Labor Issues

Edwards Blasts Bush Overtime Scheme as Throwback to Hoover Anti-Labor Era
Labor Issues

AP: "John Edwards chose the almost evenly divided state of Wisconsin to tout the Democratic presidential ticket's economic plans and criticize the Bush administration's new rules for overtime pay. 'Today, millions of workers will find out that instead of getting time-and-a-half, they're going to get a hard time from their government,' the vice presidential nominee said in prepared remarks as the rules took effect Monday. 'More than 60 years of protecting overtime work have been wiped out with the stroke of this president's pen.' The overhaul rewrites rules for awarding overtime pay for the first time in more than half a century. Employers sought the changes for decades, complaining that the regulations were too confusing and out of date. The changes effect mostly white-collar workers" - the same group that includes hundreds of thousands of tech workers currently pulling 50-60 hour weeks routinely.

Bush's 'Flextime/Comptime' Schemes Just Another Way to Cheat Workers
Labor Issues

AFL-CIO Pres. Jim Sweeney: "George W. Bush's call for 'flextime' and 'comptime' is really about giving America's corporations the flexibility to cheat their workers out of overtime pay after forty hours a week. Bush has already presided over the biggest rewrite of overtime rules in the history of the Fair Labor Standards Act, stripping overtime protections from up to six million workers. Now he wants to weaken the rights of the remaining workers who will still be eligible for overtime by allowing the substitution of comp time for time-and-a-half overtime pay. In addition, Bush has said he wants to implement 'flextime' which literally does away with the 40-hour workweek. Under 'flextime' workers would no longer get paid overtime if they worked 50 hours in one week and 30 the next, for example. President Bush's proposal serves corporation's needs - not those of working families."

Bush Once again Flips Steelworkers the Finger
Labor Issues

While Bush has showered every form of corporate welfare under the sun on his buddies in the oil, pharmaceutical, banking, and insurance industries, he has tried continually to end all subsidies to America's steel industry. Why? Because in perhaps no other industry are unions prouder and stronger than are the Steelworkers. Although Bush imposed tariffs on foreign steel in 2002 to appease the steel industry and (more to the point) help his Congressional pals' election bids, in 2003 he removed the tariffs to pander to possible allies in his illegal war on Iraq. Now after making a phony show of conducting "global steel talks," Bush has allowed the talks to be suspended, threatening thousands of US steel jobs. Scroll down past the AP Bushit in the first few paragraphs to find the real story.

SEIU Convention Calls for End to U.S. Occupation of Iraq and Return of U.S. Troops
Labor Issues

Nearly 4000 delegates of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation's largest with 1.6 million members, voted unanimously at the union's national convention in San Francisco today to end U.S. occupation of Iraq and to bring U.S. troops stationed there home. The full statement can be read at:

Wal-Mart Pay Tweak Called 'Shark Repellent against Unions'
Labor Issues

"Corporate execs at Wal-Mart's annual meeting 'pledged to work harder to promote women to management and announced a new pay system that would be more fair for hourly workers.' The likely motivations for the changes were 'bad publicity over Wal-Mart's pay and negative comments from politicians,' BusinessWeek reports, and the audience of Wal-Mart employees to 'tell our story like we never have before.' The Financial Times reports that 'many other large US companies already link bonuses to diversity, often with more aggressive targets,' and another analyst said that 'Wal-Mart may be hoping to use [the changes] as 'shark repellent against the unions.'' Still, 'criticism of the retailer seemed a million miles away' as 'Chief Financial Officer Tom Schoewe danced in the aisle, and former CEO David Glass -- flanked by [actress Halle] Berry and actress Susan Lucci -- did the twist'. Gag me with a spoon."

Zinn, Jesse Jackson Jr., Hightower Part of New National Workers' Rights Board
Labor Issues

"On June 2, Jobs With Justice will launch a National Workers' Rights Board with 50-75 members 'who will intervene with employers and the public to help resolve situations that threaten workers' rights.' Members of the board include actor/activist Ed Asner, author Barbara Ehrenreich, TransAfrica Forum president Bill Fletcher Jr., radio host Jim Hightower, Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., 50 Years is Enough director Njoki Njehu, and Howard Zinn." Sounds like a group to watch.

Tell Bush to Stop the Attack on Workplace Safety
Labor Issues

From Working Families: "Decades of struggles by workers and their unions have made workplaces safer. But the fight to protect workers is getting more difficult. The Bush administration has joined with business groups to roll back and block key worker protections--taking America in the wrong direction. Please send President Bush a message about workplace safety. Let him know how you feel about his actions."

Bush to Take Away Overtime Pay from Millions
Labor Issues

From Working Families: "Today is a tragic day, although you wouldn't know it from reading your newspaper. Last night after most offices in Washington closed, the Bush administration announced it would finalize and issue the regulations to take away overtime pay from millions of America's workers. Now, the White House spin machine is working overtime to make this paycheck attack sound like a good thing for workers. Don't be fooled! George W. Bush is now the first president in U.S. history to rewrite the overtime eligibility rules to take away workers' overtime pay. He needs to feel the heat! Please act today: Send a letter to President Bush now by clicking on the link below. We'll deliver your letter via fax with a copy to your U.S. senators. Tell Bush what you think."

UAW Furious at GOP for 'Playing Procedural Games' to Block Harkin Overtime Bill
Labor Issues

One thing that should be VERY clear to American workers by now: the GOP represents management and the Democrats represent workers. This divide was made abundantly clear recently when the GOP Congress blocked the Harkin bill protecting workers rights to overtime. "The Senate approved a Harkin amendment last year that would have stopped the Labor Department from proceeding with its overtime-takeaway regulations. But in response to intense pressure from the White House, GOP Congressional leaders dropped the Harkin amendment." The anti-worker regulations would "jeopardize the federal overtime rights of eight million workers, including many members of the UAW in skilled trades, engineering, nursing and other job categories."

Fastest Growing Job Market (the Service Sector) Has Highest Number of People Who Qualify as Poor
Labor Issues

While the best blue collar and white collar jobs are outsourced to India (manufacturing, high-tech, accounting, etc), the fastest growing US job market - the service sector - dooms workers to sub-living wages and benefits. Service sector jobs include retail clerks, burger flippers, grocery workers, etc. As proof, here's a story from Georgia: "A state survey found 10,261 of the 166,000 children covered by Georgia's PeachCare for Kids (a program for families who can't afford health insurance) in September 2002 had a parent working for Wal-Mart Stores. That's about 14 times the number for next highest employer: Publix, with 734. Labor unions and other critics have denounced the Arkansas-based retail giant for what they call low-wage, low-benefit jobs. And unions fear the influence Wal-Mart practices could have on employee benefits in all industries."

Grocery Worker Settlement Dooms Employees to Downward-Spiraling Wages and Benefits
Labor Issues

Here's a preview of what life under Bush for four more years will be like: the rich WILL get richer and the poor WILL get poorer and more numerous. Here's a symptom: a grocery worker strike in California has been settled by penalizing already hard-pressed workers. "The inclusion in the contract of a two-tier compensation scale, in which new hires top out at a lower level of wages and benefits than current employees in the same jobs, hurts the United Food and Commercial Workers union. 'Over time, more of the work force will be shifted from the higher-wage, higher-benefit jobs to lower-wage, lower-benefit jobs,' said Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education." What Bush and pals wants is an America bulging with near-slave labor workers, waiting on the 1% minority who now hold 95% of the nation's wealth. Corporate Feudalism, anyone? Serfs Up!!!

Save Overtime Pay! Sign the Petition!
Labor Issues

From the AFL-CIO's SaveOvertimePay.org: "Under a proposal by President Bush, more than 8 million workers might not be paid extra for the overtime hours they work. The Bush administration is pushing to finalize these changes before March 1 -- including a change that would take away overtime pay from veterans. Please show your support for overtime pay by signing this petition and spreading the word to your friends, family and co-workers" Sign it!

Tell Your Senators To Stop Bush's Attack on Overtime Pay
Labor Issues

From Working Families e-Activist: "As part of their overtime pay take-away, the Bush Labor Department is giving out tips to employers on how to make some workers ineligible for overtime pay. But your senators still can stop Bush's attack on workers' paychecks. Please take one minute right now to tell your U.S. senators to protect overtime pay, and send a copy to Bush. Adding your own words or story to the letter below will make it more personal."

Bush Labor Dept. Hands Corporations Millions to Close Out High Tech Workers
Labor Issues

A high percentage of the "longest-unemployed" US workers have advanced degrees in info technology (IT) and engineering. Some haven't worked in their field for 2 or 3 years. Why? Their jobs have been "outsourced" to India, etc. So what is Bush doing? Handing out millions to retrain less qualified workers to perform jobs that should go to bonafide techies. For example, the Labor's Employment and Training Administration has awarded $3 million to the California Manufacturers and Technology Assoc. to train 1,744 workers in IT and engineering to "upgrade" their skills. The only requirement is a bachelor's degree or 5 years "comparable" work experience. Thus corporations can replace, at taxpayer expense, 6 or more years of tech training with a "retraining course."

Act to Protect the Freedom to Choose a Union!
Labor Issues

From Working Families: "New bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3619 and S. 1925) introduced in Congress will help fix the broken process through which workers form unions. Please take a moment right now to send a fax to your senators and representative. Urge them to sign on as a sponsor of this important pro-worker legislation."

The Wal-Martization of America
Labor Issues

"Wal-Mart's prices are about 14 percent lower than other groceries' because the company is aggressive about squeezing costs, including labor costs. Its workers earn a third less than unionized grocery workers, and pay for much of their health insurance. Wal-Mart uses hardball tactics to ward off unions. Since 1995, the government has issued at least 60 complaints alleging illegal anti-union activities... This Wal-Martization of the work force...threatens to push many Americans into poverty. The first step in countering it is to enforce the law. The government must act more vigorously, and more quickly, when Wal-Mart uses illegal tactics to block union organizing. And Wal-Mart must be made to pay if it exploits undocumented workers. Unions understand that the quickest way to win this war is to organize Wal-Mart workers... Wal-Mart likes to wrap itself in American values. It should be reminded that one of those is paying workers enough to give their families a decent life."

Tell Congress: 'Don't Come Home Without Protecting Overtime Pay'
Labor Issues

From Working Families: "Bush's threat to veto legislation protecting overtime pay is blocking senators and representatives from safeguarding your paycheck. Back-room maneuvering by the Bush administration and House Republican leaders has made it very likely that overtime pay cuts could go into effect as soon as January. Please send a fax to your senators and representative telling them not to come home without protecting overtime pay."

Dictatorial Bush Pressuring Congress to NIX Overtime Protections that Passed in Both Houses
Labor Issues

Union Voice: "Even though both houses of Congress responded to your appeals by voting to block Bush's overtime pay cuts, the president is refusing to withdraw his pay cuts and says he will veto final legislation protecting overtime pay. Back-room maneuvering by the Bush administration and House Republican leaders has made it increasingly likely that the overtime pay protections we won will not make it out of Congress this year. Bush's Labor Department could put the overtime pay cuts into effect as soon as January. We still have a final chance to stop Bush from taking away overtime pay from some 8 million workers if we make our voices heard. As many people as possible need to contact their senators and U.S. representative and tell them not to come home for the holidays without acting to protect overtime pay. Click below to take action or keep reading for more information."

Support the Strikers at the University of Minnesota!
Labor Issues

"All across the country, education is under attack - budgets for schools are being cut as tax breaks are being given out to the rich and money pours into the military. But students and workers are standing together united, demanding better priorities for our country! 1,900 clerical workers at the University of Minnesota - 93% women, many with second or even third jobs just to make ends meet - are now on strike. University President Robert Bruininks' is trying to force some of the University's lowest paid workers to accept a wage freeze, a significant increase in health care costs, sick leave and overtime take-backs, the elimination of step increases, and no agreement on job security. [Meanwhile,] the University's latest capital campaign raises $1.66 billion and the number of University administrators making $100,000 a year or more has risen from 311 in 1994 to 1,075 in 2003!" Let President Bruininks know that you support the strikers!

26% of Adult Asthma Cases Due to Awful Air Conditions at Work
Labor Issues

"People who work in cleaning, farming, and transportation are particularly vulnerable to asthma, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Overall, the study found, 26 percent of all adult asthma cases in the U.S. are caused or exacerbated by the work environment; other risky fields include entertainment, protective services, mining, construction, mechanics, textiles, and fabrication. Adult asthma causes 100 million days of restricted activity, 500,000 hospitalizations, and over $14.5 billion in economic losses in the U.S. Workplace asthma is caused by exposure to solvents, pesticides, dust, oil mist, lubricants, and other chemical compounds. Study author George Delclos, a professor at the University of Texas at Houston, recommended identifying and replacing the culprits on a workplace-by-workplace basis to ease the nation's asthma problem."

Trade Unions Welcome Breakthrough on Workers' Rights at World Bank
Labor Issues

Int'l Federation of Trade Unions reports: "The international trade union movement today welcomed a new commitment by the World Bank's private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to include respect for fundamental labour rights as a condition of future IFC loan agreements. The IFC approved $5.4 billion in new projects for developing countries for 2003... It is understood that the IFC is aiming to adopt the new policy within the next four to six months when it puts in place a new safeguards policy. Currently the IFC requires that borrowers abide by two of the four 'core' International Labour Organisation standards, namely those concerning the prohibition of forced labour and of child labour. The new decision means that workers' rights to trade union organisation and collective bargaining will also become IFC lending conditions. The decision follows months of intense lobbying by the international trade union movement."

Yale Strike Exposes America's Ever Growing Economic Divide
Labor Issues

"On the first day for incoming students at Yale University, the first lesson for the Ivy League institution was labour relations. About 100 police officers in riot gear lined the streets as hundreds of Yale's clerical and technical workers [were] calling for improved pay and conditions. The dispute highlights America's ever growing economic divide, with one of the wealthiest academic institutions pitted against the residents of one of the US's poorest towns. 'It's supposed to be a place of learning', said Karl Mcellya, a university cook. 'But they're acting like they're a big corporation that doesn't care about its workers.' Yale is the largest employer in a predominantly black town, where more than 1/3 of families with children under five live in poverty. New Haven has a higher infant mortality rate than Costa Rica; With its $11bn tax exempt endowment, Yale could cover Costa Rica's public health budget until 2015 and still have change left over to build a couple more hospitals."

Ten Thousand Rally in Support of Yale Strike, 152 Arrested Including AFL-CIO Chief
Labor Issues

New Haven Register reports: "Ten thousand Yale strikers and labor supporters from across the Northeast shut down the center of the city Saturday, shouting, chanting, waving banners and blocking major intersections. The presidents of five powerful unions, along with more than a hundred rank-and-file members, were arrested at the close of the four-hour demonstration.... Hundreds of demonstrators converged at the intersection of York and Elm streets - in the heart of the Yale campus - locked arms and sat down on the pavement.... Laura Smith, president of Local 34, said Yale is just 'the first step' in a concerted fight by organized labor 'for a decent standard of living and a good future for ourselves and our families.'... Yale's Graduate Employees and Students Organizing has been trying to form a union at Yale for more than a decade. 'They thought they were taking on 4,000 workers. They have taken on the whole American labor movement,' Raynor said."

Here's a Tip, Waiters: Yes, We're in a Class War
Labor Issues

"It was Labor Day. I was thinking about the plight of people in New Mexico whose income depends on tips to augment a pathetic wage that is half of the federal minimum.... They're part of this horrible fact of American economic life: Some jobs pay astronomically more than others, and many jobs requiring backbreaking labor, not to mention sales skills, and pay relatively nothing, compared with the effort they require.... Before the Legislature passed a law this year that raised the minimum wage for wait staff to $2.575 an hour, the wage was $2.13 an hour. And some folks, even now, want to hide this new law, claiming it was a mistake, so they can rescind it next year.... To make $20,000 a year, working a 40-hour week, one would have to make close to $15,000 in tips. That's why most waiters work more than 40 hours week - much, much more, if they can. And that's one reason why struggling two-worker families can log 160 hours of work a week. So much for family values."

Harkin Wins on Overtime!
Labor Issues

"Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today praised the Senate passage of his proposal to block the Bush Administration from taking away overtime pay protections for 8 million American workers. The Harkin proposal, offered as an amendment to the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, passed with a bipartisan majority. Specifically, it would block the Administration from implementing any new rules or regulations that would exclude additional workers from overtime pay protections. 'This is a big win for the working men and women of America,' Harkin said. 'The Bush Administration's proposal is not only anti-worker and anti-family, it is bad economic policy. It will take money out of the pockets of hard working Americans and it will not create one new job. The Senate sent a strong message today that this assault on American workers will not be tolerated.'" Way to go Tom and all who voted for this amendment! A key battle won against Bush's drive for cheap-labor Corporate Feudalism.

Unions Assail WTO for Ignoring Worker Rights
Labor Issues

"With trade ministers from around the world gathering in Cancun this week for a key round of negotiations under the WTO, labor unions are complaining loudly that workers rights have been excluded from the agenda. A particularly serious omission, according to the Int'l Confederation of Free Trade Unions, will be discussion of the plight of some 43 million workers in export processing zones, areas established by governments to produce or finish goods that contribute directly to global commerce.... 'Globalization has the potential to bring prosperity to people across the world, but today's crude, free market globalization is pushing standards down and leading to massive exploitation,' said the ICFTU's Gen. Sec'y, Guy Ryder, who will be observing the Cancun meeting. 'The absence of effective multilateral trade rules to support the standards set by the ILO cannot be allowed to continue, yet governments are refusing to even allow the WTO and the ILO to work together on the problem.'"

Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?
Labor Issues

Cheryl Seal Reports: "Could it get any worse? Hell, yes! That is, if Bush's push to privatize hundreds of thousands of government jobs succeeds. Once privatized, these jobs will no longer be required to be filled by Americans. Already, some government services have been shipped overseas (or as the economists say, 'transferred offshore.'). One unemployed man I know in Baltimore was stunned when he called to ask about foodstamp benefits and had his call handled by someone in India! The poor guy had the double indignity of not only having to call to ask about foodstamps, but to have his benefits described to him by someone in Bombay or Calcutta who, thanks to G. W. Bush, is having no employment problems."

BushRove Guts Civil Services in the Name of 'National Security'
Labor Issues

Helen Thomas writes, "John Gage, President of the AFL-CIO's American Federation of Government Employees, sees a trend. He predicts 'a return to the spoils system for politically connected corporations and campaign contributors.' The administration's drive to cut down the size of the government and shift federal jobs and services to private contractors is a process known as 'outsourcing.' The White House Office of Management and Budget has given federal agencies until Oct. 31 to designate 15% of their jobs as 'not inherently governmental' and, therefore, available for competitive outside contracts. Beyond what looks like a bow to big business, Karl Rove tipped the administration's hand on why the administration thinks federal workers are suspect. In an interview in The New Yorker magazine on May 12, Rove said: 'Bigger government strengthens the Democratic Party. It generates federal employees who will mostly vote Democratic...conversely, smaller government helps the Republicans.'"

Block the Bush Overtime Pay Cuts
Labor Issues

"I urge you to support the Harkin amendment that would block Bush's changes in the overtime pay laws. Tens of millions of working families rely on overtime pay to make ends meet. And working people everywhere are concerned that if overtime pay protections are taken away, employers will demand longer and longer hours from us without fair compensation. I oppose changes in the overtime laws that will take away overtime pay for any person. The Bush administration's drive to take away overtime pay from millions of people is a bad policy. Please vote to block the Department of Labor from implementing these changes. This is one of the issues I will use to measure your commitment to working families." Sign the letter!

30 Million Americans Work Full-Time to Earn Poverty-Level Wages
Labor Issues

"'There are approximately 30 million people in the United States who are working full-time but earning poverty-level wages,' [according to Loyola University's distinguished law professor, William Quigley]. Now, add to that the 15 million or so who are either out of work or are working part-time but would love to be working full-time, and we've got one big, good-news story for the investors who, like a teenager reading Penthouse, get their jollies from reports of surplus labor. 'Historically, the first response to poverty has been to advise the poor to work. But if the poor are already working or cannot find a job, what's the next response? Usually, silence. And because of that silence, more and more people join the ranks of the poor,' Quigley writes.... [We] have a persistent belief that work is the way out of poverty and into affluence. 'While I applaud the sincerity of these beliefs,' Quigley observes, 'as a longtime student of poverty issues I know that they simply are not true.'"

Another Bush Administration First: 'I've Never Seen a Secretary So Anti-Labor'
Labor Issues

Molly Ivins writes, "In February, one of the most extraordinary sessions ever recorded between labor and a sitting labor secretary took place. Sec. Elaine Chao...met with the AFL-CIO's executive council. 'Participants said Chao shocked the group by opposing any increase in the minimum wage, showing no sympathy for retired steelworkers who lost pension benefits, and reciting a list of legal actions her department has taken against unions and their leaders,' reported The Washington Post.... 'She was angry at points, insulting at points. I said that in all my years in labor, I've never seen a secretary so anti-labor,' [said John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO]. 'There was a lot of shock and amazement in the room,' said Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers union. 'We were made to feel we were the enemy.' Fortunately, Chao's condescending, insulting and hostile performance quite united labor...against the Bush administration. Nothing like a little old-fashioned solidarity."

Strong Union Support 'is One of the Longest Running Trends Maintained by the Gallup Poll'
Labor Issues

"Only 14% of working Americans tell Gallup that they personally belong to a labor union, and just 18% of all Americans report living in a household where at least one person belongs to a union.... Yet despite labor's small membership base today, most Americans approve of labor unions and believe that unions are generally helpful to workers who are union members, helpful to companies where workers are organized, and helpful to the economy.... Public reaction to labor unions is one of the longest running trends maintained by The Gallup Poll. The question 'Do you approve or disapprove of labor unions?' was first asked in 1936.... That first poll found 72% of Americans approving of unions and only 20% disapproving.... Broad support has been maintained ever since, although to varying degrees. Today, perceptions of labor unions are about average compared to Gallup's historic trends, with 65% of Americans saying they approve and 29% saying they disapprove."

On Labor Day, It's Time to Restore Workers' Dreams
Labor Issues

"American workers labor in our fields, sit in the cockpits of airliners, sweep the floors of schools and work in offices. They are remembered today for their contributions to America and honored for their sacrifice and hard work in achieving a prosperous America rich in diversity. The American worker and American unions invented the middle class. Politicians, business leaders and the media eulogize the demise of unions. I am here to say that the death of unionism is greatly exaggerated. Every day the evidence is overwhelming, as white- and blue-collar jobs and our manufacturing base are sent overseas. Unions are here to stay! Historically, without unions the American worker received lower wages, fewer benefits and enjoyed a lower standard of living. The facts speak for themselves; women on average receive 31 percent more in wages with a union. Latinos are paid 53 percent more when they join a union and African Americans receive 29 percent more than their non-union counterparts."

AFL-CIO Eyes Nonunion Effort
Labor Issues

"AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has announced formation of a new organization 'Working America' to give nonunion workers a voice on policies such as a hotly debated change in overtime-pay rules. 'There are millions of working people who would like to be part of the AFL-CIO's efforts for social justice and who want a voice to speak out and work to change the direction of this country,' Sweeney said. 'Working America will give them that chance.' The AFL-CIO, facing declining membership in some of its affiliate unions and only modest success in organizing new workers, is looking for ways to expand its power beyond job-related representation. 'This is the first time that we've really reached out to the broad unorganized communities out there,' Sweeney said last week.... The federation will recruit members to help with letter-writing campaigns, phone banks and other activities to promote causes that it says are of broad concern to working Americans, unionized or not."

Tell Starbucks to Dump Their Dirty Laundry!
Labor Issues

"Cintas is being prosecuted by the National Labor Relations Board based on more than 30 charges filed by the union to which the workers are turning--UNITE. These charges spell out the company's tactics against workers' organizing efforts. They include firing workers to discourage union activity, spying on workers engaging in union activity and illegally threatening to close facilities and fire workers. Starbucks uses Cintas in its national chain of coffee shops for apron, mat and linen services. Starbucks professes a concern for workers, the community and the environment. But Starbucks still uses Cintas, despite reports exposing the company's anti-worker tactics. We can make a difference by speaking out. Send a message to Starbucks by clicking on the link below. Tell America's coffee shop giant to dump Cintas until the laundry company cleans up its act. A copy of your message will be sent to Cintas."

Bold New Labor Movement Approaching
Labor Issues

"The macho image of organized labor is being transformed from within, as unions adopt feminist strategies, link labor with community issues, and work to establish connections across national borders. In the doldrums and decline for years, organized labor may now be approaching a tipping point, when the convergence of social movements creates a sudden upsurge in support. Unions are changing and one scholar-activist sees reasons for optimism on Labor Day 2003. Dan Clawson, who teaches sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sees the potential for bold new developments in a period of struggle. He argues that unions often grow in bursts rather than slowly and incrementally. Unions now represent only 13.5 percent of the workforce, and less than 10 percent of the private sector workforce, but big changes may be coming. Labor membership more than quadrupled in the years from 1934 to 1945. The next upsurge of labor could come with comparable suddenness."

Union of Lost Souls: Leading Democrats Go AWOL on Overtime Vote
Labor Issues

"There are millions of men and women in America who not only work hard every day but also put in overtime. Sometimes the overtime helps to pay the bills. Sometimes it helps them stay a little ahead of the game or to save for things they otherwise couldn't afford, like a college education or a bigger house for a growing family. There was once a time in America when these men and women believed they could depend on Democrats in Washington to defend their interests and to battle to protect their rights. That time is apparently gone. On Thursday, the House of Representatives--with seven Democrats absent, including presidential candidate Richard Gephardt--voted 213 to 210 to approve new regulations that would cut off a universe of Americans--anywhere from 1 million to 8 million--from guaranteed overtime pay... the office of Representative Dennis Kucinich, a staunch labor supporter who voted against the measure, at least returned a call, as did former Vermont governor Howard Dean's office."

House Feudalists Vote to Gut Overtime for Millions
Labor Issues

"The House cleared the way today for the Bush administration to impose new rules on overtime pay, narrowly rejecting Democratic arguments that the plan will cost millions of workers the opportunity to earn extra money. While considering a $138 billion measure that pays for labor, health and education programs, the Republican-controlled House defeated a Democratic proposal to block proposed wage rules that have become the subject of a struggle between business and labor. The vote was 213 to 210... Democrats said the proposal would mean that as many as eight million workers like police officers and fire and hospital employees who count on overtime as an essential part of their income could be denied the money. 'Overtime is not a luxury, it is a necessity for many American families,' said Representative George Miller, Democrat of California...[the] plan would take 'hundreds of millions of dollars of hard-earned pay' out of families' pockets."

Democrats Protest Elimination of Overtime Pay for Millions of Workers
Labor Issues

"Forty-two Democratic senators and more than 100 Democratic House members urged the Bush administration yesterday to withdraw proposed regulations that they said would eliminate overtime pay for millions of workers... [The Bush Regime's proposal is] the first effort to update overtime regulations since 1975... 'Millions of workers who receive time and a half for their overtime work today will be required to work longer hours for less money under the proposal,' the House members wrote to Ms. Chao. 'Millions more who have long depended upon overtime work to help make ends meet will face effective pay cuts.' Richard Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s secretary-treasurer, who led a protest rally yesterday at the Labor Department, said: 'It's outrageous that their proposals would deny overtime pay to 8 million more workers. It's particularly outrageous for them to do this when they haven't even held a single public hearing.'"

Bush Declares Class Warfare on the Middle-Class: Plan WILL Cut Overtime for Millions
Labor Issues

AP reports: "More than 8 million professionals would lose their overtime pay under a Bush administration proposal to change the types of jobs that must receive more money for extra work, says a study by a union-supported think tank. The analysis being released Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute is among the first to assess how many workers might be affected by the Labor Department's revisions to the overtime rules, which were proposed in March. The Labor Department estimated that under its proposal, at least 644,000 well-paid, white-collar workers would lose overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week, while 1.3 million lower-wage workers now exempt from overtime would become eligible, or must receive a raise. Overall, nearly 22 million workers could be affected, though specific jobs and their status could not be determined, officials said. But the institute says the department 'woefully underestimates' the changes that would occur if the proposal is implemented."

Not Enough Votes, House GOP Pull Their Anti-Overtime Bill Off Schedule
Labor Issues

AP reports: "House Republican leaders yanked an overtime pay bill from Thursday's schedule after failing to find enough votes for passage, a rare win for labor unions in a Congress controlled by the GOP. Wednesday's move followed a massive lobbying effort by organized labor that targeted moderate House Republicans... Labor leaders say the current overtime law acts as a protection to the 40-hour work week because companies wanting more work from their employees now must provide premium pay -- and often think twice about it. They also argue that if the bill becomes law, employers will assign overtime only to workers who agree to choose comp time, even though the measure prohibits the practice."

GOP Out to Swipe Your OT
Labor Issues

Jesse Jackson writes: " First, [Bush] pushed through his tax cuts that gave over one-fourth of the benefits to millionaires even while schools are laying off teachers and shutting down after-school programs. Now he is after your paycheck and your weekend. In March, the Bush administration proposed administrative changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Bush's 'technical changes' will deprive millions of workers of overtime pay... The president [sic] also would make those earning more than $65,000 a year ineligible for overtime protections. Republicans always ask what do Democrats mean by 'the rich.' Well, now we know what Republicans mean--anyone earning over $65,000 is too 'rich' for overtime pay... And in the Senate bill, the 40-hour work week is eliminated for an 80-hour two-week work period. If you are required to work 50 hours one week and 30 the next, you don't get overtime pay--you're just working 80 hours over two weeks."

Job Discrimination: Another Civil Rights Front
Labor Issues

Bruce Ticker writes: "One of my pet personal issues is job discrimination. I have had plenty of experience with it and my attempts at resolution through the current system have usually enraged me. I have learned through personal experience and research that at best the system for fighting employment discrimination is limited, and at worst a chaotic mess. It has led me to wonder if the EEOC has gotten its mission confused: Instead of protecting our rights, it is doing its best to limit our rights... I am seeking changes to this system and am in the process of going through channels - writing members of Congress and officials at the EEOC, the federal agency established to investigate job discrimination. It beats going postal. Anyone concerned about the issue is welcome to join this modest effort. You can feel free to contact me and/or borrow the following suggestions if you write your members of Congress."

Supreme Court Sides with Congress over States on Family Leave
Labor Issues

Boston Globe reports: "A divided Supreme Court yesterday interrupted its string of rulings favoring states' rights and upheld the power of Congress to order states to give their employees family medical leave, a major victory for about 5 million people who work for state governments. The court also ruled, by the same 6-to-3 vote, that Congress had the authority to take away state immunity to employee lawsuits seeking damages to enforce the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. The rulings sent a signal to Congress that if it wants to compel states to obey federal laws, its greatest authority is when it is fashioning laws to protect individual rights under the Constitution... Dissenting were Rehnquist's usual companions in states' rights cases: Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas." If Bush gets to appoint justices to the Supreme Court, expect more like the last two!

'Sunday Morning' Family News Magazine Used to Trash American Labor History and Send Chilling Warning to Activist Workers
Labor Issues

Cheryl Seal Reports: "On 5/4's 'Sunday Morning,' Charles Osgood's piece on the Haymarket Massacre was aimed at trashing America's labor history and, worse, at intimidating workers - a group that has increasingly little use for the Bush corporazis. The long lingering shot aired by Osgood of the condemned workers with bags over their heads before being hung imposed a chilling warming. But it is only a more menacing version of warnings routinely received now by underpaid, under-benefited non-Union workers in the service sector: even think about joining a union and you are out the door and blackballed. The 'brave new world' envisioned by Bush is one where workers, stripped of rights and recourses, with most jobs shipped overseas, will be so grateful for any job, the bosses will be able to call all the shots again - just as they did back in 1886."

Republicans Take Aim at the 40-Hour Work Week
Labor Issues

Molly Ivins writes: "Consider the Family Time and Workplace Flexibility Act (Senate version) and the Family Time Flexibility Act (House version). The Bush administration is leading the charge with proposed new rules that will erode the 40-hour workweek and affect more than 80 million workers now protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act. To hear the Republicans tell it, you'd think these were family-friendly bills, something like Clinton's Family Leave Act, designed to help you balance the difficult combined demands of work and family. With such a smarm of butter over their visages do the Republicans go on about the joys of 'flexibility' and 'freedom of choice' that you would have to read the bills for maybe 30 seconds before figuring out they're about repealing the 40-hour workweek and ending overtime."

More Work, Less Pay -- Busheviks Call It Family Time Flexibility
Labor Issues

Steve Lopez writes for the LA Times: "George W. Bush and allies in Congress are waging 'a full-scale assault on the 40-hour work week and the workers of America.' I'll start with the Bush administration's proposed changes in workplace regulations. The good news is that Bush gives a break to low-wage earners. As it stands, you can make less than $20,000 a year in, say, a fast-food joint, and get cheated out of overtime pay because you're 'management.' Bush is proposing that anyone earning less than $22,100 a year be eligible for overtime. But nurses, engineers, pharmacists and many other white-collar professionals wouldn't make out as well. Bush wants to broaden the definition of management for middle-class workers, particularly those earning more than $65,000 a year, so more people can be forced to work overtime without pay. 'It's an absolute disaster for white-collar workers who deserve protection,' said Nick Clark of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union."

No Overtime and Ninety Hour Work Week
Labor Issues

Bush has great new plan for American workers: "For one thing, the Resident's new regulations allow corporations to eliminate 'time-and-a-half' overtime pay, as a practical matter. For another, the regulations encourage corporations to blend 'part-time' low-wage hourly staff with a 'full-time' low-salaried caste who, if paid above the $22,100 line, would have to work as many long hours over 40 per week as the company wants, for no extra pay."

Bush's Brave New Wage World
Labor Issues

"In the week after the second U.S. war began in Iraq, Bush unveiled his new corporate agenda for the American working class. Bush's proposal looks innocent. But its effect would profoundly alter the economic relationship of American employers and their workers. For one thing, the resident's regulations allow corporations to eliminate 'time-and-a-half' overtime pay, as a practical matter. For another, the regulations encourage corporations to blend 'part-time' low-wage hourly staff with a 'full-time' low-salaried caste who, if paid above the $22,100 line, would have to work as many long hours over 40 per week as the company wants, for no extra pay."

GOP Senator Says Police and Firefighters should work Overtime without Pay
Labor Issues

MurdochPost reports, "Powerful Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) suggested yesterday that New York's cops and firefighters should work overtime without pay as a wartime sacrifice. 'I really feel strongly that we ought to find some way to convince the people that there ought to be some volunteerism at home. Those people overseas in the desert - they're not getting paid overtime ... I don't know why the people working for the cities and counties ought to be paid overtime when they're responding to matters of national security,' he said. 'Sixty of the 343 firefighters who died on 9/11 were off duty, volunteering to put their lives on the line. We've already done our share,' said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy." That's a whole lot more than you can say for the Busheviks...

Class Warfare, Bush-Style
Labor Issues

Robert Borosage writes, "While the nation's attention is riveted by the inexorable march to war against Iraq, the Bush administration has quietly opened a new front in the relentless, largely covert war it has been waging here at home against U.S. workers and their labor unions. In December the Labor Department issued new union reporting regulations, which would require itemization of every expense greater than $2,000 spent on organizing and strike services, lobbying or political activities. This is an administrative nightmare that would cost unions many millions. The administration indicated that it would ask the Republican Congress to pass civil penalties for unions that don't meet reporting deadlines. Bush's budget cut money for enforcing workplace health and safety laws, and for investigating corporate violations of minimum wage, Family and Medical Leave mandates, and child-labor laws. But Bush dramatically increased the budget for auditing and investigating labor unions."

When the Bombs Start Dropping, Will British Labor Be Walking?
Labor Issues

Speaking at a Stop the War coalition meeting, the leaders of five of Britain's biggest unions warned the prime minister that the day the bombing begins could see mass walkouts in workplaces across the country. The anti-war movement was compared by the RMT's Bob Crow to the Romanian revolution - which ended with the execution of dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu. Mr Blair was not listening to the public, the leftwing transport union leader said. "Look at what happened in Eastern Europe when people didn't listen," Mr Crow added. Question For Jimmy Hoffa and John Sweeney - Are You Paying Attention?

Bush's Revisions to Labor Laws May Stop Overtime Pay for Many
Labor Issues

The AP reports: "Heeding the complaints of employer groups, the Bush administration is revamping decades-old labor regulations in an overhaul that could force many Americans to work longer hours without overtime pay. The administration argues that the pillars of American labor law, which established the 40-hour work week, a minimum wage and overtime pay, are antiquated. But labor unions fear changes would severely restrict who is legally required to be paid for overtime work... It is just one of several changes the administration is pursuing to workplace regulations and programs, including the Family Medical Leave Act, job training programs and unemployment insurance... Bush is proposing to cut about $144 million in employment and training programs in his 2004 budget being released Monday. Most grants programs would be cut, and that money consolidated into two programs - for youth and adults."

Tell Pizza Hut to Hold the Pictsweet Mushrooms
Labor Issues

Here's a ready-to-send letter to Pizza Hut, provided by the AFL-CIO. "As I get ready to purchase pizza for the Super Bowl, I appeal to Pizza Hut to stand with other socially responsible businesses by keeping Pictsweet mushrooms off your pizza. Many of the mushrooms used by Pizza Hut are supplied by Pictsweet Mushroom Farms--where workers toil in dark and dangerous work areas. I will boycott Pictsweet-brand mushrooms and encourage my family and friends to do the same until there is a fair contract for Pictsweet workers in Ventura, Calif. Help Pictsweet workers in Ventura, Calif., negotiate the United Farm Workers contract they have sought for 15 years. Pictsweet has rejected the most basic contract protections won by unionized workers at other mushroom companies in California and Florida. Pictsweet workers deserve wage increases, better health benefits and decent working conditions. Do the right thing--don't use Pictsweet mushrooms." Click here to send the letter.

Wal-Mart: Corporate Criminal
Labor Issues

Last week a jury confirmed what labor activists have argued for years- Wal-Mart is a corporate criminal making it's profits by illegally breaking wage and labor laws: "In the lawsuit, 400 current and former employees from 18 stores in Oregon accused the company of violating federal and state wage laws by systematically pressuring them to work unpaid overtime." And this case is just one example, as Wal-Mart has been quietly settling other lawsuits by employees across the country. Globally, Wal-Mart's drive for low wages extends to contracting with sweatshops in developing nations that systematically violate human rights and workers rights.

Thanks to Ebeneezer Bush and Simon LeGOP, Unemployment Will Run Out for 833,000 Americans Three Days after Christmas
Labor Issues

"More than 300,000 workers newly unemployed in November will spend the holidays knowing that they won't have access to federal jobless benefits," reports the National Employment Law Project. "They join the millions of unemployed workers slighted last month by the House and the Bush administration when they failed to renew the extension of federal unemployment insurance benefits. The program will expire three days after Christmas, immediately stripping benefits from more than 833,000 workers with thousands to follow." Merry Christmas from the "compassionate conservatives."

Lincoln Chafee Cares About Workers - Will He Care Enough to Switch in Time to Block Scalia's Renewed Nomination?
Labor Issues

Back in September, before rightwingers seized control of the Senate, Sen. Lincoln Chafee heroically stepped out of the GOP ranks to side with Democrats on behalf of the tens of thousands of workers Bush wanted to fire in the name of "Homeland Security." Today, if Chafee remains in the ranks of the GOP instead of taking a stand and becoming an Independent, he will be condoning what is clearly shaping up to be one of the worst assaults on the American worker since the dark days of the 1930s before worker protections existed. If Chafee's concern is real, then now is the time to act - before the abysmally anti-worker Eugene Scalia can claim his Bush appointment as the Labor Department's top enforcer.

Memo to Olympia Snowe: Do You Want Maine to Again Have one of America's Worst Worker Safety Records?
Labor Issues

In 1992, Maine had one of the most abysmal worker safety records in the United States, and the highest number of per capita worker's comp claims owing in large part to chronic negligence on the part of employers, who refused to take adequate responsibility for worker safety. During the Clinton years, OSHA worked closely with Maine employers and steadily reduced Maine's horrendous injury rate, creating an innovative model called Maine Top 200. However, with the Senate now back in the hands of rightwingers, the relentlessly anti-OSHA, anti-worker Eugene Scalia will become the Labor Department's top enforcer, which most likely will spell a return to the dark ages for Maine workers. Do you care enough to make a stand, Olympia? Step up to the plate and out of the GOP.

American Workers Dealt a Huge Blow by Bush's Promotion of Eugene Scalia as Labor Department's Top Lawyer
Labor Issues

As long as the Democrats had control of the Senate, they managed to block the confirmation of Bush's nomination of Antonin Scalia's son as the top labor department lawyer. The job was an obvious payoff to the Scalia for helping to rig the presidential election. Eugene Scalia is so anti-worker that it is an insult to ordinary taxpayers that he will be paid with tax dollars. Scalia will be responsible for enforcing more than 180 laws that provide basic worker protections in areas such as safety and health, minimum wages, equal employment opportunity and pension security. His nomination has been opposed by every worker organization, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees. Note how Bush slipped this one through on a Friday afternoon - over the opposition of Senate Democrats.

Bush Appointee to Top Labor Dept. Job Opposes Protective Equipment for Workers - Including Gear So Critical on 9/11
Labor Issues

"The Bush administration nominee for solicitor of labor, Eugene Scalia, is best known for leading the management opposition to OSHA's ergonomics standard and enforcement...Scalia also opposes a pending OSHA standard to require that employers pay for required health and safety personal protective equipment such as respirators and gloves. He co-authored a brief for the United Parcel Service denouncing the proposal. This is especially poignant now, as the whole country watched the heroic rescue teams and construction workers at the World Trade Center site, most working without the appropriate protective clothing. In fact, hundreds of respirators were donated by equipment suppliers and distributed by unions and OSHA, because the employers had not provided the equipment." See also

Bush Unilaterally Privatizes 850,000 Public Sector Jobs
Labor Issues

"Bush plans to let the private sector compete for as many as 850,000 government jobs, from mowing the White House lawn to civilian positions in the military, a plan that could spark a backlash from labor unions. White House officials said Thursday that the change could affect up to half of the federal government's civilian workforce and cut labor costs substantially as Bush looks for ways to stem growing budget deficits. Republicans, emboldened after last week's elections gave them control of Congress, said the long-sought plan would streamline cumbersome regulations that they say benefit unions and prevent cash-strapped federal agencies from contracting out for lower-cost workers on a timely basis....The White House said the savings could be in excess of 30 percent for each private-public competition. The new rules will be opened to a public comment period, but White House officials said Bush does not need congressional approval to make the changes."

Labor Dept Solicitor Scalia Attacks Whistle-Blower Rights
Labor Issues

Once upon a time, the mission of the Labor Department was to protect workers. But that was before the Bush regime took power. Now Eugene Scalia is trying to undermine legal protections for whistle blowers, over the objections of both Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and Republican Senator Charles Grassley. A Labor Department spokeswoman claims the senators "misunderstood" Scalia's intervention in a whistle-blower case, but it's easy to understand that the Bush regime is never a friend of workers -- only of the corporations and political appointees that exploit them.

Is Labor Secretary Chao Taking Care of (Family) Business?
Labor Issues

"Is everybody in the White House there on family business?" asks TomPaine.com's Laura Flanders. We know Bush is itching to declare war on the guy that 'tried to kill my daddy,' as Flanders points out. But, she asks, "when the administration declared its other war this summer - the war on the West Coast dockworkers' union - was that too, a family affair?" A host of people connected to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao benfitted when Bush used the Taft-Hartley Act to force contract-less International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) members back to work. (The first time the act has been invoked in a lockout rather than a strike.) For instance, Chao's father James, who owns Foremost Maritime Corporation. According to Flanders, Foremost's clients include China Ocean Shipping Company or COSCO...which belongs to the Pacific Maritime Association...which represents the shippers that locked workers out...which benefitted the most from Bush's intervention. Gee, d'ya think there's a connection?

Help A Worker Fired for Attending Union Organizing Meeting
Labor Issues

"Dawn Caby was a rising star as a cook at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center: Regularly complemented on her work, Dawn received flattering performance reviews and was asked to bring in her own home recipes for the new catering service at the Reagan building. Then Dawn went to a union organizing meeting. The next day, she was fired. Delegations of workers, community leaders and local politicians have sought to deliver to Trade Center Management Associates (TCMA)--Dawn Caby's employer--a petition demanding her reinstatement and respect for workers' freedom to choose a union. Each time they have been rebuffed, threatened or even arrested. You can help put a stop to this outrageous behavior. Add your voice to the call for justice for Dawn Caby and her co-workers at the Reagan building. Click on the link below to send a fax supporting Dawn's right to organize a union."

W and the Coal Miners: Photo-op Cover for Anti-worker Policies
Labor Issues

David Corn writes, "George W. Bush is crass. Before heading to Texas for a month of vacation--longer than the average worker's--the pResident stopped at the local fire station in Green Tree, Pennsylvania, to visit (very publicly) with the nine miners recently rescued from a flooded coal mine. As could be expected, Bush hailed the episode as evidence of 'the spirit of America, the great strength of our nation.'... That spirit, though, was not present earlier this year when the Bush administration proposed cutting the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) by $7 million. The administration defended the 6-percent reduction by noting the number of coal mines has been decreasing. Yet coal mining fatalities have gone up for three years in a row. There were 42 mining fatalities in 2001, 29 in 1998. In March, Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, maintained the funding cut would cause a 25 percent reduction in the government's mine-safety inspection workforce."

Bush Guts the Agency That Saved The Miners
Labor Issues

Joe Conason writes, "Camera-ready compassion -- 'Compassionate' conservatives care deeply about coal miners, but only when the cameras are running. When nobody is looking they go back to business as usual, which in the Bush White House means cutting funds for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (those meddling bureaucrats who saved the Somerset Nine) and gutting regulation by putting industry stooges in charge of enforcement... One politician was worrying about the safety of miners without waiting for coverage by CNN and People magazine. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., held hearings on the administration's attempt to undermine MSHA on July 11, two weeks before the Quecreek accident. (Naturally Wellstone, a diligent advocate of public health and safety, remains the most prominent target of the Green Party this fall.)"

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney Puts Labor's Money Behind Corporate Reform
Labor Issues

"More than 1,000 activists and workers--including laid-off Enron, Arthur Andersen and WorldCom employees--joined AFL-CIO President John Sweeney... outside the NY Stock Exchange on Wall Street July 30 to demand government and business leaders curb crippling greed and corruption. 'When corporate criminals invade our workplaces and our markets to steal our jobs and our savings, we must react every bit as decisively as when thieves enter our homes and try to bring harm to our loved ones,' Sweeney said. Sweeney outlined a five-point action plan to correct corporate corruption," including using its $6 trillion power of workers' pension funds to demand corporate accountability through shareholder, cyber and street actions. The AFL-CIO will also mount an aggressive voter information and mobilization campaign based on candidates' corporate accountability records. On Oct. 19 union members will convene a national 'No More Business As Usual' day of action to educate and energize voters."

Slave Labor At Oklahoma Oil Equipment Factory - Is This Bush's Idea Of Free Trade?
Labor Issues

At TomPaine.com, Russell Cobb reports "from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where 53 Indian [Asia] men spent months working under conditions that their attorneys call 'virtual slave labor'... A shadowy recruiter, promising good jobs at fair wages, lured them from jobs in India to work at the John Pickle Company, a manufacturer of oil pipelines and pressure vessels in Tulsa. Upon arrival, the company seized their passports and visas. They were ill fed, housed in a cramped dormitory on the factory grounds, and forced to work 12- to 16-hour days, six days a week, at wages far below the federal minimum. When they complained, they say they were threatened with deportation and locked inside their dorm under armed guard." They were even told they would be shot if they tried to escape! This must be great news for George Dubya -- after all, grampa Prescott Bush has been linked to Auschwitz slave labor (Enter 'nazi' in our site's search engine, and see item 'Heir to the Holocaust.')

Senate Dems Challenge Scalia Jr. Over Workplace Injuries
Labor Issues

The NY Times reports, "When the administration unveiled its new ergonomics policy two weeks ago, it said it would rely on voluntary steps by corporations and yet-undeveloped guidelines to reduce injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis, resulting from repetitive actions on the job." We ALL know what "voluntary" standards mean to Republicans - take the money and run to the nearest offshore bank! Senate Democrats challenged Labor "solicitor" Eugene Scalia, led by Senator John Edwards (D-NC), who dug up past statements by Scalia calling such litigation "dreadful," "devastating" and "embarrassing." "The administration's plan is a replay of failed strategies from the past," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and the committee's chairman. "They rely on toothless voluntary guidelines that most corporations will simply ignore." You go, Dems!

Republican House Passes Watered-Down GOP Pension Reform Bill
Labor Issues

"The Republican-led House passed a [GOP pension reform] measure Thursday, rejecting a more far-reaching Democratic bill in favor of one based on President [sic] Bush's response to the Enron debacle. The Republican bill, which Democratic leaders said would offer workers few new protections and open loopholes for executives, would give employees somewhat more control over assets in their 401(k) retirement accounts than they have now. After a five-year phase-in period, workers could sell stock in their 401(k) accounts that came from company-matching contributions after holding it for up to three years. Under current law, employers can prevent workers from cashing out their stock until they retire...Earlier in the day, the House rejected a Democratic alternative by 232 to 187. Key features included employee representation on boards that oversee 401(k) accounts and the ability to convert their company-contributed stock into cash after participating in the plan for three years."

First They Came for the Muslims... Then They Came for the Trade Unionists...
Labor Issues

"Invoking security concerns, President Bush has issued an executive order barring union representation at United States attorneys' offices and at four other agencies in the Justice Department... The order, issued on Jan. 7, has angered unions, which say the president is exploiting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 to pursue a campaign against unions. We're outraged by this," said [AFSCME official Steven Kreisberg]. "A lot of these Justice Department workers have been members of unions for 20 years," he said, "and there's never been an allegation of a problem. It's a very cynical use of the Sept. 11 tragedy by an antiunion administration."... The order has widened a rift between Mr. Bush and labor. Last week, unions condemned his naming Eugene Scalia, son of Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, as Labor Department solicitor after failing to win Senate approval." So reports the NY Times.

Bush v. Labor: Scalia's Son -- The Working Person's Foe -- Is Approved By Senate Committee
Labor Issues

"In a big setback to organized labor, a Senate committee [Tuesday] approved the nomination of Eugene Scalia as the Labor Department's top lawyer and sent it to the full Senate for consideration. Mr. Scalia, a Washington labor lawyer and son of Justice Antonin Scalia, has been nominated to the post of Labor Department solicitor, charged with enforcing nearly 200 labor laws…Unions have lobbied hard to defeat him, largely because of his opposition to a Clinton-era ergonomics regulation intended to enhance workplace safety. He once criticized the rule…as 'quackery' and 'junk science.' Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the labor committee, said: "Mr. Scalia is well known for his longstanding opposition to workers' rights and protections. Throughout his career, he has worked against job-health and job-safety protections for workers.'" This is Fat Tony's payback for giving Bush the Presidency.

American Employers Exploit Mexican Workers on Both Sides of the Border
Labor Issues

Bush and his corporate pals want to have their Mexican worker "cake" and eat it too. Bush wants to keep hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant workers on the American side of the border in a legal limbo where they will continue to work without any protections for next to nothing. Meanwhile, American companies are turning a blind eye to outrageous abuses of workers in their Mexico-based factories, turning NAFTA labor agreements into a sick joke. Here's an eye-opening story from earlier this year that merits revisiting.

Only the Most Gullible Among Labor's Ranks Taken in By Bush's Labor Day PR Show
Labor Issues

Like a corporate salesman groomed to change his spiel for each new prospect, based on a statistical profile of the "target audience," Bush has hit each new town and group on his "Heartland Tour" with "tailored" variations on the same schmooze theme. So, of course, he hit Detroit on Labor day as a gimmick to show what a pro-labor sort of guy he is. The only folks snowed by this song and dance were the same sort who probably can't say "No!" to telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople. Most workers were a bit too conscious of the facts to be fooled by the window dressing. "It's just a facade said one auto worker. Said another: "As a unionist, I'm embarrassed that he's in their city today. It's an affront to labor." Yet another: "My take is the same as any other union member - I don't see Bush doing anything to help."

Bush Wages Class War Against Labor
Labor Issues

"The Selection of George Bush by the U.S. Supreme Court last winter to be president has accelerated a number of trends that already had begun to degrade the quality of life for millions of America's working people. As if wishing to engage in an immediate payback for organized labor's support of Al Gore, Bush began his presidency by repealing hard-won, union-backed workplace safety and ergonomic rules. He also interfered with a mechanics' strike at Northwest Airlines. Bush has issued executive orders to terminate the federal government's preference for unionized labor and blunting unions' ability to speak politically on their members' behalf. That none of this was accidental was revealed... when White House Spokesperson Claire Buchan responded to a reporter's question about the apparent vendetta. 'The president,' she said, 'takes a fair and balanced approach to policies as they affect all Americans.' 'Fair and balanced,' get it? Just like Fox News." So writes MSNBC's Eric Alterman.

'Unions - The People Who Brought You Weekends'
Labor Issues

Columnist Jim Hightower writes, "There's a bumper sticker that sums up the meaning of Labor Day for me: 'Unions-the people who brought you weekends.' From the 40-hour week to Social Security, every inch of the workplace progress we've made came not from generous corporate bosses and politicians, but from ordinary working stiffs who organized, fought, bled, and died to achieve it. Today, though, the Powers That Be want us to think of unions and workplace organizing as so much old history, no longer relevant to the new, global, laissez-faire, dot-com economy. We wish."

Teamsters Going Back to Intimidation Tactics That Cost Them Respect and Credibility a Few Decades Back
Labor Issues

Not many decades ago, the word "teamster" had become synonymous with both "bully" and "Mafia buddy" In fact, the teamster's shady dealings, greed, and intimidation tactics succeeded in giving ALL unions a black eye, from which they are still trying to recover. Robert Kennedy risked his life and reputation in efforts to help clean up the Teamsters. Now the union is once again throwing its weight around in a bullying way, but not, like the U.S. Steelworkers, in pursuit of greater job security, better living conditions, and more worker rights. Instead, the teamsters are colluding with the anti-labor Bush Administration to open ANWR to drilling, a move that hurts everyone in the nation, and won't even net many trucking jobs (if they believe this, they are dreaming). We are 100% for workers, but 100% AGAINST greedy bosses, be they corporate - or union.

United Steelworkers of America Saves Hundreds of Worker Jobs through Creative Negotiations with Industry
Labor Issues

United Steelwworkers of America is emerging as one of the most dedicated and truly worker-centered unions on the continent. Recently, when LTV Corporation of Cleveland proposed cutting $261 million in labor costs - taking the cuts in the form of healthcare and pension benefits and jobs, and closing down the West Side Mill, USWA got busy - and got creative. Now a deal has been worked out that will save benefits, jobs, and may lead to a revitalization of the West Side Mill. It was union negotiating at its best - a win-win result for both labor and management, with the unavoidable concessions on both sides stinging a bit, but acceptable. By giving workers more of a voice in company affairs, companies can benefit greatly (the incredibly successful Saturn car enterprise, for ex., was built through a partnership between workers and corp. execs). Three cheers for USWA!

Student Activism is Alive and Well and Working the Picket Lines
Labor Issues

The current crop of college students may well be this nation's salvation. They are young, they care, and they're mad as hell. During the recent national conference of the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), held in Chicago during a heatwave, students took to the picket lines in solidarity with striking teamsters at the V&V Supremo Foods, Inc.. They were unintimidated by the thugs the bosses had hired to haunt the picket lines, nor by the heat. Instead, writes Nicholas Woomer in "The Nation," "they belted out old strikers' chants, chatted in Spanish with the workers (most of them Mexican immigrants), and they attempted to discuss the strike with scabs through a fence topped with razor wire...Observers of the new student movement have made much of the 'emerging alliance between students and organized labor,' " an alliance that represents "a very significant event in the history of this country" and in the history of unions. Power to the (young) people!

Miners Win Black Lung Benefits Case in Federal Court, As Mine Bosses Vow to Appeal
Labor Issues

President Clinton adopted regulations to help miners get benefits more easily, when afflicted by the devastating disease "black lung." This was greatly needed, because the same mine owners who helped create the conditions in the mines that cause the disease are always trying to find ways to dodge paying the piper. It was an all-too easy copout, as by the time black-lung shows up on X-rays, the disease is well advanced. Each year, 1,400 miners die from BL - sacrificed to King Coal. Many die before they or their families see a penny of help from the mine operators. Of course Bush sided with the Coal Barons.

Labor Sells Out to Bush, Who Turns Around and Sics the IRS on Them
Labor Issues

When we said that the labor bosses who sold out ANWR to Bush in exchange for a promise of jobs would ultimately get screwed over, we didn't expect it to happen so fast! It hasn't even been one week since Bush secured his ANWR vote, yet now the IRS is threatening to audit the unions for their expenditures in the 1996 election, and insinuating that fraud was committed. This move is, of course, just a scheme to trump up yet a new anti-Democrat scandal (the IRS is targeting only money spent on Democrats). This administration appears to be as fond of using the IRS against "enemies" as the Bush family's political godfather, Richard Nixon. However, to "get" the Dems, Bush doesn't have any problem selling out his new "friends" at the labor unions. We aren't ones to say "we told you so," but....

Alaskan Teamster Leader Helps Oil Companies Trash the Environment
Labor Issues

After 100 years of labor's oppression by industrial bosses, you'd think labor leaders would have learned. First, Republicans are NEVER for labor. In the end, they will always sell out labor for the bosses. Second, any time a GOP president has promised labor anything, he has either failed to deliver, or worse yet, after using labor, shafted them royally. Yet, here we are again, with a labor boss, Jerry Hood of the Alaska Teamsters, cutting deals with the GOP, harboring the pitiful fantasy that "this time will be different." Meanwhile, he helped give away one of America's last environmental treasures: a national wildlife refuge. We just wonder how Jerry Hood can look the workers who elected him in the eye.

Coal Baron Uses Miners' Lost Wages to Expand Operation While Attacking Unions
Labor Issues

PA mine owner Robert Murray made a fortune off his Ohio Valley coal mines, which now represent the largest independent, family-held coal producing operation in the U.S. With the Bush administration push for hundreds of coal-fired power plants, Murray expects production to burgeon. Yet as Murray's personal income grows, he has frozen and reduced miner's' wages and used the profits to expand his operation. When frustrated miners tried to unionize, Murray waged an all-out PR campaign against them, calling union members "greedy," mailing out letters to workers smearing union leaders, and threatening workers with firing. Says union leader Carlo Tarley: "This campaign is about fairness and justice for the workers who helped Mr. Murray build his business, and now, as his business expands, these same workers are being left behind. It's a kick in the teeth to them." Dems MUST increase union protections - that's what we are all about!

GOP Pushing Outrageous 'Right to Work for Less' Initiatives to Trash Unions
Labor Issues

Here is one we almost missed! A few weeks back, dozens of big business groups, anti-union corporate execs and their lobbyists attended a $25,000 per table event aimed at raising money for a "Right to Work for Less" ballot initiative in OK, designed to weaken unions. In states where such bills have been passed, workers earn an average of $5,000 less per year than those in states without such a law. Since a RWL law was passed in Idaho in 1996, union membership has plummeted 60%. The latest anti-worker crusade is being led by Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), who has earned a zero from the AFL-CIO for his working family issues voting record. Over 200 working families protested the outrageous fundraiser. They were joined by Reps. Major Owens (D-NY) and Dale Kildee (D-MI).

Yale Awards Free Doctorates to Its 'Least and Dimmest' While Refusing to Pay Workers Living Wage
Labor Issues

As with too many American colleges, Yale's students and blue-collar workers are generally finer folk than those in the administration. Now Yale graduate students and adjunct professors have joined support staff and service and maintenance workers on the picket line to protest the low wages, paltry benefits and cavalier treatment workers receive from the college. The grad students have a valid beef themselves: They now perform 40% of all teaching at Yale - making just $13,700 per year. The school, which has a long anti-union history, is indifferent to the demands. But what can you expect from a place that awarded its least and dimmest (i.e. Shrub) an honorary doctorate degree?

4,000 People Rally for South Carolina. Dockworkers Targeted By Anti-Labor Rightwing Gubernatorial Hopeful Charlie Condon
Labor Issues

When 5 dockworkers were arraigned on charges stemming from a 1999 riot triggered by police, the Judge threw the case out for lack of evidence. But anti-labor Attorney General Charlie Condon (R) didn't care - he pressured a grand jury into charging the men with felony rioting and conspiracy. Condon hopes to capitalize on S.C.'s historic anti-labor attitude to further his current bid for governor. Condon, a Bush groupie, refuses to back down, despite the massive public outcry. But so do protestors. "You thought the Confederate flag was big. This is going to be bigger!" said one speaker at the rally. The leaders vowed that dockworkers will stop work at every unionized port in the world the same day the five workers first appear in court.

Shrubmeister Pushing to Overturn 10 years of Progress in Worker Safety
Labor Issues

Shrub is too stupid to come up with any more clever strategy for thwarting the public good than delay, blabber, photo-op, delay, blabber, photo-op. Thus it's no surprise that he's once again delayed implementing regulations that would relieve hundreds of thousands of needless ergonomic injuries each year. Ergonomic injuries are now the number one job safety and health problem in the U.S. The proposed regulations are based on sound science. But, of course, Bush only goes for "sounds like science" (but isn't). So, while Shrub sits around picking the "royal nose" waiting for his next photo op, this year, 1.8 million workers will suffer an ergonomic injury, 600,000 of them seriously enough to lose work time. Fortunately, Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) has taken up the cause of workers and plans to fight Shrub's wimpy cop-out.

Wal-Mart Sued for Brainwashing Employees into Slave-like Work Regimens
Labor Issues

Several former employees of Wal-Mart, one of the most successful mega-corporations ever, are suing the company for its systemmatic manipulation of employees. The employees describe routine tactics that are reminiscent of Mao's China. Workers say they were "brainwashed to work mindlessly for mother Wal-Mart. Employees are told to be "team players" and give up earned wages for mother Wal-mart." Often, after being given work assignments that were impossible to complete within a normal shift, workers would be pressured to complete the assignments anyway. And, of course, says another source who worked for Wal-mart some years back, don't forget having to do the "Wal-mart Wave" - a degrading sort of cheer (lacking only red flags waving to complete the picture). All this for $5-8 bucks an hour! God Bless Walmerica!

Workers Mobilize Nationwide to Support S.C. Longshoreman Arrested on Trumped Up Charges by Anti-Union Forces
Labor Issues

Thousands of union workers, religious activists and others will converge on Columbia, S.C. at the Rally for Racial Justice and Workers' Rights on June 9. The rally will show solidarity with 5 longshoremen facing trumped-up felony rioting charges stemming from a 1999 incident, in which 600 heavily armed state and local police (complete with armored cars) overran a peaceful union worker protest, thereby inciting a riot. The five workers were arrested and indicted by a grand jury under pressure from the SC attorney general Charlie Condon. The 5 men have been under house arrest every day since. Says S.C. AFL-CIO pres. Donna Dewitt, "The last thing state officials want to see is workers standing up to corporations, organizing, and winning. That means better wages and standards of living for workers, but it's sort of hard to sell a company looking for a low-wage, docile workforce." African American Local 1422 has been especially targeted by anti-union forces and state officials.

Steelworkers Are Furious at Shrub's Waiting Game
Labor Issues

America's Steelworkers are not impressed with Shrub's favorite sneak tactic: delay, delay, delay, then do what you damn please. Shrub's delay in taking action against the foreign competitors that have cost the industry thousands of U.S jobs has the steelworkers fighting mad. Now they are planning to converge on Washington next month if something doesn't shake down from Bush & Co. "We ought to be turning over cars," said Independent Steel Workers president Mark Glyptis. "We ought to be arrested. We ought to be prepared to stay there a while." In response to the Commerce Department's wimpy offer to "explore ways to eliminate market conditions hurting the industry," Weirton Steel spokesman Gregg Warren scoffed, "We're getting hammered. Help is needed today." Shrub had better be careful - these guys aren't pencil pushers. They'll come out swinging something, and it won't be a legal brief!

At Least David Horowitz Can Say The Bush Team Is a 'Diverse Group' (From A Racialist Perspective That Focuses On Appearances, Not Ideology)
Labor Issues

Bush's nominee to head the Office of Public Management is Kay Cole James. A member of the theocratic Council for National Policy, she is an evangelical staunchly opposed to abortion, who has worked for both Bill Bennett and Pat Robertson. Currently, "James is a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which is a critic of big government." Translation: as the HQ of the Right Wing network, Heritage is out to remove our Constitutionally based government in favor of an authoritarian (even theocratic) corporate state. At the OPM, James "will have the chance to reshape the federal workforce" to further the Bush/Heritage goal of undermining workplace laws – and privatizing government services outside of the Constitution. At the Ashcroft hearings, James introduced the Orwellian term of "religious profiling." She spoke on behalf of her "civil rights background" -- despite working for the anti-civil rights Heritage Foundation that is funded by the racialist Coors family.

With GOP Fascists in Charge, Why are Unions Supporting Them?
Labor Issues

The Republican leadership of Tom Delay, Trent Lott, and George W. Bush want to destroy the unions - as well as all the labor movement's progressive allies. Shockingly, the AFL-CIO is changing its endorsement policy to make it easier for local unions to endorse right-wing Republicans. Union members and their friends should be outraged. Call your union!

Slow Death: Coal Miners Afflicted by Black Lung Must Now Battle Bush to Get Desperately-Needed Help
Labor Issues

When a 1998 investigation by the Courier-Journal in Louisville, KY (see http://www.courier-journal.com/dust/) revealed how coal miners have long been forced to breathe lethal doses of dust, Clinton responded. Within months, a new dust-monitoring device was in testing. Before leaving office, Clinton instated rules streamlining claims processing for workers suffering from black lung - many of whom face a certain, slow death. But now these miners must fight yet a new abusive "boss" before they can be helped: Bush, who wants to set the rules aside. Ironically, it his own appointee, Elaine Chao (now placed in a Christie Whitman-like situation), who is defending the miners. We guess Bush and his mine boss buddies think slow death is just part of the cost of doing business.

Building the New Democratic Politics from out of the Old: Using Government to Protect the Average American
Labor Issues

The basic needs --medical attention, adequate clothing, shelter -- of indentured servants and slaves in some households in the 1800s were met better than the low-income workers of today's service sector. Thoreau once said, "It's not enough to be good--be good for something!" How about the common man, for starters? Contrary to what the news media is telling you, life has not gotten any easier during the boom for the working poor and the middle class, and Bush's budget will make life even harder.

AFL-CIO Kicks off International Pro-Labor Campaign to Highlight Worker Rights
Labor Issues

On May 1, the AFL-CIO and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions will kick off a major campaign to focus world attention on a subject too many big multinationals want to ignore: worker rights. As part of the campaign, the Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work will be posted in workplaces and government offices in 148 countries. With Bush at the helm and the FTAA all but a done deal, the campaign is timely indeed. Of course, it's no surprise that anti-labor groups are simultaneously launching their own union smear campaigns - watch for press releases by the "National Right to Work Foundation" (or should we say National Right to Work Long Hours for Next to Nothing Foundation).

Surprise! Surprise! Bush Nominates Mining Co. Executive To 'Oversee' Mining Industry
Labor Issues

Looks like Bush's mining industry backers got their boy in to look the other way. "The White House has announced the president's intention to nominate David D. Lauriski to be the next assistant secretary of labor for Mine Safety & Health...Lauriski is currently the president of Lauriski and Associates LLC, a consulting firm in Price, Utah. He served as general manager of Energy West Mining Co. from 1995 to 1999 and as the director of health, safety, environmental and government affairs for Interwest Mining Co. from 1993 to 1995."

'Compassionate' Bush Administration Delays Payments To Dying Workers
Labor Issues

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao asked the White House to shift a new program to compensate sick nuclear workers from her agency to John Ashcroft's Injustice Department, eliciting a bipartisan round of criticism from lawmakers who say such a move could badly delay disbursement of the funds. Rep. Ted Strickland (D-OH) said: "I think the inevitable result will be that victims will have a significant delay in receiving compensation. And some of these people, quite frankly, are in the process of dying." What do you expect from Chao -- a former Heritage Foundation fellow who served for the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife and the Coors Family? Meanwhile, Cheney wants to make some more nuclear workers sick by building new nuclear power plants, as a way to avoid signing the Kyoto Protocol to reduce global warming.

Robert Novak Calls for Class War Against Working Americans
Labor Issues

Right-wing columnist Robert Novak seeks nothing less than the total destruction of labor unions, which give working Americans a voice in their daily lives. He wants Shrub to do the dirty work: "Bush's call for civility does not preclude defying Big Labor. Embarrassing investigations of unions by the Justice and Labor departments could be launched. The ergonomics surprise may well be the beginning of unpleasant times for John Sweeney." What ever happened to Shrub's promises to be a "uniter, not a divider"? Shrub should take Novak to the woodshed.

Senate Votes To Promote Workplace Injury
Labor Issues

All 50 Republicans (and 6 Democrats) voted down workplace regulations introduced by President Clinton to prevent repetitive motion injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome. "OSHA said compliance could cost businesses $4.5 billion annually. OSHA said the rule would prevent 460,000 injuries a year, and the savings from fewer injuries and higher productivity (as much as $9.1 billion annually) would exceed the cost." Republicans and their corporate paymasters outrageously inflated the annual costs to over $100 billion per year. To push through the repeal, Republicans used a "special resolution of disapproval," which Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) called a "stealth tactic." Unfortunately, similar tactics are expected from House Republicans. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) lamented, "I'm afraid that this (resolution) and this debate really tell us that working people are in for a tough time over the next four years." To be less polite, working Americans are getting hammered.

Congressional Republicans Vow To Block New Workplace Safety Rules
Labor Issues

New OSHA rules created by the Clinton Administration face likely defeat by the Republican-controlled House and Senate. The rules are designed to improve workplace conditions for the prevention of repetitive motion injuries. The Republican crusade to get remove all obstacles to corporate greed continues. "President Bush has not said whether he would sign the measure, although Republicans say they expect he would." What kinda odds you wanna give us on that one?