From the Labor Commission of the CPUSA, updates, information, news, analysis, and organizing materials in solidarity with workers of the world.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Pittsburgh AFL-CIO convention and labor unity

Scott Marshall
People's Weekly World

The 26th Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO, taking place in Pittsburgh in mid September, will be a doozy.

Not since the historic 1995 convention has so much been on the line for the labor movement. The 1995 AFL-CIO convention, was the first ever contested election for top leadership of the AFL-CIO. That election signaled a critical turning point for labor. The New Voices coalition of John Sweeney, Richard Trumka and Linda Chavez Thompson marked a dramatic turn from “business” unionism towards a more fighting stance for labor.

Fourteen years later, labor is poised for even more dramatic change. In 1995 labor was coming to grips with twelve long years of Reagan/Bush led corporate attacks on working people and their unions.

In 2009 labor is finding new footing in a rapidly changing economic and political situation. Shifting gears to confront the worst economic crisis to hit workers in 80 years is no simple matter. Moving from eight years of Bush number two, a time of war, crisis, lawless government attacks on civil liberties and rights, corruption and unbridled profiteering, is hard enough. But dramatic political change can make it even rougher. Now instead of defensive fights against naked corporate power, labor has to develop strategies and broad coalitions that can actually win.

With a pro-labor president, and a greatly improved balance of power in Congress, that may sound easy. It isn’t. Actually winning means the tough work of crafting coalitions and programs that can encompass many different needs, priorities and aspirations. Real life compromises are really hard in the face of years of pent-up frustrations with the lack of progress in many different directions, on many different issues.

So the 2009 AFL-CIO convention will wrestle with making many important turns. Fortunately the convention comes at a time of unprecedented labor unity. OK. I can hear the screaming already. What’s that you say? How can anyone call today’s labor movement united? There’s a big difference between formal organizational unity and unity in action on the ground. It’s true. We have two national labor federations and numerous internal union squabbles that boggle the mind.
At the same time we have important unity in action. Think of the incredible role of a united labor movement in the 2008 elections. It showed a whole new level of labor’s independence and unity in electoral work. Think of the key issue cited in the split that formed the Change to Win federation. Today there is no significant divide in labor on the relationship of political action and organizing. There is tremendous unity in action for the Employee Free Choice Act. And no one seriously argues that labor law reform will “magically” organize millions without renewed commitment to pounding the pavement.

At a deeper level, the work that a united labor movement did to fight racism and promote working-class unity reached entirely new levels in the 2008 elections. Not in the last 40 years has labor been so totally united in backing a single candidate in the general election for president. And this time that unity was in action to elect the first African American president in our history. Labor had to, and did, take on the reflections of racism in its own ranks. Richard Trumka’s brilliant speech on racism and unity at the United Steelworkers convention in 2008 fired up union members across this county.

In addition to helping to elect a pro-labor president, labor’s efforts against racism and bigotry are also helping to build a much broader working-class unity. Much more of labor today is united around the idea that labor cannot be just the voice of its organized members. Most of labor now realizes that it must become the voice of all workers and the working class. We need only look at labor’s current energy in the fight for health care reform, for economic recovery, for aid to the unemployed, for foreclosure relief, against global warming, for fair trade, for infrastructure rebuilding, and on and on, to see a broad working-class program emerging. Even the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act is couched in terms of economic recovery and raising standards for all working families. Trumka’s recent speech to the national convention of the NAACP (Read it here) further illustrates labor’s growing ties to broader working class organizations and coalitions.

Speaking of Trumka, it looks like the Pittsburgh AFL-CIO convention will elect him as its next president along with his slate of Liz Shuler (Secretary-Treasurer) and Arlene Holt Baker (Executive Vice President). At this point there are no other declared candidates. That would be a problem if there were sharp competing visions of labor’s future as was apparent at the 1995 convention. Sure there are difference in labor about how best to mobilize and maximize labor’s strength and leadership for change. But there are few differences about fighting for labor’s growing working class program and the single slate reflects that reality.

Based on the current level of labor unity in action on the ground, the more formal organizational unity will come. The on-going work to unite Change to Win and the AFL-CIO into one federation will get a boost from the Pittsburgh convention. Labor’s unfortunate organizational splits and fights give pundits and handicappers lots to speculate on. Labor’s unity in action gives members and supporters a real foundation to build on. All in labor’s ranks and labor partisans can help make sure that the Pittsburgh convention is the important milestone it needs to be. We can focus on the fighting program that all of labor is united around. We can focus on building the leading role of labor in building coalitions and movements that can win for all working people.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NYTimes reports Massive Auto Layoffs in Russia

Here is a sobering story from the New York Times for those who have the idea that there are vast markets for autos in Russia, India and China that will rescue the global auto industry, much less GM and Chrysler. Some argue that huge, underdeveloped countries will drive industrial and manufacturing production that will make for global economic recovery. This articles description of manufacturing in Russia paints a stark picture. Read here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

150,000 South African workers walk out

From the Morning Star

Original source:

Johannesburg has been brought to a grinding halt with 10,000 local government workers marching to Mary Fitzgerald Square to reaffirm their union's demand for a 15 per cent wage increase and a housing subsidy.

About 150,000 workers in the country have stopped work. Unions say that most public services are disrupted.

Marches are happening in all the major centres - Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Sol Plaatjie - as well as in many of the smaller municipalities ranging from Bredasdorp, Mossel Bay and Beaufort West. In other municipalities workers are picketing the municipal offices.

The strikes are the first major challenge for new President Jacob Zuma, who has called for patience from workers but is faced by a situation in which South Africa's organised working class is rapidly running out of it.

Unions reported massive support for the strike, with many services, such as refuse removal, traffic, water maintenance and revenue collection, not operating.

In recent weeks there have been violent protests over the lack of housing, water and electricity in the poorest townships.

The police in charge of traffic policing in the country's major cities are also taking part in the strike.

The country has already faced a major strike by construction workers, threatening stadiums being built for next year's football World Cup.

That strike was ended earlier this month after workers and employers agreed on a 12 per cent rise.

Mr Zuma took power in May after a campaign in which he pledged to ease poverty.

He was supported by the main union federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, which wanted a change in the previous administration's economic policies that they argued were too pro-business.

In Cape Town, 3,000 workers marched to the provincial offices of employers' organisation Salga to assert the union's key demands of a living wage, filling of the 25 per cent of vacant posts in the public sector and the improvement of housing benefit, while in Durban 5,000 workers marched and picketed workplaces.

The actions around the country were generally peaceful but there were reports of police action in Polokwane, where workers were shot at and arrested.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Rich Get Really Really Rich and the Working Class.......

David Sirota writes in In These Times that the 1%ers, that is those in the top 1% income bracket, are not only making out like bandits, they are bitterly fighting to protect their stolen loot.

Read it here.

Pride, anger mix as Chrysler workers watch plants shut down

by Tony Pecinovsky
PWW, 07/25/09

FENTON, Mo. — As the crowd swells and hundreds of UAW members line the entrance to the Chrysler North and South Assembly plants here today, I can’t help but think of my grandfather. He gave over 30 years to Chrysler.

On average, the union brothers and sisters here have given 15 to 20 years of their life to a company that has turned its back on the community.

Evidence of the betrayal is apparent in the stilled, lifeless plants, in the lost wages and benefits, in deferred college applications and missed mortgage payments. In addition, the school district has lost its biggest source of tax revenue. And the United Auto Workers union hall, once a center for community activism, will eventually have to close its doors.

As the rally builds, cars and trucks fill the lot. Chants fill the air as a thousand-plus union members, their families and friends walk around with their heads held high. It's almost ironic. The background is filled with steel and metal, towering but silent, while the foreground is alive and vibrant, hopeful. Full of pride.

It really says a lot about working class folks. How they still manage to smile and connect with friends and former coworkers in spite of the situation. But then again, workers have always been able to make the best out of a bad situation.

My grandmother receives UAW-negotiated survivor’s benefits now that my grandfather is gone. Like her, thousands of other Chrysler retirees are loosing their dental and vision coverage due to the bankruptcy. I wonder how many of the thousand-plus workers here and their families won't have health care soon.

Adding injury to insult, over $12 billion in taxpayer dollars was given to Chrysler. They called it a bailout. The workers here call it a scam. Eight plants in the U.S. are being closed, while Chrysler plants in Mexico and Canada increase production.

The first speaker on the podium yells, "This is about using American tax dollars for American jobs." The crowd erupts into chants of "Keep it made in America."

Joe Shields, president of UAW Local 110, motions back to the plants and says, "Look at these factories. They're idle. Look at how Chrysler treats us."

State Rep. Sam Komo tells everybody to "keep fighting." He says, "We've been in this battle before. We've seen economic hard times. But, you know what, brothers and sisters, it’s our friendships that have kept us going. And we're going to keep fighting."

State Rep. Joe Fallert adds, "Americans should be mad as hell. We paid $1.5 billion per plant that closed."

As cars and trucks drive by and blow their horns in support, it’s easy to see how everybody is connected to everybody here in this small Midwestern town. Chuck Bank, Jefferson County executive, says, "Twenty-five percent of all jobs here are tied to the auto industry."

State Rep. Tim Meadows, a 30-year Teamster member, hits the nail on the head when he says, "Corporate America has been feeding at the trough. Enough is enough is enough."

He's right, enough is enough.

tonypec @

Thursday, July 23, 2009

EFCA and Wall Street Bonuses

The following was posted in the Comments section of the Washington Post re its article, "Wall Street Jacks Up Pay After Bailouts."

Anybody out there still believe Wall Street cares about Main Street?

Anybody out there still believe America needs to be run by a small group of greed driven aristocrats?

Rep. Barney Frank is right, there should be government intervention when the pigs at the trough get too fat to move away. But here's a suggestion that would put a crimp in their greedy ways at the same time help Main Street.

All this money Wall Street and the corporations are making whoopee with come from the blood, sweat and tears of working people. The execs create nothing: they control. (Gordon Gekko in the movie: Icreate nothing. I own.)

Their power to control this wealth created by Main Street is proportionate to the power of Main Street to demand a fair share of that wealth.

Main Street gets that power from the unions they form and belong to. It is the ONLY way workers will be listened to by Wall Street and fat-cat corporate execs.

Go to them with alone, hat in hand asking for a raise or health care for your family and you don't get past the information desk.

The sound of thousands marching with hands joined and hats on heads gets their attention and they are forced by that power to listen.

It was the work of Main Streeters along with the power of their unions that gave America's working people the highest standard of living in the world after WWII.

Since the attacks on the unions that began under the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, a Hollywood hero at best, and continued over the years, the union movement has been drastically reduced in size and, therefore, power to negotiate.

The greatest losses took place under Bush the elder and suffered the most under the two terms of the Bush/Cheney led American disaster.

The billions Wall Street and corporations played with that led to the current economic meltdown came from the drop in living standards of working people: either by there loss of power to defend their wage and/or benefit packages or by corporations moving work offshore seeking greater profit.

The workers lost and the rich got richer, the wealthy got wealthier and the greedy got greedier.

There is a push-back taking place today that would go a long way to restoring what America has lost over the Reagan/Bush/Bush-Cheney years.

It is a piece of legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). It would amend the National Labor Relations Act to give the employees of a company the right to choose how they want to join a union: either by secret ballot or majority sign-up.

Today's law gives the company the right to decide how the union will be recognized.

The companies argue they should decide because they have to live with the results.

Labor argues that workers should have the right to form and join unions and how and when to do so with no interference from the company. Labor counters companies argument that they do not allow workers into the boardrooms where decisions are made that workers will have to live with.

The passage of this bill will rebuild the labor movement in America which will rebuild America's economy and its infrastructure. A revitalized labor movement in America will reach out and join with workers in those offshore plants raising their living standards making it more costly for US companies to move offshore.

Progressive political leaders and legislation have a role to play in correcting the disaster Wall Street and the corporations have caused, but a healthy, working organized Main Street will bring change that helps hundreds of millions here and around the world. Change that will have meaning and will last.

Wall Street is spending millions to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act. If you need any more proof that this bill is good for Main Street you probably don't live on Main Street.
7/23/2009 1:51:52 PM

Trumka Speech to the 2009 NAACP Convention

Remarks by Richard L. Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, 100th Annual NAACP Convention, New York, NY
July 15, 2009

Thank you.

Wow, after an introduction like that I can't wait to hear what I have to say!

Before anything, there are some people I want to thank, not only for their leadership of the NAACP – but also for their commitment to building a strong, new movement for worker rights in this country.

A movement that can strengthen the labor movement – and, with it, the American middle-class. I'm talking, of course, about your incredible vice chair, Roslyn Brock.

Of course, there's someone who I regard as one of the most important agents for change in America today, your executive director, Ben Jealous.

And then there's a man who has been a personal hero of mine ever since 1968 when I first heard him speak out against the war in Viet Nam. He has been, and remains, one of this generation's strongest voices for peace and justice – I'm talking about your chairman – the Honorable Julian Bond!

And there are some other people who I'd also like to thank: and that's you: the women and men of the NAACP. You've made it your mission to see to it that America lives up to its promises -- and that we're always guided by the better angels of our nature. Whether its combating police brutality in California, organizing for better schools in Georgia or leading the fight to protect the city water system in Cincinnati the NAACP is there.

You don't do it because you enjoy setting up meetings or making phone calls or organizing demonstrations. You didn't get active in the NAACP because you thought it would be easy. No: You're in the NAACP because you know it's morally right. Thanks to your hard work . Thanks to your dedication. Thanks to your willingness to lay it all on the line. The NAACP today remains what it's been for the last century:

A force for change!

A catalyst for justice!

A movement to build an America:

Where every voice is heard!

Where every vote is counted!

Where every family matters!

And where all of us – all of us -- have a seat at the table!

That's the kind of America the NAACP believes in!

That's the kind of America the labor movement believes in!

And, in 2009, together with President Barack Obama, that's the America we intend to build! And we don't have a minute to waste! Because if we don't act now … if we don't seize this incredible moment … we may not get another chance – and our grandchildren will never forgive us.

Because you and I know that, as tremendous a victory as Barack Obama's election was, we can't let it be an achievement to rest on. No: It's up to us to make it a foundation to build on. You and I know that the election was a triumph over racism, but it wasn't the end of racism.

It was a milestone, but it wasn't the finish line.

Now, I know everyone here knows that. After all, the reason each of you joined the NAACP to begin with is because you knew that it would take more than an election to turn this nation around – even if it was the election of an African-American president. The roots of the crisis facing our country run deep. The policies of the last eight years helped to turn much of America into an industrial wasteland. You know, people talk about a middle-class squeezed. Well, the African-American middle-class isn't being squeezed; it's being crushed! Though the media doesn't report it, we all know that African-American poverty was on the rise years before anyone thought there'd be a recession. The home ownership rate among African-Americans was dropping long before anyone talked about a foreclosure crisis. And the health care crisis? As everyone in the NAACP knows, there's never been a moment when the African-American community has ever had access to quality, affordable health care. It's part of the reason why African Americans are more likely to die from strokes, and cancer, and heart attacks, and diabetes. Yes, there's an African-American man living in the White House, but the fact is that the life expectancy for African American men in America today is still six years less than it is for white men!

Do we need to elect more leaders who have the guts to take these issues on?


But, you know, we can't only win these fights at the ballot box; we also have to take them to the bargaining table.

Because we can't win justice in the community, unless there's justice on the job. And winning justice on the job is what the American labor movement is all about! Because you and I know there's a reason why African Americans who have a union earn over one third more than African Americans who don't. It's the same as the reason why they're more likely to have health care and pensions -- and why they're more likely to have access to the training they need to turn jobs into careers.

It's not because unionized employers are nice guys and want it to be that way; no it's because unionized African-American workers have the strength to make it that way! Unionized aren't more deserving, they're just more organized!

And, I want to tell you, that's why your support for the Employee Free Choice Act is so critically important! I know that most folks here already know what the Employee Free Choice Act would do. NAACP chapters all over America have made passing the Act one of their top priorities and I can tell you that, in large part, because of your support we're now within a hair's breadth of winning in the Senate.

And I shouldn't have to tell you that President Obama has made it absolutely clear to me and others that once it does pass the Senate he'll immediately sign it into law.

But we also know that there are some people who have a stake in keeping the Employee Free Choice Act from passing. They're companies who don't see workers as their best asset, but as their biggest expense. I'm talking companies whose definition of labor-management cooperation is when workers keep their mouths shut and so as they're told. I'm talking about CEOs – not all of them, but far too many – who have convinced themselves that there's no way they can get ahead without leaving their employees behind. Those have made it crystal clear that they will do whatever it takes to keep the Employee Free Choice Act from ever making it to President Obama's desk. To they have been waging one of the most expensive, divisive and dishonest lobbying campaigns in U.S. history. Now, am I saying the other side is deliberately trying to mislead people?

Well, I'll let you be the judge. Last October, Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, said that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act would trigger – and this a quote -- "the demise of civilization." Now, think about that for a minute. If you were to walk out of this hall and ask the first ten people you see what the greatest threat to civilization is today, they might tell you it's global warming, or terrorism, or hunger, or, maybe, a flu epidemic. But my guess is that you won't find one who'll say it's revising the 1935 National Labor Relations Act. So why the hysteria? Well, it's not because of the harm it's going to do them. It's because of the good it's going to do for Billy Mason. My guess is no one here knows Mr. Mason.

There's no reason you should. But 23 years ago, after a four-year stint in the Marines, Mr. Mason went to work at the Alcoa plant in Hampton, Virginia. He got a job grinding and polishing metal castings to make airplane parts. Now, on paper, factory jobs like Mr. Mason's can help millions of African-American manufacturing workers like Billy Mason into the middle-class. All it takes is one thing: a union contract. But the Hampton, Virginia plant was non-union – and Alcoa planned to keep it that way. The upshot was that pay raises were so few and far between that, after more than two decades on the job, Billy Mason was actually earning $2 an hour less in real wages than when he started. But that's not all.

One day, Alcoa announced that it had decided to eliminate fully paid health insurance. Of course, since they didn't have a contract the workers didn't have a say in the matter. What did it mean for Billy Mason? With the added cost of health care, Mr. Mason's dropped to the point where he was earning $6,000 less than he did his first year on the job! In fact, if you ask him he'll tell you that he actually had more money in his pocket back when his kids were little and his wife didn't work! So what did Billy Mason do? Well, he and his co-workers decided to do the same thing that other African-American workers had done before him. They decided to form a union and joined up with the United Steelworkers.

Now, if Mr. Mason was one of Alcoa's 32,000 European employees that would have been the end of it. The company would have recognized the union and negotiated a contract. But Hampton, Virginia isn't Europe – and Alcoa did everything it could to keep the workers from having their union. At the beginning of each shift the company held mandatory union bashing meetings. When the day to vote on whether to have a union grew closer, Alcoa began to bring in what Mr. Mason calls "the suit and tie people" to push them even harder.

It went for two months.

The result?

The company succeeded. Even though Mr. Mason and two-thirds of his co-workers had signed cards authorizing the Steelworkers to be their bargaining agent, they lost the election. People were scared. But not Billy Mason. Like I said Mr. Mason had been a Marine. He doesn't give up easy. That's why, despite the loss and Alcoa's fear campaign he and some of his co-workers continued to try to exercise his legal right to organize. What happened? Well, in retaliation, Billy Mason was singled out for harassment and, to set an example to every other worker, he was suspended without pay for two weeks.

Of course, the union took Mr. Mason's case to the National Labor Relations Board and, eventually, he was awarded his back pay. But, the damage was done. Workers got the message loud and clear and, as we meet here today, I can tell you that Billy Mason and his co-workers at Alcoa still don't have a union contract. But even though those workers have been bloodied they haven't been beaten. At least not if Mr. Mason has anything to say about it. "I believe the rights we have [today] were fought for," he said. "People shed blood and people died, and I'm not going to let those rights be taken away!"

Well, today I think we ought to send Mr. Mason and his co-workers a message. It's that we hear you…we stand with you… we refuse to accept that any workers should ever have to choose between joining a union and keeping their jobs.

Brothers and sisters, brave men and women didn't risk their lives in Selma and Birmingham and Memphis so companies like Alcoa could rob workers like Billy Mason of his right to organize! We need the Employee Free Choice Act and we need it now! But I need to tell you that the challenge we face isn't only passing the Employee Free Choice Act. It's taking full advantage of it once we do. And that begins by reaching out to organize the workers the labor movement left behind. Who are they? Well, a lot of them are African-Americans. And I'd like to talk about that for a minute.

You know, of all the challenges the NAACP has taken on over these last 100 years few have been as necessary – few have been as important – as the crusade this organization led to end segregation in the American labor movement.

The NAACP understood something that a lot of labor leaders didn't. In July, 1929 – exactly eighty years ago – W.E.B. Du Bois (Do Boys) warned that, unless organized labor took a critical look at itself and abandoned segregation, it would face what he called "irreparable loss."

And history proved him right.

At a time when unions in countries were mobilizing to win universal health care and a new social contract, a lot of union leaders here were more concerned with keeping a "whites only" sign posted on the door of the American labor movement.

At the very time they should have been building one movement of white workers, and African-American workers, and Latino workers, and Asian -American workers – and women workers of every color – they were fighting to keep them out. Du Bois captured the tenor of the times when he wrote that: "Whatever ideals white labor today strives for in America, it would surrender … before it would recognize a Negro as a man."

Well, we can't change the sins of the past. But we can learn from them – and build a new kind of labor movement for the future. A labor movement that goes beyond gestures,

Beyond rhetoric and tokenism, A labor movement that understands that being inclusive isn't just a matter of kicking in a few dollars to UNCF or having an article about Black History Month in the union newspaper.

No. We can't just talk the talk; we have to walk the walk. We can't only preach about change; we have to make change happen. And that means investing the time, the energy, the talent, and the resources it's going to take to begin the work of organizing five million (4.8 million) poverty wage African American workers so they can have the paycheck, the benefits… and the opportunities -- that can only come with a union contract!

Is it possible? The labor movement can't do the job alone, but together – with the NAACP – I'm convinced that we can. Together, a new alliance between the labor movement and the NAACP can begin the work of transforming poverty wage work into jobs with a future.

Together, working as partners – at the grassroots -- we can make the promise of collective bargaining real to a new generation of African American workers. Working together, we can begin to grow the African American middle-class.

I know that's always been a priority of the NAACP – and, after September, it's going to be a priority at the AFL-CIO, too.

Now, I've always been a big believer in the proposition that speeches ought to end on the same day they begin. But as I was getting ready to come up to join you today, I remembered something that I heard a long time ago. It was something Bobby Kennedy said. I'm guessing a lot of you remember it, too. (I know Julian Bond does) He said: "some see things as they are and ask why, we dream things that never were and ask why not." I was thinking about that because, for 100 years, that's the question the NAACP has been asking.

And, today, it's the question the AFL-CIO is asking, too.

Together, we have a vision of a different kind of an America than the one we have today. A nation that's guided by its dreams; not shackled by its fears. We see an America where all of us are able to take our place in the winner's circle. We see not an America where there's dignity in all work -- and respect for every worker. We see an America that doesn't turn its back on people who work with their hands.

An America where everyone who wants a college education can afford one! Where every child who needs a doctor can see one! Where every man and woman who looks for a job can find one!

An America where every single worker who wants to have a union can join one! That's the American future we dream of – and I swear to you that, together, together, that's the American future we're going to win. We're going to win because we're strong!

We're going to win because we're proud!

We are going to win because we are one movement standing together!

One movement marching together!

One movement fighting together!

One movement winning together!

One movement taking this country back together!

Because it's our jobs!

Our families!

Our future!

Our dreams!

Because this is our America – and we will not be denied!

God bless America – and God bless the NAACP!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CEOs Get One-Third of All Pay; Bank of America Uses Taxpayer $$ for Lobbying

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG: By Tula Connell On July 22, 2009 @ 2:01 pm In Corporate Greed, Economy

Two news items out today highlight how far the nation needs to go in re-balancing the economy toward working people.

First, Think Progress [1] points to a Wall Street Journal analysis that shows more than one-third of all pay in the U.S. now goes to [2] executives and other highly-paid employees.

Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total U.S. pay in 2007, the latest figures available. The compensation numbers don’t include incentive stock options, unexercised stock options, unvested restricted stock units and certain benefits.

The Wall Street Journal based its analysis on Social Security Administration data, which doesn’t count billions of dollars more in pay that remain off federal radar screens that measure wages and salaries.

Next, it turns out that Bank of America, which received $45 billion in taxpayer-funded bailout support, [3] has spent more than $1.5 million lobbying on Capitol Hill.

The Charlotte, N.C., company wants flexibility on spending the bailout funds and also wants to fend off restrictions on executive compensation, home mortgage lending and credit card fees. The bank also is lobbying on a consumer rights bill, on student lending issues, on a bill that would’ve allowed bankruptcy judges to alter mortgages and on a proposed federal regulatory oversight agency.

And none of its positions on any of these bills would help working families.

As we noted in April when we released the [4] AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch data, the Bank of America lost nearly $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 due to deeper than expected trading and loan losses. Even after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money, the bank plans to eliminate up to 35,000 jobs over the next three years—but [5] CEO Kenneth Lewis collected nearly $10 million in 2008, more than 400 times the average amount a bank teller is paid each year. Since becoming CEO in April 2001, Lewis received $134 million in pay, bonuses, stock awards and pension accruals.

As Think Progress notes, between 1979 and 2006, the inflation-adjusted after-tax income of the richest 1 percent of households [6] increased by 256 percent, compared with 21 percent for families in the middle income quintile.

While U.S. worker productivity has skyrocketed over the past 30 years, [7] wages have not kept pace.

America’s working middle class made it clear last November that they wanted change—and reshaping the nation’s economic framework to strengthen the middle class and close the wage disparity between the very top and the rest of us, is fundamental to that change.

Article printed from AFL-CIO NOW BLOG:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CBO Report Ignores Full Savings in Health Reform

By Joel Wendland

Health reform advocates pushed back this weekend against a new insurance industry and congressional Republican offensive to block or slow down President Obama's push to overhaul health care by pointing out that the most important accomplishment of reform would be to relieve in the financial burden the current broken health system has on the economy.

In a teleconference with reporters last Friday, Harvard economist David Cutler, co-author of a June 2009 report demonstrating that health reform along the lines proposed by President Obama could save as much as $1.5 trillion over a 10 year period, dismissed the idea that health reform would be too costly to implement. Cutler referred to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released last week that claimed the health reform plan working its way through Congress would cost $1 trillion.

"Everything that we know of suggests that by changing the nature of the medical care system, we can have an enormous impact on the growth of cost, both in the short term, and in the longer term," Cutler said. "I think a lot of the pessimism that we're seeing is a look at a short-term thing, rather than a long-term look at what health care reform can do."

The Harvard economist further explained that the CBO report simply failed to report the full savings that health reform could provide over time. The health reform proposals would help reduce the cost of health care spending and payments, but they would also "change the underlying dynamics of the medical system so that it is less costly over time by keeping people of hospitals and from falling through the cracks."

Simply put, right now tens of millions of people lack adequate access to medical care. This means that most of these people are forced to wait until dire situations to see a doctor or go to a hospital – when care is the most expensive and the less effective, and which is often covered by public programs. The basic theory of the health reform model is that if everyone has access to health care all along, they will be generally healthier and will tend to need expensive treatments far less than currently is the case.

This systemic change would bend the cost curve in a manner that may not be precisely predictable precisely and apparently escaped the attention of the CBO report authors, Cutler suggested, but the "evidence is increasing that the amount to be saved and that we can save is enormous."

Even CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf admitted the CBO's report was incomplete. In a blog post at the CBO's website, on July 18th, Elmendorf wrote, "The figures released yesterday do not represent a complete cost estimate for the legislation." The report was limited to federal revenue and payments.

Linda Blumberg, a senior health policy analyst at the non-partisan Urban Institute, pointed to the competition in the insurance market that the proposed public option would generate as being the key to cost-savings that would result from reform.

"There is a great potential for the public plan option to have very significant cost containment impacts on private health insurance markets, both in terms of the level, and also potentially lowering the rate of growth over time right now, private health insurance markets are not competitive today," Blumberg said.

High costs today result from the "a tremendous amount of consolidation in both private health insurance markets and provider markets" today, she noted. "The public plan actually has leverage that provider insurers don't have today. The plan will be between private plans and Medicare and will lower the cost of premiums. Insurers will respond to the presence of competition by becoming more aggressive and innovative," Blumberg asserted.

Additional savings in the hundreds of billions will be found by reducing government overpayments to private insurers that plague the system today, said Judy Feder, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. "Changes in medical system and public option will push health care system in direction of greater value."

In his weekly address, July 18, President Obama agreed with the line of thinking offered by these experts. "Our proposals cut hundreds of billions of dollars in unnecessary spending and unwarranted giveaways to insurance companies in Medicare and Medicaid," he explained. "They change incentives so providers will give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care, which will mean big savings over time."

The President added that he would refuse to support a final reform package that added to the deficit. He further rejected the claim that reform would limit people's choices about the care they would receive. "I don’t believe that government can or should run health care. But I also don’t think insurance companies should have free reign to do as they please," he said.

The push to slow down or block reform will only harm working families caught in the cycle of high costs and inadequate access to care, the President stated. "The opponents of health insurance reform would have us do nothing. But think about what doing nothing, in the face of ever increasing costs, will do to you and your family."

To ensure that reform would be fully paid for in the short-term, the health reform bill now being considered in the House includes a proposed surcharge on the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thousands of British steelworkers march to save jobs

Original source:

Thousands of steelworkers and their families have marched through Redcar in a campaign to save the Corus steel plant.

Over 5,000 workers and their families sent a powerful message to the government with the Save Our Steel march as they demanded help for the struggling plant which is the major employer in Redcar and a key industry for Teesside.

Two thousand jobs could go at the 150-year-old plant after a consortium pulled out of a 10-year contract to buy its product.

Electrician Bob Stainthorpe spoke at the rally, saying that the public response had moved him.

The deputy chairman of the multi-union committee at the plant estimated that up to 5,000 people had crammed the length of Redcar High Street.

"It just shows the public support we have," he said.

"People came from all over the country to be here and it tells us that we are not alone."

Marchers included workers from the local port and Teesside's chemical industry, as well as steelworkers and their families.

Some banners took issue with the government for bailing out the banks.

One read: "Mr Brown you have helped the banks, your MPs helped themselves to public money, now help us to Save Our Steel."

Mr Stainthorpe added: "We have sent out a powerful message today. It would be an absolute tragedy if nothing was done to save us.

"It would tear the heart out of the community."

Steel union Community warned that British manufacturing as a whole would not survive if the government failed to act on the Corus closure.

Community official Roy Rickhuss said: "We need help, we need support from the government if the manufacturing base in this country is going to survive.

"And steel is key to that. Without steel, there is no manufacturing base in this country."

Unite union regional officer Bob Bolam added: "This is not a protest. What we want is the government to get involved to ensure that steel production on Teesside is maintained."

Local Labour MP Vera Baird also urged the government to bring forward major projects which need steel, to boost Corus's order book while negotiations to find a buyer continued.

"There are other people who are interested in buying our steel now," she said.

"So I feel that, although we are still in real peril, we do have a real prospect."

A Department for Business spokesman said: "We are fully engaged with Corus to try to secure the future for as many workers as possible.

"We have offered £5 million training support to help the workforce up-skill for the upturn, signalling a real commitment from the government to Corus and its workforce.

"The difficulties that the company is facing are caused by an extreme downturn in demand for steel around the world. It is restructuring as it seeks to match production to lower demand and to position itself for the future."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reports of the death of union cardcheck still premature

by John Wojcik

A report in the New York Times today that says senators have “dropped” the majority sign-up provision of the Employee Free Choice Act is not accurate.

A spokesperson for Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is shepherding the bill through the Senate, said that “no particular provisions of the bill have been agreed to and cannot be agreed to until there is an entire bill that can be agreed to.”

“As we have said from day one, majority signup is the best way for workers to have the right to choose a voice at their workplace,” declared Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, this morning. He added, referring directly to the Times article, “The Employee Free Choice Act is going through the usual legislative process, and we expect a vote on a majority signup provision in the final bill or by amendment in both houses of Congress.”

Majority signup has been the way workers designate a union as their representative since the Wagner Act was passed during the Great Depression. Taft-Hartley amended that after World War II to allow companies the option of requiring a “secret ballot” election if workers indicate, by signing cards, that they want to be represented by a union.

The “compromise” the Times described as “dropping cardcheck” is only one of numerous compromises that have been discussed over the last several months. The talks have been necessary because, despite what is now a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority for Senate Democrats, there have been a number of conservative Democrats who have had reservations about the majority signup provision.

The compromises have included a variety of ideas that involve everything from mailing the current authorization cards to the NLRB to actually voting up or down on a union and mailing the sealed ballot to the NLRB.

The majority signup provision which several senators feel could be traded off in order to achieve a filibuster-proof 60 votes would require employers to recognize a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards designating a union as their representative.

Those senators include Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

One of the People’s Weekly World’s labor sources said, “The thinking there probably is that if Pryor goes along with something, so will Blanche Lincoln and the rest of the ones sitting on the fence.”

In this latest of the many compromises discussed the majority signup provision would be swapped for other things the labor movement sees as critical to making it easier for workers to unionize.

Under the revisions, union elections would be required as soon as five days after 30 percent of the workers signed authorization cards. At present the campaigns sometimes span months, during which companies harass, intimidate and often fire pro-union workers.

A second revision would forbid companies, during that five-day period, from requiring workers to attend captive audience meetings where they are forced to listen to anti-union propaganda.

The third revision that is part of the “tradeoff” would require employers to give union organizers access to company property. Union organizers, at present, are forced to talk away from their workplaces while employers can inundate employees with anti-union propaganda at will.

This latest compromise floated, as have all the others, retains provisions for sharply increased penalties against companies that violate labor law and provisions for required arbitration when companies, once a union is recognized, drag their feet on negotiating a first contract.

Labor has long said these provisions are key to labor law reform.

At present, even when companies fire people for union organizing the companies can get off the hook with as little as being required to promise not to do it again.

In Illinois workers at a major health care agency voted for a union three years ago but have still not been able to get their employer to negotiate a first contract

One aide to a union president said he would be “extremely disappointed” about the dropping of majority signup but said, “Even with this latest compromise being floated there would be a victory because unscrupulous outfits that don’t care about their workers will have a lot less time to pressure workers into voting against their own self-interests.”

An aide to a top AFL-CIO official said today, “What we must have is a bill that meets the basic bottom lines we have been pushing for. Workers must have a real voice and, of course, majority signup gives that to them. There must be real penalties against employers who break the law, and you must have a way to keep companies from stalling forever to prevent workers from winning a contract.”

Sen. Harkin himself has, on several occasions, assured labor leaders that he would oppose any move to gut any of the bill’s essential features. Those essential features, as far as he is concerned, are the same ones outlined by labor.

He indicated at the America’s Future Now conference in Washington in June that, in the event that there was a serious move to gut the bill, he had secured assurances from Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, that he would get an up or down vote on the original bill so “everyone can see where people in this Senate really stand.”

Conservative Democratic senators oppose the majority signup provision as “undemocratic,” saying that only a secret ballot election could provide workers with the right of privacy.

Some, of course, were influenced by the multi-million-dollar campaigns against labor law reform that have been mounted by the Chamber of Commerce and many businesses. Labor unions were critical of Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, for example, who they said was influenced by Wal-Mart in that state.

The two labor movement sources interviewed this morning were confident, however, that the votes will exist for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Business leaders continue to oppose the bill, particularly the provision that prevents them from campaigning against unions and the provision that makes it impossible to drag their feet during negotiations.

A Chamber of Commerce statement says, “It is just plain wrong that the government gets to say how much a company should pay and what type of benefits it should provide.”

The pro-business Workforce Fairness Institute issued yet another statement against the bill today, indicating that even a bill without majority signup would be unacceptable. “We see it as a hostile act to have arbitrators telling businesses what they have to do,” the statement reads.

The corporations say they are also opposed to the fast elections because they need the time to “educate” their workers about the “problems involved with unions.”

It is expected that the final version of the Employee Free Choice Act could come up for a vote in September, once health care legislation has been voted upon.

jwojcik @

Friday, July 17, 2009

Labor, doctors and small business owners back health reform

By Joel Wendland

Health care reform gained new momentum this week. Wednesday, July 15, the Senate HELP committee passed a version of the bill that closely fits President Obama's main principles for reform. The same day, House Democrats announced the introduction of their own health reform and its referral to three major committees who finalize the bill.

July 16, the American Medical Association announced its endorsement of the bill. "We pledge to work with the House committees and leadership to build support for passage of health reform legislation to expand access to high quality, affordable health care for all Americans," wrote AMA CEO Michael D. Maves in a letter to House ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y. The AMA claims approximately one-fifth of the country's practicing and retired doctors.

In related news, United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard also announced his organization's backing for the bill. The USW had previously only supported the single-payer plan offered by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. In addition to praising the House bill for creating "a high quality public health insurance plan option that will bring real competition for private insurance," Gerard indicated support for the bill's industry reforms that will disallow denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions and other discriminatory practices and its expansion of pre-Medicare insurance to retirees over 55.

"The legislation meets President Obama’s goals to control runaway health care costs, offering all Americans real choices for expanded access to quality health care," Gerard stated.

Small business owner Kelly Conklin, co-owner of Foley-Waite Associates, Bloomfield, NJ, described the current health system as "an administrative nightmare" for himself and saw a huge financial benefit for his business if reform passes.

Conklin, who has owned his business for 31 years and works with the Main Street Alliance, a national organization of small business owners who back President Obama's health reform proposals, said, "When we access health insurance, the system is so fractured and inefficient, that very often it causes as much harm as it addresses."

Urging swift action on passage of the reform package, Conklin expressed strong support of the House bill's inclusion of a surcharge on the wealthiest one percent of Americans as a funding mechanism and strongly endorsed the inclusion of a public option in both the Senate and House bills.

Public option

Now that the health reform bill has entered House committees for debate and amendment, a clearer picture of how the public option will work is emerging. According to information provided on the House Labor and Education Committee's website, the public insurance program would be part of an insurance exchange that also would include a variety of private plans.

Individuals and families who choose the public plan will pay premiums based on a sliding scale tied to their household incomes. Those between 133 percent and 400 percent will be eligible for subsidies for the public insurance program totaling no more than 11 percent of their income. In effect, individuals earning $43,000 or less, or families bringing in $88,000 or less will be eligible, the committee website stated.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Steelworker head hails House health reform bill

PITTSBURGH -- Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (USW), issued the following statement July 15 in response to the U.S. House of Representatives’ health care reform bill:

“Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) and their families are appreciative of efforts by the U.S. House leadership to fix our broken health care system by introducing ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act’ (HR 3200). The legislation meets President Obama’s goals to control runaway health care costs, offering all Americans real choices for expanded access to quality health care.

“It creates a high quality public health insurance plan option that will bring real competition for private insurance from day one. It calls on corporations to pay their fair share and will no longer permit free riders to off-load their health care costs onto the national system. The House bill introduces much-needed insurance market reforms so that pre-existing conditions will be covered and discriminatory practices will no longer be tolerated.

“We are especially pleased this bill provides for a temporary reinsurance program for pre-Medicare retirees ages 55-64 that will help employers continue to provide coverage, as health care costs have skyrocketed for this vulnerable population.

“Health care reform must be acted on by Congress before they go home for their August recess. USW members will be sure to echo the urgent message that health care reform cannot wait.

“Today I’ve transmitted a USW letter to the each of the three congressional chairs of the committees that worked on this historic bill to provide unqualified praise for working together to make good on the promise of providing quality health care accessible and affordable to all Americans.

“The House Tri-Committee bill deserves our recognition. The Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means; and Education and Labor Committees have together produced landmark reform. Chairmen Henry Waxman, Charles Rangel and George Miller know they can count on Steelworkers to vigorously fight attempts to weaken this bill in the remaining legislative days.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Building Labor Solidarity with the Honduran People

By Scott Marshall

Dan Kovalik, United Steelworkers union (USW) senior associate general counsel, just returned Friday from a four day trip to Honduras. He went with a delegation of seven people to get a firsthand look at the situation facing the country after the military coup that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. The Steelworkers union and the global union that it helped organize, Workers Uniting, and the AFL-CIO, all have condemned the military coup. All have called for the restoration of democracy and the immediate return of Manuel Zelaya to the presidency.

Kovalik went with a delegation that included Fr. Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) and several other SOA Watch activists. The Watch group has been fighting to close the School of the Americas, a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Two of the leaders of the military coup in Honduras were trained at the SOA.

The delegation held extensive meeting with unions, workers, farmers, and many other grassroots organizations and social movements. They also met with organizations representing people “disappeared” and tortured under the previous military dictatorship. Their intensive schedule included participation in a peaceful mass mobilization to block the Pan-American highway outside the capital of Tegucigalpa to protest the coup. They were part of a large, united trade union meeting held at the beverage workers union hall in Tegucigalpa and took part in a demonstration outside of the US Embassy demanding stronger measures including recalling the Ambassador as the European Union countries have done.

Kovalik told the People’s Weekly World that President Obama is very popular with the Honduran social movements and grassroots and is hated by the elites and the coup supporters. But, Kovalik said, the social groups do want to see more pressure out of Washington to help restore democracy.

Kovalik said that the delegation also got a chance to talk to a US soldier stationed at a Honduran military base outside the capital. When asked about relations with the Honduran military on the base in light of the US government’s claim that they have broken off contact with the Honduran military, the soldier said that was for the media’s consumption and contact was normal on the ground.

When asked what the delegation’s conclusions were in terms of what additional pressure is needed from the US government to restore Zelaya, Kovalik said that time is short and critical. He pointed out that if the coup stays in place for six months until the scheduled elections in Honduras, it will be a terrible blow against the Honduran people and democracy. Kovalik stresses building pressure in the US to cut more military aid to Honduras on top of the $16 million already cut, (current estimates are that there is $180 million more that could be cut); withdraw all US troops from Honduras, and close the School of the Americas (SOA).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On the March for EFCA in Arkansas


On Saturday July 11th, national labor leaders joined over 1,500 Arkansas workers in Little Rock for a rally in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, which will restore workers’ freedom to join a union and bargain for a better life.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, the first African-American executive officer of the AFL-CIO and widely known civil rights leader, joined other national labor, civil rights, and faith leaders in an historic march and rally. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka, Arkansas AFL-CIO President Alan Hughes, Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Rechenbach, and Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard led hundreds of union and faith and civil rights activists in the first of its kind demonstration in Little Rock.

Early Saturday morning, workers traveled from all over Arkansas to meet at Central High School. There, they remembered the sacrifices and contribution of the Little Rock 9 to freedom for all people in America. Led by Arkansas ministers, the assembled marched to another rally on the steps of the State Capitol featuring local faith leaders and local elected leaders in an even louder call for Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor to vote for the Employee Free Choice Act. The marchers concluded with an old-fashioned Arkansas catfish fry at the adjacent Arkansas Education Association building.

Workers across America have launched the largest grassroots mobilization effort since the November election to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill will provide workers with a greater voice on the job and will allow them to bargain collectively for higher wages, benefits, and job security. It would additionally allow for workers to join a union through majority sign up and take away the right of corporations to demand a ballot election, giving the choice of majority sign-up or an election to the workers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Franken Signs On As EFCA Co-Sponsor

Sam Stein
Huffington Post

Hours after he was seated, Sen. Al Franken, D-MN, let it be known that he would be sign on as a co-sponsor to the Employee Free Choice Act, the labor-backed provision that would allow unions to more easily organize, as his first legislative activity.

"I just became a cosponsor of my first bill in the Senate, the Employee Free Choice Act," the Minnesota Democrat declared at a gathering at the AFL-CIO on Tuesday evening.

Despite taking a backseat in terms of media attention, EFCA remains very much a hotly-debated measure within the halls of Congress. And while Franken's vote will likely boost Democratic efforts on health care and judicial nominations (he is poised to sit on the HELP and Judiciary Committees) it could be on labor matters where his voice is most felt. Certainly the union community, which is pushing for a vote on EFCA sometime this year, feels relieved that it is one senator closer to preventing a Republican filibuster on the measure.

Franken, who was officially sworn into office on Tuesday after an eight-month recount, told the AFL-CIO crowd that he shared common interests with them. According to Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the union group, Franken described the long tradition that exist in Minnesota of "having two Senators who are very pro workers and working families."

"He said it was an honor to be sworn in today and walk through the aisles with Mondale and to be sworn in on Paul Wellstone's Bible," Vale recounted. "He stressed that both men were champions of the labor movement."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Push begins for new stimulus bill

People's Weekly World
by John Wojcik

As the reality of a recession far worse than anyone believed it was earlier this year takes hold, labor and its allies are laying the groundwork for another stimulus battle this fall. They are making their plans even as the Obama administration and Democratic leaders say it’s still too early to consider another recovery package.

The AFL-CIO and Change to Win, the nation’s two labor federations, say they will begin lobbying lawmakers for another jobs bill. Their position is that the $787 billion economic stimulus bill approved earlier this year was a good start but wasn’t big enough.

Heidi Shierholz, a top economist with the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute said yesterday that the first stimulus bill is working as planned and will create or save some 3 million jobs but that the recession is worse than anyone had predicted and there is now a jobs deficit of 8 million that has to be closed.

AFL-CIO policy director, Thea Lee, also said yesterday, “We have more information now. All that information points in the direction that additional stimulus is needed.”

The Department of Labor reported unemployment hit 9.5 percent in June, the highest level in 26 years. It is now almost certain to reach double digits and could pass the benchmark of 10.8 percent, which would make it higher than at any time since the Great Depression.

When the stimulus bill was passed in January administration officials had predicted that the package would keep unemployment from peaking above 8 percent.

While progressive groups gear up for the fight for a second stimulus bill, Republicans are gearing up for a campaign to use the issue to further their political aims, chief among which are more tax cuts for the rich.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the first stimulus isn’t working. “We stand ready and willing to work with the president to produce a bill that will actually yield results,” Cantor said in a telephone press conference yesterday. He said Republicans could work on a new stimulus bill with Democrats as long as it is “heavy on tax cuts.”

Forty percent of the $787 billion bill passed earlier this year actually included tax cuts, but not enough of the kinds of tax cuts the GOP wanted. Sixty percent of the first stimulus package funded job-creating government programs.

The package that was passed was almost $100 billion smaller than what most liberals in Congress really wanted. With only 3 Republicans voting for the measure, many progressives felt that they were making too big a compromise in the name of “bipartisanship.”

Robert Borosage, co-director of the progressive Campaign for America’s Future, said today that the campaign for a second stimulus package will begin in September, when Congress returns from the August recess.

When Vice President Biden spoke about the economy last Sunday he said the administration underestimated how bad an economy it had inherited from George Bush.

He said the current stimulus package needs more time to work but did not rule out eventual administration support for a new package.
Republicans, meanwhile, are flooding the districts of congressional Democrats who are facing challenges next year with e-mails. The e-mails say the individual House members bear responsibility for the “failed stimulus package” and that Vice President Biden “admitted” that the “Obama administration misjudged the economy.”
Cantor is saying that Democrats “miswrote the stimulus bill and got the prescription wrong.” He called for “redirecting” money in the first stimulus out of government programs and into private businesses.

Labor leaders say the Republicans are playing cynical political games and that the only problems with the first stimulus is that it wasn’t large enough to really jump start the economy and that it included too many tax cuts, as opposed to job-creating measures.

The AFL-CIO is saying that the new stimulus package should include more infrastructure spending, unemployment insurance and relief for state and local governments, which are suffering budget crunches.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chicago Rally Against Illinois Budget Cuts

June 30, 2009

Hundreds of community and labor activists, including direct victims of drastic proposed budget cuts by the State of Illinois, rallied to demand "No Cuts." They demanded that the legislature take steps to pass a budget to preserve vital social services. Several times the crowd spontaneously burst into chants of "Tax the Rich."