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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.”

“Right to Work” Rears Its Ugly Head Again

It must be Groundhog Day. There’s another Supreme Court case that could “deal a major blow to labor unions.”

Yes, the National Right to Work Foundation is getting another chance to impose “Right to Work” on the entire nation through Supreme Court fiat.

Nevermind how voters may feel about it. After Maine lawmakers passed “Right to Work” in 1947, voters repealed the law by a two-to-one majority. In 1958, California and Colorado voters refused “Right to Work” by three-to-two margins; Ohio voters turned it down two-to-one; and voters in the state of Washington said “no” by a margin of nine-to-five. Ohio lawmakers ignored the 1958 ballot results and passed “Right to Work” in 2011; and voters repealed the law by an overwhelming margin. Missouri lawmakers passed “Right to Work” last year; but the law is now on hold, and voters will have the final say in a referendum this fall.

Nevermind the state legislatures that have had second thoughts about “Right to Work.” In both New Hampshire and Delaware, state legislatures adopted “Right to Work” in 1947 – and then repealed it in 1949. Louisiana’s legislature passed “Right to Work” in 1954 and repealed it in 1956 (and then passed it again in 1976). Indiana passed “Right to Work” in 1957 and repealed it in 1965 (and then passed it again in 2012).

Nevermind that conservatives are supposed to be opposed to judicial activism. The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to make “Right to Work” the law of the land. The Foundation has been using court cases to chip away at labor unions since 1968 – and they’re proud of it. You can read a list of the court cases they’ve brought against unions here.

If they succeed, what happens next? All the press coverage has been about the potential damage to labor unions. But what about

Government contracting? The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to rule that government contracting is an “inherently political” process. That may sound good to the Foundation, in the context of union-busting, but what about the rest of government contracting? At last report, the federal government negotiated more than 3.8 million contracts a year, totaling about $440 billion in spending – and about 2% of the federal workforce was made up of “contract professionals” (who are not union members). What happens if the Supreme Court adds “politics” to the list of reasons a procurement decision can be challenged? Will taxpayers or business competitors be able to challenge contract decisions on the basis of politics? (For instance, the $24 million refrigerator upgrade to Air Force One – was that decision tainted by the $16.7 million in lobbying that Boeing paid for, last year? The more than $1 million its PAC has “invested” in this year’s federal campaigns? The more than $2 million it spent on the 2016 campaigns?)

Employers’ rights? The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to rule that an employee’s “right” to not associate with the union takes precedence over his employer’s right to determine conditions of employment. That may sound good to the Foundation, in the context of union-busting, but what about the rest of employer-employee relations? What happens when an employer requires a security clearance, but the employee wants to associate with terrorist organizations? When an employer wants to maintain a mainstream “brand” but the employee wants to use Facebook and Twitter to advertise his association with the American Nazi Party?

States’ rights to decide the terms and conditions of their workers’ employment?

40 years’ worth of judicial precedents, not just in labor law, but also First Amendment interpretation? (If workers’ First Amendment rights trump their public employers’ interests, won’t that open the floodgates for “leaks” to the press?)

What about all the other potential ramifications of this case?

Yep, it’s Groundhog Day. Another opportunity for the Supreme Court to overlook long-term consequences, in a case brought by political insiders.

Remember Citizens United? Citizens United President David Bossie is on the GOP’s National Committee and a “veteran conservative operative.” The Supreme Court used his court case to overturn campaign finance laws. Now Congress is openly doing what their donors (not voters) want. Read the Brennan Center’s How Citizens United Changed Politics and Shaped the Tax Bill.  Read Politico’s Big donors ready to reward Republicans for tax cuts. Is this really what the Supreme Court had in mind, when it ruled in Citizens United?

Remember Hobby Lobby? Salon describes how Hobby Lobby is “quietly funding a vast right-wing movement.” The Supreme Court used its case to give religious rights to for-profit corporations, and now we’re beginning to see the consequences. Cardozo Law Review explored how employers could use the Hobby Lobby decision to sidestep employment-discrimination laws. And at least one federal court has already allowed a corporation to fire an employee for “religious” reasons, notwithstanding the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Notice how “Right to Work” is being pushed by special-interest organizations? The Koch-connected American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. The Koch-affiliated US Chamber of Commerce. And, of course, the Koch-funded National Right to Work groups. Notice how it’s not being pushed by actual businesses? Not in New Hampshire. Not in Ohio. But the ripple effect of this court case could be huge.

Groundhog Day. Janus v. AFSCME. Another chance for the Supreme Court to reinforce the impression that it’s an extension of the Republican Party. After all the headlines about Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch, what are citizens supposed to think? Both President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claim Justice Gorsuch as “an accomplishment.” The RNC based a fundraising campaign on his confirmation. The Court just blocked a lower court’s order that North Carolina redraw its election maps, because the old maps were unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering that favored the GOP. (And now Pennsylvania’s GOP legislators want the Court to block a similar ruling in their state.)

Groundhog Day. Another attack by the special interests that have been transforming our government into an oligarchy. (“Oligarchy” – government by the few, especially despotic power exercised by a small and privileged group for corrupt or selfish purposes)

Voters’ view, last election day: 72 percent agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.” 75 percent agree that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”

Granite Staters’ view, now: only 14% think voters have more influence than special interests.

Groundhog Day, the movie, reminds us that we can be doomed to repeat the same thing over and over until we “get it right.” (How fitting that the movie is now back in theaters for its 25th anniversary.)

It’s supposed to be our government. When are we going to get this right?

Complaints of Systemic Wage Theft at General Dynamics Information Technology

CWA Estimates Federal Contractor May Owe $107 Million in Back Wages

The Communications Workers of America is calling on the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to investigate systemic and serious wage violations being committed by General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., (GDIT) at its federally contracted call centers.

CWA filed a complaint with the WHD on behalf of GDIT employees providing evidence that GDIT misclassifies its call center agents at a lower prevailing wage rate than their job duties merit.

GDIT workers from call centers in multiple states are meeting today and tomorrow with leading Senators and Members of Congress, including Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and congressional staff about this alleged systemic wage theft. These GDIT employees answer questions, help enroll, and provide other assistance to callers about Medicare programs and the Affordable Care Act under a contract for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

GDIT currently employs about 10,000 workers at 11 call centers under this 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.

As many as 2,000 workers at the Hattiesburg, Miss., call center, for example, would see their wages increased by $3,682 to $6,572 annually if they were classified properly and received the correct pay rate.

The Hattiesburg workers and workers from other GDIT locations have substantiated their claims with the Wage and Hour Division, supplying proof of their misclassification at lower wage grades that have resulted in their underpayment.

(A video from Good Jobs Nation highlighting some of the people who are being hurt by GDIT’s wage theft and wage suppression)

Adrian Powe is a durable medical equipment specialist in Hattiesburg, Miss., working with customers and equipment suppliers to make sure the Medicare recipients get the oxygen, wheelchairs, hospital beds and other equipment they need.

“It’s a paradox. I love my job, and love helping customers get the help and peace of mind they need. I talk to as many as 60 callers every day.  But the company doesn’t provide us with any peace of mind, because we’re being cheated out of our wages and have no job security.”

“I’ve had two rounds of extensive training to get to my current job. It’s a lot responsibility and a lot of work. But I’m being paid at a much lower rate. I’m being cheated, and the federal government must hold GDIT accountable. GDIT needs to follow the contract it agreed to.”

Powe earns $9.64 an hour, and drives nearly three hours round trip every day for work. He and his wife have an eight-month-old.

Kathleen Flick is part of the internal support group at the Bogalusa, La., call center. She said that GDIT’s wage theft “makes me feel horrible. Stealing from the working poor is really low.”

“I can’t run my air conditioning in the summer because I can’t afford the electric bills. When I needed a major car repair, I had to take the money out of my 401k retirement plan. I’d like to visit my kids, both of whom are active military, but I can’t afford to do it.”

Like Powe, Flick loves her job. But she doesn’t like being cheated of her rightful wages. “GDIT told us that ‘the federal government sets your wages.’ So we’re calling on the federal government to have real oversight of contractors like my employer so that it stops cheating workers out of their rightful wages. We shouldn’t be treated as cut-rate employees.

“This will be a real test of whether laws that safeguard working people are actually enforced under the Trump administration,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “We’ve heard a lot of  promises from this president about defending American workers. It’s time for action, not rhetoric.”

If WHD agrees that there is widespread misclassification, 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.

“We want the government to enforce the law,” said CWA General Counsel Jody Calemine. “We’re asking the Department of Labor for an enterprise-wide investigation, to make sure all workers are paid what they’re owed at all 11 call centers covered by this contract.”

GDIT and Vangent, a call center company acquired by General Dynamics in 2011 and merged into GDIT, have a history of wage theft and since 2007, have agreed to pay $4.2 million in back wages based on Wage and Hour Division investigations. GDIT also has been the focus of unfair labor practice charges for illegal threats, surveillance and interrogation of workers seeking to exercise their freedom to join together and negotiate improvements in their wages and working conditions.

CWA President: Working People Are Worse Off After One Year Of Trump Presidency

CWA President Chris Shelton Responds To Trump’s State of the Union Address

“President Trump tried hard to spin his record on “defending American workers,” but the truth is that working people are much worse off one year into the Trump presidency.

“The tax cut that the President and Republicans jammed through Congress gives billions of dollars to corporations and the 1 percent at the expense of the rest of us. Some companies have doled out bonuses, and those extra dollars always make a difference to working families. But instead of putting more money into creating good jobs and increasing wages, these corporations have made it clear that their tax break will be used mainly to enrich executives and shareholders.

“Here’s the reality for working people after one year of the Trump administration:

  • Corporations are encouraged by the corporate tax bill to send even more jobs overseas. We’ve seen call center closings by some of the biggest U.S. corporations, with work shifted to the Philippines, Dominican Republic and other countries. Other big corporations like General Electric, Microsoft, Lowe’s, Nabisco and others have recently announced new closings and more jobs going overseas.
  • Plans for a renegotiated NAFTA still include the worst elements of past U.S. trade deals, including special rights for investors and the failure to include enforceable labor and environmental standards.
  • Federal regulations covering job safety and health, wage theft and workers’ rights have been reversed, putting workers at greater risk for job injury and illnesses and giving employers more opportunity to cheat workers of their rightful wages.
  • Instead of “draining the swamp,” President Trump has filled his administration with Wall Streeters who have moved to weaken protections for working people’s retirement savings and block regulations that safeguard consumers from bank and credit industry abuses.

“U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) hosted CWA Local 1170 member Dustin Newman at the State of the Union address, to spotlight the Trump administration’s failure to save good jobs. Newman, an Army reservist from Rochester, N.Y., was laid off in January along with 31 other Frontier Communications employees as part of a larger company-wide downsizing.

“In contrast to the President’s empty promises, CWA and working people have a clear agenda. We want to keep good jobs here in the U.S., and raise wages for working families.  We expect a real plan to improve our roads, bridges, highways and public buildings that is not based on big tax handouts to private companies and budget cuts.  We want fair treatment for the “dreamers” who came to this country as children and who have become full contributing members of our communities and our nation.

“That’s the agenda that millions of working families support.”

 

Read the full SOTU transcript here

Video of the SOTU available here

Leo W Gerard: America Needs Cops On The Trade Beat

The Trump Administration placed tariffs on imported washing machines and solar cells this week, provoking wailing and gnashing of teeth worldwide.

The same over-the-top beating of breasts can be expected if the administration penalizes steel and aluminum imported from countries that violate trade regulations.

Every time the United States enforces trade law, the recrimination starts. America, the free traders say, has no right to shield its domestic manufacturing from the onslaught of unfairly traded imports. There should be no cops on the trade beat, free traders say. It should be the Wild West when it comes to international trade, with the last factory standing the winner, no matter how many trade rules it defied to get there.

American manufacturers – including those that make steel, aluminum, solar panels and washing machines – can compete and win against any challenger in the world when the contest is fair, when all firms that export follow trade rules. But American manufacturers lose when foreign producers export underpriced products after receiving loans that don’t have to be paid back, government-subsidized raw materials and other massive state aid.

American manufacturers shouldn’t be patsies in a rigged game. That’s why they are demanding trade law enforcement. They’re not seeking protectionism, which is shielding domestic manufacturing from fairly traded imports. Instead, they want prosecution, which is punishing trade violators whose cheating destroys American manufacturing and jobs.

China, probably the most flagrant trade rule violator in the world, was among the first to cry “protectionism” after the Trump administration announced the washing machine and solar panel tariffs on Monday. Chinese president Xi Jinping’s chief economic advisor, Liu He, said at Davos this week that his country stood against protectionism and for globalism.

Sure, China wants globalism after its trade violations have destroyed every other country’s industrial base, leaving the Asian giant standing as the only producer globally.

And it’s close to achieving that in the manufacture of solar cells and panels after more than a decade of trade violations. China issued a renewable energy law in 2005 including measures to promote solar manufacturing. Then in 2010, the China State Council listed renewable energy as one of seven industries eligible for special government incentives and loans.

Before China began giving solar manufacturers special perks in 2005, its share of global production was 7 percent. Now, it makes 60 percent of the world’s solar cells and 71 percent of solar modules.

In 2011 the U.S. Commerce Department determined that China was improperly subsidizing its solar producers and that they were selling panels and cells in the United States for less than fair market value, both of which violate trade rules.

As a result, the United States imposed penalties on the imports. Chinese manufacturers ducked the tariffsby moving production to Taiwan.  When American producers asked the Commerce Department in 2013 to deal with this dodge, Chinese companies moved production again.

The Commerce Department concluded that from 2012 to 2016 imports of Chinese solar cells and panels grew 500 percent and the price declined 60 percent, bankrupting and driving out of business American producers. Between 2012 and 2017 – a period of just five years – 25 American solar manufacturers closed. And now, another has shut down and declared bankruptcy.

Last May, two U.S. solar companies asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate. The ITC recommended tariffs even higher than those that the president ultimately imposed this week. They penalties are worldwide this time, preventing Chinese companies from evading them by shifting production again.

This kind of trade law flouting by China is exactly what is ravaging the American aluminum and steel industries.

Twenty years ago, there were 23 aluminum smelters in the U.S. Now there are five.

Similarly, in the steel industry, thousands of good, family-supporting U.S. jobs were lost and mills and parts of mills closed as China ramped up production, flooded the world market and drove down prices. Between 2000 and 2014, Chinese steel production rose 540 percent. U.S. production, a mere fraction of the Asian giant’s, fell 13 percent.

As with solar, China put government money into its aluminum and steel industries, improperly tipping the trade scales in its favor. And as with solar, when U.S. aluminum and steel companies won trade cases, some Chinese producers moved or falsely marked products as made elsewhere to skirt American tariffs. The European Union’s anti-fraud office determined the same thing – that Chinese steel was shipped through Vietnam and given fake certificates of origin to evade EU tariffs.

At just about the same time the solar and washing machine trade cases were filed last year, the Trump administration announced it would investigate whether the damaging effects of unfairly traded steel and aluminum were threatening national security. If so, the administration could impose import quotas and tariffs. Initially, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said these investigations, under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, would be completed by June 30, 2017.

Integral to every jet, submarine and military weapon, steel and aluminum are vital for defense. Infrastructure is part of national defense as well, from interstate highways to pipelines. The inability to produce these metals in sufficient quantities and qualities domestically jeopardizes national security.

The Commerce Department report was delayed for months, during which time foreign producers flooded as much steel and aluminum as they could into the United States before the anticipated tariffs. Steel imports rose almost 20 percent. Aluminum and bauxite imports rose nearly 32 percent.

The Commerce Department finally delivered the steel report on Jan. 11 and the aluminum report on Jan. 19. Neither was made public, and the administration can, under the terms of the law, wait another 90 days to act. White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Waters said the administration would announce its decision at an appropriate time.

That time is now. It is great that the administration punished the trade-violating exporters of solar products and washing machines. The American steel and aluminum industries and workers want that same enforcement immediately from the nation’s top trade cop.

USDA Rejects Petition To Increase The Speed Of Poultry Process Plants Lines

Photo: Earl Dotter/Oxfam America

Today it was announced that the USDA decided to reject the petition from the National Chicken Council (NCC) to eliminate line speed limits at poultry plants.

Among the challenges that workers face inside poultry plants in the US, the speed of the processing line stands out. The maximum speed has doubled since 1979 (from 70 birds per minute to 140 today), and now poses myriad dangers to workers and consumers.  As hundreds of birds roll down the processing line, workers need to execute hundreds of thousands of motions per shift, which often results in injuries and illnesses. At the same time, it’s increasingly difficult to execute effective inspections of the birds.

When the NCC petitioned the US Department of Agriculture, once again, to lift the cap on line speed altogether (whereas the previous attempt had been an increase to 175 bpm), the poultry worker coalition sprang into action and organized consumers, advocates, workers, and experts to oppose the move. Of the more than 100,000 comments on the petition, all but a scant handful opposed the request.

Thousands of UFCW members who work in poultry plants sent comments to the USDA about the dangers of this petition. The UFCW also sent letters in October and December of 2017 to the USDA that highlighted how risky the NCC petition to eliminate line speeds would be for both workers and consumers. There are more than 250,000 poultry workers in America and 70,000 of them are members of the UFCW union family.

Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union released the following statement:

“This decision is a victory for hard-working poultry workers who hold one of the most dangerous and difficult jobs in America, and the consumers who depend upon them to provide chicken that is safe to eat. However, we remain concerned that poultry companies can request line speed waivers for individual plants.

“In addition to putting poultry workers at greater risk of injury, eliminating line speeds puts consumers at risk by making it more difficult for both federal inspectors and quality control workers to properly check birds for contamination.

“It was unbelievable to see major poultry industry groups ignore these well-known risks and lobby the USDA to eliminate line speeds.”

Last year, Oxfam a global anti-poverty and social justice organization released a blistering report highlighting the horrible treatment of poultry processing plant workers.

“…poultry industry workers are “routinely denied breaks to use the bathroom” in order to optimize the speed of production. In some cases, according to the group, the reality is so oppressive that workers “urinate and defecate while standing on the line” and “wear diapers to work.” In others, employees say they avoid drinking liquids for long periods and endure considerable pain in order to keep their jobs,” wrote the Washington Post.

Oxfam praised the news that the USDA rejected the request to speed up the processing line.

“While we welcome this victory for the workers across the country, we also sound a note of caution about the potential for individual plants to ask to raise the speed in their operations,” says Minor Sinclair, director of Oxfam’s US Domestic Program. “Workers report that they’re already working at breakneck speed – slicing and cutting 40 or 50 birds per minute. They’re exhausted and hurting, and they worry about the problems they see in the food supply.”

AFGE Supports Reviving Federal Labor-Management Partnerships

New law would revive panels disbanded by President Trump

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees fully supports legislation introduced in the House and Senate that would establish in law a national council overseeing labor-management relations in federal agencies.

The Federal Labor-Management Partnerships Act would create both a national labor-management council and individual labor-management partnerships at each executive branch agency. The advisory panels were disbanded by President Trump in September 2017.

“Most workplace disputes can be resolved without lengthy and costly litigation simply by bringing workers and managers together,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “These partnerships have helped make our government work better for the American people, and anyone who’s committed to improving government performance should support this legislation to bring them back.”

Cox thanked Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Don Young of Alaska for introducing bipartisan legislation in the House, HR 4878, and thanked Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii for introducing the companion bill in the Senate, S 2340.

Private industry has known for years that a healthy and effective relationship between labor and management improves customer service and is often the key to survival in a competitive market. The same is true in the federal government, Cox said.

“No effort to improve governmental performance will be successful if labor and management maintain an adversarial relationship. In an era of downsizing and tight budgets, it is essential for management and labor to develop a stable and productive working relationship,” Cox said.

IATSE local 195 Endorses Chris Pappas For Congress In NH’s 1st Congressional District

Manchester, NH – Today, IATSE Local Union 195 (New Hampshire/ Lowell, MA) endorsed Chris Pappas for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.

“We are proud to endorse Chris Pappas for Congress,” said Joyce Cardoza, Business Agent of IATSE Local Union 195.

“We believe that we need leaders representing our members and Granite Staters that are willing to roll up their sleeves and fight for the causes that matter. Chris Pappas is that type of leader. Time and time again, Chris has demonstrated that he is a champion for working families and an advocate for New Hampshire workers. We are proud to stand with Chris.”

“I’m so honored to receive the support of IATSE Local 195,” said Chris Pappas.

“I’m proud to be standing alongside IATSE Local 195 as we continue the fight for expanded opportunities that empower the hardworking people of the Granite State. I’m grateful for the support of IATSE Local 195 in this campaign.”

IATSE Local Union 195 represents Skilled Stagehands and Craftspeople who serve the live performances, events, and entertainment industry of NH and Lowell, MA

This is the fourth labor organization to endorse Chris Pappas.  He has won the support of Granite State Teamsters Local 633, IBEW Local 490, and IBEW Local 2320.

Congress Urged To Remember Mine Workers Who Risked Their Lives As New Budget Deadline Looms

The Alliance For Retired Americans Calls On Congress To Address Mine Workers Pension Rights

Statement of Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance for Retired Americans, on the critical need to address the pensions of the United Mine Workers of America as plans are made to fund the government before the next deadline of February 8:

“As Congress works to develop legislation to fully fund the government, it is critical that the pension rights of thousands of retired United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) covered by the 1974 Pension Plan are addressed.

“Since 1946, the United States government has lived up to the promise it made to retired miners: ‘If you will bring out the coal that provides the foundation for the American economy, then the government will make sure you have a secure retirement.’

“Legislation is the only option that will prevent insolvency and preserve benefits for these retired mine workers. They earned their pensions by risking their lives in a dangerous line of work to meet the country’s energy requirements. Their average pension is just $586 per month. Many pension recipients are widows who depend on that pension to meet their most basic needs.

“It is not the workers’ fault that their pension plan is in trouble. In fact, just ten years ago the plan was 93% funded, and on a path to 100% funding. However, the 2008-09 recession and a series of bankruptcies in the coal industry over the last six years have decimated the fund. Several coal companies were relieved of further pension obligations by bankruptcy courts and contributions were wiped out.

“Our government must meet that commitment that was made generations ago. Preserve these pensions, so that thousands of our seniors can live in dignity.”

Berry Craig: Unions Will Appeal Kentucky ‘Right to Work’ Ruling

 By BERRY CRAIG AFT Local 1360

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Louisville-based Teamsters Local 89 will lose no time in appealing today’s Franklin Circuit Court decision that upheld the state’s “right to work” law, according to Bill Londrigan, state AFL-CIO president.

The court dismissed a suit to overturn the law that the state federation and the Teamsters filed last May.

The unions argued that the law violates the state constitution by “taking” from unions because under federal law, they must represent all workers in a unionized workplace–even those who won’t join the union and pay dues or pay the union a service fee to represent them.

The year-old law represents an “attack on Kentucky’s hard-working men and women and the unions that fight for their interests” by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and the GOP-majority legislature, Londrigan said in a statement.

All but a handful of Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing the measure, which quickly passed in January, 2017. Bevin eagerly signed it. He was elected governor in 2015 after boosting a RTW law on the campaign trail.

When Bevin was sworn in, the GOP had a 27-11 edge in the Senate, but the Democrats controlled the House.  In the November, 2016, elections, the Republicans held their Senate majority and flipped the House to 64-36, GOP.

The House had been all that stood between Kentucky and RTW.

The RTW bill “was rushed through the General Assembly…to avoid a full debate on the important questions it raised and to silence its critics,” Londrigan said.  “The law denies union members the equal protection of the law afforded to other Kentuckians and other Kentucky organizations, it imposes onerous requirements on Kentucky unions and their members not imposed on others, and it takes unions’ property without just compensation.”

Also in the statement, Londrigan said unions believe “Kentucky’s higher courts will understand that this law violates our state constitution and causes real harm to our workers and the unions they represent.”

Londrigan said the court “failed to consider the undisputed testimony of nationally-recognized experts in labor economics who uniformly proved that RTW laws lower wages, hurt workers and fail to add new jobs.  Instead, these laws serve to increase profits and weaken the strongest voice workers have to speak on their behalf.”

Added Londrigan, “We believe our higher courts will recognize the harmful effect that this unjust and discriminatory law has on our workers and their unions, which are required under federal law to represent all workers in a bargaining unit, including those who choose to withhold dues and fees.”

Londrigan vowed that “Kentucky unions will continue to fight for all Kentucky’s hard-working women and men to mitigate the detrimental consequences which RTW laws have had on workers in other states – lower wages, fewer workers with health care benefits and retirement plans, and more fatalities on the job – all while failing miserably in their empty promise of more jobs.”

Also today, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self issued a statement of solidarity with Bluegrass State unions:

“The Kentucky Democratic Party will continue to stand and fight alongside union workers for Kentucky’s working families. Gov. Bevin’s budget director spoke yesterday on budget shortfalls under the current administration. It proves right-to-work legislation hasn’t economically benefited the state but has only weakened the bottom line and bargaining rights for every working man and woman in the state.”

The RTW measure, HB 1, made Kentucky the 27th “right to work” state. Click here to view the ruling.

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