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#DenyNAI: New Legislation To Stop Norwegian Air International From Undercutting Labor Laws

Image by Viaggio Routard FLIKR CC

Image by Viaggio Routard FLIKR CC

Congressional Representatives From Both Sides Of The Aisle, Introduce Legislation To Deny NAI’s Application To The DOT.

Today, Congress took a big step forward in protecting American workers and upholding our nations trade agreements, by introducing legislation to stop Norwegian Air International (NAI) from skirting international labor laws as they attempt to expand in the U.S.

NAI, is based in Norway, but the airline is incorporated in Ireland. This is called a “flag of convenience.” It allows NAI to avoid paying taxes in their home country and allows them to avoid strong labor laws in U.S – European Air Transport agreement.

“Norwegian Air International (NAI) and its attempt to launch a flag-of-convenience airline has once again drawn a strong bipartisan rebuke from lawmakers who have long held that our government should not give operating authority to foreign airlines that violate our trade rules and threaten U.S. airline jobs,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).

“Norwegian Air International specifically set up operations in Ireland to avoid labor laws in Norway—a flagrant violation of the labor provisions in the agreement. We implore swift action by all lawmakers to get this legislation adopted in order to uphold labor protections in trade deals, protect good aviation jobs, and ensure the safest aviation system in the world,” said Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA).

“As the Norwegian Air saga continues to rear its ugly head, we are grateful to the members of Congress who stand up against this bogus proposal with commonsense legislation that protects good jobs and fair competition. This bill would fight the Department of Transportation’s effort to allow airlines to flout labor standards in order to pad their bottom lines. It sends a message to any company looking to operate in the United States: if you don’t care about working people, you aren’t welcome here,” wrote the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

In order for NAI to expand operations in the U.S. they would first need DOT approval. On April 15, the DOT tentatively approved NAI’s application.

“The Machinists Union applauds Congress for acting to stop the Department of Transportation’s ill-conceived decision to pave the way for NAI’s entry into the US aviation market. Any airline that registers its aircraft in foreign countries with lax safety and security standards and ‘rents’ its cabin crews from countries with no labor laws to lower costs shouldn’t be welcome in the United States,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja.

“Make no mistake: NAI’s scheme to gain entry into the US aviation market will unleash downward pressure on the wages, benefits and working conditions of airline workers here in the United States and cause airline workers to lose their jobs. That is unacceptable,” added Pantoja.

“NAI is a model for corporate practices that depress wages and diminish collective bargaining rights. It will contract—or more accurately ‘rent’— its flight crews through a recruitment firm based in Asia, which operates according to inferior labor laws. In doing so, NAI will be able to abuse weak labor protections to undercut U.S. airlines and their employees with significantly lower compensation and benefits,” added TWU.

Today, Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) introduced the bill, HR 5090, to deny NAI’s application.

Watch Rep DeFaszio on why we should Deny NAI’s application.

Congressman Larson said that allowing NAI to violate international labor laws would “reward countries that break their commitments to protecting workers.”

“My colleagues and I have been clear with DOT that strong labor standards must factor into NAI’s air carrier permit decision. Today, we are introducing legislation that would prohibit DOT from issuing a permit to NAI if doing so would undermine labor standards,” Congressman Larsen said. “Granting an air carrier permit to NAI would say to the world that the U.S. rewards other countries that break their commitments to protecting workers. Our agreements with other countries are only as strong as our ability and willingness to enforce them, which is why I am pushing hard for the U.S. to hold other countries accountable for their end of the deal.”

After the bill was introduced, leaders from the major aviation unions praised their swift action in stopping NAI’s application.

“ALPA commends Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) for standing up for U.S. airline workers and introducing bipartisan legislation that will prevent Norwegian Air International from serving the United States with a business plan that is designed to undermine labor standards and the intent of one of this country’s international trade agreements,” said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president.

“We applaud the immediate action of Representatives Peter DeFazio, Frank LoBiondo, Rick Larsen, Lynn Westmoreland to stop this downward spiral on U.S. aviation and good jobs,” added Nelson.

“This legislation is a timely response to the DOT’s April 15 Show Cause Order that moves NAI closer to gaining access to U.S. markets. We criticized that decision because we know that NAI’s business model blatantly violates the labor provisions negotiated into the U.S.-EU aviation trade accord. Inexplicably, the DOT ignored the strict international labor standards it negotiated into U.S.-EU agreement and now faces a final decision on whether it will enforce the labor article or greenlight this low-road air carrier whose operating plan will destroy fair competition and extinguish middle-class airline jobs here and in Europe,” added Wytkind.

“The legislation introduced today requires our government to fully enforce the labor protections in aviation trade agreements it negotiates, and makes it clear that a decision by DOT to permit NAI to launch air service to U.S. markets will not stand. We urge the DOT to reassess the compelling facts in this case, reverse course and deny NAI’s application,” Wytkind concluded.

Terry O’Sullivan: The Cost of Going to Work Should Never Be Death or Injury

(Terry O'Sullivan is the General President of the Laborers International Union of North America - LiUNA)

(Terry O’Sullivan is the General President of the Laborers International Union of North America – LiUNA)

As the April 28th Workers Memorial Day commemoration approaches, we can proudly highlight what we can accomplish when we have the best training programs and the right safety regulations in place.

Nationwide, workplace deaths and injuries have trended dramatically downward. For example, in 1970, 38 workers died from workplace-related causes each day. In 2014, the most recent statistic available, that number fell to 13. Workplace-related illnesses and injuries have fallen as well, from 10.9 incidents for every 100 workers to 3.2 incidents per 100 workers.

It’s good news, but not good enough. Despite our progress, the fact remains that 750 workers are expected to lose their lives this year on construction jobsites. Injuries resulting in lost work time are expected to number 75,000.

Let’s honor the brothers and sisters we have lost by commemorating Workers Memorial Day and saying loudly and clearly that the cost of going to work each day should never be death or injury on the job. I invite every LIUNA member to help send this message by joining a week-long conversation about safety for workers on LIUNA’s Facebook page starting on April 25.

As union workers, we know that with the proper safety training, effective temp-post-imagesafety programs on jobsites and a workforce free to speak out about hazards, most deaths and injuries are preventable. That’s why we make training and safety programs a cornerstone of union construction sites. In fact, according to a University of Michigan study, states with high union membership have construction fatality rates 50 percent lower than states with low union membership.

We still have work to do to reduce risks ranging from traffic hazards in highway work zones, to the lack of fall prevention on building construction sites, to inadequate safety equipment to prevent illnesses that are all too common in our industry.

As we approach Workers Memorial Day, let’s build on our accomplishments and fight for safe jobs so that every worker returns safely home at the end of a workday.

Learn more at www.liuna.org/tmo

AFLCIO Announces Support Of BCTGM Boycott Of Mexican-Made Nabisco Products

Campaign encourages Americans to “Check the Label” in support of American jobs by purchasing only those Nabisco products made in America

 SocialMedia_BoycottSimpleKENSINGTON, Md., April 27, 2016 – Today, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) – which represents nearly 4,000 members at Mondelēz International, maker of Nabisco snack products – announced that the national AFL-CIO has officially endorsed its nationwide consumer boycott of Nabisco snack products made in Mexico.

The “Check the Label” campaign was launched to stop Nabisco/Mondelēz from continuing to outsource jobs, by urging American consumers to reject Mexican-made Nabisco products and, instead, buy those that are produced in America in support of middle-class American jobs.

The AFL-CIO’s endorsement is a watershed moment in BCTGM’s boycott movement, as it adds 12.5 million members in 56 affiliated national and international unions, as well as their families and their local and extended communities across the United States and the globe.

BCTGM International President David B. Durkee, stated, “BCTGM is proud to have the support of our 12.5 million Brothers and Sisters of the AFL-CIO who share our profound dismay that Nabisco/Mondelēz is asking American workers to give up 60 percent of their wages and benefits – amounting to $46 million per year in perpetuity – or have their jobs shipped to Mexico. The AFL-CIO’s backing sends the strongest signal yet that American workers and consumers will not stand idly by while Americans lose their jobs.  Most immediately, we believe that the endorsement lends substantial and sustainable support to our “Check the Label” campaign, aimed at supporting American jobs by ensuring consumers’ favorite Nabisco products are produced in America before purchasing.”

SocialMedia_3StepsBCTGM launched the “Check the Label” campaign after Nabisco/Mondelēz closed numerous U.S. production facilities, costing many hundreds of American jobs, while at the same time expanding production in its facilities in Monterrey and Salinas, Mexico, where pay is so low that the minimum wage is measured by the day, not the hour. BCTGM is sending teams of the laid-off workers around the country, focusing on large urban areas, to enhance support for the boycott and continue to expand its coalition.

The National contract between Mondelēz International and more than 2,000 of its 4,000 workers represented by the BCTGM, expired on February 29, 2016. BCTGM continues to be resolute in its commitment to securing a quality contract for its members – one that is in the very best interests of all members and their families today and into the future.

The full text of the AFL-CIO endorsement includes the following:

The AFL-CIO has approved your request to include Mondelēz International on the list of AFL-CIO national boycotts. Specifically, the boycott will apply to all Mondelēz International snack food products that are labeled “Made in Mexico,” including Oreos, Newtons, Chips Ahoy, Honey Grahams, Animal Crackers, Ritz Crackers, Premium, Belvita, Lorna Doane, Teddy Grahams, Honey Maid, and Wheat Thins.

In accordance with the policy on boycott endorsements adopted by the AFL-CIO Executive Council, the federation will maintain the “Made in Mexico” snack products of Mondelēz International on its published boycott list for up to one year from the date of endorsement unless your union requests an earlier termination of the listing. At the end of the year, you may request to have the company included on the list for another 12 months.

The AFL-CIO and the AFL-CIO Union Label and Service Trades Department will post this product line to the list on their websites and Union Label Letter publication.

For more information about the “Check the Label” campaign, please watch this informational video.

 

ChecktheLabel_HowTo

Bipartisan Senate Energy Bill Will Strengthen Economy and Unlock Good Jobs and Clean Energy

 Washington, D.C.  – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today on Senate passage of S. 2012, The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2012 crafted by Senators Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Portman (R-Ohio), Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Cantwell (D-Washington):

“On behalf of the 500,000 members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, I commend the Senate on their bipartisan vote (85-12) in favor for much needed energy legislation that will strengthen our economy and unlock good jobs and clean energy.

The bill streamlines the process for construction of pipelines on federal land and the natural gas export permit application process, which will help position the United States to lead globally as a clean energy super power, bring affordable energy to U.S. consumers, and create good jobs. It will also increase investment in renewable energies such as wind, solar, and hydropower and amend the Federal Power Act to encourage hydropower development by extending the total period for preliminary permits.

The bill has important provisions to incentivize energy efficiency for new state and commercial building construction; including a requirement that the Department of Energy work closely with manufacturers to invest in the research, development and commercialization of updated energy efficient technologies.

Senate Bill 2012 also addresses critical gaps in America’s nuclear energy research and production. LIUNA strongly believes that nuclear energy is not only integral to a clean energy economy, but it provides good jobs for workers across the country.

LIUNA urges the Senate and House to work together so that this bill can be conferenced and presented to the President and become law.” 

Faculty Votes for Union at Plymouth State University

AAUP 100 Years Logo 2Plymouth, NH– In an election held this week, a majority of the one hundred seventy-four tenured and tenure-track faculty members at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire voted to form a union for collective bargaining with the American Association of University Professors. Plymouth State University is one of the four public universities that make up the University System of New Hampshire.

“My colleagues and I look forward to working with the university to establish agreements and processes for faculty that guarantee workload equity, transparency in governance, and academic freedom. Assured academic freedom for faculty creates the best environment for student learning,” said Rebecca Noel, associate professor of history at Plymouth State University.

“I am happy that we faculty at Plymouth State University have chosen to join together as the newest members of the AAUP to improve clarity and workload issues, and I look forward to working with the administration to making PSU an even stronger institution,” said Chris Chabot, Plymouth State University professor of biology.

“This is great news. Plymouth State University faculty, working together in a union, will have a positive impact on the faculty working conditions, student leaning conditions, and the university as a whole,” said Howard Bunsis, chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress.

In voting to join together to bargain collectively as an AAUP chapter, faculty members at Plymouth State join many of their colleagues at the University of New Hampshire and across the country.

Leo W Gerard: American Workers Crushed Under China’s Deliberate Overproduction

Image by Glasseye View Flikr CC

Image by Glasseye View Flikr CC

I went to Washington, D.C., last week to ask trade experts and lawmakers to stop the relentless, lawless, callous dumping of Chinese steel, aluminum, paper, rubber, glass, chemicals and other products, which has closed mills, killed jobs, destroyed lives, devastated American communities and imperiled national security.

American steel is made in the most efficient, cost-effective mills in the world by the most skilled, productive workers anywhere. That’s a fact. It’s a fact that steel executives testified to last week in hearings conducted by members of Congress and trade law enforcers. We want the trade enforcers and Congress to stop the dumping and to force China to dramatically cut its steel production because China has kept none of its promises over the past seven years to voluntarily do so. In fact, it has continuously increased production.

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China makes way, way too much steel. In 2015, it produced nearly 500 million tonsmore than it needed. It did that to keep its citizens employed, its mills running and its country free of civic unrest.

That would be fine if China just put all of that extra steel in a warehouse somewhere. But it dumped more than 100 million tons in overseas markets in 2015. Production of that steel was subsidized by the Chinese government in ways that violate international trade rules, so the price was artificially low. And Chinasuppresses the value of its currency, further falsely reducing the cost of the steel.

Even the most efficient mills in the world can’t compete with a country. So they shut down.

On Tuesday, Sam Pantello, a maintenance mechanical technician at EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel in Pueblo, Colo., told the U.S. Trade Representative that 260 of his fellow workers are laid off and EVRAZ is running at 65 percent capacity all because of Chinese dumping.  Here is what he said:

“We produce high-quality steel cost-effectively and efficiently and are the only manufacturer of steel rail west of the Mississippi. And yet, because of steel dumping, I have co-workers out of a job, worrying about making their next mortgage or car payment, and that just isn’t right.”

This didn’t happen overnight. China has been ramping up production of steel and aluminum and other commodities for over a decade. It ships the excess overseas. That floods international markets, artificially depressing prices worldwide. That bankrupts factories and mills that operate on Western free market principles, causing unemployment and shattering communities. The devastation has occurred across the United States, Great Britain and Europe.

Everyone is affected, from the guy who digs the iron ore out of the ground to the guy who sells burgers to workers leaving the mill on shift change. Dan Pierce, a diesel mechanic at the U.S. Steel Keewatin Taconite mine in Hibbing, Minn., explained this to the U.S. Trade Representative. Because so many steel mills are partly or completely shut down, the demand for taconite, which is processed into iron ore pellets, is slim. U.S. Steel closed the Keewatin Taconite mine last May and laid off nearly all of the 360 workers, including Pierce.

“Not being able to work for the past 11 months has put stress on me, my family and my friends as we wrestle with the uncertainty of if, and when, I will be able to return to work. Our family has had to hold off on home repairs and cut back on groceries and eating out. When we do this, and you multiply it by all of the other workers going through the same things, it means local businesses suffer as people make less trips to places like the Super One Foods or the Erikson lumberyard. Everything in the [iron] range depends on the mining companies running. When they’re shut down, it affects everyone, from daycare providers to local car dealerships to hospitals,” Pierce explained.

The effect of China dumping its excessive production into the world market is massive layoffs, both in the United States and in Europe. Last week Britain demanded that China rein in its overcapacity after Tata Steel announced it was placing its partly closed British mills on the auction block, putting 15,000 jobs at risk.

In the United States, 13,500 steelworkers hold layoff notices, and earlier this month, 750 U.S. Steel white-collar workers learned they’d lose their jobs too. The crisis has hit aluminum just as hard. Five years ago, 14 aluminum smelters ran in this country. Now there are five. Another is slated to close in June. If it does, 6,500 aluminum workers will have lost their jobs. These are good, family-supporting jobs with benefits and pensions.  This is China exporting unemployment.

Tim Davis, a crane operator at Cascade Steel Rolling Mills in McMinnville, Ore., told the U.S. Trade Representative what it means to lose that kind of job. His mill makes rebar, coiled steel wire and flat bar. Because of dumped coiled wire and rebar, Cascade is running on reduced days and furloughed 70 workers, including Davis.

“Cascade Steel isn’t just a job to me. It helped raise me. The paychecks my dad received from working there when I was growing up allowed me to participate in sports while I was in school, paid for our family vacations and ensured that I had a roof over my head and food on the table. I want that for my family. I want to know that as long as I work hard to provide for my family that they can have the same childhood I did thanks to my dad working hard at Cascade Steel.

“I am proud to follow in my father’s footsteps in the manufacturing industry, and I would hope that my children would be proud to follow us if that is what they choose to do, but for that to happen, there needs to be an American manufacturing industry around for them to do so, and at the current rate of American factories closing their doors for good, I’m concerned they won’t have that option.

“At this pace, the only option my kids will have is college, the military or working at a retail store that was built with foreign materials, selling foreign-made products, and then bagging purchases up in foreign-made bags,” he told the Trade Representative.

Since 2009, China has repeatedly acknowledged that it makes too much steel and promised to stop. But it doesn’t. It just makes even more. Even at a loss.

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Again in January China said it would cut production. This time by 100 million tons by 2020. That is not nearly enough. It would, in fact, be insignificant, only about a fifth of its overproduction. But then just last month, China’s Baosteel, a major state-owned company, announced that it would increase production by 20 percent this year.

To put China’s excess in perspective, the nearly 500 million tons it overproduced in 2015 is more than five times the steel forged in the United States, and the United States is the third-largest producer of steel in the world. In 2000, China had just slightly more steelmaking capacity than the United States, but since then, it increased so dramatically that now China has 1.2 billion tons of capacity. That is more than 10 times the capacity of the United States, where production declined over that period.

China’s capacity now exceeds that of the United States, Japan, the European Union, and Russia combined. That means every mill in the United States, Japan, Russia and the European Union could shut down, all of those workers could lose their jobs, all of those communities could crumble and China would reap the benefits by exporting all of its steel and further expanding its industry.

If those countries rolled over and let China do that.

David Clark, a maintenance utility worker at the U.S. Steel Fairfield Tubular Operations in Alabama, previewed for the U.S. Trade Representative what such a China takeover could mean. Much of the Fairfield works shut down in August, and 1,000 steelworkers were laid off. The local union has set up a food bank to help families get by. “My community is struggling,” he told the trade officials.

“The outlook is bleak for the business in our town. All of the suppliers in the area have been forced to cut positions. Some local gas stations have ceased 24-hour operations as the traffic at shift changes went away. And retailers are leaving the city. Shortly after the closure, Walmart and other retailers left the city of Fairfield, and the loss of sales tax revenue has placed the city in dire financial situations. It has gotten to the point where the city council in Fairfield is debating closure of the police department and the suspension of other city services in order to survive.”

Clark said what every steelworker told the trade officials and what we all told Congress: “No U.S. steelworker should have to lose a job to allow unfairly traded steel into this country.”

The corporate officials asked the U.S. Trade Representative and Congress to act to save an industry vital to national security. I told the same officials to stop swallowing false promises of change from China and impose broad-based import restraints, take comprehensive, enforceable measures to reduce global overcapacity and definitively declare that China does not qualify as a market economy under U.S. law.

“I implore this committee to consider the true cost of allowing terrible policies and bad trade agreements to continue destroying the very thing that made this country what it is. We became the strongest, most powerful country in the world because American blue-collar workers carried us there on their backs on their quest to achieve the American Dream. Each and every unfair trade deal we jump into is destroying the legacy that our forefathers created with sweat on their brow and calluses on their hands.”

Today in labor history for the week of April 18, 2016

April 18
West Virginia coal miners strike, defend selves against National Guard - 1912

After a four-week boycott led by Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., bus companies in New York City agree to hire 200 Black drivers and mechanics - 1941

April 19
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the nation’s “Furniture City,” more than 6,000 immigrant workers—Germans, Dutch, Lithuanians and Poles—put down their tools and struck 59 factories for four months in what was to become known as the Great Furniture Strike - 1911
Today in labor history for the week of April 18, 2016(Mobilizing Against Inequality:Are immigrant workers themselves responsible for low wages and shoddy working conditions? Should unions expend valuable time and energy organizing undocumented workers? Unions in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have taken various approaches to confront the challenges of this significant segment of the workforce. As U.S. immigration policy is debated, readers will gain insight into how all workers benefit when wages and working conditions for immigrant workers are improved.)

An American domestic terrorist’s bomb destroys the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, 99 of whom were government employees - 1995

April 20
Nearly 10,000 demonstrators celebrate textile workers’ win of a 10-percent pay hike and grievance committees after a one-month strike, Lowell, Mass. - 1912

Ludlow massacre: Colorado state militia, using machine guns and fire, kill about 20 people—including 11 children—at a tent city set up by striking coal miners - 1914Today in labor history for the week of April 18, 2016

An unknown assailant shoots through a window at United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther as he is eating dinner at his kitchen table, permanently impairing his right arm. It was one of at least two assassination attempts on Reuther. He and his wife later died in a small plane crash under what many believe to be suspicious circumstances - 1948

National Association of Post Office Mail Handlers, Watchmen, Messengers & Group Leaders merge with Laborers - 1968

United Auto Workers members end a successful 172-day strike against International Harvester, protesting management demands for new work rules and mandatory overtime provisions - 1980
Today in labor history for the week of April 18, 2016(They're Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions: How familiar do these phrases ring? Unions are responsible for budget deficits; they’ve outlived their usefulness; their members are overpaid and enjoy cushy benefits. The only way to save the American economy, many say, is to weaken the labor movement, strip workers of collective bargaining rights, and champion private industry. In They're Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions, longtime labor activist and educator Bill Fletcher Jr. makes sense of this debate as he unpacks the 21 myths most often cited by anti-union propagandists.)

April 21
New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signs Taylor Law, permitting union organization and bargaining by public employees, but outlawing the right to strike - 1967
Today in labor history for the week of April 18, 2016
Some 12,500 Goodyear Tire workers strike nine plants in what was to become a 3-week walkout over job security, wage and benefit issues - 1997

Mary Doyle Keefe, who in 1943 posed as “Rosie the Riveter” for famed painter Norman Rockwell, dies at age 92 in Simsbury, Connecticut. Published on the cover of the Saturday Evening Postin May 1943, Rosie came to symbolize women factory workers during World War II. (The Rockwell painting is sometimes conjoined in peoples’ memories with a similarly-themed poster by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller, “We Can Do It!” created the year before.) - 2015

Today in labor history for the week of April 18, 2016April 22
Songwriter, musician and activist Hazel Dickens dies at age 75. Among her songs: “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” and “Working Girl Blues.” Cultural blogger John Pietaro: "Dickens didn’t just sing the anthems of labor, she lived them. Her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause" - 2011

April 23 
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is founded through a merger of the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC) and the Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL), the two major union congresses in Canada at the time.  The CLC represents the interests of more than three million affiliated workers - 1956
Today in labor history for the week of April 18, 2016
Death of Ida Mae Stull, nationally recognized as the country’s first woman coal miner - 1980

United Farm Workers of America founder Cesar Chavez dies in San Luis, Ariz., at age 66 - 1993

April 24
The Int’l Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union halts shipping on the West Coast in solidarity with Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Philadelphia journalist who many believed was on death row because he was an outspoken African-American - 1999

Today in labor history for the week of April 18, 2016An eight-story building housing garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapses, killing 1,129 workers and injuring 2,515.  A day earlier cracks had been found in the structure, but factory officials, who had contracts with Benneton and other major U.S. labels, insisted the workers return to the job the next day - 2013

GOP Gubernatorial Candidates To Push ‘Right To Work’ On NH Once Again

Right To Work is Wrong for NH

As Yogi Berra once put it, “It’s like Déjà vu, all over again.”

The Republican Gubernatorial primary candidates just showed how out of touch they are with working families. WMUR reported this week at all of the GOP candidates for New Hampshire’s Governor came out in strong in support of the so-called Right To Work legislation.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas told WMUR that, “we voted for Right to Work when I was in the Senate, so my position is clear.”

State Sen. Jeanie Forrester said, “I think it’s a good place for New Hampshire to be, and I would support that if it came forward again.”

Not to be outdone, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu played up Right to Work as a job-creating bill.

“We haven’t brought a major business into the state in over eight years. Right to work is part of it.”

Right to Work laws do nothing but hurt workers and their communities through lower pay, less benefits, less job security, less workplace safety, less, less, less…

These laws are specifically designed to break unions and tear workers down in the never-ending race to the bottom.

In January of this year, PEW released a blistering new report that showed workers in Right to Work states are less likely to have access to retirement plans than workers in free bargaining states.

“Access to workplace retirement plans varies widely across the states,” said John Scott, director of Pew’s retirement savings project. “Recognizing the savings challenge faced by so many Americans, half of the states are looking at their own solutions.”

Pew found that more than 30 million full-time, full-year, private sector workers ages 18 to 64 lack access to an employer-based retirement plan, whether a traditional pension or a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k).

At 2.6%, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is second in the country behind North Dakota, who is experiencing a boom from newly expanded oil and gas drilling.

Recently, other states have forced their own Right to Work legislation through and what has happened? After passing Right to Work legislation, claiming it would create lots of new jobs, Wisconsin the lost a record 10,000 jobs in 2015.

“We are in the midst of an economic crisis. Wisconsin is hemorrhaging jobs at a rate we haven’t seen since the Great Recession and our middle class is shrinking faster than any other state in the nation,” said Wisconsin Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “Thousands of families are struggling to find a job because the policies being pushed by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans simply aren’t working.”

Policies like Right to Work, are destroying good paying jobs and replacing them with low-wage jobs that continue to hurt working families.

Now the entire Republican Gubernatorial delegation in New Hampshire is campaigning on this failed policy. Granite Staters deserve a leader in the corner office who will stand up for their rights and support collective bargaining that ultimately benefits all workers.

U.S. DOT Order on Norwegian Air Case, Unless Reversed, Threatens Thousands of U.S. Airline Jobs

Transportation Trade Department LogoWASHINGTON, DC — Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ill-advised order regarding Norwegian Air International’s application for a foreign air carrier permit:

“We are strongly opposed to today’s show cause order issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation that could pave the way for Norwegian Air International (NAI) to launch a job-killing flag-of-convenience airline that perverts the transatlantic airline market and violates our nation’s aviation trade agreement with the European Union (EU).

“The facts surrounding the NAI case could not be clearer. NAI, a subsidiary of Norway-based Norwegian Air Shuttle, was incorporated in Ireland with a single goal in mind: avoid Norway’s regulatory and employment laws to gain an unfair disadvantage over air carriers on both sides of the Atlantic that play by the rules as designed. NAI’s plan has been to use Bangkok-based flight crews employed under Singaporean individual employment contracts, evade collective bargaining obligations in Norway and unfairly undercut wages and labor standards while still reaping the benefits of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement.

“It is for these reasons that a bipartisan Congress has spoken loudly against the NAI application and why a coalition of European and U.S. airlines has opposed this application for more than two years.

“Worst of all, approval of the NAI application would be a betrayal by this Administration of the explicit labor protections – embodied in Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU deal – that bar new air services under the agreement that ‘undermine labor standards or the labor-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws.’ If NAI is allowed to fly, our government will be saying to U.S. airline employees that the labor protections negotiated into aviation trade agreements are worthless and will be disregarded and cast aside when jobs and labor rights are actually threatened.

“It doesn’t take much creativity to conclude that when an airline company like NAI scours the globe for the cheapest labor it can find, evades the social and employment laws of its own country, and uses a rogue business model in violation of our trade agreements and laws, our government should not reward that airline with new rights to seize our markets, compete unfairly with our air carriers and kill our members’ jobs.

“This is a legacy issue. We will be urging President Obama and Secretary Foxx to reverse course and reject the NAI application. A new era of low-wage, flag-of-convenience airlines should not be launched on this Administration’s watch.”

Today in labor history for the week of April 4, 2016

April 04
The first issue of The Labor Review, a “weekly magazine for organized workers,” was published in Minneapolis. Edna George, a cigar packer in Minneapolis, won $10 in gold for suggesting the name “Labor Review.” The Labor Review has been published continuously since then, currently as a monthly newspaper – 1907

Unemployed riot in New York City’s Union Square – 1914

Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, where he had been supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.  In the wake of this tragedy, riots break out in many cities, including Washington, D.C. – 1968

Some 1,700 United Mine Workers members in Virginia and West Virginia beat back concessions demanded by Pittston Coal Co. – 1989

April 05
Columnist Victor Riesel, a crusader against mob infiltration of unions, was blinded in New York City when an assailant threw sulfuric acid in his face. He was also an FBI informer for decades, a proponent of the McCarthy era blacklisting that weakened unions for over a generation, and a crusader against unions connecting with anti-war student activism in the 1960’s and 70’s – 1956

Today in labor history for the week of April 4, 2016Some 14,000 teachers strike Hawaii schools, colleges – 2001

A huge underground explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W. Va., kills 29 miners. It was the worst U.S. mine disaster in 40 years. The Massey Energy Co. mine had been cited for two safety infractions the day before the blast; 57 the month before, and 1,342 in the previous five years. Three and one-half years after the disaster Massey’s then-CEO, Don Blankenship, was indicted by a federal grand jury on four criminal counts – 2010

April 06
The first slave revolt in the U.S. occurs at a slave market in New York City’s Wall Street area. Twenty-one Blacks were executed for killing nine Whites. The city responded by strengthening its slave codes – 1712

Birth of Rose Schneiderman, prominent member of the New York Women’s Trade Union League, an Today in labor history for the week of April 4, 2016active participant in the Uprising of the 20,000, the massive strike of shirtwaist workers in New York City led by the Int’l Ladies Garment Workers’ Union in 1909, and famous for an angry speech about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire: “Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers…Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement” – 1882

A sympathy strike by Chicago Teamsters in support of clothing workers leads to daily clashes between strikebreakers and armed police against hundreds and sometimes thousands of striking workers and their supporters. By the time the fight ended after 103 days, 21 people had been killed and 416 injured – 1905

What was to become a two-month strike by minor league umpires begins, largely over money: $5,500 to $15,000 for a season running 142 games. The strike ended with a slight improvement in pay – 2006

April 07
Today in labor history for the week of April 4, 2016National Labor Relations Board attorney tells ILWU members to “lie down like good dogs,” Juneau, Alaska – 1947

Some 300,000 members of the National Federation of Telephone Workers, soon to become CWA, strike AT&T and the Bell System. Within five weeks all but two of the 39 federation unions had won new contracts – 1947

Fifteen thousand union janitors strike, Los Angeles – 2000

April 08
A total of 128 convict miners, leased to a coal company under the state’s shameful convict lease system, are killed in an explosion at the Banner coal mine outside Birmingham, Ala. The miners were mostly African-Americans jailed for minor offenses – 1911

President Wilson establishes the War Labor Board, composed of representatives from business and labor, to arbitrate disputes between workers and employers during World War I – 1918

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) is approved by Congress. President Franklin Roosevelt proposed the WPA during the Great Depression of the 1930s when almost 25 percent of Americans were unemployed. It created low-paying federal jobs providing immediate relief, putting 8.5 million jobless to work on projects ranging from construction of bridges, highways and public buildings to arts programs like the Federal Writers’ Project – 1935
(Agitate! Educate! Organize! American Labor Posters: WPA artists’ depictions of workers can be seen in Today in labor history for the week of April 4, 2016labor posters of that era. In Agitate! Educate! Organize!, Lincoln Cushing and Timothy W. Drescher share their vast knowledge about the rich graphic tradition of labor posters. Here you will find lavish full-color reproductions of more than 250 of the best posters that have emerged from the American labor movement on topics ranging from core issues such as wages and working conditions to discrimination to international solidarity.)

President Harry S. Truman orders the U.S. Army to seize the nation’s steel mills to avert a strike. The Supreme Court ruled the act illegal three weeks later – 1952

Today in labor history for the week of April 4, 2016April 09
IWW organizes the 1,700-member crew of the Leviathan, then the world’s largest vessel – 1930

April 10
Birth date of Frances Perkins, named secretary of labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, becoming the first woman to hold a cabinet-level office – 1880

A total of 133 people, mostly women and girls, are killed when an explosion in the loading room tears apart the Eddystone Ammunition Works in Eddystone, Pa., near Chester. Of the dead, 55 were never identified – 1917
Today in labor history for the week of April 4, 2016
Birth of Dolores Huerta, a co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers – 1930

Dancers from the Lusty Lady Club in San Francisco’s North Beach ratify their first-ever union contract by a vote of 57-15, having won representation by SEIU Local 790 the previous summer. The club, which later became a worker-owned cooperative, closed in 2013 – 1997

Tens of thousands of immigrants demonstrate in 100 U.S. cities in a national day of action billed as a campaign for immigrants’ dignity. Some 200,000 gathered in Washington, D.C. – 2006
Today in labor history for the week of April 4, 2016(Mobilizing Against Inequality: Unions, Immigrant Workers, and the Crisis of Capitalism: Are immigrant workers themselves responsible for low wages and shoddy working conditions? Should unions expend valuable time and energy organizing undocumented workers? Unions in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have taken various approaches to confront the challenges of this significant segment of the workforce. As U.S. immigration policy is debated, readers will gain insight into how all workers benefit when wages and working conditions for immigrant workers are improved.)

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