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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Says Taking On Unions Prepared Him For ISIS (VIDEO)

In “I cannot believe he just said that” news, Governor Scott Walker just told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that attacking labor unions has prepared him to be a leader in the fight against ISIS.

I am not joking this is what he said, as reported by Politico and in the YouTube video (above).

“I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up in American soil,” Walker told an audience at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference today, after he was asked how he would handle threats from ISIS as president.

“We will have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message, not only that we will protect American soil. But do, not, do not take this upon freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world. We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I could do the same across the world.

The 100,000 protesters he is referring to are the 100,000 people who showed up in 2011 when Governor Walker attacked the state’s labor unions and passed ACT 10 which stripped away the collective bargaining rights of hundreds of thousands of hard working Wisconsin families.

“To compare the hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, grandmothers, veterans, correctional officers, nurses and all the workers who came out to peacefully protest and stand together for their rights as Americans to ISIS terrorists is disgusting and unacceptable,”  said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.  “To compare hard-working men and women who work for a living to terrorists is a disgrace.  Coming together to peacefully protest for freedom, to raise your voice for a better Wisconsin, this is not an act of terror.”

“Scott Walker’s outrageous slander against his fellow citizens illustrates his contempt for the fundamental expression of democracy – that has been the sad hallmark of his Administration,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.  “Whether campaign hyperbole or not Scott Walker owes Wisconsinites an apology.”

“Governor Walker’s statement comparing workers and terrorists is revolting,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “It is clear that Governor Walker’s judgment is impaired, and that he is not qualified for the Presidency.”

“I call on Governor Walker to personally and immediately retract his statement, and apologize sincerely to the millions of workers in Wisconsin and throughout America he has so appallingly insulted,” stated Trumka.

Jim Tucciarelli, District Council 37, Local 1320, Senior Sewage Treatment Worker and AFSCME member from New York had this to say about Scott Walker’s comparison of labor protesters to ISIS:

“Put simply, it’s disgusting to hear Scott Walker compare the 100,000 hard-working men, women, senior citizens and children who came out to protest in Wisconsin to the terrorists of ISIS. In Wisconsin, my sisters and brothers from across the country stood up peacefully for freedom. The protesters were members of the military, police officers, firefighters, and first responders. They were librarians, teachers and nurses. How desperate do you have to be as a politician to compare those folks to murderous terrorists?

“Our union’s building was a block away when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. I have friends who died on that terrible day. In the weeks that followed, union members worked tirelessly to bring the city back, and I am proud to have been one of them.

“Governor Walker, I know terrorism. I know that your own state’s citizens speaking up for what’s right isn’t terrorism. Today, after hearing your words, I also know the sound of cowardice.”

I cannot begin to tell you how angry this statement from Governor Walker makes me.  He is equating union members to radical terrorists that are slaughtering innocent people halfway around the world.  Are you F’ing serious?  All those big bad union members who are standing up fighting for a higher minimum wage, better and safer working conditions for all workers, and a better more prosperous Wisconsin.

Now Governor Walking is attacking all working families in Wisconsin as he is poised to sign the so-called “Right To Work” bill that the State Legislature passed against massive protests from the people.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote:

“Despite saying for years right-to-work legislation would be a distraction, Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday the timing is now right for the issue.”

In response, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) noted Walker said in September he was “not pushing it” and “not supporting it in this (2015) legislative session.”

“For him now to state that this is an appropriate time (for right-to-work legislation) just shows the level of deceit he has foisted on the people of the state,” Barca said. “For him to change history and reverse what he said time and time again — we’re just incredulous over that.”

Of course the time is now right, Gov. Scott Walker has delusions of being President and pushing a right to work for less bill on your state will definitely get your name in the paper.

(Here is a great video clip from the protest rally in Madison a few days ago.)

 

 

In case you did not already know this Governor Walker, attacking the hard working men and women  of this great nation is not the way to get elected President.  Just a piece of friendly advice from one hard working union member who would vote for an actual brick to be President before ever voting for you!

Southwest Baggage Handlers to Protest as Airline Receives “Airline of the Year” Award

Southwest Jet at BWI (image by Rudi Riet FLIKR CC)

Southwest Jet at BWI (image by Rudi Riet FLIKR CC)

Employees Baffled by Honor for Airline with Increasingly Hostile Labor Relations 

WASHINGTON – Workers who handle baggage at Southwest Airlines, members of TWU Local 555, will protest at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC

Today, February 25th when Southwest Airlines receives the “Airline of the Year” award from Air Transport World magazine.

Who:  More than 100 ground workers employed at Southwest Airlines

What: Protest when Southwest receives “Airline of the Year” award

When: Today, Feb. 25, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St. NW, Washington, DC 20008

“When we heard a magazine was giving Southwest ‘Airline of the Year’ award, we figured it must be The Onion,” said Charles Cerf, president of TWU Local 555, referring to the satirical publication which entertains readers with fake headlines. “Because if you’re giving an award to an airline which acts like a bully to its workers, squeezing workers while earning billions in profits – that has to be a joke, right?”

Transportation Workers Union Logo -TWUAir Transport World says ‘excellent labor relations’ is one of the criteria for receiving this award,” said Greg Puriski, a member of TWU 555 and a Southwest baggage handler who plans to be at the Washington protest. “They never asked us, that’s for sure. If they want to have better labor relations, let’s settle the contract.”

Despite difficult workloads due to handling larger aircraft and higher health care costs, most Southwest ground workers have not received a pay raise in the past four-and-a-half years. TWU Local 555 has been in negotiations with Southwest for a new contract since July 2011, with little progress during the past three-and-a-half years.

Since 2011, Southwest has earned over $3 billion in net income, including a record profit of $1.14 billion in 2014, following the airline’s merger with AirTran.  The airline also is continuing to benefit from a steep drop in the price of jet fuel.

Breaking from the Southwest tradition of rewarding employees as important stakeholders in the company, current management has held down wages despite healthy profits.  While most baggage handlers have seen their wages frozen, Southwest imposes higher health care costs on its employees each year, resulting in a loss of take home pay.

“It’s absurd that anybody would honor Southwest after the way it treats employees,” said Puriski. “Stagnating pay and the decline of the middle class are huge problems in this country.  Southwest is a profitable company that has a chance to be part of the solution.  Instead, they’re making the problem worse.”

“We want everyone attending this high-profile event to know that Southwest can do better – and must do better – to succeed in today’s competitive travel industry,” added Cerf.

TWU Local 555 is a local union of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), representing more than 10,000 ground crew workers at Southwest Airlines. 

Transportation Labor Unions Set Comprehensive 2015 Agenda

Transportation Trade Department Logo

ATLANTA, GA—The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) and its 32 affiliated unions waded into every major transportation policy debate in Washington and focused on expanding transportation investments, reforming safety policy, protecting workers’ rights, and rejecting job-killing trade policies.

“2015 must be the year when we break the stalemate on funding our badly deteriorated transportation system and put millions to work,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind. “Transportation unions have rolled out an agenda that is focused on creating and protecting private and public sector jobs as vital transportation laws are written this year.”

The Executive Committee approved 11 policy statements, which are summarized below:

Eight Principles for Surface Transportation Reauthorization: In just a few months, the Highway Trust Fund will become insolvent unless Congress acts to implement a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill. Transportation labor calls for a reauthorization bill that: expands highway and transit funding utilizing a gas tax increase or similarly reliable funding source; embraces financing tools that do not harm private and public sector jobs; rejects devolution proposals; restores federal neutrality on transit privatization; advances transit safety and health reforms; permits limited authority to flex federal bus capital funds to transit operations; provides resources for a national freight investment policy; and protects and enhances Buy America policies.

Priorities for FAA Reauthorization: With the FAA reauthorization due to expire at the end of this fiscal year, TTD’s Executive Committee calls on Congress to pass a multi-year bill that makes critical investments in aviation technology and infrastructure, provides stable funding, and advances policies that address workforce issues and make air transportation safer for passengers and employees. Moreover, it is vital that lawmakers and the President stop the debilitating budget cuts of sequestration that undermine important aviation advancements and safety improvements.

Multi-Year Plan for Amtrak Reauthorization: The proposed Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA) provides a critical reauthorization of Amtrak’s funding for the next four years, but funding levels are inadequate. TTD’s Executive Committee calls for legislation that secures long-term funding, rejects contracting out and privatization mandates, and safeguards the rights, jobs, and wages of rail and construction workers. 

Rail Transportation Safety Reform Agenda: Congress must move forward on an expired rail safety reauthorization bill that finally improves railroad operating practices that currently expose workers and communities to avoidable safety risks. Rail safety reforms must target chronic employee fatigue, bar the use of one-person freight train crews, and implement safety-related technology.

Safe Hazardous Materials Transportation: With an increase in the shipment of hazardous materials across the country – particularly on freight trains – it is vital that firefighters receive adequate training to respond to emergencies. Congress must pass a reauthorization bill that commits adequate funding for hazmat training programs. TTD’s Executive Committee also supports provisions of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) proposed crude-by-rail regulations, which would require an increase in the information available to emergency responders about the movement of such shipments, and calls on PHMSA to issue stronger regulations regarding the transport of lithium batteries in our nation’s skies.

Ground NAI’s Flag of Convenience Airline: For the past year, transportation labor has waged an aggressive effort to stop an attempt by Norwegian Air International (NAI) to obtain U.S. government approval to launch new transatlantic air service based on a flag of convenience business plan. TTD’s Executive Committee reaffirms its calls for rejection of NAI’s application on the basis that NAI’s business plan is a clear violation of Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement.

Safety Rules Needed Before FAA Permits Widespread Use of Drones: To ensure safe integration into the National Airspace System, the widespread commercial application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS/”drones”) must not be permitted until the U.S. government establishes clear and enforceable operating standards. Transportation labor calls on the FAA to set rules requiring that drone operations meet all of the standards imposed on those who currently use the airspace, including operator training and certification, and safety restrictions on airspace access. If properly regulated with strong safety standards in effect, the safe integration of commercial drones is possible.

Workers’ Rights and National Security: Fairness for Military Sealift Command Employees: TTD’s Executive Committee rejects the Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) baseless attempts to use the pretense of national security concerns to deny workers the right to join a union. It is inaccurate and untrue to claim that the goals of national security are incompatible with collective bargaining and union representation, and Executive Order 12171, which concerns workers engaged in national security, must not be interpreted to cover MSC employees or other civil service mariners.

Reject Fast TrackTransportation labor calls on Congress to reject Trade Promotion Authority, or “Fast Track,” and develop a new plan that works for our nation’s transportation workers and enhances our collective competitiveness. Our nation’s trade goals should be to strengthen American industries, put workers in a position to succeed, and promote strong labor, safety, and human rights laws in this country and with our trading partners. We need to end Fast Track and create a trade policy that works for transportation workers.

Time to Raise Motorcoach Market Entry Standards: Over the past several decades, the diminishment of “entry” standards imposed on intercity bus carriers has severely limited the ability to ensure that only companies willing and able to uphold federal safety requirements are granted operating authority. TTD’s Executive Committee encourages the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to begin raising market entry standards by increasing the existing minimum insurance requirements.

U.S. Postal Service Reforms that Protect Quality Service, Good Jobs: TTD’s Executive Committee continues its support for a strong, financially sound Postal Service. Reforms to ensure the agency’s long-term financial solvency should not come at the expense of employees or customers. TTD and its member unions will continue to work with elected leaders to stabilize the USPS and give it a chance to modernize and grow its service.

2-5-15 — Weekly Open Communication Postions From UnionJobs

Union Jobs headerFEBRUARY 5, 2015
WEEKLY SUMMARY OF COMMUNICATIONS POSITIONS
POSTED AT UNIONJOBS.COM

AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations)
Press Secretary, Communications Department  District of Columbia
Program Coordinator, Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department  District of Columbia
Senior Field Representative, Campaigns Department  Arizona, Colorado
Strategic Campaigns Coordinator, Organizing Department  District of Columbia
Development Manager, Digital Strategies Department  District of Columbia
Senior Fellow, Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department  District of Columbia
Assistant Director, Information Technology Department District of Columbia
Campaign Coordinator – Ohio, Campaigns Department Midwest Region  Ohio
Popular Education Coordinator, Campaigns Department  District of Columbia
Communications Coordinator, Communications Department (MW Region)  Michigan
Organizing Field Communications Assistant, Organizing Department  District of Columbia

AEA (Actors’ Equity Association)
National Director of Governance, New York City  New York

AFGE (American Federation of Government Employees)
Technological Education Specialist  District of Columbia

AFT (American Federation of Teachers)
Senior Associate Web Developer, Communications Department District of Columbia

CCEA (Clark County Education Association)
Political Data Analyst, Las Vegas  Nevada

CFA (California Faculty Association)
Research Specialist, Sacramento  California

CIR/SEIU (Committee of Interns & Residents)
Physicians’ Union Campaign Communications Coordinator, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City California, New York

CNA/NNU (California Nurses Association (CNA) / National Nurses United (NNU) AFL-CIO)
Social Justice Videographer, Oakland  California

CPD (Center for Popular Democracy)
Executive Director, Common Good Ohio, Cleveland  Ohio
Campaign Manager, Fed Up: The Campaign for a Strong National Economy, Washington, DC or New York, NY  District of Columbia, New York

FMSMF (The Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund)
Network Engineer, Studio City  California

ITPI (In the Public Interest)
Communications Coordinator/Writer  District of

Massachusetts AFL-CIO
Communications Coordinator
, Boston area Massachusetts

MNA (Massachusetts Nurses Association)
Associate Director/ Communications Specialist  Massachusetts

NELP (National Employment Law Project)
Grants and Funding Appeals Writer, Washington DC, or New York, NY  District of Columbia, New York

New Jersey State AFL-CIO
Young Workers Outreach Facilitator (Part Time), Trenton  District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania

NNU (National Nurses United)
Educator – Immediate Opening, San Francisco Bay area  California

NYHTC (New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council)
Video Communications Supervisor New York

PSC/CUNY (Professional Staff Congress, AFT Local 2334)
Union Newspaper Editor, New York  New York

RTF (Raise the Floor Alliance)
Campaign Coordinator, Chicago  Illinois

SEIU (Service Employees International Union (International Positions))
Communications Coordinator-Latino Outreach, Grade B  District of Columbia
Millennial Coordinator Grade: C
  District of Columbia

SEIU (Local 1)
Communications Specialist, Detroit or Cleveland  Michigan, Ohio

SEIU (Local 32BJ)
Communications Specialist: Connecticut & Hudson Valley, Hartford  Connecticut

SEIU (Local 99)
Membership Database Specialist, Los Angeles  California

SEIU (Local 503, Oregon Public Employees Union)
Political and Policy Strategist, Long Term Care  Oregon

SEIU (Local 521)
Communications Specialist, San Jose  California
Campaign Researcher, San Jose or Fresno  California
Temporary Campaign Researcher (term one year), San Jose  California

SEIU (Local 721)
Communications Specialist  California

SEIU (SEIU 775)
Political and Communications Specialist, based in Seattle  Washington

SEIU (Local 1021)
IT Team – Database Specialist, Oakland

SEIU (1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East)
Professional & Technical Specialist, Greater New York Metropolitan Area  New York

SEIU (1199SEIU Training & Employment Funds)
Communications Manager  New York

SEIU (Local 1989, Maine State Employees Association, MSEA-SEIU)
Systems/Database Administrator, Augusta  Maine

UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union)
Bilingual Campaign Communications Specialist  District of Columbia
Senior Strategic Targeting Coordinator, Washington D.C.  District of Columbia

UFT (United Federation of Teachers)
Social Media Coordinator, New York City  New

UNAC/UHCP (United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals)
Temporary Communications Specialist – Organizing, Southern California area  California

WIN (Workers Independent News)
Digital Media Specialist, Madison  Wisconsin
Affiliate Relations Director, Madison  Wisconsin

Working America (a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO)
Writer  District of Columbia
Digital Communications Organizer District of Columbia

Working Families (Pennsylvania Working Families)
Pennsylvania Communications Director, Philadelphia  Pennsylvania

Workmen’s Circle
Social Justice Social Media Assistant, New York City  New York

GLU (Global Labour University at Penn State)
Master’s Program in Global Workers Rights, State College Pennsylvania (National search)

PSI (Public Services International)
Sector Officer – Local and Regional Government, PSI Head Office  Ferney-Voltaire, France

State Employees Association (SEIU 1984) Bargaining Senate Approves Tentative Agreement On New Contract

SEIU 1984 LogoConcord, NH – Last evening the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Master Bargaining Team presented the details of a potential tentative agreement to the organization’s Collective Bargaining Senate (CBS).  Following Collective Bargaining Advisory Committee Chair, Jim Nall’s presentation of new changes to the contract, the standing room only crowd rewarded the team with a standing ovation.

Following a lengthy Q&A session, the CBS overwhelmingly voted to adopt the proposal as a Tentative Agreement and to send it out to the general membership for a vote with the recommendation to ratify.

“This team worked long and hard to get to this point,” said Jim Nall.  “I can tell you this is the best team I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  They dug in, they gave each point due diligence, and they kept their cool throughout this long process.  And, I assure you the fruit of their labor is not a concessionary Tentative Agreement .”

“I congratulate the members of the bargaining team for a job well done,” said Rich Gulla, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 president.  “I think few people realize the level of commitment that serving fellow union members in this capacity takes.  It takes countless hours of their time; it involves hundreds of hours of research and discussion; and it involves potentially difficult conversations with the state’s team. I salute each member for their dedication and the Tentative Agreement they have brought forward.”

“I would also like to commend the state’s Bargaining Team for their efforts,” said Gulla. “Working together, the respective bargaining teams arrived at a fair contract that supports state workers for their many daily contributions to the citizens and visitors of the state.  The Tentative Agreement will now go to our members at large and if it is expediently ratified, the changes will be incorporated in the Governor’s budget proposal.”

Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:

“Our hard-working state employees and the critical services that they provide make a positive impact on the lives of New Hampshire’s citizens each and every day. Despite a smaller workforce with fewer positions and a higher vacancy rate since 2008, they continue to serve our citizens well and do more with less in the face of ever-tightening budgets.

“This is a fair agreement for both employees and taxpayers that will provide modest cost-of-living raises for employees that will be included as part of our upcoming biennial budget. In addition, we have maintained the coordination of health care that strengthens the well-being of state employees and helps generate significant savings for the state, while protecting both parties should a potential ‘Cadillac tax’ on health insurance benefits cause undue financial impact.

“This agreement is another important step toward maintaining fiscal responsibility while supporting our hard-working state employees, and I thank the SEA leadership team and state negotiators for their good-faith efforts to find common ground and reach a deal that is fair to all parties.”

Key points include:

  • A 2% wage increase in January 2016; and a 2% wage increase in January 2017
  • No increases in healthcare deductibles, co-payments or prescriptions
  • The immortalization of lay-off procedures
  • A small increase in dental contributions, which will result in significantly increased coverage
  • An increase in term life benefits at no cost to employees
  • Moving longevity pay from December to November
  • A footwear reimbursement for applicable positions of up to $200 per two year contract cycle

The agreement is subject to ratification by a vote of SEA membership, and the changes will be incorporated in the Governor’s upcoming budget proposal.

The Tentative Agreement will now be mailed to all members of the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Executive Branch bargaining unit with a ballot for their vote.  SEA/SEIU Local 1984 represents the majority of state employees

One The Biggest Problems Facing Our Local Economy And You Probably Never Even Knew About It

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Image is a screen shot from the video below. Credit to NERCC

One of the biggest problems facing our economy is hardly being discussed in Washington or in many of the State Capitols throughout the U.S.  Millions of workers are working 50-60 hours a week, nights and weekends, and being paid under the table or in cash to avoid labor laws, overtime, and taxes.

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters have been fighting the mis-classification of workers for many years now.  Immigrant workers are being classified as independent contractors allowing their employer to avoid paying taxes, having to provide workman’s compensation insurance, and paying drastically reduced wages.

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Julio Beldi Image is a screen shot from the video below. Credit to NERCC

Take Julio Beldi who has been working in construction for many years.  Now Julio is a member of the the Carpenters Union local #33, but prior to that he worked for many unscrupulous employers throughout New England.  In the video below, Julio told tells the story of how he was working on the new VA hospital in Rhode Island.  He would go weeks and even months without being paid.  He said he was paid $18 an hour, even though he should have been paid close to the $50 per hour Prevailing Wage for the job.  National Drywall violated countless labor laws, and federal mandates on this VA hospital alone.

The problem goes much deeper. When “sub-contractors” are violate the law by illegally hiring workers under the table or off the books it hurts everyone.  It hurts the worker who is not being paid fairly. It puts the worker’s safety at risk as the fail to meet OSHA requirements and provide workman’s compensation insurance. It hurts the community because it depresses the wages of all workers, and cheats the community from the taxes they are owed.

Screen shot 2015-01-18 at 5.15.02 PMThe only people who are getting anything from this situation are the unscrupulous employers who are cheating the system.  The bigger problem is that we know that this happens all the time, but which “sub-contractors” are responsible creates a bigger legal nightmare for these workers.

Personally I think that the General Contractor should be responsible for every sub-contractor he hires.  If the GC hires National Drywall who is caught violating the law, then both would be liable.  This would ensure that the GC would ensure that all sub-contractors are following the law.

Screen shot 2015-01-18 at 5.15.22 PM

Julio is much happier now that he has found his home with the Carpenters Union.  There is no way of knowing how much money Julio has lost out on because his employers were cheating the system.  Julio knows that will not happen to him, ever again.

Listen to Julio’s story in this great video from the NERCC!

Worker Wins Update: From the Casino to the Classroom, Workers Earn Critical Victories

WASHINGTON, DC– Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.

Casino Workers Hit Jackpot With Major Organizing Wins: More than 12,000 workers have organized through UNITE HERE in 2014, surpassing a goal of 10,000 set during the union’s convention. These victories include workers at hotels, airports and casinos around the country.

Nurses Win the Right Prescription for Higher Pay: Approximately 18,000 nurses in California will receive a 14 percent raise over the next three years, additional workplace protections and improved employer 401(k) contributions after reaching a tentative contract agreement with Kaiser Permanente this month. As part of the agreement, Kaiser has committed to hiring hundreds of new RNs and to providing training and employment opportunities for RN graduates.

Seatbacks, Tray tables, and Solidarity All Up for Delta Flight Attendants: Earlier this month, Delta flight attendants filed approximately 12,000 election request cards with the National Mediation Board, formally requesting a union representation election that could result in more than 20,000 workers joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). If successful, this win by Delta flight attendants would represent the largest ever organizing victory by transportation sector workers.

Bluegrass State Workers See Green With Minimum Wage Increase:Members of the Louisville Metro Council voted to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2017, making Louisville the first city in the South to raise their minimum wage, and the 12th city to raise it in 2014.

Louisiana Hospital Employees Serve Up a Big Plate of Respect: Shortly before the Christmas holiday, approximately 250 Sodexo cafeteria staff members at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport have joined AFSCME Local 2649, citing a lack of respect on the job and an opportunity to improve working conditions.

Silver Airlines Flight Attendants Strike Gold Through Organizing: Flight attendants from Silver Airways, a Fort Lauderdale, FL based airline partnered with United, voted to join the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA earlier this month. Flight attendants will now work on improving working conditions and safety standards through a new contract.

Big Easy Hospitality Workers Score Big Organizing Win: Late last year, approximately 900 employees at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino organized with UNITE HERE and entered contract negotiations. This win doubles the amount of organized hospitality industry workers in New Orleans.

Today’s Lesson: How to Raise Wages for Professors: Earlier this month, over 400 part-time adjunct professors have voted to form a union at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The newly unionized professors cited raising wages, job security, and benefits as reasons for organizing.

Sysco Drivers Deliver Better Working Conditions Through Organizing Campaign: Last month, more than 400 Sysco drivers, warehouse workers, fleet and facility maintenance workers, and shuttle yard drivers organized in response to unfair working conditions and uncertain job security.

Richard Trumka on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Annual Union Membership Report

Today’s release of the annual union membership numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in this economic recovery, people are either seeking out good union jobs or taking matters into their own hands by forming unions to raise wages and ensure that new jobs are good jobs.

In 2014, workers made great strides and confronted great challenges, including major organizing wins at American Airlines, multiple state legislative victories on the minimum wage and innovative campaigns conducted by carwash workers, among others. We recognize, however, that right-wing billionaires’ extremist politics, a rapacious Wall Street and insufficient advocacy from political leaders thwarted further progress.

In the State of the Union this week, President Obama celebrated the fact that our economy has benefitted from 58 consecutive months of job growth and reiterated the need for laws that strengthen unions and give workers a voice. But the most important question is not simply how many jobs we’re creating, but are we creating jobs that raise wages for all? A strong recovery must be built on family-sustaining, not poverty-level jobs. Today’s news confirms what most of us already knew: workers are finding good union jobs despite political ideologues — and jobs are coming back as the economy slowly rebounds, but neither are nearly enough.

Key trends include:

  • Union density edged up for workers 16 to 24 from 4.2 to 4.5%
  • Public sector union density growth largely due to women
  • Union density growth in Leisure and Hospitality
  • Union membership increased among Latino men
  • Largest growth, 1.8% among Asian American women
  • Union membership increased for Black women and men
  • Black men and women remain the groups with the highest union density

Noteworthy 2014 Worker Wins

  • More than 92,000 workers chose to join AFSCME, including 20,000 home health care workers who were recently the target of Harris v Quinn. This was double AFSCME’s organizing goal for the year.
  • 14,500 customer service agents who work for American Airlines voted for union representation with CWA after the merger with US Airways. This victory was especially significant for 9,000 former American Airlines agents who have been part of a 19-year long organizing effort.
  • Workers at an Alabama Copper parts plant voted to organize as members of the United Steelworkers despite extensive political intimidation and efforts by Governor Robert Bentley to dissuade workers from unionizing.
  • Mechanics, technicians, and maintenance personnel at the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX successfully organized into the IAM.  This victory follows successful campaigns by workers earlier in the year where 925 employees joined the union at the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • Nurses and hospital workers voted to form unions at two hospitals in Connecticut. The workers, who will be represented by AFT Connecticut, had to overcome attempts by hospital administrators to intimidate the workers.

Mass Nurses Warn Of Harmful Cuts To Newton Wellesley Hospital

Newton Wellesley Hospital Nurses Go Public With Concerns
About Patient Safety in Response to Plan by Partners to Cut Staffing and Increase Patient Loads for Nurses in the Hospital’s Busy ED

Plan to Cut Staff Comes as the ED Nurses Struggle to Confront a Growing Flu Epidemic and After NWH and Partners has Posted a Healthy Profit in Recent Years

Wellesley, Mass. ¾ The registered nurses of Newton Wellesley Hospital represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United (MNA/NNU), recently began a leafleting/advertising campaign to alert the public about a potentially dangerous plan by Partners Health Care, the multi-billion dollar owner of our hospital, to reduce RN staffing levels and increase nurses’ patient assignments in the facility’s busy emergency department, which the nurses believe will impact the quality and safety of care.  The cuts come as the facility continues to make a healthy profit and the census in the ED has increased over the past year, and as the facility struggles to cope with a growing flu epidemic.

Newton Wellesley Hospital operates a busy and efficient emergency department that treats more than 58,000 patients a year who are experiencing a variety of illnesses and injuries, many of them potentially life threatening, where timely care is essential.

According to Laurie Andersen, a longtime ED nurse at the facility and chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit, “The patients of our hospital have been fortunate as, until now, our emergency department was staffed with a safe complement of expert nurses, with safe patient loads that allowed us to provide the timely care you expect and deserve.  Unfortunately, our administration has announced a plan to reduce the number of nurses on staff, cutting a least one nurse per shift, which will increase the number of patients assigned to each nurse.  This plan will decrease our ability to be flexible and efficient in providing the safe patient care the public needs.”

According to data gathered by the nurses, visits to the emergency department have increased by 2 percent in the past year, and in recent months, the hospital has been flooded with patients visiting the ED, which is being exacerbated by an increase in patients suffering from flu like illnesses.

“Even without these cuts we have had several days where we are boarding patients, including intensive care patients, in the emergency department because we have no beds available to move patients to, and we have more patients coming in our doors all the time.  We have had to initiate care for sick emergency patients young and old in the hallways to make sure that they receive safe care.” Andersen explained. “On numerous occasions we have been on ‘Code Orange’ which means we have no inpatient beds but the Emergency department never closes or turns away sick patients.  We are a busy hospital and when inpatient beds are full, the emergency department must continue to care for those patients as well as caring for all other sick or injured patients from our community.  The nurses at Newton-Wellesley want to provide excellent, timely safe care to our patients and that is why we are so concerned about these cuts.”

According to official financial reports, these changes are being proposed at a time when the hospital posted profits in excess of $27 million and when Partners Health Care, the corporate owner of our hospital, recorded profits of more than $700 million over the last two years.

The nurses have been actively engaged in efforts to convince management to maintain the current staffing levels.  More than 85 percent of the ED nurses signed a petition last year opposing this plan, and earlier this year more than 20 nurses attended a meeting with management to speak out against the plan and what it would mean for the safety of our patients.  Beginning last week, the nurses began an effort to hand out leaflets to the public explaining their concerns, and this week the MNA/NNU has placed ads in local papers about the situation.  The flyers and the ads ask for community members to call the NWH President to ask him to maintain the current staffing levels at the hospital.  For a copy of the leaflet, contact David Schildmeier at dschildmeier@mnarn.org.

January 22, 1959

oldknox

One of the worst mining disasters in northeastern Pennsylvania history occurs when the Knox Mine Company digs illegally under the Susquehanna River without drilling boreholes to gauge the rock thickness overhead. The insufficient “roof” cover caused 10 billion gallons of water to pour into the mine. Ten people were indicted on a variety of charges, including violations of the Anthracite Mine Act, conspiracy, and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of twelve miners whose bodies were never been recovered.

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