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‘Made In America’ Is The Focus Of The New Movie “AMERICAN MADE MOVIE”

American_Made_Movie_RGB_no-creditsThere is no doubt that American manufacturing has suffered a significant decline in the last few decades.  This drop in our manufacturing base was a big factor leading to the current economic downturn.

What caused this reduction in American manufacturing?  Most of it can be attributed to the offshoring of jobs.  Manufacturers are taking advantage of free trade agreements and low-wage workers in foreign countries.  Vulture capitalists on Wall Street helped push manufacturers to move overseas to increase their profits.  The effect of reducing our manufacturing base is becoming increasingly obvious.

“So when you think about it, this loss in manufacturing jobs is kind of the backbone that broke that has caused this incredible unemployment in this country.”

— Gilbert Kaplan a trade lawyer with King & Spalding.

After World War II, the United States made up almost 50% of the global economy.  This number continued to grow all the way through the 1970s, with American manufacturing industries employing over 19 million people.  After 1979, offshoring pushed 8 million of those workers out of a job.   Since 2001, more than 50,000 American factories have closed their doors – leaving workers stranded.

“When you as an economy get rid of your manufacturing base, the results are very cataclysmic. You have a domino effect of decline that starts to affect everybody in every industry.”

— Chris Michalakis – Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, President

This is the basis of a new movie that will be hitting a theater near you very soon.

“The American Made Movie” focuses on the decline of our manufacturing base.  It takes an in-depth look at how we lost so many good jobs, and how companies are reviving Made in America.

“By revealing the successes of companies that have prospered without adopting the practices of their competitors, American Made Movie shows the positive impact manufacturing jobs have on national and local economies, aiding them in the face of great challenges. The livelihood of our country depends on understanding how we can maintain the American Dream while competing in a global economy.”

The film’s director and producer, Nathaniel Thomas McGill, knows this story first-hand.  Growing up, he watched as factory after factory closed their doors, costing his family members their jobs as mechanics and assembly line workers.  Co-director Vincent Vittorio has a family background in Detroit’s auto industry.

The movie focuses on what manufacturers are doing now to help expand the “Made in America” movement.  The movie highlights Boston-based New Balance.

“What the country is realizing now is that making things is important. The reason making things is important is because it employs a lot of people, it gives you expertise that other markets want, and it teaches you to innovate.”
— New Balance CEO Robert DeMartini

Some companies have realized that making products in America is beneficial in two ways:

  • It helps to rebuild our economy by employing local workers and putting much-needed funds into our local economy.
  • ”Made in the USA” is also a very profitable marketing niche.  Consumers want to support companies that are employing American workers; and the “Made in the US” logo lets people know that their money is going to fellow Americans.

“This idea that we have to make things in this country is back,” said Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

We asked Co-director Vincent Vittorio where we could see the new movie.  He said the movie premiered in the Atlanta metro area and Chicago Labor Day weekend.  It will premiere in New York City and Los Angeles on Friday, September 6th.  Following that, it will be rolled out to several different cities coast to coast.

Title_Block_background(Below is the official trailer to ‘American Made Movie’)

American Made Movie (Trailer) from Life Is My Movie on Vimeo.

Labor Day Represents Our Continued Fight, Not A Victory

A special message from Walter Wise, General President of the Ironworkers Union

Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, pre-dating the founding of our own International Association.  It was a time of brutal working conditions: 6-12s the standard workweek; child labor; no holidays, no sick days or pensions; and worker safety was unheard of.  It was a time when corporate power and excesses were at a peak.  Monopolies dominated industries and labor alike.  Wages were depressed to the point where workers were paid in company script (money) that could only be spent on housing, goods or services sold by the employer. Most employees owed more than they earned each month.

Intolerable conditions led to strikes that were met with brutal retaliation from company thugs, the police and even the government.  Those confrontations were described as a second “civil war.”   Labor Day as a federal holiday was a failed attempt by President Cleveland to gain labor support for a third term after he sent 12,000 federal troops to break the Pullman Car Company strike where at least 13 strikers were killed.  The demands of decent wages, an 8-hour workday and the right to organize did not come about until nearly 50 years later.  Labor Day represents our fight, not a victory.

The strength of individual workers overcame ethnic and racial tensions to unite in their common plight. They fought to gain bargaining power with their employer, to demand a fair share of the profits that their labor helped generate.  As Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, said: “Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Since the eighties, that shared equity partnership has been broken.  Not between us and our signatory contractors, but by the moneyed interests of Wall Street with their pursuit of unfair profits and higher bonuses at the expense of everyone else, including our own nation’s independence and security.

This history is not only worthy of being remembered on Labor Day, but every day you walk into the workplace, every time you cash your collectively bargained paycheck, each year when you vote and every time you hug your loved ones.  Our fight continues.

Thank you for helping to build our great Union.

 

Claremont Workers: Six Years Without A Raise Or A Contract

Today State Rep and AFSCME member Andrew O’Hearne and Jim Durkin (AFSCME Representative) went on the WNTK morning show to talk about the new radio ad highlighting the situation of the workers in Claremont, NH.  

Here is the AFSCME Council 93 ad that is running on WNTK.

Here is the 12 minute interview on WNTK this on 8-22-13

Below is a letter sent to the NH Labor News detailing the struggles that public workers in Claremont are facing right now.  

Thank You Linda for sending us this great local story. 

Claremont Workers: Six Years Without A Raise Or A Contract.

By Linda Horan

Claremont City workers have been without a contract and a raise for more than six years. An independent fact finder for the DPW and Police reviewed the bargaining proposal. After careful and thorough examination, he issued a report that called for a 3% pay increase, certainly modest, especially after going without for so long.The Union agreed with the fact finders report, the City turned it down cold. They want to keep denying pay raises-and losing veteran, experienced workers-until the workers cave in. That’s not going to happen!

What’s next? That’s up to the members! But make no mistake, they will not quietly accept whatever crumbs the City drops on the ground. We’ll be working with community supporters and other Unions who are concerned about the city and quality public services. The police who continue to serve and protect have already lost seven officers to better paying departments. the DPW in the trenches in all kinds of weather are also understaffed for the same reason. The Fire Department, who have also submitted a reasonable, modest proposal have been ignored by the city manager. They are anxiously awaiting their own neutral fact finder’s report. The Fire Service has lost at least 3 firefighters because of stagnant wages and low morale.

Claremont is not a wealthy city, the Unions understand that, so they are trying to be pragmatic and not have not been asking for a big bag of money. At the same time, City Manager Guy Santagate decided to give raises to department heads, some in excess of 6%, saying “these raises are needed as many in the city are underpaid. This is so we don’t lose key solid people.” Finance Director Mary Walter saw her pay rise from $80,103 to $85,176. Ms Walter said publicly that to accept the fact finder’s report the City would be forced to lay off 12-20 workers. The Fire and Police chiefs saw their base pay rise somewhere around $10,000 each. When asked how many would be laid off as a result of these exorbitant raises for the bosses, she reluctantly replied “none”. Interesting.

Obviously to Mr Santagate, this thinking does not trickle down to the folks actually doing the work.This is not only imprudent, it is shameful. It demonstrates a complete lack of respect, a slap in the face of those who risk their lives on a daily basis for the residents of Claremont with little thought for their personal circumstance. They continue helping and protecting Claremont’s citizenry everyday. It is time for the City Manager Santagate to do whatever is necessary to retain the City’s skilled competent workforce. As City Manager he has an obligation both to the residents and to the workers to do just that.

We’d like Mr Santagate and the City Council to understand that this is far from over. Activity will continue until the City goes back to the table and effectively bargains in good faith with City Unions.They all understand the City finances and are not asking for pie in the sky. All they want is for the City to respect it’s workforce enough to invest in them as well as it has invested in the the bosses.

We are asking for Union folks to help us keep the pressure on. Letters to Mr Santagate and the City Council (care of Claremont City Hall, Claremont, NH 03743) will help, Phone calls to Mr Santagate (603 542 7002) will help as well. Coming out to join us for visibility and informational pickets will help. Packing the City Council meetings with interested audience members will help. Letters to the editor of the Claremont Eagle times will help. With your soidarity this will not be swept under the rug at City Hall. Hopefully activity will escalate, Maybe with your help, we can have a show of force by rally or and/or press conferences. Bottom line: We’re Union, we’re proven and we will hang tough! With your help and solidarity, brothers and sisters, we can make a difference and hopefully the City will hear our one united voice!

For more information please contact chapter chair and State Rep Andrew O’Hearne AFSCME (603 558 1038), Brian Rapp IAFF (603 393 9651) or me, Linda Horan VP NH AFL CIO, retired (603 762 1331)

AFSC Says Senate Immigration Bill Much Less Than Meets the Eye

Bill’s narrow path to citizenship still sustains human rights hardships

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds the Senate immigration bill passed today “offers much less than it should, and at great sacrifice to quality of life for all US residents.”

The bill creates a narrow path to citizenship for some immigrants and makes modest progress on some worker rights issues, the Quaker organization said.  “But the dramatic expansion of current failed policies make it a far cry from the just and humane reforms that immigrant communities, faith, labor and advocacy groups have been calling for,” commented staff for the organization’s New Hampshire Program.

“The Senate bill makes it possible for some share of undocumented people currently living in the U.S. to embark on a path toward legalization. But  it would not end the current cruel, costly and inefficient system of detention and deportation, and it provides for astounding investments in the border militarization industrial complex – meaning billions for the contractors and continuing crises for people on both sides of the border,” said Maggie Fogarty, who coordinates the AFSC’s New Hampshire Economic Justice Project.    

“The path to legalization is a precarious one, likely to leave many people behind,” commented Arnie Alpert, AFSC’s New Hampshire Coordinator.  Under the terms of the Senate bill, many commonplace situations—such as a period greater than 60 days of unemployment during the ten year provisional period—will make immigrants ineligible for Legal Permanent Residency, he said.

“Making the highly flawed E-Verify system a requirement for all employers is a recipe for further exploitation and marginalization of immigrant workers and people of color,” said Fogarty, who coordinates AFSC’s national Campaign for Humane Immigration Policies.

Fogarty also noted that the bill’s original provisions for border militarization and other enforcement programs were “already excessive.”  Despite hearing directly from border communities about the impacts of living in a militarized area, Senate amendments added more money for “‘border security’ measures that will make border communities less secure,” she added.

With the immigration debate shifting to the House of Representatives, the AFSC implores Representatives to adopt compassionate, effective immigration policies, grounded in the following principles:

 

•           Develop humane economic policies to reduce forced migration.

•           Protect the labor rights of all workers.

•           Develop a quick path to legal permanent residency and a clear path to citizenship.

•           Respect the civil and human rights of immigrants.

•           Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border.

•           Make family reunification a top priority.

•           Ensure that immigrants and refugees have access to services.

AFSC detailed its recommendations in A New Path,  which outlines policy priorities for immigration reform that protects the human rights of all.  The New Path principles are derived from nine decades of work with immigrant communities, whose voices guide AFSC’s work on immigration policies.

From its origins working with civilians affected by war in Europe during World War One, AFSC has decades of experience working with people who have left their homes due to violence, discrimination, and economic desperation.

For more on AFSC’s immigrant rights work, visit http://afsc.org/project/immigrant-rights and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

How Can We Reshape The Labor Movement: Join The Conversation

Can unions get their members more active politically on issues throughout the year? Can—and should—unions mobilize members on a large scale to work on other tasks that could strengthen the labor movement, such as organizing new members or working on labor and community solidarity campaigns?  What would unions need to change to pursue such a strategy aggressively? Does its structure impede progress?

These are the questions journalist David Moberg are posing as the AFL-CIO continues its crucial conversation about the future of working people and of unions at www.aflcio2013.org.

And on Tuesday, June 4 from 3-4 p.m. EDT, Moberg, a senior editor at In These Times, will be fielding questions on labor’s organizational structure and mobilization strategies.  David Moberg is one of the most thoughtful commentators about the labor movement today, and we are pleased that he is joining us as a moderator of this discussion.

Please join the conversation at www.aflcio2013.org and forward this announcement to your network. We need broad and diverse voices to help shape the future of working people.

We’ve held four wonderful discussions online to date and the ideas generated through these conversations will be considered by our executive council and shaped into recommendations for action at the AFL-CIO convention in September.

Please help us convene a robust discussion on this important topic and add your voice: www.aflcio2013.org.

California Looks To Close A Loophole That Will Hit Corporations Where It Hurts, Their Profits

California FlagMillions of Americans are what are commonly referred to as the working poor.  These are workers who have jobs, yet do not make enough to get off government assistance programs.  Many corporations pay their employees the absolute minimum and refuse to even offer them healthcare leaving states to pick up the check with programs like Medicaid.  That could all change, at least in California.

California legislators introduced a bill that would fine an employer up to $6000 per full-time employee who ends up on Medi-Cal.  This would force employers to pay workers enough money that they do not qualify for Medi-Cal any longer.

Legislators in California say “this would eliminate a loophole in the Affordable Care Act that encourages large retailers and restaurant chains to dump hourly workers onto the government dole because there’s currently no penalty for doing so.”

This is a fabulous idea.  It will do two things. It will help workers earn a truly living wage and lift them out of poverty.  It is also good financially for states like California who are strapped for cash.  This will remove people from their medicaid rolls or bring in enough money to cover their Medicaid costs and then some.

The most offensive abusers of the current system are the large corporations like Wal-Mart. In Ohio nearly 50,000 workers are on Medicaid.  These 50,000 work at either Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Kroger, or Bob Evans.  All of these corporations are making substantial profits (some are not even paying anything back in federal taxes) and forcing the American people to supplement their low wages.  In California nearly “250,000 people from bigger companies receive Medi-Cal, research from UC Berkeley and UCLA shows, and about 44% of them work in retail or restaurants”.

The LA Times reported: “In 2004, UC Berkeley issued a report that found Wal-Mart workers’ dependence on public programs in California, such as Medi-Cal and food stamps, cost taxpayers about $86 million annually. Nationwide, it estimated, the cost of public assistance to Wal-Mart workers could be as much as $2 billion annually.”

Since I have not seen the actual legislation I would like to know if the legislators have put in any protection for the workers who are going to be forced from Full-time to Part-time to avoid this new fine.  Wal-Mart for example is famous for hiring workers for 34 hours a week to avoid full time status.  Part-time employees at Wal-Mart are not given any healthcare.

I would love to see this piece of California legislation move quickly to the national level.  If we could get Congress to pass something like this nationally it would immediately reduce the government payouts therefor reducing our federal budget. Ultimately this would lead to potential budget surplus and a mechanism to reduce our national debt.   It just proves that the way to really reduce our government expenditures and national debt starts with increasing worker wages and eliminating poverty.

This Memorial Day, How Will You Honor And Thank A Veteran?

A Message from Walter Wise, General President of the Iron Workers Union

As a fuel convoy gunner in Kuwait and Iraq, Nathan May crisscrossed the heart of the desert more times than he can count, traveling a total of more than 8,000 miles, only to return to the United States in 2010 with damaged hearing and haunting memories of roadside bombs and fire fights beneath the sweltering sun.

David Brightwell, Jr., served as an Army infantryman in the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan for just shy of five years when a grenade exploded beside his Humvee. David sustained a serious injury which almost cost him his leg. As he lay recovering for months in Walter Reed, all he could do was worry that his childhood dream of becoming an Ironworker like his dad and granddad would never come true.

Both of these proud, young warriors put their life on the line for our great country.

But Nathan wouldn’t let his damaged hearing and his struggle with PTSD get the best of him. Now, Nathan is an apprentice Ironworker with Local 492, Nashville, Tenn. Nathan works hard, saying that the rigor, training and discipline of ironwork are similar to that of soldiers. “The energy of ironwork is in me. I never felt so at home,” he explained.

While David Brightwell nearly lost his leg in Afghanistan, he didn’t give up, either. Immediately after making a full recovery, David was indentured as an apprentice at Local 395, Hammond, Ind., where he has trained tirelessly. “When his job gets rained out, he goes to the apprenticeship school to practice welding and his different skills…that’s the kind of Ironworker he is,” Local 395 business manager Doug Strayer said. Perhaps that’s why, earlier this year, David placed 12th out of 12,000 entrants in the Ironworkers National Apprenticeship Competition in Indianapolis. And this week, David will graduate from Local 395’s apprenticeship program and become a journeyman Ironworker, just like his dad and granddad.

Both Nathan and David connected with the Iron Workers through Helmets to Hardhats, a vitally important Building Trades-funded program dedicated to providing Veterans challenging, rewarding work in the union construction industry. The Iron Workers Union is proud to support men and women like Nathan and David who have made incredible sacrifices to defend our country.

This Memorial Day, we reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by many brave service men and women to safeguard our country and our freedom, defending our most basic rights, including those to assemble and form our great Union.  We think of Brother Al Siler of Local 385, Knoxville, Tenn., and Brother Charles Gaffney of Local 75, Phoenix, who died while on active duty to our country since 2005, and many others since our founding in 1896.  We honor their memory by providing for those that returned, and upholding the ideals that they died defending.

As a Brotherhood, we believe that former members of the military deserve the best opportunities when they return home. We believe as Iron Workers and as a Union, we can provide them excellent opportunities to raise a family, make a living and retire with dignity and a pension. We believe that our country owes its warriors and their families the best life our country can provide.

This Memorial Day, how will you honor and thank a Veteran?

Thank you, Brothers and Sisters, for recognizing the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, and for helping to build our great Union.

Happy Memorial Day!

(cross-posted from the IronWorkers IMPACT Blog)

Exeter School Board Attempt To Use Corporate Tactic To Rob Workers Of Their Pensions

This week the Exeter School Board met to discuss options for reducing the budget for next year.  One of the options the are pursuing is making the Para-professionals take an additional  30 minutes out of their workday.

Being force to take an addition 30 minutes off a day may not seem like much, however the results are monstrous.  The para-professionals currently work 35 hours per week, and if this reduction goes through they would only work 32.5 hours a week.  That means they would be classified as part-time employees.

According to an article in the Seacoast Online;

“if a worker goes from full time to part time, they lose the ability to continue contributing to their pensions and upon retirement would not receive any employer contribution toward their pension.”

Para’s must reach at least ten years in order to be vested in the retirement system.

“The board acknowledged that paras who have reached “vested” status are not in the majority in the district.”

The Seacoast online continued:

The decision would affect paras like Brittany Gould, who works at the Cooperative Middle School. “Many of us make less than $20,000 a year,” she said. “It’s such a small amount already. We’re really counting on these pensions.”

So once again the government is try to balance their budgets on the backs of the workers who make the least.  Stealing their pensions and the money they have invested.  This type of corporate thievery should not be outlawed.

NH Senate Republicans Vote Against State Minimum Wage & Senator Jeb Bradley’s Refusal to Answer Whether He Supports a Minimum Wage

NH Senate Republicans Vote Against State Minimum Wage & Senator Jeb Bradley’s Refusal to Answer Whether He Supports a Minimum Wage

Former Congressman and current State Senator Jeb Bradley refuses to answer question posed on floor of Senate

CONCORD, NH – Granite State Progress releases the following statement regarding New Hampshire Senate Republicans’ uniform vote against a state minimum wage law today, and lead opponent former Congressman and current State Senator Jeb Bradley’s refusal to answer whether he supports a minimum wage at all. Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Our organization believes that working people should be able to pay their bills and we support a minimum wage that reflects the real needs and economic climate in our state. HB 501 would have restored local control in New Hampshire. Several of those who spoke in opposition to this bill in committee don’t believe in a minimum wage, period. Senator Jeb Bradley was the lead opponent to New Hampshire having its own minimum wage, and he twice refused to answer whether he supports a minimum wage at all.

“The working families and small businesses of New Hampshire deserve leaders who understand the importance of a strong middle class. The Senate Republicans have signaled, once again, that they are out of touch with Granite State values.”

GSP Video: NH Sen. Jeb Bradley Refuses to Answer Whether He Supports a Minimum Wage


 

The NH Senate voted 13-11 along party lines to kill HB 501, which would have simply restored New Hampshire’s ability to set its own minimum wage. According to media reports, New Hampshire had its own minimum wage law from 1949 until 2011, when the Republican-led House and Senate repealed it.

HYATT Board Member Penny Pritzker Is Absolutely Wrong For Sec of Commerce

Vote Hyatt worst 1For well over a year workers at Hyatt have been opposing the treatment they have been receiving from their employer.  Hyatt has been taking good workers with modest wages and replacing them with minimum wage temporary employees.  In some cases making the outgoing employee train their own replacement.

These struggles are not limited to the workers at Hyatt. It is the trend of corporate America.  Reducing labor costs to increase profits on wall street.  They do not care about the workers or working conditions, they only care about profits.  This trend is now bubbling up from overseas as well.  In Bangladesh workers are are being treated like slaves, in death trap factories.

Americans have seen this before. Durning the industrial revolution workers were locked into factories for 14 hours a day.  This lead to one of the most horrific moments in labor history, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.  Workers, mostly teenage girls, literally jumped to their death from the top floor of the building because they had no other way out.  The Triangle Shirtwaist fire infuriated other textile workers and labor activists.  Together they fought for better working conditions.  They formed unions and through collective bargaining increased the safety in their workplaces.

This connection to the conditions in Bangladesh is eerie to say the least.  Workers around the world need to be treated with respect.  Workers should not be forced to work in sweatshops for corporations like Wal-Mart, who make millions in profits at the workers expense.   This brings me back to Hyatt and the problems that Hyatt workers endure every day while the corporation reaps all the benefits.

Cathy Youngblood, Hyatt Housekeeper for nearly 40 years in West Hollywood. Image via Hyatt Hurts Facebook http://on.fb.me/SPqhwU

Cathy Youngblood, Hyatt Housekeeper for nearly 40 years in West Hollywood.
Image via Hyatt Hurts Facebook http://on.fb.me/SPqhwU

Not to long ago a housekeeper, Cathy Youngblood, made a valiant effort to be placed on the board of directors at Hyatt.  Her goal was to change they way the board of directors thought about workers and the people who actually make Hyatt the company that it is.  Penny Pritzker is one of those board members. In fact the Pritzker family owns and controls Hyatt.  Do you think she listened to what Cathy Youngblood had to say? Do you think that Penny adopted those principles laid out by Cathy Youngblood?  All you have to do is look at the site Hyatt Hurts to see the answer is no.

Penny Pritzker is now up for a new job.  A Secretary job in fact.  No this is not undercover boss, Penny is being nominated for Secretary of Commerce.  The Department of Commerce describes their role on their website:

“The U.S. Department of Commerce promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation’s workers. The department touches the daily lives of the American people in many ways, with a wide range of responsibilities in the areas of trade, economic development, technology, entrepreneurship and business development, environmental stewardship, and statistical research and analysis.

To drive U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace, the Commerce Department works to strengthen the international economic position of the United States and facilitates global trade by opening up new markets for U.S. goods and services.”

Penny Pritzker

Penny Pritzker Image via SubstanceNews http://bit.ly/186uN3T

That is right, Penny Pritzker board member of Hyatt, would be in charge of improving  standards of living for all working Americans.  That is a scary thought.  Would she promote higher wages for workers? Would she promote better working conditions?  History tells us no.  The business model that Hyatt has been using, is not right for America.  Americans need family-supporting, lifelong careers, not minimum wage temp jobs.

Join me and contacting your Senator and urging them to oppose Penny Pritzker as Sec. of Commerce.  We need to end the corporate stranglehold on working Americans.

For more information on who Penny Pritzker operates, read about how she attack the pensions of public workers in Illinois.

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