In early 2011 as the Ohio legislature was considering a measure that would have stripped collective bargaining rights for public employees, thousands of outraged citizens protested at the statehouse in Columbus, voicing their objection to this unprecedented attack on Ohio's middle class. Through a number of unscrupulous legislative maneuvers and attempts to silent dissenting voices by locking the statehouse doors, proponents of the bill were able to pass it by a single vote margin, which ignited a firestorm of opposition and a united front against the attack on workers' rights. Ultimately, the bill was put up for referendum in the fall of 2011 and Ohio voters from all walks of life and every region of the state soundly rejected the bill by more than a 20 point margin.
While the first part of this story might sound all too familiar to Hoosiers given the present circumstances surrounding the Indiana legislature's consideration of another attack on collective bargaining (aka the inaccurately titled "right to work" bill), all Indiana legislators should take heed. Ohioans, and I presume Hoosiers, are looking for is bipartisan cooperation and focus from politicians on creating jobs and getting the economy moving. Unfortunately, the Ohio and now the Indiana anti-worker legislation represent the same old politics of division that will further erode our middle class and accelerate the "race to the bottom" where all workers lose.
Indiana workers are both wise and just to fervently voice their opposition to these attacks and politicians in the Indiana Statehouse would be wise to listen to their concerns. The preponderance of evidence gathered from extensive independent research shows that the so called "right to work for less" policies are in fact damaging to local economies as they lower wages and often create an environment that is conducive to job flight instead of fulfilling the promises of their proponents. An examination of states that have passed these laws points this out very clearly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167). Weekly wages are $72 greater in free-bargaining states than in right to work states ($621 versus $549). Working families in states without right to work laws have higher wages and benefit from healthier tax bases that improve their quality of life and, looking at the past four quarters, seven of the ten states with the highest unemployment rates are states with "right to work" laws.
If proponents continue to pursue this misguided measure, Indiana voters will likely see the effort for what it is-- a purely political attack that is dividing Hoosiers and preventing any real progress on economic recovery. Don't take my word for it though. Just ask Governor Kasich who in the aftermath of a resounding defeat of the issue openly acknowledged that taking away collective bargaining rights was the wrong move and that "when people speak like this in a campaign referendum, you have to listen if you're a public servant". As a result of the middle class backlash, Kasich's approval ratings dropped to the lowest in the country. It would be wise for Indiana's politicians to take warning from the Ohio experience and they should follow more closely their promises to improve the economy and support policies that will create good jobs instead of pursuing attacks on workers with a policy that will not create one single job.
Ohioaflcio.blogspot.com, Tues Jan 17 2012
Yes! They did it!
All of their heart and determination have paid off to the tune of ONE MILLION signatures. This means Scott Walker will be forced to defend his seat as Governor in a special recall election. See the official announcement:
Wisconsinites showed an incredible amount of heart in the last year. Watch:
In addition to the 1 million signatures to recall Governor Walker, grassroots volunteers have collected enough signatures to force special recall elections for Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Sen. Pam Galloway, Sen. Terry Moulton, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Sen. Van Wanggaard.
Gov. Scott Walkter – 1,000,000
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch – 845,000
Sen. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls – 21,000+
Sen. Pam Galloway of Wausau -21,000+
Sen. Van Wanggaard of Racine – 24,000
Sen. Scott Fitzgerald – 20,600
MoveOn.org, Tues Jan 17 2012
China's workers are increasingly voicing their discontent on labor conditions and pay, threatening to erode the nation's competitiveness as a low-cost factory hub.
Recent weeks have seen a series of strikes at factories across China, pointing to rising worker expectations as China's top leaders warn of economic challenges in the year ahead.
China's economy is showing signs of strain due to mounting piles of local government debt, a sharp drop in external demand for exports and nagging inflation. A pronounced slowdown that could see millions of migrant factory workers laid off would be a major concern for Beijing's stability-obsessed leaders.
Following are recent developments:
PANGANG GROUP CHENGDU STEEL & VANADIUM CO LTD
New York-based China Labor Watch said more than 2,000 workers at Pangang Group Chengdu Steel & Vanadium Co Ltd in southwest China's Chengdu municipality went on strike on January 4 to protest against low wages and large pay gaps between staff and managers.
Strikers and management entered negotiations after an hours-long confrontation with police who used pepper spray to disperse crowds, the group said. Local police and staff at the factory contacted by Reuters said they were unaware of a strike, but photos posted to China's Twitter-like microblog Sina Weibo, showed police lines and hundreds of people gathered, some holding signs calling for higher wages. The authenticity of the photos could not be confirmed.
Workers complaining of small bonuses at an LG Display factory in the eastern city of Nanjing went on strike in late December, halting some production, the company said. Employees returned to the plant by December 28, two days after a labour rights group said the strike began, after LG Display posted notices saying year-end bonuses would be equal to "200 percent", apparently equivalent two months' salary.
SHENZHEN HAILIANG STORAGE PRODUCTS CO LTD
Nearly 1,000 workers at Japanese-owned Shenzhen Hailiang Storage Products Co Ltd in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen protested on December 5, demanding compensation matching their length of service following a change in the facility's ownership.
Workers at the Hitachi Ltd subsidiary complained their official years on the job had been cut to zero after the company bought a remaining stake and took full control of operations.
More than 200 workers at an electronics plant in Shanghai's Pudong district owned by Singapore's Hi-P International staged a strike on November 30 and into early December to protest what they said was a plan for mass layoffs.
Strikers told Reuters they had refused to sign agreements stipulating that their jobs would be terminated by the end of 2011 without compensation, adding that the company planned to relocate the plant within the city and hire new staff. The company said in a statement that it was in talks with workers and expected the matter to be "resolved shortly".
Asahi Shimbun, Thurs Jan 5 2012
Caving into intense public pressure, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) this morning rescinded an order that would have barred thousands of Hoosiers from the statehouse as the legislature considers a so-called right to work bill. As I write, we hear that three doors are open and workers are streaming in, with lines of people wrapped around the block.
On Dec. 30, the Daniels administration announced it would limit the number of people allowed in the statehouse to 3,000, including the 1,700 employees. The ban did not include lobbyists who would continue to have unfettered access. But it would have closed the doors on thousands of workers who are planning to be in Indianapolis for the battle over the "right to work" for less legislation.
Daniels admitted the outcry over closing the doors was the major factor in his decision to rescind the restrictions. When they were announced, Indiana State AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott said:
Under this policy neither lobbyist nor donor will be turned away—yet everyday taxpaying citizens will be. This arrogant move is clearly aimed at working people who in 2011 went to the Statehouse to protest the anti-worker agenda being advanced there—and it is wrong. Our Constitution guarantees us the right to petition our government, and this limits that fundamental right.
afl-cionewsblog, Wed Jan 4 2012
This was a banner year in the right-wing media's campaign to belittle working Americans. In the early part of the year, media conservatives promoted anti-union laws in Wisconsin and Ohio, transitioned to attacking the National Labor Relations Board, and spent the entirety of the year demonizing union workers, low-income Americans, and the unemployed.
Right-Wing Media React To WI Protests Over Collective Bargaining: Insults, False Attacks, Misinformation
Media Conservatives Set Sights On National Labor Relations Board: "Just Get Rid Of The Thing"
Right-Wing Media Viciously Denigrate Union Workers, The Poor, And The Unemployed
Right-Wing Media React To WI Protests Over Collective Bargaining: Insults, False Attacks, Misinformation
Fox & Friends Falsely Claimed "Violent" WI Protesters "Attack[ed]" Grothman
Kilmeade: Protesters Got "Restless And, Dare I Say, Violent." On the March 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade introduced a segment on a Republican Wisconsin lawmaker, Sen. Glenn Grothman, being heckled by a chanting crowd of protesters by falsely claiming the protesters were "getting restless and, dare I say, violent." Co-host Steve Doocy claimed that, "If you put yourself in [Grothman's] shoes...it's absolutely scary." Doocy later claimed, "When you look at that and all the incivility there, you realize that to these people, elections have no consequence, mean nothing." During the segment, the on-screen graphics repeatedly referred to the "angry" protesters as "violent" or "attack[ing]" Grothman. From Fox & Friends:
Kilmeade: "A Mob Of Protesters Ambush A Republican State Senator In Wisconsin." Teasing an upcoming segment with Grothman, Kilmeade claimed "a mob of protesters ambush[ed]" Grothman "who wants to go to work." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
Kilmeade Again Claims Grothman Was "Ambushed By A Mob Of Protesters." Later in the show, Kilmeade again teased Grothman's segment by claiming he was "ambushed by a mob of protesters." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
Doocy, Grothman Continue To Portray Protesters As Violent. Later on Fox & Friends, Doocy introduced a segment with Grothman by claiming he was "chased by a mob of protesters outside the capitol building." Doocy first asked Grothman, "Where was your security?" and later, "Were you scared?" Later in the segment, Doocy claimed, "There is a double standard. If Republicans surrounded a democrat lawmaker and did stuff like this, do you think it would be a big story?" Doocy ended the interview by asking Grothman if he is "going to have security if [he] need[s] it" and telling Grothman to "stay safe." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
In Fact, There Was No Evidence Of Violence On The Video
Twelve-Minute Long Video Shows No Violence Occurred. The video, which was shot by Wisconsin area photographer Phil Ejercito, show that Grothman was heckled by protesters, but no violence occurred. In fact, at one point during the video, a protester can be heard to shout "don't touch him" and at another, the protesters chanted "peace" and "peaceful." [YouTube, 03/01/11]
Grothman Himself Claimed "He Didn't Think He Was Ever In Any Real Danger." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that, Grothman "told the [Cap Times] he didn't think he was ever in any real danger." From the Journal Sentinel:
Grothman downplayed the situation and told the paper he didn't think he was ever in any real danger.
"I really think if I had had to, I could have walked through the crowd and it would have been okay," he told the Cap Times. "They're loud, they'll give you the finger, and they yell at you, but I really think deep down inside they're just mostly college kids having fun, just like they're having fun sleeping with their girfriends on air mattresses. That's the guts of that crowd." [Journal Sentinel, 03/02/11]
Grothman Called Protesters "Good People" And Noted That He Was Not Scared. During his interview on Fox & Friends, Doocy asked Grothman if he was scared by the protesters. Grothman responded "Not really, because I think most people are basically good people. I mean, they've been running around the capitol for over a week now, chanting, blowing their horns, pounding their drums." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 03/03/11]
Photographer Slammed Fox's Coverage As "Establish[ing] A Fictional Narrative"
Photographer Phil Ejercito: I condemn the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison. In a statement to Media Matters, Phil Ejercito, the local photographer who shot the footage of Sen. Grothman being heckled by the crowd, said he "condemn[ed] the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison," calling it a "a genuinely dangerous narrative that Fox News is helping to create." From Ejercito's statement to Media Matters:
It sickens me to see the truth so willfully distorted. In deciding to release this video, I considered how it would be used, but I (perhaps naively) believed that the facts in the video would speak for itself - the people of Wisconsin are angry, Senator Grothman got a well-deserved ribbing, the Walker administration's lockdown of the Capitol is misguided, and Representative Hulsey acted honorably. It is simply astounding that the same faction of the right-wing that would claim that torture in Abu Ghraib was "fraternity hazing" would equate heckling as a "violent attack."
Let there be no ambiguity: I condemn the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison. I believe that this is a genuinely dangerous narrative that Fox News is helping to create... I am deeply disturbed to consider that my work is being misused to establish a fictional narrative of violence by the working families of Wisconsin, and I encourage people to watch the entire clip on YouTube for themselves to understand the full context and decide for themselves what truthfully took place. [Media Matters, 03/04/11]
Fox Repeatedly Concealed Key Details About Guests Criticizing Wisconsin Protesters
Fox Bills GOP Senate Candidate, Local GOP Officeholder As Concerned Parents. Fox News hosted Dave Westlake and Amber Hahn, who were both identified as "Wisconsin parent[s]." Fox did not disclose that Westlake was a 2010 Republican Senate candidate and Han was the treasurer for the Columbia County, Wisconsin, Republican Party. [Media Matters, 3/1/11]
Fox Suggests CEO Of Multinational Company Represents "Small Businesses." Fox hosted Gary Reynolds, CEO of GMR Marketing to criticize protesters for "attacking small businesses who supported and support Governor Scott Walker," in the words of Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade. However, GMR Marketing says it has 24 offices in 12 countries and that it is "the world's largest engagement marketing agency." The company lists Sony, Microsoft, Bank of America and Visa among its clients. [Media Matters, 3/1/11]
Fox News Forced To Air "Fox Lies" Protests
Protesters Shout "Fox Lies" During Live Report From WI Capitol. On the February 18 edition of Your World, protesters chanted "Fox lies" during correspondent Jeff Flock's live report on the labor protests from the Wisconsin Capitol building. During the segment, guest host Chris Cotter stated, "Well, I'll tell you, Jeff, those folks protesting Fox -- I'm wondering if they would prefer a state-run television network providing all the coverage." [Fox News, Your World, 2/18/11]
Protesters Chant "Tell The Truth" During Live Segment From Madison, WI. On the February 21 edition of The Fox Report, labor protesters chanted "tell the truth" throughout correspondent Mike Tobin's live report on the protests from Madison, WI. [Fox News, The Fox Report, 2/21/11]
Protesters Interrupt Live Fox Interview With Chants Of "Tell The Truth." On the February 21 edition of Your World, labor protesters in Madison interrupted guest host Stuart Varney's live interview with Brett Healy of the conservative MacIver Institute. Varney later interviewed Healy via telephone while footage of a protester holding a sign saying, "Fox News will lie about this," aired:
Fox Falsely Claimed WI Gov. Walker Is "Actually Doing What He Campaigned On"
Gingrich: Walker Is "Actually Doing What He Campaigned On." During the February 24 edition of On the Record, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich said:
VAN SUSTEREN: Is Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker doing right thing or not? His budget plan is rattling unions and sent Democrats running across state lines to Illinois as protesters continue to swarm Madison and seize the state capitol building. Now, everyone is asking, Did the governor make the right move? Many states across America are broke. So should other states follow the Wisconsin governor's lead, or try something else?
Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. He and his wife, Callista, are authors of the new book "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny."
Good evening, Mr. Speaker. And I know you've written an op-ed piece in support of Governor Walker. But I'm just curious. What should he be doing tonight? Because tomorrow's supposedly a drop-dead date on this bonding, and the Democrats say they're not coming home.
NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he should do whatever he has to technically to pay for the bonding and blame the Democrats for the carnage that that's going to cause. They are forcing this crisis. You got to make sure they own the responsibility.
But you have to put Scott Walker in context. After having been elected three times as county executive of the largest government in the state, Milwaukee County, he campaigned for a year-and-a-half on a very clear program. Nothing he's doing is new. Everything he's doing was in his platform. It's what the people voted on.
The amazing thing is the Republicans gained seats in the senate, gained seats in the house. There are no new elected freshmen Democrats. The governor himself won decisively. And the Democrats, having lost the argument with the people -- this is not Republican-Democrat. The people of Wisconsin elected a 60 percent Republican majority in the house, a virtually 60 percent Republican majority in the senate and a Republican governor. And the governor's now executing -- this seems to be a shock to Democrats. He's actually doing what he campaigned on.
The contrast with President Obama breaking his word this week is startling. I mean, Scott Walker is doing what he said he would do. [Fox News, On the Record, 2/24/11, accessed via Nexis]
Doocy: "The Governor Ran On The Platform That He Was Going To Address Collective Bargaining." On Fox & Friends, Doocy claimed that "to [the Wisconsin protesters], elections have no consequence. Mean nothing. Keep in mind, in that state, the governor ran on the platform that he was going to address collective bargaining and all the other stuff and that's what he did. And yet, look at what's happening there right now." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
Doocy Again Falsely Claims Walker "Made It Very Clear" That Collective Bargaining Was "One Of the Things He Was Going To Address." Later on Fox & Friends, during an interview with Grothman, Doocy claimed that "all these people with the signs, the horns, the whistles, apparently they weren't paying attention to the fact that there was an election this past November and the message in the fact that Scott Walker became the governor, he had made it very clear, this is one of the things he was going to address. Collective bargaining. And the unions." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]
Asman: Walker "Did Announce When He Was Running For Governor This Is What He Was Going To Do." During the February 25 edition of America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman said:
ASMAN: The bill strips most public sector unions of collective bargain or at least some of their collective bargaining privileges. Democrats and their supporters yelling "Shame" as you can hear after the vote as Republicans walked out. Now Democrats are investigating whether the vote was legal. The bill goes to the Senate where Democrats have gone AWOL. So how is all of this going to get resolved, Lee?
LEE HAWKINS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I don't know, but I think this is indicative of what we're going to see in the future. He's from that young new faction of the Republican base that's been dying to have this ideological debate with the unions probably since he was a teenager watching Ronald Reagan on television.
And he campaigned on the deficit issue. So basically he's actually following through on what he campaigned on, and what he is going to happen as we're going to see a fierce debate on this and many others.
ASMAN: I'm glad you brought that up because he did announce when he was running for governor this is what he was going to do. No surprises. And Mitch Daniels did the same thing in Indiana. [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 2/25/11, accessed via Nexis]
PolitiFact: Walker Did Not Campaign On Proposal To "Sharply Curb Collective Bargaining Rights"
PolitiFact: Walker Did Not "'Campaign On' His Union Bargaining Plan." On February 22, PolitiFact Wisconsin gave a "false" rating to the claim that Walker campaigned on the proposal to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights:
In the turbulent wake of his controversial plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has faced criticism that he gave no warning of such a dramatic plan during the long 2010 governor's race.
Walker has forcefully challenged that contention, most bluntly at a Feb. 21, 2011 news conference. A reporter asked if the move to limit union power was payback for pro-union moves made by Democrats in the past.
"It's not a tit for tat," Walker responded. "The simple matter is I campaigned on this all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."
Let's sum up our research.
Walker contends he clearly "campaigned on" his union bargaining plan.
But Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the bare-bones of his multi-faceted plans to sharply curb collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did. We could find none either.
While Walker often talked about employees paying more for pensions and health care, in his budget-repair bill he connected it to collective bargaining changes that were far different from his campaign rhetoric in terms of how far his plan goes and the way it would be accomplished.
We rate his statement False. [PolitiFact Wisconsin, 2/22/11]
Fox Apologized For Reversing Results Of Poll: "61 Percent" Of Americans Were NOT "In Favor Of Taking [Bargaining Rights] Away"
Kilmeade: According To USA Today/Gallup Poll, "61 Percent In Favor Of Taking [Bargaining Rights] Away." On the February 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade discussed the results of a recent USA Today/Gallup poll to falsely claim that "61 percent" of those polled are "in favor of taking [collective bargaining rights] away." From the broadcast:
KILMEADE: Wow. But is President Obama out of step with history? Joining us now to debate it, knock it around just a little bit, Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman and Jim Glassman, Director of the Bush Center and author of the book Safety Net. First things first, Robert, do you think the president is taking a big risk here?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not at all. I think he's showing respect for history and respect for our history of supporting the rights and safety of workers, but more than that, he's speaking for the mainstream of our country and the main stream of Republican governors that are not siding with Governor Walker in his efforts to overturn right to work -- collective bargaining.
KILMEADE: I think Gallup, a relatively mainstream poll, has a differing view. And here is the question that was posed, should you take away--will you favor or are you in disfavor of taking away collective bargaining when it comes to salaries for government workers? Sixty-one percent in favor of taking it away. Thirty-three percent oppose. Six percent up in the air. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]
A graphic claiming that "61 percent" responded "favor" to the question "Collective bargaining -- take it away: favor or oppose?" was aired on-screen during the segment:
Fox Issued An On-Air Correction For Reversing The Results Of The Poll. Kilmeade issued a correction during the final minute of Fox & Friends -- 44 minutes after the error -- saying: "I want to correct a poll that we did about 22 minutes ago from Gallup. Sixty-one percent oppose taking collective bargaining away from those people in Wisconsin; 33 percent in favor. I had it reversed. I apologize." In fact, the poll asked if people would oppose a similar law in their own states. This graphic accompanied the apology:
USA Today/Gallup Poll Found "61% Would Oppose A Law Similar To [The] Proposal In Wisconsin"
USA Today/Gallup: "61% Would Oppose A Law In Their State Similar To [The] Proposal In Wisconsin." In the poll conducted on February 21, USA Today and Gallup found that 61 percent of those polled would oppose a law similar to the one Gov. Walker is proposing in Wisconsin. From the article accompanying the poll results (emphasis added):
Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin have proposed cutting union rights for most state government workers and making them pay more for benefits. Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa and other states with Republican governors are considering similar laws. [USA Today, 2/22/11]
MediaMatters, Tues Dec 20 2011
UNI stands in solidarity with postal workers in Kenya fighting for labour rights as 600 dismissed for taking part in industrial action.
Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) management has dismissed 600 workers in an illegal attempt to influence a strike organised by the Communications Workers Union of Kenya (COWU). The industrial action follows the management's refusal to continue negotiations on workers' salaries. The negotiations have been going on for three years. PCK had proposed to postpone talks until 2012.
"The strike has continued uninterrupted for the last four days and is set to continue until the management of PCK agrees to meet us and together sign an agreeable solution," said Benson Okwaro, General Secretary of UNI affiliate COWU.
Referring to the dismissals Okwaro said, "This is against the law because strikes are provided for by our constitution. It is intimidation meant to scare our members from going ahead with the strike."
In the face of such anti-union action, UNI Global Union stands by its affiliate and strongly condemns the behaviour of the PCK management as a violation of the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association.
UNI has addressed a letter to the CEO of the Postal Corporation of Kenya, urging him to resume negotiations in the best interests of all social partners.
Affiliates are also asked to send messages to CEO and the Minster of Posts, a sample and contact details are attached
UNI (Global Union), Tues Dec 20 2011
The decline of labour unions in the US : Labour unions are under fire across the US, but do they have enough vitality to fight back?
For decades, labour unions in the US have been on the decline. While they are widely credited with boosting safety standards and worker pay, many have received blame for wanting too much in times of a struggling economy.
Unemployment is at nine per cent and people are clamouring for jobs, unionised or not. And their greatest political ally, the Democratic party, has taken its support for granted, weakening its pull on the strings of power in Washington, DC.
A new battle has emerged in 2011 as Republican governors have taken on public sector unions, in some cases stripping them of rights that have been in place for 50 years. It is part of a trend that is happening in key swing states and may weaken democratic voting strength in next year's presidential election.
But organised labour has fought back hard. In Wisconsin, unions occupied the state capitol as 100,000 protesters took to the streets. In Ohio, voters overturned a law that was intended to greatly reduce the right that unions have in that state to bargain collectively.
Now as Occupy Wall Street galvanises Americans to take action against financial institutions and big corporations, labour unions have a new ally. But can organised labour harness the anger that everyday Americans are emitting or will this opportunity pass it by? Do labour unions still have the strength to organise or has their power waned to the point that they will no longer be a major player in American politics?
alijazeera.com, Tues Dec 20 2011
What a year it's been for workers! From Wisconsin to Washington, D.C., on the football field and the factory floor, we've seen unprecedented attacks on working families from big corporations and their friends in elected office. But what the folks behind these attacks didn't anticipate was that their actions would ignite a movement -- that the worst moments for workers in 2011 might just be the beginning of a great political awakening for the 99 percent.
1.Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker strips public employees of their collective bargaining rights -- Last spring, anti-worker legislators in Wisconsin rammed through a bill that strips the state's public employees of their right to collectively bargain. After initially using the state's fiscal challenges as the rationale for his bill, Gov. Walker publicly admitted that the collective bargaining repeal saved the state absolutely no money. This revelation affirmed that the nationwide attacks on public employees were solely designed to hurt workers and their unions -- not balance the budget.
2.SB 5 passes in Ohio -- In early March, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 5 into law. The bill scaled back public employees' ability to bargain together for better workplace conditions and improved safety, marking a major victory for the corporate-backed lawmakers playing politics at the expense of the 99 percent.
3.Income inequality soars to new heights -- In September, the Census Bureau reported that one in six Americans are living in poverty. Meanwhile, CEO pay has continued to skyrocket. The result? Income inequality that puts the United States on par with countries like Cameroon and Uganda. And recent studies show that the rise in inequality here in the U.S. is directly tied to declining union membership.
4.Right-wing attacks on the NLRB endanger workers' rights -- Instead of creating jobs, GOP politicians in Congress spent the year launching more than 50 attacks on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the National Labor Relations Act -- the only recourse workers have when their rights to form unions and bargain collectively are violated. These cynical political games have not only threatened employee safeguards, but the unprecedented overreach by lawmakers has jeopardized the fundamental American principle of due process.
5.Amazon workers face sweatshop conditions -- This fall, an investigative report revealed that employees at Amazon.com's Breinigsville, Pa., warehouse had been working on their hands and knees at a frantic pace in temperatures so high that the company kept ambulances parked outside. Amazon has yet to address the core problems at the warehouse, including brutal working speeds and overuse of temporary employees, for whom organizing for better working conditions is extremely difficult.
1.The 99 percent fights back -- With the attacks on workers escalating from Wisconsin to Washington, D.C., everyday Americans decided it was time to fight back. Beginning this fall, the Occupy Wall Street movement has succeeded in shifting the debate -- highlighting the income inequality that puts our whole economy at risk and bringing our nation's focus back to where it belongs: on the 99 percent.
2.Ohio voters repeal SB 5 -- Voters took a stand for workers on Election Day -- striking down Ohio's controversial Senate Bill 5 by a stunning margin of 61 percent to 39 percent. The victory restored collective bargaining rights for public workers throughout the state, and reenergized the middle-class Americans fighting back against anti-worker initiatives nationwide.
3.NLRB rules help protect workers' rights -- This summer, the NLRB issued a rule that requires employers to display a free poster advising employees of their workplace rights. And just this month, the Board voted to approve a resolution that will help ensure a fairer union election process for workers. In this upside down economy, even this modest progress for employees is good news.
4.IKEA workers gain a voice on the job -- Despite IKEA's reputation as a top notch employer in Europe, workers at IKEA's Swedwood plant in Danville, Va., struggled for years with pay cuts, racial discrimination, and dangerous working conditions. But in late July, they voted overwhelmingly to form a union with the Machinists -- a landmark victory for workers and a testament to the continued need for balance in America's workplaces.
5.NFL lockout ends -- The long-awaited end of the NFL lockout this July wasn't just good news for sports fans. For the tens of thousands of stadium workers and small businesses who depend on NFL football to make ends meet, the resolution of the lockout meant their jobs were safe. And for all of us, it was a powerful reminder of the benefits of workers standing together for respect and a voice on the job.
What do you think were the best and worst moments for workers this year?
huffingtonpost.com, Fri Dec 16 2011
A bill that would slash Jill's federal unemployment benefits by more than half is headed to the U.S. Senate after passing the House on a largely party-line vote. Watch this 2-minute video, then call your Senators and Members of Congress.
Call 888-245-3381 and tell your U.S. Senators to reject the massive cuts to unemployment insurance in the House leadership's bill.
Then, use this easy message page to quickly send emails to your Senators, Congressional leaders and your Members of Congress, urging them to oppose cuts to unemployment insurance (UI) and support full renewal of the federal UI program. More than 100,000 messages have been sent already -- send yours now.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has issued a detailed legislative briefing on all of the harmful unemployment insurance provisions in the House leadership's bill (HR 3630). Read the full report here.
unemployedworkers.org, Tues Dec 13 2011
Help push back B.C.'s antidemocratic legislation. Fight Bill 18!
Vancouver (28 Nov. 2011) - The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) is mounting a fight against the provincial Liberal government' attempt to block union activists from seeking leadership positions within college, institute and university Board of Governors.
Bill 18 - the Advanced Education Statutes Amendment Act - which has been introduced to the B.C. legislature with no consultation or notification, contains anti-democratic changes to the College and Institute Act that would:
•Ban union activists involved in collective bargaining or dispute resolution activities from being elected as staff representatives on college, institute and university Boards of Governors;
•Prohibit elected board members from serving as board chair; and
•Give government-appointed board members unprecedented powers to remove elected staff members from the board with a 2/3 majority vote.
The proposed amendments are not only undemocratic, but likely contravene union members' constitutional rights to freedom of association.
Conflict of interest legislation already provides clear guidelines of conduct for members of public bodies. Union activists are no more potentially in conflict than regular unionized employees, who are both equally affected by Board decisions.
You can help convince the B.C. government to drop this ill-conceived legislation. Send an e-mail here to Naomi Yamamoto, the Minister of Advanced Education, and NDP Opposition critic Michelle Mungall, telling the government to pull this legislation.
Download PDF file of SAMPLE EMAIL TEXT for College/Institute staff, College/Institute union activists, and general BCGEU/NUPGE members.
Send a copy to your own MLA (link to BC Legislature contact page)
Download a PDF copy of Bill 18 (College & Institute Act changes start on Page 8)
Access online copy of current College & Institutes Act
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
nupge.ca, Tues Nov 29 2011