Joe the so-called Plumber is shilling against The Employee Free Choice Act and doesn't even know what it is!

This asshole isn't a plumber, and even though he has in the past used the symbol of The United Association (Plumbers uhttp://img15.imageshack.us/img15/7062/wurze.jpgnion) on his MySpace page, he isn't a member. His name isn't Joe, he is a failure as an author, a failure as a reporter, and from the video below he sure as hell doesn't know anything about labor law, and more specifically, The Employee free Choice Act.

Even though the "Astro-Turf" corporate front group, Americans for Prosperity, would like you to believe that he is the average American, I hope to god that most of you aren't even remotely that stupid. When I think of Joe The so-called Plumber, I think of him as a prime candidate for Presidency in the fictional future as told in the movie Idiocracy. A world 500 years in the future that is so dumbed down that they don't even know how to farm anymore, a world that needs a "plumber" like Joe.
Our future President, the guy driving, according to Idiocracy, Joe fits right in.

Think Progress has this to say on the matter:
Remember that Joe never had a plumbing license, and many of the people in that profession are members of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA). UA political and legislative director Rick Terven responded to the latest news, saying, “Real plumbers want and need the Employee Free Choice Act as a way to empower themselves to join a union, without fear of intimidation or losing their jobs. Joe the Plumber doesn’t speak for real plumbers.”
Yes, Joe has been hired to talk about The Employee Free Choice Act in the state of Pensylvania, all I can say is What The F@ck??!!

YouTube Video Page:
March 31, 2009, Harrisburg, PA. Just before this video starts, out of microphone range, Joe admits that he has not read the Employee Free Choice Act legislation. Still, he came to Pennsylvania to tell workers that they do not need the protections of the bill.

Fuck you Joe, get a real job!

Big thanks to people over at Keystone Progress for asking the right questions


Remember Triangle Shirtwaist

In 1911, 146 mostly women workers,including many as young as 14, died due to human greed.

"Some of the girls, in jumping, smashed through the sidewalk vault lights on the Washington place side of the building. The bodies that continued to crash upon the vault light finally made a hole in it about five feet in diameter. Just at dusk firemen and policemen were pulling many half nude and burned corpses from this hole."


Learn more at Cornell University ILR School online\

Great article on the 98th. anniversary at Labor Is Not A Commodity:
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire 98th Year Anniversary


Union news 3/29/2009

News added today at Facebook, come join me over there

The Bullshit of Big Business

Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus: "This is the demise of civilization," he exploded. "This is how a civilization disappears. I'm watching this happen and I don't believe it!"...hour-long conference call with various other corporate executives and their political operatives. The purpose was to collect industry funds for a campaign to kill a piece of legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
Hightower: Time for real workplace democracy-- not the phony company version
In the past the corporate and financial elite have been very careful to work in the shadows…………..but their opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act has forced them into the light of day. The best they can do is blatantly lie about it

Workers are being robbed, over and over again
Hilda Solis on Government Accountability Office investigation regarding Wage and hours division
Source: oshaunderground.blogspot.com
In a report scheduled to be released Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office found that the agency, the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, had mishandled 9 of the 10 cases brought by a team of undercover agents posing as aggrieved workers
Research and Development Shifted to low-Cost Countries, Hidden in Corporate Research Budgets. We just don't make anything here anymore

In the latter half of the 20th Century and thus far into the 21st Century, America has witnessed millions of blue and white-collar jobs outsourced to low-wage Third World Countries. As jobs are outsourced ...

Next generation fighting for jobs
Labor Film Festival, Worker Support Key WSU Student Labor Week of Action « Talking UnionWichita YDS President Axel Chacon at an Renegotiate NAFTA rally.
The Young Democratic Socialists chapter at Wichita State University is planning an array of exciting events for the 2009 Student Labor Week of Action. In 2008, WSU students participated in the national campaign organized by Jobs with Justice for the first time. This year, Campus Progress and other campus groups are joining the YDS in a greatly expanded week of action.

All they want is a union
US Food Service Worker Talks to us about the Employee Free Choice Act and the harassment he received organizing
A US Food Service Worker who was harassed and intimidated from his employer just for trying to organize a union.

The US Chamber of Commerce is the fist of Corporate greed, while local chapters are very helpful and filled with mom and pop businesses, the mother group wouldn't care if we were left eating dirt sandwiches. “We are disappointed with President Obama’s executive order, the purpose of which is to interfere with an employer’s ability to communicate with its employees about whether they should be represented by a union,”
Mid-Atlantic States Labor » President Obama signs several pro-labor Executive Orders
LEHIGH VALLEY, March 15th- President Obama signed several Executive Orders benefiting organized labor that will have an immediate impact on private businesses that provide goods and services to the federal government. ...
Notice the "Business" propaganda "Union demands threaten", Meanwhile the PLA in the NYC school construction has saved a ton of money for tax payers, while using SKILLED CRAFTSMAN who are LEGALLY ABLE to work in this country. Without a PLA you get MISCLASSIFICATION schemes, unpaid workers, no overtime pay, unsafe conditions and the taxpayers get to pay for the employers responsibilities. Education+Communication=Power
Construction: GlobalFoundries: Union demands for ‘PLA’ could threaten $4.2B fab - The Business Review
GlobalFoundries Inc. is warning that demands by construction unions for a so-called Project Labor Agreement could put the $4.2 billion chip fab project in Malta at risk.

“We have a narrow window of time in which to complete this complex project in order to successfully bring products to market,” spokesman Travis Bullard said. “It is critical that we complete this project on schedule and within budget.”
Pharmaceuticals in our fish! "The average person hopefully will see this type of a study and see the importance of us thinking about water that we use every day, where does it come from, where does it go to? We need to understand this is a limited resource and we need to learn a lot more about our impacts on it,"
Study: Range of Pharmaceuticals in Fish Across US | CommonDreams.org
http://www.commondreams.org/files/article_images/fish_pharmaceuticals.jpgFish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major U.S. cities had residues of pharmaceuticals in them, including medicines used to treat high cholesterol, allergies, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder and depression, researchers reported Wednesday.

Findings from this first nationwide study of human drugs in fish tissue have prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly expand similar ongoing research to more than 150 different locations.
Main Steam Media blaming the entire mess on Barack Obama: "The sad thing is that most of the Mainstream Media just don't seem to get it. They continue to act as if this is Barack Obama's recession, a problem that he could be, and should be, fixing...and that he hasn't is indicative of some sort of personal failure. The almost complete inability of the media to recognize this recession for what it is- the bastard child of the past eight years of the Reign of Error "
It's easy to sound concerned from the warmth and safety of your ivory tower - What Would Jack Do?http://whatwouldjackdo.net/assets_c/2008/11/miracles-thumb-275x206.jpg

At the press conference Tuesday night, NBC's Chuck Todd asked Obama why he hadn't asked the American people for specific sacrifices. And, Todd wanted something specific. I thought it was an odd question considering how many jobs and homes have been lost across the country. Almost everyone who has a 401-k has watched it tank. Things just aren't good. But, Todd wants more. Obama basically told him the American people are suffering enough. That seemed lost on Todd. That exchange revealed just how deep the chasm is between reality and the DC elite.
I'm (thankfully) not old enough to have first-hand experience of the Great Depression. Therefore, I'm not going to blithely toss around bon mots about how our current situation is this generation's "Great Depression". I don't know that to be the case, and while the symbolism might be apt, it does nothing to help further the understanding of why we are where we are...never mind how we got here or what we need to do to pull ourselves out of this hole.
Image from What Would Jack Do?

Why regulate when the banks are doing so good?
Bank Of America's Lewis Against Reinstating Glass-Steagall Act | Crooks and Liars
No, of course not. Because so far, that little arrangement has been working rather well for them - they got obscenely rich, and we got the tab:
What the Right Wing want's you to believe
Union Maine: Web Wandering on the Left Wing and Advice from the Right
Hi, I am from the Right wing and I am here to help you.I preach fiscal control and morals. I will tell you how to live your life. I am going to give away our whole history and our strategy for 2010. It won't matter because you are all too dumb to remember.

I might chase congressional pages.....but it won't hurt the party. As long as we can stand self-righteously against the abortion and gay marriage the base won't care. We could arrest all of the black population for smoking a joint and no one will care. We fixed the courts to get Rush Limbaugh a pass for buying $8000.00 a week in Oxys. I stand here before you and say to my brain-dead constituency that I know you will keep my political career going. Without me, Wall Street will be regulated and we would lose our biggest backers, but we won't let that happen. Sure some of us were sent packing in the last election and maybe we will lay low for awhile, then reappear and issue a budget with no numbers.

Strauss says screw the workers
R&S Strauss wants to give out nearly $700,000 in bonuses while their workers are left hanging

Strauss Auto Workers Protest for Fair Contract, Against Corporate Greed
Activists rally outside of a Strauss Autobacs service center in New Jersey. The company is demanding outrageous sacrifices from its workers while rewarding executives with $600,000 in bonuses.

French workers take to BossNapping, I guess this is why we should hate the French? They are taking unscrupulous bosses hostage and I can't even punch a super anymore.
Sacked French workers take to 'bossnapping'
Bosses across the world are having to break bad news to employees as companies go under. But that can be a risky business in France, where some furious workers have taken to holding their managers hostage to demand better pay-offs.

In the latest outbreak of "bossnapping", workers at a pharmaceutical factory were Wednesday holding their boss in his office for a second day to force him to improve their redundancy packages.
Unemployment up everywhere except Nebraska
Unemployment up everywhere except Nebraska
About 800 fewer people were unemployed in Nebraska last month than in January, enough to drop the jobless rate one-tenth of a percentage point and set the state apart from the rest of the country.

Dr. Martin Luther King standing up for workers in the days leading to his execution

Dr. King and the 1968 AFSCME Memphis Sanitation Strike

On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis to support AFSCME sanitation workers. That evening, he delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech to a packed room of supporters. The next day, he was assassinated.

Read the full “Mountaintop” speech.

AFSCME Pres. McEntee on King Anniversary

Taking over the worlds food supply

The world plagued by Monsanto

So I read on Common Dreams that Monsanto is trying to “fight back” using Web 2.0.
One example of a company that effectively did that is PC maker Dell Corp. Dell-bashing escalated a few years ago, giving rise to the term "Dell Hell." When the company finally started its own blog, it became the forum of choice for critics.

Monsanto similarly appears to be trying to steer discussion about critical issues to its blog so it’s easier to influence the debate, Barnes said.

"Now they’re controlling the posts, they’re answering the questions, they’re directing them to different places within Monsanto and maybe another site," she said. "They’ve taken control of the situation."
Why even bother to comment on their blog? That allows them to control the debate which cannot be allowed. It’s one thing to monitor their online activities but totally another thing to engage them on their own battlefield. For example I follow the dirty coal industry’s @americaspower on Twitter. I responded to them a few times but no more. There’s no point. Now I just monitor what they’re saying. It’s about building power against them not engaging them.
Joe the wanna-be plumber-douche fighting against the Employee Free Choice Act and more up to date info'
After Specter Flip-Flop: Unions' Grass-Roots Campaign vs. Joe the Plumber, Shill

Washington pundits and even some anxious progressives pronounced the Employee Free Choice Act virtually dead because of Sen. Arlen Specter's flip-flop on the bill. But the union movement is ramping up its largest grass-roots campaign ever, and quite willing to flex its political muscle on behalf of workers' rights.

Stewart Acuff, the special assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO, points out the scope of the grass-roots campaign -- and also sends out hints that centrist and Blue Dog Democrats can't count on labor support anymore if they don't back this bill as they did in the previous Congress. Not only has the AFL-CIO alone helped generate 55,000 hand-written letters to legislators in Washington since January, but Acuff has observed:

Strauss Protest in New Jersey
Strauss Discount Auto Workers Rally For Fair Contract, Protest Executive Greed (3/26/09)
NEWARK, NJ, Thursday, March 26, 2009 – Leaders and members of RWDSU Local 108 representing workers from the Strauss Discount Auto stores rallied with leading labor leaders and elected officials in Newark today to urge the giant retailer to do what is necessary to negotiate a fair, equitable and responsible labor contract. The current contract expired in October 2008, and Strauss Discount Auto’s executives have refused to offer a contract that provides economic relief or fairness for its loyal and dedicated workforce. Leading analysts believe the impact of the current financial crisis on the auto parts industry is minimal.
Bridge Painters Injured on Whitestone Bridge
TWO BRIDGE PAINTERS INJURED IN BOOM TRUCK ACCIDENT ON THE WHITESTONE BRIDGE « GANGBOX: CONSTRUCTION http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/03/27/nyregion/highwayaccident-480.jpg
An M.T.A. construction truck struck an overhead road sign on the Queens-bound plaza of the Whitestone Bridge at 1:10 p.m. on Friday, causing the steel sign structure to come crashing down on all six lanes and injuring two people who were on the truck, according to M.T.A. ...
Unions are good for the American economy
Unions Are Good for the American Economy

State fact sheets: Alaska | Arkansas | California | Delaware| Louisiana | Maine | Montana | Nebraska | New Hampshire | North Carolina | North Dakota | Pennsylvania | Virginia | Wisconsin

U.S. fact sheet (pdf)

Interactive map: Unions Are Good for Workers and the Economy in Every State

Press call: Robert Reich, Beth Shulman, and Karla Walter

The essence of what labor unions do—give workers a stronger voice so that they can http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2009/02/img/efca_chart.jpgget a fair share of the economic growth they help create—is and has always been important to making the economy work for all Americans. And unions only become more important as the economy worsens.

One of the primarily reasons why our current recession endures is that workers do not have the purchasing power they need to drive our economy. Even when times were relatively good, workers were getting squeezed. Income for the median working age household fell by about $2,000 between 2000 and 2007, and it could fall even further as the economy continues to decline. Consumer activity accounts for roughly 70 percent of our nation’s economy, and for a while workers were able to use debt to sustain their consumption. Yet debt-driven consumption is not sustainable, as we are plainly seeing.

Poultry industry: It's bad enough that they hire undocumented with 0 labor rights in most states, but in Iowa, they go a step further, abusing mentally retarded workers from Texas, working from 4:30 till dark, giving them a rat infested hovel to live and sucking the teet of the social security for $400+ in rent.
State closes bunkhouse that housed mentally retarded workers

Federal police, state health inspectors and county prosecutors descended on this eastern Iowa town over the weekend, launching a major investigation into the care and treatment of a group of mentally retarded men and ordering an emergency evacuation of the men's living quarters.

The investigation focuses on Henry's Turkey Service, a Texas-based company that for 34 years has employed dozens of mentally retarded men who work at the West Liberty Foods meat-processing plant in Muscatine County.

Late Saturday, the state fire marshal shut down the deteriorating building — known locally as "the bunkhouse" — that for decades has served as housing for Henry's workers. State social workers moved the 21 occupants of the bunkhouse to a hotel where they were expected to spend the night.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, which investigates allegations of civil rights violations against the disabled, were on the scene Saturday night, as were agents of the FBI.
Great interview with Jack Ahern, president of the NYC Central Labor Council in this week's Irish Echo about worker struggles in a tough economy, the dignity of work when joining a union, and growing up in an Irish working-class home in Brooklyn with his Carpenter Local 608 Father and Firefighter Grandfather.
Ahern leads NYC workers in tough times

"I enjoy going to work every day. I couldn't envision a day when I would get up and not go in to work. At times the work is very, very challenging, at times it's depressing, quite frankly. You don't win every battle," he said. "There are employers who despite our best efforts still take advantage of people. There's a lot of heartache out there, unfortunately. But even on those toughest days, I wouldn't trade my job for anybody's else in the world."

"We arise through difficulties" is the Ahern family motto, he noted. "It sums up a lot of what Irish immigrants felt. Obama paraphrased it in his [economic] speech [in February]," he said. "But it's very much true of the labor movement -- we don't always win, we don't always get what we want, but we're there representing our members. We're fighting to get what's best for our members and for all working people.
Helmets To Hardhats: Over 1,700 returning veterans have entered careers as skilled union tradesman in 2008 thanks to Helmets to Hardhats
Helmets to Hardhats Increases Veterans Placements in 2008

The Helmets to Hardhats program is placing veterans in careers and apprenticeship training programs at an increasing rate. In 2008 alone, 1,701 veterans were placed; representing a 10 percent increase over 2007. Of the 1,701 placements, 79 were entered into the recently conceived “Wounded Warriors” program. The Wounded Warrior program recognizes the supreme sacrifice that our Veterans have made for this country. Its supports disabled Veterans by providing the tools, information and community support that will help Veterans gain prosperous and sustainable careers within the building and construction industry.
Union Construction Workers Always Help: Union construction workers are a very giving bunch, at Bank Of America tower in NYC, we collected over $1000 in one hour for "Walk Now For Autism", and in one lunch session, retired Steamfitter, Gene Jackson, sold over 400 shirts whose proceeds went directly to "Wounded Warriors" which helps our severely injured returning veterans. We always help.
Construction Workers Turn ‘Tip’ Into Cash for Sick Kids

...by the end of the day, a nickel and dime were taped http://blog.aflcio.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/elevator_wp.jpgto the wall next to the penny. “It went from nickels and dimes to quarters and dollar bills,” Bullock said. Pretty soon, Bullock had more than $10 on the wall.

“I didn’t want to keep the money,” he told the NW Labor Press. So he posted a sign saying: “Children’s Cancer Society.”

Word spread that Bullock was giving the money to the cancer center at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. In less than a week more than $200 was tacked to the elevator walls.
Worldwide recession has 29 of the largest construction projects stopped dead
Global recession stalls skyscraper construction

There is a gaping hole where one of the world's tallest buildings is supposed to go up.

The planned 150-story Chicago Spire would be 2,000 feet tall (610 m) if it gets built atop its completed foundation, ranking the tower the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth-tallest among the world's planned skyscrapers.

The Spire was supposed to be finished by 2012 and the Irish developer staged a global marketing campaign. Buyers snapped up a third of its 1,194 luxury condominiums priced between $750,000 and $40 million. Ty Warner, creator of the Beanie Baby toys, opted for the top-priced penthouse.

But after digging a 76-foot-deep (23 m) hole and sinking caissons, construction on the twisting Spire -- inspired, its famed architect Santiago Calatrava said, by swirling smoke from a Native American campfire -- was stalled in January by the credit crisis that is stifling construction worldwide.
Amazon.com CEO actually does what all CEO's should do; He's out there working in the fields with the rest of the employees. As another reader pointed out "Another stunt by a union-busting overpaid executive. Don't buy this milarky. I remember a few years back when he and his hired guns crushed an effort by his distribution center workers to choose union representation and win a living wage. It was shameful"
Jeff Bezos Works In Kentucky Distribution Center For A Week

He apparently wants to see what it's like to be a rank-and-file Amazon employee. More CEOs should try that once in a while.
UPS drops advertising on O'Reilly

UPS Dumps Bill O'Reilly Sponsorship: They're Just Not Into Stalkers

In response to our Stop Supporting The O’Reilly Harassment Machine campaign, UPS told us yesterday that it was investigating whether to continue supporting O’Reilly’s show. “We are sensitive to the type of television programming where our messages and presence are associated and continually review choices to affect future decisions,” spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg told us.

Today UPS announced it will stop advertising on O’Reilly’s show. Here is the statement UPS emailed out just moments ago:

Thank you for sending an e-mail expressing concern about UPS advertising during the Bill O’Reilly show on FOX News. We do consider such comments as we review ad placement decisions which involve a variety of news, entertainment and sports programming. At this time, we have no plans to continue advertising during this show.

"Screw the big banks. I learned my lesson. The only question is:
Will you remember this lesson when times are good again?"

Citi tried to kill our small business - Local bank might save us

We bailed them out. We bailed them out to help them start lending.

As a small business owner with 15 employees I have been struggling to keep us above water for the past 3 months. We're living payroll to payroll. All three partners stopped taking salary so as not to lay off any people. We've been teetering on the edge but somehow we've postponed the drop month by month. Last week we saw our first glimmer of hope with a few extra sales - light at the end of the tunnel.

Yesterday Citi pulled our Line of Credit.
That's just 2 days of links at the Facebook site


Video: Time is money

Once again brendanmcooney, one of my favorite video journalists, puts it all out there.

From the Video Page at YouTube:
This video is a brief overview of changes in the labor process under capitalism. Many of the ideas are from Harry Braverman's "Labor and Monopoly Capital" and from vol. 1 of Marx's Das Kapital.

I hope this video to be first in a long series I plan to call "A Brief History of Crisis" about the evolution of modern society under capitalism- a series that will eventually bring us up to the present crisis.

Bonus just to cheer you up:
Flintstones cartoon that got banned


Senator Arlen Specter, who once sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act slithers behind party lines.

http://img18.imageshack.us/img18/9228/engtruthteaserbm766617g.jpgOne of the original sponsors of The Employee Free Choice Act, with pressure of the upcoming 2010 election, has backed away from the American worker. Senator Specter (R-Pa.) has created an atmosphere in Senate where the opposing Senators in a minority can filibuster. Now, without 60 vote's, Specter being the most likely 60th., cloture is all but impossible.

So what exactly does all that mean? Well a filibuster obstructs the passage of legislation, it wastes time, it wastes the tax paying American's money, from Wikipedia "One of the most notable filibusters of the 1960s was when southern Democratic Senators attempted, unsuccessfully, to block the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by making a filibuster that lasted for 75 hours." If a motion of cloture was petitioned and voted for, then it would have to get debated and voted on.

Quick definitions of filibuster and Cloture

Filibuster (Wikipedia):
A filibuster, or "talking out a bill", is a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body. An attempt is made to infinitely extend debate upon a proposal in order to delay the progress or completely prevent a vote on the proposal taking place.
Cloture (Wikipedia):
Cloture is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end.

After cloture has been invoked, the following restrictions apply:

  • No more than thirty hours of debate may occur.
  • No Senator may speak for more than one hour.
  • No amendments may be moved unless they were filed on the day in between the presentation of the petition and the actual cloture vote.
  • All amendments must be relevant to the debate.
  • Certain debates on procedure are not permissible.
  • The presiding officer gains additional power in controlling debate.
  • No other matters may be considered until the question upon which cloture was invoked is disposed of.

Specter: I'll Vote No on Employee Free Choice Act

(Talking Points Memo):
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) just dealt a big blow to the labor movement by announcing publicly that he would support a GOP filibuster of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), unions' No. 1 priority for this year and a subject of intense lobbying on both sides of the aisle.

"My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons," Specter said in a Senate floor speech, minutes after the news was broken by the Washington Independent. "It is very hard to disappoint many friends ... who are urging me to vote their way."

Fight for Employee Free Choice Continues Despite Specter’s Flip
(AFL-CIO Now):
Even though he was a sponsor of the original Employee Free Choice Act in 2003, supported the bill again in 2005 and voted against a Republican filibuster of it in 2007, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) announced today that he would support a filibuster this year in an attempt to block the legislation from coming to a Senate floor vote.

Specter made a statement today about the failures of America’s labor laws—failures that make the Employee Free Choice Act necessary—but he also advanced falsehoods spread by corporate front groups. The statement shows that he’s listening not to his constituents, but to the big-money interests who are hoping to prevent workers from exercising their basic freedom to form unions and bargain.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says that while Specter’s cave-in to corporate lobbyists is disappointing, it won’t blunt the momentum behind this critical bill to protect worker’s freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life.
Today’s announcement by Sen. Specter—a sponsor of the original Employee Free Choice Act who voted for cloture in 2007—is frankly a disappointment and a rebuke to working people, to his own constituents in Pennsylvania and working families around the country.

The fact is the Employee Free Choice Act has more support than ever—large majorities in both houses of Congress, the president and vice president, 73 percent of the public. We will continue to work with Democrats and a number of Republicans to create common-sense solutions to the decades of corporate power.

We do not plan to let a hardball campaign from Big Business derail the Employee Free Choice Act or the dreams of workers.

There are deep flaws in our labor laws, as Sen. Specter acknowledged today. The freedom to join together and bargain with employers for fair wages and better benefits is critical to rebuilding our middle class—and now is exactly the time to do it, as we begin to revive our economy in a way that works for everyone. In the coming weeks, we will be escalating our campaign and finding the best ways forward to a balanced, strong economy.
American Rights At Work:
He has continually acknowledged the need for practical solutions to the huge barriers workers in our country face when trying to form a union. His statement today opposing an up or down vote and real discussion is inconsistent with his own record of support for working people.
Change To Win:
“The Employee Free Choice Act is a vital component to restoring our economy, rebuilding the middle class and renewing the American Dream for America’s workers. Allowing workers the choice to join together, free from intimidation and harassment, to bargain for job security, better wages and health care will stimulate our economy and put working families back on the path of prosperity. We will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. Specter, to pass this critical legislation and make our economy work for everyone.”
Statement from SEIU President Andy Stern on the Employee Free Choice Act

In the middle of this economic crisis, passing the Employee Free Choice Act is exactly the right thing to do to give workers the chance to level the playing field. Majority Leader Reid said today, and as even Sen. Specter acknowledges, we need strong labor reform. Now more than ever, America's workers need a choice, free from intimidation and harassment, to bargain for job security, better wages and health care. Our President, Vice President and majorities in both houses of Congress share this goal, and we will not stop in our efforts to achieve it.

In an essay Senator Specter recently wrote for the Harvard Journal on Legislation, he states that for people like himself, "finding a practical solution is more important than political posturing." That's why we're dismayed by those who say they support the democratic process, yet refuse to allow meaningful debate and a democratic vote on critical legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act.

It's simple: If you support democracy, you should support the right to debate legislation that could improve the lives of millions of working Americans, pump $49 billion into the economy at a time when we desperately need it, and that's supported by the vast majority of the public.

We look forward to working with Sen. Specter and the rest of the Congress to find ways to give workers the free choice to join a union free from intimidation and harassment.

98 Years Ago Today

Crossposted from Uniongal
by Bendygirl

Young women were toiling away in their factory. The factory was littered with lint, dust and fabric. Fabric hung above them, finished shirts, unfinished, strips of cloth and everywhere, women toiled, trying to feed their families. Within only a day, many of these same women would be dead.

Near closing time on Saturday afternoon, March 25, 1911, a fire broke out... and this Friday, you can do something to remember these women and all those whose workplaces continue to put them at risk. If you live in New York, join UNITE HERE:

To honor the women who died at the Triangle Fire and our continued fight for workers rights and workplace safety, we would like you to join us at the commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire -- a definitive event in the history of American labor and in the history of New York City.
Triangle Fire Commemoration
Friday, March 27, 2009 at 12 pm

New York City:
Corner of Washington Place & Greene Street
For more information about the commemoration, please contact
Ed Vargas at 212-265-7000.


China weld led to NY crane deaths, Stronger unions in the land of Wal-Mart

Here's some snips of stories I wish I had time to write about, click the titles to read the entire stories.

An "inadequate weld" by repair workers in China factored in the May 30 tower-crane collapse on East 91st Street that killed two construction workers, say government investigative documents obtained by The Post.

When the turntable weld snapped 13 stories above East 91st Street and First Avenue, the crane's engine, hoisting booms and operator cabin, fell to the street, killing the operator, Donald Leo, 30, and ground-level construction worker Ramadan Kurtaj, 28.

Other culprits may be unearthed in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration probe of the tragedy - the second of two fatal tower-crane topplings in Manhattan last year. Among the other factors are the crane's age and whether it was adequately inspected before it was set up.

OSHA officials won't discuss the probe. But sources outside the agency say it is withholding its report while Manhattan prosecutors weigh possible criminal charges.

The turntable on the 24-year-old Kodiak crane was damaged at a high-rise construction job on West 46th Street in May 2007 by what its owner, New York Crane & Equipment, says was a lightning strike.

New York Crane and its owner, James Lomma, weighed two options to fix the turntable bearing.

An Ohio company, Avon Bearings, offered to do the job for $120,000 in about 196 days. The other offer was from a Chinese firm, RTR Bearing, which said it could fix the bearing for $20,000 in 90 days - despite the time needed to ship the part to China and back.

Corporate greed has gone unchecked recently in part due to the decline of the labor movement. Is it a coincidence that union membership declined dramatically from 20 percent of the private sector workforce in 1980 to just over 7 percent in 2006 while CEO pay has increased from 42 times what the average worker made in 1980 to 364 in 2006? Unions demand an economy that works for all, not just those at the top, such as AIG executives. As William Greider, author of the Soul of Capitalism, told me, "Unions are an honest broker in the economy.”

Through pension and retirement funds, workers can fund companies that invest in communities and in green jobs, promote workers' rights and operate in a transparent manner; and penalize companies that don't. With over $6 trillion of workers' money in retirement plans, pension funds, profit-sharing and stock plans and union reserve funds, the money of workers' plays a large role in fueling the global economy. Through putting workers' representatives on the board of these funds, unions can make sure that "worker investments are managed in workers' best financial interests." By investing in transparent, open and financially healthy companies, unions through stockholder activism can lead the way in ending the culture of reckless corporate short-term profit-seeking, which led to the rise of subprime mortgages and credit-derivative swaps.

Unions have long sought ways to make corporate profits sustainable in the long run in order to both retain and create jobs. It is ironic that the United Auto Workers (UAW) has been unfairly scapegoated as the cause of the demise of the auto industry since, as early as 1949, they have called for the Big Three to make small, more fuel-efficient cars. In 1949, in a pamphlet entitled "A Small Car Named Desire," the UAW cautioned automakers against investing solely in big cars since some consumers would ultimately be interested in cheaper smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. In short, unions have also sought was is best for all— not just for workers, but creating the economic conditions that will allow their companies to thrive.

The irony of Wal-Mart's use of the words "coercion" and "intimidation" to campaign against the EFCA is pretty evident. Wal-Mart is notorious for its own coercive anti-union tactics, and is considered by labor and human rights groups as one of the largest union-busting firms in the country, often intimidating, coercing and harassing employees to prevent unionization at its stores.

Federal labor law charges have been filed on behalf of Wal-Mart workers in more than 20 states. By June 2008, Wal-Mart had at least 80 class-action lawsuits in 41 states pending against it for worker abuse. From 1998 through 2003, the National Labor Relations Board filed more than 45 complaints accusing Wal-Mart managers in more than two dozen stores of illegal practices, including improperly firing union supporters, intimidating workers, and threatening to deny bonuses if workers unionized.

Wal-Mart's anti-union intimidation tactics are the exact sort of worker harassment the EFCA is set to end. Labor rights' groups point out that workers often choose to pursue "card-check" campaigns simply because secret-ballot elections are easily manipulated by employers during the long pre-election period. Employers often use this extra time to engage in coercive anti-union campaigning to influence workers not to vote for the union. During this period, workers can face harassment, intimidation, and even be fired simply for trying to exercise their right to organize.
Strip away the propaganda, though, and what's at stake is clear. The measure finally levels a playing field that has been tilted against organised labour ever since the Founding Fathers – or at least since a Philadelphia judge ruled in 1806 that an attempt by a group of shoemakers to secure a wage increase was an "illegal criminal conspiracy". Abraham Lincoln, who extolled the moral superiority of labour over capital, might have been a supporter of unions – but most often the movement struggled against the overwhelming power of the bosses.

The story of Jay Gould, financier, railroad magnate and archetypal "robber baron", sums up an era. In 1886, Gould was confronted by the so-called Great SouthWest Railroad Strike. Was he worried? someone asked. Not at all, Gould is said to have replied: "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half." Predictably, the strike failed.

More than a century later, employers still practise intimidation, albeit of a subtler variety. They can keep outside union organisers off the premises, and fire employees who agitate for unions, at the risk of derisory fines. Workers are told of the evils of unionised life. Jobs, they are told, will vanish as costs rise. If "socialism" comes to the shop floor, the entire company may be forced to relocate to friendlier, even foreign, climes. Honing these tactics are so-called union-avoidance consultants, "union-busters" as they are better known. They are masters of stalling, prevarication and generally exploiting every loophole in America's labour laws.

Yes, the employees may get a secret vote – but to what end? According to a recent study, out of 22,000 organising drives at companies between 1999 and 2005, only one in five succeeded in establishing a union that negotiated a collective contract with employers. And this despite polls showing that up to 50 million non-unionised workers would join if they could.

The country would benefit as well. In fact, the health of the unions and that of the national economy move almost as one. In the 1920s, unions were weak and corporate excesses contributed to the crash that followed. But in the Depression, membership soared, as the great social programmes of the New Deal helped build the middle class that took wing after the Second World War.

Just as in the 1920s, this latest "boom" has done little for the middle classes. A declining union movement was mirrored by a concentration of wealth among the rich. If labour reasserts itself, its extra bargaining muscle should help protect jobs and improve healthcare coverage, the two greatest worries of ordinary Americans.

And, you could argue, with stronger unions worldwide, this crisis might never have happened. In China, the other contributor to unsustainable global imbalance, a genuinely independent union movement might have forced that government to divert resources into consumption, rather than pile up a surplus that financed America's ruinous borrowing binge.

But will the bill gain approval? A couple of years ago, a similar bill foundered in the Senate. Back then, George Bush threatened to veto the measure. Now, President Barack Obama strongly supports it – as well he should, given the money and organisation the unions contributed to his victory. Several influential Democrats, doubtless prodded by their own corporate donors, are having second thoughts, however, claiming the priority is to put the economy to rights. But again, that is precisely the point. If organised labour had had a stronger voice, the US might never have got into this mess in the first place.

Working families struggle

Snip from World Socialist Web Site:
US: Working families struggle to make ends meet

A recent survey by Feeding America, formerly America's Second Harvest, finds a 30 percent average increase in people seeking help at food banks across the nation, twice the increase seen six months ago. More than 70 percent of food banks are unable to meet the demand and are being forced to cut back on the food they provide to soup kitchens, food pantries and emergency shelters.

After a request for $300 million in emergency assistance was left out of the recent economic recovery package, Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, said, "It is tragic that this legislation ignores the emergency food needs of millions of people affected by the faltering economy."

"Many of the people we see are recently unemployed and do not currently qualify for food stamps, or are waiting for benefits to be approved," she said. "Our food banks are seeing unprecedented numbers of people coming to food pantries across the country, and their shelves are becoming emptier by the day.

Escarra added, "We cannot continue to feed millions of additional men, women and children who are turning to us, often for the first time, without more support from the federal government. Americans are going hungry, and we are in a crisis."

Six years and a few days, our fallen in the Iraq conflict

Amazing, if it wasn't for the internet, I wouldn't even know that the Iraq invasion anniversary passed. Let us take a moment to reflect.

the UNGRATEFUL DEAD (IRAQ 4,576 coalition deaths)

Attacking the Employee Free choice Act, AP quotes everyone aginst the bill

From the Blog for Media Matters for America, County Fair:

AP quotes "labor lawyer" who is really an anti-labor lawyer

by Jamison Foser

Earlier, I noted that the Washington Post failed to quote a single labor representative in its Employee Free Choice article today, though it quoted three CEOs. Turns out the AP is even worse. This article doesn't quote any labor sources, though it does quote a Starbucks spokesperson, the vice president of the anti-labor National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Whole Foods spokesperson, a Chamber of Commerce official, a representative of the anti-labor Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, and "Washington labor lawyer Jay Krupin."

Wait, "Washington labor lawyer Jay Krupin" sounds promising. Surely, given the fact that the AP quoted two representatives of major corporations and three representatives of anti-labor interest groups, "labor lawyer" Jay Krupin must represent unions, right?

Probably not. Here's a 2000 restaurant industry newsletter that says Krupin "represents a range of restaurant and other foodservice companies dealing with unions" and quotes him calling unions a "cancer":

Indeed, Jay Krupin, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who represents a range of restaurant and other foodservice companies dealing with unions, contends the foodservice industry has seen more organizing activity in the last year than in recent memory.

That activity is evident "across the board" in the industry, though most likely seen with national restaurant and hotel chains, he says. And while foodservice industry "conferences aren't focusing on the issue of organizing. . . they very well should be," Krupin suggests.

"I think [the expanding organizing efforts are] a hidden cancer, [that] employers are more concerned with profitability and the ability to succeed, to survive in a very competitive market," Krupin says.

And here's a Fortune article from last December that says Krupin has "negotiated more than 300 labor agreements on behalf of employers."

And here's Krupin claiming "instead of having secret ballot election by employees on whether or not they wish to join a union, the labor movement wants to move to a card-check process, which is potentially fraught with issues such as coercion, intimidation and interference."

It's bad enough that the AP quotes several anti-labor activists and not a single labor representative. But it's even worse that the AP identifies a corporate lawyer who has described worker organization efforts as a "cancer" simply as a "labor lawyer," which most readers will probably assume means he is a pro-labor lawyer.


Scenes from the global recession

This is from Boston.Com

Scenes from the recession

The state of our global economy: foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies, layoffs, abandoned projects, and the people and industries caught in the middle. It can be difficult to capture financial pressures in photographs, but here a few recent glimpses into some of the places and lives affected by what some are calling the "Great Recession". (35 photos total)

Hotel property manager Paul Martinez kicks in a tenant's door after no one answered the knock during an eviction February 26, 2009 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The tenant said that he was laid off from his job in a retail store two months ago and had fallen behind on his rent payments at the low-budget hotel. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Sheriff's Deputy Bill Ewell searches an apartment before an eviction team removed the remaining furniture February 26, 2009 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The tenants, who had not paid the rent the previous month, had already left the apartment ahead of the eviction. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

Storm clouds hover near unfinished home lots during a break between storms after the dwindling new home sales market brought construction to a halt at a new home development December 16, 2008 in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Home construction took its biggest dive in 24 years in November to reach a record low. (David McNew/Getty Images) #

Hundreds of people stand in line as they look for jobs at the Miami Dade College Mega Job Fair 2009 on March 4, 2009 in North Miami, Florida. Job fairs are swamped with applicants as the economy continues to tank and many people find themselves unemployed. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

Thousands of job-seekers flock to a job fair in Hefei, Anhui province, China on March 1, 2009. At least 20 million of China's 130 million migrant workers have become jobless after tens of thousands of labor-intensive export-oriented factories closed due to the global financial crisis, and job training schemes for migrant workers are springing up around China, Xinhua News Agency reported. (REUTERS/Jianan Yu) #

A sign informing readers that Fremont Pontiac GMC is permanently closed is seen on a door at the Newark, Calif. dealership, Tuesday, March 3, 2009. The dealership closed due to economic conditions earlier this year. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) #

A construction site is seen in Almaty, Kazakhstan on January 27, 2009. Dozens of projects in the construction industry have come to a standstill due to a deepening financial crisis. Kazakhstan expects economic growth to stall further this year as major industries ranging from construction to energy and banking experience lack of financing due to tighter credit conditions. (REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov) #

A stopped construction site is seen behind an older two-family house occupied by only one family in Almaty, Kazakhstan on March 4, 2009. (REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov) #

A RE/MAX Central bus advertises tours of foreclosed homes March 7, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The real estate group began giving tours for prospective buyers three times a week in February 2008, in an effort to clear inventory of foreclosed properties. They have seen a steady decrease in foreclosure listings since the summer of 2008 in the Las Vegas area. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images) #

People attend the REDC Foreclosure Home Auction in New York, in this photo taken March 8, 2009. About 1,400 people crowded into New York's first foreclosure auction over the weekend. One family bought a 2,062-square foot home in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York for just $12, 500 or $6 per square foot, according to the New York Post. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton) #

The Magen Abraham Synagogue sits at center of this photograph taken on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008, surrounded by the gleaming new skyscrapers in Wadi Abou Jmil, Lebanon - formerly Beirut's main Jewish neighborhood. One of Lebanon's sole remaining synagogues, this building was set for a restoration that has the rare blessing of all the factions in this divided country - but the global financial crisis has scuttled the effort for now, leaving the Magen Abraham chained, padlocked, badly damaged and overgrown with weeds. (AP Photo/Grace Kassab) #

As new home sales and housing starts hit record lows, empty lots, partially constructed homes and abandoned ones are seen in a subdivision on January 30, 2009 near Homestead, Florida. Prices in November of 2008 declined 8.7 percent from a year earlier, the biggest drop in records going back to 1991, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

An empty house lot is seen through the windows of a home where construction work has stopped January 22, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Construction of new homes and apartments fell 15.5 percent last month to an annual rate of 550,000 units. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

Thousands of unemployed Chinese graduates flock to a job fair in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province on March 7, 2009. China vowed to help train one million graduates in the next three years to boost their qualifications, and promised loans to business that hire graduates, as unemployment continues to grow. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #

Brittney Nance holds her head as she works on her laptop in her motel room at the Old Town Inn March 5, 2009 in West Sacramento, California. Brittney and her family were evicted from the house they were renting after her husband, Steve Nance, lost his job. The couple and their three children are living in a budget motel while they save enough money for deposit on a new rental home, but are finding it difficult as they pay nearly $1200 a month for the motel room. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) #

Brittney Nance and her children Henry, 5, and Izabella, 7, walk through the parking lot of their hotel on the way to the grocery store March 5, 2009 in West Sacramento, California. All five family members live in a small studio sized room with most of their belongings. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) #

Dodge SUVs sit parked in the Atlantic Marine Terminal at the port of Baltimore February 18, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. As the worldwide economic downturn persists and automobile sales continue to slow, more than 57,000 new automobiles sit idle in the port of Maryland. The state of Maryland recently paid $5.26 million for almost 15 acres of additional car storage space near the port, freeing space for more cargo. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) #

A general view shows a halted construction of a highway called "Lulin" near capital Sofia, bulgaria November 26, 2008. The highway is facing serious delay due to lack of funding, according to local media. (OLEG POPOV/Reuters) #

People walk in a residential district dotted with unfinished apartment buildings in Kiev December 24, 2008. Dozens of unfinished buildings populate the Kiev skyline, their abandoned hulks embodying the damage that the world's financial crisis has inflicted on Ukraine. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich) #

Unfinished homes in a subdivision in Maricopa, Arizona are seen through yellow caution tape and fencing set up to prevent trespassing February 25, 2009. Maricopa was one of the fastest growing towns in America until vast unemployment and the real estate bust swept through the country. Now, approximately 75 percent of residents owe more money on their mortgages than their homes are actually worth. Some developers are left to leave new homes unbuilt due to the slow economy. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images) #

Laid-off workers from the Longbin Distillery in Harbin, the capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang province, stage a sit-in as security guards surround them at the offices of the China Resources Holdings Company in Beijing Wednesday, March 18, 2009. The workers are demanding insurance and retirement benefits they say were lost when their distillery became a subsidiary of China Resources in 2007. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #

Shoppers walk through a nearly empty aisle at a Circuit City store in Las Vegas, Friday, Feb. 27, 2009. Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November as it faced pressure from vendors, heightened competition and waning consumer spending. Later it announced it would liquidate its 567 U.S. stores, cutting more than 34,000 jobs. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) #

An abandoned building construction site is seen in Warsaw March 5, 2009. Polish analysts are wondering if the global financial crisis would pull real estate prices down in Poland as well. (REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko) #

A padlocked chain holds the door shut on a foreclosed duplex as pedestrians walk by Friday, March 6, 2009 in the Bronx, N.Y. Foreclosures are spreading by epidemic proportions, expanding beyond a handful of problem states and now affecting almost one in every eight American homeowners. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) #

Weeds have taken over a row of vacant, unfinished new homes Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 in Gilbert, Arizona. (AP Photo/Matt York) #

A section of the Rocky Mountain News newsroom sits empty on February 27, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The edition on Friday the 27th was the last one for the nearly 150-year-old daily, Colorado's oldest newspaper. The owner E.W. Scripps Co. announced the day before that the paper was closing down after efforts to sell the money-losing newspaper failed. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

A home construction site stands idle where construction has been halted, on February 24, 2009 near Riverside, California. U.S. single family homes prices continued to plummet for the second year, falling 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the year before. It was the biggest decline in the 21-year history of the Standard & Poors/Case-Shiller US national home price index. (David McNew/Getty Images) #

A locked gate blocks the entrance at the out-of-business San Rafael Chevrolet Saab Hummer Hyundai March 3, 2009 in San Rafael, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) #

Job seekers join a line of hundreds at a job fair in Heredia, Costa Rica on March 6, 2009. The job fair attracted hundreds of unemployed Costa Ricans looking for work across the country. (REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate) #

Unused newspaper racks clutter a storage yard in San Francisco, California on Friday, March 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) #

Katie Kupferschmid (left) and Lisa Arata test gold jewelry at a gold party March 12, 2009 in West Orange, New Jersey. Gold parties are a growing trend in the United States where a hostess invites friends and family to bring their unwanted gold to sell for extra income. The price is based on karat content, weight and the market price of gold that day. (Daniel Barry/Getty Images) #

A homeless resident of a tent city in Sacramento, California wears an American flag jacket on March 10, 2009. This tent city of the homeless is seeing an increase in population as the economy worsens, as more people join the ranks of the unemployed and as homes slip into foreclosure. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) #

Construction is stopped on the Seneca Casino in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 24, 2008. With the state a signature away from collecting tax from tribal cigarette sales and a mega casino project mothballed because of economic and legal challenges, even by a former warrior nation's standards there are tough battles ahead. (AP Photo/David Duprey) #

Unused freight containers are seen piled up at storage depots near a residential area in northwest Hong Kong February 18, 2009. China's hopes for a speedy export recovery from the global crisis could be undermined by the weakest links in its powerful supply chain - smaller firms too damaged by the downturn and credit crisis to get goods to market. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip) #

A wildflower blooms at an idle home construction site where construction has been halted, on February 24, 2009 near Riverside, California. The January median sales price for Southern California homes fell 40 percent from the same month a year prior and Los Angeles-area home prices ended 2008 down 37 percent from a late 2006 peak. (David McNew/Getty Images) #