June 2, 2014: Road check inspections will be happening all over North America June 3-5. Expect to see federal, state, local or in Canada, provincial inspectors making thousands of “road checks” over the next few days.
Click here to read more.Issues: Freight
- Reaching Out To Prisoner-Workers: The New IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
- Wages Of Class War: Reflections On Portland’s May Day
- IWW Environmental Unionist Caucus Protests Koch Brothers
- Wobblies Participate In May Day Actions Worldwide
- The Chicago Teachers Union Strike: Beyond Mythology
- Review: “Lines Of Work” Shares Workers’ Experiences, Invites Us To Share Ours
Download a Free PDF of this issue.
Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress
By Steve Early
Monthly Review Press, 2013)
Veteran labor journalist and rank-and-file union activist, Steve Early, brings over 40 years of experience and insights to his new collection of essays, Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress. Early’s collection of short articles provides us with snapshots of the challenges that face workers in today’s era of growing employer hostility and governmental indifference.
He brings together the stories of past and present labor activists who have been helping workers organize new unions, fighting for more union democracy, fighting to retain union jobs in the face new technology, reaching across borders to build solidarity with workers around the world, and developing more effective strategies for political action.
Many of Early’s essays have previ- ously appeared in Labor Notes, In These Times, and other pro-union publications. All are based on his first-hand reporting which is combined with excellent reviews of important books on labor history and memoirs from labor activists. These stories are told through the voices of rank-and-file activists, union officials, academics, and labor journalists. He combines all these per- spectives into a book that highlights the biggest issues confronting Ameri- can workers during the last 40 years: declining union membership and power, decreased worker militancy, problematic ties to the Democratic Party, the lack of rank-and-file democracy within many unions, and a troubling shortage of solidarity between unions.
Early tells the heroic and some- times tragic stories of labor activists who must battle hostile employers along with conservative, complacent and sometimes corrupt forces within their own unions. He begins the book with a look at past reform efforts, pro- viding details and inside information about courageous reform movements that were waged within the United Mine Workers (UMW), Teamsters, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), United Autoworkers (UAW), and the International Asso- ciation of Machinists (IAM). While all these efforts have fallen short of their goals, they have also scored some important gains in the process.
Early’s sympathies for “bottom up” unionism are clear, and his accounts of reform struggles and the sacrifices made by reformers are both heroic and deflating. He shows that building and sustaining reform efforts over many years takes hard work. He describes reformers who sometimes put their jobs and safety on the line with no guarantee of success. Because Early does not avoid talking about failures, younger activists will have learned many valuable lessons after finishing this book.
Early also looks at strategies for increasing union membership in the private sector. He profiles several innovative organizing campaigns that used “salts,” including an ILWU campaign in the late 1990’s to organize San Francisco bike messengers. Early details the “salting” strategy by explaining how union activists take jobs in shops where they slowly help co-workers learn how to organize and build union power.
Early also looks at the importance of “cross border” organizing campaigns by describing an effort by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) to organize T-Mobile call cen- ter workers with help from a German labor union.
Another section of his book is devoted to what Early calls “labor’s health muddle.” He covers the fight for a single-payer health care sys- tem in Vermont – the type supported by the ILWU – that could serve as an alternative model to our current Obamacare system that was designed by and for health insurance compa- nies. He explains how the Affordable Care Act was designed to hurt many union health plans, including the ILWU Longshore plan. In 2018, all high-quality plans must begin paying a federal tax that will punish union members who struggled for many years to win good health benefits. By one estimate, the tax on the ILWU Longshore health plan could cost $150 million in 2018.
Besides hurting patients, Early explains how many health care workers face poor wages and miserable working conditions in our profit-oriented health care system. He reports on campaigns to organize hospital and home health care workers, and the “civil war” that erupted within the Service Employees Union (SEIU) over a dispute whether to organize from the top-down or bottom-up. Early ends his coverage of health care by examining employer-promoted “wellness programs” that sometimes punish workers for smoking or being overweight.
Early’s essays are not for the faint of heart and it’s hard to be hopeful about labor’s future after finishing his book. But he does suggest a way forward, without pretending to have all the answers. It begins with a clear under- standing of past errors, so the next generation doesn’t have to repeat our same mistakes. And Early is convinced that the best ideas will come from rank- and-file members and their elected leaders who belong to democratic unions. In this sense, his book affirms the ILWU’s “Ten Guiding Principles” – and encourages all union members to put them into practice.
By Mick Parsons (X373896), Secretary-Treasurer KY GMB
Louisville, KY – The statewide General Membership Branch for Kentucky received it’s charter from GHQ. The GMB, which grew out of a Facebook discussion group with the diligent work of delegate JP Wright (bottom, left). Elected Officers include Secretary-Treasurer Mick Parsons (upper, 2nd from left), and Press Relations Officer Regan Sova (bottom, center).
The Kentucky GMB has already been in front of the public, setting up an informational table/store at the Mighty Kindness Festival, held Saturday, April 26 at Waterfront Park's Brown-Forman Amphitheater. Members have also participated in the Informational Action against Insomnia Cookies, a Jobs for Justice Rally in the West End, and the May 24th March Against Monstanto.
Anyone interested in being a part of the Kentucky GMB should contact Secretary-Treasurer Mick Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org
May 30, 2014: How much could you possibly lose from your pension if the anti-cutback provisions are repealed from federal law? The Pension Rights Center has posted a retiree cutback calculator to show you the answer.
The calculator shows how drastic the cuts could possibly be to retirees in “deeply troubled” pension plans, including the Central States Plan. The calculator provides the answer.
Use the calculator below to determine how much your pension could legally be cut if the "Solutions not Bailouts" proposal were to become law. Any changes to the proposed law would result in changes to the calculator’s projections.
The threat comes from proposed legislation backed by an organization of employers, pension funds, and even some unions. The trustees of the Central States Pension Fund are shamefully supporting this radical change in ERISA, the federal law which protects our pensions.
The Pension Rights Center, based in Washington, D.C., has played an important role over the years in defending Teamster pensions. The PRC, along with Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), the AARP and several unions, is opposing the proposed law.Issues: Pension and Benefits
May 29, 2014: Other than endorsing mom or apple pie, rarely does a proposed law pass both legislative houses and get signed by the governor in less than one hour. But that happened two days ago in Michigan: the law raised the minimum wage in four steps to $9.25 by January 1, 2018.
But that isn’t the news here. The news is, the governor and the bill’s sponsors are totally against raising the minimum wage! One legislator who voted for it told the press he is opposed to any minimum wage at all, because we need our wages competitive with China’s.
How did it happen?
The very day this passed, an organization called Raise Michigan was about to submit 300,000 signatures to put a raise to $10.10 on the November ballot. Polls show it passing handily, despite the opposition of the governor, corporations, and big money.
So the Republican legislative leaders and governor came up with a trick: they repealed the minimum wage law which the ballot initiative would amend, thus aiming to block the people’s right to vote on the initiative. Then they quickly passed their watered down version in this election year.
The lesson: these minimum wage initiatives are so powerful, even corporate-bought politicians may have to get half-way on board, when faced with a grassroots campaign. We need more such campaigns, all across the country, backed by unions and community groups. And we need to aim higher than $10.10.Issues: Labor Movement
In recent years there has been a regular drum beat of news stories warning us about the enormous unfunded liabilities of state and local pension funds. Much of this has come from reports issued from well-endowed foundations, most notably the Pew and Arnold foundations who have a joint project on public pensions.
Ostensibly these foundations are simply providing information to allow the public to address a major policy problem. However, it is difficult not to ask whether these foundations may be pursuing a different agenda.
Click here to read more at The Huffington Post.Issues: Pension and Benefits
May 28, 2014: Tom Glidden, a UPS Driver at the Maple Grove Minnesota UPS facility, has passed out Teamster Voice for years. He does it in the parking lot before and after work and leaves a few copies in break areas.
UPS management told him to stop. Now the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has directed management to back off and respect the rights of Teamster members.
In May 2013 Tom’s supervisor told him he would be disciplined if he continued to pass out the Teamster Voice or any contract-related materials. Glidden knew his rights and contacted TDU. TDU attorney Barbara Harvey then filed labor board charges.
Management at the Maple Grove UPS facility must now post a settlement agreement that informs all Teamsters that they have the right to distribute union-related information, including TDU literature, in non-work areas at non-work times.
“I know how important it is to get info out to Teamster members. Knowing more about the issues we face makes us stronger as a union. It gives us more power to enforce our contract,” Glidden said.
See the settlement here.Issues: UPS
May 27, 2014: The IBT has not made the new UPS Master Agreement available. TDU has produced one for Teamsters to use to enforce the contract.
TDU has compiled and posted the 2013-2018 UPS Master Agreement for Teamsters to download and use.
We combined the new negotiated changes with the old language. To make it easy to spot the changes, the new language appears in bold type. Deleted language is not indicated.
This contract download is an unofficial document prepared by Teamsters for a Democratic Union for use by UPS Teamsters, stewards and local union reps. It has not been approved by the IBT.
In the past, the Hoffa-Hall administration has always taken over a year (!) to print up contract books. Apparently contract enforcement is a very low priority to them.
Your contract consists of the National Master and also a regional supplement and in some areas a local rider. Because there are dozens of supplements and riders, we have not been able to compile and post 2013-2018 versions them. The changes to those supplement and riders are available here.Issues: UPS
The newest hire at trucking company YRC Worldwide Inc. is a recruiter whose job is to find drivers.
Chief executive James Welch revealed the hiring Wednesday during an industry panel discussion held in New York by Wolfe Research. He said it was the first time the Overland Park company had put a recruiter for drivers on its payroll.
“We have a lot of applications for drivers, but they can’t pass the drug test. They can’t pass the background checks,” Welch said. “Or they don’t have the mental faculties that you want to put behind an 80,000-pound rig going down the road.”
Click here to read more at The Kansas City Star.Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/05/21/5038302/recruiter-hunts-drivers-for...