Friday, February 27, 2009

Beware of the Big Lie Bill

by Tula Connell, Feb 27, 2009

Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress made their Big Lie into a bill Wednesday, when Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) introduced the so-called Secret Ballot Protection Act.

Before we go further, let’s clear up the bill’s false implication right now:

The Employee Free Choice Act would not—repeat after me—would not, take away the secret ballot National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election process if workers seeking to form a union wanted to use it. The Employee Free Choice would ensure workers made the decision of whether to select a union via majority sign-up (card-check) or via ballot process. Choice is good. That’s one reason why we called it Employee Free Choice—because it would enable employees, not management, to make the decision of how to form a union.

The official goal of S. 1312 is to:

amend the National Labor Relations Act to ensure the right of employees to a secret-ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

But the real objective of the DeMint-Enzi—and, of course, the autoworker-hating senator from Tennessee, Bob Corker—crowd is to force senators to be on record in support of it before the Employee Free Choice Act is up for a vote and to get free PR for their lies.

In announcing the bill, DeMint put out this gem:

“Card check” is completely unacceptable and un-American, and we must pass the Secret Ballot Protection Act to safeguard workers’ rights for good.

Since Enzi brought up “un-American,” let’s take a look at that term. Seems actions like providing health care for low-income children, ensuring America’s workers are paid overtime and have a safe workplace where they are not paid less because of their gender or race are all-American standards. But not so for DeMint. A quick look at his Senate voting record shows:

DeMint voted at least seven times against expanding health care for children (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program).
DeMint voted three times against protecting overtime pay for millions of workers.
DeMint opposed workplace safety standards.
DeMint voted against Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps ensure workers are not paid less because of gender or race.
The same day the Big Lie bill was introduced, 39 economists, including two Nobel Prize winners, issued a statement supporting the Employee Free Choice Act as key to getting our nation’s economy back on its feet. Their statement says in part:

Indeed, from 2000 to 2007, the income of the median working-age household fell by $2,000—an unprecedented decline. In that time, virtually all of the nation’s economic growth went to a small number of wealthy Americans. An important reason for the shift from broadly shared prosperity to growing inequality is the erosion of workers’ ability to form unions and bargain collectively.

Yet as Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of American Rights at Work, says:

At a time when more Americans are hurting financially than perhaps at any other time in our history, a small group of consistently anti-worker members of Congress are introducing legislation to make it harder for workers to negotiate for better pay and health care for themselves and their families. It is unconscionable that these Congressmen with six-figure salaries and guaranteed pensions choose to kick America’s workers when they are down. This ploy is no surprise, as they have voted against raising the minimum wage, expanding children’s health insurance and ensuring worker safety.

Here’s another lie the bill’s sponsors are pushing out, this via Think Progress:

DeMint took to Fox News to describe why he thinks his firewall is necessary. Amidst the usual false rhetoric about Employee Free Choice eliminating the secret ballot, DeMint also incorrectly claimed that the act would harm small businesses:

And this is not just for big auto companies, this is for small electrical contractors, companies with 10 or 15 people. It would change the business model of the United States to the same model the U.S. auto industry has in Detroit.

As Think Progress points out, DeMint has this all wrong. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) excludes non-retail employers whose interstate commerce is less than $50,000 and retail employers whose gross annual volume is less than $500,000; there are various other size exemptions for all sorts of industries, from newspapers to taxicab companies. These exemptions would not change under the Employee Free Choice Act.

The list of the Big Lie’s bill co-sponsors (all Republicans) reads like a who’s who of senators who will meet the wrath of working families in coming elections: Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Sam Brownback (Kan.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), John McCain (Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), John Thune (S.D.), Roger Wicker (Miss.) and David Vitter (La.).

Because this group doesn’t have enough votes to get the bill anywhere, it’s all about making noise. And spreading the Big Li

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We have exciting news!

Dear Rudy,

We have exciting news! Hilda Solis is our new secretary of labor. Solis was approved in the Senate by an 80-17 vote this afternoon after Republicans backed away from an expected filibuster and agreed to stop their weeks of delaying tactics.

Thanks in part to your e-mails and calls, Solis didn't just squeak by. She was approved by a large majority, including a majority of Republican senators. Upon her confirmation, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney had this to say:

The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis is a huge victory: Finally, Americans will have a secretary of labor who represents working people, not wealthy CEO's. It is also a historic moment as Rep. Solis becomes the first Hispanic secretary of labor.

The delay of Rep. Solis's nomination for partisan and ideological reasons was overcome by the grassroots support of millions of Americans who are struggling and desperately need a secretary of labor who will be their voice.

For more on Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and what this means for working families, check out the latest from our blog.

In solidarity,

Marc Laitin
AFL-CIO, Online Mobilization Coordinator

If YRC Worldwide Fails, You Can't Blame the Teamsters.

By John Schulz,
January 9, 2009

Implications: By a 77-to-23 percent margin, Teamsters rank and file at the YRC Worldwide member companies have approved a 10 percent wage giveback that is expected to save the company between $220 million and $250 million annually. It actually will save the company more than that going forward because it also suspends all cost-of-living raises-- which were supposed to be around 3.5 percent annually--through the end of the contract in 2013. Pension contributions are unchanged, which is of prime importance to the Teamsters.

Analysis: Well, YRC Worldwide's 55,000 or so Teamsters have certainly done their part to help save the venerable 83-year-old trucking concern, the nation's largest.
Now, it's management's turn.
Labor and management leaders have both strong-armed this wage concession through to the point where it passed by a 77-23 percent margin with an impressive 75 percent of affected Teamsters voting. That's a huge number, considering only about 33 percent of eligible Teamsters actually vote in union presidential elections.
Teamsters union President Jim Hoffa called it a desperation move. "We are facing the worst economy in our lifetime," Hoffa said.
Not to be outdone, YRC Worldwide CEO Bill Zollars says in his press release: "During a time of economic hardship, we are proud of the understanding and support of our employees. The amended contract will provide our company with significant annual cost reductions that will also have long-term benefits as the economy recovers."
YRCW also is talking up $75 to $85 million in savings in 2009 from the non-union compensation reductions that were effective Jan. 1, 2009. The company also expects to improve 2009 operating income by a run rate of $200 million from the integration of the Yellow Transportation and Roadway networks that is expected to be complete early this spring.
But actually, selling this wage giveback plan was actually the easy part. Now comes the hard work:
Convincing shippers they should stay with the companies that comprise YRCW.
In this sour economic environment, that is not going to be easy. You've got to figure that in every major account that YRCW has right now, there are about six non-union trucking company sales persons sitting in the waiting room. Whatever rate YRCW is offering, these guys (and ladies) will offer 15 percent less.
In some cases, shippers can't change. Systems and expensive computer networks have been set up to speed freight flows--and help keep shippers from switching for a nickel-a-mile difference in rates.
Zollars recently had his termination agreement amended. Is that a sign of confidence or insecurity? Who knows?
What is known is now he has to perform. In the roughest operating environment for truckers in 30 years, YRC is at once trying to reduce costs, shave cents per mile, defer maintenance and capex, merge its two largest operating units (Yellow and Roadway), renegotiate loans, save fuel, win new customers and try to keep old ones.
Whew! Only President-elect Obama has a longer to-do list.
Whether Zollars and is team is up to it is difficult to tell. The company is in this difficulty because Zollars went on a buying binge in the early 2000s, much as the rest of the country did. Debt levels are extraordinary. The good news for YRCW is it has the terminal network in place to the point where it can afford to sell excess terminals if it needs a quick cash infusion. Of course, that is assuming that one can obtain the credit necessary to finance a terminal buy. Right now, that is debatable.
I personally think YRCW will survive. But much of this is out of their hands. Their destiny is tied to the health of the overall economy (not good), whether they can keep shippers from jumping to another carrier (who knows how cheap shippers can be?) and how much more magical moves YRCW can make to keep their banks and creditors happy.
Another big wild-card is whether rival ABF Freight System, a signor to the same National Master Freight Agreement as YRCW, will go to the Teamsters to ask for the same concessions. If it doesn't, that just rachets up the cost pressures on YRCW.
I don't think YRCW is in the position Consolidated Freightways was on Labor Day weekend 2002 when its consortium of banks finally pulled the plug on that 75-year-old Teamsters company. CF, to its credit, never went the wage-giveback route with the Teamsters. The banks told CF not to bother, just hand over the keys.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On Notice Board: Rick Berman

Rick Berman is a notorious lobbyist hell-bent on keeping a subservient workforce. He is founder of various anti-worker front groups like the Center for Union Facts and the Employee Freedom Action Committee.

Berman’s “astroturf” groups are meant to look like true grassroots organizations but are really just front groups for corporate lobbyists and big business special interests.

Playing loose and dirty with the facts is Berman's favorite tactic. Berman routinely misinterprets data, grossly exaggerates, and offers dubious statistics to further the agenda of his corporate clients.

While Berman may appear as a ringleader in the public attacks of those who support unions and defend workers' rights, the corporations he represents are ultimately responsible. As momentum for the Employee Free Choice Act increases, Berman will likely continue shilling his anti-union services to those employers who don't want to pay their workers a livable wage, provide health care, or help them pursue the American Dream.

Myths and Facts

Myth: “The legislation would end the rights of employees to secret ballot elections.” – Center for Union Facts

FACT: The Employee Free Choice Act does not abolish elections. Under the proposed legislation, workers get to choose the union formation process—elections or majority sign up. What the Employee Free Choice Act does prevent is an employer manipulating the flawed system to influence the election outcome.

Myth: “Legal recognition of a union has traditionally been achieved through secret ballot elections…just like how a person votes for a senator or congressman.” – Center for Union Facts

Current union elections involving secret ballots bear no resemblance to political elections. Worker’s free speech rights are squelched, employers practice various forms of economic coercion, and labor law allows employers to indefinitely delay recognition through drawn-out appeals.

NLRB elections are “the only way to guarantee worker protection from coercion and intimidation.” - Coalition for a Democratic Workplace

Workers are more susceptible to coercion in NLRB elections than majority sign-up. Workers in NLRB elections are twice as likely as those in majority sign up campaigns to report that management coerced them to oppose the union. Further, less than one in 20 workers (4.6 percent) who signed a card with a union organizer reported that the presence of the organizer made them feel pressured to sign the card.

Why Organize?

• Growing Inequity in Wealth
• Due Process in the Work Place
• The Only Legally Sanctioned Method of Improving Your Working Conditions

Growing Inequity
TheThe gap between rich and poor in America is widening. Many working people are not benefiting from the great boom our economy has been experiencing. Those in the upper income brackets, however, are increasing their wealth at fantastic rates.
Research has shown the top 1/2 percent of the wealthiest Americans now hold 27.5 percent of all wealth in this nation. That is up from 23 percent in 1989. The top 10 percent of wealthy Americans own close to 70 percent of all wealth in this nation. That leaves 30 percent for the rest of us to divide up. That gap is also growing.
Why is this occurring? Perhaps because only slightly more that 15% of all American workers are organized Union members. In nations were Union membership is higher, for example Germany, inequity is much lower. The chart below illustrates the gap between American and German industrial workers. The German worker makes over $30 per hour while the American makes under $20.

Is there any coincidence that around 40% of German workers are Unionized while less than 20% of American workers are? There is an obvious correlation between standard of living and Union membership. Maybe American corporations figure they can pay lower wages and benefits because American workers don’t realize this. Well It’s time to spread the word! Organize!


All Americans are guaranteed due process and just cause in court. Our Constitution mandates it. But what about at work? That’s a different story. While we spend more than a third of our waking day at our jobs, we are subjected to absolute dictatorship. There is no due process guaranteed at the work place. Further, the growth in popularity of the “At -Will” clause, which employees are forced to sign, guarantees that any employee can be fired at any time for any reason...or no reason at all! In fact, experts say that America has the worst record of all industrialize nations regarding work place justice. Evidence of this are the 150 thousand employees terminated for arbitrary and capricious reasons annually in the U.S. The ONLY way to guarantee not being a victim of this sort of work place dictatorship is to organize. Forming a Union and obtaining a strong contract assures equity, fair play, and due process in all employment matters.

The Only Legal Way To Improve Your Standard of Living

Did you know that it is the official declared policy of the United States government to encourage collective bargaining? Section 1 of the National Labor Relations Act states such. By stating this, the federal government sanctioned workers to form Unions and self organize. Why? Because the government was concerned about working conditions and poverty when the law was first drafted during the great depression. They were concerned that inequity and unfairness in the work place would disrupt commerce and lead to unrest. Because of this they sanctioned a process by which employees could help banding together and negotiating with their employers.

This process has brought us such things as holiday pay, medical insurance, pensions, and a living wage. Since fewer workers are organizing, we are seeing slippage in these areas. Fewer employers are willing to provide health care, pensions are being converted into 401K plans, and living wages are becoming a thing of the past. All the while inequity grows and the rich get richer! TIME TO ORGANIZE!

Monday, February 16, 2009


For our FedEx employee’s in the private sector. If we were to have a collective bargaining agreement, this would be an applicable contract. The bible is the CBA. Employees in the private sector are considered at-will employees. As such, protections against discipline and termination are found in the negotiated CBA, i.e. requiring just cause for discipline. Additional protections are found in federal and state laws which prohibit discrimination and retaliation for protected activities.

Don’t let management harass, retaliate, verbally or physically in your efforts to organize FedEx. The NRLB are just a phone call away!

Joe,Rudy and The FedEx Watch Dogs

Anaheim Weigh In

Here in Anaheim, Mike Hutton is been told about Jim Peterson mistreating employees, Jim yells in harsh language and cuss it at us. There are employees who have file stress leave because of Mr.peterson intimidation, oh yeah if you want to be in Jim Peterson side offer to buy beer and drink outside of the yard with him. Mr.Mike Hutton fix this situation or does Jim Peterson intimidate you too... cause we the employees here in Anaheim have a solution, and that is to Join the Teamsters!!!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Those ‘greedy’ unions

Taken from the Daily Press Opinion Section 2-1-09

How dare those greedy union workers want a wage to put a roof over their families’ heads. How dare those greedy union workers want a decent wage to feed their family. How dare those greedy union workers want affordable health care for their family. How dare those greedy union workers want a decent wage so they can send their kids to college. How dare they want a decent wage to fund a 401K or, God forbid, a livable pension.

Why can’t they take a page from corporate leaders like Mozillo, who took a $160 million severance after bankrupting his company. Of course the outgoing CEO of Exxon deserved the $400 million he got in severance. Poor Citibank had to cancel its $50 million jet just because they got $45 billion in taxpayer money. And poor John Thain, he just wanted to remodel his office with a $14,000 trash can, an $87,000 rug and a $350,000 toilet. After all, all the billions of dollars sucked out of the economy by the rich don’t affect prices.

From 1967 through 2007, I made $1.2 million, 40 years of six-day weeks, working Sundays and holidays and working through some of my vacation time. It’s corporate America’s greed that got us into this mess. How much money do these people need to be happy?

Yeah, blame those greedy union workers.

Marty Torok
Apple Valley, Ca.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FYI, From Our Brothers And Sisters At FedEx Mechanics For Teamsters

Return of bill heightens union threat to FedEx

FedEx this week faces the return of a bill that could escalate a lobbying war with organised labour and rival United Parcel Service.

US congressmen plan to reintroduce legislation this week that would authorise funding for the country’s aviation regulator, containing a provision that targets only one company, FedEx, and its ability to keep more of its express delivery employees from organising.

If the bill succeeds, the provision would strip the company’s express delivery division of its rights to bargain under the Railway Labor Act, meaning the company could no longer block FedEx Express workers from organising at a local level.

Such a reversal would leave the business more susceptible to strikes and could drive up labour costs.

FedEx argues that local labour actions could disrupt its air and ground delivery network and, in turn, the country’s economy.

United Parcel Service, founded as a ground-based courier, has not enjoyed the same treatment as FedEx, because the original exemption covers railways and airlines. FedEx was founded as an airline.

UPS has been pushing for the exemption to be scrapped for many years.

A similar bill passed the US House in 2007 but failed to come before a vote in the Senate, leading Congress to extend the life of an existing Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorisation law, which sets policy on FAA funds and how the agency may tax air carriers for two years.

The current extension expires at the end of March.

Jim Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who chairs the House transportation and infrastructure committee, will unveil the bill before Wednesday’s scheduled hearing, a committee spokesman said.

Some analysts and investors predict that the FedEx provision stands a better chance of surviving during the current Congress, and with a Democrat in the White House.

“With the exception of the pilots’ union, FedEx has been very successful at holding off unions,” Tom Wadewitz, a JPMorgan Chase analyst, wrote in a November note to clients.

“We believe the risk of unionisation would increase significantly if FedEx Express was moved out of [the Railway Labour Act]”.

FedEx has argued that the express business fits the description of the kind of integrated transportation system Congress sought to protect from disruption, and points to a US circuit court decision that supports its case.

“It is extremely bad public policy,” Fred Smith, FedEx’s chief executive, said in December.

“FedEx Express has been a Railway Labor Act carrier since its inception. It was one of the key elements in the formation of the company.

“We would hope that that provision would not see the light of day.”

FedEx said on Monday it would cut about 900 jobs at 130 facilities, citing unprecedented economic conditions and aggressive pricing by carriers.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

President Obama Wants You to Join the Union

Robert KuttnerCo-Founder and Co-Editor of The American Prospect
Posted February 1, 2009 | 08:26 PM (EST)

I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem, to me it's part of the solution.

-- President Barack Obama, January 30, 2009

The great union leader John L. Lewis, who headed the United Mine Workers from the '30s through the '50s and helped organize millions of workers into the CIO, used to declare in organizing drives: "President Roosevelt wants you to join the union." Roosevelt never said that in so many words, but FDR did strongly back the Wagner Act, giving workers the clear right to organize.

During World War II, Roosevelt's War Labor Board made clear that corporations seeking war contracts needed to have good labor relations. In practice, that meant unions; and it meant "pattern bargaining" in which workers for different companies in the same industry got the same wages, so that companies could not play workers off against each other.

Roosevelt's wartime contracting policies, the Wagner Act, and the militancy of the labor movement laid the groundwork for the golden age of American unions during the postwar boom. Not coincidentally, this was also the one period in the past century when the economy became more equal, and more secure for working people.

So, while Roosevelt's words never quite urged workers to join unions, his deeds spoke volumes. John L. Lewis was well within the bounds of poetic license.

On Friday, President Obama, a onetime organizer, had more words to say about unions, and they were the kind of explicit endorsement that we literally haven't heard from a president since FDR's day.

"We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement," the President said. "When workers are prospering, they buy products that make businesses prosper. We can be competitive and lean and mean and still create a situation where workers are thriving in this country."

Read More:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Entry Word: furlough
Function: noun
Text: the termination of the employment of an employee or a work force often temporarily— see layoff

Entry Word: layoff
Function: noun
Text: the termination of the employment of an employee or a work force often temporarily
Synonyms discharge, dismissal, furlough

Sorry, just breaking the corporate code :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some Managers Never Learn

Paul F. a dispatcher at our Whittier Svc. Ctr. was caught intimidating an employee who was at the Rally outside the terminal this past Thursday. The employee came in the next morning and asked for his paycheck and Paul said that his check was not here. The employee notice that both dispatchers were laughing as he walked away. Guessing they pulled a fast one on him.

Well Paul, did Andy say it was ok to intimidate pro-union employees or did you think of this on your own? If you are acting as an agent for the company you can get in very big trouble with the NRLB and if you were acting on your own the company doesn’t have to back you up at all. So be careful. The people, who you think are behind you, just might leave you hanging!


Message From The FedEx Watch Dogs Of The North

"We have been receiving a few comments recently why FedEx is doing these changes in the west. It’s because of how the economy is lately and that all these comments about management are unfair to them."

I'd like to respond to this. I'll take the blame for part of the animosity toward management. I have made comments in the past that can be considered "accusatory" or "divisive" such as 'us versus them' and 'greedy.'

In all fairness, there are some damn good managers in this company who are taking the heat for the actions of those who are, shall we say, not so good.

However, I'd also like to point out that there are some damn good employees here as well. Some of them have even made the conscious choice to put their jobs on the line for what they believe in. Day to day they fight to make this job better for each of us who punch the clock.

Having said those things, I'd like to ask what right any manager has to complain that he or she is being treated unfairly by the people who are under the management's boot heels. What has any manager done lately to advance the concerns of the men and women who hump the freight, drive the trucks, and keep the paperwork moving?

Management's move? Save money by taking away insurance, cutting hours, and terminating all contributions to the pensions we've earned.

So I ask everybody here: what gives them the right to plead with us to be "fair" to them!? All I and those fighting the good fight ask of everybody here is to be fair to themselves and their fellow workers.

These people had their chance and they chose more profit over more flexibility. Now we must choose security over trust. If they have their own way--anti-union propaganda, paycuts, layoffs (conveniently termed 'furloughs'), higher insurance premiums, and militaristic attendance-point programs--we'll lose everything many of us have spent years building.

Sorry, Andy, but this is business, and you got yours. Now we are going to get ours.

And by the way, a little note to those of you who are afraid that organizing during a recession/depression is an unwise move...this is precisely the time to organize. This company isn't going down; it will do what it has to do to keep making profit for the shareholders even if they have to work within the guidelines of a contract.

So stand tall and rock and roll, my union brothers and sisters!

P.S. Thank you Rudedog, Frankie, and those who stand with you.

February 1, 2009 9:39 PM