Category Archives: Labor
Who is Grover Norquist? He is a GOP hack conservative anti-union lobbyist and President of the tax lobbying group, Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist, along with Bill Kristol, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Clint Bolick and David McIntosh is one of the so-called “Gang of Five” identified in Nina Easton‘s 2000 book by that name, which gives a history of leaders of the modern conservative movement.
They are all anti-union at their core of mud.
Every dollar that is spent [by labor unions] on disclosure and reporting is a dollar that can’t be spent on other labor union activities.
Well, at least Grover was honest about his motivation for strangling labor unions, and a new in depth report from the Center For American Progress, shows that’s not the case with most of the partisan Republican hacks who have been directed by their corporate masters to drown unions in paperwork.
The CAP report details what all union officials already know. Over the past five or six years, the Bush Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards has systematically and dramatically increased the financial reporting burden faced by labor unions. Now, no real unionist is opposed to transparency and sensible reporting – but the reporting requirements imposed by the Bush administration have little to do with transparency, and everything to do with forcing unions to waste time and money jumping through hoops.
Here are some passages from the report:
Lax regulatory enforcement, however, has not been a government-wide policy. In at least one instance, rigorous and in fact pernicious regulatory enforcement was the course chosen by the Bush administration. That instance involved the regulatory authorities of the U.S. Department of Labor under the Landrum Griffin Act aimed at improving the governance of the nation’s organized labor organizations.
Rather than relax these regulatory responsibilities, the Bush administration shoveled significantly more federal tax dollars into the department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards so that key political operatives in OLMS could expand and exercise regulatory authority to:
-Impose costly and confusing new reporting requirements
-Attempt to increase the number of criminal prosecutions
-Disclose the results to the public in seriously misleading ways
-Mis-characterize the published data through a variety of false analyses
The underlying purpose, of course, is to undermine the reputation of the labor union movement through a classic political misinformation campaign-all under the supervision of a lifelong partisan political operative whose career has been dedicated to the destruction of his political opponents.
Make no mistake. Any conservative who says they are pro-union is lying to your face. I haven’t met a genuine conservative labor supporter yet. Unions and union bebefits eat at the almighty profit margin, and we all know Bush won’t have any of that. This report frames the perpetual greed and complete lack of respect that conservatives have for the American worker. They outsource our jobs, force wages downward, and bust unions all in the name of profit.
Just ask anyone who works at Wal-Mart.
The ideology and actions of the so-called “Gang of Five” is pathetic, short-sighted and patently anti-American. Little do they realize that the artificial pressure they endorse that is strangling unions will ultimately backfire as more and more American workers are realizing that they’re employers are not working in their best interest, only their own.
The cycle will come full circle…it is already beginning.
Family members were left stunned in Hong Kong on Thursday (November 22) after a Chinese decision denying the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier entry into Hong Kong.
The decision was later reversed by Beijing.
Hundreds of families poured into Hong Kong to greet servicemen from the aircraft carrier and fleet, which holds 8,000 of United States’ servicemen, airman and sailors, only to find out Thursday morning that the carrier would not come port-side.
The Kitty Hawk is not expected to make it back to Hong Kong by the end of the Thanksgiving day in Asia, according to the
U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is home to thousands of U.S. expatriates, with many gathering at midday for special Thanksgiving day service at the city’s oldest church, St. John’s Cathedral. Hong Kong is also a favoured stopping point for U.S. warships in the Pacific region.
There are several issues which may have prompted Beijing’s action, including U.S. plans to sell Taiwan a $490 million U.S. dollar upgrade to its missile system and last month’s meeting between George Bush and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader whom Beijing considers a traitor.
The State Department and Defense Department said it remained unclear why the aircraft carrier strike group had been denied access at the last moment just as the crew of some 8,000 sailors and airmen were to celebrate the annual US holiday on Thursday.
“At present, it appears the USS Kitty Hawk strike group will not be making a port call in Hong Kong as previously planned as a result of a last minute denial by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson.
“The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not give an explanation for its denial. The United States is pressing the Chinese Foreign Ministry for an explanation and for a reconsideration,” she stated.
A spokesman for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Commander John Daniels, said, “We don’t know the reason the Chinese have done this.”
It is no secret that China has an array of industrial spies roaming the planet. It freely pirates US technology with no regard for intellectual rights, and has used that technology to cyber attack countries like Germany, blast a satellite out of orbit and demonstrate that it can cripple US defenses if need be.
It was only a few years ago that China could barely make a stable rocket launch. Now the Chinese turned that program around with purchased and stolen American technology.
So why did China bar the Kitty Hawk?
They barred it because they are an aspiring global super power, and they want everyone to know that they could – a demonstration of diplomatic bullying.
China is a quasi capitalist/communist super state that is rapidly expanding with a carefully controlled, state run ideology. The curious thing is, unlike the old Soviet Union, it is working. They believe in what they are doing, because their approach is producing tremendous wealth which conveniently for the Chinese, is driving the world’s fastest growing economy at the expense of U.S. workers. There is no period in history where so much wealth and economic power has been created in such a short period of time. In turn, from that wealth and industrial power, the Chinese are building military might. They are rapidly militarizing, and in a few short years, will be able to control events in Asia, without any interference from the U.S.
Taiwan will become whatever China wants it to be, the U.S. economy will continue to suffer, and the United States will simply have to accept that, because we continue to cow-tow to a country that is run by Communist thugs and continues to ignore international law.
To neutralize, or at the very least, attempt to check this coming military might that China will undoubtedly exploit to its full advantage, the U.S. must begin to respond in kind to such diplomatic slaps in the face. Our current policy of bending but not breaking, in the name of an apparantly failed mutually beneficial economic relationship with the Chinese, must be halted immediately. That is to say, scrap globalism…it isn’t working as intended.
We must begin to rebuild from within, and that includes rigorous education reforms that focus on science and technology including medicine, a wholesale change in our international economic policy with regards to China, and a renewed push in the area of space exploration, as well as advanced defense technologies.
Shoring up what little manufacturing we have left here might not be a bad idea either.
Anything short of this is suicide, and it can be done in as little as twenty years.
More to come on this.
Recently, home child care providers in New York City held an election with the goal of organizing and joining the United Federation of Teachers. The votes of the union election have been counted, and the results are in.
Yes to joining the UFT :8,382 votes
No to joining the UFT :96 votesThe effort took two years of organizing and a month-long get out the vote campaign, but the end result was worth it and serves as an event for organized labor in general. With this vote, the UFT gains 28,000 new members – making this organizing drive the largest labor organizing drive in New York City since 45,000 teachers joined the UFT in 1960.
The 28,000 home child care providers that chose to join a union, care for over 100,000 kids and they serve as the first educators for these kids, helping them with their reading and fine motor skills, as well as speech and homework. What did American business owners think this effort was worth? Their average salary is $19,000 a year with no pension, health insurance or paid sick days – making home child care providers in New York City among the lowest-paid workers in the region. That is why home child care providers voted overwhelmingly to join the UFT.
Provider Luz Alvarez tells her story:
Thank Heaven we finally have a union. I’ve been a provider for eight years and in that time I’ve had one vacation, which was to attend my daughter’s wedding. The union can help us go in and negotiate a salary and other benefits so we can take a vacation once a year or take a sick day without losing pay.
Americans better realize that unionizing is the only hope workers in this country have when it comes to leveraging their position against large corporations that only concern themselves with the bottom line and the whims of stockholders, and smaller greedy companies that clearly do not value what their employees do.
Workers must begin to utilize their collective strength to regain the respect they deserve or they will continue to be trampled by downward wage pressure and a global movement to replace higher paid American workers with lower paid and exploited foreign workers both domestically and abroad. Too often workers fell isolated and helpless in the face of management pressure that often results in intimidation, or job loss. As a nation of workers, we must reverse this trend.
Key roles in the New York City organizing drive were played by ACORN and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. It is in this way, that is, building relationships with Democratic politicians and other labor organizations, that American labor can return to a level of respect and job security that they deserve. The predatory redistribution of wealth from greedy owners to needy workers is the first step in restoring a system that saw both workers and companies prosper during the post World War II era.
Anyone who says labor unions hurt business, only needs to look at the numbers.
From 1945 to the 1960s, union density in this country and corporate profitability increased steadily as unions and management worked together to build an environment of cooperation that resulted in a winning situation across the board.
Then came Reagan.
With the birth of the Neo-Con era, we saw open hostility toward unions, egged on by uninformed media pundits who simply want to protect the rich and exploit American workers.
Enough is enough. The conservative experiment is not working, in fact, it is slowly destroying the middle class as health-care costs sky-rocket, wages become depressed, job security drys up, and our education system falls to pieces.
Anyone who labels themselves as an ‘American’ must look out for labor. Only enemies of this nation and our way of life would look to destroy unions and the protections they offer the middle class. If this group includes conservatives, and I believe it does, then they are nothing more than treasonous leaches.
Support unions if you know which end is up…in the long run it is our only hope as middle class workers. 60% of your fellow workers want to…
In an official release, the Bush administration completely disregards labor law reform to strengthen unions embodied in the Employee Free Choice Act, holding firm to the status quo that is slowly destroying unions in the United States. The Republican position on unionized labor is disgraceful and fundamentally unamerican.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET WASHINGTON, D.C. 20503
February 28, 2007 (House Rules)
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 800 – Employee Free Choice Act of 2007
(Rep. Miller (D) CA and 233 co-sponsors)
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 800, the “Employee Free Choice Act.” H.R. 800 would strip workers of the fundamental democratic right to a supervised private ballot election, interfere with the ability of workers and employers to bargain freely and come to agreement over working terms and conditions, and impose penalties for unfair labor practices only on employers — and not on union organizers — who intimidate workers. If H.R. 800 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.
The Administration opposes any effort to circumvent supervised elections and private balloting. It is a fundamental tenet of democracy that individuals are able to vote their conscience, privately, free from the threat of reprisal. It was in part because of widespread intimidation of workers during organizing drives in the 1930s and 1940s that Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act in 1947 expressly to provide workers with the right to a private ballot. Substituting a “card check” mechanism for private ballots would turn back the clock 60 years and return us to a failed system.
Additionally, compulsory binding arbitration as required by this legislation would be an unprecedented government intrusion into the right to bargain freely over working terms and conditions, would take away the right of members of a newly recognized union to accept or reject a contract, and would overturn nearly 60 years of law and precedent on collective bargaining.
Under this bill, workers would lose substantial control over their employment situation: without a private ballot they lose control over whether they belong to a union in the first place, and with mandatory binding arbitration they lose control over the decision to accept a collective bargaining agreement.
Finally, the bill would provide excessively punitive penalties that apply only to employers, not to unions, that interfere illegally with organizing drives. The National Labor Relations Board can already order remedial damages if an employer is found to have committed such violations. The bill’s one-sided penalties are particularly troubling in conjunction with a mandatory card check process. The bill would effectively expose workers to coercion to join a union through card check, and then muzzle employers with new penalties, without any offsetting check on unions’ behavior in obtaining signed cards.
A sorrowful glow of somber concern envelops Crandall Canyon mine owner Bob Murray these days, marking a sharp detraction from his chest thumping just a few days ago.
As the situation at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah becomes more ominous, anti-union as well as anti-MSHA conservative owner Bob Murray, announced that the Utah based mine will never re-open. “It will not be reopened,” Murray said. “We are already discussing about how we might go about honoring the trapped miners and to make this site for perpetuity.”
No kidding it won’t re-open Bob. You’re going to be sued into oblivion and with any luck maybe hit by a train carrying coal, as those like me continue to hold out for poetic justice.
Spare me the manufactured -choked up drama act – on camera that seems to have miraculously overwhelmed you in the last three days or so.
Maybe your single-handed effort at referring to the MSHA as “union lackeys” (whatever that is supposed to mean), knowingly engaging in the most dangerous and illegal mining practices in the industry, accusing the U.S. Geological survey of lying about the fact that an earthquake did not trigger the mine accident, and icing the cake by giving up on the rescue effort, seals the deal for me. You’re a scumbag who put his workers in harms way for profit, much the same way our president puts our troops in harms way for senseless ideology and profit.
What we have here ladies and gentlemen is another, in a long line of neo-modern industry owners and CEOs, who could care less about their workforce as long as the profit continues to roll in – nothing more. Besides being a heartless and greedy bastard, what infuriates me about Murray the most is his callous boldness like so many other conservatives, when it comes to the poor – that is, everyone making less than $200,000 per year. Among his first statements after the collapse…
“Without coal to manufacture our electricity, our products will not compete in the global marketplace against foreign countries…and people on fixed incomes will not be able to pay their electric bills… every one of these global warming bills that has been introduced in Congress to date eliminates the coal industry and will increase your electric rates four to five-fold.”
Spoken like a true conservative knucklehead. Tell me this Bob – what the hell does mine safety have to do with global warming? Only a nit-wit could make that connection – or a conservative maybe. Only in recent days has Murray’s bald forehead begun to really perspire as the death count now includes three rescue workers who might be alive if it weren’t for the trapped and presumed dead miners, who are only presumed dead because Murray willfully exposed them to a situation that could have easily been prevented with only a minute exercise in human conscious and concern for your fellow man. Leaving a few safety pillars was too much to ask I guess.
Bob Murray should receive the same cordial treatment, courtesy of the federal government, as Dennis Koslowski and so many other irresponsible corporate executives run amok have…the rest of his life in jail. He should be charged with three counts of second degree murder, convicted, and spend the rest of his days in jail – and as he draws his last ragged breath, may his conscious eat him alive as the death of these miners, rescuers, their widows, and fatherless children, haunt his heartless soul forever.
Check out our ‘Documents and Writings’ page at ShadowDemocracy.org to see a brief video on what Bob Murray thought was appropriate to say in the wake immediately following the Utah tragedy…
I’ll bet he never mined a shovel of coal in his life. Just another conservative hypocrite….
During and after last nights democratic forum in Chicago, organized labor hooted and hollered over the lip service they were getting from the democratic candidates for president. Personally, I’m embarassed by the lack of compassion that my party has shown labor over the past 40 years. Indeed, back to the time of John F. Kennedy and his handling of the railroad workers strike during his tenure in office, through Jimmy Carter – who managed to accomplish absolutely nothing of any substance for labor with a democratic majority in Congress, right to Bill Clinton who could only boast an ‘unpaid’ Family Medical Leave Act, democrats have hardly been the saving grace they all claim to be for big labor. This is also evidenced during the current administration. Congress has managed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in the House, but not in the Senate. The consistency is frustrating.
If you listened closely to the pundits and the candidates, only Dennis Kucinich appeared to be honest when dealing with labor related issues. For instance he was the only candidate who stated unequivically that he would withdraw from NAFTA during his first week in office. No other candidate dared make that claim. Instead they tried to tap dance around the issue claiming that the U.S. could work within the framework of NAFTA – unfortunately none said exactly how. Obama and others said we need to “take China to the mat…” on currency manipulation, but no plan was offered. Most of the candidates said China was a competitor rather than an adversary – stop the train. A quick definition of these two words for the benefit of the Webster impared Democrats. A competitor strives within the same marketplace toward certain economic goals, an adversary opposes or resists. Does currency manipulation, human rights violations, enviromental violations, ignoring international trade laws, and illegal import restrcitions against the U.S. sound like ‘competition’ or ‘opposition’ on the part of China?
The fact of the matter is, China is playing by their own rules and they are, as Joe Biden said so frankly last night, “holding the mortgage on our house.” A trade war at this point would be disasterous, however small steps toward reversing the current short-sighted and damaging trade policies that are currently in place – like protecting the auto manufacturing and the aerospace industry, coupled with paying down our debt, would leave us in a more advantageous international trade position. But, if labor is waiting for the democrats, they’ll be waiting until someone finds Jimmy Hoffa, because until greasy money is separated from politics, corporate fat cats will continue to sell us out in the name of short-term profit. Make no mistake, the Democrats are as corrupt and insulated from the plight of the middle class as the Republicans. If they win the presidency in 2008, I predict they will not pass any meaningful legislation to help labor. Labor should demanding to see something significant. If the Democrats really want to make a big splash in the labor pond, they should repeal the Taft-Hartely and Lundrum-Griffin Acts!
The Employee Free Choice Act was passed by the House in March and it would at long last amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to establish a new system enabling employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations in the establishment of a union more easily. Ronald Reagan just sat up in his grave I think – sorry Ronny. Anyways, certain provisions call for mandatory injunctions that would thwart unfair labor practices directed at employees, during organizing efforts, by employers. The bill would also establish harsher penalties for employers who violate employee rights when an employee attempts to form a union, and institutes new mediation and arbitration processes for first-contract disputes in dog’s years. Of course all that is very nice, but the card check provision is all that really matters in the new legislation. The law would essentially allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation as opposed to the current law that calls for a secret ballot election. Under current law, if employees present an employer with union authorization cards signed by a majority, the employer can demand a secret ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). However, the (NLRB) election process, unknown to most outside of labor circles, provides a distinct advantage to the employer due to its tedious and time-consuming nature. Predictably, it gives employers time to intimidate, coerce and harass workers; dragging out the review process indefinitely while workplace anti-union activities run amok. Even more predictably, when workers try to form a union after a card check, employers routinely respond with intimidation, harassment and retaliation. Polls suggest that 65 percent of the public approves of unions, but those same polls also show that nearly one-third of the public does not realize how hard management fights workers who seek to form unions. Personally, I believe it is high time that organized labor gets to hang one in the win column. For twenty-five years, courtesy of Ronald Reagan’s PATCO precedent, organized labor has been getting bludgeoned to death with the (NLRB) stick by employers who exercise an unrestricted reign of terror on anyone who even thinks of unionizing a workplace. Sadly, these practices are often upheld by politically motivated (NLRB) case decisions, a pathetic lack of labor reform policy by labors so-called party in Washington, namely the Democrats, and a general cultural brainwashing that is fueled by right wing talk radio blow-holes. Here are some hard stats. Currently, 15.4 million or 12 percent of the American work force belongs to unions, down 325,00 workers from last year. Another 60 million workers, when polled, stated that they would support a union in their workplace. Also, 67 percent of all workers say that they disapprove of employer anti-union activities when a union is proposed and another 77 percent say that they strongly support laws that help form new unions. With these statistics serving as a backdrop, the contrast of employer’s reactions is startling. Statistics show that when employers are faced with the establishment of a union, they universally engage in a variety of anti-union activities. For instance, 25 percent of all employers fire at least one employee during union organizing activity. 75 percent of all employers who face union organizing activity hire outside union-busting consultants to disrupt the union organization drive. 78 percent of all employers force their employees and immediate supervisors to attend at least one anti-union information session, while 92 percent force employees to attend anti-union closed door meetings. And the most ridiculous and underhanded tactic of all deals with illegal workers that were consciously hired by an employer. When those workers start talking union, 52 percent of employers threaten to call immigration and report the employee’s illegal citizenship status. Given all this, it is about time the tables begin to turn. What is the worst that can happen – higher union wages that pay a real working wage and robust union mandated health and retirement benefits force some manufacturing companies out of business or to relocate to China? What do we have to lose?
Posted by Matthew Podoba 3/30/07
Farm workers who pick tomatoes for the fast food industry are among this country’s most exploited workers: sub poverty wages, no rights to overtime pay, no benefits of any kind.
Two years ago, Taco Bell did something about it — agreeing to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes to double the workers’ earnings, and establishing a real code of conduct to ensure safe working conditions. But the fast food giant McDonald’s has refused to follow Taco Bell’s lead. Consumers have joined together with religious, human rights, student, and workers’ rights groups across the country to protest McDonald’s behavior to advance real rights for these workers. I just signed a petition to McDonald’s to urge them to do
better. Will you join me?Just go to:
and tell McDonalds these workers deserve real rights and fair wages.
http://action.americanrightsatwork.org/campaign/araw_mcdonalds?=adAVzA715zG8WPosted by O.K. 03/19/07
Recently, Wal-Mart has introduced a series of public image polishing commercials that boast their “less than a dollar a day” health care plan available to all Wal-Mart associates. Wal-Mart claims in their commercials and at their public relations website www.walmartfacts.com, that the company insures 80% of their associates or roughly 1 million employees and that the coverage provided only costs the average associate about $23.00 per month or sometimes less depending on their geographic area, while families can be covered for only $15.00 more per month. The PR document posted on the website goes on to highlight $3.00 co-pays for prescriptions, the doubling of matching funds for health care savings accounts by the company and a new initiative to make health insurance available to part-time employees as well (1). On the surface, all of this sounds very compassionate and progressive however, one thing is conspicuously missing from the document – what kind of care does your $23.00 get you? Although Wal-Mart does mention in this document that a $1000 health care deductible does exist for individuals, it fails to mention that a $3000 deductible exists for families and that those waiting for enrollment wait twice as long as associates at other retailers. The plans offered are also filled with hidden fees and charges (2). Examples include a $300.00 “Pharmacy” deductible and a $500.00 “Out-Patient Service” deductible. The set-up of the new health savings account is complicated and confusing as well, getting off to a disappointing start (3). Wal-Mart is also at or near the top of a list of companies who employee the most people who depend on state funded health care programs (4). That statistic has barely changed with this new initiative. To be frank, my cats “Pet-Med” policy is more comprehensive. In all fairness, Wal-Mart is not remotely alone in masquerading their low-cost, limited-benefit health plan as sound health coverage for those in their employ. Many large companies including McDonald’s, Lowe’s and others that cannot or will not pay for skyrocketing health costs have chosen to offer watered down coverage for a low weekly out-of-pocket expense in the spirit of not being seen as the bad guys. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting insurance-desperate service worker, these coverages do little or nothing to offset costs for the seriously ill. In the end, if this is the only option available, the American retail sector worker must often choose – take the watered down coverage that will only help with sprained ankles and sore throats, or nothing at all. I suppose “Check-Up-Time Elmo” might be a third option. The reality is that none of these limited benefit plans will help these workers through a major ordeal like a serious car accident, back surgery, or cancer, without leaving tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid costs at the feet of the insured. Maybe some of those pseudo-insured Wal-Mart associates should ask themselves before this latest feel good PR campaign gets real traction…what did that $23.00 buy me again?Posted by Matthew J. Podoba 03/11/07 Sources… (1) http://www.walmartfacts.com/FactSheets/832006_Health_Care.pdf(2) Wal-Mart Associates Benefits Book PP 32 and 38.(3) NY Times 02/27/06(4) Associated Press 03/03/05