Labor - USA

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Medicare, Social Security & Medicaid Still Under Threat in 2012

Carl Bloice, Black Commentator, February 2, 2012 Next month, people in three Northern California communities will get to see and hear up close former senator Republican Alan Simpson, the man who once referred to Social Security as "a milk cow with 310 million tits," and his trusted sidekick, former White House chief of staff and Morgan Stanley director Democrat, Erskine Bowles. "Simpson-Bowles" is now a road show. These people never give up. The duo were appointed by President Obama in February 2010 to co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform ... Medicare

Why Black Union Workers Matter In This Year’s Super Bowl Showdown

Jamilah King, Colorlines, February 2, 2012 Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was not supposed to be among this year’s Super Bowl story lines. This year’s contenders, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, should instead be taking center stage. Yet less than a week before America’s biggest sporting event of the year kicks off in Indianapolis, Governor Daniels’ fight with the state’s unionized workers over legislation that could curtail the power of their collective bargaining rights has given a new national platform to the right wing’s bitter, decades-old war against unions. Yet the NFL’s Player’s Association ... has ... come out in opposition to the proposed Right to Work ... Why

Indiana’s ‘Right to Work’ Foes Could Bring the Fight to Super Bowl

Theresa Moran, Labor Notes, February 2, 2012 Yesterday Indiana became the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state after the Senate approved the anti-union measure 28-22. In protest, thousands of right-to-work opponents poured out of the statehouse in Indianapolis and took to the streets, chanting “Occupy the Super Bowl” as they marched. Unionists and Occupiers are considering what actions to take as the nation’s attention focuses on the NFL championship in Indianapolis, with some saying the attack on workers merits a dramatic response. Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law yesterday afternoon without the usual ceremony. ... Indiana

Three Kaiser Unions Walk Out Again in California, while SEIU Stays Put

Steve Early, Labor Notes, February 1, 2012 As three unions at the Kaiser Permanente health care chain in California pulled a one-day statewide walkout yesterday, their solidarity went unmatched by the company’s largest union, the Service Employees. In Modesto, Shawna Stewart, a steward and board member for SEIU’s United Healthcare Workers West (UHW), began receiving calls from members asking whether it was OK to honor the picket lines of 22,000 members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the California Nurses Association, and the Operating Engineers. ... Three

Green Jobs

Keystone XL opponents need a jobs program. Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith, Grist, February 1, 2012 Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline are taking a well-deserved victory lap. The Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada’s pipeline proposal - at least for now - represents an historic win for the environmental movement, and reveals the potency of the emerging alignment between the environmental, anti-corporate, Occupy, and other movements. Real strides were also made to bridge the divide between environmental groups and unions. While Republicans relentlessly attacked environmentalists as “job killers” ... Green

Occupy Oakland Takes Wrong Turn

Randy Shaw, Beyond Chron, February 1, 2012 After Occupy Oakland’s efforts to occupy the Kaiser Convention Center were met with police violence, a larger question about the group’s choice of targets was ignored: what part of our democracy entitles people identifying as “Occupy Oakland” to seize a public building for their own purposes? The Kaiser facility is hardly a “public space,” and unlike a bank, financial institution, or foreclosed home, it has nothing to do with the power of the 1%. Occupy Oakland did not spent months organizing broad public support for the group’s takeover of one of Oakland’s leading public assets ... Occupy

Occupy Oakland at a Crossroads: Rebirth or Self-Destruction?

Josh Healey, The Progressive, February 1, 2012 Over the last few months, I have been an active, critical, yet ultimately proud member of Occupy Oakland. Despite the sometimes-questionable tactics and lack of much diversity in this working-class, multi-racial city, I believed that Occupy Oakland was still a young movement and would mature into a more solid political force. Sadly, it seems, we still have a long way to go. On January 28, Occupy Oakland's attempt to take over an unused public building turned into yet another painful, predictable street battle with the Oakland Police Department (OPD), with over 400 people arrested by night's end. ... Occupy

Indiana Working Families Ready to Take Back the State

Cathy Sherwin, AFL-CIO, February 1, 2012 Far from conceding defeat after the passage of a so-called right to work (RTW) bill, tens of thousands of Hoosier workers came together in solidarity to march from the statehouse to Super Bowl village in Indianapolis. From the steps of the statehouse, Indiana AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott said today would mark a new start to taking back the state, starting with “the biggest march Indiana has ever seen!” Construction workers and teachers, grocery clerks and truck drivers cheered on the workers and elected officials with chants of “Remember November,” vowing to take back the state door by door, neighborhood by neighborhood. ... Indiana

Demands for the 99%

Jobs for All, Medicare for All, More Social Security. Robert Roth, CounterPunch, January 31, 2012 In a helpful review and constructive critique of the current status of the Occupy movement, Ismael Hossein-Zadeh makes several good suggestions. And I’ve seen some other comments more recently that seem worth sharing with you, in case you haven’t seen them. Hossein-Zadeh focuses on proposing demands for the movement, and as I generally agree with that approach, that discussion makes up the bulk of this entry. But I also cite and quote some other commentaries here, to present a broader set of views to help you make your own assessment. ... Demands

SEIU 1199 Protests Connecticut Nursing Home Lockout

Mischa Gaus, Labor Notes, January 31, 2012 Connecticut nursing home workers are making it personal for a scofflaw employer who’s locked them out of their jobs, seeking big wage and benefit cuts. Members of Service Employees 1199 brought some street theater to New York University yesterday because the owner of the CareOne and HealthBridge chains, Daniel Straus, has endowed an institute there. His center for the “Advanced Study of Law and Justice” was bankrolled with yearly gifts of $1.25 million. ... SEIU

Occupy Oakland: Are We Being Childish?

Osha Neumann, Berkeley Daily Planet, January 31, 2012 “The Bay Area Occupy Movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground,” said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, speaking at a press conference Saturday evening after a day of demonstrations called by Occupy Oakland that saw approximately 400 arrests, multiple injuries, and numerous confrontations with police. She ticked off the damage that had been done when a group of protesters broke into City Hall, overturning a scale model of the building, vandalizing a children's art exhibit, and burning an American flag. The next day in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, she returned to her talking point: "It's like a tantrum ... " Occupy

Occupy the Super Bowl: Now More Than Just a Slogan

Dave Zirin, The Nation, January 31, 2012 The sheer volume of the Super Bowl is overpowering: the corporate branding, the sexist beer ads, the miasma of Madison Avenue–produced militarism, the two-hour pre-game show. But people in the labor and Occupy movements in Indiana are attempting to drown out the din with the help of a human microphone right at the front gates of Lucas Oil Stadium. The Republican-led state legislature aims to pass a law this week that would make Indiana a “right to work” state. For those uninitiated in Orwellian doublespeak, the term “right to work” ranks with “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Fair & Balanced” as a phrase of grotesque sophistry. ... Occupy

Working Poor

Almost Half Of US Households Live One Crisis From The Bread Line. Alexander Eichler, Huffington Post, January 31, 2012 What does it mean to be poor? If it means living at or below the poverty line, then 15 percent of Americans - some 46 million people - qualify. But if it means living with a decent income and hardly any savings - so that one piece of bad luck, one major financial blow, could land you in serious, lasting trouble - then it's a much larger number. In fact, it's almost half the country. ... Working

Pregnant, and Pushed Out of a Job

Dina Bakst, New York Times, January 30, 2012 Few people realize that getting pregnant can mean losing your job. Imagine a woman who, seven months into her pregnancy, is fired from her position as a cashier because she needed a few extra bathroom breaks. Or imagine another pregnant employee who was fired from her retail job after giving her supervisors a doctor’s note requesting she be allowed to refrain from heavy lifting and climbing ladders during the month and a half before her maternity leave: that’s what happened to Patricia Leahy. In 2008 a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that her firing was fair because her employers were not obligated ... Pregnant

The Super Bowl of Anti-Worker Legislation

Harry Targ, Diary of a Heartland Radical, January 29, 2012 One hundred passionate activists from labor and occupy groups around the state of Indiana assembled at the State House on Saturday, January 28 to continue opposition to the pending “Right-To-Work for Less” bill which appears to be close to final endorsement by the legislature and Governor Mitch Daniels. Ironically, Alcoa Corporation just announced the expansion of plant facilities in Lafayette, Indiana prior to the passage of the odious anti-worker bill that Governor Daniels has claimed will bring more jobs to Indiana. A plant in Iowa, a Right to Work State, lost its bid for the Alcoa plant expansion to Indiana ... The

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