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IBEW Photographers Terminate Contract with WMUR Over Fair and Equal Treatment.

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WMUR Photographers on the job at a local press conference

On Wednesday August 20th IBEW Local 1228 sent notice to WMUR Station Manager Jeff Bartlett that they were terminating the Contract effective August 30. The move was made so that the Photographers can legally launch a public awareness campaign and to engage in concerted actions if needed.

The Photographer/Editors have been in Negotiations with the Hearst owned WMUR since October of 2013and one of the main points of bargaining has been the pension plan that other Union and non-Union Employees enjoy at the Station.

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WMUR Photographers on the job during a snowstorm

“Since 2005, virtually all other Employees at WMUR have been allowed to participate in a 401K and a Pension Plan. All except for the Photographers. This is wrong and needs to finally be addressed.” said Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer. “All we are asking for is equal treatment for the Employees that capture and deliver the news, every day. But the Hearst Corporation who owns WMUR has consistently refused saying they ‘have no appetite for it’. How ridiculous. These Employees risk their physical and mental health daily to report the news including politics, tragedies, heart wrenching events and stories of hope from all over New Hampshire. They work side by side with first responders, shoot the video and edit these stories to inform and educate the citizens of New Hampshire. They generate the revenue Hearst enjoys from this station and deserve equal treatment in retirement benefits.”

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WMUR Photographers on the job at a house fire

Hearst is one of the largest diversified communications companies in the world. Its major interests include 15 daily and 36 weekly newspapers and more than 300 magazines worldwide; 29 television stations through Hearst Television, Inc., which reach a combined 18% of U.S. viewers; ownership in leading cable networks, including A+E and ESPN. For the third year in a row, privately held Hearst is projecting record earnings, as well as record revenue of nearly $10 billion. Yet we have been told that they cannot afford to put 13 photographers into the Pension Plan that other Union members are in at the Station. It is unconscionable that such a wealthy corporation refuses to do the honorable thing and treat all their WMUR workers alike.

Will The National Labor College Uphold Their Agreements To Workers And Students?

National Labor College

National Labor College

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that a great institution of labor may soon be going extinct.  It was announced by the Board of Trustees that the National Labor College would be permanently closing in the near future.

The NLC was the only institution of higher learning that focused on labor studies and worked to provide union members the chance to acquire an advanced degree.  Through the years as a college education became more and more important to all workers the college offered union members the opportunity to attend college at a very reasonable price.  The AFL-CIO would subsidize some of the tuition costs for AFL-CIO members to keep the rates low enough that any member could afford to attend.  This was a major benefit for members looking to further their education and become stronger a voice in the labor movement.

Nobody is denying the fact that recently the school has encountered significant financial problems.  As technology rapidly evolves, the school has continued to bolster their online education division.  Many of the schools 700+ courses were offered online.  This is a great way to provide education to those members who could not move to Maryland to attend college.  However the NLC has always retained an actual campus where students could attend, just like any other college.   This created an issue for the NLC as attendance at the school dropped and students opted for online courses.

This is where the financial issues arose.  The Board made the decision to become a virtual school and offered to sell their entire campus to save the millions of dollars needed to retain it.  Sadly the sale of the campus fell through, and the board has opted to close the entire school due to a lack of funding.

I reached out to a Mark King (AFT-FPE) a recent graduate and 2012 Class President to ask him how he felt about the announcement to close the NLC.

“I am heartsick to learn of the closing of The National Labor College, the premier educational institution geared to the educational needs of all workers, but especially focused on union members.

I have learned as much from my fellow students there as I did from my classes. I have learned from more experienced classmates how they dealt with grievences and other issues, shortening my learning curve as a labor official.  Thanks to NLC I have friends in the labor movement from around the US – the school served to introduce and connect people from all unions that operate under the auspices of the AFL-CIO as well as those which did not, a huge pro union, pro worker, pro democracy meltingpot that has touched the lives of a great many labor activists. The connections made there will continue to ripple into the future.

I had the honor of being elected President of Student Government. I was elected to give the 2012 commencement speech. NLC has been a big part of my life, and a big part of my hope for the future of the Labor Movement. Working people, working together, beat the forces of nearly unlimited corporate money and insure that Democracy has a chance each election cycle. NLC educated and networked many of these everyday heroes, the loss of this institution dedicated to the Labor Movement is a loss to all Americans.

Sign this petition to let Mr. Trumka know how the loss of NLC affects you. Rumor has it that he could not vote to shut the school down, but abstained…

I’m a graduate of NLC, as well as a current member of the NLC/George Mason ODKM Cohort 3, where I am working toward a Masters Degree that will help me to work within the Labor Movement to the betterment of all working people. I’m paying the education I received there forward by being President of my Local, AFT-FPE #4831 and Secretary For AFT-NH. I’ve chosen my Major so as to do more. I’m dedicating my life to the cause of working folks. NLC helped me find my path. I’m heartfeltly sorry to see the institution is shutting down.”

The closing of the school has raised some new issues; what about the union workers at the school who have a collective bargaining agreement with the school, and what about the students who are looking to finish their degrees?

Recently the Baltimore-Washington Newspaper Guild (CWA-TNG) – the union that represents workers at the National Labor College – released a statement for the NLC to uphold their agreements to the students and the college workers.

“Our union, comprised of professionals and faculty members, calls on the National Labor College and the AFL-CIO to ensure that the student body has a seamless path to finish out their degrees, and that the college meets its contractual obligations to its union-represented staff. How the closure proceeds will reflect greatly on the labor movement, its values and how it honors its obligations to union members, both as students and employees.

The National Labor College was founded and supported by the AFL-CIO to help working families and union members pursue higher education as the cost of college has become increasingly out-of-reach for many American families. A recent report by the College Board found that for 2013-2014, the median tuition and fees price tag was over $11,000 — not including room and board. Since the college’s founding, the AFL-CIO has always subsidized tuition for union members to make the cost of attendance affordable. The AFL-CIO and the National Labor College should continue to work together to ensure moral and contractual obligations to students and staff are met.” (emphasis added)

What will the AFL-CIO – the major benefactor in the college – and the college’s President Paula Peinovich, do to honor the contracts they entered into with these workers and their students?   Will they abandon the workers like every other private corporation has done in recent bankruptcy cases, or will they find a way to fill out their collective bargaining agreement?

I do not have the answers to these questions; there are only a handful of people who can.  As an advocate for unions, and a strong believer in the collective bargaining process, I would hope that the school would do what is right for the workers first then worry about all the other issues.  Protecting workers and holding employers accountable to the collective bargaining agreement is what we in the labor movement are fighting for every day.  It would be a detrimental blow to all of us if the AFL-CIO were to abandon workers in this way.
The ball is in your court now, Mr. Trumka.

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There is an online petition circulation to show support for the National Labor College and it currently has just shy of 1000 supporters.  Click here if you would like to add your name, as I have, to encourage the Mr. Trumka and the entire Board to reconsider their decision to close the school.  I have included the text of the petition below.

To:
President Trumka, American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) 

The National Labor College (NLC) is one of a kind, the only college in the United States with an exclusive mission to serve the educational needs of the labor movement. It is an activist institution made up of students, faculty and alumni who together form a learning community based on a common understanding of the world of work and the ecology of the labor movement. The College respects that its student body is made up of experienced, highly skilled working adults who have multiple commitments to family, job, union and community. In its academic programs, NLC honors higher learning that takes place both inside and outside the collegiate community.
Today, the NLC Board has determined to close the school.
Several costly financial decisions were made such as the decision to renovate the campus in 2006 and then build a 73,000 square foot building on the campus in 2007 (apparently the result of an overly optimistic ‘build it and they will come’ perception at the time). The physical college campus in Maryland is currently for sale and a buyer will eventually be found so that portion of the financial problem will be solved.
The long-term growth opportunity of the college rests in the administration’s promising development of the institution’s online format that now makes courses accessible to millions of workers throughout the world. Some courses could still be offered ‘in person’ via the use of our Central Labor Council offices, local labor union offices and worker’s centers.
I could not imagine a scenario wherein the school would not be financially viable after the sale of the NLC’s Maryland campus is completed and financial resources become available for administering and maintenance of the institution’s online instruction.
Please keep the National Labor College open.
Stop the Closure of the Labor Movement’s Only -The National Labor College 

Sincerely,
[Your name]

 

Fosters Editorial Board Puts Workers After The Almighty Dollar!

Workers vs greed

Workers vs greedI am sick to my stomach of this anti-union rhetoric that puts worker’s safety and financial security against a corporation’s freedom (or should I say greed).  This idea that workers should be paid the least amount possible to maximize company profits, is fed by the right wing ‘free-market’ idealists.  It is corporate greed and nothing more.

Take for example this recent editorial (Don’t just whine, compete) from Fosters Daily Democrat, one of the biggest right-wing loudmouths in a very small state.

The editorial is about how Boeing and the International Association of Machinists (IAM), are unable to come to an agreement for a new contract for building the new Boeing 777X.

The editor writes, “That term — compete — is what unions conveniently tend to overlook.”

The editor also explains a little about what the ‘deals’ Boeing is being offered by the state, and what Boeing is offering to their workers.

From the state, Boeing is looking for tax breaks and infrastructure spending.”  What Fosters is not telling you is the details of the deal with the state.  According to Reuters, the package on the table in Washington state is: $8 billion in tax incentives plus another $10 billion in transportation infrastructure.

Why would the State of Washington pony up $18 billion dollars in incentives to Boeing?  Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!  The state understands that if you have high paying jobs in your community the local economy will benefit the most.  High paid workers have more disposable income and that means more money at local shops, restaurants, and businesses.

The problem is that Boeing is trying to push their unionized workers down yet again.  They want more and more from the workers, so Boeing can put more and more in their greedy pockets.  Fosters puts it very mildly:

From the union, Boeing wants to restructure health care coverage and move from a defined-benefit pension system to a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan.”

Workers sent a very strong message to both Boeing and their elected leaders that this type of deal is unacceptable.

You would expect this type of demand for concessions from companies that are just scrapping by or even upside down.  Boeing is not even close to that.

Boeing’s third-quarter sales increased by 13 percent to $20 billion from $17.7 billion a year earlier.” (NY Times)

Boeing reported net income of $3.9 billion for 2012, down 3% from a net profit of $4.02 billion in 2011 [due to a $2 billion dollar income tax change], on an 18.9% rise in revenue to $81.7 billion.” (Air Transport World)

Why should workers be forced to pay more for healthcare and more towards their retirement as the corporation rakes in billions in profits from an 18% increase in revenue? Who benefits from the $4 billion dollars in profits? Wall Street, and the corporate executives.  The problem is that Wall Street does not buy clothes, or go out to dinner on Main Street.  The rich get richer, while Main Street goes bankrupt from a lack of consumers.

Fosters also punches at unions by stating: “Construction of the Manchester Jobs Corp Center was held up for years due to demands the project be bid out under terms favorable to unions and which would siphon off more taxpayer money.”

I think that Fosters has conveniently forgotten the fact that the project was held up for two years by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and our former Republican Congressman Frank Guinta.  It is an easy mistake to make, blame the entire unionized workforce for wanting better working conditions and fair pay, or blame one Congressman for holding up the entire project.

It was Congressman Guinta who through a ‘hissy fit’ in Washington about the Project Labor Agreement (Read NHLN post). Without his objections, the project would have been completed by now, and workers would already be benefiting from their new training center.  The ABC was so happy with then Congressman Guinta’s anti-union, anti-Project Labor Agreement positions that ABC gave him their highest award of the year.

For the Fosters editors, workers do not matter, the truth does not matter, and the only thing that matters is their insatiable lust for money.

United Mine Workers Of America (UMWA) members ratify settlement with Patriot Coal

UMWA United Mine Workers Logo

UMWA United Mine Workers Logo[TRIANGLE, VA.] Members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) who work at Patriot Coal operations in West Virginia and Kentucky today ratified a settlement the union reached with the company late last week that makes significant improvements in terms and conditions of employment over a federal Bankruptcy Judge’s order from last May.

The final tally was 85% in favor to 15% opposed. Members from 13 local unions participated in the vote, which was overseen by UMWA local union tellers and conducted at worksites. The UMWA International Auditor/Tellers have certified the vote.

“The membership has made it clear that they are willing to do their part to keep Patriot operating, keep their jobs and ensure that thousands of retirees continue getting the health care they depend on and deserve,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “This has been a difficult and uncertain year for our members. But I believe that in the end, they understood that we had done a lot to improve what the judge had ordered. They also understood all that was at stake and resolved to move forward in a positive way.

“But as we work to keep Patriot a viable company into the future, we have not forgotten how we got here and who is responsible,” Roberts said. “With this agreement, we have foiled the schemes of Peabody Energy and Arch Coal by continuing to both provide health care for retirees and maintain union jobs at these mines.”

Roberts noted that the settlement with Patriot does not provide enough resources to fulfill the promise of lifetime health care benefits that Peabody and Arch agreed to provide to thousands of retirees from those companies.

“We are now able to turn our full attention to securing the lifetime health care benefits Peabody and Arch promised these retirees,” Roberts said. “If those companies thought our public effort to highlight their poor corporate citizenship was over, they will quickly find out otherwise. We’re moving into a new phase of that effort, and soon. We fully intend to hold Peabody and Arch accountable.

“It is also more critical than ever that the bipartisan legislative efforts in Congress to provide help to these retirees move forward,” Roberts said. “This settlement has not solved that problem, it has only bought us time to seek a more permanent solution.

“The clock is now ticking towards a day when the funding we have been able to secure for retiree health care benefits will run out,” Roberts said. “It would be unconscionable to leave these senior citizens hanging, wondering if they will be again thrust into the uncertainty they have endured the last 13 months. I urge our friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle to move as fast as they can to renew the government=s promise to these retirees, their dependents and widows.”

Teamsters Union Ratifies State Contract

CONCORD – Teamsters Local 633, one of four unions representing state employees, has ratified the two-year contract agreement with the State of New Hampshire, which will provide the first cost-of-living pay increases in five years and help reduce the state’s projected growth in healthcare costs.

Teamsters Local 633 represents over 300 state employees in the Department of Corrections, including Corrections Officers and Corrections Corporals.

“Our people cannot truly be safe and justice cannot fully be done without a strong and effective corrections system, and our corrections officers are the backbone of that system, providing a safe, secure and humane correctional system that respects the victims of crime and helps individuals safely move back into society when they have served their sentences,” Governor Hassan said. “I thank Teamsters Local 633 for working with the state to reach this fair agreement that will create important healthcare savings for the state and provide an important boost for our corrections officers and their families.”

David Laughton, Secretary Treasurer for Teamsters Local 633 said, “We believe that this contract represents a fair compromise in rewarding these state employees for their hard work and dedication while recognizing the difficult economic times that we all face.”

In return, employees are agreeing to take a more active role in managing their health and healthcare costs. The state will switch to a site-of-service plan, where certain services employees will have the option to go to select providers or pay a deductible. In exchange for working to improve their own health through activities such as taking a health assessment test, getting a physical, getting a flu shot or having their blood pressure checked, employees earn up to $500 a year through a health reimbursement account and a wellness reimbursement program. This money can be used for healthcare expenses such as deductibles or eye glasses. Employees also agreed to contribute toward their dental plan for the first time.

The changes will help reduce the state’s future liability for the federal “Cadillac tax” on health plans, scheduled to go into effect in 2018.

Employees also agreed to changes in sick-leave policies in return for a short-term disability policy.

Hillsboro-Deering School Board Found To Be Negotiating In “Bad Faith”

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Contract negotiations is a delicate art form.  There is always a little pushing and pulling from both sides.  Good negotiators can get what they want without giving up too much.  When negotiating contracts both sides have a duty to openly and honestly bargain.  We call this ‘bargaining in good faith’.

To bargain in good faith means that both sides will work to find common ground, and will abide by the terms agreed to in the negotiating process.  The ability to trust the other side is key to the negotiating process.  Sometimes, this trust is lost.  When that happens, one side gets burned.  In negotiating terms we call this ‘bad faith bargaining’.  Bargaining in bad faith means that you never intended to follow through on the actions you agreed to in the negotiation process.

The Hillsboro-Deering School Board (HDSB) was charged with bad faith bargaining earlier this year.  The New Hampshire Labor News covered the story back in January of how the HDSB failed to vote on the contract their negotiating team had agreed to.   The main context of the unfair labor practice filed against the HDSD is that their lead negotiator, and school board chairperson, failed to advocated for the agreed upon contract.

On June 28th the New Hampshire Public Employees Labor Relations Board (NH PELRB) issued a ruling that the Hillsboro-Deering School District did negotiate in ‘bad faith’.

“The School Board committed an unfair labor practice in violation of RSA 273-A:5, I (e) when it failed to vote on ratification of the tentative agreement and when its negotiating team member failed to support the agreement during the ratification meeting as required under the ground rules, the statute, and PELRB decisions.”

Attorney Terri Donovan, Director of Collective Bargaining and Field Services for AFT-NH, explained importance of this decision.

“This decision is important because it clearly lays out in a comprehensive decision from the NH PELRB  the elements of good faith bargaining and the responsibilities of negotiating teams. As we enter into negotiations for a successor agreement, it is the hope of the Union that the School Board will not only understand their obligations but negotiate in good faith going forward.”

As previously stated, negotiating is a delicate process of give and take.  Without trust from both sides we would never be able to reach an agreement.  Without an agreement, nobody is happy.

Here is the full decision by the NH PELRB.

Patriot breaks off negotiations with United Mine Workers

UMWA United Mine Workers Logo

Union schedules meetings with local unions in preparation for vote

[TRIANGLE, VA] Negotiators from Patriot Coal walked out of talks with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) yesterday, threatening health care for thousands of retirees. The company also cancelled negotiations that were scheduled for the remainder of this week and into next week.

“We are very disappointed by this action,” UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts said. “We had made significant progress toward reaching an agreement that provided a workable alternative to the severe terms Patriot asked for last spring and that were approved by the bankruptcy court in St. Louis. The union had agreed to more than $400 million in savings for the company over the life of the current contract, which gives them the money they say they need to survive. But that still wasn’t enough for them.”

“When the company walked out, we were only about $30 to 35 million apart, which given the scope of this problem really isn’t all that much,” Roberts said. “A big chunk of that money is in bonuses the company wants to pay management personnel into the future.”

“I can only conclude at this point that there is no end to the depths of sacrifices our members and retirees are expected to make, even while hundreds of managers and executives are thinking about how they will spend the bonus money they’ll be getting in their bank accounts,” Roberts said, referring to a recent decision by the bankruptcy court to allow the company to pay millions in bonuses to already highly compensated personnel.

“The company now says it will implement the terms and conditions approved by the judge, effective July 1,” Roberts said. “I have consistently made it clear to management that I could not recommend to our membership that they work under those terms, because the sacrifices they require from our active and retired members are too great.”

Under the ruling made by Judge Kathy Surratt-States, Patriot is allowed to cut off the current system that provides health care for some 23,000 retirees, their dependents and surviving spouses and replace it with a Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA) that only has guaranteed funding of just $15 million, along with a royalty payment of 20 cents per ton of coal produced. The company would transfer a 35 percent ownership stake to the UMWA, which could be sold to raise money for the VEBA, but only after a value for the company is established. There is no way of knowing what the level of that funding would be.

The ruling also allows Patriot to deny retiree health care benefits entirely to some 40 percent of currently active workers who have already worked enough years to earn those benefits. In addition, Patriot can substantially reduce the pay, benefits, paid time off and other terms and conditions of the active workforce.

At the same time that Patriot is threatening to implement these cuts, the company plans to pay $25 million more in management bonuses in each of the next three years.

“We have repeatedly said that we are willing to make the sacrifices needed to keep this company operating,” Roberts said. “We are working to preserve these jobs and preserve retiree health care. We also believe that those sacrifices should be shared by all, and that once the company gets through the short-term cash problem it has and begins to make money again in a few years, our sacrifices should be recognized.”

“If we’re going to share the pain, we should share the gain,” Roberts said. “That’s only reasonable. But Patriot refuses to make that commitment to the people who actually mine the coal.”

“We are going to explain all this, including the terms and conditions the judge approved and Patriot plans to implement, directly to our members,” Roberts said. “This is a democratic union, and our members will have their say about whether they want to work under it or not.”  Roberts added that the vote would likely be held sometime during the week prior to July 1.

Under the UMWA Constitution, all active members working at Patriot operations, including those who are laid off or on sick or disability leave, have the right to vote on the terms and conditions of employment.

Roberts also pledged to continue the union’s efforts to get Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, the true architects of the Patriot bankruptcy, to live up to their obligations to the retirees to whom Peabody and Arch promised health care benefits.

“We find ourselves in this position today because Peabody and Arch made promises that they didn’t keep,” Roberts said. “We are not letting them off the hook. We are airing a new round of television spots that feature the voices of the victims of their scheme. Thousands of us will be back in front of Peabody’s offices next week, and more events are planned in St. Louis and throughout the coalfields in the coming months.”

“No matter what the events of the next few weeks may bring, this struggle is a long, long way from being over,” Roberts said.

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants Begin Negotiations for a New Contract Today

Transportation Workers Union Logo -TWU

DALLAS – Bargaining teams for Southwest’s flight attendants and the airline’s management will sit down in Dallas today to begin negotiations for a successor agreement.  “We are committed to maintaining the industry’s leading contract for flight attendants and also ensuring the continued success of the airline,” said Audrey Stone, the new Transport Workers Union Local 556 president.  TWU Local 556 represents the 11,000 flight attendants at Southwest.

Since the last major round of negotiations in 2009, the low-cost carrier, recognized as the most profitable domestic airline, has made a number of significant changes, including merging with AirTran and purchasing aircraft that can fly over water to international destinations.  Southwest also has made major additions to its route map. The flight attendants’ contract became “amendable” on May 31. Under the Railway Labor Act, the federal law that sets collective bargaining rules for airline and railroad workers, contracts don’t have end dates; they become open to changes or, in other words, amendable.

“We have a strong negotiating team in place, and they have been hard at work for months preparing for these talks,” said Stone. The TWU bargaining team conducted multiple member surveys and traveled to all Southwest base cities to talk with flight attendants.

Southwest’s flight attendants’ union has gone through two transitions of officers in the past year. This month, Stone advanced to the union’s top position.  Following this week’s contract talks, Stone, along with the rest of the negotiating team, will travel to nine cites where flight attendants are domiciled to brief members on the ongoing negotiations.

This has been an eventful month for Local 556; in addition to the start of bargaining and a transition of officers, the union is celebrating its successful effort to reverse a TSA policy proposal that would have allowed pocket knives, large sticks and clubs to be carried on commercial aircraft. TWU Local 556 was the first flight attendant group to speak out about the proposed policy change. Other unions, along with passenger groups, quickly joined the local in opposing the measure. After a three-month battle in the media, at local airports and in the halls of government, TSA rescinded the policy.

 

TWU Local 556 represents 11,000 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines. The Transport Workers Union of America represents 200,000 workers and retirees, primarily in commercial aviation, public transportation and passenger railroads and is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

Steelworkers Disgusted by Caterpillar CEO’s Shameful 2012 Cash Grab

Steelworkers logo USW

PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers (USW) today denounced Caterpillar Inc. CEO Douglas Oberhelman’s 32 percent compensation increase from $16.9 million in 2011 to $22.4 million in 2012 as shameful and unwarranted.

USW District 2 Director Michael Bolton said that rewarding Oberholman’s  job performance by boosting his already lavish compensation by nearly one-third in 2012, despite lower than expected earnings, sends a dangerous message to other CEOs that lining their pockets at the expense of their workers is somehow acceptable.

“In 2012, Caterpillar Inc. put 700 people out of work by shutting down its Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ont. after locking out its workers when they rejected a 50 percent wage cut; then the company bullied almost 800 workers into major wage and benefit concessions after a three-month labor dispute in Joliet, Ill.,” Bolton said.

“In South Milwaukee, Caterpillar management threatened to lay off 40 percent of the plant less than a week before our negotiations started,” Bolton said, “and when we got to the table, the company proposed unnecessary, sweeping changes to our contract language and continues to demand unfair concessions in other major economic and non-economic areas.”

“There’s no secret to Caterpillar’s approach to labor relations,” Bolton said. “The company clearly is willing to hold jobs, families and entire communities hostage in its drive to bust unions, depress workers’ incomes and slash workers’ health insurance and other benefits so that Oberholman and other top executives can cash in.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

USW Local 1343 represents 803 Caterpillar workers in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Is A Woman Only Worth 80% Of A Man? Then Why Are Women Still Fighting For Equal Pay?

From BLS

Fifty years ago, President Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act that was intended to end the wage gap that exist between men and women.  In 1963, the wage gap was 59 cents on the dollar for women in the workplace.  That is just over half what a man made for the same job (assuming they would have even hired her for the same job).  With fifty years of growth and progress, surely we have ended this silly gap and no longer need laws like this, right?  Sadly, no.

Today, a woman makes on average 80 cents on the dollar to a man.  That’s is truly sad, that we are still fighting the same fight over and over again.  Why?  That I cannot answer. What I can say is that there have been people who have always worked to reduce the wage gap: labor unions.

Labor unions have always been fighting back against discrimination of any kind. They fight back against racism and sexism the same way.  They treat everyone equal in every way.  Every member gets the same one vote.  Every member gets their voice heard.  Every one is paid the same for the same work.

Unions negotiate starting pay for workers as part of their contract.  That starting pay does not change if you are a white man, an African-American women, or vice-versa.  The base pay is just that: the base pay.  Everyone starts at the same place.

Some people, like Nashua State Rep Jan Schmidt understand this.  Here’s what she told me:

“People ask me why there are unions today… people who have no memory or sense of history, people who blindly believe that a person alone has complete power to shape their own fate, people who have listened to too much talk radio with their constant pounding of union-hate paid for by corporations that know if unions gain a foothold, they may have a few pennies less in their Cayman bank account.

“This is one reason we need to remember Equal Pay Day, corporations willingly pay the people they expect to buy their goods with wages so low that they leave the state picking up the food stamp cost for that family. To them (the corporation CEOs)… the pennies in their accounts are worth more than the lives they sacrifice.”

So when you ask me, hey Matt, how do we solve the gender wage gap? I will give you the same answer I have given time and time before: JOIN A UNION!

 

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