idiots continue to shop in Wal-Mart who reinvests our hard earned money into foreign lands? Wake up people this is important, to you and your family. I was just reading another article about Rhode Island importing nursing staff from India, why do we need to import workers if there is unemployment here?

We have people to do these jobs, why are we outsourcing for lower wages and conditions on our own soil? Why are we continuously adding to the slave underclass? Where is the public outrage? Why are we allowing employers to get away with crimes of such nature?

gotta run


Washington State University, NAACP and Teamsters agree about injustice at New Era

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond discuss the results of a report by the civil rights organization that shows a pattern of racial discrimination and worker harassment at New Era Cap facilities in the Deep South.

From UnionReview:
New Era is the exclusive manufacturer of Major League Baseball caps. The company also has contracts with a number of college programs throughout the United States, its products are known to be staple Hip-Hop fashion statements for both musicians and fans.

While both the Teamsters Union and the NAACP state that Major League Baseball should join them in demanding justice from New Era Cap, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said today that the Civil Rights group will hold off for two weeks before reaching out to MLB because of "some overtures from the company." We look forward to seeing what, if anything will come out of the next couple weeks.

Mr. Hoffa reminded reporters that the workers went out to organize with Teamsters Local 991 stating that the black workers were held to worse conditions than white workers.
Read Full Story
In other news on this situation from Ai.com:
"The University of Wisconsin-Madison has decided that New Era is not the type of company we want to do business with," said Dawn Crim, head of community relations.

Not allowed in facility

Crim said Wisconsin primarily ended its contract with New Era because it wouldn't let the Workers Rights Consortium into the Mobile facility to investigate.
The consortium is one of two groups -- the other is called the Fair Labor Association -- that monitors labor conditions in factories that make college-logo items.

Both are involved in the New Era dispute, and the sides disagree about whether either can be impartial.

Scott Nova, executive director of the consortium, said the Washington, D.C.-based group has been seeking to visit the Mobile facility since November, but said New Era has denied entry. He said that violates the code imposed by the consortium's 177 collegiate members.

Marciniak said New Era doesn't want to let the consortium in because it's dominated by anti-sweatshop activists who've already taken a position against the company. "I think the WRC has a bias, for sure," the spokeswoman said.

Instead, she said New Era wants a mutually acceptable third party investigator.

Nova said the consortium has not yet reached any conclusions about conditions in Mobile, and that it would be up to member colleges to take actions when the group's inquiry is complete.
Read Full Story


A nonunion construction worker dies and another seriously injured while building a new Wal-Mart in Omaha

According to on of their job advertisements "D&BR is a non-union structural steel erector specializing in single story "big box" structures over 100,000 sq. ft. We travel in about 19 states."

It happened today, Sunday, in Omaha, at a brand spanking new Wal-Mart, where two workers, who were employed by D&Br Building Systems Inc. of Texas., were attaching corrugated panels to the roof when one gave away. They plunged 25' (or 40' depending on which source is accurate) and rushed to the local hospital in critical condition, on of whom has since died. Where was the safety harness? Well we probably won't know the answer to that, and unfortunately the details aren't very useful in either of the articles.

One thing I do know is that while they must have a lot of people working for them, they are only currently advertising for management positions, and one of the stipulations is that you must be Bi-lingual Spanish/English, and in the case of Traveling Ironworker Foreman to get the job you must "Work with Hispanic crews. " and the foreman is required to work 7 days a week, 14 hours a day. Foreman in construction are there to work with the workers. Did I mention this accident happened on a Sunday?

Now I can put 2 and 2 together like the next guy, they employ a lot of people, who don't have the proper safety equipment, they don't need to put advertisements for basic workers, but they need management who speak both English and Spanish. Could this nonunion builder be using misclassified and/or undocumented workers as it's workforce? Is it at all possible that they are actively engaging in *sweatshop construction activities? I don't know much about Omaha, but I think of tight community where everybody knows everyone, wouldn't the local news report that it was "a local man" if that was the case?

Now these are just opinions and conjecture, but I think that D&Br Building Systems Inc. of Texas should be looked at a little more carefully, especially after this tragic accident. At the very least, tax payroll and employment records should be examined and they should be investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
*Sweatshop Construction could be defined as my writings below from Why all the anti-union sentiment?

Currently we have a large percentage of contractors (aprox. 1/4 of all current construction in NY has employees that work off the books or are misclassified as independent contractors) here who pay their undocumented employees below the minimum wage and misclassifying them as independent contractors. Entitling them to let the "employee' bear the burden of making sure his taxes are being payed, workers comp insurance is in place, supply their own safety equipment and working conditions.In fact in the year ending 2006 according to the New York Times a construction worker in NY that was nonunion was 500% more likely to die at work.

Currently our Building and Construction Unions, local politicians from a bipartisan background and a host of other agencies, like the Brennan center for Justice and the Fiscal Policy Institute have been bringing to light the reckless behavior of these unscrupulous contractors, their safety violations, their shotty and dangerous work, their unskilled workers, the slave wages(according to the Brennan report some are forced to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for $6-$12 an hour), the public safety concern, the nonpayment by employer of taxes for said employees(in fact 2 construction companies are facing jail time(NY Newsday reported one for $220,000 and another $394,788 in evading employee taxes), The Governor himself has declared an Executive order to end this misclassification of workers, this doesn't even mention the tax burden these contractors push off onto the general public and those contractors who(according to Fiscal Policy Institute) cost workers lost wages and benefits and local, state and federal governments nearly $500 million in 2005.
When one of these 50,000+ workers gets sick and winds up in the hospital who do you think winds up paying for that? We do.Who winds up paying for their kids schooling, the upkeep of our infrastructure, our public employees wages? the list goes on. What is the cost to us for the lowest bid?

Sources: Omaha.com, Columbustelegram.com, IHireBuildingTrades.com

Heres the ad for foreman, just in case it disappears:

Job Title: Traveling ironworker foreman
Company: D&BR Building Systems
Location: Lewis, IN
Non-union ironworker supervisor for structural steel erector. We cover about 20 states, central, south and midwest so job is all travel. Bar joist and deck 1 story 100,000 sf to 1,000,000 sf. Manage and train specialty crews (raising, bridging, decking, miscellaneous). Work with Hispanic crews. We use highly efficent and safe erection methods.

  • Ironworker experience equal to journeyman ironworker
  • Bi-lingual Spanish/English
  • have own truck and tools
  • read structural drawings
  • safety oriented
  • ability to learn and follow our methods
  • construction leadership skills
  • certifiable arc welding skills
  • valid drivers license CDL preferred
  • work 7 days a week, 10 to 14 hour days
Story Updated at:
Getting killed at a Wal-Mart construction site and using undocumented workers isn't a new thing

Don't let this happen to your school district

‘NO to ARAMARK’s green eggs and ham!’
Detroit joins national protest against Aramark. / DIANE BUKOWSKI PHOTO
Detroit joins national protest against Aramark. / DIANE BUKOWSKI PHOTO
By Diane Bukowski
Special to The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Dozens of demonstrators braved chilling winds outside the Detroit Public Schools Welcome Center Jan. 18 to kick off a national campaign aimed at dumping Aramark contracts at school districts, universities and hospitals.

Members of the community, including DPS parents and state legislators, along with the unions UNITE/HERE, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Operating Engineers Local 547, Teamsters Council 43, and the Detroit Federation of Teachers, among others, called on the new school board and DPS Superintendent Connie Calloway to cut ties with Aramark.[more]

You can read more at Facts On Aramark

Postal Employees Say Big Brother Is Watching Them

by Mike Hall at AFL-CIO WebBlog , Jan 24, 2008

Most of us believe our medical records are a private matter between us and our health care providers. But postal employees learned recently the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been snooping into their medical records, according to a suit filed by the Postal Workers (APWU) and Letter Carriers (NALC).

The unions filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Jan. 17. They say that beginning in 2006, the postal service’s OIG began surreptitiously seeking and obtaining the medical records of postal workers directly from doctors and hospitals that had provided medical services to postal employees.

The suit alleges that the OIG has routinely instructed medical providers that they must submit records to the OIG and they should refrain from notifying affected employees that the records have been requested by the OIG. It says the snooping continues and the OIG claims it has a right to review the records as part of oversight or investigatory activities.

The unions are asking the court to declare the practice illegal and issue an injunction against the OIG and the USPS. As APWU President William Burrus says:
I am outraged that OIG would use the tactics of a police state to investigate workers compensation or sick-leave cases. The OIG has no legitimate business investigating routine personnel matters. The use of these methods demands the strongest possible response.
NALC President William Young vows NALC

will do everything in its power to reign in this outrageous conduct by the OIG. This federal lawsuit is the first step. If more is needed, we will take further action.

Richard Negri at Union Review wonders what would happen if the investigative shoe was on the foot of workers.
As this slimy, slippery and surreptitious practice continues, the OIG says it has every right to review the records as part of its oversight and investigatory activities…oh really?

So, I began thinking about this: What if a group of workers, clearly invested in the well-being and longevity of their company or organization, found that their top brass was slacking. They became somewhat concerned as they all agreed they needed their jobs. Then, without saying a word to anyone, began poking at the medical records of said-top brass. What would happen? My educated guess is that we’d have a group working people carted off in chains, loaded into a paddy wagon and beamed out on the six o’clock news.
I had to repost this here, big thanks to Richard Negri and Mike Hall for getting the message out, my local postman couldn't believe it. So I'm gonna print it and leave it in the mailbox for him.

Banned Union Organizer Back on Facebook

01/25/2008 - 10:11pm
by nominateducate at UnionReview

Although candidates running for president, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, each boast tens of thousands of friends on the social networking site, Facebook threw Blackadder off for making too many friends on the site.

Within nano-minutes of Blackadder’s ban, a “Free the Blackadder One” group was created on Facebook, and quickly became so popular, it reached the 1,000 friends mark. According to Facebook rules, once a group exceeds 1,000 members, Facebook turns off the e-mail feature and members can no longer be contacted.

John Wood, a dedicated unionist from the United Kingdom who organized the Free the Blackadder One site, urged people to e-mail Facebook customer services about Blackadder’s treatment. Labourstart played a big part in getting the page back up, as Blackadder is one of their correspondents. Jan.24th Blackadder was allowed back on the site and is discussing the situation on his Facebook page.

As Lindsey Beyerstein writes on Alternet:

So far, nobody is alleging that the ban was politically motivated. The Facebook Terms of Use stipulate that Facebook is for personal non-commercial use only-that line is blurry for people like Blackadder who effectively make friends for a living.

In fact, Facebook is full of professional activists and organizers plying their trade openly. These organizers come from across the political spectrum. Facebook hosts thousands of politically-oriented groups. It seems odd that Blackadder would be singled out for the content of his profile.

Apparently, it’s not uncommon for users to get banned for adding too many friends. The tech blog Scobelizer reported last year that Facebook engineers imposed a 5,000-friend limit on all users because the system isn’t designed to handle such large sets of contacts.

But as Beyerstein wonders:

[T]he question remains: Why did Facebook kick Blackadder out, instead of just regulating his friending? By disabling the account, Facebook has deprived Blackadder of a potentially valuable contact lists and whatever else he may have uploaded.

(We’ve got an AFL-CIO Facebook page—sign on!)

Read the original story at The AFL-CIO WebBlog - written by Tula Connell


Anti-Union blogging, adding more misinformation for the masses

Wow, I finally found it, the exact reason I called my site Anti-Union Blogspot:

The Union News, heres another supposedly factual database for working people. It's more likely another one of Rick Berman's or some other anti-union agencies attempts to sway the masses with conjecture. So I got myself a new Wordpress to scoop up the domain before they had a chance. Fortunately the blogger adds some nice links that make it easy for us to see the powers against the Labor movement (aside for a few legitimate ones like the TDU ,Association for Union Democracy,Dr.Homeslice (my apologies to you and anyone else who I may have accidentally slandered) and UnionStats *Note there might be some more good ones in the bunch. Some also have honest agenda's and even though I might not agree with the message, they aren't spin doctors like Berman and The Union Fact's, such a site is the Alliance for Worker Freedom, who posted on my personal blog to explain their view). Here is the list of union links they have on their site:

Links and blogs. Warning: Read Above Before Clicking

About Rick Berman, heres a bit from a story I had posted at UnionReview and the text below is from a news item posted at Naplesnews from Sept.1st. '07 (please note the article is truncated, but the one post by Charlie Ward is intact)

"In an effort to rebuild their former influence, union officials have drawn up a political agenda that should give all Americans shivers.

It centers around stealing rights from employees and rigging federal laws to monkey-wrench business operations"

There are some great comments though , as I see there is an organizing drive for Nurses in Naples , Florida going on , as one of the commentors said:

"Rick Berman: I found it interesting that you chose Labor Day to disburse your antiunion rhetoric, especially in Naples with the upcoming union vote of the NCH nurses. How timely. It would seem that a more fair and balanced perspective should also be considered. Research indicates that your Center For Union Facts is an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and associated with the Right to Work Committee. I've read that you are the CEO and your wife is the bookkeeper. The organization is reported to be funded to the tune of 10 million dollars a year. I have also read that you have been connected with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and also have been employed by the Employment Roundtable. You apparantely professionally lobbied for the networking of industry, labor lawyers,and some government officials, which operate out of the same office as Berman and Company. With respect to labor unions, some of your comments were factual. You did give credit to unions for improving conditions for union and non-union workers. Then you immediately inject that corruption and embezzelment runs rampant among these unions. However, you failed your fair and balanced testby not mentioning The widespread corruption and embezzlement that exists within "big business". Let us not forget Enron, Global Crossing, Tyco, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson, and lest we not forget that bastion of Federal favoritism: Halliburton and their sidekick Kellogg, Brown and Root. In 2001 and 2002 alone there were over 17 corporations who were directly responsible for employeess loss of pensions, 401K's, health benefits and most importantly their jobs. Most of these people were non-union. Where is your outrage? Consider New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina: Halliburton and KBR were awarded, by the Government, a no bid contract to repair a U.S. base there. They laid off New Orleans citizens(who desperately needed the jobs) and brought in third world workers. The contractors were paid with U.S. taxpayer money. Where is the protection for the U.S.worker. Where is the outrage?"-charlieward
Charlie Ward seems to put it together rather nicely, adding that Mr.Bermans agenda includes ties to the US Chamber Of Commerce, in fact they have quoted me in a recent Blog post at ChamberPost: (I am the first link, at the moment)

More excitement over the Labor Department’s union membership report yesterday, including this attempt at analogy.

More on Union Membership

by Brad Peck

"Unfortunately some sites downplay the importance, but in 25 years of membership loss an upward swing could be considered twice as important. Think US football when the team throws an interception and the other team scores, in essence it is considered a 14 point turnaround. Twice the actual 7 point score. Workers just got a touchdown or 2 depending how you look at it. I see two and more to come in '08"

I don't really see "essentially unchanged" as a two touchdown swing, more like a coach challenging the review of a spot and the officials moving the ball half an inch, not enough for the first down, but hey, he won the challenge.

"Essentially unchanged" is the key phrase, and the AP noted it.

The Washington Post let the Chamber give our perspective:

Randel K. Johnson, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, called the reported growth the result of a "rounding error."

"This is a very slight, marginal increase," Johnson said. "For all the talk of organized labor putting more and more resources into organizing, this bump is insignificant."

Sounds to me like they really trying to downplay the recent rise in union membership for the first time in at least 25 years, more than one would have expected, as we can tell from Mr.Peck, who it seems is the Senior Director of Communications and the ChamberPost Editor, that the Chamber of Commerce is well aligned with the anti-union movement, and heres a fact from their site if you think they care about the public:
ChamberOfCommerce.com is not a federal government agency, and therefore has no authority to investigate how companies conduct business nor are we able to accept complaints.
So I would guess that anything posted on their Blog is parallel to the thoughts and ideals of Mr.Berman.

More News:

Heres a post I have found since hooking up with Wordpress that deserves mention. From the PacPhour Blog:

Before & After Bush chart

I can’t verify all the statistics, but they just feel right.
That feel's right to me too, another cool person I met virtually is Mr Bobbo Simpson who has been drawing labor cartoons for 20 years, and has some great pieces of writing on his Blog TheBlobboSphere:
Home Buying Today
Death of a Union
the second one is about the recent UAW deals with the big three
Well thats about it for now, get to clicking and Digg'in my new blog over at Wordpress, we need people to actually stumble upon the real truth about the labor movement every chance we can.


Audio File of the week - Workers Independent News 1-25-08

this is the audio broadcast of these headlines
Win is a great resource of up to to date labor news, you should check 'em out and get an account if you want to listen daily, or find a station near you that broadcasts their show
What is WIN?

WIN producers gather news from labor unions and activists from across the country. WIN then packages the material for distribution to radio stations and for print publication.

Our producers and reporters come from a diverse background encompassing all fields of media journalism, from print to radio, video to the Web. We share one common goal: to create media that puts people over profits and empowers citizens to become journalists in their own right.

Media Outreach

WIN combines a traditional placement strategy with a grassroots mobilization program.

Placement starts through a direct "business to business" relationship between producers and radio stations. WIN also works with labor councils, local unions and community organizations to encourage placement in their respective localities.

In addition, WIN is well-connected with existing labor media projects, progressive grassroots radio programs and Independent Media Centers.
You can check out WIN Radio at Laborradio.org

Unions on the Rise !

Don't have to do a story on this one 5 other sites already did

US Labor News from LabourStart

You can see some of the victories I was posting about this past year at UnionReview. Unfortunately some sites downplay the importance, but in 25 years of membership loss an upward swing could be considered twice as important. Think US football when the team throws an interception and the other team scores, in essence it is considered a 14 point turnaround. Twice the actual 7 point score. Workers just got a touchdown or 2 depending how you look at it. I see two and more to come in '08


A word about Online Union Activist's

inspired and with quotes by friend and mentor Richard Negri from UnionReview.com

We are getting larger, we have friends who are Union activists online and we are making a difference, with UnionReview as the meeting place we have been able to generate a great show of interest in the online Labor movement. The administration of UnionReview, myself, Chuck Lazette, Richard Negri and Steve Dondley all have our own separate blog sites. But as you will read below in the quotes from Richard, we all get involved spreading the message onto other forums, sites and blogs. We spread ourselves out using information we shared with each other to use facts in our statements, comments and stories.

For me I use this blog to help generate traffic for UnionReview and also get some more lightweight material and personnel opinion pieces published without tainting the UR Labor movement status by clogging the front page with my non and slightly related stories. I feel more at ease blabbing about more localized issues, politics and media censoring here.

Chuck, who is an upstate New York Carpenter and quite a videographer runs his blog the UBCNewsroom-Union Carpenters News And Information, UBCNewsroom is dedicated, but not limited to Carpenter union news, the fight against misclassification of workers, safety issues, politics, workplace injustice. A lot of Chucks stories wind up on UnionReview, he has definitely helped me learn a thing or two about the latest breaking news in NYS labor laws, worker misclassification and his videos have been the rage on the net, especially the rally against Orange County Choppers who are building without union carpenters and electricians. Chuck is the guy who said "you need your own site". Thanks Chuck, now my girlfriend hates my computer even more.

Steve Dondley, is a very busy man nowadays, he is the backbone and owner/operator of Prometheus Labor Communications, which makes union made websites. Steve was a former organizer with the United Food and Commercial Workers in MA., who when at that job realized "(that) the poltical dynamics and intrinsic unfairness of the employer-employee relationships weren't revealed to me until I became an organizer". Steve lost his job when the membership in his area dropped by 1/3rd when Wal-Mart came to town and union Caldor and Bradlees stores, which people could earn a decent living, closed their doors for good. But that didn't stop Steve, he learned everything he could about the world wide web, while continuing his dedication to the labor movement by working as an occupational safety and health educator, community organizer, and volunteering time with his local labor council. In 1999 he built his first union made website for his former employer UFCW Local 1459. Steve is all over the internet, but unfortunately he is a very busy man now, a quick Google can show you how many sites he posts on regularly and his past, that man has 5,680 hits all by himself. If he could be cloned, the second one not owning his own company, he would probably post more stories than me, Chuck and Richard combined. Now I'm not sure of ownership, but when I think of Steve, Communicate Or Die is the site that would most fits his mission:
" One of my key missions in life is to do what I can to help the labor movement grow and flourish. And so, my current work, building websites for labor organizations, is very fulfilling for me. It combines my passions for technology and communication with my goal to serve the cause of labor."
Richard Negri, well what can I say about him, when we first talked on the phone he was working piece work in the mother of all Right to work states Florida, to make ends meet, but he had a dream. The dream was to fill the gap that labor left behind, up to date immediate rank-and-file communication. He grew up in Brooklyn, NY, in an area where the thing to do after high school was to get a good union job, and while Richard, like myself has seen the ups and downs of those jobs, he also never strayed from the path of getting information out there, not just the bad deeds of labor unions, but the good information for and about workers. Workers who stick together, workers who fight with or without union support and make the world a better place, if the rank-and-file and the general public could see that when we stick together with other workers it can make the labor movement stronger. Richard is very bright and has a lot of "Hutzpah", he can feel other working peoples needs and with his own special empathy can bring that story directly to your computer screen. Richard is the creator of UnionReview, who I befriended through MySpace, he encouraged me to post my first Blog story about Hershey's Chocolate moving a mass of it's operations into Mexico and losing 1,500 union members in the process. Without Richard's inspiration and his bulletin's through MySpace you probably wouldn't be reading this.

Thanks fellas, but let me not forget to mention all the inspiration in this new labor frontier I receive, Eric Lee and the staff at Labourstart, Mike Hall and staff at the AFL-CIO WebBlog, Building Bridges Radio, WIN Radio- Workers Independent News, Brain Labor Report, the IWW- Independent Workers of the World web staff, the Big Labor website, the guys and gals at Shop Union Made- very up to date on American and Union Made products, People's Weekly World, SolidarityMail and people doing what our crew is doing on their own blogs and forums, Working Life, Jimmy and TeamstersOnline.com, Mike at Springfield, MA Union News, Larry Hubich's Blog, Talking Union Blog. Then theres all the people I get stories from on MySpace, almost too many to name, but heres a few ~ ♥ my Laborer~, Bert, The Man Common, Todd M. Jordan, Erin Brockovich, etc. . And the most encouraging aspect of doing this are the people who you meet in the real world, the ones that read and give you ideas , like George G., the man who got my unions site started and I wish had some more time to write a story or 2, Jimbo638 who shot me an e-mail about HowToBuyAmerican.com and some other very interesting sites I haven't visited , like Labor Educator, American Rights At Work and American Economic Alert, My buddy Charlie P. who pointed out Story Corps, a site where people can record their story which will be broadcast on public radio, the internet and archived at the Library Of Congress for our future generations, Gene Jackson and Flip Wilson, the retired Steamfitter and Fireman who sell shirts to help fund the Wounded Warrior Project, who also go out of their way to help in every aspect in our wounded returning veterans to get desperately needed medical assistance, lodging here for that treatment and getting these seriously injured back into believing that they can maintain a somewhat normal lifestyle, those two absolutely amaze me and I'm gathering info for an updated story on them. My man Dennis the local 79 Laborer here who doesn't know how to turn on a PC but wants to know as much as possible, Big Kevin the Teamster on the dump truck at work. The folks at the NYC Central Labor council, who never fail to get the e-mail's out to keep us in the know about labor strife and rallies here in NYC. And to all the people who I've handed a UnionReview leaflet to and actually read it. Everyone who tells me they like what they see. Even the comments here are so greatly appreciated. God theres just so much more people to thank and I'm tired, so without further ado, the reason I wrote all this:
(directly from Richard's post at UnionReview)

Union Activists Blogging - A Basic How-To Approach

I had an interesting discussion with some friends about union activists blogging. In that chat I mentioned that workers who are getting their news online, especially at the online version of their local paper or television stations, should always be on the look out for a comment box at the end of the story. If there is one available, get a user name and password and offer up your 2-cents.

On many local papers’ websites I have found that getting a user name and a password is not only painfully simple, it is generally a very fast process. And as for a quick hint: I have found using one user name and password at every site I visit a safe and secure way to remember how to log on when I am especially heated about something that I read; which happens often.Innocent

It is almost cliché at this point to say that stories affecting working people, especially union workers, are not very well presented in mainstream media. This is where our work comes in as activists.

I find myself telling people not to worry about their typing skills or grammar, the most important thing is to get heard – and then tell people where you are posting so that we can support what you are doing. I am of the opinion that workers of every trade are rarely, if ever, asked what they think by mainstream media reporters. Instead, workers are often asked how they feel about this or that situation. Interestingly enough, a CEO or a company manager is never asked how he feels about much of anything. I have made this argument in the past, and it is worthwhile to bring up again: Working people can and do think and our thoughts should be heard and understood. We can save our feeling for own personal diaries and conversations with family and friends, but when it comes to discussing something as important as our working lives and our unions, it is critical we organize our thoughts and share those thoughts.

With the open access of comment boxes on mainstream media news stories, we have a unique opportunity to speak up and get heard -- and I urge everyone to do this in their free time.

Finally, the question of anonymity comes into play. Some workers might be less than giving with their personal information or use their real names. My reply to this is generally the same: then don’t! If you are really concerned about being tracked down, open a free Yahoo email account (or any other) and use that email strictly for your blogging activity.

For many people this blog on blogging will seem obvious and common sense, and that’s cool – but for those who are just getting cozy with their computers and getting online, maybe it will be of some help – that is my intention, anyway.

Chuck replied:
skills to publish
This a most important story for me to read, I've known Richard for some time now and we have talked about this platform many of times. The key to being a blogger is the way you present yourself, understandable some people don't have the skills to publish the same kind of content as others with more experience but, with a little practice you will soon see major results that make the story stick out. So if there anyone out there that thinks they are imune to writing good stories, a blog, is ablog, is a blog... So, Keep writing... Things Can Only Get Better...
I think what Richard explained is a great Activist maneuver, we have spoken in the past about getting the word out, you too can do it, even in unfriendly territory, if you have facts no one will ever continue the argument, or at least only those with a factual opinion will. This goes back into the anti-union sentiment I have previously posted about. The idea that someone will just post "I hate unions" or "unions destroy jobs" cannot go unanswered. Only we can make the difference, and the 4 of us need your help in doing that.

Please note that I haven't touched the Facebook story in this article, but it is definitely a worthwhile read.


Writers Guild of America agrees to resume talks, withdraws proposals seeking jurisdiction over animation and reality television shows

From: Bloomberg.com
Striking Writers Agree to Resume Talks With Studios (Update1)

By Michael White

Striking film and television writers agreed to discuss ground rules for new negotiations with Hollywood studios, a step that could lead to resolution of the 11-week-old strike.

The Writers Guild of America withdrew proposals seeking jurisdiction over animation and reality television shows, the union said today in an e-mailed statement.

The discussions will be the first since Dec. 7, when negotiations broke down over pay for the use of work on the Internet, as well as writers' demands regarding reality and animation shows. The studios agreed last week to pay directors more for Web distribution of content, helping to clear the way for renewed talks with the writers. That agreement, reached in one week, followed three weeks of preliminary discussions.

The Writers Guild has made new media the focal point of the strike, arguing that the Internet and mobile devices will become an increasingly important method for distributing content. They walked off the job on Nov. 5.

The studios also must negotiate separate labor agreements with the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents singers, dancers, announcers and some news personnel who work in TV and radio.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at Mwhite8@bloomberg.net

Heres the letter to the membership from the WGAE site:
WGA Joint Presidents' Letter on Start of Informal Talks

January 23, 2008

To Our Fellow Members,

We have responded favorably to the invitation from the AMPTP to enter into informal talks that will help establish a reasonable basis for returning to negotiations. During this period we have agreed to a complete news blackout. We are grateful for this opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion with industry leaders that we hope will lead to a contract. We ask that all members exercise restraint in their public statements during this critical period.

In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation. Our organizing efforts to achieve Guild representation in these genres for writers will continue. You will hear more about this in the next two weeks.

On another issue, the Writers Guild, West Board of Directors has voted not to picket the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) face many of the same issues concerning compensation in new media that we do. In the interest of advancing our goal of achieving a fair contract, the WGAW Board felt that this gesture should be made on behalf our brothers and sisters in AFM and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).


Michael Winship
Writers Guild of America, East

Patric M. Verrone
Writers Guild of America, West

Target worker comes forward to tell how, like Wal-Mart,Target screws it's workers too.

The image “http://img526.imageshack.us/img526/2051/targetlh1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
image courtesy of www.corpwatch.org

Target (along with Wal-Mart) was recently found using a supplier who had little kids in China slaving in sweatshop conditions to make its store brand Christmas ornaments "Huh, I don't recall that story on the tube or in the papers", seems to be getting it's workers at it's warehouses a bit annoyed with it's unfair firing practices, anti-union actions, and the total neglect of it's workforce.

According to Red McKilldozer, who claims to be a Target warehouse worker, at Socialist Alternative website has made some claims, and judging by all the bullshit that we know happens daily at Wal-Mart and experiences I personally had working in a warehouse where injuries where "alleged" and the "workers fault", I don't see any reason to believe that Mr.McKilldozer is lying, even if he failed to use his real name to protect his job:
  • Employees are routinely disciplined and fired for injuries. "Failure to be aware of surroundings" is a particularly favorite reason to discipline an injured worker. Target uses this practice to get rid of workers, especially those who receive top pay and benefits.
  • A typical workday at a Target warehouse involves lifting 30,000 lbs. of freight over a ten-hour period. Yet management at the distribution center where I work refuses to acknowledge most hernias as job-related injuries.
  • Any worker who attempts to use his or her right to organize is targeted by management for termination.the worker who attempts to organize is watched very closely for any infraction of the rules. Any violation, real or imagined, is blown out of proportion so the worker can be fired.
  • Target will also fire the middle management of any distribution center that attempts to organize (this happened in New York recently). Thus, supervisors show great zeal in rooting out and eliminating union sympathizers.
  • Every few weeks, “team members” and their bosses get together and talk. This gives the appearance of management and labor being in a partnership. In reality, this is a steam valve, a way to allow angry workers to blow off steam without actually addressing any real concerns.
Recently, this tactic has backfired. Over the last year, my warehouse has been subject to many changes made by management – making vacation hours harder to accrue, firing long-time workers for trivial reasons, changing shifts, and announcing mandatory overtime (they even forced almost everyone to work on Thanksgiving!).

A series of "roundtable" meetings with senior management was met with scorn, with nearly 50% of the workers refusing to even attend. Production slowdowns now occur on a regular basis. There is even talk of organizing a union among some workers.

Workers are sick and tired of being treated like animals, subject to an authoritarian dictatorship in the workplace where management can fire us for bullshit reasons without explanation if we have a big mouth and dare to speak up against them, while they beam Fox News into the break rooms to distract us. But the situation at my warehouse does demonstrate that class struggle is a daily event, and takes place even in the most mundane of workplaces.
Full Story
Sounds like a reasonable account to me, anyone out there care to help get more info to me post away. As of now I'm unfortunately going to have to put this entire article, aside from Targets irresponsibility in choosing it's Christmas ornament manufacturer, into the
"alleged" category.

Heres one related link I found so far:

CorpWatch.org - Target: Wal-Mart Lite


Getting noticed, possibly making a difference.

It's nice to get noticed, especially by The Wall Street Journal, with the story "Remember, when Penn Station is shut down- Blame Amtrak, not the union workers", a preemptive retort to the main stream media response to Penn Station being closed and the Amtrak workers being on strike. Fortunately I think they will settle without going through all that, maybe Amtrak read my blog post. One can only hope. When facts outweigh conjecture, justice will surely prevail.

To the people answering the poll that the blogs confusing, please post a comment here and let me know exactly what the confusion is, I'd really like to make it easy for everyone, maybe I can start another blog with just the content and no sidebar. Let me know, all suggestions will be considered.

Today I got called a Liberal, which I guess is as repulsive as the last guy who called me a Republican, or the boo's and hisses when I spoke about how the lack of communication with non-English speakers works in favor of the bosses (it's hard to explain what the normal rate of pay is to someone who doesn't speak your language is), which people misconstrued my meaning and deemed me a racists. To all you jerks that don't understand what someone says and just consider him the opposite of what you think you are, or tell yourself you should be. A heavy fisted Brooklyn salute to you.

My fight is for the middle class American worker and the dream which we can still call reality. Most importantly to my heart is that my trade which my forefathers fought over the past 100 years to make it what it is today, remains intact for the longest duration and my brothers and sisters in my local union can survive with a decent quality of life. The only way to make certain of that is to fight together with other unions and workers to raise the bar of the ever downward spiral that is the lifestyle of the middle class American worker. To reverse the current war on the worker.

Remember kids, if there is only one union, there is nothing. An injury to one is an injury to all. United we stand, divided we beg. Yeah it sounds good, but who bothers. Do you?

With these man made tags as to what we are supposed to be, Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, and all the subdivisions, black, white, Puerto Rican, Jew, Christian, fat, ugly, jock, nerd, jets fan, dolphins fan, Italian, Irish, is it any wonder why we are so divided as union members, workers and as Americans. When will we learn that we are all just people who want to live the American dream, to put food on the table, make opportunities we didn't have be available for our children, to get home in one piece after a days work, to have the ability to receive health care that doesn't make us broke, and to have the security of knowing that one day we and our beloved can retire and have a few years with enough income to live comfortably. That American dream is harder than ever to achieve, is it possible that our own divisions are to blame?


Link of the day - click it and read it

What Works and What Doesn't In Building A New Workers’ Movement
by Richard Mellor ( aactivist@igc.org )
AFSCME Local 444, retired
Oakland CA
Sunday Jan 20th, 2008 5:21 PM
There are thousands of activists of one type or another who want to change society and recognize that we need a movement to do that. many of these people are in organizations and groupings, many are in Unions. What is causing the delay in the building of a new movement to throw back the present capitalist offensive. One major factor is the heads of Organized Labor, but they are not the only factor.
Read the entire story

A Striking writers point of view of Directors deal, not so optimistic

From: LAist

Writers Strike - Day 77


a (*unknown) writer's perspective

I know this isn’t what anybody wants to hear, but…

The DGA deal is not a sign that the writers strike is close to ending.

Over the last few days, you might have heard a lot of people speculating with giddy glee that the WGA and the AMPTP have entered the endgame. You might have heard industry insiders talking about how the DGA deal is revolutionary and groundbreaking – setting historical precedents in the areas of new media, electronic sell-through, and internet jurisdiction. You might have heard people saying that writers are insane if they don’t accept the terms that the directors have agreed to.

You might have also noticed that the WGA hasn’t issued an official comment on the DGA deal other than “the terms of the deal will be carefully analyzed”. The Guild is being smart by trying to slow this down. I believe that when the WGA finally comments, what they have to say is going to be very unpopular.

It is going to be a reality check. (And it’s always controversial when the WGA gets into areas of reality.)

Not to say that the DGA deal is all bad. It brings up closer to the end of the strike in that same way that every day that passes brings us closer to the end of the strike.

The bigger news this week is really the fact that the AMPTP has agreed to resume “informal” negotiations. And I suppose, in a sense, the DGA deal had to get done before the producers would turn their attention back to us.

Given the way negotiating has gone so far, the skeptic in me is worried that this could be another ploy to break our spirits. It’s Union-Breaking 101, and for most of the strike, the producers have attempted to play on our emotions by leaking stories to Nikki Finke over at Deadline Hollywood Daily. Unfortunately for them, earlier this week, Nikki Finke announced she was taking a break, so maybe they had to do something more drastic to screw with us. Get the writers excited that a resolution could be around the corner, then walk out of negotiations again, making us feel like the strike will never end.

Read Full Story

photo by Heath Biter for LAist

Ron Paul places 2nd in Nevada GOP caucus, Big Media fails to mention it

Ron Paul has placed 2nd in the GOP Nevada Caucus, oddly enough you still don't hear any mention of him in any Big Media outlet.

Not a bad vote count for a guy who is hardly ever mentioned on the tube.

In 2007, Workers' Wages Saw Biggest Drop in 17 Years

Change to Win Reports:

The numbers are in on how much working people made in 2007, and they ain't pretty.

This week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the latest data in their Current Employment Statistics survey. These figures cover workers' earnings as of December 2007.

The BLS reports that after you adjust for inflation, real wages dropped by 0.9 percent over the last year. The Daily Labor Report notes that this is the biggest one-year drop in average weekly pay since 1990.

Mexican authorities storm copper mine strikers and the reprecussions that will be felt here in the US

I read this article in the Peoples Weekly World, it explains the struggle of the workers, the war between the union and the owner Grupo Mexico, which has extensive ties with US corporations, the safety violations and death toll. And the impact on the US if the union in Mexico is broken.
When the miners union lost its strike in Cananea in 1998, in which it tried to stop the elimination of hundreds of jobs, blacklisted strikers poured into Arizona in the months that followed. If the current strike is put down, the union broken and its leaders and activists terminated, they too will likely find themselves in Phoenix, Tucson or Los Angeles, hungry and desperate for work.
Read the Full Story
Didn't Bill Clinton state that NAFTA was supposed to lift the Mexican working people up to the US labor standards? Looks like with all foreign trade pacts, the anti-worker legislation that has been put into place since Taft-Hartly and the inability to get any agency to do it's job(OSHA,ICE,etc.), we as Americans workers are quickly dropping our standards to that of the lifestyle of a pre-1900 worker. Think about it, most of us rely on overtime to make ends meet (ask the $24,000 a year new NYPD employee), while the wages have not paralleled the cost of living. There goes the 40 hour week, and weekends while your at it. What about minimum wage and child labor? Don't think thats happening, CVS, one of the largest Pharmaceutical Big-Boxes, has just been investigated and found guilty for massive child labor violations in 6 different states. Minimum wage, here in NYC in a great portion of the nonunion construction field, many workers are paid off the books for below the minimum wage, for no overtime pay, up to 60 hours a week. We aren't touching on the fact that the big companies are raising their prices in a most despicable way, smaller packaging for the same price. The 11 ounce pound of coffee, the 1.5 liter 2 liter bottle of coke, the new 12 ounce package of Jimmy Dean Sausages (down from 16oz.), I was talking about this and I reached "even eggs" and one of the co-workers I was speaking to shouted out "what do they give you 11 now", which broke the tension nicely. Speaking of breaking tension, take a look at the humor news from the Onion titled "Illegal Immigrants Returning To Mexico For American Jobs" which unfortunately, hits the nail on the head almost as much this:

Gap Unveils New 'For Kids By Kids' Clothing Line

Did unions drop the ball ignoring Edwards?

Excerpt of the opinion piece, which a lot of us were wondering about:

The Glorious Future that American Unions Walked Away From
by Ian Welsh at HuffingtonPost.com


Unions in America have been in a decline for over 60 years. Union membership has dropped from almost 35% of all workers in 1945 to less than 15% today. In fact, union membership has declined to almost exactly the same percentage as it was in 1930 before FDR took power and encouraged the growth of unions. The first crucial battle the unions lost came after FDR died, when over Truman's veto the Taft-Hartly Act was passed in 1947. Truman called the Taft-Hartly Act a "slave labor bill".

Since then unions have lost critical battle after battle; the mainline old unions centered around industrial concerns like GM and Ford have shrunk to a tiny fraction of their former self; and despite the efforts of the SEIU unions and others, new economy workers mostly have not been organized.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), created by the Wagner Act in 1935 as independent agency of United States Governments holds the official mandate to conduct elections for labor union representation and to investigate and remedy unfair labor practices. Under the Bush administration, the NLRB has:

Unions have spent the last 7 years under assault by the Bush NLRB.

The union movement, it is fair to say, is in many respects in its weakest position in over 60 years.

Another 4 or 8 years of a Republican presidency could doom American unions, pushing them below 10% and subjecting them to more and more hostile NLRB rulings, which will cripple what ability they have to organize. Even a moderate Democratic president who halts the slide at the NLRB but doesn't reverse it will leave unions in a shaky situation....(continued with paragraph omissions)

All of the Republican candidates would be awful for labor, and differ only by the degrees of the horror they would unleash.

Amongst the Democratic candidates it's safe to say that Hilary Clinton, who has as her main advisor a union buster and whose husband did very little for unions, would be a largely status quo President. Her board would be decent, she'd be bad but not awful on trade, and she wouldn't sink a lot of personal capital into union issues.

As with many things with Obama, it's hard to determine how good or bad he'd be, but one has to have their doubts about a Democratic candidate who argued that union advertisements in Iowa were unacceptable, and who acted as if union money were the equivalent of corporate money. Certainly there are those who see unions and corporation as little different--but they aren't friends of unions.

John Edwards has spent the last four years working with unions, walking their picket lines and making their cause his. He's clearly the most pro-union of the three remaining candidates; his primary issue is economic justice and he believes that corporations have too much power. His campaign, from the very beginning, was predicated on union support.

But unions didn't reciprocate..... (continued with paragraph omissions)

Neither Clinton (experience) nor Obama (non-partisan change) will come into office with a mandate to help unions.

I can only assume that labor read too many polls and made too many political calculations. Unsure of who would win they went with the "inevitable" candidate (Clinton) instead of the one who had spent 4 years working for and with them. And as a result, if Obama or Clinton win, Unions are going to get a Democratic president who appreciates their help (just like Bill Clinton did) but who isn't really willing to go all out for them (just like Bill Clinton didn't).

The irony here is that if labor had taken a strong stand and put their own best interests first instead of triangulating and currying political favor, the strongest pro-labor candidate would be in the lead today.

Unions would have had a good chance to elect a massively pro-union president--who would have owed them his presidency.

Imagine that alternate world.

Now instead, imagine what four more years without solid support for all American workers and radical reform at the NLRB will mean for you, your pocketbook, and your family.

Decisions like these are what has made the American union movement what it is today.

Full opinion piece can be found here