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AT&T Wireless Workers in Southeastern States Reach Agreement on New Contract

 

Over 12,000 Communications Workers of America (CWA)-represented AT&T wireless workers from nine southeastern states and the U.S. Virgin Islands won increased wages, more job security and rollbacks of offshoring and outsourcing in a tentative contract agreement reached last night.

“I am proud of our bargaining committee and the CWA members from across the country who supported their efforts with rallies and picketing events,” said Richard Honeycutt, Vice President of CWA’s District 3. “We are continuing to set new standards in the wireless industry and we are demonstrating that the best way for working people to achieve better pay and fair treatment on the job is by joining together in a union.”

The four-year proposed agreement provides 10.1% in raises over the course of the contract and shifts $2,500 from commission to base pay for retail workers. The agreement sets guarantees for the portion of customer service calls that will be handled exclusively by wireless workers who are CWA members in the nine states covered by the agreement: Alabama Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Highlights include:

  • A guaranteed increase in the portion of customer service calls handled exclusively by wireless workers who are CWA members;
  • Job security language that guarantees a job for workers whose store or call center is closed or whose job title is eliminated;
  • $2,500 shifted from commission to base pay for retail workers, making pay more stable;
  • Greater ability to use sick days without risk of discipline;
  • Limits on the types of monitoring and surveillance of retail and call center workers so that evaluation is fair and equitable;
  • Safety equipment for warehouse workers; and
  • Increase in on-call pay for technicians.

The agreement comes on the heels of a similar agreement which was ratified last month by AT&T wireless workers in 36 additional states and DC.


About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents 700,000 working men and women in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, public service and manufacturing.

cwa-union.org @cwaunion

NEA-NH President Declares School Shootings Cannot Become the ‘New Normal’

It’s time to demand our politicians do more than express sorrow and regret when children are gunned down at school   

CONCORD, NH – February 15, 2018 – “On behalf of our 17,000 members, I want to express our profound sympathies to the families of those killed in yesterday’s school shooting in Florida” said NEA-NH President, Megan Tuttle.

She continued, “Some news commentators have said the killing of students and school employees is the ‘new normal.’  We cannot allow this to happen. Sadly, if nothing is done to address the issues that lead people to deliberately shoot school children and those who dedicate their lives to educating them, then this will become the ‘new normal’.” 

“Our elected officials have the power and the resources to stop this epidemic in its tracks. It is no mystery why these events occur.  Unaddressed mental health issues and bulling are only two of the well-known reasons why people turn our schools into places of untold grief and violence. It is time for us to demand our politicians take action to provide services which eliminate these risks.”

“Professions of regret and sympathies, while heartfelt, do not constitute a policy, or program, or take even one step towards a solution to the mass killings in our schools.  Enough is enough. If those professions are serious, then so must be the response, otherwise this will keep happening”.

“The time to do something is now, not after the next one, or the next one, or the next one. We’ve had enough of that.” 

Tuttle is calling on Governor Sununu and the Legislature to pass and fund legislation that would provide additional mental health resources; fund training at the local level for educators, education employees, and administrators to help identify at-risk students and get them the help they need; and fund long-term security measures in schools.  This legislation must include stable and reliable funding and not rely only on state surpluses.

“Sadly, every school must now have an active shooter response plan in place. It’s time for the Governor to initiate meaningful discussions with educators, school employees, administrators, community leaders, and mental health workers on what can be done to prevent such violence in the first place.” 

Tuttle concluded, ” We cannot afford to wait until we experience this type of violence here. We cannot listen to the voices that encourage us to postpone finding solutions or engaging in meaningful dialogue to stop these incredible horrors.  We must do everything we can now to ensure our children and the people who educate them are safe every day they enter a school. NEA-NH is ready and willing to work with our elected officials to ensure New Hampshire schools are a place where children’s laughs are not drowned out by the sound of gunshots and sirens.”

Berry Craig: Kentucky Union Members Who Voted For Trump Are Having Buyers Remorse Now


By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Donald Trump carried all but two of Kentucky’s 120 counties, and he collected a whopping 62.5 percent of the vote.

Kentucky is among only a dozen states where the president’s popularity is 50 percent or higher. He’s at 51 in the Red State Bluegrass State.

Nationwide, Trump received votes from 43 percent of union households, according to a Roper poll. The survey didn’t break down the results state by state. The president probably did as well or better among Kentucky union households.

Anyway, go ahead and call it whistling past the graveyard. But the 51 percent number suggests that buyer’s remorse is creeping up in the border state I’ve called home for all my 68 years.

I’ve packed a union card for about two dozen years. Most of us in organized labor voted for Hillary Clinton, the AFL-CIO-endorsed Democrat. But I’m hearing about rumblings of regret in union ranks.

We said Trump was—and still is—a fraud and a con man. He ran on a standard Wall Street Republican platform with planks supporting:

— “right to work” (On the campaign trail, Trump said he preferred RTW states to non-RTW states.)

— repeal of the prevailing wage on federal construction projects

— deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

— sharp rollbacks in federal regulations that safeguard worker safety and health on the job, protect consumers and shield the environment from polluters

— hefty tax breaks for corporations and rich people and tax crumbs for the rest of us

The Trump-Republican Robin-in-reverse tax bill came up at this month’s meeting of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, where I’m recording secretary.

“We’ve always preached that what’s good for the union is good for everybody, and it has been historically,” said delegate Jimmy Evans, IBEW Local 816 business manager.

He cited as proof the tax legislation, which AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called in a statement “nothing but an attack on America’s workers.” He added, “We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less. It’s a job killer. It gives billions of tax giveaways to big corporations that outsource jobs and profits.”

The devil is always in the details. Under the tax bill, corporations can deduct payments to union-busting lawyers, but union members can’t deduct their union dues, according to the USW.

“Previously, employees could potentially write off work-related expenses that added up to more than 2 percent of their gross income, and for which an employer didn’t reimburse them,” explained CNBC’s Annie Nova.

Nova also wrote that the axing of “miscellaneous itemized deductions” for a lot of taxpayers might not sound like a big deal, but she cautioned that their disappearance “will leave a hole in many workers’ pockets, experts say.”

The end of those deductions “was a shot across the bow of union members,” Evans said. “But it also affects a lot of non-union members that work construction, just like it does our construction members.”

Nova also said workers can no longer deduct “work-related legal fees…medical examinations required by an employer, union dues and licenses.”

She quoted Seth Harris, a deputy labor secretary under President Barack Obama: “The really big story of the tax bill is that it favors capital over labor. It’s heavily skewed to benefit people who get money without working, as opposed to those who labor for a living.”

Harris also told her that many workers who itemize have a lot of different expenses — including mortgages — that would still make itemizing worth their while. He added that deductions for corporations are still abundant.

In addition, Nova quoted David Kamin, a law professor at New York University who was an economic policy advisor in the Obama administration: “While people can say there’s a doubling of the standard deduction, those who have significant unreimbursed business expenses will not do as well.”

She also interviewed Martin Davidoff, a New Jersey CPA and tax attorney who said it’s unfair that companies can still deduct the “so-called cost of doing business.”

“Take a look at McDonald’s,” he told Nova. “They spend $50 million on a Superbowl ad, and they get to deduct it.”

Tax attorney Paul Drizner said that under the tax bill, many teachers will be forced to choose between spending less on their classrooms or taking home less from their salaries. (Teachers can still can claim a $250 above-the-line deduction on unreimbursed workplace expenses if they itemize or not, according to Nova). “Teachers shouldn’t be paying out of their own pocket to put their lessons together,” said Drizner in the story.

Evans said it’s not just the tax bill that has union members rethinking the ballots they cast for Trump and other Republicans. “Now they’re wanting to get back on board and be on our side again. They see that those things we fought for is what helped them.”

I carry AFT and NEA/KEA retiree cards. More than a few community college and public-school teachers not only voted for Trump in 2016, they also cast ballots for GOP Gov. Matt Bevin the year before. (Most of us in AFT and KEA also voted for Jack Conway, the KEA and Kentucky State AFL-CIO-endorsed Democratic gubernatorial hopeful.

The fact that the president’s popularity rating in Kentucky is 11.5 percentage points lower that his victory margin suggests that many Trump backers regret their votes. We’ll know more in a Feb. 20 special House election in Bullitt County.

The incumbent, Republican Dan Johnson, took his own life. His widow, Republican Rebecca Johnson, who shares her late husband’s ultra-conservative views, wants to replace him. Her opponent is state AFL-CIO and KEA-endorsed Democrat Linda Belcher, whom Dan Johnson unseated in 2016.

KEA warned that the tea party-tilting Bevin could turn out to be the worst governor for public education in a long time, if not ever. Unions warned he was a union-buster to boot.

In 2017, he and his GOP-majority legislature pushed through a bill authorizing charter schools, which drain much-needed funds from public schools. (With Bevin cheering them on, GOP lawmakers also passed a “right to work” law and repealed the prevailing wage on state construction jobs.

Bevin’s proposed 2018 budget takes a meat-axe to education spending from kindergarten through higher education, including community colleges and state universities. He also wants to gut the workers’ compensation program.

Too, in the phony name of pension “reform,” Bevin has proposed a measure that would curb some benefits for current employees and retirees and force most new hires onto risky 401(a) programs.

Teachers are up-in-arms over the pension bill. (The GOP-majority House has been devising its own pension bill behind closed doors but has yet to release it.)

“It’s great to see all the educators getting involved,” Evans said. “But you know what it took to get them involved? Somebody is dipping his hand into their wallets.”

Evans hates to say, “we told you so,” but he reminded the delegates at our meeting that, all along, organized labor has been telling union members what politicians like Trump and Trump fan Bevin “want to do to them. It’s the same in our ranks. It’s taken politicians dipping into their wallets to get a lot of people re-engaged.”

 

Article originally appeared in the Kentucky AFL-CIO blog and reposted with permission.

AFGE President: Trump Budget Continues Assault on Working Class Families

Budget would freeze federal worker wages, slash benefits, undermine rights

WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement:

“President Trump’s budget is nothing less than a roadmap for dismantling the career civil service and handing over our most sacred public institutions to political donors and party loyalists.

“Federal workers shouldn’t be hired or fired on the whims of political appointees whose allegiance is to their political party, not the country’s best interests. By stripping employees of their due process rights and firing those who reject his politics, President Trump is opening the door for rampant corruption, discrimination, and worker intimidation.

“No group has lost more to deficit reduction than the federal workforce, with a three-year pay freeze, two government shutdowns, unpaid furloughs, and huge benefits cuts. Yet President Trump is proposing even more drastic cuts to workers’ wages, retirement security, health insurance, workers’ compensation benefits, and even their basic right to join a union and bargain over their work conditions.

“The financial hit alone to federal workers would climb to $246 billion over 10 years if President Trump succeeds in freezing their wages next year. Meanwhile, corporations and the wealthiest individuals are receiving massive windfalls thanks to unwarranted and unpaid tax cuts.

“The women and men who serve our country deserve our support and respect, not calls for slashing their pay and benefits and politicizing their jobs.”

America Needs Real Federal Investment To Repair Our National Infrastructure

Today, President Trump announced his “Trillion dollar infrastructure plan” that many say, completely misses the mark.

ThinkProgress explains how the new program is going to work (in theory):

“The proposal aims to turn $200 billion in federal funds into a $1.5 trillion investment over the next ten years by placing most of the financial burden on states and cities, which will have to cover at least 80 percent of the cost of any infrastructure project in order to qualify for federal grants, likely through higher taxes, tolls, and other user fees. The $200 billion number is a dramatic reduction in federal cost-sharing from years past.

…According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) annual Infrastructure Report Card, the United States needs to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 in order to improve the country’s infrastructure — a figure three times larger than even the rosiest estimate in Trump’s proposal and more than 20 times larger than the $200 billion actually allocated.”

Larry I. Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) said “plan undermine the diverse needs of our transportation network” in his statement:

“We have long called for America’s infrastructure crisis to be met with a massive infusion of new federal investment that will grow the economy and create good, middle-class jobs. While we appreciate the spotlight President Trump has shined on the need to rebuild America, too many aspects of this plan undermine the diverse needs of our transportation network and the businesses, communities, and working families that depend on it.

“Robbing other federal priorities — including important transportation programs — to pay for infrastructure will only add to our growing problems. Furthermore, devolving the federal government’s funding responsibility to cash-strapped states and municipalities will leave too many projects and jobs behind.

“Congress now has an opportunity to craft a bipartisan proposal that will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, fuel a new wave of middle-class job creation, and bolster the American economy in a way that works for everyone. Getting there will require robust federal investment, stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund for surface transportation needs and prioritizing Buy America rules and longstanding labor protections that support good jobs and raise wages.

“Creating an infrastructure network capable of supporting a 21st-Century economy requires real federal commitment. It is now time for Congress to take the lead and we stand ready to support that effort.” 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also released a statement on Trump’s infrastructure plan: 

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our country’s grade on infrastructure is a D-plus. The infrastructure we use hundreds of millions of times each day is literally crumbling after decades of neglect. Our cars drive on broken roads, our children cross failing bridges, our loved ones ride on unsafe rail, our outdated electrical grids waste incredible amounts of power all while working people pay the cost of inaction.

President Trump has rightly noted the urgency and scale of America’s infrastructure crisis, and he has an opportunity to fix it. Unfortunately, today’s proposal relies more on accounting gimmicks and Wall Street investors than on a new federal commitment, which leaves states and municipalities to pick up the tab.

The right infrastructure plan will lift our communities and drive our economy forward for generations to come. That’s why this issue is so important and why the AFL-CIO and our affiliates are working actively with Congress to craft legislation that achieves these goals in a bipartisan way. If our nation’s leaders are serious about building America, they need to step up with trillions of dollars in new federal funding that supports America’s jobs, America’s resources and America’s products. And they need to uphold high labor standards and good wages and protect working people on the job. If they do, we have the most highly skilled and well-trained workforce ready to get the job done.

Well known economist, Robert Reich, posted a short video about the new infrastructure plan calling it a “huge tax giveaway for the rich.”  He warns that we would be turning over our public roads and bridges to private corporations who will install new fees and tolls.

This afternoon the Washington Post reports that President Trump is looking to “divest” in government assets and privatize government services. He is even proposing selling off, Washington National Airport (DCA) and Dulles International (IAD).

“The Washington region’s George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, both run by the National Park Service, are listed as “examples of assets for potential divestiture.” It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Same with the two airports in Virginia, which are leased from the federal government.

…Efforts to privatize federal assets were discussed early in the administration by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and other advisers as a preferred way to come up with capital for much needed improvements.

A high-profile Trump effort to move the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands was blocked in Congress.”

Even the fiscal conservative group, The Concord Coalition, says the numbers just don’t add up.

The administration is focusing a great deal of attention on its infrastructure plan but counting on most of the money for it to come from state and local governments as well as the private sector. The federal government would provide only $200 billion of the $1.5 trillion spending goal. Yet the budget proposes transportation and other infrastructure cuts of around $200 billion and there is no clear, credible explanation of this juxtaposition or how any new infrastructure spending would be financed.

Trump says he is open to the possibility of raising the federal gas tax, which has not been done since 1993. This would be a reasonable step. But just hinting at such an increase is not enough; the president should show real leadership by calling on Congress to approve a specific gas tax hike.

No matter how you slice it, this infrastructure plan stinks. If it goes through, the public will be forced to cough up more money to fix the roads and bridges, but that money will go right into the pockets of the executives of the billion dollar corporations who have bought up all of our public roadways.

Campaign Workers Form Union, Announce First Bargaining Agreement With Randy Bryce’s Campaign

Hundreds of campaign workers form union,
demanding a living wage, basic protections

Meg Reilly, Vice President of the Campaign Workers Guild (in white shirt) with newly organized campaign workers from Randy Bryce’s campaign.

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, campaign workers across the country publicly launched a new, independent union and announced their first-ever bargaining agreement with candidate Randy Bryce’s campaign in Wisconsin’s 1st district. The Campaign Workers Guild (CWG) is a national union representing non-management workers on electoral and issue-based campaigns.

CWG’s mission is to ensure that campaign workers have reasonable work hours, fair wages, workplace rights, and basic labor protections. This announcement comes just months before the 2018 midterm elections, while many progressive candidates are just recruiting their campaign staff.

Although many progressive candidates advocate for pro-union policies, they fail to practice what they preach. Campaign workers frequently work close to 80 hours a week, get paid far less than fifteen dollars an hour, and face workplace hazards like sexual harassment. Despite the enormous sums of money spent on elections—a combined $6.5 billion during the 2016 cycle—the workers entrusted with running candidates’ campaign are too often underpaid, overworked, and undervalued. CWG believes that it is time for candidates and elected officials to support the working people who put them in office.

CWG is calling for a party-wide collective bargaining agreement covering campaign workers on all local, state, and federal Democratic campaigns as well as progressive ballot measures. In the meantime, they are organizing campaign by campaign.

In CWG’s first organizing victory, CWG members working for congressional candidate Randy Bryce secured a union contract guaranteeing fair working conditions. Bryce is an ironworker challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district.

CWG is ready to work with more campaigns and urges campaign workers to visit their website (campaignworkersguild.org) to learn more.

Statement from Laura Reimers, President of the Campaign Workers Guild:

“We will build stronger campaigns and a stronger movement when we treat campaign workers with respect. It is time for candidates to practice what they preach.”

Statement from Meg Reilly, Vice President of the Campaign Workers Guild:

“We refuse to allow candidates across the country to continue to identify themselves as pro-union or pro-worker when they fail to guarantee the same labor rights they claim to support.”

Statement from Nate Rifkin, Randy Bryce for Congress Union Steward:

“Unions fight for worker rights and dignity. They help facilitate more equal relationships between labor and management. Every worker deserves the right to join a union, and that includes campaign staffers. The workers on our now unionized campaign are proud to work for Randy Bryce, a person, and candidate, who practices what he preaches.”

NLRB Issues Complaint Against General Dynamics Information Technology For Federal Labor Law Violations

Complaint follows a call for investigation into ‘systemic’ wage theft by GDIT; workers could be owed more than $100 million.

The National Labor Relations Board Region 5 has issued a complaint against General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., for violating federal labor law at its Alexandria, Va., facility last year.

The roughly 80 GDIT employees worked on a contract to provide call center services for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., and in 2016 began to organize for representation by the Communications Workers of America. These workers take customer calls and provide information to people whose pensions have been taken over by the PBGC, often due to an employer’s bankruptcy filing.

“I’m happy that GDIT is finally being taken to task for breaking the law,” said Sabrina Batta-Hopson, who works at the call center. “I hope this labor board complaint will prevent the company from spreading more misinformation to other workers. I also hope that the DOL complaint helps me and my coworkers get the pay that we deserve for the hard work we’ve done for GDIT.”

GDIT management threatened employees that if they voted for CWA representation, they would lose benefits and the company would lose the contract. Management also falsely told employees that they could not get a raise “without an act of Congress.”

A hearing is scheduled for May 22, 2018.

“These federally contracted workers are entitled to the protections of our labor laws. GDIT not only abuses workers’ rights, but is also the focus of serious complaints about wage theft and other abuses, and may owe its employees over $100 million in back wages” said Alex van Schaick, an attorney at CWA.“

The NLRB action follows a series of complaints filed by CWA with the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, calling for an investigation into the systemic and serious wage violations being committed at GDIT call centers.

GDIT currently employs about 10,000 workers at 11 call centers under its contract with CMS. These jobs are covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA), a federal law that sets prevailing wage standards for federally contracted service work. But CWA has uncovered an extensive pattern of misclassification of workers under the SCA to avoid paying workers the wages they deserve.

CWA estimates that tens of thousands of current and former GDIT employees at CMS call centers stand to recover more than $100 million in back wages since the contract with CMS was signed in 2013. Such a sum would be the largest SCA recovery in history.

Fulfill The Promise To Firefighters

Captain Pesula served the Hooksett community for eighteen and a half years as a faithful employee of Hooksett Fire Rescue. He never smoked, he didn’t drink, and was arguably the healthiest, most-fit member on our department. He took care of himself and his crew through exercise and cancer-prevention measures well-known around the country, including cleansing of his Personal Protective Equipment and immediate showers upon return from a fire call. However, these measures of a careful, model lifestyle were not enough to protect him from what led to his death in June of 2016.

In December of 2014, Captain Pesula suddenly began having unresolved kidney stones and infections. As these medical issues continued, he had imaging done and the results were devastating. The cancer, which originated in his colon, was Stage 4 and had spread to his liver, lungs and bladder. Due to this diagnosis, Captain Pesula was not cleared to return to work. He fought hard, doing everything he could in the hope that he could return someday to the job he loved so much. He was on short-term disability, which led to long-term disability. Faced with the inevitable, Captain Pesula was eventually forced to make the difficult decision to retire from the department. Unsure if he would be able to keep his insurance, Captain Pesula now had fears of whether or not he would be able to continue his cancer care and treatment.

As a result of his retirement, Captain Pesula went ten months on a reduced income and no medical subsidy to cover the astronomical treatment expenses. He did not at any point prior to this, wish to become a charity case, but knew when to swallow his pride and ask his coworkers for help. We – his coworkers, family, and friends – led fundraising efforts throughout the community during this trying time, including selling t-shirts, wristbands and holding special fundraising events. Much of these funds were used to cover his medical expenses to continue the care he was receiving in Boston.

All this time, firefighters and friends from around the community rallied together to help Captain Pesula and his family around the house in Penacook, doing yard work, shoveling his driveway, putting up Christmas lights and other tasks. We did whatever we could to help a man who spent his life and career helping others.

I promised Dan that if anything bad were to happen to him, I and the rest of Fire Department would watch over his wife and children, always be there for them and never let them forget about their father. Captain Pesula passed in June of 2016. To this day, our department remains close with the Pesula family.  We continue to help his family at their home and always make a point to attend his children’s sporting events.

Senate Bill 541 by Senator Innis fulfills a promise made to firefighters by the legislature in 1987, recognizing firefighters are at a higher risk of cancer diagnosis and death as a result of their job. This is not just a theory; this is a known fact, backed by years of study and research. New Hampshire was one of the first states to institute this presumption law, and since then over thirty other states have followed suit. Unfortunately this was an unfunded mandate. By passing this bill, families like the Pesula’s would be given the financial assistance they deserve for a work-related disease. In memory of our late Captain Dan Pesula of Hooksett Fire Rescue Department and countless other firefighters across New Hampshire who have been taken by cancer, I implore the New Hampshire Senate, House and Governor Chris Sununu to honor this promise made to those on the front lines.

 

Captain Joseph P Stalker

Hooksett, NH Fire Rescue Department

Leo W Gerard: Kimberly-Clark Uses GOP Tax Break to Sucker Punch Wisconsin Workers

David Breckheimer

Early Wednesday morning, David Breckheimer, a United Steelworkers local union president at a Neenah, Wis., paper factory, was gathering the last of his gear for a snowmobiling vacation.

At 7:45 a.m., less than two hours before he planned to leave, he got a call. It felt like a punch to the gut, he told me later that day.

Kimberly-Clark was closing its Cold Springs facility in Fox Crossing where David had worked 37 years, where 500 men and women earned a good living. Kimberly-Clark also was shuttering its Nonwovens factory in Neenah, costing another 100 workers their jobs.

The closures mean the virtual disappearance of Kimberly-Clark production in Neenah, the town along Lake Winnebago where the company was founded by John Kimberly and Charles Clark 146 years ago. It moved its corporate headquarters to Texas in 1985.

The terminations are part of a life-shattering pattern in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, where Neenah and other paper mill towns are located. Once dotted with dozens of paper plants providing good jobs and middle class livelihoods, the valley had been devastated over the past decade and a half as paper companies failed or fled, one after another.

The rise of digital communications is partly to blame. But more significant is government policy. The corporate tax breaks that Congressional Republicans said would create jobs are being used by some, like Kimberly-Clark, to kill jobs. And the government’s failure to enforce international trade law bankrupted many of the Fox Valley plants as China plastered the U.S. market with underpriced, illegally subsidized paper.

The result is pain for blue-collar workers in blue states like Wisconsin that went red in 2016 to give Donald Trump the presidency. Workers who voted for Trump believed his promises to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation and impose 45 percent tariffs on unfairly traded imports from China.

None of that has happened, however. The most those workers got from Trump in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday was more vague pledges to ensure fair and reciprocal trade.

Voters in the Fox Valley had good reason to hope for the bold change that candidate Trump proposed. Between 2000 and 2013, Wisconsin lost more than 90,000 factory jobs, including 17,000 paper mill positions as 34 paper factories closed. In that time, Wisconsin experienced the largest in the country decline in the percent of households making a middle class income, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In Fox Valley, the demise continues. In 2016, Graphic Packaging closed its Menasha factory, putting 228 workers on the street.

Last September, Appleton Coated closed in a bankruptcy, rendering 600 out of work. Appleton Coated sold the factory to Industrial Assets Corp., which allowed 38 workers to remain to maintain the machines. Also, in December, Industrial Assets recalled 50 to run one paper line.

In October, another paper company, Appvion, also in the town of Appleton, filed for bankrupcy. In November, it announced 200 of the company’s 800 workers in Fox Valley would lose their jobs. Also in October, U.S. Paper Converters, another Fox Valley paper company, announced it would close its factory in Grand Chute, eliminating 52 jobs.

Kimberly-Clark, maker of paper-based products such as Kleenex, Viva paper towels, Cottonelle bathroom tissue and Huggies disposable diapers, announced earlier this month that the corporation would use its tax cut windfall to pay the costs of closing 10 factories and dumping as many as 5,500 workers worldwide.

It wasn’t that Kimberly-Clark was insolvent. Just the opposite. Last year, its profit was $2.28 billion or $6.40 a share. For 2018, the corporation is shooting for more, at least $6.90 a share, by “reorganizing,” that is, ditching factories and workers.

The USW workers at the Cold Springs factory thought they would be spared. Their plant was profitable and over the past several years, workers had collaborated with managers to reduce costs. Just a few weeks ago, corporate officials told the Cold Springs plant that it achieved the best overall cost reduction.

Also, the Cold Springs plant had been hiring, 53 last year and eight in January. It had given job offers to workers who were supposed to start this month.

The bad news caught the plant manager off guard too, David said. On Wednesday, as that shell-shocked supervisor notified workers of the corporate decision, he suffered a tongue-lashing. Workers were frustrated, upset and angry.

Some Cold Springs workers have been through this trauma before. They had worked at other Fox Valley paper plants that shut down. One told David on Wednesday that the Cold Springs shut down would be the fourth time that his life was turned upside down by a plant closure.

In 2016, another Neenah mill, Clearwater Paper, silenced two paper machines and laid off 85 workers. Some of them got jobs at Cold Springs. Now they’re out in the cold again.

David is worried about his co-workers, especially the young ones, those just recently married, who have big mortgages and little children. He’s concerned for the couples at the plant who had two good incomes and soon will have none.

With so many factories closed in the area, getting a good job is tough, he said. Walmart and fast food wages won’t support a family.

And then there are the older guys like David, with 25, 30, 35 years at Cold Springs. David is 57, an age at which getting a new job is particularly difficult. Cold Springs workers who are 55 or older and have 30 years in the factory can retire early, but they forfeit a quarter of their pension.

David and other local union officers began talking to Kimberly-Clark officials on Thursday about what the corporation will provide to the workers whose jobs it is eliminating, for example, whether it would offer them positions at other Kimberly-Clark factories in the United States.

David said he thinks the workers in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley who voted for Trump want to see some follow through on his promises to create jobs, raise incomes and establish fair trade.

None of that is accomplished by the GOP tax scam that promoted off-shoring by granting corporations lower tax rates for overseas factories and that gave massive breaks to job-cutting corporations like Kimberly-Clark.

None of Trump’s promises are accomplished by speeches about fair and reciprocal trade when no action follows.


Photo is of 2013 razing of KimberlyClark pulp and tissue plant in Everett, Wash.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDvDGAjO1dw

NATCA’S Minnesota Members Are Ready for the Super Bowl of Air Traffic Control

MINNEAPOLIS – National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) represented air traffic controllers, traffic management coordinators, and staff specialists in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region are ready for one of the biggest challenges of their careers – safely and efficiently handling the large amount of air traffic headed into and out of the area for Super Bowl LII weekend.

It’s the Super Bowl of ATC, and it has begun already at airports across the region. The heaviest amount of arriving traffic is expected today, with steady streams of aircraft to follow on Saturday and early on game day Sunday. Then, immediately after the game, controllers and the teams of aviation safety professionals at each facility will work to safely handle the flow of departing aircraft.

“On behalf of the NATCA members at Minneapolis Air Traffic Control Tower (MSP), we look forward to the challenge that the increased volume of traffic for the Super Bowl will bring,” MSP NATCA Facility Representative Thayer Davis said. “MSP NATCA members Pete Dwyer, Audrey Dorf, and Allison Palmer have worked tirelessly in collaboration with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) leadership to plan for the increased volume and demand this event will bring while keeping safety as our number one priority.”

“Our facility never closes,” Davis added. During the Super Bowl traffic period, MSP will have increased controller staffing on all shifts including doubling the staffing of the overnight shift on the evening Feb. 4 after the game ends to ensure all aircraft safely travel to and from Minneapolis.

MSP will be using Runways 4/22 for parking aircraft coming in just for the game. Other airports around the region, including Flying Cloud, St. Paul Downtown, Mankato, Rochester, Anoka County-Blaine, and many more, will handle many dozens of aircraft and have plans in place for landing reservations and areas in which to park on the airport surface.

While air traffic controllers at many facilities across the country often work extra air traffic during big events, such as college football games, golf tournaments, motorsports races, general aviation fly-ins, and more, it is the Super Bowl that is annually one of the most high-profile demonstrations of air traffic control planning and skill. Preparations for this weekend began well over a year ago and the Minneapolis NATCA-FAA Super Bowl team learned key lessons from the experience of the Houston team a year ago which performed extraordinarily well to handle Super Bowl LI.

“We learned a lot from Houston about speed control, anticipated traffic counts, and staffing demands,” said Minneapolis TRACON (M98) member and facility Super Bowl committee lead Daniel Last, who added that preparations included testing the facility’s route structure and acceptance rates. “We are mitigating traffic off our outlining airports with independent routes to let MSP traffic run unabated. One year of planning now comes down to five days of implementation. Our controllers are ready to perform at our highest level. We are ready!”

Extra traffic above last year’s levels are expected in Minneapolis due to the presence of teams from New England and Philadelphia, two very busy markets for private and business aircraft. An extra 1,100 to 1,600 private aircraft are expected to transport Super Bowl fans to the Twin Cities region this week.

It will also be a busy weekend for Minneapolis Center (ZMP), the regional en route radar facility that is responsible for the airspace over much of the northwest Great Lakes and northern Great Plains region. All aircraft entering and departing the Minneapolis region will be handled by the ZMP team of safety professionals. ZMP will work closely with NATCA-represented traffic management coordinators at the FAA Command Center in Virginia, which is responsible for national air traffic flows and planning.

ZMP FacRep Tony Walsh credited the great work of ZMP member Jeff St. Germain, who with his FAA counterpart Sean Fortier facilitated much of the Super Bowl preparation at the facility.

“The aviation safety professionals at Minneapolis Center are well prepared for the additional traffic volume during the Super Bowl and surrounding events,” Walsh said. “In addition to the normal daily air traffic, ZMP is expecting to see an increase of over 2,500 flight operations with the arriving and departing Super Bowl air traffic.”

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