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ROC United Applauds Maine and Flagstaff, AZ for Eliminating Tipped Minimum Wage

Maine becomes the eighth state to establish One Fair Wage for all workers

Last night the state of Maine and city of Flagstaff, Arizona celebrate unprecedented victories when their leaders and citizens pass ballot initiatives eliminating the tipped minimum wage and establishing One Fair Wage for all workers. An incredible victory for the residents of Maine and Flagstaff, tonight’s results have national implications, galvanizing a movement for One Fair Wage that is gaining momentum and inroads in cities and states across the country. 

Last night’s results will have a transformational impact on the lives of tipped workers in Maine and Flagstaff. Largely women and people of color working in casual dining establishments like Denny’s or The Olive Garden, tipped workers are forced to accept a lower, sub minimum wage (an abysmal $2.13 at the federal level), and thus rely on tips — i.e. the whims of customers — rather than their employers to make ends meet. Tipped workers face disproportionate rates of poverty, sexual harassment and discrimination as a result of the precariousness of living off tips. The establishment of One Fair Wage in Maine and Flagstaff will provide the economic stability necessary to ensure these workers can adequately support themselves and their families. 

On a larger scale, these important victories will inspire workers and their allies nationwide to keep up the fight for One Fair Wage. New York State, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Washington D.C. are just a few of the locations where the movement is gaining considerable ground. 

Earlier this year, the Democratic Party endorsed One Fair Wage as necessary policy for the entire country. 

ROC United Co-Founder and Co-Director, Saru Jayaraman said, “Congratulations to the people of Maine and Flagstaff, Arizona for ensuring that all workers, tipped or untipped, receive a fair, living wage for their hard work. With last night’s results, Maine joins seven other One Fair Wage states — including California and the entire West Coast — all of which have seen their restaurant industries flourish since eliminating the subminimum wage. Maine and Flagstaff are this movement’s latest victories, but they certainly will not be the last.” She continues, “While we join workers and their allies in celebrating this important victory, we know that this fight is far from over. Our movement will only continue to grow as more and more Americans learn of the incredible hardships facing our nation’s tipped workers. All workers — tipped or untipped — deserve the dignity of a fair, living wage. We applaud the great state of Maine and the wonderful city of Flagstaff for leading the way toward a better, brighter, and fairer tomorrow for our nation’s tipped workers.”

AFL-CIO Worker’s Voice PAC To Air Ads In Seven Key States

With high stakes elections coming down to the wire across the country, the labor movement is going up on radio and TV in support of working family candidates.  The ads will build on the effective grassroots campaign that labor has been running for several months including door knocking, worksite leaflets and phone banking.

Workers’ Voice has just launched full 60 second radio ads designed to educate working families about the stakes on November 4th and promote the candidates who will work for their economic interests:

  • Senator Mark Begich (Alaska)
  • Senator Mark Udall (Colorado)
  • Congressman Bruce Braley (running for Senate in Iowa)
  • Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (running for Senate in Kentucky)
  • Congressman Mike Michaud (running for Governor in Maine)
  • Mary Burke (running for Governor in Wisconsin)

Each ad will run through Election Day in multiple markets across each state.

In addition, a 30 second television ad in Michigan launches today and will air through Election Day.

Each of these ads focus on economic issues and aim to clarify for voters which candidate will fight for a secure and growing middle class.

The Iowa radio ad is an example: By including Senate candidate Jodi Ernst’s own words in support of Social Security privatization, the ad steps above the din on an issue (retirement security) of deep-seated concern to working people in Iowa.

To listen to any of the radio ads, click below:

Alaska US Senate, Radio

Colorado US Senate, Radio

Iowa, US Senate Radio

Kentucky US Senate, Radio

Maine Governor Radio

Wisconsin Governor, Radio

And the Michigan Governor TV ad can be found here

Maine Labor Advocates To Show Movie SALT OF THE EARTH in Solidarity For IBEW-CWA FairPoint Workers

In an expression of solidarity with the IBEW and CWA workers at FairPoint Communications who are struggling for a fair contract, the Community Union of Ellsworth & Hancock County has organized a public showing of the movie Salt of the Earth on July 29.

SALT OF THE EARTH
Tuesday July 29th, 7:00pm
Ellsworth Unitarian Universalist Church
121 Bucksport Rd.

Join the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth’s Peace & Social Action Committee, Community Union of Ellsworth & Hancock County, IBEW Local 2327, CWA Local 1400, Maine State Association of Letter Carriers, Maine AFL-CIO, Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, for a free showing of the movie “Salt Of The Earth.”

For more information call 667-4877

Share this flyer with your friends by clicking here for Facebook or here for Twitter.  Also you can download this PDF version of the flyer to post at your worksite or email to your friends.

SALT OF THE EARTH PNH

FairPoint Employees To Hold Strike Authorization Vote

Fairness at Fairpoint BannerUnion leaders hope to reach agreement before contract expires August 2

Augusta, ME—Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 have scheduled a strike authorization vote for July 11-13 to take place across the FairPoint service area. The two unions represent nearly 2,000 employees of FairPoint Communications across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Their contracts expire on August 2nd and union representatives have been in negotiations with management since April 25th.

“Our members don’t want to strike – they want to continue working for their customers and families,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire, one of the three locals that comprise System Council T-9. “Unfortunately, management is unwilling to offer any proposal other than ones they themselves describe as requiring ‘deep, painful, significant concessions’ from workers.”

A strike authorization vote is a necessary precursor to a work stoppage, but does not require the union members actually go on strike. Such a decision could be made later by union leadership. Leaders expect members of both IBEW and CWA in Northern New England to vote overwhelmingly in favor of the strike authorization.

FairPoint workers say they are not just fighting to protect good jobs in their communities but to ensure the best service to customers across Northern New England. They say the company is insisting on the unlimited ability to hire low-wage temporary workers from out of state to do their work. “When companies hire outside contractors to do the work of skilled, local employees, customers are the ones who suffer,” said Brackett.

“Our members want nothing more than to continue working to provide the best service possible to our customers,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400, which consists of members across Northern New England. “Unfortunately, management continues to insist on deep cuts that we strongly believe will hurt consumers and the hard-working employees who have repeatedly saved this company, while the Wall Street hedge fund owners of FairPoint line their pockets.”

IBEW and CWA Open Negotiations Looking For “Fairness At FairPoint”

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

Joint statement from Peter McLaughlin, IBEW System Council T-9 President, and Don Trementozzi, CWA Local 1400 President, on the start of bargaining with FairPoint

As we open bargaining today, the IBEW and the CWA understand that both the Union and the Company must resolve many issues before our current agreement expires Saturday, August 2nd at Midnight.

Fairpoint Workers The new contract must provide job security, adequate wages and benefits, safe and reasonable working conditions, and a secure retirement that reward and incentivize this company’s single most valuable asset, our members and your employees.

The Union and your workers hope and expect that the Company basically wants the same things: a safe, healthy work environment; quality products for the customer, and the ability to make money.

When they worked for Verizon, the hard working women and men of the IBEW and CWA in these three northern states were recognized as the finest workers in the entire company footprint. You name it . . . productivity, attendance, or sales.

These proud telephone workers are a big part of this Company’s renewed success. If not for their experience and ability to overcome critical shortcomings in the operational systems that were implemented after cutover, we would not be here talking today. As their Representatives, we expect them to be treated with respect throughout these negotiations and that their value is recognized as a result of these efforts.

The Unions have kept abreast of the industry trends. We obviously recognize the Company needs to survive and prosper in order for our members to have a place to work.  At the same time, we will work diligently to protect bargaining unit work.

I want to make it clear, though, that there will be no harmony in the work places of FairPoint should the company make unreasonable demands, demands that would potentially wipe out years of gains from those who fought the fights before us.

Fairpoint Workers at Lewiston ME garage

Fairpoint Workers at Lewiston ME garage

When given the opportunity, our members have responded to every challenge given them. Be it Fiber to the Tower, NGN, or school and libraries projects. They look forward to new work opportunities brought on by FairPoint’s investment in technology and new product offerings.

For an all-too-brief period, the Unions were able to partner with FairPoint to work through and resolve Union/Management Concerns.  We are not only willing, but we’re eager, to do so again. Our ability to partner with the Company has been non-existent over the past couple of years. FairPoint has kept the Union at arm’s length and dragged its feet to meet with us in contractually binding meetings.

Hopefully, through these negotiations, we’ll be able to turn the page.  We must find solutions that work for both sides and I am confident that we can.

The Union is committed to a respectful and meaningful collective bargaining process. We believe it is the mutual interest of us all to reach a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement.

(Click here to follow them on Facebook)

Old McDonald’s, Pay Fair Wages, EIEIO — Community Show Support For Striking Workers

Maine Fast Food Strike Support

Photo Credit Arnie Alpert

COMMUNITY RALLY FOR FAIR PAY

ELLSWORTH, MAINE — On the outskirts of Ellsworth, Maine, just after we turned off Route 1 in pursuit of a more scenic route home, we heard a notice on WERU, an Orland-based community radio station, announcing that a rally in support of fast food workers had just begun.  Having been on vacation, we had been unaware that August 29 had been designated a day for fast food workers and their allies to strike and rally for a hike in wages to $15 an hour until Jan mentioned it to us the previous day.

Assuming we would find the rally on the strip we had sought to avoid, we did a u-turn, re-traced our path, took a right, and soon found a small group of sign-holding protestors in front of McDonalds.

Maine Fast Food Strike Support 2

Photo Credit Arnie Alpert

For the next hour we joined them, with chants of “Low Pay, Not Okay,” and conversations about their other activities.  Standing under the sign reading “Looking for a job?  We are looking for you,” we waved at passers by, many of whom gave us friendly waves in return.

The activist group, made up of local retirees, began its life as Occupy Ellsworth and continues to meet regularly for social and educational events plus occasional actions.  The call themselves “Community Union,” and are already planning a Black Friday protest at a local retail store.

The nationwide protest, backed by the SEIU, called attention to the low pay rates typical of work in fast food establishments and also to the fact that the federal minimum wage – stuck at $7.25 an hour – is far from enough for workers to support themselves, let alone their families.  In fact, members of the Ellsworth group pointed out that the wages earned by fast food and many retail workers are so low that they are eligible for public assistance.  That means taxpayers are subsidizing the operations of highly profitable corporations like McDonalds.

The protest drew attention from Maine Public Radio Network and two local TV stations.  My hope is that workers will be emboldened to demand better pay, that state and federal lawmakers will raise the minimum wage, and that even giant corporations will be forced to give in.

Originally posted in InZane Times.

Maine Lobstermen Applaud Senate Vote Against Dragging for Lobster

Maine lobstermen commend the Maine Senate for today’s 28-7 vote against LD 1549, a bill that would allow ground fishermen to keep and sell lobsters they catch when dragging.

“We’re very pleased that the Senate voted down LD 1549 today,” said Rock Alley, a lobsterman from Jonesport and member of the Maine Lobstering Union.

“Dragging for lobsters is fundamentally damaging to the resource that we are working so hard to protect.  As lobstermen, we need the Legislature to enact laws that will help us protect our industry. We want our children and grandchildren to have the chance to preserve our way of life on Maine’s islands and coast, and that depends on the sustainability of the industry,” Alley said.

Joel Pitcher is organizer with the Maine Lobstering Union.

“Today’s vote showed strong support here in Augusta for Maine’s hardworking lobstermen. We thank the Senators who opposed loosening dragging regulations and stood in support of a sustainable Maine lobster industry,” said Pitcher. “We will continue to work hard to ensure this bill meets final defeat,” he said.

MAINE: Join Us For Personal Members Accounts Of What Happened To Take Down Twinkies

Hostess Strike BCTGM

Everyone is invited to a very special event in Portland Maine.

Event: Bakers and Bankers-Who Really Keeps the Dough?

Date: Wednesday, April 3rd. 7pm.

Location: University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine. Wishcamper Center room #133

The workers of the Hostess plant in Biddeford, Maine will put their side of the story front and center this coming Wednesday.  Mike Hummell (a 14 year Hostess BCTGM worker from Lexena, KS) has graciously agreed to join the panel by the Southern Maine Labor Council to discuss the pension theft and how the company portrayed the issue in the media versus reality.

“I also hope to encourage people to be more active in confronting dishonest media reports. I will of course remind everyone of the role of Ayn Rand cultist Judge Drain while I’m at it.” Mike Hummell

Joining Hummell on the panel will be John Jordan, Business Manager for Bakers Union #334 along with Joe Piccone, Business Agent for Teamsters Local #340, the union representing the delivery drivers at Hostess. Having the Local representatives from both the Bakers and the Teamsters should give a good look at the events on the ground as they unfolded.

Rounding out the panel will be Biddeford City Councilor Richard Rhames, addressing both the impact the closing is having on Biddeford and the various tax breaks provided by the city to Hostess. How much did the people of Biddeford do for Hostess over the years? What exactly did they get to show for it when it was all said and done? Has the city been left hanging on any promises? Hopefully the City Councilor Rhames will be able to answer some of these questions.  Again, if you have questions, please put them in the comments on the Facebook event page.

This will be a discussion of the direct effects on the city of Biddeford. The other speakers will tell the story from their unique local perspectives.
(RSVP To the event via FACBOOK)

You can read about the Biddeford, Mike and the plant in this article. http://www.pressherald.com/…It gives a grim view of the prospects for former employees.

The bakery union representing former Hostess workers has objected to the planned sale of the bread brands to Flowers, saying the bid offers no assurances that former labor contracts would be honored.The Industry International Pension Fund also is objecting to the sale.

In a court filing on Feb. 25, the bakery union and pension fund said, “Flowers has not committed to preserve a single job, and in fact has affirmatively disclaimed any obligation even to ‘consider’ employing a single worker.

“Thus, while debtors’ secured lenders may view Flowers’ bids as the ‘best’ for getting themselves paid, Flowers’ bids provide zero assurances that the rights of the debtors’ workers will be protected,” the filing said.

If you are a Portland, Maine, please join us for a discussion of the real life effects of our hedge fund economy. Or as Fox News would say- “Union thugs gang up and steal Twinkies from babies!”

Catch up with the pension theft here. http://www.dailykos.com/…

You can also see what really happened to Hostess in the video, from Mike Hummell.  It is very different than what the mainstream media may have told.

An Update From BCTGM: HOSTESS IN CURRENT CONDITION BECAUSE OF FAILED MANAGEMENT

HOSTESS IN CURRENT CONDITION BECAUSE OF FAILED MANAGEMENT

The following statement was issued by BCTGM International Union President Frank Hurt in response to claims by Hostess Brands that it would begin liquidation should union members not end the strike and return immediately to production facilities:

“The crisis facing Hostess Brands is the result of nearly a decade of financial and operational mismanagement that resulted in two bankruptcies, mountains of debt, declining sales and lost market share.  The Wall Street investors who took over the company after the last bankruptcy attempted to resolve the mess by attacking the company’s most valuable asset – its workers.

“They sought to force the workers, who had already taken significant wage and benefit cuts, to absorb even greater cuts including the loss of their pension contributions. I have said consistently throughout this process that the BCTGM is a highly democratic organization and that our Hostess members themselves would determine their future. By an overwhelming majority, 92 percent, these workers rejected the company’s outrageous proposal, fully aware of the potential consequences.

“Our members know that the plans all along of the Wall Street investors currently in control of this company did not include the operation of Hostess Brands any longer than it takes to sell the company in whole – or in part – in a way that will maximize the profits of these vulture capitalists regardless of the impact on the workforce.

“The wholesale bread and cake baking business is unique.  The most successful and profitable wholesale baking companies share common attributes, most notably being executive leadership with extensive background in the business and a skilled and dedicated workforce.  Hostess Brands and its predecessor companies have had the latter for decades.

“Unfortunately however, for the past eight years management of the company has been in the hands of Wall Street investors, “restructuring experts”, third-tier managers from other non-baking food companies and currently a “liquidation specialist”.  Six CEO’s in eight years, none of whom with any bread and cake baking industry experience, was the prescription for failure.

“Despite Greg Rayburn’s insulting and disingenuous statements of the last several months, the truth is that Hostess workers and their Union have absolutely no responsibility for the failure of this company.  That responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the company’s decision makers.

“I am sure that our members would be agreeable to return to work as soon as the company rescinds the implementation of the horrendous wage and benefit reductions, including pension, and the restoration of the cuts that have already taken place.”

BACKGROUND

A total of 24 Hostess production facilities are on strike or honoring the strike with picket lines established by striking Hostess workers at other BCTGM-represented facilities.  Additionally, BCTGM members at one transport facility also are on strike.  Company claims that union members are crossing picket lines and maintaining production at striking plants are vastly untrue.

Over the past 15 months, Hostess workers have seen the company unilaterally end contractually-obligated payments to their pension plan.  These workers, many of whom have worked at Hostess and its predecessor companies for decades, struck in response to the company’s unilateral imposition of an unacceptable contract that was rejected by 92 percent of the union’s Hostess members in September.

While the company was demanding major concessions from union workers (wage and benefit cuts amounting to 27- 32% overall), the top ten executives of the company rewarded themselves with compensation increases, with one executive receiving a 300 percent increase.

The BCTGM represents more than 80,000 workers in the baking, food processing, grain milling and tobacco industries in the United States and Canada.

Follow the BCTGM:

Web: www.bctgm.org

Facebook: http://facebook.com/BCTGM

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BCTGM

 

 

Local New England Union Members Endorse Matt Dunlap for Senate in Maine

The just in from CWA 1400.  The Communication Workers of America Local 1400 represents members in Maine and New Hampshire.  CWA1400 District Vice President, Felicia Augevich is also a blogger here at the NH Labor News.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2012
Contact: press@dunlapforsenate.com


MATT DUNLAP EARNS COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 1400 ENDORSEMENT IN BID FOR U.S. SENATE
Old Town, ME – The executive board of the Communications Workers of America Local 1400 voted unanimously at their March meeting Tuesday to endorse former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap as candidate for United States Senate.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is the largest telecommunications union in the world, and CWA Local 1400 represents telecommunications workers throughout Maine and New England.
“Our board voted unanimously to support Matt Dunlap in his bid for U.S. Senate, because Matt is committed to the needs of working people, not the interests of large corporations,” said CWA Local 1400 president Don Trementozzi.  “We believe in the importance of electing a Senator we can count on to stand up for the middle class.”
Dunlap’s campaign has focused on the economic issues faced by working Mainers.  “I feel so strongly about the importance of fighting for working families that I chose the United Steel Workers Local 80 Hall in Old Town, where I have lived for 23 years, as the location to announce my run for Senate,” he said.
Dunlap announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate last year, months before incumbent Olympia Snowe announced on February 28th that she would not seek reelection.  After Snowe’s announcement, Dunlap reaffirmed his candidacy.  “I’m running now for the same reasons as before – to be a voice for working families.” he said.
Last week, Dunlap delivered nomination petitions with more than 2,200 signatures of registered Maine Democrats to the Secretary of State’s office to qualify for the June primary ballot.  Maine law requires that party candidates for the U.S. Senate collect at least 2,000 signatures by registered members of the candidate’s party in order to appear on the ballot.
Matt Dunlap served three terms as Secretary of State and four terms in the Maine House of Representatives, representing Old Town. He was the House Chair of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and the Government Oversight Committee and was the Democratic Chair of the 2003 Legislative Apportionment Commission and a member of the House Standing Committee on Elections. As Secretary of State he was President of the National Association of Secretaries of State and also President of the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council and was named Maine’s Public Administrator of the Year in 2008. Born and raised in Bar Harbor, Maine, Dunlap holds degrees from the University of Maine and has volunteered on numerous nonprofit boards and organizations.
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