Archive for workers rights

Labor union gets help from pastors, students... in Mississippi! "God supports the working man."

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labor union brought us

When we think of labor union support, Mississippi doesn't usually come to mind. But it may be time to think again, because a union effort is gaining momentum there.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, labor union workers are finding an ally in the South. The United Automobile Workers are getting help from unusual sources in organizing a Mississippi Nissan plant. The plant employs 5,000.

Nissan management has been pushing their employees harder and harder by speeding up the assembly line, leaving them exhausted and feeling mistreated with no way to stand up for themselves. People are noticing, supporting a "more pleasant place to work" so that workers will feel less pressured, demeaned, and become more productive.

In the words of one longtime employee, now "other people are willing to stand up for you. It takes the fear out of you."

This time, union organizers have help from an unexpected source. Pastors and students across this part of central Mississippi have joined the campaign, championing the workers' cause. From pulpits, at leafleting campaigns outside Nissan dealerships and at auto industry events in Brazil, Geneva and Detroit, these new organizers have a message: God supports the working man. [...]

The UAW is very clearly involved with the pastors' efforts, helping them form the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan...

But for the pastors as well as the workers the organizing drive is not just about union membership. For many, it has become a way to shore up a shrinking middle class. Their campaign, they say, is a modern-day civil rights struggle whose antecedents go back more than 50 years to the days when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, the day after he spoke to striking sanitation workers.

Mississippi's conservative Legislature also has waded into the fray. The House of Representatives earlier this month passed a package of bills that would restrict union organizing, one of which labor leaders say is meant to prohibit pastors and outside groups from protesting with the Nissan workers.

Gee, what a surprise: Conservatives trying to bust labor union efforts. And we know how union members tend to vote come election day, right? (Hint: Democratic.)

African Americans have a history of being more open to unionizing than white workers are, so that may be making the difference here, since most of the plant's work force is African American. It will be an uphill battle, but this is good news. One day, pairing the words "labor union" and Mississippi may not seem so extraordinary.

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Workers push to join unions becomes big headache for MSNBC, liberal hosts

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msnbc lean forward

I often hear from indignant or disappointed Twitter followers that the progressive MSNBC political show hosts don't go to bat for this or that cause, and have threatened to boycott the network if their favorites let them down. I understand the frustration, but unfortunately, demands like those are not always realistic.

What many don't realize is, at least in some cases, on-air personalities are unable to speak out for contractual reasons. "Breach of contract" is nothing to sneeze at. For example, protesting on MSNBC air time or threatening to walk out on their jobs because of Martin Bashir's departure was very likely not an option. They'd get their asses sued faster than Megyn Kelly can say "Santa Claus is white."

However, perhaps publicly backing workers who want to join unions is different, and the AFL-CIO is all over them about that. I'm no legal expert, so I have no idea if this particular action would be contractually kosher or not.

Via The Hill:

The AFL-CIO is calling upon liberal MSNBC hosts to meet with workers at the cable network who are trying to unionize.

In a letter sent to Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Rev. Al Sharpton, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O’Donnell, the nation’s largest labor federation said the television personalities should speak out in support of workers at Peacock Productions, who produce programming for MSNBC.

Workers at Peacock have complained about their access to health insurance, low pay, long hours and job insecurity, according to the AFL-CIO letter. [...]

The union drive has become a headache for MSNBC. The liberal-leaning network covered the battle between unions and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) over collective bargaining. But the network hosts have been silent regarding the Peacock workers who are fighting their employer.

"All In" host Chris Hayes has already secretly met with workers, per Salon.

Ed Schultz has been a strong and consistent supporter of labor unions on his show. He regularly travels to GOP-run, union-busting states and brought us live reporting that is sorely missing elsewhere in the "news" media. And according to Salon, he has pushed back against criticism that he has not stood by workers.

As Rachel likes to say, "Watch this space."

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John Boehner, The Warlock Of Oz

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Yellow Brick Road

Well, I guess this has to be expected. The Republicans prove once again they are a people of their convictions -- anti-gay, anti-equality, anti-women's rights,  anti-immigrant and anti-anything fair and just. They're back to their old tricks. They're the obstructionist party.

If a return to slavery came up, Speaker Boehner would most certainly bring it to the floor for a vote. After all, oppression is the "O" in the GOP. And without slavery, the price or running a small business has increased. That's not good for business. And Boehner's party is already grumbling about the child labor laws. What's the problem with kids working for a dollar a day for 12 hours a day. They're young. They can handle it. Forget giving them an education. Leave that to the white rich kids. And think of the savings to business if the weren't taxed for education. Given a chance, Boehner would do away with the minimum wage, too.

Today, the Senate is poised to pass ENDA: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And what does that bill do? It protects individuals rights so that workers can't be fire for their sexual orientation. Mind you, this is not a quota bill, it doesn't force any business to hire or have a certain percentage of LGBT employees. It just guarantees that they can't be fired just because of their sexual orientation.

Where's the controversy there?

Passing the bill in the Senate is very important. But it appears it's the yellow brick road leading up to a house run by the Wicked Warlock of Oz, Speaker Boehner. Throw open the curtain and you'll find the same warlock who caused the government shutdown for his own selfish, personal reasons. He's a petulant child who belongs in Oz. He's a coward,who lacks a heart and a brain.

He doesn't like anyone other that old, white, conservative gentiles. He's anti-Semitic -- not one Jew on his executive staff, he's anti-black and immigration -- look at his refusal to bring up SNAP votes and a pathway to citizenship for immigration. He's against women's rights, and was on record against the Lilly Ledbetter legislation. This is the Right-wing party leader.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) affirmed on Monday morning that he would oppose a law that would prohibit discrimination against gay and lesbian employees in the workplace, citing the possibility that it would put a financial burden on businesses.

How does this moron see this as an additional cost burden on business? Fairness in hiring doesn't cost a penny more. Breaking the law might cost additionally, but that's the reason we have these laws. To protect businesses and workers. The Speaker claims there will be more frivolous lawsuit claims. Maybe in his office. But not in the real world.

It's against the law to turn down hiring minorities. It's against the law to pay women less than men for an equal position. That doesn't change the cost of the business. It's a matter of practice, fairness and not cost.

straw man Speaker John Boehner

Grow up, Boehner. Picking on minorities doesn't make you a bigger man, it makes you a child. A petulant one at that. So why don't you travel down that yellow brick road with Dorothy and Toto and if you're lucky, you'll find what you're lacking-- a heart, courage and a brain.

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WI Gov. Scott Walker suggests stripping police and firefighter union rights

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walker koch call

Why, it was only yesterday that I posted about how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and county staff collaborated after a teenage boy was killed by a 13-ton concrete panel that fell on him. Oops! Where's all that conservative compassion we used to hear so much about, hmm?

Now Scotty is once again doing his best to make himself as unappealing as possible by further alienating workers, the middle class, union members, Democratic voters, the usual. He's talking about extending the state ban on public sector union rights to police and firefighters. He must have gotten a call from one of the Koch brothers.

Then he backtracked the next day, because-- surprise!-- that plan bothered a few people.

Via the Wisconsin State Journal:

At a public event in Milwaukee on Monday, Walker said he would consider expanding the law, and that police and fire workers may now be willing to forgo union rights taken from other government workers — collective bargaining, paycheck dues withdrawals and arbitration to settle disputes with management.

“I think now, for those areas, having seen that the world didn’t come to an end for other municipal employees, there might be a greater opening going forward because they’d say, ‘Hey, you know, things worked out,’” Walker said at the annual Governmental Research Association policy conference.

Leaders of two police unions said their members wouldn’t accept any such change, and they believe the governor knows that.

I'msorrywhat?! "The world didn't come to an end for other municipal employees"?! Interrobang!

Nahh, those workers and their families are just dandy now that you yanked their rights out from under them, making it impossible to improve their situation, their lives, their livelihood as well as their children's, destroyed their dignity, all while spitting on democracy and Wisconsin families. Pfft, big deal, no skin off Scotty's nose.

Family values my ass.

Those union slobs and their kvetching. Honestly.

There you have it, voters: Walker 2016. Some might say he was appealing to his base. I say he is as appalling as his base.

Here's what else Scotty had the unmitigated gall to say: "The position I pushed is not unlike the principle that Franklin Delano Roosevelt — not exactly a conservative — pushed as well when it came to public sector collective bargaining.”

Yes, he said that. No, I'm not kidding.

Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the state AFL-CIO, didn't take kindly to that either, saying (among other things), "Scott Walker is drowning in a jobs deficit and to compare himself to FDR is laughably delusional.”

Truer words were never spoken...

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House GOP leadership rammed through bill that would have effectively put National Labor Relations Board out of business

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labor unions brought us

Yesterday I posted this: "Reince Priebus confirms GOP’s not really serious about reinventing itself; Paul Ryan aids and abets."

One of our astute readers brought one more thing to my attention, something I missed, one more thing that proves that Republicans are all show and no go. While they're busy screaming about freedom and democracy, House Republicans made it clear that they don't want working Americans to have a voice.

 

Via the AFL-CIO:

House Republican leadership rammed through a bill (H.R. 1120) earlier today that would effectively put the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) out of business. 

The NLRB enforces rules established under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which protects the rights of workers to form unions, bargain collectively and have a voice on the job. 

All Democrats, along with 10 Republicans—Reps. Rodney Davis (Ill.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), David Joyce (Ohio), Peter  King (N.Y.), David  McKinley (W.Va.), Pat Meehan (Pa.), Tom Reed (N.Y.) and Don Young (Alaska)—voted to stop this blatant attack on workers' rights. In the end, after much arm-twisting by Republican leadership, the measure squeaked by on a vote of 219-209. [...]

Fortunately, this bill will not be taken up by the Senate, but it is symbolic of the right-wing's anti-worker agenda

outreach my ass reach out inclusive

You can read the AFL-CIO letter opposing H.R. 1120 here.

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MI Dictator, er, Gov. Snyder declares financial emergency in Detroit, will appoint emergency manager to take over

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glitter crown

Let's recap what exactly the king dictator governor of Michigan has been up to.

King Ricky’s appalling financial martial law was, and apparently will continue to be, the legislation that allows one person (the emergency manager) to dictate all kinds of things without any input from voters. It renders local officials and voters powerless. For example:

  • He could do away with unions, with police officers, mayorships, you name it. You voted for someone and they won? Doesn't matter. OUT.
  • You like that school your kid goes to? Nevermind. GONE.
  • You cherish democracy and thought it would always be The American way? TOO BAD.

Then there's the GOP’s ongoing goal of crushing unions as a way of denying Democrats their political funding which would lead to eventual single party rule.

Governor Rick Snyder said that union busting is “pro-workers! It’s a good thing! This is a positive thing for unions!” Then the union busting “Right-to-work for work for less” measure was signed it into law. It’s important to remember that Michigan’s “Right to Work” law contains verbatim language from ALEC model bill.

But back to Financial Martial Law. It's ba-a-ack. Bloomberg:

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder plans to name an emergency manager to handle Detroit’s fiscal crisis, stripping power from local officials [...]

His decision may inflame opponents, as the administration of a white Republican seizes control of a place that is predominantly black and Democratic. [...]

Detroit... would be the sixth Michigan city put under state control [...]

Opponents say state takeovers disenfranchise voters by stripping elected officials of their power over municipalities or school districts, and may protect bondholders at the expense of employees, services and taxpayers... Some have said a takeover is racist because, along with Detroit, cities where almost half of Michigan’s black residents live would be under state control. Managers are already in charge in Allen Park, Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint and Pontiac.

Take a look at this segment of The Rachel Maddow Show from January 2012:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

what's the matter with michigan

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VIDEO: Why California labor unions are growing

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unions death exaggerated

Please watch the whole video, especially the part at about 11:43.

The bad news: Union membership is on the decline. In fact, a record low 11.3 percent of all U.S. workers were union members, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the government said.

The good news: California is seeing union gains. Why? Latino workers.

Latino immigrants are more willing to join unions in a tough economic environment, according to organizers.

The L.A. Times is reporting that California added more than 100,000 union member last year, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 18.4% of the state’s workers are represented by a union.

Corporations maximize profits at the expense of the people who do all the work, so low-wage workers are interested in organizing in order to give themselves opportunity, job security, and to become a part of the now-shrinking middle class.

As David Johnson (from the video), organizing director of the California Nurses Assn., said, "There has to be a broader vision set forth so that people see unions and the labor movement as an answer to the corporate domination and the Wall Street greed that has devastated our country."

Labor's more optimistic proponents say that California could serve as a blueprint for unions across the country as they seek to stem membership declines. [...]

Workers fed up with years of stagnant wages may be motivated to join a union for financial reasons. Last year, union members made $943 a week, on average, while non-union members made $742, according to the BLS. [...]

Organizers say they were successful because they harnessed frustration with growing nationwide inequality to engage members during the recession. [...]

But demographic shifts can be only positive for unions in the next few years, said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at UC Berkeley. Labor has built new alliances and is going into a new, proactive phase, he said.

"Reports of labor's death have been greatly exaggerated," he said.

unions gave us

Remember who created our weekends, overtime, safe work places, unemployment benefits, public roads, and employer-based health care.

And remember why Republicans want to do away with them: They are one of the few lucrative sources of Democratic fundraising.

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