Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Mike Hall’

Krugman on ‘Sequester of Fools’

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Image: Mike HallPaul Krugman has a pretty straightforward plan to deal with the sequester that’s due to hit March 1. The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist says, “The right policy would be to forget about the whole thing.”

He bases his proposal on what Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen said in her keynote address to the Trans-Atlantic Agenda for Shared Prosperity conference at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Fiscal austerity, such as the sequester and the latest doomsday alert from the Bowles-Simpson duo, is the enemy of real economic recovery. Writes Krugman:

America doesn’t face a deficit crisis, nor will it face such a crisis anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have a weak economy that is recovering far too slowly from the recession that began in 2007. And, as Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, recently emphasized, one main reason for the sluggish recovery is that government spending has been far weaker in this business cycle than in the past. We should be spending more, not less, until we’re close to full employment; the sequester is exactly what the doctor didn’t order.

Read his full column, including his take on Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, “the famous fomenters of fiscal fear.”

The arbitrary, across-the-board sequestration cuts in everything from mental health services to public safety kick in next Friday, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republican lawmakers say they are willing to toss 750,000 people out of work and cut vital lifeline government services to ring massive concessions in cuts from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Working families are calling on their elected representatives to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefits cuts, repeal the sequester and make sure corporations and the wealthiest 2% pay their fair share through closing tax loopholes.

This post was originally posted on AFL-CIO on 2/22/2013. Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

New Agreement Means $2.2M in Back Pay, New Work for Florida IATSE Members

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Stagehands in West Palm Beach, Fla., will secure regular work and share some $2.2 million in back pay after Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 500 and the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Artsreached agreement on a five-year contract that settles charges in a dispute that began in 2001.

The agreement was reached in late December and approved today by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  

The new agreement followed a strike last month that forced the cancellation of four performances of the touring musical “Jersey Boys.” Actors’ Equity (AEA) and other unions representing workers in the touring companyrespected IATSE picket lines. When the Palm Beach Post asked Local 500 business manager Terry McKenzie how the agreement was reached, the paper wrote:

McKenzie deadpanned, ‘Well, a strike had something to do with it.’

In 2000, the theater fired several IATSE members and withdrew recognition of the union after declaring an impasse had been reached in negotiations. In 2001, attorneys for the regional director of the NLRB concluded that Kravis had committed “massive and continuous violations” of federal labor law when it unilaterally withdrew recognition of the union, refused to negotiate, discharged union-represented department heads and other major violations.

Kravis appealed the decision to the Bush–era full NLRB, which took five years before the board ruled that the center violated the law when it ejected the union and fired union workers. But the center appealed to a federal appeals court, which upheld the NLRB ruling.

In 2009, the Kravis Center, under court order, returned to the bargaining table, but in 2011 and 2012 committed further labor law violations, according to charges filed by IATSE.  

The new agreement withdraws all pending charges and the NLRB says Kravis also recognizes the union as the bargaining agent for stagehands working on Kravis productions and agrees to obtain workers through the Local 500 hiring hall. The contract also reinstates three department heads whose positions had been eliminated. Said McKenzie in a statement:

The union looks forward to building a positive relationship that contributes to the success of the Kravis Center and gainful employment for the people we represent.

This post was originally posted on AFL-CIO on January 4, 2013. Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When his collar was still blue, he carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse.

Striking SoCal Port Clerical Workers Win Outsourcing Controls in Tentative Pact

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Some 450 office clerical workers—members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63—are back on the job this morning in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., after the ILWU and port employers reached a tentative agreement Tuesday night that will prevent the outsourcing of jobs.

ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said the unity and solidarity of the workers, members, their families and thousands of community supporters played a major role in the workers’ win. When the workers struck Nov. 27, ILWU dockworkers and other port workers refused to cross the picket lines.

“This victory was accomplished because of support from the entire ILWU family of 10,000 members in the harbor community.”

The key elements in the tentative agreement are new protections that will help prevent jobs from being outsourced to Texas, Taiwan and beyond. Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said:

“Really, it was getting control on the outsourcing…ensuring that the jobs are here today, tomorrow and for the future.”

The port workers had been without contract for more than two years and employers were threatening to outsource jobs from the nation’s busiest port complex—some 40 percent of all containerized cargo is handled in the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

Details of the agreement that still must be ratified have not been released, but news reports say it is a six-year deal that is retroactive to June 30, 2010.

The workers don’t have ordinary clerk and secretarial jobs. The Los Angeles Times describes them as “logistics experts who process a massive flow of information on the content of ships’ cargo containers and their destinations….They are responsible for booking cargo, filing customs documentation and monitoring and tracking cargo movements.”

This post was originally posted on AFL-CIO NOW on November 6, 2012. Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When his collar was “still blue,” he carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse.

On May Day, No Borders Between Workers

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Image: Mike Hall

May Day—International Workers’ Day—is a day when there should be no borders or barriers between workers around the world, said Shawna Bader-Blau, executive director of the Solidarity Center, at a special May Day forum at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., today.

Bader-Blau presented video greetings from union leaders and worker activists around the globe, including Heli Vargas, International Affairs secretary of one of the Solidarity Center’s partners in Peru, the CGTP (Confederacion General de Trabajadores del Peru). Said Vargas:

“Just as the companies are globalized to exploit us, the actions of the workers and unions must also be globalized as businesses are.”

The forum focused on the challenges and conditions of Latina and immigrant workers in the United States and women workers around the globe. Andrea Delgado, senior policy analyst and communications manager for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), said there are some 24 million Latinas in the United States—64 percent native born and 36 percent foreign born. Citing data from a new LCLAA report, Delgado said with 60 percent or fewer Latinas holding a high school degree, many are in low-wage, low-quality jobs where “they are an easy target for discrimination.” Also, in many cases,

“their immigrant status is used as a tool to prevent them from organizing into unions or going to the government to report abuses and other employer violations.”

Delgado noted that Latina workers suffer from the same—and often more so—wage and job discrimination and sexual harassment as all women workers. She said LCLAA and other workers’ right groups are fighting to ensure Latinas have jobs:

where their rights are respected—not just as workers—but as women.

You can find out more from LCLAA’s report, “Trabajadoras: Challenges and Conditions of Latina Workers in the United States.” Click here to download.

The forum included Iris Munguia, the first women elected to lead COLSIBA, the union for banana workers in eight Latin American nations. Speaking through a translator, Munguia explained how women built power and a voice in a male-dominated sector, first by forming women’s committees at individual worksites that grew into a coalition throughout Honduras before building out to other nations.

They have developed a Women’s Rights Platform that is now a template used in negotiations with nearly two dozen large employers. The three central demands are:

  • More employment of women that includes the right of freedom of association and collective bargaining;
  • Limiting the use of chemicals and other pesticides in the fields; and
  • The end of sexual harassment.

COLSIBA has worked closely with the AFL-CIO in the recent filing of petition with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Trade and Labor Affairs that charges the Honduran government with failure to effectively enforce its labor laws and comply with its commitments under the six-year-old Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). Click here for more.

Munguia said she couldn’t stress enough,

“The high importance that solidarity has been with our sisters and brothers in the United States and across Latin America….Your help will help us win.”

About the author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL-CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

New Co-Op Model for Sustainable Main Street Jobs

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Image: Mike HallThe United Steelworkers (USW), the Spanish worker cooperative Mondragon—the world’s largest worker cooperative—and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) this week unveiled what they describe as a “template that combines worker equity with a progressive collective bargaining process.”

USW President Leo Gerard says that “to survive the boom and bust, bubble-driven economic cycles fueled by Wall Street, we must look for new ways to create and sustain good jobs on Main Street.”

This union co-op model…provides a viable road map on how we might begin fielding these sustainable jobs. Worker-ownership can provide the opportunity to figure out collective alternatives to layoffs, bankruptcies and closings in hard times, rather than having the rug pulled right out from under struggling communities to the benefit of a few at the expense of the many.

A key part of the co-op’s mission is to support and invest in communities, by creating jobs, funding development projects, supporting education and providing opportunity.

“Sustainable Jobs, Sustainable Communities: The Union Co-Op Model” is a “public domain” template available to any organization at www.union.coop. It offers a primer for competitive and equitable employment creation based on 55 years of Mondragon principles put into marketplace practice.

In 2011, Mondragon reached annual sales of more than $24 billion with its own cooperative university, cooperative bank and cooperative social security mutual and is ranked as the top Basque business group, the seventh largest in Spain and the world’s largest industrial workers’ cooperative.

Gerard says the goal is creating an economy that can work for everyone who works, and that:

Creating sustainable jobs and sustainable communities require broadening the definition of societal value beyond “the bottom line” and moving to a more stakeholder-centric economy. Democratic worker ownership principles combined with social and economic justice differentiate the union co-op model from traditional business models, making the union co-op option sustainable and giving it a competitive edge over the long term as worker-owners get to benefit more fully from their hard work and own their own decision-making process and all the fruits of their labors.

The co-op principle, he says, will result in improved, self-reinforcing, worker and customer satisfaction through higher accountability, productivity and efficiency because all workers will have an equal equity stake in the company, share common goals and adhere to common principles and practices that broaden the definition of value beyond the bottom line.

Several co-op projects are under way and in the planning stages. Click here for information from the USW.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on March 29, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall “I’m a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. I came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.”

Proposed Georgia Law Makes Picketing Illegal, Sit Downs a Felony

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Image: Mike HallSome Georgia lawmakers want to make legitimate union picketing and other common protest activities felonies that not only could result in one-year jail terms but up to $10,000 in fines.

The bill, SB 469, would clamp down on free speech and workers’ rights in several ways. First, it would outlaw picketing outside the home of a CEO or other top company officials, such as rallying outside the home of a sweatshop owner.

It also would allow businesses to ask a judge to halt the protests outside of a business. If the judge orders a halt and the picketing continues, the union members or protestors from other groups could each be slapped with a $1,000 fine.

In addition, any union or organization which “continues to sponsor or assist in the prohibited activity” would be subject to $10,000 fine. Businesses which think they suffered damage from the picketing could ask for a cut of that cash.

If for example, if protestors staged a sit-in, such as union and Occupy Atlanta demonstrators protestors did recently at a downtown AT&T building to protest the elimination of 700 jobs, they not only could be charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, but with conspiracy to commit criminal trespass–a felony that carries a one-year jail term and $10,000 fine.

Ben Speight, organizing director of Teamsters Local 728 in Atlanta, told Thomas Wheatley at the blog Creative Loafing:

It’s one thing to violate our constitutional rights. It’s another thing to so blatantly violate our human rights… Every single thing that [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] was arrested for involved actions that were peaceful civil disobedience, including criminal trespass. This will take us back 80 years to the point where there were no legal unions and where working people and poor folks had no organized voice to express themselves in the political and social arena.

Read more here.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now blog on February 29, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall– “I’m a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. I came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.”

Economy Adds 243,000 Jobs, Unemployment Drops to 8.3 Percent

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Image: Mike HallThe nation’s unemployment rate in January fell to 8.3 percent, down from December’s 8.5 percent, and the economy added 243,000 jobs, according to the latest figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The nation’s unemployment rate continues it steady decline, dropping by 0.8 percentage points since August and to the lowest  point since February 2009. The number of jobless workers dropped to 12.8 million, down from December’s 13.1 million. But the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.5 million, about 42.9 percent of the unemployed.

The unemployment insurance program for the nation’s jobless workers expires Feb. 29.  A conference is now under way between the Senate and House over two very different one-year extensions of the UI program passed late last year and the Republican bill would slash federal benefits, impose harsh new restrictions and move to dismantle the essential lifeline of unemployment insurance.  Click here for details.

Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Heidi Shierholz says today’s figures show “a labor market where all the moving parts seemed to be moving in a solidly good direction.”

Strong payroll employment growth was matched by a falling unemployment rate, strong employment growth in the household survey and a growing share of the population with jobs…It’s important to keep this growth in context, however—the jobs deficit is so large that even at January’s growth rate, it would still take until 2019 to get back to full employment.  We need reports this strong and stronger for the next several years to get back to good health in the labor market.

Private-sector jobs grew by 257,000, and government employment was essentially unchanged, but over the past 12 months 276,000 public employee jobs have been lost.

In January, professional and business services add about 70,000 jobs. The leisure and hospitality industry added 44,000 jobs and health care jobs grew by 31,000.

Manufacturing saw an increase of 50,000 jobs, mostly in durable goods, and the construction industry added 21,000 jobs.  There were 10,000 new jobs in the mining industry in January.

The unemployment rates for adult men (7.7 percent) and African Americans (13.6 percent) declined in January. The unemployment rates for adult women (7.7 percent), teenagers (23.2 percent), whites (7.4 percent) and Hispanics (10.5 percent) were little changed.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now blog on February 3, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. “When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.”

Calif. Car Washes Agree to $1 Million Back Pay Settlement

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Image: Mike HallEight California car washes agreed to an historic $1 million settlement with the state’s attorney general for routinely failing to pay minimum wage or overtime, creating false records of work hours and not paying money owed to employees who quit, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Workers at these car washes were taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers who illegally denied them the pay and benefits they earned. I am pleased that the resolution of this case will allow workers to receive the pay they are owed.

At least $800,000 of the settlement will go to workers who were underpaid, according to court records. Other parts of the settlement will pay taxes and penalties. Click here for a copy of the settlement agreement.

Two of the of the car washes in the agreement are Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica and Marina Car Washin Venice, where workers fought and won recognition with United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675 last year. Says Local 75?s Dave Campbell:

We are glad that the Attorney General is taking seriously the issue of wage theft among car wash workers. Workers have been waiting to be made whole for past violations for years.

The workers there and at other Southern California carwashes came together in the CLEAN Carwash Campaign to fight for their rights. The CLEAN Carwash Campaign is a coalition supported by the USW, the AFL-CIO and more than 100 community, faith and labor organizations in Los Angeles. For more information, click here.

More good news from the Clean Carwash Campaign: the owner of Navas Car Wash in Marina Del Ray, the successor company to BJ Car Wash, agreed to respect and sign the union contract agreed to by the previous owner and ratified in early November.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now blog on January 11, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. “When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.”

Wal-Mart’s Rob Walton Wins JWJ’s Scrooge of the Year

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Image: Mike HallHe beat out some tough competition, but Rob Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart’s board of directors, is the top vote getter in the 11th annual Jobs with Justice (JWJ) Scrooge of the Year election.

Walton deemed a “billionaire bully” by Brave New Films, has an estimated net worth around $21 billion, JWJ reports. As a family, the Waltons control 49 percent of Wal-Mart and are, says JWJ, the richest family in the United States, with a combined net worth is $93 billion. The Walton Family has as much wealth as the bottom 30 percent of American families combined—more than 35 million families.

The family’s dividends from their Wal-Mart stock alone are more than $2 billion a year. Just using their dividends, they could ensure that a million Wal-Mart employees make at least $12 an hour instead of the current average of $8.81 an hour.

Just last month Wal-Mart, under Rob’s leadership, slashed health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees and their families—right before the holidays. What a scrooge!

Click here to learn more about the runners up, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Publix supermarkets and Eddie Hull University of Massachusetts director of housing and residential life.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now blog on December 22, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL-CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. He carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. He’s also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold blood plasma, and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen him at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. He was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still has the shirts, lost the hair.

Unions’ Partnership With Oregon’s Cool Schools Means Green Schools and Jobs

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Image: Mike HallThe labor movement, the union-owned financial services company Ullico and the state of Oregon are partnering in a $15 million “Cool Schools” initiative that includes repairs, rebuilding and energy retrofits.  Says AFT President Randi Weingarten:

We’re gratified that in working together, we can ensure that our children have access to facilities which help them reach their potential.

The partnership of government, unions and businesses will work with to identify appropriate investments in Oregon public schools and infrastructure of up to $15 million.

Already the Cool Schools initiative—launched by Gov. John Kitzhaber (D)—has:

  • Performed state-of-the-art audits of nearly 400 schools
  • Negotiated with 12 school districts on up to $11 million in low-cost energy retrofit financing
  • Made commitments to lend $4.7 million to eight school districts, improving 28 individual schools.

The investment will create an estimated 225 building trades jobs in Oregon, and will support projects in schools located in communities statewide. Says AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) President Mark Ayers:

These types of investments are invaluable to the members of the building trades who are truly grateful for the opportunity to return to work and help strengthen the communities in which they work and live.

Unions’ participation in Cool Schools is part of a broad commitment to action made by unions and investors through the Clinton Global Initiative earlier this year. The first step will involve providing financing for energy retrofits through labor-affiliated financial institutions. Construction of these retrofits will create thousands of good jobs, develop new industries in the United States, enhance the nation’s global competitiveness and reduce the threat of climate change.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on November 14, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL-CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. He carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. He’s also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold blood plasma, and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen him at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. He was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still has the shirts, lost the hair.

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