Congressman Darrell Issa Still Wants To Gut The USPS And ‘Applauds’ The Destruction of CANADA POST

Congressman ISSA (photo credit Congressman Issa on Flickr)

Congressman ISSA (photo credit Congressman Issa on Flickr)Congressman Darrell Issa continues to astound informed observers of the Postal Service with his misguided comments. Mr Issa “applauded” Canada Post for planning to” phase out expensive to the door delivery “of mail over five years.  He seemed to have no problem equating the US Postal Service with Canada Post. Not taking into consideration that Canada Post lost over a hundred million dollars this year delivering mail while the US Postal Service had an operational profit of $600 million.

Mr Issa also seemed to neglect to mention the fact that Canada Post was raising rates from 63 cents to 85 cents for letter mail. Imagine his reaction if the USPS wanted to raise rates by over 30%.  Most likely his  Government Oversight Committee would hold special hearings around the clock.

Also this “modernization” enabled Canada to become the first G7 country to eliminate home delivery of mail. Being a public servant you would expect Mr Issa to value service to the public not be “applauding” dramatic regression of services.

Mr Issa gushed “The Canadian Government is supportive of its (Canada Post) decision to modernize.” Modernize?  The US Postal Service is the best Postal Service in the world. There is no disputing that. USPS boasts the lowest rates in the world without a penny of tax payer money while delivering over 40% of the world mail.  US Mail is delivered with reliability and a level of public trust that is the envy of other Postal Services and businesses worldwide.

If Mr Issa  wants to look at Canada and find ways for our country to “Modernize” maybe he should look at their very popular and efficient National Health Care System.

Mr Issa seems absurdly focused at working to decimate the Postal Service. I am hopeful that the over $40,000 he gets from Postal Service rival UPS is not a higher priority than the needs of the millions of people who rely on daily delivery of their mail.

Mr Issa, should be applauding his own countries Postal Service rather than working to decimate it.

 

 

 

One Year After Newtown And I Am Still Angry

Image from NHPR Reporter Michael Brinkley Tweet

Author’s Note: Some of you may be wondering what is a labor union advocate doing talking about gun control and Sandy Hook.  The answer is simple.  I have three children who attend an elementary school just like Sandy Hook.  I would also like to point out that two of the largest labor unions in New Hampshire are the teachers unions (NEA-NH and AFT-NH).

One year ago we all were stunned by the horrific event at a little elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  This tragic event that took the lives of twenty innocent school children, and six brave educators.   As Adam Lanza entered the school, with guns blazing he managed to fire over 150 rounds from his mother semi-automatic rifle with 30 round magazines.

The day after the shooting the American Federation of Teachers released this short video honoring the brave educators who sacrificed their lives to protect the children in their care.

That day, and every day since, people have been asking ‘what are we going to do about Newtown’?  For the first weeks that followed the shooting, people across the country were up in arms and calling on Congress to pass sweeping gun reforms.  A completely organic grassroots organization called ‘Moms Demand Action’ started pushing for background checks and smaller magazines on all weapons sales.

MomsDemandAction_Logo-375x300The argument quickly became a fight between common sense, and the National Rifle Association.   Across the country labor unions and other groups like Moms Demand Action, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Americans for Responsible Solutions (Gabby and Mark Giffords PAC) began an all out war with the NRA right on the steps of the Capitol.

“We demand a vote, Gabby Giffords demands a vote” cried President Obama during his State of The Union address.  As every day passed more pressure was being put on Congress to pass the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, commonly referred to as the background check bill.  A bill that would require background check on all gun sales, closing the loophole that allows people to buy guns without a background check at gun shows and on the internet.  The bill also placed a limit on the size of magazines, and ultimately pushed for a ban on all assault rifles.

Momentum and public support grew every single day leading up to the vote.  People overwhelmingly supported background check on all gun sales.  The court of public opinion was completely against the NRA, who led the charge to kill the bill.

The bill failed to break the 60-vote threshold (54-46) to overcome the Republican Filibuster.  The vote was strictly down party lines except for one stray Republican (John McCain) who voted with Democrats to pass the bill to strengthen the background check system.  (Note: four Democratic Senators voted against the bill: Baucus (D-MT), Begich (D-AK), Heitkamp (D-ND), Pryor (D-AR))

After the Senate failed to pass the Safe Communities, Safer Schools Act people became even more outraged. Demand Action – a campaign by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns — started calling out every single Senator who voted against the bill with ads like this.

SHAME ON YOU KELLY Even after the failed vote teachers unions and educators continued to speak out for stronger gun laws.  The American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told the crowd at a Netroots Nation event, “I am glad to be on the list of people they (NRA) hate.

The National Rifle Association even floated the idea that we should arm teachers with guns, because ‘the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.’  Many people, including myself thought that was just too much.  We are trying to keep the guns out of our schools and the NRA wants every teacher to be packing heat.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia completely rejected this idea of arming teachers.  Lily represents over three million educators nationwide.  As she phrased it, “People that would put our children, teachers, and janitors at risk do not deserve their office.”

AFT Remember Newtown via AFT Facebook page

AFT Remember Newtown via AFT Facebook page

Here we are, one year later, and what have we accomplished?  What have we done to stop the carnage of gun violence in America?  The Boston Globe reports:

A Law Center scorecard shows that 18 states weakened their gun restrictions in 2013, 11 states and the District of Columbia strengthened them, and 10 states passed a combination. Both sides in the gun debate, however, manage to find hopeful signs in that tally.”

Where is that outrage that we all felt last December 14th as we were all forced to see the images of teachers and children running away from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, or the images of the twenty children and six heroic teachers who we will never see again.   Where is that outrage now as the majority of the nation has yet to see any change in our gun laws?

As of today (12-13-13) there have been 11,436 or more gun related deaths since Newtown.  (Check out SLATE.COM’s most amazing interactive graphic that continues to update with the names and locations of gun related deaths since Newtown.)  This number does not include the thousands of people who commit suicide every year.  The CDC estimates that 33,000 people will die in gun related deaths this year.

The group Moms Demand Action released a statement along with a very powerful advertisement calling for an end to the ‘silence’.   Moms Demand Action are hosting ‘end the silence’ rallies all across the country to make the plea that we do not need more moments of silence, we need stronger gun laws to prevent these types of tragedies.

“One year ago, 20 beautiful children and six brave teachers and administrators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in a tragedy that is still impossible to comprehend,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “On that morning, a deranged killer shot his way into what should have been a safe place, with an assault weapon and enough high-capacity ammunition magazines to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. The massacre was the product, in large part, of our nation’s weak gun laws—laws that allow military-style assault weapons to be sold legally and that permit criminals and domestic abusers to easily obtain weapons at gun shows and over the Internet without a background check.”

Since Newtown there has been at least 20 different schools shooting claiming the lives of dozens of innocent people.  When will it stop? When will Congress wake up and do what is right for public safety?  I refuse to let this be another flash in the pan that fizzles out after time.  I hope that this one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Newtown reignites the fire we once had to effect much needed changes in our gun laws.  I am also proud of the labor leaders like Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelsen Garcia who using their positions as labor leaders to continue to fight for stronger and more effective gun laws.

* * * * * * *

For those in the New Hampshire area here, is a list of some of the Newtown Anniversary events going on throughout the weekend.

Related articles on the NH Labor News:

AFT President Randi Weingarten Honors Newtown (2013)

When Tragedy Strike, Heroes Emerge. In Sandy Hook, The Educators Are The Heroes

Teachers’ Unions Make A Call For Common Sense Gun Reform

 

The Americans For Prosperity (NH) Promotes Lies About Minimum Wage Workers

Americans-For-Prosperity

Americans-For-ProsperityIn a brief statement to the Nashua Patch, Greg Moore, State Director of the Americans For Prosperity, stated:

“While the top union bosses suggest that a 40 percent minimum wage hike will put more money in the pockets of lower wage workers, what it really does is price most of them out of the market and cost the poorest an opportunity to start on the first rung of the career ladder,” said Moore, AFP-NH State Director.

“The reality is that many 16 and 17-year olds – the folks who often take minimum wage jobs – simply can’t create over $10 per hour in value for an employer, and simply won’t get hired.  They need to start building the types of job skills that would warrant that kind of pay.  A 40 percent increase in the minimum wage will price them out of jobs and leave them without opportunities.  They need someone to give them a chance, and that chance will be taken away from them by this proposal.”

This statement is full of lies and GOP propagated myths about minimum wage workers.

1) Minimum wage workers are NOT all teenagers.

Minimum Wage # Of Employees

2) The majority of minimum wage workers work for large corporations.

  1. Walmart
  2. Yum Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pepsi)
  3. McDonalds
  4. Target
  5. Sears
  6. Subway
  7. Burger King
  8. Aramark
  9. Starbucks
  10. Applebees / IHOP

Raising the minimum wage is not about teenagers and their first jobs it is about working families.  Families would need to work over 100 hours a week to afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment.  A true living wage in New Hampshire is $20.47.

Unit Housing Minimum WageDo not believe the lies that the Americans for Prosperity are telling the public.  They are completely untrue, and the facts do not lie.

Fosters Editorial Board Puts Workers After The Almighty Dollar!

Workers vs greed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFL-CIO Pushes For Immigration Reform With New Ad

Video Ad Screen Shot

Labor Federation mobilizes workers to pressure House Republicans to pass immigration reform with roadmap to citizenship and workers’ rights

Efforts tie into coalition “Cost of Inaction” mobilizations

Today the AFL-CIO announced the release of new, hard hitting television ads that call out Republicans for obstructing comprehensive immigration reform, citing anti-immigrant statements by Republican lawmakers.  In addition to the ads, labor will launch in-district mobilizations to increase pressure on House Republicans to support immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship and protection of workers’ rights. Providing 11 million aspiring Americans with the chance to come out of the shadows and contribute to our communities will protect the rights of all workers, the AFL-CIO has said.

These ads represent the next step of the labor movement’s unprecedented nationwide campaign to reform the nation’s broken immigration system and create equal access to the American Dream. The ads will run in Spanish and target districts with large Latino constituencies in Bakersfield, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Orlando, Fla. The ads will also be broadcast in English in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

“The time for acting on immigration reform is now, and the labor movement has decided to throw down in a big way to make it happen,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.  “Every day, over 1,000 people are deported, while House Republicans refuse to act on immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship and workers’ rights.  We won’t stop until the deportation crisis ends and aspiring Americans have the roadmap to citizenship they deserve.”

Online actions and mobilization by the labor movement will tie into coalition actions targeting nine key House Republicans as part of the “Cost of Inaction” campaign.

“I have been working on this since the days of Governor Pete Wilson in California when he tried to demonize immigrants back in the early 1990s,” said AFL-CIO Los Angeles Labor Federation head Maria Elena Durazo. “We know what happened. We saw how that worked out.  The time to act is now. Or the Republican Party may never again be able to get support from immigrant communities.”

 

Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA, On the Federal Government Shutdown

LIUNA - The Laborers' International Union of North America

Washington, D.C. (October 1, 2013) – “It is exasperating that the U.S. House of Representatives has become so tied in political knots that it can no longer do its job and pass legislation to fund programs and services it has already authorized and to prevent a shutdown of the federal government.

“The radical Tea Party Republicans are the tail wagging the dog. Their extremism puts our economy at risk and doing so for political gain is simply un-American.

“As an organization that proudly represents more than 25,000 federal employees – workers who protect our national security, provide critical health care services to veterans and Native Americans, keep our skies safe and our parks clean, and of whom at least 5,000 are currently serving their country in the military – we appeal to House leadership to put an end to this dangerous circus. And Congress must then make the federal employees who have been victims whole by providing full back pay.”

Do Free-Trade Agreements Create Jobs?

global deal free trade

Written by Dave Johnson (Senior Fellow at Our Future)
Originally posted on OurFuture.Org

global deal free trade

The corporate push to get Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is about to begin. Again and again we have been promised that these trade agreements “create jobs” and grow the economy. So do they?

“Free-Trade” Claims

Proponents of current corporate-negotiated trade agreements claim that the agreements increase jobs and boost economies. For example Time today has a column, Voters Won’t Like It, but We Have to Bring Back Free Trade, by Michael Schuman. Schuman claims that these agreements are “beneficial for economies overall — boosting exports, enhancing efficiency and reducing prices for consumers.”

Is this what actually happens? Let’s look at what has happened as a result of past agreements.

NAFTA

Negotiated by the George HW Bush administration and pushed by President Clinton, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect January 1, 1994.

Ross Perot famously said we would hear a “giant sucking sound” as NAFTA took jobs from the US and he was right. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) briefing paper Heading South: U.S.-Mexico trade and job displacement after NAFTA, “As of 2010, U.S. trade deficits with Mexico totaling $97.2 billion had displaced 682,900 U.S. jobs.” (That is net jobs, taking into account jobs gained.)

The EPI study did not look into NAFTA’s effect on US wages (but a 2001 EPI study found wage decreases). Clearly, however, NAFTA enabled companies to close American factories and move production to low-wage factories, putting downward pressure on everyone’swages.

Public Citizen’s document, NAFTA’s Broken Promises 1994-2013: Outcomes of the North American Free Trade Agreement points out that over one million Mexican campesino farmers were driven out of business (and likely driven north to the US) by subsidized US corn from our giant industrialized farms.

China

China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. Americans were promised this would expand market opportunities for U.S. companies, thereby increasing jobs and American prosperity. How has this worked out?

In August, 2012 EPI estimated that the US lost 2.7 million jobs as a result of the U.S.-China trade deficit between 2001 and 2011, 2.1 million of them in manufacturing. Aside from job losses wages US wages fell due to the competition with cheap Chinese labor costing a typical household with two wage-earners around $2,500 per year.

Last month our country’s humongous trade deficit with China was $30.1 billion. That translates to a yearly deficit of more than $360 billion drained straight out of our economy.

Korea

In spite of the obvious problems with these trade agreements, the US approved an agreement with Korea that took effect March 15, 2012.

EPI reported in July, 2013 that the US-Korea free trade agreement had already cost the US 40,000 jobs and increased our trade deficit by $5.8 billion. According to EPI,

The tendency to distort trade model results was evident in the Obama administration’s insistence that increasing exports under KORUS would support 70,000 U.S. jobs. The administration neglected to consider jobs lost from the increasing imports and a growing bilateral trade deficit. In the year after KORUS took effect, the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea increased by $5.8 billion, costing more than 40,000 U.S. jobs. Most of the 40,000 jobs lost were good jobs in manufacturing.

So How Did They Work Out?

Again and again these trade agreements resulted in loss of jobs, particularly in higher-wage sectors of our economy like manufacturing, and big increases in the trade deficit. Yes, exports increased adding jobs in some sectors but imports increased more, costing more jobs than those gained. And the sectors that lost jobs tended to be higher-wage, like manufacturing.

While honest and fair trade is a good thing, these trade agreements are written to promote the interests of the giant and powerful multinational corporations over the interests of working people, smaller competing corporations, citizens groups, democracy and the environment. These “free-trade” deals increase unemployment, drive down wages and harm the environment while dramatically increasing the wealth and power of the 1%.

Again, fair trade is great. But trade deals written of by and for a few giant, multinational corporations are good for those corporations and the billionaires behind them — and onlythose corporations and the billionaires behind them.

The Worst Effect: Widespread Job Fear

When our government just lets companies close a factory here and move production to a country where people have few rights and can’t do anything to make their situation better, what do you think that will do to wages and rights here? When your boss can threaten to lay you off and move your job out of the country, what are you going to say? Are you going to complain about the job and demand a raise?

Job fear is rampant in today’s economy, so everything is sold as a promise to create jobs. Heck if eating bugs will “create jobs” I’ll try it. And you can be sure that the fried bug industry lobbyists are going to promise just that.

So these giant-corporate-promoting trade deals are sold with the promise that they will “create jobs” even though we see again and again that the opposite occurs. Ironically, the job fear so many of us experience is the result of these trade agreements that enabled corporations to close factories here, ship the equipment out of the country, make the same stuff there and bring it back here to sell in the same stores to the same customers. (For some reason that is called “trade.”)

These Agreements Reign In Our Democracy

Now the giant corporations are working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Only a small part of this agreement covers “trade.” Much of it is about “investor rights.” This means that countries that enter into the agreement will not be able to do things that limit the profits of corporations. This includes trying to enforce environmental regulations, trying to get low-cost medicine to sick people, etc. It won’t matter if we call ourselves a sovereign country and a democracy — we will not be allowed to pass the laws that we want to if they interfere with the “rights” of the owners of the giant corporations.

These trade agreements are negotiated by giant multinational corporations along with government officials who understand they will get lucrative jobs with those corporations. They benefit only the 1% and the billionaires behind these corporations. They have not helped our economy and have not increased jobs. In fact they have led to massive trade deficits that are draining our economy, massive job loss and wage loss, and job fear for those still working.

We must insist that trade from now on agreements be negotiated with all of the stakeholders at the table in a process that guarantees their interests have equal weight with the interests of the giant corporations. Representatives of environmental organizations, human rights groups, labor groups, consumer groups and all other stakeholders must be included in these negotiations.

We must also insist that existing agreements be renegotiated so that We the People benefit, instead of just the billionaires behind the giant corporations.

The AFL-CIO Welcomes Progressive Organizations Despite Some Union Opposition

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)
Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

Recently the AFL-CIO held their quadrennial convention. The convention hosted thousands of union members and had speeches from many union supporters.  Over the last week almost every union has focused on a single event from the convention that specifically talked about a campaign project they are working on.  Some talked about immigration, others focused on income inequality.

One of the biggest stories that came from the convention is the AFL-CIO’s shift to include progressive organizations.  This is first time that organizations that are not specific to unions have been allowed to affiliate.  The AFL-CIO has always had their own affiliate organizations like Working America and the Alliance for Retired Americans.   The major difference is that these are organizations that were started by the AFL-CIO and became their own national entity.

Does anyone think that we would have defeated all of the extreme legislation from former NH Speaker O’Brien’s Tea Party legislature without assistance from these progressive organizations?  Together we packed the capitol steps with over 5,000 people in protest to budget cuts and anti-worker legislation.

Labor has relied on progressive organization to help get signatures on petitions that oppose anti-worker legislation. Likewise progressive groups rely on the massive number of union activists to help bring attention to their issues.  In many cases the people fighting for workers rights are the same ones fighting for women’s health rights.

This idea to allow progressive and liberal organization drew quick fire from some of the leaders of major unions.

Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), said he sees “great value” in labor finding different groups to align with politically. But the federation needs to stick to representing workers rather than become a social movement itself, according to the union chief. 

“However, to say that we are going to grow this labor movement by some kind of formal partnership, membership, status, place in this federation, I am against. This is the American Federation of Labor. We are supposed to be representing workers and workers’ interests,” Schaitberger said. “We are not going to be the American Federation of Progressive and Liberal Organizations.” (The Hill)

Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) told The Hill, “Does that mean we are going to turn energy policy of the AFL-CIO over to the Sierra Club? I have concern about that, as well as I should.”

The AFL-CIO is right, we need the help of these progressive organization to help move our message and to help strengthen our ranks.  There are many examples of where labor and progressives have formed alliances that are working to combat issues not typical of labor unions.  One example is the Blue-Green Alliance.  The Blue-Green Alliance is a partnership between Carl Pope (former director of the Sierra Club) and the United Steel Workers union.  Together they are pushing to create new jobs by cleaning our environment.

Right now Carl Pope and the Blue-Green Alliance are pushing to replace coal burning power plants with new environmentally friendly natural gas power plants.  Replacing or refurbishing all of these power plants will save consumers money in the long run, while rebuilding our manufacturing base due to a high demand for building materials like steel.  Projects like this will also put hundreds of thousands of laborers back to work.

Unions are constantly under attack from organizations like ALEC and the Americans For Prosperity.  They are pushing anti-worker legislation like ‘Right To Work (for less)’ and a complete repeal of collective bargaining rights, effectively killing the unions at the same time.

It was not that long ago that Harold Schaitberger was here in New Hampshire fighting against Right To Work and a Collective Bargaining repeal.  He stood on the steps of the capitol in Concord on a cold winter morning and spoke to a crowd of union members and union supporters.  Those same supporters are the ones who are jumping at the chance to be a part of the AFL-CIO.

Nobody is trying to tell the AFL-CIO that they must take direction from these outside organizations.  This partnership will allow the AFL-CIO to continue to lead on workers rights issues. Just because these organizations are affiliated with the AFL-CIO does not mean they have any vote into the direction the AFL-CIO moves.  That is the job of the Executive Board.

With union numbers declining we need as many labor supporters as we can find. If this means we need to strengthen our partnership with progressive organizations I welcome that.

The Congressional Black Caucus Shows Their Strong Support For Organized Labor

Congressional Black Caucus Logo

History has identified many of the great advances that organized labor has made for all workers.  Are you looking forward to the weekend? Do you have healthcare, retirement, paid time off?  All of these advances come from the battles that were fought by organized labor.

Among the African-American community, labor unions have a long held a very special place in their culture.  Not only did organized labor help millions of African-Americans lift themselves out of poverty, it helped to push for their civil rights as Americans.

Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty talked about what growing up in a union household meant to her.

“Because my dad was a union worker.  Often times I say I was able to go to college because of union dollars.”

The Congressional Black Caucus spent an hour talking about the importance of organized labor to the African-American community.

“Labor unions played an important role in the civil rights movement,” said Joyce Beatty. “Today the labor movement continues to be an important issue to African Americans – just as important as it was 50 years ago during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

(Rep G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina) “On August 28, 1963, more than 300,000 people, including myself, witness the call for civil and economic rights for African-Americans. And on that hot day in August, we heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his historic ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.  The march was one of the largest rallies for civil rights in the history of our country. It was organized in large part, I want to make this point, it was organized in large part by labor unions.”

Representative Donald Payne Jr. (D-New Jersey) continued to talk about Dr. King’s dream by saying, “what we have seen today is an erosion to that dream.”

Representative Hakeem Jefferies (D-New York) explains how we can close the economic inequality gap that is plaguing America.

“The best way to get there is not to attack organized labor, but to recognize what it has done for this country and to strengthen organized labor as we move forward.”

Watch this short highlight reel of the Congressional Black Caucus speeches from September 9th compiled by the Communication Workers of America.


[http://youtu.be/eISp4F_lEMM]

You can also watch extended speeches from each of these Representatives on the CBC YouTube channel here or select them individually below.

Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-03)

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (NC-01)

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08)

Rep. Donald Payne (NJ-10)

Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33)

The NH AFL-CIO Hosts Annual Labor Day Breakfast (Video’s of speeches)

NHAFLCIO breakfast 11

NHAFLCIO breakfast 10The struggle and successes of New Hampshire workers was the basis of the this year’s Labor Day breakfast hosted by the NH AFL-CIO.

The event opened with short and fiery speech from NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie. He started the morning off by reminding everyone of the connection between labor unions and the community.  Reflecting on the anniversary of the March on Washington, MacKenzie highlighted how we defeated Right To Work for less and the rule of Bill O’Brien.  We also worked as a community to elect Maggie Hassan and flip the NH House.  MacKenzie talked about the dream that car wash workers and McDonalds workers have of a higher minimum wage, a living wage enabling workers to live a decent life. Everyone deserves an opportunity to live the American Dream: to have a good job, a pension, and decent healthcare.

MacKenzie also addressed the attacks on voting rights across this country.   He said “When people wake up in this country, they have a dream that they can go to the polls without harassment. Voter rights is still an issue in this nation and we have to put this behind us.  Everyone should have the right to vote.

After President MacKenzie, we heard from Governor Maggie Hassan.  Her speech was a list of all that we have accomplished since she took office.  Unlike other some other Governors (for instance, Scott Walker), Governor Hassan admires and respects our dedicated public employees.

“You make up the highly skilled workforce that attracts innovative businesses and allows them to succeed. You are the ones who make our communities strong and protect the well-being of our people.” 

She also focused on the issue of mis-classification of workers.  “We must continue to enforce existing laws to prevent the mis-classification of workers, so that workers receive the full benefits and protections they deserve.”

After an introduction that included a long and distinguished list of her accomplishments, we heard from NH’s senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen.

“It is wonderful to be with all of you to celebrate the enormous contribution that working men and women and organized labor have made to build a strong New Hampshire.”

She spoke about the obstructionism that fills the US Senate.  The GOP has been blocking every one of President Obama’s nominees.  She said she still would like to see the filibuster rule changed.

Sen. Shaheen also spent a few minutes on the subject of Syria.  When she returns to Washington, she will listen to classified briefings and be part of the decision about what our country should do.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster also addressed the crowd.  The last time she was at the Breakfast, she was campaigning for New Hampshire’s Second District seat.  Now she is the sitting Congresswoman representing the largest geographical portion of the state.  She took a moment to thank the people in the room who helped elect her.

“I want to thank all of our friends in labor. It is very clear to me that I would not be standing here without each and every one of you.”

She also talked about her ‘Congress in your company’ campaign, that is working to connect Congress with local businesses and manufacturers, in a effort to strengthen our ‘Made in America’ brand.

Just before we ate Reverand Gail Kinney offered a prayer.  Rev. Kinney is an ordained minister from South Danbury, as well as a dedicated union member (UAW) and long time activist.

Her blessing for workers is so strong and powerful that I cannot begin to tell you about it, just watch it for yourself!

Below are a few random images from the event.  All photos and video were taken by Matt Murray.

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