Posts filed under 'Labor'


SEIU’s Eliseo Medina does a great job calling out the GOP’s hypocrisy on pretending that their hatred of undocumented immigrants is some kind of admirable, patriotic defense of American workers; bonus points for pointing out how the Entitlement Reform Party also suddenly morphed into the Save Medicare Party:

[Republicans will] even resort to feigning support for policies and programs that they’ve historically opposed — like Medicare — and then reverse course and file amendments to privatize it.

Given this track record, it should come as no surprise then that members of the anti-immigrant (and anti-worker) Immigration Reform Caucus are now trying to co-opt a “pro-worker agenda” in a ruthless effort to push their extremist mass deportation agenda and block the smart, practical immigration reform American workers need.

Thanks to a new report released today from America’s Voice Education Fund, a closer look at the voting records of these Members show them to be some of the most consistent opponents of legislation that would benefit American workers.

Despite the hype, the op-eds, and the continued pandering to a small minority of anti-immigrant voters, these leaders have no interest in supporting working families; no interest in raising standards or wages for working people who struggle everyday to provide for their families. In fact, these so-called champions of the American worker have taken every opportunity to make life harder for working families.

As the report shows, SEIU gives 95 percent of these phony reformers an “F” grade for their anti-worker voting records. Of the 87 Members of the House of Representatives who received an “A” grade from the extremist anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in the 110th Congress:

· 94 percent voted against the Employee Free Choice Act
· 93 percent against Equal Pay for Women
· 83 percent against Extending Unemployment Compensation
· 68 percent against Increasing the Minimum Wage
· 82 percent against Providing Parental Leave for Federal Employees

(This is actually one of the very few instances where Republicans do not use “workers” and “jobs” as a synonym for “profits”, by the way.)

Some other things the Republicans have recently become fierce defenders of:

o Balanced budgets.
o The filibuster.
o The minority party’s right to participate in the legislative process.
o Transparency and accountability for the Fed.
o Constitutional freedoms (only for Americans, though).

I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but you get the general idea…

December 10th, 2009 at 10:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Healthcare,Immigration,Labor,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

This Just In

People at the bottom of the economic ladder get shit on:

In surveying 4,387 workers in various low-wage industries, including apparel manufacturing, child care and discount retailing, the researchers found that the typical worker had lost $51 the previous week through wage violations, out of average weekly earnings of $339. That translates into a 15 percent loss in pay.

The researchers said one of the most surprising findings was how successful low-wage employers were in pressuring workers not to file for workers’ compensation. Only 8 percent of those who suffered serious injuries on the job filed for compensation to pay for medical care and missed days at work stemming from those injuries.


According to the study, 39 percent of those surveyed were illegal immigrants, 31 percent legal immigrants and 30 percent native-born Americans.

The study found that 26 percent of the workers had been paid less than the minimum wage the week before being surveyed and that one in seven had worked off the clock the previous week. In addition, 76 percent of those who had worked overtime the week before were not paid their proper overtime, the researchers found.

The new study, “Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers,” was conducted in the first half of 2008, before the brunt of the recession hit. The median wage of the workers surveyed was $8.02 an hour — supervisors were not surveyed — with more than three-quarters of those interviewed earning less than $10 an hour. When the survey was conducted, the minimum wage was $7.15 in New York State, $7.50 in Illinois and $8 in California.

No one could have anticipated…

I think the only good news here is that Labor is where the one token liberal in Obama’s cabinet is:

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis responded to the report with an e-mail statement, saying, “There is no excuse for the disregard of federal labor standards — especially those designed to protect the neediest among us.” Ms. Solis said she was in the process of hiring 250 more wage-and-hour investigators. “Today’s report clearly shows we still have a major task before us,” she said.

If it were, say, Geithner, I’d just laugh derisively, but I think Solis might actually mean it.  Hopefully Obama or Rahm doesn’t give her a stern talking-to for throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of commerce during these trying times.  It is necessary to destroy the jobs in order to save them, or something like that.

September 2nd, 2009 at 10:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Labor,Wankers

Netroots Nation Richard Trumka Photoblogging

AFL-CIO Treasurer Richard Trumka is FIRED UP.

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September 2nd, 2009 at 07:11am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Labor,Netroots Nation,People,Photoblogging,Rabid Lambs

How To Pass EFCA

Just remove the EFC.

There, now how hard was that?

May 5th, 2009 at 10:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Labor,Politics

What’s Missing From This Story?

You know, in this whole entire Denver Post story about whether or not CO’s newly-appointed Democratic Senator should vote for the Employee Free Choice Act, the reporter doesn’t once entertain the possibility that Bennet might cast his vote based on his own belief in what’s best for the country or his constituents.  It’s all about whether he should be more afraid of business or labor.

Which is not to say that Bennet won’t make his decision based on which interest group is more powerful, just that it’s sad that we can’t expect politicians to make decisions any other way.

March 15th, 2009 at 11:40am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Labor,Media,Politics

The Trouble With Harry

My only problem with this Sirota column is that he suggests that progressives should not try to get rid of Harry Reid if he delivers the Democratic votes for EFCA.  If he does that, under threat of electoral death, it will be one of the few times in his career as Minority or Majority Leader.  Which is precisely why I want to see him gone, regardless of the outcome of the EFCA vote.

We desperately need a Majority Leader who doesn’t let “moderate” Democrats do whatever they want, and who doesn’t let a tiny Republican minority outmaneuver and run roughshod over him at every turn.  As I’ve said before, sacrificing one Democratic seat in exchange for a tough, savvy, effective Majority Leader would be the best trade the Democrats could make.

March 3rd, 2009 at 06:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Labor,Politics

That’s One…

Well, this is good news:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee cleared Hilda Solis’ nomination as Secretary of Labor today. The vote by the entire Senate will probably happen this week.

Only two Republicans voted against her — Pat Roberts and Tom Coburn. Even though Mike Enzi made a stink and said that she was not qualified to be Secretary of Labor because she supported labor, he ultimately voted for her.

Mike Hall of the AFL-CIO blog:

After eight years of the Bush administration’s Department of Labor under Elaine Chao—trashing workers’ rights, weakening workplace safety rules, ignoring wage and hour violations and siding with Big Business at about every juncture—the idea of a labor secretary siding with workers must be terrifying to some.

Cool as this is, bear in mind that it brings the total numbers of progressives in Obama’s cabinet to… one.  As compared to three Republicans and whatever Geithner is supposed to be.

February 11th, 2009 at 09:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Labor,Obama,Politics

Time To Play Offense

Sounds like Labor gets it, Senate Democrats (as usual) don’t, and Obama?  Maybe.

The White House said Obama had no regrets about his week-long courtship of Republicans, all of whom rejected his advances and voted “no” as the Democratic House majority passed the 819-billion-dollar measure.

“The president wouldn’t do anything differently,” Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said after the 244-188 vote sent the pitched political battle to the Senate. “His hand is, was, and will always reach out.”

The White House signaled that it expected the Senate to include more Republican-friendly items in the measure, leading to a House-Senate compromise bill that would be more likely to win Republican support in the end.

So far, not exactly promising.  I’m not sure how to parse that last paragraph – was that a prediction or a command?

Gibbs declined to comment on a labor union media onslaught designed to heap pressure on a handful of Republicans to support the plan in the Senate, saying Obama was “not going to referee” the actions of outside groups.


The strategy called for millions of union members to telephone Republicans from hard-hit states, coupled with an aggressive television advertising campaign targeting potentially vulnerable Republican senators.

The ad invites voters in Maine, New Hampshire, Alaska, and Iowa to tell their senators to “support the Obama plan for jobs not the failed policies of the past,” according to the script.

And the White House did not deny a report by that it planned a state-by-state effort, highlighting job losses, to pressure lawmakers on the stimulus plan — even as Republicans called on Obama to repudiate the threat.

After eight years of Dubya and the Republicans repeatedly playing the existential crisis card (Scary terrorists coming to get us!  Social Security about to go bankrupt!  Scary terrorists still coming to get us!) to try to shape public opinion into political pressure, I simply do not think it would be out of line for Obama to use the same playbook now that we’re facing an Actual Real Crisis.

January 29th, 2009 at 10:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Labor,Obama,Politics,Republicans

Robert Reich Makes The Case For Trickle-Up And EFCA

Hey, instead of giving massive tax breaks to rich people and corporations, how about improving wages instead?

Why is this recession so deep, and what can be done to reverse it?

Hint: Go back about 50 years, when America’s middle class was expanding and the economy was soaring. Paychecks were big enough to allow us to buy all the goods and services we produced. It was a virtuous circle. Good pay meant more purchases, and more purchases meant more jobs.

At the center of this virtuous circle were unions. In 1955, more than a third of working Americans belonged to one. Unions gave them the bargaining leverage they needed to get the paychecks that kept the economy going. So many Americans were unionized that wage agreements spilled over to nonunionized workplaces as well. Employers knew they had to match union wages to compete for workers and to recruit the best ones.

Fast forward to a new century. Now, fewer than 8% of private-sector workers are unionized….


It’s no wonder middle-class incomes were dropping even before the recession. As our economy grew between 2001 and the start of 2007, most Americans didn’t share in the prosperity. By the time the recession began last year, according to an Economic Policy Institute study, the median income of households headed by those under age 65 was below what it was in 2000.


The way to get the economy back on track is to boost the purchasing power of the middle class. One major way to do this is to expand the percentage of working Americans in unions.

Tax rebates won’t work because they don’t permanently raise wages. Most families used the rebate last year to pay off debt — not a bad thing, but it doesn’t keep the virtuous circle running.

Bank bailouts won’t work either. Businesses won’t borrow to expand without consumers to buy their goods and services. And Americans themselves can’t borrow when they’re losing their jobs and their incomes are dropping.

Tax cuts for working families, as President Obama intends, can do more to help because they extend over time. But only higher wages and benefits for the middle class will have a lasting effect.

Unions matter in this equation. According to the Department of Labor, workers in unions earn 30% higher wages — taking home $863 a week, compared with $663 for the typical nonunion worker — and are 59% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance than their nonunion counterparts.


Most of the time, employees who want to form a union are threatened and intimidated by their employers. And all too often, if they don’t heed the warnings, they’re fired, even though that’s illegal…. We tried to penalize employers that broke the law, but the fines are minuscule. Too many employers consider them a cost of doing business.

This isn’t right. The most important feature of the Employee Free Choice Act, which will be considered by the just-seated 111th Congress, toughens penalties against companies that violate their workers’ rights. The sooner it’s enacted, the better — for U.S. workers and for the U.S. economy.

The American middle class isn’t looking for a bailout or a handout. Most people just want a chance to share in the success of the companies they help to prosper. Making it easier for all Americans to form unions would give the middle class the bargaining power it needs for better wages and benefits. And a strong and prosperous middle class is necessary if our economy is to succeed.

Trickle-down has been discredited every single time it’s been tried, while trickle-up actually worked.  And yet, the former is still considered some kind of Serious Economic Theory, and the latter is completely ignored, or treated as taboo, “class warfare.”

I would like to see the Obama administration and the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress start focusing on Stuff That Works rather than Stuff That Rich And Powerful Elites like, but I won’t believe it until I actually see it.

3 comments January 27th, 2009 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Labor

Pronoun Trouble

Newt Gingrich on the Employee Free Choice Act:

On the January 19 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, Fox News contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) claimed that President-elect Barack Obama is “going to be for the labor unions taking away your right to a secret-ballot vote before being forced to join a union.” Gingrich was referring to Obama’s support for the Employee Free Choice Act, and his comments echoed a common distortion employed by opponents of the legislation. As The New York Times reported, “Business groups have attacked the legislation because it would take away employers’ right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization” [emphasis added]. Supporters of the legislation say employers often use the election process to delay, obstruct, and intimidate workers in an effort to resist organizing efforts.

As Media Matters for America has noted, the House Committee on Education and Labor has described the claim that “[t]he Employee Free Choice Act abolishes the National Labor Relations Board’s ‘secret ballot’ election process” as a “myth,” and stated on its website: “The Employee Free Choice Act would make that choice — whether to use the NLRB election process or majority sign-up — a majority choice of the employees, not the employer.”

So, when Newt says Obama will take away “your” right to a secret-ballot vote before having a union forced on you, he means “they.”  The secret ballot is still an option, just not one that employees are likely to choose.  Employees wouldn’t lose anything, but employers would lose their right to dictate terms and control the battlefield.

(Also worth noting: The majority sign-up is still secret from employers, so they can’t retaliate against workers who want to join a union.)

January 21st, 2009 at 08:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Labor,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Union Fails To Kiss CBC’s Ring. CBC Angry.

Well, SEIU’s gone and done it now. They backed an actual progressive in the MD-04 Democratic primary over a pro-war, pro-corporate corruptocrat, and the Congressional Black Caucus is… displeased:

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are seething at the Service Employees International Union for the group’s involvement in helping to defeat Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) in a primary last week, the latest manifestation of what some say is a larger problem that exists between the two groups.

Following a closed-door CBC meeting on Wednesday, the day after Wynn’s landslide loss to lawyer and community activist Donna Edwards (D), CBC Chairwoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) plans to reach out to SEIU President Andrew Stern and request a meeting to discuss caucus members’ concerns.


Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and several other CBC members said there was palpable anger within the group over Wynn’s treatment. He said members believe the eight-term lawmaker did not have an anti-labor voting record and they are perplexed as to why he was so aggressively targeted.

“The Black Caucus members are very upset,” Cummings said last week. “I’m very upset. I think my fellow members think he didn’t deserve that.”

Anti-Wynn ads paid for by SEIU’s Committee on Political Education blanketed local airwaves in the final weeks before Tuesday’s primary. SEIU-COPE reported spending at least $875,000 to communicate to voters in Maryland’s 4th district on Edwards’ behalf, with the bulk of that going for television advertising.


Wynn voted in favor of the Iraq War resolution in 2002 and bankruptcy reform in 2005, two positions that Edwards hammered the incumbent on during the race. She also pointed to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate political contributions Wynn had accepted in an effort to paint him as more beholden to industry interests than his constituents.

“Our members did not feel that Al Wynn was representing their interests anymore,” Mueller said. “The Representative wasn’t listening to the constituents in his own district.”

Here’s the part that really disturbs me, though:

[A CBC member who wished to remain anonymous] said that aside from the union’s involvement in Wynn’s primary, his colleagues are upset about the “glaring disparity” in SEIU’s political action committee giving to vulnerable Democrats compared to its contributions to CBC members, most of whom sit in politically safe districts but have strong voting records on labor issues.

“It’s very disheartening,” the CBC member said, pointing out that SEIU represents a membership that is largely made up of African-Americans and minorities while the union’s leadership is majority white.


The Member asserted that CBC members are less likely to receive the maximum contribution from SEIU’s PAC largely because they are considered safe politically.

According to CQ MoneyLine, SEIU doled out a little more than $1 million to federal candidates and PACs in 2007. Of that amount, at least $98,000 was distributed among 22 members of the CBC and their PACs.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said the CBC needs to have a broader discussion with SEIU about the union’s pattern of giving.

“We have a need to talk with our friends in labor about the disparity in giving to those of us who have tremendous records,” Hastings said.

So… let me get this straight. The CBC is mad that SEIU isn’t donating to members who… don’t need it? I assume that SEIU is making strategic decisions on how best to leverage limited financial resources, so to me it makes perfect sense to focus their donations on candidates who need it rather than candidates in safe seats. To me it sounds like the CBC is not asking for help so much as demanding tribute.

Maybe the CBC is just used to corporate donors who use their deeper pockets to buy loyalty rather than elect progressives.

February 19th, 2008 at 07:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Labor,Politics,Wankers

Huckabee Doesn’t Know The Difference Between Leno And Letterman?


Mr. Huckabee on Wednesday professed his support for the striking television writers union just a few hours before he was expected to board a plane for a taping of the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno where he will face a vocal picket line of striking writers.

Mr. Leno’s program is returning to the air for the first time since the strike began on Nov. 5. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Huckabee said he was unaware that he would be crossing a picket line and believed that the program had reached a special agreement with the union.

Um, no, Huck. That was Dave.

Although crossing picket lines might not be unusual for most Republican candidates, Mr. Huckabee has waged an unusual populist campaign on economic issues, stressing his empathy with the anxieties of working people. On Wednesday, he said he identified with the striking television workers as an author himself and believed they deserved a share of the proceeds from the sale of their work.

Mr. Huckabee’s lack of knowledge about the picket lines outside the Leno show are the latest in a string of missteps that have underscored the ad hoc nature of his campaign. Last week, he made a series of small misstatements about Pakistan that raised questions about his fluency with foreign affairs and raised eyebrows by suggesting that the situation in Pakistan could lead to special scrutiny of Pakistanis at the borders in the interest of national security.

To say nothing of his complete lack of awareness that a new Iran NIE even existed

The Huckabubble must be even thicker and opaquer than the Dubyabubble.

January 2nd, 2008 at 09:04pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Huckabee,Labor


Little-known fact: “Al-Qaeda” is actually Arabic for “The Teamsters”.

U.S. labor leaders have written a biting letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, voicing concerns that the government is collecting labor union data on airline passengers flying to the United States from Europe to determine whether they pose a terrorism risk.

As part of an agreement reached in July between the United States and European Union, airlines are required to provide personal data on millions of U.S.-bound passengers, such as names and credit card information. European negotiators won restrictions on the use of such sensitive information as religion, sexual orientation and union membership.

But the Passenger Name Record Agreement states that that data can be used in exceptional cases, “where the life of a data subject or of others could be imperiled or seriously impaired,” such as in a counterterrorism investigation.

“We agree with the department’s objective to identify those representing a genuine threat, but we categorically reject the notion that union membership has any bearing on this determination,” AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney and Edward Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department, wrote in a letter dated yesterday. “Even the suggestion that union membership is somehow indicative of a threat to security is offensive to the millions of workers we are proud to represent.”

Umm, I also have to ask: Are there a lot of gay terrorists? And what about gay union members? Should they even be allowed to travel?

1 comment October 12th, 2007 at 08:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Labor,Republicans,Teh Gay,Terrorism

More Labor Day John Edwards Photoblogging

The rest of the Edwards pictures:

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Like I said, he was fired up.

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Here, he attempts to lighten the mood with some bird calls.

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John gets some love from the Steel Workers.

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Elizabeth doesn’t seem to mind.

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Elizabeth gets some love too. And why not.

September 3rd, 2007 at 07:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Edwards,Labor,People,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh,Politics

Labor Day John Edwards Photoblogging

Also, did I mention John Edwards was in town? He was pretty fired up, talking to a pretty much all-Labor crowd. The highlights that I can remember:

o Universal, mandatory, portable healthcare, to be paid for by repealing upper-class tax cuts.

o No more tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas either.

o Tighter trade regulations in general.

o Inviolate picket lines.

o Enforcement of safety regulations.

Needless to say, that all went over pretty well.

And, of course, I have pictures…

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Edwards is polling very strong in the all-important 0-1 demographic.

September 3rd, 2007 at 05:31pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Edwards,Labor,People,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh,Politics

Great Moments In Labor Relations

Interesting little tidbit tacked on to the end of Harold Meyerson’s column comparing Hillary to Ed Muskie:

In August 2005, I wrote a column about a recent National Labor Relations Board (Republican majority thereof) ruling that upheld the legality of a company’s banning its employees from fraternizing off the job, citing as a woozy precedent a previous ruling that had banned hotel employees from fraternizing with guests. Earlier this month, the D.C Court of Appeals overturned that 2005 ruling — reaffirming, broadly speaking, that the employer-employee relationship isn’t that of a lord to a serf, and, more narrowly, that happy hour with your co-workers is your true-blue American right.

I’m not sure which is more insane – that a company tried to ban its employees from hanging out with each other after work, or that the NLRB thought this was perfectly okay. Then again, if both are majority Republican, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

February 14th, 2007 at 09:57am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Labor,Republicans,Wankers

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