We are not as stupid as you think: almost 70,000 vote that Unions are needed today

92% of the voters at the Parade Magazine poll agree that unions are needed today, and you can still vote

Cross-posted at DailyKOS

Here's a pic

You can still vote

Original story with the outrageous assertions by the US Chamber Of Commerce, the BIG BUSINESS LOBBY, that the American worker is better off today, can be found at:

Does America still need unions? Go vote at parade magazines poll


The American worker finally has a real Labor Secretary

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that in the past eight years, the voices of working families “haven’t been heard enough” and the voices of corporations and the powerful have been far too loud at the Labor Department.

Who is Hilda Solis (pre-confirmation video)?

This article over at the AFL-CIO Now blog sums it up perfectly
Senate Confirms Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary
by Mike Hall

Hilda Solis is the new secretary of labor. After Republicans backed away from an expected filibuster and agreed to stop their weeks of delaying tactics, the Senate this afternoon approved Solis’s nomination by an 80-17 vote.

Says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:

The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis is a huge victory: Finally, Americans will have a secretary of labor who represents working people, not wealthy CEO’s. It is also a historic moment as Rep. Solis becomes the first Hispanic secretary of labor.

The delay of Rep. Solis’s nomination for partisan and ideological reasons was overcome by the grassroots support of millions of Americans who are struggling and desperately need a secretary of labor who will be their voice.

In today’s vote, 56 Democrats and 24 Republicans voted for confirmation. All 17 votes against were cast by Republicans. Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) did not vote.

Solis, a Democratic member of the U.S. House from California, was announced in December as President Obama’s choice to lead the Department of Labor, and her confirmation hearing took place Jan. 9. However, Big Business groups and some far-right Republican senators loudly complained about Solis’s long record of support for working families and unions and delayed the confirmation vote until today.

After a scheduled Feb. 12 vote was postponed because of Republican objections, the union movement created a Facebook page, Americans for Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor to build some e-roots support for Solis. Nearly 2,000 people signed on.

During the floor debate today, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said Solis’s working family background—both her mom and dad were blue-collar union members—gives her a real connection to the problems and trials those families face—something those on Capitol Hill might not be as close to. Dodd said:

We may be aware, but do we really understand? None of us are facing losing our jobs, our homes, our retirement security….We need a secretary of labor who understands what working families are going though.

During the past eight years, the Department of Labor has moved away from protecting employees to protecting employers and weakened the right to organize….I don’t believe that’s its role, and neither does Congresswomen Solis. It is essential that the Department of Labor recommit itself to protecting the rights of workers.

Sweeney said:

She understands that the Employee Free Choice Act is critical to rebuilding our economy because working men and women deserve the freedom to choose whether to form a union without employer harassment and intimidation.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that in the past eight years, the voices of working families “haven’t been heard enough” and the voices of corporations and the powerful have been far too loud at the Labor Department.

President Obama, with the selection of Hilda Solis as secretary of labor, has given working families a voice back. Throughout her career, she has been a forceful advocate for working men and women.

In the U.S. House, Solis earned a 97 percent AFL-CIO working family voting record.

Before her election to Congress in 2000, Solis served in the California legislature, first in the Assembly and then in 1994 becoming the first Latina elected to the state Senate.

Solis’s confirmation is a boon for all of America’s workers and is supported by a range of groups nationwide. Says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club:

Hilda Solis was a champion for workers’ rights, a champion for the environment and a tireless advocate for environmental justice during both her service in California and in the Congress.

In his statement, Sweeney added:

Rep. Solis is uniquely qualified to help struggling families through these difficult economic times because she knows firsthand what they are going through. She grew up in a working class family and understands what programs our nation’s workers need the most.

She will fight to improve skills development and job-creation programs, including development of “green collar” jobs. She will work to assure that workers get the pay they have earned and that they work in safe, healthy and fair workplaces. She’s ready to address the retirement security crisis and will work hard to protect every worker from job discrimination, regardless of race, sex, veteran status or disability.

Extra links (there's a lot more out there, sorry gotta run):
SEIU, Huffington Post

Sign the petition asking Keith Olberman to help the McDonald's hero

This is a major update to: McDonald's refuses workers compensation for shooting victim: Be a hero on your own time - Cross-posted at DailyKOS

He didn't think twice about helping someone, now you can be his hero: sign the petition

The non-profit advocacy organization for retail and food employees, Brandworker's International take's on fights for the little guy, they have lobbied for Wal-Mart's accountability in the "Black Friday" death and among other actions, when workers at Wendy's and Comp USA respectively, were the victims of mass sell-offs and left in virtual limbo over employment and severance they took action.

Most impressionable, is when the workers in the tri-state area's poshest seafood warehouse, Wild Edibles, needed help. They were working in deplorable conditions, sometimes forced to work up to 80 hours a week, for less minimum wage. Brandworkers International, along with the restaurant division of The Industrial Workers Of The World(IWW), which is the union that the workers joined, did what they do best, they fought tooth and nail to get the message of the little guy out to the world, that no company has the right to abuse a worker in this country. Through worker firings, company bankruptcy, the strike fund payments made by the IWW to the workers, they fought, and they are still fighting to this day.

The hero you didn't hear about

That brings us to another injustice whose news went viral across the internet this weekend, and while no major network is saying spit about it, it http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/1769/0219reporterheroimage1.gifhas pissed off the majority of people who have read the story. It's the story of the little guy caught in the web of a giant corporation's greed. This isn't any ordinary little guy though, this guy in my eyes, and a majority of those who have helped to spread the word, is a bona fide hero.

Yeah he could have just watched, his boss alleges that it was in the employment pact, but there isn't a paper trail as far as I can tell. Even his boss, the franchise owner agrees that his deeds were heroic, as did the judge in the criminal trial, as did the court reporters, the later two even went so far as to donate to a fund . He could be your brother or your daughter. He's the McDonald's worker who stopped a woman from being beaten and for his action was shot three times.

Oh, some have stated that he should have just called 911, not only do I feel disgusted with the short-sighted notion, I would beg the person to think about that for just a moment.

What if there were no heroes?

I recall all the people on 9/11/01, who instead of running away from the Trade Center ran towards it. How many people did I meet the next day when I was there were the roofer next door, the off-duty nurse, the plumber, the fireman from Pennsylvania, the elevator constructor, the kid from uptown? We ran to help and I'm sure those people who I met, along with the countless others, would do it all over again. The one TV station that I could get (I had a rooftop antennae) told us all not to be there, it just did not matter. In our hearts we wanted to pull human beings to safety, we were not afraid of legalese, and even though one day we will probably all be sick, we did not think of ourselves. I have many friends, construction workers, who were there a lot longer than myself, that I worry about. This is something that makes us human beings.

This is something I feel that most of us share, a compassion, that exceeds the laws of mankind, a pure a moral obligation, an inner voice that beckons us to help someone in distress. This is what being a part of a civilization is about, it's what makes us human.

This brings us to the story of Nigel Haskett, who while working in a Little Rock, Arkansas McDonald's, noticed that a woman was being brutally attacked, he stood up and intervened. He stopped the assault and eventually he helped to convict a dangerous criminal.

Nigel couldn't possibly know if this was a random beating or a domestic dispute, he didn't know if the woman was a kidnap victim, he didn't ask questions. He relied on his instincts.

Given the circumstances, Nigel displayed a great sense of human decency. In my eyes, his actions are exemplary.

However, I feel the actions of the McDonald's Corporation are not, and it's not right how this kid is getting screwed.

Like most huge corporations, McDonald's is self-insured. The go-between, the third party administrating firm Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing is refusing to grant Nigel worker's compensation for his injuries. That means, that after 3 surgeries, the 22 year old Nigel will be left to pay $300,000 out of his own pocket.

In most cases, possibly all, including in Arkansas, when an employee is hurt doing a good Samaritan deed, which brings good publicity to his employer(known as a good-will benefit), the injured party is granted worker's compensation.

Even though Nigel will live his life with a bullet lodged in his body, McDonald's who could probably burn a million in a heartbeat, is not doing anything to help. They are busy hoping this will set a precedence that all of us will have to live with, be a hero on your own time. Imagine a world where instead of helping you when your choking, the McDonald's employee dials 911. Is that the world you want to live in?

McDonald's is not living up to it's end of the bargain of being a good corporate citizen and they are telling us, the consumer that they don't give one fuck about any of us in the process. If you want to know why, if you want to learn why "corporations are inherently evil" look no further to their legally binding agreement, it's put very well in an article by Matthew Madden over at Green Buzz:
Currently, corporations are legally bound to act in the interests of maximizing shareholder value but they also can be held legally liable by their shareholders. Even when corporate officers want to act in the best interests of the environment or the community, shareholders can take legal action to prevent this in the name of shareholder value. In other words, a corporate entity can be held liable for acting in any way that doesn't maximize revenue, but the individuals within a corporation are shielded from liability associated with these actions.
In fact, while it's competitors are taking a beating this year, McDonalds sales have skyrocketed:
Similarly, with its relatively low-price menu, McDonald's (MCD) has been an industry bright spot. While other restaurants are seeing business slow, sales rose 5.4% in January at McDonald's locations open at least a year. The industry leader's shares are beating the broader market this year, down 12%.
You get the picture, even if someone at McDonald's corporate feels bad for Nigel, they need to be absolved from the wraith of the shareholders and there's only one way to do that, let them all know that this matter will effect their bottom line and to make their corporate officers know, that without a shadow of a doubt that they will be on the losing end if they do not do the right thing. The only way to do that is with public outcry and the public has to hear the story to be concerned about it, that's where Keith Olberman comes in.

Help Nigel, because he would have helped you.

So when I got an e-mail that my site was noted in a petition action on this matter, I was thrilled. Many people over at DailyKOS and the other sites where this story appeared cited that Keith Olberman would do what the Main Stream Media would not, bring this to the attention of the mass public. While the e-mail and contact information for McDonald's Corp and their third party administrator appear in the original story, it may not be enough to help Nigel. That's where the petition comes in.

When Wal-Mart sued the devastatingly disabled former employee, Deborah Shank, for payments of medical because of an insurance loophole, Keith Olberman brought this to the public and eventually under the threat of even more bad publicity, Wal-Mart rescinded.

Now our friends over at Brandmakers International have made a petition asking Keith Olberman to pick up the story of Nigel Haskett.

So I ask you, whether you yourself would be the hero or the benefactor of the heroic action, to stand up for this guy, to take just a minute to help separate the fear of losing a job from our moral responsibility to help a fellow human being.

He didn't think twice about helping someone, now you can be his hero:
sign the petition

Nigel heroic actions should be propped up and broadcasts from sea to shining sea, so we can all have a role model to look up to.

Does America still need unions? Go vote at parade magazines poll

Mike Eastman over at the US Chamber of Commerce has the balls to state "The workplace is much better today," and "Employers know they need to offer certain benefits and good wages to keep good workers."

I don't know what planet Mike Eastman lives on, all I can hope is that one day his innocent children do not need to live in a world brought to you by the US Chamber Of Commerce.

91% of the public seem to disagree with Eastman's blind assessment, see bottom of story

but Joe Sudbay over at America Blog says it best:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is headquartered across Lafayette Park from the White House. For the past eight years, the Chamber had open access to the Bush administration and called the shots. The group wanted less regulation -- and got it. So, the Chamber had a big hand in creating today's economic climate, which is a nightmare for most workers.

The Chamber is, no surprise, leading the opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. In this weekend's Parade magazine, a top official with the Chamber explained the group's opposition to that legislation:
Others contend that unions have outlived their usefulness. “The workplace is much better today,” says Michael Eastman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Employers know they need to offer certain benefits and good wages to keep good workers.”
It takes someone living in the bubble of the Chamber of Commerce to think the workplace is much better today. Compared to what? The days when there were no labor laws? The Chamber sets the policy for the Republicans on the Hill so it's no wonder all those GOP knuckleheads don't get the economic crisis.

The reality is that today's workplace sucks for many workers -- if they still even have their jobs. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Workers are not losing their jobs, but their health care benefits. 401ks are tanking. But, the Chamber doesn't want workers to organize. The Chamber and the Wall Street CEOs, working hand in hand with the Bush administration and the rest of the GOP, did enormous damage to the workplace. That crowd doesn't want workers to have any kind of job security, which is exactly why workers need the ability to organize. And, unions don't just help union members. They make life better for most workers:
Professor Clete Daniel, a labor expert at Cornell University, says a revived labor movement could benefit workers both in and out of unions. “ There is definitely a need for forces that promote a fairer sharing of wealth,” he says, noting that the gap between America’s rich and poor is the largest it’s been since 1928. Over the last 75 years, unions helped secure benefits like unemployment insurance, Social Security, and the 40-hour workweek.
Don't for a second think that the Chamber, aided by its allies in the GOP, wouldn't take that all away. Don't for a second think they wouldn't. That's why they're all so apoplectic about the Employee Free Choice Act. They think everything is just fine. And, they don't want an even playing field for America's working men and women.
Going back to Parade Magazines comments, right off the top a few hit home, many of them deserve their own article, here's the first 2:

Working without unions
I live in Texas, a right to work state, just the word union around a job can cause you to be fired. Though my husband worked for one of the few Union''s in TX, Steel Workers.

While I made more per hour being an RN, I had no workman's comp, no retirement other then what I could save in IRA (which was very little), we could be fired for refusing to come in on days off, worked 12 hour shifts and rare if we got lunch break much less any break. My insurance rates were higher (almost double then his).

Right to work really means right to fire without reason, under pay, forced overtime, very few companies pay into unemployment, and if injured on the job you only get medical treatment--nothing to help pay bills while off work. Bascially the boss can do whatever he pleases and worker has little or no recourse.

Do we need unions? From a person who has lived both sides, I would yell a big loud YES.

I could see why CEO's and stock holders would hate to lower their living standards by standing up for unions. After all who would want to decrease multi-million dollar salaries and perks for those who break their backs to provide them with it.

We definitely need unions
Do not be complacent about unions. They are needed as much if not more so than they were one hundred years ago. Do you think the government gave workers a minimum wage, retirement, vacations, OSHA, health insurance? No, unions had to fight for these rights just as much as they have to fight for them today. If unions were suddenly defunct, you can bet workers would be working in squalid conditions equal to that of the 19th and early 20th centuries with wages that can't keep a dog alive. Why do you think there is so much corporate flight? Companies do not want to pay workers a living wage so the CEO's can keep the biggest chunk of the pie right in their greedy little pockets. Companies want the laws to stay the way they are since there is little incentive to change, and the punitive amount is in 1930s economy values. The fines need to reflect the 21st century and not the 19th. Plus, nearly 80 percent of all non union workers polled have said they would join a union if they could
The American public has weighed in.

According to Poll Daddy, the hosting company for the poll, there have been 46,209 voters so far.

Ninety One percent of the voters
over at Parade magazine have voted that we need unions, so go tell Eastman and his cronies what you think by taking the poll, let the world know that we don't want our families to live in the version of the world that the US Chamber Of Commerce would create.

UPDATE: With now over 70,000 voters, 91% agree we need unions!
Link, search for "unions", there's a few polls

Oh and I snatched the poll, it's on the right hand side of the site


McDonald's refuses workers compensation for shooting victim: Be a hero on your own time

Update: There is now an updated story with a petition: Sign the petition asking Keith Olberman to help the McDonald's hero

"They do everything they can not to pay a client. That's what we have here. They just try to get out of paying any way they can," said Haskett’s attorney Philip Wilson.

UPDATED: Just made the DailyKOS recommended list and have gotten a wealth of information regarding this issue, see notes on the bottom, Video of newscast now added.

McDonald’s employee Nigel Haskett sprung into action when he noticed a http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/1769/0219reporterheroimage1.gifwoman getting smacked in the face in the Arkansas store where he was working. Haskett can be seen in the video throwing the attacker out of the store. Moments later Mr. Haskett returned into the store and collapsed. He was shot several times and needed emergency medical attention.

Nigel Haskett won his fight for life after amassing $300,000 in medical bills. District Judge Lee Munson, who adjudicated the the criminal proceedings, called Haskett a hero. Judge Munson and his reporter felt so strongly that they each donated $100 to a fund being set up for Mr.Haskett. By all judicial rulings nationally thus far Mr. Haskett should have had his medical bills covered by Workers Compensation, but even though Mickey D's has received the good-will benefit of Mr.Haskett's actions, the corporation along with their insurance carrier are refusing to pay for the required medical attention he needed.

Here's a recap from the Arkansas Times story entitled "Be A Hero on Your Own Time":
According to newspaper accounts and Haskett's lawyer, Philip M. Wilson, Haskett was working at the McDonald's at 10201 Rodney Parham Road last August when he interceded to stop a man who was beating a woman in the restaurant. The assailant, later identified as Perry Kennon, went outside. Haskett also stepped outside and stood at the door to keep Kennon from re-entering the restaurant. Kennon retrieved a gun from his car and shot Haskett – “multiple times,” according to Wilson. Haskett, now 22, underwent three abdominal surgeries and still carries part of a bullet in his back, according to Wilson. Haskett's medical bills exceed $300,000, Wilson said.

Kennon was arrested a few days after the shooting and charged with first-degree battery. At his arraignment, where he pleaded innocent, District Judge Lee Munson lectured Kennon about his long criminal record, and lauded Haskett: “Here is this young man working for minimum wage, coming to the aid of a woman.” Munson passed the case on to Pulaski Circuit Court, and he and his court reporter each contributed $100 to a fund for Haskett that was set up by Twin City Bank.

Kennon is in the Pulaski County Jail awaiting trial.

Haskett filed a claim with the state Workers Compensation Commission. Misty Thompson, a claims specialist with McDonald's insurer, Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, said in a letter to the Commission that “we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment.”
But not so fast Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, this is a clear case of good-will benefiting the employer, take for instance the case of the New York cab driver who decided to be a good Samaritan:
In this case, a cab driver was parked in a parking lot, eating his lunch, when approached by another motorist for assistance in jumping his car. The cab driver graciously agreed, but the battery exploded as he was securing the jumper cables, resulting in the cab driver losing his left eye. He filed for workers’ compensation….but he was on his lunch break when the injury occurred.
and while there was also a factor that the cab driver was on his lunch break the courts decided:
But did his injury really arise out of employment? The New York Court of Appeals determined that if an employee is injured while involved in an activity that benefits the employer, while in the course of employment, then that employee has a workers’ compensation claim. But the cab driver here was just being a Good Samaritan , right? Wrong. The court ruled that, because the cab was clearly marked with the employer's name, the assistance created a good-will benefit to the employer. In other words, the cab driver was providing free advertisement for the employer.
UPDATE: Video below found thanks to SNAFU-ed Blog

According to Arkansas Matters.com:
the insurance agency representing McDonald’s says he doesn't qualify for Worker's Compensation in this incident.

And the franchise owner of that McDonald’s says: don't jump to conclusions.

"We are all grateful to Nigel and that's why it is so unfortunate that he's having a difficult time with the insurance claim…however, the fact of the matter is that I do not have control over whether my employee's claim is paid by Worker's Compensation. It is my understanding that there has not been a final determination by the Arkansas Worker's Compensation Commission. I am taking this very seriously, and doing what I can to help and I hope his claim will come to a quick resolution and the right thing will be done for my employee."

But Haskett's attorney says he's entitled to the money, and will fight the insurance company for it in court.

"They do everything they can not to pay a client. That's what we have here. They just try to get out of paying any way they can," said Haskett’s attorney Philip Wilson.

There is a process to filing this claim and only the first part has been denied. The case will now go before a judge, then possibly the worker's comp commission. It could even be appealed to the Supreme Court.
I believe that the New York ruling sets the precedence in this matter, Mr. Haskett was doing the right thing, being a good Samaritan, and that brought about good publicity for his employer, McDonalds. As Lark over at Maeningful Distractions states(with the nifty image):
"Symbol of capitalistic greed McDonald’s is really living up to it’s reputation as an evil empire. They’re no longer merely all about moving in on the little guy, or clogging your arteries with fry grease, or making kids big chunkers, but are also now turning on their employees,"..."Horrible public relations move for the conglomerate, not to mention just morally and ethically reprehensible. McDonald’s gets a fail in existence."

I agree, except for the part of they are now turning on their employees, McDonald's has been doing that for a long time. Also to note, the surveillance video of the incident was removed from YouTube after McDonalds's complained about copyright infringement. So you know what to do, spread this information far and wide.

UPDATES: from the comments at DailyKOS:

D Wreck explains a bit about Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing

Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing - is NOT an insurance company. They act as the third party administrator for the company's SELF-INSURED worker's compensation.

I am an insurance broker and I put together and help run programs just like these.

RKFL is paid by McDonald's to make claims determinations that will either be accepted as settlements by the employee or that will ultimately be upheld by the state's worker's compensation judges/commissioners. These decisions don't happen in a vacuum, McDonald's management is aware of large claims like this and give the nod to decisions made on denials of coverage.

What happened to Haskett is a covered event under worker's comp law. McDonald's has gotten itself into a big PR mess for something they will be liable for anyway.

burrow owl also notes that Arkansas has also had good-will benefit cases where the worker prevailed against the insurance carrier. In part:

On December 11, 1978, while traveling to Hardy to make his next delivery, appellee saw a car in the ditch and a lady standing beside the road. He recognized the lady and noticed she was attempting to flag him down. Mr. Shipman was unable to stop immediately because of ice on the road. He proceeded past the disabled vehicle, turned around and returned to the stranded motorist. Her car was off the road and in a ditch. He pulled his bread truck to the side of the road, and went over to see what assistance he could render. As Mr. Shipman prepared to drive the lady's vehicle out of the ditch, he observed that the bread truck was perhaps blocking the ultimate pathway; and therefore, appellee attempted to get out of the stranded vehicle so that he could move the bread truck. Another vehicle, coming over the hill, slid on the icy road and crashed against the car on the side where Mr. Shipman was exiting, crushing his leg against the vehicle.

The sole issue involved is whether or not appellees "good samaritan" act was such a deviation from his normal business duties as to take him outside the scope of his employment at the time of the injury.

and continues with verdict

The Commission in the case before us found appellee was entitled to benefits under the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Act.

We find there is substantial evidence to support this conclusion.

Hope that clears up some of the questions about good will benefits in AR.

Phil S 33 urges us to contact McDonald's corporate

more---mini protests do work. they eventually add up.

Snail mail here:

Write us. Our U.S. corporate mailing address is:
McDonald’s Corporation
2111 McDonald's Dr
Oak Brook, IL 60523

Click here for email link

Send them some noise!!

Vet has added contact info for Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing

Main Office
8315 Cantrell Road, Suite 300
Little Rock, AR 72227
Phone: (501) 664-7705
Fax: (501) 664-8052
Direct: (501) 614-1144
Send an email: mike_halter@rkfl.com

Many are helping to fill in information that is not correct, some are sending e-mails to the insurance "broker"

Please bear with me as I get more information

Also note this article is making it's way around the net, join in the convo at these fine sites and networks:

Cross-posted at: DailyKOS, Union Review, Democratic Underground, Newsvine
Socialized at: Reddit, DIGG, StumbleUpon, Facebook and Twitter
DailyKOS version of the story socialized at Reddit with over 600 comments

More links: The Raw Story, SNAFU-ed, RoaneViews, etc.

America's workers lose fight to compete with Mexico wage of $5 a day, Hershey's plant looses 300 jobs in Peppermint Patty factory move

What will the next news story be? "Tainted Peppermint Pattie recall". They are also exporting Zagnut, 5th Avenue, and Jolly Rancher. 5th Avenue if I recall is in a great American city and it won't quite be the same. - writer over at The Truth Hurts

No one in this country can compete with a $5 a day minimum wage, so think about that when your gonna buy a box of york Peppermint Patty's.


One of my first stories I ever wrote on the internet was about Hershy's moving across the border, while this article centers around the Reading, PA plant, across the US and Canada over 1,500 good jobs, union and otherwise are in the process of moving to Mexico

According tofatdaddye, who spent time in Montterey, the minimum wage is just $5 a day. There is no American worker who can compete with that. Wasn't NAFTA supposed to bring up the conditions of the people in Mexico to our standard?

EDIT: pendejadas over at reddit just informed me that due to the increase in the value of the USD aginst Mexican currency, the minimum wage is now only valued at $3.60

From The Teamsters site:
Pennsylvania Peppermint Patty Plant Closes as Production Moves Across Border; 300 Workers in Reading, PA are Latest Victims of NAFTA Race to the Bottom

Today, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa denounced the Hershey Food Corporation’s (NYSE: HSY) closing of its plant in Reading, Pennsylvania, leaving nearly 300 workers out in the cold. Hershey’s plan to move the jobs to a Monterey, Mexico plant shows how unfair trade deals like NAFTA continue to harm American workers.

The plant’s closing continues a disturbing trend for a city that has already lost more than one-fourth of its good-paying manufacturing jobs since January 2001. Of the workers losing their jobs, 50 are Teamsters.

“That plant stood for decades in Reading, providing countless families with good wages and job security,” Hoffa said. “Members of this community helped build that company and this is how they are repaid. Hershey’s actions are unconscionable in this economic climate.”

The Hershey plant in Reading made York Peppermint Patties and 5th Avenue bars. To date, the company has shut down six plants with this most recent closing a stage in its plan to cut 1,500 U.S. jobs.

“Pennsylvania lost nearly 60,000 jobs in the last quarter of 2008 and the estimate for the month was well over 30,000 jobs lost,” Hoffa said. “When are we going to tell companies like Hershey that enough is enough?”
Over at The Truth Hurts, in an article titled "Gone, baby gone":

A flag is flying at half-staff outside The Hershey Co. plant in Reading where production of York Peppermint Patties is ending.

After 23 years in Reading, the chocolate maker is closing the plant Friday and moving production to a new factory it has built in Monterey, Mexico. It will mean the loss of 300 jobs in the southeastern Pennsylvania city.

The plant also makes 5th Avenue and Zagnut candy bars and Jolly Rancher hard candies.

The nation's largest candy manufacturer said two years ago the plant would close as part of a wider move by Hershey to eliminate 1,500 jobs and one-third of its existing production lines, shifting more manufacturing to contractors in the U.S.

and continues:
Not a very good time to do this, nes pas? WTF Hershey? Times aren't tough enough here in the US of A. Now you are exporting jobs that are part of Americana to Mexico. What will the next news story be? "Tainted Peppermint Pattie recall". They are also exporting Zagnut, 5th Avenue, and Jolly Rancher. 5th Avenue if I recall is in a great American city and it won't quite be the same. So I won't be buying any more of these items. Corporate greed is still thriving even in times this tough. So we just shouldn't buy them. Hershey's leaving Pennsylvania? That is just so wrong on so many levels.
I urge all of my readers to spread the word, do as the writer over at Truth Hurt's is doing, a total boycott of the Hershey items listed:
  • Peppermint Patty
  • Zagnut
  • Jolly Rancher
  • 5th. Avenue
You can't make them here, we don't want em

Here is the image I made back in July of '07


What Would You Do With $18,000???!!!???

By Uniongal
Watch the video.

What would you do with $18,000? Goldman Sachs decided to pay themselves huge bonuses, equal to paying $18,000 to every Burger King employee in the country. A company that took tax payer money to pay themselves bonuses. And employees of their subsidiary, Burger King, don't make enough at full time to even make it to the poverty level. Sweet, huh?

"We Make the Windows and the Doors"

by shirah

crossposted with permission from unbossed

The one bright spot within the economic gloom that surrounds so many of us was the Republic Window and Door worker sit in. By sitting in they stood up for their rights. By sitting in they got our attention and sent a lesson of what is possible by engaging in concerted acts of mutual aid and support.

They showed a labor movement that has some real movement.

The story may have slipped from our attention, but here is a video that captures the events and the emotion involved.

That was the first step - getting the pay and money owed the workers under law.

But that was just the first step. These people need jobs, and they are working hard to create those jobs - doing what they used to do for Republic.

Here is the most recent news on the continuing struggle.

UE Local 1110 announced today that the leading company in the green window business -- Serious Materials, based in Sunnyvale, California -- is in the final stages of working out an agreement to purchase the assets of Republic Windows and Doors. Members of UE Local 1110 staged a sit-in last month to win severance, health benefits and earned vacation pay, after the plant's previous owner shut down with only three days' notice to workers.

Though some details still need to be finalized, the union is told that the parties are very close to inking a deal. "We are all hopeful about the possibility of Serious reopening our plant. This would be a very happy ending to our struggle," said former Republic worker and Local 1110 Vice President Melvin Maclin.

Serious Materials is a leading manufacturer of energy saving green building products. Their stated mission is to reduce greenhouse gases by one billion tons annually. "These are the green-collar jobs we need for the future of our community," said Armando Robles, former Republic maintenance worker and president of Local 1110. Serious Materials and the union believe there is market in the Midwest for the energy efficient, super-insulating windows and commercial glass that Serious makes.

Serious has said that it hopes, after a ramp-up period, to eventually hire all of the former Republic workforce. For that to happen, however, the bankruptcy court must act quickly. The local fears that if the court delays, the business will evaporate and it will be difficult to re-hire anyone. "We hope that the creditors, trustee and judge will allow Serious to purchase the assets soon, so I and my co-workers can start making windows again," said Robles.

That was January 14. They continue to need support. You can show solidarity by keeping this story alive and even by donating to the cause through the Windows of Opportunity fund.

And many showed their support as the workers toured the country.

Here is the story from the Detroit stop.

And as for you, isn't it time to stand up?


Chocolates and Roses: Slavery and Rape

By Uniongal
Crossposted from Uniongal

It's that corporate holiday where men and women show how much they love through the purchase and giving of chocolates and flowers.

But did you know that cocoa exported from West Africa is primarily produced using child slave labor? That women working on flower plantations are routinely harassed or raped in Central and South America? Did you also know that there is something you can actually do about this?

Just in case you missed my previous slaves to Chocolate Posts and Cut Flower one, I've included the links.

But where do Chocolates and cut Flowers come from?
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usChocolates:
From the Anti-Slavery Society

Cocoa is the essential ingredient for making chocolates. A significant proportion of the world production of cocoa is grown and harvested on plantations by African slaves.

By far, the largest producer of chocolate for the World Market of cocoa is Cote d'Ivoire.

Cote d'Ivoire produces about 40% of the world supply of cocoa, and this cocoa comes from about 600,000 total farms in the very small West African country. During the Cote d'Ivoire civil war, both the government and the insurgents used the cocoa farms to supply their war craft, however, what they caused by pillaging the farms was a need for workers. And these workers were bought or stolen from Mali and other African nations like Niger, Nigeria and others.

Due to wars and poverty, those stolen or purchased (ugh, what a horrible thing to have to write) were disproportinately children (as if there is such a thing as a slave that proportionate to population). Buzzflash noted that

The U.S. State Department estimates that over 15,000 child-slaves work on plantations in the Ivory Coast. They have been kidnapped or sold by their parents to work from age 8 on cutting cocoa pods from trees and processing them, often at the end of a whip. In other countries of West Africa, children work with deadly chemicals, applying pesticides and fungicides to trees without wearing protective garments and without proper training. Amazingly, some of the cocoa used in popular confections - the chocolate you eat every day is grown and harvested under such conditions.

It's a horrendous situation for thousands of children. This is a real problem caused by poverty and war and held in place by greed and abuse:

An investigative report by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in 2000 indicated the size of the problem. According to the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their parents for a pittance, or in some cases outright stolen, and then shipped to the Ivory Coast, where they are sold as slaves to cocoa farms. These children typically come from countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Destitute parents in these poverty-stricken lands sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work once they arrive in Ivory Coast and then send some of their earnings home. But that's not what happens. These children, usually 12-to-14-years-old but sometimes younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing, are barely fed, are beaten regularly, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.

But, what can I do to help?

First, contact Hershey, Nestle and M&M/Mars.

Hershey, Nestle and M&M/Mars continue to utilize cocoa harvested by children who are beaten, chained and abused in the pursuit of meeting the World's sweet tooth habit.

Since 2001, we have heard the same talking points from major chocolate companies about what they are doing about child labor, but the practice still continues. Please join us today in getting beyond the talking points and asking Hershey, M&M/Mars and Nestle what each company is doing specifically to ensure they are respecting internationally recognized labor rights in their cocoa sourcing.

Second: BUY LOCAL!

It's not as if cocoa is produced in your back yard, but local chocolatiers often utilize co-ops and fair trade farms due to the quality of the cocoa produced. They chose farms with good practices because good growing and labor practices produce a better quality cocoa. I only know this based on conversations I've had with DC area chocolatiers who often visit farms and co-ops before agreeing to purchase from those farms. From JChocolatier:

We use chocolate couverture from El Rey of Venezuela and Valrhona of France. The beans from El Rey are single origin Criollo beans, the most coveted in the world. El Rey buys their beans from small farmers in Venezuela who grow their crop under the shade of the jungle canopy. El Rey is committed to biodiversity and pays their farmers premium prices for the high quality beans that they produce.
Our classic truffles are made with single origin Manjari chocolate from Valrhona. This particular chocolate couverture has a cult-like following among discriminating chocolate lovers. The Valrhona cocoa powder is deep red and has a silky texture. It is without a doubt, the best we've ever tasted.

If a local chocolatier can't tell you where the chocolate comes from, ask. If they still can't answer, perhaps you need to find another.


From Dengre's commentin the first Slaves to Chocolates Diary (I bolded three that the International Labor Rights Forum noted as the Sweetest of the Sweet for their labor, sustainability and dedication to their craft):

Do not discount Fair Trade Chocolate from Africa (2+ / 0-)

This is the way to combat child labor while still supporting the local economies.
Below is a list of Fair Trade Chocolate Companies. They have passed the screening and review of the Fair Trade Federation and Co-op America's Green Business Network:

A World Away, Atlantic Beach, FL
904/247-4411, www.aworldaway.net

Alter Eco, San Francisco, CA
415/701-1212, www.altereco-usa.com

Ananse Village, Fort Bragg, CA
877/242-4467, www.anansevillage.com

Bean North Coffee Roasting Company,
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada
867/667-4145, www.beannorth.com

Café Humana, Seattle, WA,
866/7-HUMANA, www.cafehumana.com

Dean's Beans, Orange, MA, 800/325-3008,

Divine Chocolate USA, Washington, DC,
202/332-8913, www.divinechocolateusa.com

Equal Exchange, West Bridge, MA,
774/776-7333, www.equalexchange.com

Equita, Pittsburgh, PA
412/353-0109, www.shopequita.com

Fair World Gallery, West Des Moines, IA,
515/277-7550, www.fairworldgallery.com

Fair World Marketplace, DeWitt, NY
315/446-0326, www.fairworldmarketplace.com

Global Exchange Fair Trade Store,
San Francisco, CA 800/505-4410,

Grounds for Change , Poulsbo, WA,
800/796-6820, www.groundsforchange.com

Ithaca Fine Chocolates , Ithaca, NY,
607/257-7954, www.ithacafinechocolates.com

La Siembra Cooperative, Inc., Ottowa,
Ontario, Canada, 613/235-6122,

Providence Coffee, Faribault, MN,
507/412-1733, www.providencecoffee.com

SERRV International, Madison, WI,
800/423-0071, www.serrv.org/divine

Shaman Chocolates, Soquel, CA,
877/990-3337, www.shamanchocolates.com

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates,
San Luis Obispo, CA. 805/544-7759,

Yachana Gourmet, Batavia, NY.
716/343-4490, www.yachanagourmet.com

You can also head to the online Global Exchange store for more Fair Trade products.

So this brings us to Flowers.

Where do flowers that you buy in the store or on line come from?
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFlowers come most often from Central and South America.

They are often produced using female workers who toil up to 20 hours a day for little pay. Many are abused and isolated from their communities and families to produce the tulips and roses and orchids that adorn our tables.

But there's a movement to push the producers to provide better working conditions, pay and benefits to these workers, and there's been some really amazing recent successes most notably from Dole as described by the International Labor Rights Forum.

After years of struggle, Dole flower workers on both the Splendor and La Fragancia plantations in Colombia have signed contracts with the company!

The new contracts include pay increases, punctuality bonuses, and extra pay for workers doing difficult and dangerous work. Workers at the La Fragancia plantation will now receive an education subsidy so that they buy the books and uniforms they need to send their children to school.

But Dole isn't the only player in the market. Many are now figuring out that Fair Trade certified and organic flowers have a market, even in the US. Just last year for Valentine's Day, Frontline produced a 10 minute segment on Equador and the Fair Trade movement. I'd embed the video if I could, but apparently, I can't.

But, what can I do?
Look for Fair Trade Certified and Organic cut flowers. They may be produced locally or internationally. But to find them, you have to ask.
You can also go to:

Online Retailers:
1-800 Flowers Online

Organic Bouquet

Supermarkets Near You:

GIANT Food Stores
Roche Brothers

There is more good news in Flowers than Cocoa right now. However, more work is needed in both sectors. The starting point isn't just consumers, it's also suppliers (from the comments on the PBS video):

KS Kennedy Distinctive Floral - Pittsburgh, PA
As florists, it is our responsibility not only to bring magic into the lives of our customers but to understand that without these workers, we could not exisit. My customers are thrilled that we are taking steps to join groups that are concerned about the well being of flower production workers. We have recently joined the FLP group in Europe and will continue to be aware of those farms working to make a difference for those who dedicate their lives as their living. Please consider joining as well to show the United States show of suppport..Its a mere $93.00 for a year! Kerry S Kennedy http://www.fairflowers.de/136.html

Kara Diorio - Lowell, MA
As co-owner of a small flower shop we are proud to sell Organic Nevado Roses. This documentary reinforced my commitment to support the women and families who work in the industry. Nevado roses are the most beautiful, longest lasting, fragrant roses I have ever seen! The beauty of every rose they grow reflects the respect for their employees and environment. As women in business, my sister and I are grateful to be given the opportunity to support an amazing Fair Trade product. Kara and Leah, Finally Flowers, Lowell MA

But if we're going to look for socially conscious products, the best way, is to start at home, with our own cupboards.

Start by no longer purchasing Nestle, M&M Mars and also Hershey products and by sending them a note as to why you're boycotting them. Let them know that they can't expect hard working Americans to continue to support slavery through chocolates. Let them know that workers deserve a fair shake, a fair wage and adequate benefits and that when they decide to be good corporate citizens (and, especially after Hershey decided to close their Reading Pennsylvania plant) you'll decide to be a customer of theirs once more. We have power together and that power comes from our own pocket books.

Have a very happy Valentine's Day everyone!!


The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, how it came about and how you can support Ms. Ledbetter

“Employers will now be held accountable for each discriminatorily reduced paycheck, because every time pay is unfairly lowered, it’s a violation of the law and fundamental fairness.”-Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center.

Video from February 3rd., 2007

On Jan. 29, 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. In doing so, the bill reestablishes the law’s incentive for employers to correct discriminatory pay practices. Employers will no longer have a free pass to continue to discriminate against their employees without ever having to worry about being held accountable. At the same time, plaintiffs still can recover back pay only for a period of no more than two years before they challenge the discrimination. From The National Womans Law Center:
President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law today, reversing the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in 2007 and restoring the ability of victims of wage discrimination to hold their employers accountable for injustice and challenge the practice in court.

“This is truly a monumental achievement for women – and all workers. The Supreme Court stripped workers of their ability to fight wage discrimination but now a new President and Congress have stepped in and restored their basic legal rights,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. “Employers will now be held accountable for each discriminatorily reduced paycheck, because every time pay is unfairly lowered, it’s a violation of the law and fundamental fairness.”

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores the law that existed for decades in virtually every region of the country prior to the Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and makes it clear that each discriminatory paycheck is a new act of discrimination that resets the 180-day limit to file a claim.
The story of Lilly Ledbetter
Video from July 2007:

How the Supreme Court created this mess, excerpted from Save The Court:
  • Lilly Ledbetter received an anonymous tip late in her career with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. that she had been consistently paid much less than her male coworkers.
  • She sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects workers against pay discrimination.
  • She proved her case. A federal jury awarded her back pay and punitive damages, but Goodyear appealed.
  • The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled against her 5-4 in Ledbetter v. Goodyear.
  • The Court's ruling, written by right-wing Justice Samuel Alito, said that Lilly should have filed a complaint within 180 days of the time her supervisors gave her discriminatory evaluations that resulted in her being paid less than her male coworkers.
  • The Court rejected a longstanding interpretation of the law that gave workers 180 days to file a complaint after receiving any discriminatory paycheck, regardless of when the discrimination began.
  • Tell Goodyear to pay up
    Sign the petition urging Goodyear tire to pay Lilly what she was awarded
    From Care 2 Petition Site "Pay Lilly Ledbetter What She is Owed":
    The Ledbetter law, recently signed by President Obama, overturned the Supreme Court decision denying Lilly the $360,000 of back pay and benefits that the trial court had ruled she was entitled to. But the newly signed law isn't retroactive; it only applies to cases going forward!

    Ms. Ledbetter, now in her 70s, worked in a Goodyear Tire factory for almost 20 years to support her family. The success of the Lilly Ledbetter Act is a step forward in gender equality for all women, but as a new widow facing retirement, Lilly Ledbetter deserves to receive the pay she was cheated out of for so long!

    Ask Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company - a company that reported profits of $602 million in 2007 - to reimburse the $360,000 of back pay they owe Lilly.
    Click either of the images below to sign the petition

    The image “http://img147.imageshack.us/img147/437/eactive3wn5.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

    President Obama overturns Bush ban of Federal project labor agreements

    "This is yet another reason for working families to be grateful that we have a champion in the White House,"..."Project labor agreements are a win-win for everyone involved. Contractors get highly trained, skilled labor with fixed costs, and workers are fairly compensated with their rights and safety protected."- Jimmy Hoffa Jr, President International Brotherhood Of Teamsters

    Make no mistake about it, former President Bush had a hard on for union construction workers, one of the first Executive Orders of the Bush administration was "Executive Order 13208 of April 6, 2001", which banned the use of Project Labor Agreements(PLA's) on Federally funded projects.

    Just two weeks ago the US Senate rejected an attempt to codify Bush's ban into law. Senator David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana proposed that his legislation, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, be amended into the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. By a Senate vote of 59-38 the Vitter amendment failed. The only Republican that voted against Vitter's plan was Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania. If you do the math that means 97.3% of Senate Republicans absolutely hate Union construction workers. If the Bush EO banning PLA's on Federal projects had been codified into law it would have been extremely hard to reverse.

    Today with just a few weeks in office President Obama has repealed 13208, with the Executive Order titled "USE OF PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS FOR FEDERAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS", here's part of the briefing from the White House site:
    Section 1. Policy. (a) Large-scale construction projects pose special challenges to efficient and timely procurement by the Federal Government. Construction employers typically do not have a permanent workforce, which makes it difficult for them to predict labor costs when bidding on contracts and to ensure a steady supply of labor on contracts being performed. Challenges also arise due to the fact that construction projects typically involve multiple employers at a single location. A labor dispute involving one employer can delay the entire project. A lack of coordination among various employers, or uncertainty about the terms and conditions of employment of various groups of workers, can create frictions and disputes in the absence of an agreed-upon resolution mechanism. These problems threaten the efficient and timely completion of construction projects undertaken by Federal contractors. On larger projects, which are generally more complex and of longer duration, these problems tend to be more pronounced.

    (b) The use of a project labor agreement may prevent these problems from developing by providing structure and stability to large-scale construction projects, thereby promoting the efficient and expeditious completion of Federal construction contracts. Accordingly, it is the policy of the Federal Government to encourage executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements in connection with large-scale construction projects in order to promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.
    Building Trades President Mark H. Ayers:

    America's Building Trades Unions praise the action today by President Obama in issuing an Executive Order overturning the Bush Administration's ban on federal project labor agreements (PLAs).

    The Bush anti-PLA Executive Order was exactly the type of special interest-driven politics and policy that American voters rejected overwhelmingly last November.

    PLAs are designed to provide maximum benefit to construction users; union and non-union workers; union and non-union contractors; lenders and insurance companies; and taxpayers. PLAs are frequently negotiated to address a wide range of local and social needs, including the assurance of hiring of local residents, and outreach programs designed to offer local residents the opportunity for a career in the skilled trades.

    We acknowledge and praise this Executive Order as being one of the first steps in ushering in a new, more pragmatic and value-conscious approach to governing.

    International Brotherhood Of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa:
    ...Such agreements are efficient, save money and promote safety and labor standards.

    Obama's order overturns an order signed by President George W. Bush in 2001 that banned the federal government from requiring PLAs. Obama's order does not mandate PLAs on large-scale, federally funded projects, but it encourages agencies to consider requiring them to promote efficiency and achieve cost savings.
    Mike Hall over at the AFL-CIO Now blog add's

    Today’s action follows Obama’s three executive orders last week that reversed a trio of Bush-era orders governing the way federal contractors deal with union workers. The new orders:

    • Require federal service contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
    • Reverse a Bush order requiring federal contractors to post notice that workers can limit financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.
    • Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.
    This is a great day indeed, thank you President Obama.


    My father is a union buster.

    "My father.You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons. My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molester."..."He is a union buster."- David Berman on his father, Richard "Rick" Berman

    Entirely from the pages of:


    Front Group King Rick Berman Gets Blasted by his Son David Berman
    Submitted by Anne Landman on Fri, 01/30/2009 - 11:00.

    Rick BermanWashington, D.C. lobbying scourge Richard B. "Rick" Berman is facing steadily increasing pushback these days, and some of it is coming from a surprising source -- his own son, musician David Berman.

    Berman has long been the front man through which corporations have aggressively attacked their opponents without leaving fingerprints. Known to his own friends and enemies alike as "Dr. Evil," Berman has perfected the art of setting up non-profit "charitable" groups to advance corporate interests. The groups have deceptively helpful-sounding names, like "Guest Choice Network," the "Employment Policies Institute" or the "Center for Consumer Freedom," but really serve as well-funded attack dogs for the tobacco, alcohol, chain restaurant, tanning and other industries. The groups' non-profit status makes their funding hard to trace, which has permitted Berman to operate in the shadows for decades while pocketing millions from unpopular industries for his work thwarting public interest legislation.

    Pushback against underhanded lobbying tactics

    Berman depends on secrecy to cloak his operations, but recently the Congressional watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) unveiled a hard-hitting new Web site, www.BermanExposed.org, which unmasks Berman's front groups, tactics, employees and projects. [Note: Berman succeeded in knocking this website offline on January 29.] CREW's Web site outs Berman's "charitable" groups as the lobbying tools they are, and describes how he uses them to run attack ads and implement other tactics to fight Mothers Against Drunk Driving, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other public interest groups' efforts to raise awareness of obesity, secondhand smoke, drunk driving, mad cow disease, and other causes. CREW even posted a photo of the $3.3 million house Berman purchased with money he has earned from his dirty lobbying tactics.

    Another Blow Hits Closer to Home

    CREW's new site was a resounding strike at Berman, but it might have inadvertently catalyzed yet another blow that hits even closer to home.

    Rick Berman's son, singer-songwriter David BermanRick Berman's son, singer-songwriter David BermanRick Berman's son, David Berman, is a 42-year-old singer-songwriter who, since 1989, has been the front singer for a popular New York City indie rock band called the "Silver Jews." Over the years, the Jews have developed a loyal following, but on January 22, 2009 David Berman stunned his fans by posting a note to an online message board announcing that after all these years he was leaving the Silver Jews. The reason? His father, Rick Berman.

    In scathing language, David disclosed to his fans who his father is, and how leaving the band related to his father's work. David wrote,

    Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction:

    My father.

    You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons. My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molestor.

    An exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical mother******* son of a bitch. (sorry grandma).

    You can read about him here:


    ... A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship.

    He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We've been "estranged" for over three years.

    Even as a child I disliked him. We were opposites. I wanted to read. He wanted to play games.

    He is a union buster.

    When I got out of college I joined the Teamsters (the guards were union organized at the Whitney).

    I went off to hide in art and academia.

    The Silver Jews perform "I'm Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You."

    I fled through this art portal for twenty years. In the meantime my Dad started a very very bad company called Berman and Company.

    He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke.

    He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dieticians, doctors, teachers.

    His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America.

    He helped ensure the minimum wage did not move a penny from 1997-2007!

    The worst part for me as a writer is what he does with the English language.

    Though vicious he is a doltish thinker, and his spurious editorials rely on doublethink and always with the Lashon Hara.

    As I studied Judaism over the years, the shame and the shanda, grew almost too much. My heart was constantly on fire for justice. I could find no relief.

    This winter I decided that the SJs [Silver Jews] were too small of a force to ever come close to undoing a millionth of all the harm he has caused. To you and everyone you know.

    Literally, if you eat food or have a job, he is reaching you.

    I've always hid this terrible shame from you, the fan. The SJs have always stood autonomous and clear.

    Hopefully it won't contaminate your feelings about the work ... In a way I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage.

    Previously I thought, through songs and poems and drawings I could find and build a refuge away from his world.

    But there is the matter of Justice.

    And I'll tell you it's not just a metaphor. The desire for it actually burns.

    It hurts.

    There needs to be something more. I'll see what that might be.



    David's powerful note provides insight into the tortured feelings David has endured as the son of the Lobbyist from Hell. We well agree that Rick Berman is guilty of shamefully obstructing public health and working to crush those who care about public welfare, clean air, the environment, animal rights and other causes. For any normal father, this public note would be excruciatingly painful. For all we know, it might be for Rick Berman, too. But will the pain of this note be enough to change him?

    We hope David's public expression of his feelings about his father's work will make Rick Berman think about what he is doing to society, if not his family. If it isn't, well then David, we are on your side and are willing to help you in any way we can.

    US Chamber Of Commerce against Made In USA provisions

    The concept it (US Chamber of Commerce) fails to grasp is that there already is a trade war and the United States is being severely beaten.-Craig Harrington from video

    The US Chamber of Commerce is a private group and is not a Federal agency, they lobby for the needs of the largest US corporations.

    Besides being completely anti-union and staunchly against The Employee Free Choice Act, the US Chamber Of Commerce is one of the biggest lobbyist of unadulterated free trade. It is very unfortunate because the idea behind the Chamber of Commerce would be a good one if they just weren't trying to rape the American public and workforce. This is in no way a slight to the more favorable regional Chamber's who's members are local businesses, but on the top, the US COC, the needs of the Wal-Mart's, the McDonald's, the Home Depot's and their like minded ilk are priority number one.

    Video is from an article at Economy in crisis entitled "Chamber of Commerce Leading Congress Astray"

    Video Link for my text readers

    The economics policy institutes adds in "Big business lobbies for importers"

    Multinational companies such as General Electric and Caterpillar, and their allies in the Chamber of Commerce, are attacking “Buy American” provisions included in the economic recovery bill passed by the House on January 28th. They claim that these provisions will provoke a “trade war” with foreign governments, but foreign governments have long histories of supporting their own domestic companies. These companies are self-interested, simply wanting unlimited access to imports, many of which are illegally subsidized and unfairly traded. U.S. and foreign multinational companies (MNCs) were responsible for nearly two-thirds of all U.S. imports in 2006, as shown in the chart below. U.S. firms led the way with $678 billion in imports, 36.4% of all U.S. goods imports. Foreign MNCs pulled in an additional $482.4 billion in goods, 25.6% of the U.S. import bill.

    MNC Share of US imports

    Companies like Caterpillar, which will benefit from billions of dollars of infrastructure spending in the stimulus package, want unfettered access to cheap steel from countries like China, which poured more than $15 billion into energy subsidies into that sector in 2007 alone. Chinese steel imports more than doubled between January and November, while U.S. steel production fell nearly 40%. The Chamber of Commerce, which also opposes further “Buy American” provisions, represents the interests of U.S. companies like Caterpillar and IBM as well as foreign multinationals like Toyota and Siemens, all represented on its board of directors. Congress has finally realized that what’s good for big business is not always good for America, and that new rules are needed to rein in runaway corporations. That’s real progress.

    Here's a tidbit from "U.S. Corporations Against Buying American"
    Free trade” has only served to allow the nation’s trade deficit to explode to uncontrollable levels, killed jobs, armed economic rivals with the means to buy up American assets and businesses and allowed our shores to be invaded with toxic products from Third World nations.
    gspencer writes in a comment to "Chamber of Commerce Leading Congress Astray"
    "United States Chamber of Commerce:"
    I really believe that we must preserve the economic miracle that has given our citizens one of the highest living standards in the world. This economic miracle has not been due to the efforts of the members of the US Chamber of Commerce, who include Importers, middlemen, Wall Street criminals, Stock Market Gamblers, Real Estate Speculators, Economists, Insurance Salesmen, Junk Bond Salesmen, etc., and very few firms that contribute to correcting our balance of trade. Todays USA standard of living was created by the Agricultural and Industrial Base that produced the food, goods, services and other items that we consumed, plus an excess of these goods & services that were produced and then sold to other foreign countries in order to accumulate the US gold reserves through a positive balance of trade surplus payments. Our gold reserves are the basis of the value or buying power of our currency. This was (is) true of all of the currencies in the world.

    Only a positive balance of trade will restore the value of the dollar, and we must accomplish this by any means possible, or accept third world poverty on a large scale basis. Riots and insurrection are predictable, ala the French Revolution, when the people find their situations economically hopeless.
    Big thanks to Mainstream Populist Democrats for the head's up on the video and the site: