Starbucks creates a union martyr

Related Starbucks stories: here

Remember Cole Dorsey

Starbucks terminated a barista active in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union today as part of its ongoing effort to combat a growing movement of employees pushing for a living wage and secure work hours. The barista, Cole Dorsey, was fired after two years of service while he was coordinating a union recruitment drive at Starbucks stores in Grand Rapids. Starbucks' pretext for the illegal anti-union firing was that Dorsey was guilty of some months-old attendance infractions.

Related video: "IWW Organizes Starbucks"

"Today I joined the growing number of baristas that Starbucks has fired in its relentless union-busting campaign," said Cole Dorsey. "Starbucks' disrespect for the right to join a union is appalling and absolutely will not stop our efforts to have a voice at work."

The firing comes as a National Labor Relations Board judge is set to rule after a lengthy trial on the retaliatory terminations of three New York City baristas. Even before the firing, the NLRB was investigating whether Starbucks violated a settlement agreement entered into in Grand Rapids over anti-union discrimination. In 2006, Starbucks was forced to re hire two union baristas who had been unlawfully fired for union activity. This latest firing in Grand Rapids signals that reinstalled CEO Howard Schultz will not modify the company's practice of terminating outspoken union baristas to intimidate workers from joining up.

This firing in Grand Rapids is the same tactic Starbucks employed against a union member in Sevilla, Spain. On April 24, Monica was fired from a Starbucks in Sevilla for her activity on behalf of the Confederacion Nacional de Trabajadores (CNT).

In response the CNT in Sevilla, along with the Starbucks Union in Grand Rapids, have announced a Global Day of Action set for July 5. Workers, students, and concerned citizens around the world will be confronting the global coffee giant on that day demanding an end to Starbucks union-busting policies.


LIUNA picketers block volunteers from church

Related LIUNA stories: here

Laborers falsely claim to be on strike

Bobby Page has spent the last few months studying the plans for an 11,400-square-foot addition to the College Avenue Baptist Church in Bloomington (IL) and was prepared to lead a group of volunteers in the construction project Friday. Instead, he and the 28 other members of the Men On Mission group from Trussville, Ala., put a roof on a Habitat for Humanity home at 13 Richwood Trail in the Woodbury subdivision.

When the second shift of 77 Men On Mission workers arrive in the Twin Cities today, they also will work on Habitat for Humanity homes or help the Fuller Center for Housing of Central Illinois instead of their target job at College Avenue Baptist Church.

That’s more than 4,000 hours of labor the College Avenue Baptist Church counted on but won’t get.

“Because of the nature of the project, we couldn’t do it without volunteers,” said the Rev. Clark Killingsworth, pastor at the church.

That’s also why the church chose MJE Construction, which planned to use nonunion workers, to do the foundation of the building, he said.

“MJE understood our goals and desires,” Killingsworth said. “We would have paid twice as much for a union bid.”

But the use of nonunion laborers prompted a picket at the construction site, and Twin City concrete contractors refused to cross it. On Thursday, two men who identified themselves as members of the Laborers’ Local 362, held a sign saying they were “on strike.”

Local 362 business manager David Penn said at the time he wasn’t aware of a strike by the union.

On Friday, two men held signs saying “Laborers’ Local 362” and “MJE doesn’t have a signed contract with us.” One man said it was an informational picket.

Penn could not be reached for comment Friday.

The picket and its effect on concrete delivery, combined with the recent rainy weather and a later-then-planned start to the project, prevented the project from being as far along as it needed to be for Men On Mission volunteers to do their work.

Clinton Redi-Mix finally crossed the picket line late Friday morning and poured the footings. But the concrete needs to cure before the walls and floor can be poured.

It could be another week before work crews can put weight on the concrete.

That’s about the time Men On Mission will be going home.

“I certainly understand the union position,” said Bob Wood, coordinator of Men on Mission. “My position is they ought to grant leeway to a church project that’s using volunteers.

“The actions of this labor union have prevented the College Avenue Baptist Church from benefiting from 4,240 man hours of skilled labor and has denied these 106 volunteers the privilege and personal satisfaction realized by lending a helping hand,” Wood said.

Each man in the team takes a week off work and pays $175 to travel to other Southern Baptist churches to help each summer, he said. Four other teams follow — one team a week. By the end of the fifth week, the project is supposed to be nearly complete.

“We save them (the church) several hundred thousands of dollars,” Wood said.

Because the crew was here to help, Wood said some members of College Avenue Baptist Church contacted Habitat for Humanity to see if they could help with their projects.

“I’m going to take 50 men,” said Bill Waller, Habitat for Humanity construction manager.

Electricians in the group are going to wire three houses — something that will save Habitat $7,500, he said. Men On Mission also will put shingles on two Habitat houses, frame porches on others and maybe do some siding, Waller said.

Meanwhile, Killingsworth is trying to look at the situation positively.

“It’s our loss but somebody else’s gain,” he said. “The Lord is in control. It (the church addition) was God’s project from the get go. He has a plan.”

Gerald Sampson, who heads Constructors for Christ, the second group that will arrive June 13 to work on the College Avenue Baptist Church project, said his crew of 350 families will pick up where Men On Mission leave off. If that means starting from the beginning, that’s what they will do, he said.

“We anticipated having some work to do in the end,” said Killingsworth. “We didn’t know how much.”

Now, it may be even more than expected.


SEIU urged to halt raids

Jumbo union uses decertification to poach dues

It is ironic that delegates at the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) convention are calling for a national "no raid" agreement among nurses' unions while its affiliate, 1199SEIU, is actively raiding New York State Nurses Association bargaining units.

In a statement released by SEIU on June 4, the union's Executive Vice President Mary Kay Henry was quoted as saying, "Nurse unions should work together to win a fair process for the 85% of registered nurses in America who don't have a union -- instead of fighting over the 15% who already do."

"SEIU pays lip service to cooperation in the labor movement while its members are telling our nurses, 'we're going to take you over,'" said Lorraine Seidel, RN, director of the NYSNA collective bargaining program. "If they really want an end to raiding, they should immediately stop their attacks on our bargaining units."

After staging an ambush at Peninsula Hospital in Queens in May, 1199SEIU operatives moved on to attempt to decertify the Nurses Association at three hospitals in the North Shore/LIJ system: Plainview, Syosset, and Franklin. It was literally a race against the clock as nurses' committees negotiated a new contract while 1199SEIU members roamed the halls urging RNs to sign petitions and cards. The new contracts were ratified, but not before 1199SEIU members arrived in carloads in an effort to disrupt the vote.

1199SEIU members are actively targeting the Nurses Association at several other facilities in the metropolitan area. The Nurses Association has not raided 1199 units; 1199's actions are in retaliation for NYSNA's opposition last year to a proposed alliance between SEIU and United American Nurses, a national union composed of state nurses' associations.

"This is old-style, brass-knuckle union politics, not the enlightened, progressive image SEIU likes to show the public," Seidel said. "It's just one more reason why professional nurses belong in a professional nurses union."

The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 36,000 members, it is the state's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.


Forced-labor unionism goes before voters

Worker-choice scheme would curb unions' cash flow

How can it be legal that an American is forced to pay dues to a union he doesn’t even want to belong to, and hasn’t joined? Believe it or not, some state laws force workers in some industries to do just that. It seems insane and unAmerican, but it is true nonetheless.

Freedom, liberty, rights. These are all words we bandy about quite a bit, right? The first thing most Americans think about when they are forced to do something they don’t want to do is that their rights are being violated. We feel violated paying tolls on toll roads, we are angered at the high taxes we are soaked with year in and year out. But joining a union, why that’s supposed to be freedom of association, right? When we join a union and pay dues, most Americans deem that a right in and of itself. We have a right to join a union if we want, sure enough.

But what if we don’t want to join a union? I can hear the readers now saying “well, then don’t.” If it were that simple I’d agree. If you don’t like unions don’t join one. But what if you had to pay union dues even if you DIDN’T join the union? Would you feel that your rights are being violated by the state forcing you to pay dues to a union you never joined?

It seems to any clear thinking American that if anyone’s rights are being violated, it is those people forced to pay union dues to a union they don’t belong to just so that they can have the privilege to work.

This is no fantasy case. Grocery workers in Colorado, for instance, are forced by oppressive state laws to pay union dues even if they never join the union, the United Food and Commercial Workers.

But currently the State of Colorado has an upcoming Amendment that changes the forced payment of dues. Amendment 47 will be placed before Colorado’s voters this November.

Amendment 47
This November, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to decide whether workers in the state will be free to choose for themselves whether or not to join a union. It’s Amendment 47, the Colorado Right to Work Amendment. If passed, Amendment 47 will strengthen Colorado’s economy, protect the rights of all employees and ensure that no one can be forced to join a union to get or keep a job.
* Changes the current law that forces some workers to join a union as a condition of employment.
* Protects worker rights, including the right to strike, collective bargaining, and the right to organize and belong to a union.
* Protects worker paychecks by ending the practice of forcing workers to pay dues that support political causes without their consent.
* Strengthens Colorado’s economy, creates jobs and makes our state more competitive.

The union thieves know that this is a bad deal for them. They have for some time been living off the gravy of a compliant, oppressive government that has given in to their every wish, quite despite what the people want, quite despite what is right a good.

Ernest Duran of the Colorado office of the UFCW is worried about Amendment 47. He sent out a letter last week that warned his membership that if Amendment 47 passed half of the current dues paying members (and non-member, forced dues payers) would stop sending him their dues money.

And what is Mr. Duran going to do to stop the Amendment? He is going to take union dues money and pay $2 for every signature on several petitions to get the legislature to favor union policies in the state government.

So, that means, if you are forced to pay dues and don’t want to, this union thug is going to use YOUR money to pay people to thwart YOUR wishes! No wonder the unions want to force people to pay dues even if they aren’t members.


Union finances - Why disclose?

Union dues regarded as members' property right

Some might wonder why the finances of labor unions should be disclosed. Aside from the obvious purpose of discouraging corruption on the part of union officers and employees, it is important to realize that labor unions in America are uniquely privileged organizations.

Federal labor law compels employers to recognize and bargain with labor unions certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as the representative of employees. The certification is almost always done as a result of a government supervised secret ballot vote by the employees. Both the employer and the union have the legal responsibility to "bargain in good faith."

That may seem straight forward enough but let's put the shoe on your foot. Let's say that someone came to your door saying that they wanted to buy your house. You might say that you don't want to sell your house. What if there were a law saying that you had a legal obligation to "bargain in good faith" for the sale of your house. Where did that power come from? What gives any group or individual the right to compel negotiations for a contract they don't want? You might say that you don't have to agree to the other person's offer. Ah, but then you could get hauled up before some government tribunal on charges that you failed to bargain in good faith. What if the government agreed with the person who wanted to buy your house? You could be forced to sell? Sound crazy? Well, if an employer fails to reach an agreement with a union with which it was forced to negotiate, the union can file an Unfair Labor Practice complaint alleging failure to bargain in good faith and if the government agrees with the union the employer can be forced to agree to the union proposal. The point is that labor unions are uniquely privileged.

But, it doesn't stop there. Once a contract has been reached the union becomes the monopoly representative of all the employees. It is illegal for any employee to agree to terms and conditions of employment not in the union contract. This denies employees the right to negotiate on their own behalf and to agree to terms and conditions of employment of their own choosing.

This problem is further compounded by the fact that the law sanctions contracts - except in Right to Work states - under which employees can be forced to join or pay a fee to a union as a condition of continued employment. So not only are employees denied the right to represent themselves they suffer the further indignity of being forced to pay for the unwanted representation.

And it doesn't stop there. Labor unions are exempt from Anti-Trust laws and they enjoy a broad exemption from prosecution for crimes of extortion union the nation's anti-racketeering law, the Hobbs Act.

Because American labor unions enjoy substantial special privileges and legal immunities the government has a responsibility to insure that they are as free of corruption as possible. Requiring disclosure of union finances is an important part of fulfilling that responsibility.


Labor-state police decertify AFSCME

Clerks nix union

The Janesville Police Department’s 12 civilian records clerks have voted to decertify their union. The full- and part-time workers were represented as a unit of AFSCME Council 40, but in January, part-time employee Renee Glissendorf filed a petition with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission requesting decertification.

Glissendorf declined to comment on her reasons.

A 5-5 vote with two votes uncounted approved the decertification, said Robin Butson, former chief steward of the Law Enforcement Civilians local.

The civilian employees have become hourly administrative employees, and their pay will be about the same with some of the more senior clerks getting a raise, said Jay Winzenz, the city’s director of administrative service.

As union-represented employees, clerks paid monthly union dues amounting to two hours of wages, Butson said.

Butson said she opposed eliminating the union because of the job protection it provided.

“Without a union, you’re an ‘at-will employee,’ meaning you can be fired, suspended or disciplined without notice or justification,” Butson said. “If the department budget gets tight, non-union employees are the first place to look to cut costs.”

The clerks type and file officers’ reports, help people who come to the department and perform other support duties. They take complaint calls over the phone and regularly deal with people who are victims or witnesses of crimes, Butson said.

They work 24/7.

Dealing with victims and witnesses requires special training, she said, and people so trained should be represented and protected by a union.

The highest-paid clerk earns $38,797 a year, Winzenz said.

While $38,719 is nominally the highest pay in the category into which clerks are being placed, that category has a “merited maximum” of $39,881, Winzenz said.

“So records clerks with at least 10 years of service could receive that depending on their performance,” he said. “Nobody’s pay will be reduced.”

In addition, as administrative employees, the clerks will get one more paid holiday a year. In addition to annual cost-of-living raises, they will receive yearly performance reviews that could boost their pay, Winzenz said.

As union employees, their raises came strictly through cost-of-living and longevity increases, he said.

Shift premiums—$14 per pay period for second shift, $25 for third shift—will remain the same, Winzenz said.


UAW strikers divided v. General Dynamics

Replacement workers anger union officials

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products officials and the United Auto Workers/United Defense Workers of America Local 2850 negotiating team are scheduling a meeting in the next several days to try again to resolve the disagreement that resulted in a two-month long Marion strike, union president Gary Blevins said late Thursday.

“We’re going to sit down with the company next week,” he said.

Blevins sounded optimistic about a third round of talks with the company. The first negotiations ended April 11 at the conclusion of one contract. That’s when union members voted down its replacement and went on strike. On May 10, the unions declined to ratify a new proposal.

The strikers said the contracts weakened seniority provisions, cuts pensions, raised insurance premiums and employees’ costs for prescriptions drugs.

“I think we’re going to be able to work this out,” Blevins said.

The difficulty now, he said, was in finding a time available to company officials and union members who will meet with them, he said.

General Dynamics officials did not respond to a request Friday for confirmation of an upcoming meeting with union representatives.

Blevins’ hopes for resolution, he said, led him to decline to comment on a pair of letters, one from a company official, the other signed “A loyal but dissatisfied UAW member,” that reveal some measure of division in the ranks of union members on the strike.

The May 30 GDATP letter is unsigned but bears on its letterhead the name of Jim Losse, vice president and general manager of advanced materials. Senior Communication Director Gail Warner confirmed the letter as authentic Wednesday.

Losse’s letter, a copy of which was delivered by an unknown person to the News & Messenger office late Tuesday, is the first indication that union members have not necessarily stood united on the strike line.

“The agreement was accepted and unanimously endorsed by the Union bargaining committee. However, to date this has not resulted in a ratified agreement,” Losse’s letter said.

The anonymous letter, mailed to the News & Messenger, postmarked June 3 and handwritten on lined paper, corroborates Losse’s and illuminates the dissent. The writer said the “last offer was endorsed by the UWA and our reps, but we were told before the vote that our reps were forced to sign it. Which is why it was turned down.”

The unknown writer, who the letter said was speaking “for many General Dynamics union members,” wrote that their “anger is directed solely with the very people chosen to represent us,” and that the “negotiating committee seem to have their own personal goals in mind and have lost sight of the picture as a whole.”

“Nothing was wrong with the second offer we received from General Dynamics,” the letter said. “So the contract ends in November. All you can do is be prepared.”

Blevins said last month after the union voted down a proposed contract that the main drawback was the new contract’s term.

“It’s a 42-month contract instead of 36 months,” he said. “Nov. 11 [2011] is when it runs out. The membership would be facing cold weather, Christmas, and taxes. That would put the membership in a bad position to negotiate. They could bring a really trashy contract and we would be under pressure.”

Losse’s letter contains the first company verification of strikers’ repeated claims that General Dynamics has brought in temporary outside workers to continue plant operations during the strike.

“We acknowledge that you have the right to strike, but the company and the salaried workforce have a responsibility to continue to work to serve our customers and contracts,” Losse wrote. “Actions, therefore, are being taken to meet the needs of our customers and to ensure that we maintain a viable business base until we reach an agreement. You’ve already witnessed the arrival of temporary replacement workers. We will bring in more as needed to meet production schedules. This weekend, we will begin placing ads in local papers to recruit workers from the local area. You also have the right to participate by returning to work. That’s a choice you have to make as an individual.”

The anonymous letter writer also spoke of growing financial hardship for the union members. “Our reps evidently have not looked beyond their own goals to see that there are no jobs in this area,” the letter said. “We have single parents trying to raise kids, people caring for ageing [sic] parents and for long time now it has taken two incomes just to maintain a home. We have already lost much in wages and pension. We will never recover this loss.”

Blevins has said that despite cost of living increases brought about by higher food and fuel prices, the strike is not about money so much as about respect.
“We don’t want to roll over and lose what past memberships have worked so hard for. There are respect issues,” he said. “Respect is a big thing.”

The anonymous letter, written apparently without knowledge of a possible meeting next week, closed with an appeal for accepting a new contract that suggests money is an issue for some.

“Ratifying this last offer is not giving in – it’s making the best out of a failing economy and harder times ahead. We implore the union members to stand up for what you believe and let’s get back to work while we still have something to go back to.”
Blevins hopes that will be the outcome of the upcoming meeting.


SEIU bludgeons CNA

Jumbo union employs anti-leftist rhetoric

The Service Employees International Union is embracing the campaign rhetoric of Sen. John McCain's attack on Sen. Barack Obama's healthcare plan as a bludgeon to attack the nation's leading organization of registered nurses, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee noted today.

In a mailing to CNA/NNOC members this week, SEIU blasts CNA/NNOC for supporting a "government-run health care system." McCain has used almost identical language to disparage Obama's proposals for healthcare reform on an issue that will be a major focus of the fall campaign.

"By carelessly and cynically adopting the McCain language, SEIU is not only showing its contempt for the majority of Americans who have told pollsters that the government should guarantee healthcare for everyone as a solution to the healthcare crisis that has put so many of our families at risk.

"They are also giving aid, comfort, and ammunition to Sen. McCain whose own healthcare plan would be a disastrous continuation of the dismal and failed status quo," said CNA-NNOC co-president Malinda Markowitz, RN.

By using his language, SEIU is effectively "validating McCain's attack on Obama," she charged. "We can now expect that McCain will be able to quote SEIU as sharing his disgraceful attempts to subvert desperately needed efforts to transform our dysfunctional and broken healthcare system," she said.

SEIU's latest attack comes just days before a planned "mediation" session between SEIU and CNA/NNOC next week in Washington. But SEIU's tactics, said CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro, "make success in this forum less likely."

SEIU, she said, "will be using the meeting as a staging ground to attempt to show Democratic Party officials that it wants to end its war on RNs, even while it is quoting McCain in its attacks on us."

What SEIU says it is proposing, she noted, is a "no-raid agreement," at the moment SEIU is actively campaigning to raid the New York State Nurses Association, other RN unions, the Puerto Rico Federation of Teachers, and other unions.

"SEIU's goal is to cannibalize all professional nurses' unions," said DeMoro, "while it is undermining the power of RNs to be patient advocates and colluding with employers against the interests of nurses and patients."

"For SEIU to represent any RNs is an injury and insult to all RNs," Markowitz said.

SEIU is a non-RN union -- only 1 percent of its members are RNs -- and has been steadily reducing representation for its remaining RNs, DeMoro noted.

Just this week at its national convention, SEIU adopted a plan to end workplace representation and force RNs and other members to phone call centers when they need help.

As one SEIU member told the New York Times, "sometimes you can't get through to these centers. It's like talking to an ATM." During debate on the resolution, several delegates expressed concerns about the centers, particularly those that handle calls for several locals. "I never dreamed outsourcing would be a good idea," one delegate said, adding, "we aren't a corporation," the Bureau of National Affairs reported today.

To obtain sweetheart deals with employers, SEIU has "routinely sacrificed patients," DeMoro noted. She cited, for example, an agreement with California nursing home operators under which SEIU agreed to back legislation impeding patients' rights to sue over nursing home abuses and oppose reforms to require better staffing for patient safety. SEIU also joined with the New York hospital industry to endorse the closure of hospitals and nursing homes.

On healthcare reform, CNA/NNOC's position "to demand genuine reform has been repeatedly directed by CNA/NNOC members in convention and other forums," said Markowitz, "because nurses daily witness the pain and suffering of our patients at the hands of the private insurance-run healthcare system which routinely denies needed medical care and exposes families to financial ruin in the pursuit of higher revenues and profits."

CNA/NNOC is a national leader in the campaign for a real reform, as embodied in a bill in Congress, HR 676, which would establish a single-payer system, such as an expanded and improved Medicare-for-all. HR 676 has more co-sponsors, 90, than any other reform proposal in Congress, and is endorsed by 430 labor organizations across the U.S.

Ironically, SEIU President Andy Stern claims to also support HR 676, even while he has attacked the concept and has been working with Wal-Mart and the nation's biggest insurers to promote plans that strengthen and reinforce "the chokehold of insurance companies on our health," Markowitz noted.

CNA/NNOC is joining with patients and healthcare activists in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Antonio, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and other cities from coast to coast June 19 for major protests against the insurance industry and a call for HR 676.


Dems block charter schools for union

Trying to slow the creep of privatization

A battle over charter schools is shaping up in Legislative Hall, where a resolution to put a one-year moratorium on the creation of new charter schools is pending in the Delaware Senate. Sen. Patricia M. Blevins, D-Elsmere, said Thursday she introduced Senate Joint Resolution 11 in order to give the state's next governor and education secretary time to handle new charter applications.

She also said her resolution could head off competing legislative initiatives by backers and opponents of charter schools that could take up valuable time during the last weeks of the legislative session.

But Senate Minority Leader Charles L. Copeland, R-West Farms and a candidate for lieutenant governor, blasted the resolution as "an effort to tear down charter schools rather than focusing on building up the regular schools in the regular school system."

"Why pick on charter schools for a moratorium?" Copeland asked. "We could have a moratorium on prevailing wage for school construction."

Blevins said she was surprised that Copeland chose to hold a news conference to express his opposition rather than approach her first.

"For Charlie Copeland to begin rhetoric on the resolution of a colleague he has not spoken to is the worst kind of election-year politics," Blevins said. "I couldn't be more supportive of charter schools."

The resolution, which requires passage by both houses and approval by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to take effect, contains an exception for an all-girls charter school.

Clearing the way for an all-girls school was part of a legislative deal to approve the all-boys Prestige Academy. No applications to establish an all-girls school have yet been submitted.


Rep. Pete Visclosky, Indiana DINO

Related story: "Public opinion survey on card-check"

Democrat wants to end secret-ballot union elections

Is the Employee Free Choice Act on your political radar? If it is not, it better be. It has the potential to be one of the most damaging pieces of legislation for employers and employees that has been seen in decades.

What is the Employee Free Choice Act?

* It provides that a union could be certified to represent your employees with a simple majority of your employees signing an authorization card, therefore the slang term for this legislation, "card check." This requirement for employees to publicly sign a union card to join a union would do away with the current practice of private ballot elections in organizing efforts. At issue is whether or not workers should continue to have the right to vote in privacy like we do in every other election in this county. Because there is no private ballot, the way each worker votes is made known not only to their co-workers but also to union organizers and their employer. This atmosphere would be ripe for extreme peer pressure, harassment and intimidation. This is wrong. Workers deserve the continued right I to make these important personal decisions in private, without fear of coercion or reprisal from union organizers, their employer, or both. The right to a private ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy The voting booth is so private that couples who have been married for years will not disclose to each other whom they voted for in the last government election. Yet, can you believe this fundamental right is under assault in the U.S. Congress? It gets worse.

* If an employer and a union are engaged in bargaining for the first time and are unable to reach an agreement, arbitration will be forced and the result binding for two years.

* It increases the amount an employer is required to pay when an employee is discharged or discriminated against during on organizing campaign to three times back pay. Additionally, there are civil fines up to $20,000 per violation against employers found to be willfully violating employees' rights during an organizing campaign.

On the record. This proposed legislation called H.R. 800 has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives 241 to 185. A companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 1041) is currently under consideration. The Indiana members of the U.S. House of Representatives have recorded their votes on this issue. Representatives Julia Carson, Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, Baron Hill and Pete Visclosky all voted in favor of this legislation. Standing up for worker rights and voting to protect private ballots were representatives Dan Burton, Steve Buyer, Mike Pence and Mark Souder.

President Bush has promised a veto. But however this issue turns out this session, it is not going away What if there is not a presidential veto threat after 2008?

This legislation is organized labor's highest legislative priority today and will continue to be. This is their litmus test for members of Congress that they support. Unions seek to reverse the decline in union membership by facilitating the organizing of workplaces through legalized coercion and intimidation.

Call to action. Whether you are an employee or employer, make your voice heard. If you need assistance with how to do that, visit www.myprivateballot.com. Indiana organizations that have declared their public opposition to this "card check" legislation include the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Manufactures Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Indiana Retail Council, Indiana Petroleum Council, Indiana Hotel and Lodging Association, Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association, and Restaurant and Hospitality Association.

Remember. Your vote. In America it's as sacred as the Constitution. And it is to be cast in private. A right that belongs only to you. Don't let your Congressman, who was elected by secret ballot, take away your right. What could be next??

- J.R. Gaylor is president and CEO of the Associated Builders & Contractors of Indiana Inc. He also serves on the board of directors of the Indiana Construction Roundtable and on the board of trustees for Vincennes University.


State weighs furlough to save union-dues flow

AFSCME stuck in the middle

Pennsylvania government workers were warned Friday that thousands will be sent home without pay at the end of the month if state budget talks deadlock. Naomi Wyatt, Gov. Ed Rendell's secretary of administration, told state employees that if the governor and Legislature have not agreed on a new state budget by midnight on June 30, furloughs will begin immediately.

Budget season furlough warnings are not unusual _ and a one-day furlough did occur last year _ but this marks the first time the governor has threatened to partially shut down the government the moment the budget year concludes.

"We remain hopeful that we will not have to implement our impasse contingency plans, but we need to be prepared," Wyatt said in an e-mail that most state workers received Friday morning.

If a furlough is ordered, state troopers, prison guards, liquor store clerks and casino regulators would continue to work and be paid.

But many services would be curtailed or suspended. State parks would close down, driver's license centers would be shuttered and environmental permits would no longer be issued.

Last year's furlough did not occur until July 9, but Wyatt said allowing noncritical workers to stay on the job past June 30 risks a fine and $3.5 million in daily damages under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

A furlough would idle about 25,000 people, or more than a quarter of the state work force. Wyatt said their health coverage would continue.

In a separate letter Friday, Wyatt directed agency heads to double-check the list of who will be laid off and who will continue working. Workers will learn next week whether they might be furloughed, but the final list will not be announced until closer to the deadline.

"I don't think this is a win for anybody," she told reporters late Friday. "I think this is a horrible situation."

The head of a union that represents about 17,000 targeted workers said it objects to how the administration decides which positions are not "critical" enough to the public's health, safety and welfare to avoid being furloughed.

"If they have a budget impasse, that's an issue between the governor and the Legislature," said David R. Fillman, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13. "My members should not be stuck in the middle (of) something that has nothing to do with them."

Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, said the House was more than two weeks away from considering more than 160 amendments to the budget proposal.

"It's one more year of the Rendell Doctrine: create a crisis, instill fear," Miskin said.

Many in the Capitol are pessimistic that a budget will be signed in time to avert the furloughs. Rendell, a Democrat, has offered a $28.3 billion spending plan that would be a 4.2 percent increase over the current year.

Republican opponents insist the proposed growth is too large, and the list of unresolved issues includes legislation regarding energy, economic development, infrastructure and health care.

Also, Rendell may face difficulty selling the General Assembly on his plan to shift a greater share of public school funding to needy school districts.

After last year's budget deadlock, which ended with a massive deal on transportation, including the introduction of tolls along Interstate 80, Rendell did not sign a budget until July 17. Workers were later paid for their single day off the job.

During a 34-day impasse in 1991, when state workers' paychecks were deferred, they protested at the Capitol.


Note to actors: Writers may never recover

Labor strikes burn through serious cash

The recent Hollywood writers' strike tipped California into a recession, resulting in a loss of $2.1 billion to the state economy and costing 37,700 jobs, the Milken Institute said in a research report. The report, issued by the economic think tank on Thursday, takes on increasing importance as the Screen Actors Guild and Hollywood's major movie studios are embroiled in their own contract talks that threaten to throw the industry into another work stoppage as soon as the SAG contract expires on June 30.

"The biggest thing that (a potential SAG strike) really does is it slows down the recovery, even a short strike is going to lead to a further disruption of filming schedules," said Kevin Klowden, managing economist at the Milken Institute and one of the report's authors.

Klowden said the three-month writers' strike that ended in February cost the entertainment industry alone $500 million. But because Hollywood overlaps with other state industries, the report found the strike had a wider impact overall.

Some 10,500 members of the Writers Guild of America walked off the job in November last year after failing to strike a new contract with major film and television studios represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Key sticking points in those talks centered on how much writers would be paid when their work appeared on the Internet. Web-related payments also are an important hurdle to overcome in the current talks between SAG, which represents about 120,000 film and TV actors, and the AMPTP.

Klowden said the writers strike came at a very bad time for California because the United states was teetering on the edge of a recession.

"The fact is that for California this was essentially a tipping point that pushed us (the state) into a recession," Klowden said.

Jack Kyser, chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said the Milken report compares well to the $2.5 billion regional damage estimate his organization reported earlier this year when movie and television workers returned to work.

"It is very realistic, because these are high-wage people," Kyser said.


Teamsters to strike bankrupt hauler

Hoffa sends a message to judges

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters said Friday they would strike a Michigan-based car hauler after a federal bankruptcy judge agreed to let the company temporarily cut the pay of union drivers.

Performance Transportation Services, the No. 2 car hauler in the United States, won court permission to immediately impose a 15-percent pay cut on 1,250 Teamster drivers through July 31. The company's president and CEO, Jeff Cornish, said in a Detroit News interview Thursday that the company would go to court to seek an injunction halting what it said would be an "illegal strike."

A walkout, set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, could halt vehicle deliveries for automakers that use the Allen Park-based company, which delivers 2.7 million vehicles a year. Ninety-five percent of its business -- 10,400 vehicles a day -- comes from General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. The automakers said they are monitoring the situation and preparing plans in the event of a strike.

"We are striking to enforce our bargaining table positions on wages, hours and related issues," Fred Zuckerman, the Teamsters chief negotiator and car-haul division director, said on Friday. He said local unions unanimously OK'd the strike.

The union membership, which includes about 350 PTS workers in Michigan, last week authorized a strike by a 3-1 vote.

Cornish told employees in a letter Wednesday that the pay cuts were necessary "to give us time to bargain separately with the IBT," and that a new contract "will allow us to move forward to a plan of reorganization which will provide long-term, secure jobs for our employees."

PTS first filed for bankruptcy in January 2006. The company again filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2007, citing high fuel prices, the declining auto market and bad weather that made hauling more expensive. Cornish said PTS is looking for concessions similar to those won by the nation's largest car hauler, Allied Holdings, which filed for bankruptcy in 2007, and imposed a 17.5 percent pay cut on workers.

"This option was the only one available to us to try to save the company," Cornish said.

Car haulers have faced a shrinking volume of vehicles for delivery as the auto industry faces its worst sales year in a decade. More competition from railroads and skyrocketing diesel prices also are challenging the hauling industry.

"You have to eat a lot of those costs," Cornish said, noting the company has a fleet of 1,300 tractor-trailers. "We have faced a lot of difficult cost swings."


AFL-CIO goes on strike v. Auto Nation

Mechanics and service writers at BMW of Mountain View (CA) went on strike this week, saying their reputation for doing high-quality work at "the last honest BMW dealer in the Bay Area" was on the line. Dozens of workers picketed the dealership at El Camino Real and Grant Road on Monday, carrying signs discouraging customers from shopping there. Drivers passed by honking their horns in support.

The dealership's new corporate owner, Florida-based Auto Nation, wants mechanics and service writers to be paid on commission instead of their current salaries. As a result, "My paycheck is going to depend on what I sell," said service writer Rudy Gomez. "That's what gives dealers a bad reputation."

The company also wants employees to foot higher bills for dental, vision and health care, "a complete gutting of what we have now," said employee Rolf Kuchlenz.

"Most of us have families," Gomez said. "We can't come up with that out of our own pockets."

With the worker's AFL-CIO union contract due to expire May 31, negotiations broke down several weeks ago. The employees began picketing Monday.

Though workers said they were negotiating directly with local officials, dealership manager Brian Nelson said he couldn't comment on the issue, and directed all questions to Auto Nation in Florida. Representatives there were not immediately available for comment.

Workers say that, under the proposed business practices, service writers could be rewarded for selling customers on unnecessary work, while mechanics could be rewarded for rushing a job.

"They would pay us for how fast we do it," one worker said. "That's not a very good way to get your car fixed."

Workers on the picket line said the dealership has the best reputation for BMW service in Silicon Valley, often serving customers referred to them by other dealers. With 45 mechanics, the dealership is one of the busiest.

Auto Nation, a Fortune 500 company started by the founder of Blockbuster Video, purchased the company while it was still known as Allison BMW and the only unionized BMW dealer in the Bay Area. Since then, the company tripled the number of mechanics and added work space for them in a new, multi-story building. A Mini dealer opened up next door as well, which also has workers on strike (Mini is a product of BMW).

A longtime mechanic named Larry who ran the Mini service garage during the expansion said he believes the new owners are not showing gratitude for their hard work.

"We built all this for them," Larry said. "Instead of rewarding us, they punish us."

Employee Mike Romano said the cards were stacked against them, calling the standoff "worse than David and Goliath."

"They've got 300 dealers, and we are just 66 people," he said.


Union election queered by UAW

Techniques predetermine voting results

Members of UAW Local 551 will vote for new officers Tuesday in an election being overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The local, which represents hourly workers at the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant, is having the off-schedule local election because a prior vote in June 2007 was nullified following complaints some of the local's retirees had not been property notified of the election.

Retirees of the local may vote for all the organization's officers, except the members of the bargaining committee.

On March 17, the local and the Department of Labor reached a voluntary compliance agreement that set up the new election. Local officials said they agreed to conduct a new election rather than spend money challenging the complaint.

"The election was not overturned," Local 551 President Charlene Davis has said. "They (Department of Labor) showed me some retirees weren't contacted, so I told them we can do a new election. We entered into a settlement agreement."

Davis didn't return calls for comment Thursday.

The Department of Labor supervised the nominating process for the new election and will supervise the election of the local's president, vice president, financial and recording secretaries, three trustees, guide, sergeant-at-arms and unit chair, according to a letter the department sent to nominees.

The election will be conducted from 12:01 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the UAW Local 551 union hall, 13550 S. Torrence Ave. If no candidate for an office receives a majority of the votes for that office, a run-off election will be conducted from 12:01 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 17 at the hall.

Ryan Rettig, the current acting unit chairman, and Seyborn Billings and Carlos Lara are competing for the chairman's office. Rettig was appointed to the position by the Local 551 board when Anthony Tallarita vacated the position in August when he took a job with the UAW International.

Davis, Bill Zandy and Carlo Bishop are running for the position of Local 551 president, while Tony Garcia, Lance Williams and Sylvia Blanco are seeking the vice president's post.

Star Jones, Angela Delaney and Mindy Capp are running for recording secretary. Dave Schoenecker and Cheryl White are competing for financial secretary. James Jones, Rodney Joseph, Gary Calcaterra and Frank Williams are running for guide.

Dino Salas and Frank Rincon are seeking the sergeant-at-arms post. The six candidates seeking the three trustee spots are Steve Roman, Trace Williams, Torrie Peoples, Pat Walsh, Laverne Simms and Sue Shelton.


Pro-union Dem Gov.: The Mouth

Related story: "Gov. Rendell exposed as Teamster thug"

Ready, fire, aim

Roughly a decade ago, when Ed Rendell was the mayor of Philadelphia, he made a controversial decision to appear with Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan at a rally. Farrakhan was in town in the aftermath of an assault by a gang of whites on an African American woman and her son and nephew in a notoriously gritty and racist part of the city. Many politicians, especially Jewish ones, would have kept far away from the incendiary Farrakhan. Portions of Rendell's liberal base were outraged. Protesters marched outside his home. But he went ahead anyway.

I was writing a book on Rendell at the time. Allowed into his inner sanctum for close to six years, I found Rendell's stance on Farrakhan important and was eager to hear what he had been thinking during the rally. He did not disappoint: "As I sat there, I said to myself, 'Wouldn't it be great if someone burst in and gunned me down, because then Buzz would at least have an ending to his book.'"

It was pure Rendell--unabashed, predictably unpredictable, the opposite of self-serious.

There are a number of conventional reasons for Barack Obama to consider Rendell, who is now serving his second term as governor of Pennsylvania, as his running mate this fall. In the same indefatigable fashion that he delivered a ten-point win for Hillary Clinton in the April Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, Rendell could deliver this crucial swing state to Obama come November. Rendell is popular statewide, and, more important in a presidential election, he continues to maintain Herculean strength in the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia, a traditional Republican stronghold that John McCain must do well in to have any chance of gaining the state.

But the real reason to pick Rendell hearkens back to that out-of-nowhere quip after the Farrakhan rally. It's his very unconventionality that makes him such an intriguing choice. Craving some pizzazz to counter the watch-your-back mentality that has become Washington politics? Pick Rendell. Want passion, candor, off-the-cuff gems, moments of keen insight? Pick Rendell. It's true that his one real foray into national politics, as Democratic National Committee chair under Al Gore when he was running for president, ended up in what some would say was excommunication because of a tendency to speak out of turn. But that's what makes Rendell arguably the most refreshing politician in the country.

A large, hairy bear of a man, Rendell would enliven Washington in a way that nobody has in years. He doesn't double-talk when it comes to describing political reality. Like when he told me he would never consider being a U.S. senator: "It's an incredibly easy job. They don't do shit." Like how he described his address to the Democratic National Convention in the 1980s: "Thirty seconds into my speech, it dawned on me that I could have been reading the best parts of Lady Chatterley's Lover and it wouldn't have mattered. ... No one was listening." Like his job description as mayor: "A good portion of my job is spent on my knees, sucking people off to keep them happy." Like his refusal to deny a quote attributed to him in Philadelphia magazine in which he said that the publication "sucks the big wong": "Anybody who knows me knows that it has the ring of truth, so I'm cooked. If I had said, 'Your magazine eats shit,' I could have denied it."

Choosing someone as vice president because he's more Jackie Mason than Jack Kennedy probably does not seem like such a good idea. But Rendell is also one of the smartest, most intuitive politicians in the country. And he would bring to Obama a unique gift for keeping the right people happy. He did it for eight years as mayor from 1992 to 2000 when he turned the contentious Philadelphia City Council into a rubber stamp for his policies because of his personal charm.

He has been perhaps even more impressive in Pennsylvania as governor, given that he has been forced to deal most of the time with a Republican-controlled legislature with as much intellectual wattage as one of those green-friendly dim-lit curlicue bulbs, but without the good intent. Under such conditions, Rendell has managed to make real strides in energy, the environment, education, and economic development. His entire experience as a politician has been administrative, an important counterpoint to the exclusively legislative experience of Obama. It could make for a fascinating marriage of the idealist and the schmoozing fixer.

But calling it as he sees it remains Rendell's most compelling quality. It can be a crass quip about caving in to people's demands: "If I was a woman, I'd be pregnant all the time." Or a blunt assessment of the economy after corporate suits informed him that they were closing the famous Breyers ice cream factory in Philadelphia to save on costs: "Everything you laid out--it would make a textbook study in business school, but it is a horror story to hear for the future of our country. ... I'll be a two-term mayor, and I'll get out before the carnage really starts, but what's going to happen to our country?" Or the sheer frustration after being accosted for hours at a public meeting by working-class whites feeling alienated and angry: "This country is really fucked up."

Whatever the subject, Rendell is not shy about exposing uncomfortable truths. Like many people, his greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. During the Pennsylvania primary, he declared that some Pennsylvanians would simply not vote for Obama because he is African American. He was, of course, right, but his candor (not to mention his Elmer Gantry-like proselytizing for Hillary) didn't exactly endear him to the Obama camp. In a national campaign, Rendell would need to follow a carefully controlled script, which is not only impossible for him, but would neuter the very qualities that make him so special.

Which is a shame. Because of the blunt way he handled union leaders threatening a massive strike during a pivotal contract negotiation: "I don't want to be a shit, and I don't want to be anti-labor, but I can't grow hair, and I can't grow money." Because of the way, after eight murders one weekend summer night, he passed an impoverished stretch of Philadelphia and concluded there was only one hope of reduced violence: "What we need in this town is on every fucking weekend between now and September for it to rain." Because of what he--and he alone admits--about the entrenchment of racial politics: "Everything that goes on is a power struggle between black politicians and white politicians, and it isn't because of what's good for the citizens. It's about who controls what project. I'm so fed up with this blackmail stuff that goes on, I could just scream. I could just take a machine gun and shoot 'em all. "

Would you want a man who says something as blunt as that to be your vice president? The answer is obvious. But that's not U.S. politics anymore. It's a style that has become anachronistic since the days of Truman. Which is also why Rendell's chances of becoming vice president are also obvious. As he might put it himself: no shot.


Ohio - SEIU-COPE for Obama

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