A pump salesman's son speaks of life without the Big 3

"One company employs about 100,000, the other employs millions. What’s the real difference? The people who work for AIG wake up, shower and go to work. The vast majority of people who work for the Big Three wake up, go to work, come home and shower ." - Brandon Spence

Screw the jackals in the main stream, here in a response to an article that states "let them fail" is some of the down to earth facts of what life without the "Big 3" car manufacturers would be like for all of us. Here's a response to some scumbag named Morgan Liddick's article that appeared in the Colorado's Summit Daily News, where he didn't hide his anti-union views, the original was titled "U.S. automakers have a duty to die". Many could just sit there and raed and ingest the story and go on with their lives, not caring about all the jobs that would be lost if indeed the "Big 3" went away. But wait, there is a voice of reason out there in Colorado, his name is Brandon Spence and here's what he had to say:
Re: “U.S. automakers have a duty to die,” Morgan Liddick, SDN Nov. 25
In a very twisted way, a part of me hopes Morgan Liddick and those who share his position for the Big Three to “die” get their way. Only for the sake to see what he would be writing years from now after the U.S. has slipped into an economic abyss. Would he then stand by his column that U.S. automakers have a duty to die? I somehow think not.

I am fourth-generation Flint, Mich. GM baby. My great grandfather was a part of the infamous 1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike. My grandfather put in 30 years at GM. One uncle recently retired from GM. Another has been a Teamster for as long as I can remember. My father’s job, selling industrial pumps, would not have existed if not for the Big Three. And I was born in Flint with most of my family still in both the Flint and Detroit areas.

I have seen first-hand what happens when the U.S. automotive industry fails. If you want to know what America will look like if the Big Three do not get their $25 billion loan, take a look at southeast Michigan. Unemployment is approaching 10 percent and will likely eclipse that mark by the end of 2009, with an estimated 108,000 jobs being cut . This would be just the beginning. The unemployment rate during the Great Depression averaged about 14 percent. Reports indicate the nearly three million jobs will be lost if GM, Ford and Chrysler file Chapter 11. That could dramatically escalate when you factor in that one in 10 jobs in the U.S. are tied into the automotive industry: parts suppliers, truck drivers, advertising agencies, dealers, etc. Those are the obvious ones.

The steel workers throughout the Midwest would take a major hit, one they cannot afford. There are also insurance agencies that will be bogged down with health insurance claims and benefits that are tied up in bankruptcy court for years. Millions of Americans overnight without jobs and healthcare.

But yes, Mr. Liddick, you’re right the automotive industry deserves to die. You’re right. They did produce the biggest cars and trucks possible. But this is not solely the fault of the automakers. Americans wanted the biggest, and that’s exactly what they got. It’s far easier to wake up one day with gas at $4 a gallon and decide to buy a smaller fuel-efficient vehicle than it is to change all of your manufacturing plants. That takes time. And for the record, let’s dispel the myth about the current quality and inefficiency of Big Three vehicles. A J D Power quality study scored eight Big Three brands as high or higher than Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Scion, Volkswagen and Volvo. Both the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion scored higher than the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. All of the Detroit Three build midsize sedans the EPA rates at 29-33 mpg on the highway. The most fuel-efficient Chevrolet Malibu gets 33 mpg on the highway, 2 mpg better than the best Honda Accord.

So who do you want to see punished by this? It certainly won’t be the CEOs. They’ll be fine. The other millions that don’t wear white collars, not so much. AIG was handed upwards of $150 billion. The Big Three are asking for a loan, to be paid back, of $25 billion. One company employs about 100,000, the other employs millions. What’s the real difference? The people who work for AIG wake up, shower and go to work. The vast majority of people who work for the Big Three wake up, go to work, come home and shower.

The Big Three catapulted America into the 20th Century as an economic power. During WWII Detroit halted production and turned its attention to building tanks. A quarter of all tanks manufactured in the U.S. came from the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, a division of Chrysler. General Motors was the world’s largest employer for most of the last century. The backbone of this country was built on the labor of the automotive industry. And now when it looks bleak, people like you, Mr. Liddick, want to see them crash and burn. I’ll be sure not to call you if I’m in a bind. Finally, off point here. You said “WE” voted for change in the last election. I somehow find it hard to believe that you voted for change. Have a happy Thanksgiving.
And a very good article at DailyKOS:
Detroit is angry at anti-autoworker media spin

Act Now!: Stop todays hanging of a teacher/unionist in Iran!

Act NOW!! Don't let a unionist die!! Spread the word, sign the e-action e-mail.

From Eric Lee over at Labourstart

Act NOW!
Iran: Save the life of Farzad Kamangar

Education International (EI) has been informed that Farzad Kamangar, the Iranian Kurdish teacher and social worker sentenced to death on "absolutely zero evidence" according to his lawyer, could be hanged on Wednesday 26 November 2008.

According to several reliable sources, he has been taken from his cell 121 in ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison in preparation for execution. Jail security officers are said to have told him he is about to be executed and they are making fun of him, calling him a martyr.

The Revolutionary Court issued the death sentence against Kamangar on 25 February 2008. His lawyer has said: "Nothing in Kamangar’s judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him." Kamangar was cleared of all charges during the investigation process. The last time Kamangar was seen, he was at the health clinic of Evin prison and his physical condition was poor. Witnesses testify that he has been beaten again. Kamangar has not been allowed to see his lawyer or family members for the past two months.

EI has been appealing to the Iranian authorities to commute Kamangar's death sentence and ensure his case is reviewed fairly.

Now, EI is once again appealing to Iranian judicial authorities to halt the execution. EI is also asking members of the international community urgently to intervene.

Click here to ACT NOW!!

LabourStart logo.

We can save the life of a fellow unionist in another country if we Act Now!!!

Gotta run to work.I signed it. It only take a minute.


Some jackass banned me from the Ridgid Plumbing Forum

I made 2 posts one of them with some info about the "Big 3" crisis and it had a link to my site, I didn't have the information saved unfortunately, but the other is this post which had a poll attached, it was called "Foreign made US flags should be outlawed, would you help if I created a petition?":
Here's an idea that is an easy one to get people to agree upon, or at least I would hope. Last week on CNN there was a report that $4.7 million dollars were spent in this country on US flags made on foreign soil. According to the report $4.2 million were manufactured in China. I had brought up this point at a dinner last week and one of the guests was a Vietnam Veteran, he looked at me when I was speaking and replied something close to this "I was at a friend's funeral, he was with me in 'Nam, his father was still alive and in his eighties, he had a full military service and when they folded the flag and handed it to his father, he looked at the tag and it..." I shouted "I don't want to hear the end of this story!" unfortunately he continued "..(it) was "Made in Vietnam" according to FiveStarFlags.com
"Five Star Flags are 100% made in the U.S.A. If you see U.S. flags advertised that do not clearly state they are "Made in USA", they are probably NOT! In fact, flag dealers nationwide are SO up in arms about imported flags, that if you see flags advertised that DO NOT BRAG about being made in America, if is probable they came in from overseas. Please note also the U.S. Government mandates flags 2' x 3' and larger MUST HAVE A 'COUNTRY OF ORIGIN' label. If you have purchased American flags that do not have a "Made in USA" label, that flag is imported. Five Star Flags does NOT sell imported flags." I see a huge problem with this, as do mostly everyone I speak to in the real world and online, so I am here asking for help, would you help get signatures for a petition that brings a Congressional bill back from the dead and asks that our Government prohibits flags that are not "Made In The U.S.A."?
The bill HR 2993, was called the Genuine American Flag Act and was sponsored by Congressman Dan Boren from OK, it was introduced in July of 2007 and it seems to have been abandoned, the bill states:
This Act may be cited as the `Genuine American Flag Act'.
Beginning 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, no flag of the United States of America (regardless of size and whether or not in compliance with the standard proportions prescribed by Executive order) that is the product or manufacture of any foreign country or instrumentality may be imported for sale into the United States.
As noted at GovTrack(updated on Nov.6, 2008), the bill was refereed to the Subcommittee on Trade and:
The majority of bills never make it out of committee. Keep in mind that sometimes the text of one bill is incorporated into another bill, and in those cases the original bill, as it would appear here, would seem to be abandoned.
I think all American flags should be made here where someone in my country can put food on their table, so will you help? I have asked countless people from all walks of life and all have stated "why wouldn't someone agree with this?" and I reply I have no idea.

So I have posted this poll here and in the Ridgid forums, another union and nonunion hangout, to get a diverse response base and see how well this is received. So please vote and add some comments, this is in the very beginning stages.

Clearly a General discussion type of story if ever there was one, but I tried to see if anyone got a looksie at the article and voted on the poll and I was greeted with a "BANNED: reason spam, BAN lift time: NEVER"

That's just fucking great some almighty cunt of an administrator bans me for fighting for American jobs, and they did it in a way that I can't even state a defense for my case. What a real silly thing to do. I didn't even break any rules, figuring I must have missed something I checked, here's the rules in a nutshell:
By agreeing to these rules, you warrant that you will not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-oriented, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violative of any laws.

The owners of RIDGID Plumbing Forum, Woodworking Forum, Power Tool Forum reserve the right to remove, edit, move or close any thread for any reason.
It doesn't have any rule against getting support for a petition, guess if the company has anything to do with the forum, they probably think I will be asking for people to sign a petition for them to make their crappy power woodworking tools in this country.

Autoworkers and the $73 and hour myth (Updated: Michael Moore, Pat Buchanan and the Rick Berman ties)

the claim that workers are getting $70 an hour in compensation is just "not true."
The catch phrase that is used to make people hate unions

image by David Horsey- Seattle Post Intelligencer

The corporate war against unions and American workers in general has taken an awful turn, in 'if you repeat it people will believe it is true fashion' the stooges against us are creating more anti-union sentiment with making us think that only unionized autoworkers are making far too much money as opposed to the rest of us here in the U.S.

Alas their fear of the possible passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is making them slam the unions as hard as possible, getting catch phrases like "73 dollars an hour" to become a household phrase, but you my dear reader are much smarter than those who believe this to be true. Finally the numbers have been scrutinized and the sensationalistic numbers have been brought to our attention, the average union autoworker makes around $28 an hour as of 2007 and the new contract signed in early 2008 will limit the top wage of many non-core new hires to roughly $14 an hour with a lower degree of benefit costs also. That's a whole lot less than what a Toyota worker makes here in the US, but it was done to create American jobs.

The average UAW autoworker at the 'Big 3' makes roughly a little less than $60,000 a year and the average non-union autoworker in the U.S. makes roughly $52,000 and considering that most of the nonunion plants are in lower cost of living areas, I would say that both are quite competitive with one another. Basically no one is getting rich who is a general worker at any U.S. auto manufacturing plant. The anti-union forces along with the corporate right are spinning this to create more anti-union sentiment in our country. They fixate on a number that sounds outlandish and just keep repeating it until you say "greedy union worker", when in fact with the way the world is changing even the nonunion manufacturers here will be cutting back and need help eventually as it is very hard to compete globally when places such as Mexico have a minimum wage of $2 an hour, Bangladesh is only $0.06, and Vietnam is $64 an month.

So the choice is your, keep listening to their horseshit, keep hating your fellow American workers, keep letting them get away with outsourcing all of our industry or open your eyes and let them know that you know they are misinforming us. Remember "unions force jobs overseas" or at least that's what they want you to believe.

Yes these are bad times, really bad times, but don't take it out on the American workers, not the union ones or the nonunion ones, we are all hurting, don't let them get away with driving a bigger wedge between all of us, the collapse of GM, Ford and Chrysler will cost us 3 million U.S. jobs, add that to the 50,000+ Citibank workers, and all the others who have recently been laid off and you can see now we as the American working class need to rely on each other now more than ever.

Debunking the $73/hour Myth

Here's the scoop on the pay at the 'Big 3', from the pages of The New Republic
Why Are We Bailing Out Auto Workers Who Make $70 An Hour?
by Jonathan Cohn
Debunking the myth of the $70-per-hour autoworker.

If you've been following the auto industry's crisis, then you've probably read or heard a lot about overpaid American autoworkers--in particular, the fact that the average hourly employee of the Big Three makes $70 per hour.

That's an awful lot of money. Seventy dollars an hour in wages works out to almost $150,000 a year in gross income, if you assume a forty-hour work week. Is it any wonder the Big Three are in trouble? And with auto workers making so much, why should taxpayers--many of whom make far less--finance a plan to bail them out?

Well, here's one reason: The figure is wildly misleading.

Let's start with the fact that it's not $70 per hour in wages. According to Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automative Research--who was my primary source for the figures you are about to read--average wages for workers at Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors were just $28 per hour as of 2007. That works out to a little less than $60,000 a year in gross income--hardly outrageous, particularly when you consider the physical demands of automobile assembly work and the skills most workers must acquire over the course of their careers.

More important, and contrary to what you may have heard, the wages aren't that much bigger than what Honda, Toyota, and other foreign manufacturers pay employees in their U.S. factories. While we can't be sure precisely how much those workers make, because the companies don't make the information public, the best estimates suggests the corresponding 2007 figure for these "transplants"--as the foreign-owned factories are known--was somewhere between $20 and $26 per hour, and most likely around $24 or $25. That would put average worker's annual salary at $52,000 a year.

So the "wage gap," per se, has been a lot smaller than you've heard. And this is no accident. If the transplants paid their employees far less than what the Big Three pay their unionized workers, the United Auto Workers would have a much better shot of organizing the transplants' factories. Those factories remain non-unionized and management very much wants to keep it that way.

But then what's the source of that $70 hourly figure? It didn't come out of thin air. Analysts came up with it by including the cost of all employer-provided benefits--namely, health insurance and pensions--and then dividing by the number of workers. The result, they found, was that benefits for Big Three cost about $42 per hour, per employee. Add that to the wages--again, $28 per hour--and you get the $70 figure. Voila.

Except ... notice something weird about this calculation? It's not as if each active worker is getting health benefits and pensions worth $42 per hour. That would come to nearly twice his or her wages. (Talk about gold-plated coverage!) Instead, each active worker is getting benefits equal only to a fraction of that--probably around $10 per hour, according to estimates from the International Motor Vehicle Program. The number only gets to $70 an hour if you include the cost of benefits for retirees--in other words, the cost of benefits for other people. One of the few people to grasp this was Portfolio.com's Felix Salmon. As he noted yesterday, the claim that workers are getting $70 an hour in compensation is just "not true."

Of course, the cost of benefits for those retirees--you may have heard people refer to them as "legacy costs"--do represent an extra cost burden that only the Big Three shoulder. And, yes, it makes it difficult for the Big Three to compete with foreign-owned automakers that don't have to pay the same costs. But don't forget why those costs are so high. While the transplants don't offer the same kind of benefits that the Big Three do, the main reason for their present cost advantage is that they just don't have many retirees.

The first foreign-owned plants didn't start up here until the 1980s; many of the existing ones came well after that. As of a year ago, Toyota's entire U.S. operation had less than 1,000 retirees. Compare that to a company like General Motors, which has been around for more than a century and which supports literally hundreds of thousands of former workers and spouses. As you might expect, many of these have the sorts of advanced medical problems you expect from people to develop in old age. And, it should go without saying, those conditions cost a ton of money to treat.

To be sure, we've known about these demographics for a while. Management and labor in Detroit should have figured out a solution it long ago. But while the Big Three were late in addressing this problem, they did address it eventually.

Notice how, in this article, I've constantly referred to 2007 figures? There's a good reason. In 2007, the Big Three signed a breakthrough contract with the United Auto Workers (UAW) designed, once and for all, to eliminate the compensation gap between domestic and foreign automakers in the U.S.

The agreement sought to do so, first, by creating a private trust for financing future retiree benefits--effectively removing that burden from the companies' books. The auto companies agreed to deposit start-up money in the fund; after that, however, it would be up to the unions to manage the money. And it was widely understood that, given the realities of investment returns and health care economics, over time retiree health benefits would likely become less generous.

In addition, management and labor agreed to change health benefits for all workers, active or retired, so that the coverage looked more like the policies most people have today, complete with co-payments and deductibles. The new UAW agreement also changed the salary structure, by creating a two-tiered wage system. Under this new arrangement, the salary scale for newly hired workers would be lower than the salary scale for existing workers.

One can debate the propriety and wisdom of these steps; two-tiered wage structures, in particular, raise various ethical concerns. But one thing is certain: It was a radical change that promised to make Detroit far more competitive. If carried out as planned, by 2010--the final year of this existing contract--total compensation for the average UAW worker would actually be less than total compensation for the average non-unionized worker at a transplant factory. The only problem is that it will be several years before these gains show up on the bottom line--years the industry probably won't have if it doesn't get financial assistance from the government.

Make no mistake: The argument over a proposed rescue package is complicated, in no small part because over the years both management and labor made some truly awful decisions while postponing the inevitable reckoning with economic reality. And even if the government does provide money, it's a tough call whether restructuring should proceed with or without a formal bankruptcy filing. Either way, yet more downsizing is inevitable.

But the next time you hear somebody say the unions have to make serious salary and benefit concessions, keep in mind that they already have--enough to keep the companies competitive, if only they can survive this crisis.

Jonathan Cohn is a senior editor at The New Republic.

My apologies to my readers for the lapse of writing on my behalf, I needed some time after the election to rest, work has been very satisfying also and I have been trying to have more free time with my family. Fear not I have a lot to say and a ton of ammunition on really bad shit happening against workers in today's America, I even have about 4 stories in the sandbox that need final editing to go forward and get published, but I need some time to focus and get the facts correct and intact.

More child labor in our backyard, more unscrupulous employers rejecting us in favor of undocumented workers with little or no rights and even a touch of good news, a story on more clothing made in the USA.

Update #1:
Michael Moore, Moore on the $73 Myth and the anti-union ties to it, just like I wrote and spoke about last Thursday at the NYC Central Labor Council meeting

Michael Moore on the arrogance of the Big 3
this is from CNN on Nov.19th.

It's more like $41 for the entire package
Another update on the myth from Media Matters (11/22/08), in a story entitled "Media figures falsely assert or suggest autoworkers make $70/hour without noting figure includes benefits paid to current retirees" (In part, entire article at link above):

In a November 18 post on his American Prospect blog criticizing Sorkin's reporting, economist Dean Baker wrote that the $70 figure Sorkin used is distorted by conflating "legacy" costs -- medical benefits and pensions paid to retirees -- with current labor costs:

The New York Times told readers that GM's autoworkers are paid $70 an hour (including health care and pension). This is not true. The base pay is about $28 an hour. If health care cost per worker average $12,000 per year, that adds in another $6 an hour. If the pension payment takes up 25 percent of base pay (an extremely high pension), that gets you another $7 an hour, bringing the total to $41 an hour. That's decent pay, but still a long way from $70 an hour.

How does the NYT get from $41 to $70? Well the trick is to add in GM's legacy costs, the pension and health care costs for retired workers. These legacy costs are a serious expense for GM, but this is not money being paid to current workers. The person on the line in 2008 is not benefiting from these legacy costs.

Rick Berman, the US Chamber Of Commerce and their agenda against the Employee Free Choice Act

I called this one last week, I spoke in front of my fellow New york City Central Labor delegates and noted that the $73 an hour myth was perpetrated by anti-union forces seeking to discredit unions. Here's the payoff, Rick Berman, the corporate lobbyist and spin doctoring lawyer, who's past efforts were defending animal torture by trying to make PETA look bad, defending cigarette companies, trying to lower the legal drinking age and higher the breath test levels for the alcohol companies and trying to defend the fish industry against claims of mercury levels that are dangerous. He is also the creator of The Center For Union Facts, a biased attack site against unions which is funded by McDonalds, Smithfield Pork and others who I cannot name due to court papers being locked.

One of Mr.Berman's front groups, the business-backed Employee Freedom Action Committee has been showing commercials which attack unions. Are we gonna let this corporate shill distort the facts? Here's the scoop from The Hill in a story by By Ian Swanson entitled "Business group blames unions for carmakers’ woes" (full story at link):
Unions are to blame for the Big Three automakers’ problems, according to a television ad meant to stoke public opposition to organized labor’s number one legislative priority.

“Steel, auto, airlines. What do these industries all have in common?” asks the ad sponsored by the business-backed Employee Freedom Action Committee, which was active in several hotly contested Senate races this year. “Hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and union bosses that helped put them out of business.”

The advertisement urges people to fight the Employee Free Choice Act, which unions hope will be taken up quickly by the Democratic Congress and President-elect Barack Obama. The bill would eliminate the requirement for workers to cast secret ballots in deciding whether to organize, making it easier to form unions.

Business groups are paying for the ad to run on CNN and the Fox cable news network Monday through Wednesday, according to the group’s spokesman, Tim Miller. He said the ad buy was “fairly substantial” but declined to specify a figure. A similar ad ran in Mississippi and New Hampshire in conjunction with Senate races in those states, where business groups worked to tie Democrats to the Employee Free Choice Act.

“If Americans like what the unions did to Detroit’s economy, they’ll love what the unions will do to the country,” said Richard Berman, the business group’s executive director.

“The unions have played a significant role in nearly bankrupting the Big Three automakers with untenable inefficiencies which have put tens of thousands out of work,” Bergman said. He said the union bill, known as “card-check legislation,” would do the same to millions of jobs across the country.

Alan Reuther, legislative director for the United Autoworkers, blasted the ad and Bergman’s comments. He said the auto industry’s problems rest on a series of bad trade and healthcare policies, and that the credit crunch is to blame for the current crisis.

Reuther also said major concessions offered by unions in their 2005 and 2007 contracts will result in the elimination of the cost-gap between union and non-union plants. “We feel that we’ve stepped up to the plate,” he said.

He also pointed to a 2007 report by two auto industry consulting firms that found nine of the 10 most-efficient auto plants in North America have workers organized by the United Autoworkers or the Canadian Autoworkers.
It's called Propaganda
"Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths."

You know who said that? Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany, he got the people to focus and hate other people, this cycle is repeated over and over throughout history, Goebbels also quips
“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”
We have seen this recently in the term "terrorism", which was used against President-Elect Barack Obama by Sarah Palin in a failing campaign.

Now these groups against workers want to use the manifestation of "greedy" union workers, those guys and gals who are making a whopping "$73 an hour", it's all propaganda and many of us are eating it up.

Even Pat Buchanan doesn't blame the autoworkers

from "PJB: Who Killed Detroit?" (11/21/08):
Who killed the U.S. auto industry?

To hear the media tell it, arrogant corporate chiefs failed to foresee the demand for small, fuel-efficient cars and made gas-guzzling road-hog SUVs no one wanted, while the clever, far-sighted Japanese, Germans and Koreans prepared and built for the future.

I dissent. What killed Detroit was Washington, the government of the United States, politicians, journalists and muckrakers who have long harbored a deep animus against the manufacturing class that ran the smokestack industries that won World War II.
He continues (full article in link above):
It then clamped fuel efficiency standards on the entire U.S. car fleet.

Next, Washington imposed a corporate tax rate of 35 percent, raking off another 15 percent of autoworkers’ wages in Social Security payroll taxes

State governments imposed income and sales taxes, and local governments property taxes to subsidize services and schools.

The United Auto Workers struck repeatedly to win the highest wages and most generous benefits on earth — vacations, holidays, work breaks, health care, pensions — for workers and their families, and retirees.

Now there is nothing wrong with making U.S. plants the cleanest and safest on earth or having U.S. autoworkers the highest-paid wage earners.

That is the dream, what we all wanted for America.

And under the 14th Amendment, GM, Ford and Chrysler had to obey the same U.S. laws and pay at the same tax rates. Outside the United States, however, there was and is no equality of standards or taxes.

Thus when America was thrust into the Global Economy, GM and Ford had to compete with cars made overseas in factories in postwar Japan and Germany, then Korea, where health and safety standards were much lower, wages were a fraction of those paid U.S. workers, and taxes were and are often forgiven on exports to the United States.

All three nations built “export-driven” economies.

The Beetle and early Japanese imports were made in factories where wages were far beneath U.S. wages and working conditions would have gotten U.S. auto executives sent to prison.

The competition was manifestly unfair, like forcing Secretariat to carry 100 pounds in his saddlebags in the Derby.

Japan, China and South Korea do not believe in free trade as we understand it. To us, they are our “trading partners.” To them, the relationship is not like that of Evans & Novak or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It is not even like the Redskins and Cowboys. For the Cowboys only want to defeat the Redskins. They do not want to put their franchise out of business and end the competition — as the Japanese did to our TV industry by dumping Sonys here until they killed it.

While we think the Global Economy is about what is best for the consumer, they think about what is best for the nation.

Like Alexander Hamilton, they understand that manufacturing is the key to national power. And they manipulate currencies, grant tax rebates to their exporters and thieve our technology to win. Last year, as trade expert Bill Hawkins writes, South Korea exported 700,000 cars to us, while importing 5,000 cars from us.

That’s Asia’s idea of free trade.

How has this Global Economy profited or prospered America?

In the 1950s, we made all our own toys, clothes, shoes, bikes, furniture, motorcycles, cars, cameras, telephones, TVs, etc. You name it. We made it.

Are we better off now that these things are made by foreigners? Are we better off now that we have ceased to be self-sufficient? Are we better off now that the real wages of our workers and median income of our families no longer grow as they once did? Are we better off now that manufacturing, for the first time in U.S. history, employs fewer workers than government?

We no longer build commercial ships. We have but one airplane company, and it outsources. China produces our computers. And if GM goes Chapter 11, America will soon be out of the auto business.

Our politicians and pundits may not understand what is going on. Historians will have no problem explaining the decline and fall of the Americans.
Mr. Buchanan points towards over-government and unfair trade. I was happy to see his views, I'm so sick and tired of reading the propaganda that is today's mainstream, the likes of the US Chamber and Rick Berman who claim more unfair trade is a good thing for America make me sick. One commenter on the above article, Kurt2208, states:
Free trade agreements work fine with countries like Germany, England, japan and Canada which have close to the same standard of living. They do not work with third world and communist countries. As the traiter Dubya leaves office he is pushing another trade agreement with Columbia. I believe he should be tried and convicted of treason and shot!!!
Hope that last line doesn't get him in trouble. They might even call him a 'terrorist". We toss $700,000,000 billion on the banking industry that got us in this mess and when it comes to unionized workers the talking points start. Do you know what the US Chamber of Commerce and Mr.Berman had to say about the banking bailout? Nothing.

Now they blame the workers. Fucking amazing.

GM sent me an E-Mail on the crisis
I own a Chevy Impala
Despite what you may be hearing, we are not asking Congress for a bailout but rather a loan that will be repaid.

The U.S. economy is at a crossroads due to the worldwide credit crisis, and all Americans are feeling the effects of the worst economic downturn in 75 years. Despite our successful efforts to restructure, reduce costs and enhance liquidity, U.S. auto sales rely on access to credit, which is all but frozen through traditional channels.

The consequences of the domestic auto industry collapsing would far exceed the $25 billion loan needed to bridge the current crisis. According to a recent study by the Center for Automotive Research:

• One in 10 American jobs depends on U.S. automakers
• Nearly 3 million jobs are at immediate risk
• U.S. personal income could be reduced by $150 billion
• The tax revenue lost over 3 years would be more than $156 billion

Discussions are now underway in Washington, D.C., concerning loans to support U.S. carmakers. I am asking for your support in this vital effort by contacting your state representatives.

Please take a few minutes to go to www.gmfactsandfiction.com, where we have made it easy for you to contact your U.S. senators and representatives. Just click on the "I'm a Concerned American" link under the "Mobilize Now" section, and enter your name and ZIP code to send a personalized e-mail stating your support for the U.S. automotive industry.
Update #2♦:
Spotted a new blog by the autoworkers who are trapped in this mess, it's called Joe The Autoworker, go stop bye and show some support for our fellow American workers

The Rat Race



Building and Construction Trades statement on President-Elect Obama's actions on climate change

Statement of BCTD President Mark H. Ayers in Response to President-Elect Obama's Stated Intent to Act Quickly on Climate Change

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by BCTD President Mark H. Ayers:

By stating his intent to act quickly on the issue of climate change, President-Elect Obama is already delivering the kind of leadership he promised on one of the world's most pressing issues. The skilled craft workers who comprise America's Building Trades Unions will be essential to not only developing and deploying the clean energy technology of the future, but also to build the expanded energy grid infrastructure that will be necessary to distribute this power. We know that with willing partners in government, we can solve the climate crisis and create the good jobs that will be essential to ensuring a robust economic recovery.

SOURCE Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO



Quote of the day

Gotta love it, from the Reddit threads on the story "I'm an American Worker and I'm Tired of Getting Screwed"
I don't want the government's help spending my money, cause they sure as hell didn't help me earn it.
Right. The government didn't provide a safe environment for you to work in. The government didn't facilitate the interstate trade that makes your business flourish. The government didn't build the roads that serve the business that you work for. The government didn't establish the minimum wage laws that keep you from working for peanuts.

I could continue, but the point is clear. You don't know what the hell you're talking about.

I'm an American Worker and I'm Tired of Getting Screwed

The American worker doesn't want a handout. Never did. We do want a hand up from our government. - Rick Kepler, American worker

Like I said in the last article, "Autoworkers and the $73 and hour myth," I have been busy and a lot of stories have sat in the sandbox, fortunately enough for all of us AlterNet has received the same e-mail that I have, and run the story before I could. For that I'm really glad because it got the discussion running over there, and it needs to be spoken about.

So from our new friend, and fellow pissed off American worker, Rick Kepler, here's what I got in the inbox. (AlterNet provides the bio, please go there to discuss this)
I'm an American Worker and I'm Tired of Getting Screwed
I am an American worker, and you are damn right I want the wealth to be shared and spread. I am talking about the wealth my hard work helped to create, but was taken from me by George Bush's base, the very rich, or as I know them, my corporate bosses. For the past eight years I have watched W.'s and McCain's (Country Club First) base grab the largest share of our country's wealth. Where did they take it from? They took it from my family's pocketbook, and my co-workers' families' pocketbooks. They stole the wealth that I was trying to build for me and my family when they stripped my pension plan from me and told me to invest in a 401k. Then they stole most of that 401k and other workers' 401k savings with this economic meltdown. This was a massive transfer of wealth from the workers' pockets into the already stuffed pockets of the rich. My retirement savings and my coworkers' savings all across America have been looted by the corporate bosses, who just got bailed out while we got left out. Again!

The American worker, whether black, brown, white, red, yellow, or rainbow color, has been fleeced over these past eight years. We are the ones who go to work every day. We don't own our places of work, nor do we help manage them. We just go in and do the job. And we must be doing one hell of a good job because we are told that we are the most productive workers in the world. We are working longer and harder, but our paychecks keep shrinking! Where are those productivity gains going then? Not into our pockets. Our standard of living has been going down these past eight years ($2,000 less in family income since W. took office) This is another damn transfer of wealth into the hands of the extremely rich.

Their greed is insatiable. Take our family's health care. They do. They keep passing on their increased costs to us, or they just drop coverage for the worker completely. That means we either join the 50,000,000 who have no health care, or we end up having to buy it privately, thus eating up a huge portion of our family's income. If we manage to hang onto our health care plans, our deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pay contributions keep skyrocketing. This amounts to another massive transfer of wealth from our pockets into the overflowing pockets of our corporate bosses.

The list goes on for the American worker. We saw overtime pay stripped from millions of workers during this past nightmare eight years. The worker was still working overtime, but due to a new "boss law" passed by W. and McCain's party that assists these thieves, the workers didn't receive overtime pay because they were declared exempt. They also weakened the workers' health and safety standards or just plain didn't enforce the laws already on the books. As a result, the American worker pays the price in lost days due to accidents from unsafe conditions or from lingering, expensive illnesses suffered from unhealthy working conditions. This too is a massive transfer of wealth from our pockets into our corporate bosses' bulging pockets.

To further sweeten their own pots, they took full-time jobs and converted them to part-time with no benefits, or they just made their employees line up and reapply for their exact same jobs at half the pay. Are we beginning to see what a true transfer of wealth looks like? So, do I want to see a spreading of the wealth? You bet your sweet hind-end I do. But all I ask of Obama is to give me and my co-workers the ability to retrieve some of the wealth that has been stolen from us.

Strengthen the laws that give workers the right to organize and bargain for a contract with our bosses. The current laws on the books have been torn to shreds by W. and McCain on behalf of their base. This is just part of their attack on American workers. Under globalization, the bosses seek a much cheaper workforce, which always means non-union, which means "can't fight back." That is why they have gutted the laws that protect workers. The laws that once gave us a level playing field with our bosses have been rendered useless, including our legal right to strike. That law said I had a right to strike, and could.

The American worker doesn't want a handout. Never did. We do want a hand up from our government. We still believe and have hope that this is a government of, by and for the people. We do want to know that our government will finally stand with us against this onslaught, this Robin Hood in reverse, being conducted by the bosses against the workers. The bosses know that W. and McCain have been on their side for the past eight years - and so do we workers. We just want our government to now stand on our side as we stand up against this corporate attempt to create third world working conditions right here in America. Restore our right to fight for a better living for ourselves and our families, and let the power of pissed-off workers, united in struggle, spread corporate America's stolen wealth back into the pockets of those whose pockets got picked these last eight years - the American worker.

Rick Kepler has driven beer trucks in New Orleans, Louisiana; Colorado Springs, Colorado and Oakland, California. He has tended bar in San Francisco, and worked on the railroad and loading docks in Ohio. Currently he's a Teamsters organizer who speaks to thousands of unorganized workers every year.
I asked Rick if he would like to write on the site and he responded "Not a regular writer but if Iget inspired again, would love to send it to you," I hope he continues to get inspired, we need more Rick's out there, we need to talk about work and whats going on in this country. I was especially happy because I got the e-mail right after I was ranting about the misconception that "unions force jobs overseas", I hope we can inspire each other and get more people talking. I am enjoying the conversation on Reddit, come join in. We might not all agree, but it is a really good community to learn from our fellow internet users frm all walks of life.

Communication is power.


Good Article About Free Choice Act

Earlier this week I posted a tirade that the local Associated General Contractors Association posted about the Free Choice Act.

I found an article that goes into why they are so scared. It is because labor, with 250,000 volunteers, did the hard pick and shovel work of turning out the vote all around the country. This includes in targeted congressional seats. This is a big change from focusing on the base. Having these grassroots activists in competitive districts can help ensure that the candidates that campaign on labor's issues follow through at the policy level.

This is how the San Francisco Chronicle sums it up:

Under the proposed law, if a majority of employees at a workplace approve by signing authorization cards, a union will represent the group.

An Obama win meant everything to labor, because Sen. John McCain is an ardent opponent of the legislation, and labor's ground game was impressive: Unions spent about $450 million in the election, and the effort was particularly helpful in battleground states. In all, union members connected with 13 million voters in 24 states, in the process selling the Employee Free Choice Act along with the Democratic ticket.

However, the Democrats did not get a filibuster proof majority. Democrats currently have 58 Senators. In order to get the bill through the Senate, the bill's proponents must be able to stop a filibuster and that requires 60 votes.

Here is a link to the AFL-CIOs Free Employment Act Page.

Roskam Inquires About CEO Pay

By Bendygirl
Crossposted from Bendygirl

I've been watching the hearings, hearing the testimony and pulling for the bridge loan. Then there was this tidbit, reported by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post:

So it was hard to feel sorry for the executives when Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), late in the hearing, reminded them again that "the symbolism of the private jet is difficult," and mischievously asked the witnesses whether, in another symbolic gesture, they would be willing to work for $1 a year, as Nardelli has offered to do.

"I don't have a position on that today," demurred Wagoner (2007 total compensation: $15.7 million).

"I understand the intent, but I think where we are is okay," said Mulally ($21.7 million).

"I'm asking about you," Roskam pressed.

"I think I'm okay where I am," Mulally said.

And don't even think about asking him to fly commercial.

CEO pay is a hot issue. AIG is goind out of its way to pay out for their "top managers" and then you have the big 3. The emphasis has been on the income of workers represented by the UAW (think Mitchells smarmy comments from Sunday's Meet the Press) and then there's reality:

Chrysler $29-$33:
More contract info by company here: http://uaw.org/contracts/index.php


Alan Mulally
Chief Executive Officer
Ford Motor Company
$22,750,385 in total 2007 compensation

G. Richard Wagoner
Chief Executive Officer
General Motors Corporation
$19,761,874 in total 2007 compensation.

Assuming a 40 hour work week, that's $9,615 an hour for Wagoner - 150% of the average CEO salary of $6,153/hour.

Chrysler isn't traded, but here's this article from the weekend about how Chrysler is paying about $30 million in retention bonuses to keep top executives while cutting thousands of jobs.

How much does the average AIG worker make? What's the median? How about the other "bailed out" organizations? Ones where they sent their IT operations off shore to India and elsewhere and canned all of their IT people like IndyMac (they weren't bailed out, just belly up)?

It's fine to get these numbers, but the issue isn't how much the average autoworker makes or the average Toyota or Honda worker, the message should be that these are American Workers who WORK. They produce American jobs, they contribute to their communities, they raise their kids, they vote and yeah, their represented by a union but they don't deserve anything less than what Wall Street has already gotten. That includes the Executives because not to do it means a destruction of local economies, not just detroit, we're talking Parma Ohio, Lordstown, St. Louis and this doesn't include the rolling effect on suppliers.

But let's take another look at AIG, again, from the Washington Post:

American International Group plans to pay out $503 million in deferred compensation to some of its top employees, saying it must tap the funds to keep valuable workers from exiting the troubled insurance giant.

News of the payments to top AIG talent comes as the federal government has just put more money into saving the company from bankruptcy, beefing up the total public commitment to $152 billion. Meanwhile, members of Congress are questioning the company's expenditures -- including lavish business trips to resorts -- during a time when taxpayers are on the hook for the bailout.

Companies over the past 20 years have increasingly use deferred compensation as a way to attract and retain highly paid executives. Under these plans, top talent can postpone taking some of their large annual salaries for years -- often until a set date -- and can put off being taxed on it. Some wait to take the funds until they retire, when they would presumably be in a lower tax bracket.

Few executives seem to understand the correlation we common Americans make with failure and excess. I for one see their salaries and wonder, WTF?

But after watching what's been going on with AIG (and the scandalous behavior AFTER their bailout-not a loan), it's just incredible that these executives from the big three flew to DC on private corporate jets. But for Mullaly and Wagoner to say no to taking a massive ONE YEAR pay cut as Nardelli has said he'd do, well, damn, I wouldn't have given them a bridge loan either, because they aren't a good risk. Of course, that's me speaking as a former home loan underwriter. If I had a homebuyer with this kind of credit, this kind of debt load while arriving in a vehicle well beyond what should be their means, I'd have to really think long and hard about those combined factors and here and now, it'd be one tough call.

What's saddest of all, it seems only Nardelli really gets what's at stake in this financial melt down, survival.


AGC of San Diego Predicts Some Good Things from the Obama Administration!

I have some shocking news. The AGC of San Diego has finally printed some good news. Good news to me that is.

The AGC here in town usually prints anti-union venom every Monday with their Monday Morning Quarterback. It does have some good information sometimes about local and national construction industry news, but often it just includes anti organized lab rants and raves by the senior staff.

In their post election analysis they were certain that the Obama Administration was going to push for two major labor policy changes. The first is removing the ban on Project Labor Agreements on Federally funded projects. The second is implementing the Free Choice Act. This update to the National Labor Relations Act, allows for a workplace to be organized if majority of workers to say that they want to be a part of a union.

Below you can find the article. Please remember the author's tone is not labor friendly and they are getting ready to fight. But it is good to see the local AGC on thier heels.

President Elect Obama is going to face some unprecedented challenges as he takes office this January. Our economy is in terrible shape, and we are fighting two wars on two different fronts. I am sure all AGC members understand the difficult task the new administration will be facing and how important it is that the administration stay focused on the critical problems our country is now experiencing.

However, we also see some troubling priorities that appear to be on our President Elect’s “front burner.” These priorities involve sweeping changes to our labor laws that will result in the most comprehensive changes in labor relations since the 1940’s. With the Democratic Party holding solid majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the US Senate, we see the following actions moving soon after the inauguration:

To set the tone….here is a quote from President Elect Obama’s April 2008 speech to the delegates attending the Building Trades National Convention….

“They (Bush Administration) don’t believe in unions. They don’t believe in organizing. They’ve packed the National Labor Relations Board with their corporate buddies. Well, we’ve got news for them….it’s not the Department of Management, it’s the Department of Labor, and we’re going to take it back.”

So what can we expect?

The Employee Free Choice Act

As a Senator, President-Elect Obama was a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act. This law makes union organizing of a workforce easy……I think too easy. It simply requires the union to obtain 50% +1 of your employees in a particular craft to sign cards. There is no election. When this happens your firm has a union. Yes, you do get to negotiate for an agreement after the cards are signed, but if you are unable to reach an agreement with the union within a specified time period, an arbitrator will be called in and the terms of the agreement will be subject to binding arbitration. This initial agreement will be a two-year agreement.

Under the law that has existed since the 1940’s, unions could get cards signed by 30% of your work force and then call for an election which is overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). If 50% +1 of the unit employees voted for the union you are required to enter into negotiations. If you are unable to reach an agreement, the union has the right to strike/picket but does not necessarily end up with an agreement.

The Employee Free Choice Act takes away the secret ballot election that is currently a mandatory part of the election process. In addition, it contains a powerful new tool that will create a very difficult atmosphere for employers facing a union organizing campaign. The union, probably through individual employees, will be able to file a civil suit against an employer for violating an employee’s right to organize during a campaign. The fine is up to $20,000 per violation. I would assume that it will be tempting for the unions to convince the employees to file these suits during the card signing process even if the allegation is a “stretch.”

Unions like nothing better than to have a big fine hanging over an employer’s head during these campaigns. This is not possible under current law. In addition, if an employee is fired during a campaign, and it is found that the firing was a result of the employee’s involvement in the campaign, the employer will owe the employee the employees lost wages times three.

Now, it is a given that the Employee Free Choice Act is going to pass and be signed by the President during 2009. Obviously, AGC and all other major construction and non-construction interests are gearing up for the legislative battle that will surround this Act when it is introduced. Its exact form is not known, but assuming that it passes in a form similar to the above, please understand that AGC staff and legal experts are working on innovative ways to assist contractors.

And….if you are a union contractor do not believe that you will not be affected by the Employee Free Choice Act. It is no secret that there is a great deal of union to union friction in the Building Trades right now. I predict that there will be efforts to amend the Employee Free Choice Act to position some of the larger Building Trades unions to organize workers in the smaller building trades unions. Certain building Trades Unions are committed to the concept of reducing the number of building trades unions, and this is a real opportunity to structure easy takeovers of smaller unions!!!!

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs)

In a September 16th, 2008 letter to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Elect Obama wrote….

“We need to make sure the government uses project labor agreements to encourage completion of projects on time and on budget. One of the first things George Bush did when he got into office was to ban PLAs. One of the first things I’ll do as President is repeal that ban.”

This returns us to the way it was before President Bush took office. How extensively the PLA will be used in this “Federal” context remains to be seen, but….beware.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

The NLRB in Washington hears and attempts to decide all major labor cases. There are five Board members appointed by the President. Normally three of the appointees will be from the President’s party, and will view labor relations as the President does, and two appointees will be from the other party. During the Bush years, the President did not have a full five-member Board for very long. This caused some of the most controversial cases, including the “Ban the Banner” case, not to be decided since these cases by tradition will only be addressed when five members are serving.

We expect all five to be appointed quickly in the Obama Administration!!!

I have been involved in construction industry labor relations for the past 30 years. There is no question that the next few years will be a real challenge. If the Employee Free Choice Act passes in any form similar to what we have seen in past versions of the legislation, our industry and all other industries face some real difficulties. However, please remember actually implementing something this unfair will be difficult.

Stay tuned.


Nov.17th. come join in a discussion on the retirement crisis

Cross-posted at DailyKOS, Union Review and Democratic Underground

The New York METRO Communicators is bringing us a discussion on the pension crisis this Monday night.

The End Of Retirement With Dignity
What workers need to know

A discussion with:


Teresa Ghilarducci, author of When I'm Sixty-Four: The Plot against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them. After having taught economics for twenty-five years at the University of Notre Dame, now holds the Irene and Bernard L. Schwartz Chair of Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research. She is also the 2006-2008 Wurf Fellow at Harvard Law School. Her other books include Labor's Capital: The Economics and Politics of Private Pensions.

There will also be commentary by:

Stuart Leibowitz, Chair of Alliance for Retired Americans, AFL-CIO; President of the New York City Chapter of Retirees Association of District Council 37

Mel Aaronson, Treasurer of the United Federation of Teachers; UFT representative to Teachers' Retirement System board

Refreshments, Light Meal and a book signing by Teresa Ghilarducci to follow

Monday, November 17, 6:15-8:00pm
United Federation of Teachers
52 Broadway in Manhattan
Classroom F, 19th Floor

<--Click for Printable leaflet on left

Brought to you by the METRO Labor Communications Council, the New york branch of the International Labor Communications Association (ILCA)


Our Veterans, welcome home

I just spotted Paul Rieckhoff, the Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, on CNN. The IAVA is an amazing resource for our recent veterans and has been pivotal in the fight for better services and future employment for our recent vets. Many times a story on this site is directly from information at the IAVA site. In watching CNN Paul said a really important thing, while it isn't a direct quote its roughly translated like this "It doesn't matter your view on the war, or who you voted for last week, it's time to rally around our veterans"

Checking out the IAVA site, I noticed the new partnership that the IAVA has with the Ad Council, the message "you are not alone"

From the Ad Council post at YouTube:
The mental health consequences of combat threaten to overwhelm a new generation of veterans. There are 1.7 million men and women who have served, or are currently serving, in Iraq and Afghanistan. ...
The mental health consequences of combat threaten to overwhelm a new generation of veterans. There are 1.7 million men and women who have served, or are currently serving, in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 1 in 5 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are suffering from a mental health injury, ranging from depression to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as a result of their service.

Less than 1% of the U.S. population has served or is serving in the current conflicts and when they return home, their sense of isolation is often magnified. This campaigns long-term objective is to decrease the depression and PTSD-related outcomes among returning Vets by taking a two-pronged approach encouraging Veterans to join other Veterans at the first ever online community exclusive to OIF/OEF Vets, and separately, to empower their Friends and Family by helping them learn how to start constructive conversations. The challenges facing returning vets are myriad but with support from other Veterans, family, and friends the issues can be effectively dealt with.

The AFL-CIO blog has also posted on our veterans
Honoring U.S. Vets by Ensuring They Get Jobs

It’s wonderful that we, as a nation, set aside a day to honor America’s brave men and women who have risked their lives for our country throughout the centuries and continue to do so today. But our troops now stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere need more than just Veterans Day set aside for them in November. When they come back from combat, they need jobs to support themselves and their families in careers that put to work the skills they learned in the service.

Helmets to Hardhats, founded in 2003 by the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) unions, together with employers with union workforces, has since helped more than 5,000 military vets find new careers as electricians, plumbers, roofers and other skilled trades, says Darrel Roberts, executive director of Helmets to Hardhats.

The Helmets to Hardhats program is unique in that it was created with the singular intent of helping National Guard, Reservists and transitioning active-duty military members connect to career opportunities in the construction industry, one of the last bastions of solid middle-class wages for working Americans. Helmets to Hardhats recognizes this and is committed to placing veterans in careers that provide family-supporting wages, good benefits and a decent chance at realizing the American dream.

Helmets to Hardhats helps match vets and soon-to-be vets with apprenticeship and training programs offered by the BCTD’s 15 unions. Veterans can use their GI Bill education benefits as they complete the certified apprentice programs.

Recently, the group launched the Wounded Warriors program to help veterans with service-related disabilities find meaningful career paths in the construction industry. Among the information and tools provided, the Wounded Warrior program lists career opportunities that employers have specifically identified as potentially suitable for veterans with disabilities.

Navy veteran Mark Young, now a member of the Insulators (AWIU) Local 6, took part in the Helmets to Hardhats apprenticeship program, and says it

seemed like the perfect way for me to get into the building and construction trades while using my military experience as an added bonus.

Military veterans make ideal candidates for apprenticeship in the construction industry, according to Helmets to Hardhats, because it makes economic sense to leverage military training in apprenticeship programs for former members of our armed forces whose service to our country should provide them with strong job opportunities.

The program is run by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment, and Veterans Employment, a labor management committee created by the BCTD and employer associations. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. In April, President-elect Barack Obama told the BCTD legislative conference:

I applaud your partnership with Helmets to Hardhats. I believe we have a responsibility to serve our soldiers as well as they’re serving us, and by helping make sure they have the skills to work in the trades when they come home, you’re living up to that responsibility. As president, I’ll support funding for this critical program.

Former Marine Corps radio operator Patrick Morgan, who served two tours in Iraq, is now an apprentice with Iron Workers Local 3 in Pittsburgh. He heard about the program before he was discharged and told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

It sounded like something I really wanted to do….I’m learning a lot and they’ve been nothing but good to me.

For more information, visit the Helmets to Hardhats website here. For veterans with service-connected disabilities, visit the program’s Wounded Warrior section.

A huge shout out to retired UA Local 638 Steamfitter Gene Jackson for all he does in spreading awareness about the Wounded Warriors Project, and for making sure these men and women coming back are not forgotten.


Dan Rather explaind the corporate media ownership

A video of Dan Rather speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, brought to you by the folks over LinkTV:
Former CBS Anchorman, Dan Rather, speaks to an audience about how corporate broadcasters have compromised journalistic integrity by satisfying stockholders, instead of public interests.
More at LinkTV

Video Link

Just wrong on so many levels



Construction of NY's greenest building on National Gegraphic's Man Made

1 Bryant Park, The Bank Of America tower

The most amazing job I have had the honor of working on is on the tube right now, I see a lot of friends. This is an amazing green structure, I'm glad I got the call right after it began(thanks Greg). My girl is gonna Tivo it for me too. I hope it's not the last great job I'm on.

The show's called Man Made and it's on the National Geographic Channel

It's airing Friday at 12:00AM (that's Fri. morning if you're like me and need to think about it)
Saturday Nov. 8th at 4:00PM
and next Thursday Nov.13th. at 5:00PM

From the NGC Man Made site
Image: Building at One Bryant Park in NYC

In the city that never sleeps, one architects dream for a greener future has been realized. The One Bryant Park building in New York City is not only going to be the second tallest building in the city, but is set to be one of the most energy efficient skyscrapers in the world. Richard Cook and his team have taken on an exhilarating challenge to transform the modern approach to green technology. Both groups envisioned breaking new ground in the arena of environmentally conscious skyscrapers, a significant step forward in a city known for massive energy consumption. Join National Geographic as we examine the trials and triumphs of erecting a skyscraper whose blueprints just might map out a new design for our planets future.

So set your Tivo's and DVR's people and get a small look into the craftsmanship of some of the worlds finest construction workers.

Day One



A new day and miles to go before I sleep

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Excerpt, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

To make the world a better place, this is my promise

It was a hard fought battle, and never in my life would I feel a deep sense of hope as I, along with my beautiful girl and the kids, heard the words on ABC that the United States of America has a new president elect. One who has run a campaign of hope.

We did it! This is just the beginning. We have miles to go before we sleep, but for today I will rest and plan along with my fellow unionist and working people, plan how we will further take back our country for our class, the middle class.

Now is the first day of the rest of our lives, keep reading and contributing on the net. The majority of our work is ahead of us, but I will not fade away, my constituents will not either.

As my dear friend Richie Negri explained what he read from Jimmy Hoffa's e-mail he received last night after the winner was declared:
"This is a great day -- a historic day, now let's get this country unified and working for regular, middle-class Americans again. We elected a great man, but we can't stop here because our real work starts now."
The NYC Central Labor Council adds:
There is much work to do with all of our nation's current challenges, but now we have the tools and renewed optimism to get it done.
My buddy Kirsten mentions that the "Right To Work" ballot initiative, which would have destroyed the labor movement in Colorado was defeated yesterday.

Steve from Omaha has sent a job application to President Elect Obama, for the soon to be vacated Secretary of Labor position, which is currently held by Elaine Chao, I certainly endorse Steve, talk about a polar opposite to the Bush labor ideals, here's what Steve has to say to our next President:
Dear Senator Obama,

For the last several years American workers have suffered under the current administrations polices and appointees. I would like to apply for a job that is first and foremost for fairness of the American worker. I am asking to be your Secretary of Labor. I am much more qualified than Elaine Chao ever could be.

Twice in my life I have been fired illegally. Twice a union has won my rights through legal action. I know what it means to be the head of a family without a job during bad times. I know bankruptcy as a result of these actions too. I have also had two on the job accidents that resulted in two different partial impairments.

I have some unique qualifications that will provide for fairness to workers and employers on a case by case basis. Since you don't know much about me, just ask my 100,000 plus friends at the Democratic Underground for their opinion. They have been reading my labor opinions for over four years.


Steven L Dawes
Shop Steward AFSCME Local 251.
This has been a great day, but this is just the beginning.

I leave you with a quick excerpt of a comment back to someone who attacked my ideals over at NewsVine:
...You tell me, why is it happening? Why does every so-called first world country in the entire globe being invaded by illegal workers? Is it the Democrats? Is it the Republicans? Could it be unfair Free Trade agreements? Is it the people who refuse to hold their leaders accountable and believe the lies that "there is nothing we can do about it?"
Ending the corporate love affair with the slave class is tops on my agenda.

No child in my country 13 years old should work on a kill floor. No 13 year old should wind up in critical condition and see his father die while they worked on a construction site in my America. The profiteers of human misery should be held accountable, their enablers should be held accountable.

We cannot allow anyone in our America to work without rights, a citizen cannot compete. A citizen should not have to foot the bill because employers choose to fail in their legal responsibilities.

We must stop the influx and we must find a humane way to deal with those who are already here. No one benefits from the misery that has been created except the unscrupulous employers. This must end. The slavery and labor abuse that many of our ancestors fought and died fighting against must stop again.

They know that united we stand so they decided to bring us more division, they encourage us to fight worker against worker, they have had a sweet deal in the last 15 or so years, all workers here in our United States are suffering because of this. The powers that be do not want us to pull those under us up to our level, they want us to slip down to theirs. Big business would be perfectly happy if we all bargained our way to the bottom, while the few at the top generate all the wealth and the majority of us get less and less for our labor.

I blame Free Trade for the influx, more on that in another story...need some sleep, just for tonight, maybe a few days off the web would do me justice. I'm sure my girl would agree.

I just want to thank all the great labor writers, communicators, organizers and activists, who believe that we can change the world. Those who believe that all that is good will only happen if we have a strong and vibrant worker movement. Their dedication, their core belief that if we are strong, we can fight for a better world and we can do it together, but mostly above all else, I would like to thank my fellow workers, who come and read our sites and choose to be informed of whats going on. Those of you who know that that "there's nothing we can do about it," is a lie which is repeated by those who would chose to keep us living poor, spending more and working till we die.

We must step it up in '09.

We have miles to go before we sleep.


UMWA responds to Obama coal bankruptcy statement

The United Mine Workers Association has responded and their website is down due to overload of bandwidth, with a little help of Google cache here's the text:

McCain campaign’s last minute distortion of Obama’s coal record an act of desperation

November 3, 2008
For immediate release?:

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, have once again demonstrated that they are willing to say anything and do anything to win this election. Their latest twisting of the truth is about coal and some comments Sen. Obama made last January about the future use of coal in America.

“Here is what the McCain campaign left out of Sen. Obama’s actual words: ‘But this notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is, is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal. And China is building a coal-powered plant once a week. So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon. And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it.’

“Sen. Obama has been consistent with that message not just in the coalfields, but everywhere else he goes as well. Despite what the McCain campaign and some far right-wing blogs would have Americans believe, Sen. Obama has been and remains a tremendous supporter of coal and the future of coal.

“I noted that Sen. McCain even went so far yesterday as to say he has always been a supporter of coal. I wonder, then, how he can justify his statement at a Senate hearing in 2000 that, ‘In a perfect world we would like to transition away from coal entirely,’ and his leading role in sponsoring legislation in 2003 that would have wiped out 78 percent of all coal production in America?

“Fortunately, UMWA members, their families and their friends and neighbors in the coalfields know all too well what is going on here. They’re not going to fall for it, and we urge others throughout America who care about coal to review what the candidates’ records on coal actually are. We are confident that once they do, and once they see the many other benefits to working families of voting for Sen. Obama, they will make the right choice for themselves and their families