February 2, 2013 War on Workers News

Teamster School Bus Driver Saves Child’s Life

Pictured, from left to right: Gary Kumpa, Mike Marigliano and Timothy LynchThe children who ride Michael Marigliano’s yellow school bus affectionately call him “Mr. Mike.” Recently, “Mr. Mike,” a 13-year Teamster driver, saved the life of one of those children.

Marigliano, a school bus driver for Baumann Bus and a member of Teamsters Local 1205 in Farmingdale, N.Y., was driving about 40 children home from school one recent afternoon, when he noticed something wrong in his rearview mirror.

“The child was standing behind me and holding his throat to alert that he was choking. I immediately put the bus in park and got up to do the Heimlich on him,” Marigliano said.

The child was choking on a Life Savers candy.

“I had to do the Heimlich twice before it came out. I made sure he was breathing and gave him some water to clear what was left, but he told me something was irritating his throat. I called my dispatcher and we called 9-1-1 and an ambulance came.”
Read the source story here.

$1.1 Million in Back Wages, Overtime Pay Recovered for Wal-Mart Warehouse Chain Workers

We Party Patriots
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has ordered a southern California warehouse responsible for labeling, tagging and packing apparel and shoes for retailers such as Wal-Mart to pay $1.1 million in back wages and overtime to 865 workers.  The company, Quetico, LLC, will also pay $200,000 in fines.

The large warehouse in Chino, California has been cited for multiple violations by various agencies in the past year including unsafe working conditions and retaliating against workers who asked for back pay.  For warehouse workers nationwide it is a victory that can hopefully be replicated elsewhere:

“Quetico is strict when it comes to enforcing its rules with workers so it is only fair that the state enforce the laws that the company broke,” said Abraham Guzman, a warehouse worker who has been at Quetico for about two and a half years. “I am satisfied that the law will now be followed and workers have won justice.”

Read the source story here.

Here’s the billionaire trying to destroy North Carolina

Teamster Nation

Every state seems to have an anti-worker billionaire hell-bent on driving working families into the poorhouse. Colorado has its Coors family. Michigan has Dick DeVos. North Carolina has the uniquely powerful Art Pope.

And guess what. He’s close to the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers.

Pope is a plutocrat-politician who wants to eradicate public education, destroy workers’ rights and enhance corporate monopoly power.

Like the Kochs, Pope runs a shadowy network of “charitable” foundations to spread mean-spirited corporate propaganda disguised as “free market” theory. They include The John Locke Foundation, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the Pope Foundation.

He was a state chair of the Kochs’ phony tea party group, Americans for Prosperity. He tried to buy influence at UNC-Chapel Hill and succeeded at North Carolina State, where he sponsors lectures that promote his loony economic theories.
Read the source story here.

Kentucky Miner Sued By Former Employer For Filing Discrimination Complaint

Huffington Post
Within the last 17 months, Kentucky miner Reuben Shemwell got fired from his welding job, sued by his former employer and effectively blackballed from the local mines — troubles that he claims all started when he spoke up about working conditions he considered unsafe.

With the miner now wrapped in a messy legal battle with his former employer, an affiliate of Armstrong Coal, what happens to Shemwell’s case could impact all U.S. miners who claim they’ve been fired or otherwise punished for blowing the whistle in what remains one of the nation’s most dangerous industries.

“I’ve been representing miners in safety discrimination cases for more than 30 years, and this is the first time I know of anywhere in the country where a company has sued a miner for filing a discrimination complaint,” said Shemwell’s attorney, Tony Oppegard. “We think the reason they filed [the suit] was to intimidate him and to intimidate other miners.”
Read the source story here.

Labor Board Refuses to Halt Strike by School Bus Drivers

The New York Times
New York’s City’s two-week-old school bus strike will continue. On Friday, officials of the National Labor Relations Board refused to order its end.

Lawyers for the board issued a memorandum rejecting a complaint brought by a coalition of 20 private bus companies, which argued that the strike was illegal.

About 8,000 drivers and bus aides who belong to Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union walked off the job on Jan. 16 as part of a labor dispute revolving around job-security provisions. The workers were angered when the city announced that it could no longer require private companies bidding for transportation contracts to hire drivers on the basis of seniority and maintain previous pay rates. That, and the expiration of the union’s contract with a coalition of bus companies in December, prompted the walkout.

The private bus companies argued in their complaint to the labor board that they were essentially caught in a dispute between the union and the city.
Read the source story here.

Job Numbers Add to the Case Against Right-Wing Austerity

Nation of Change
Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment report was another one reflecting a so-called “new normal” for the economy in which what borders on bad is heralded as good.

Let’s not be ambiguous about this. The fact that the economy created 157,000 jobs in January, and that there were significant upward revisions in previous months’ jobs reports, is no signal that we’re coming out of our nation’s jobs crisis. Far from it. The Economic Policy Institute’s Heidi Shierholz today notes that “the jobs deficit—the number of jobs lost since the recession officially began plus the number of jobs we should have added just to keep up with the normal growth in the potential labor force—remains nearly nine million.” At our current rate of job growth, the labor market will not fill in that gap until the end of 2021, according to Shierholz.

That is unacceptable, and it is one more reason why we must resist the conservative-led drive in Congress for more of the kind of federal budget-cutting that will reduce demand, stifle growth and choke off job creation.
Read the source story here.

DOL’s “Right to Know” Initiative Re-Emerges with Sharpened Teeth

We Party Patriots
As the Department of Labor’s “Right to Know” initiative continues to move forward with hopes of helping end the practice of employee misclassification, a rule that would require employers to inform those classified as independent contractors about the legalities of such classification has re-emerged.

It is estimated that employee misclassification will cost the government more than $7 billion in payroll taxes over the next decade. The “Right to Know” initiative, initiated in 2010, requires employers to reveal more information about how they classify their employees…to their employees. The DOL will boost the “Right to Know” by requiring companies to provide employees with a detailed classification analysis.  According to Marjorie Sterne of We Comply that analysis is likely to include:

  • The employment classification of the employee;
  • The basis for the classification determination; and
  • Notification of the benefits and legal protections attendant to that classification.

Read the source story here.

Groundhog Day in the labor market

Economic Policy Institute
The labor market started out 2013 in a lackluster fashion, adding 157,000 jobs. This was below the revised 2012 average of 181,000 jobs added per month. This is certainly not the rapid employment growth needed to drive down unemployment. It’s like we’re in  Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” – each month we wake up to the same report, with all the indicators – employment, unemployment, labor force participation, hours, wages – painting the same picture over and over.

We are still in a crisis-level jobs hole. The U.S. labor market started 2013 with fewer jobs than it had 7 years ago in January 2006, even though the potential workforce has grown by over 8 million since then. The jobs deficit is so large that at January’s growth rate, it would take until 2021 to get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate.
Read the source story here.

Teamsters’ complaint accuses city of retaliation, harassment

Quad-City Times
The Teamsters union has filed a complaint against the city of Davenport, claiming its union steward in the Public Works Department was fired in retaliation for his union activities.

The Iowa Public Employment Relations Board received a copy of the complaint Friday. Teamsters Local 238 represents 150 city employees.

The complaint states that union steward Mike Kleinsmith, a street heavy equipment operator, was fired for his union activities. He was fired Dec. 21 after working for the city for more than six years.

It also claims the city and Public Works director Mike Clarke have harassed and retaliated against city employees for their union activity by refusing to accept grievances, not following the union contract, not following the grievance process and intimidating union workers.
Read the source story here.

Meet the unions putting on the Super Bowl

Teamster Nation
The central players in the Super Bowl on Sunday — the Ravens and the 49ers — are union members. They belong to the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). Thousands of other union members all play key roles in the extravaganza.

Our brother and sister Teamsters from Local 270, for example, will serve hot dogs, draw beer and staff the New Orleans Saints team store.

The AFL-CIO Now blog tells us more:

(The players) share a bond with the men in the striped shirts—members of the NFL Referees Association. During the past two years, both have been locked out by NFL owners.

The announcers, camera operators, technicians and other hardworking folks who are bringing the game to the big flat-screen TV in your home or favorite watering hole are members of SAG-AFTRA, Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA (NABET-CWA), Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Laborers (LIUNA) …

The half-time spectacular … is made possible by the skills of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the talents of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) and other performing artists…

Read the source story here.

Koch Brothers Pour More Cash Into Think Tanks, ALEC

Nation of Change
Billionaire brothers Charles and David KochFour foundations run by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch hold a combined $310 million in assets according to tax filings obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

The documents also show that the brothers, principal owners of the second-largest privately held company in the United States, combined in 2011 to donate $24 million through those foundations with much of the money going to support free-market and libertarian think tanks and academic centers.

A $4.5 million grant to the George Mason University Foundation makes up nearly 15 percent of the university foundation’s revenue for 2011. The school is the largest recipient of Koch foundation money since 1985, and it houses several free-market and libertarian research centers including the Institute for Humane Studies, which received $3.7 million from the Koch foundations.

The D.C.-based American Legislative Exchange Council received $150,000 to help finance its activities, including meetings where corporate representatives draft model legislation with state legislators. The Koch brothers have decades-long connections with ALEC, which gave the brothers the Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award in 1994.
Read the source story here.

Hospital Chain Flouts NLRB Order After Court Ruling On Recess Appointments

Think Progress
‘Last week’s radical federal appeals court ruling that called into question hundreds of presidential recess appointments made over the last 150 years is already taking a toll. While the decision finding unconstitutional President Obama’s appointment last January of three members to the National Labor Relations Board invalidated just one particular NLRB decision, a hospital chain declared this week that the ruling exempts them from all NLRB rulings over the last year, and is refusing to comply with rulings that require them to collect dues from union members, according to a Reuters exclusive:

Prime Healthcare was not a party in the cases involving union dues and internal investigations. But on Friday the company told the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West that following the D.C. Circuit decision, it would disregard the NLRB rulings.

“The D.C. Circuit’s ruling from last Friday held all the Board’s cases decided by the recess appointments are void,” wrote Prime Healthcare’s assistant general counsel, Mary Schottmiller, in an email to Reuters. “As such, it would violate the law if we followed the Board’s rulings … regarding union dues and witness statements.”

Schottmiller told Reuters that Prime Healthcare’s response to the union needed no further elaboration because the D.C. Circuit’s opinion was clear. “Void is void,” she said, adding that all of the company’s hospitals would take the same legal position on the issue.

Contrary to Schottmiller’s statement, the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit did not hold that all cases decided by the recess appointees are void. It invalidated the one decision before the court, and only that one.
Read the source story here.

The Jobs Council: Not just a punchline!

The Washington Post
If you want to complain about the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness shutting down, you also have to go read their 69-page report laying out their recommendations for, well, jobs and competitiveness.

The recommendations include some good ideas (modernize the electrical grid and invest in infrastructure, for example) mixed in with a lot of pabulum (“Win the global battle for talent!”). But it’s a detailed, serious document produced after a lot of effort — and, if you flip to pages 61 and 62, a staggering number of public meetings given the schedules of the principals — and it got almost no attention when it dropped at the end of 2011.

People were much more interested in the existence of the Jobs Council — and, more recently, its transition into nonexistence — than in its actual work. That’s a shame. But no one should be allowed to snipe about the closing of the Jobs Council if they won’t bother to read the report. After all, what’s the case for continuing the project if no one cares about the product?
Read the source story here.

Ports, longshoremen avert strike

Port operators along the East Coast have reached a tentative deal on a new contract with the union for longshoremen, averting a possible strike that would have crippled operations at 15 ports, according to a federal mediator.

The deal was announced late Friday in a statement from George Cohen, head of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Cohen, who has been leading the talks since last year, says the agreement remains subject to ratification by both parties and additional local union negotiations. But he says local talks would continue without threat of interrupting any port operation. Cohen declined to offer any details on the deal.
Read the source story here.

Why the GOP’s electoral vote gambit won’t work

The Washington Post
A Republican-backed plan to change the way certain states allocate electoral votes has fizzled as quickly as it sprung onto the national consciousness.

ast month, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus voiced some support for the effort to award electoral votes in a handful of battleground states by congressional district. Since many of those congressional districts lean Republican, the plan, if passed in several swing states, would give future GOP presidential nominees a leg up.

But for the Republican governors in these states, endorsing the idea — which Democrats can easily cast as a partisan power grab — would carry immense political risk on the eve of reelection campaigns that already promise to be challenging.

So, the governors have mostly distanced themselves from such proposals.

The slate of upcoming 2014 governor’s races is a major reason why that happened.
Read the source story here.

In Britain, Entrusting Healthcare to the Loan Sharks Who Ate Us

Nation of Change
The bankers’ crisis cut Britain deeply, in the form of a bailout that peaked at £1.16 trillion, or $1.84 trillion, according to the National Audit Office. Now, David Cameron’s Conservative government is busy selling off national services in chunks to private corporations – coincidentally, to those same investment bankers who created the mess to begin with.

Privatization and cuts threaten services – including public healthcare, education and local services – as the drive for profits against a background of cutbacks means drops in provisions. Worst still, the corporations that will receive massive contracts with British taxpayers’ money are financially unstable: they share track records of financial irregularities, many are subsidiaries of tax-avoiding multinationals, and included are even tax haven-based investment and private equity groups.

In short, Britain is putting its public services, the vital safety net that we get in return for our taxes, in the hands of the least trustworthy and transparent investors imaginable. These are the individuals, remember, who gambled money into an over-inflated property bubble that burst and turned their crisis of speculation into a human crisis. Now, after being bitten by a great loan shark of financial banking, it seems the same shark is going to be entrusted to care for the sick, look after our children and run our local swimming pools.

Getting out the water, instead, seems a sensible idea now.
Read the source story here.

Gov. Scott Walker transfers $40,000 to legal defense fund

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Gov. Scott Walker transferred $40,000 in campaign funds late last year to his legal fund set up to pay two high-priced criminal defense lawyers to represent him in the lengthy John Doe investigation.

Walker’s campaign sent the money to The Scott Walker Trust on Dec. 31, according to campaign records filed Thursday. That brings the total dollars transferred to the defense fund to $200,000.

UPDATE: Records filed Friday with the Internal Revenue Service show the $40,000 was split between the law firms for Walker’s two defense lawyers, with $25,000 going to the Milwaukee firm of attorney Michael Steinle and $15,000 to the Chicago firm of former federal prosecutor John Gallo.
Read the source story here.

Florida Governor Pushes Prison Work Release Privatization Plan

Though Florida Governor Rick Scott has recently said he won’t privatize state prison operations (something he considered early in his term, which received flak after it was revealed that the conservative’s election campaign received $30,000 in contributions from both Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group), his administration has pushed forward with plans to privatize healthcare services in state prisons and he recently recommended that 14 of the state’s publicly operated work release centers should also go to private contractors.

Gov. Scott estimates this privatization effort will save the state some $4.4 million.

Despite the privatization efforts, however, Gov. Scott’s prison budget is set to expand by $84.4 million this year.
Read the source story here.

How Congress is not like America (in one infographic)

The Washington Post
Did you know:

  • That more than two out of every five members of Congress are lawyers?
  • That members of Congress actually live shorter lives than the rest of us?
  • That members of Congress make in two months what the average American makes in one year?
  • That 26 members of the House and one senator (Democrat Mark Begich of Alaska) do not have college degrees, and one (Republican Rep. Bill Young of Florida) doesn’t have a high school diploma? But two-thirds have graduate or professional degrees?

(Correction: A reader points out that Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California also does not have a high school diploma. Issa got a G.E.D. and later attained a college degree. A better way to put it is that one member of Congress has attained less than a high school diploma.)

Those are a few of the findings from this great new infographic from Measure of America.

The big takeaway? Congress is not like the rest of America.
Read the source story here.