Wisconsin Recall Debate Live-Tweet

Clocking Out: Zombies! Edition

VIDEO: What’s the difference between people and corporations? People pay taxes.

Zombie loopholes and tax dodges are eating California alive. That’s why Californians must become zombie slayers.

Longtime Republican legislator urges voters to recall Walker in op-ed. The reason? Education.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker’s biggest donor paid no state taxes in 2010.

Supreme Court Justice gives clues that parts of Citizens United could be overturned.

Conveniently, SCOTUS will take up a direct challenge to Citizens United from Montana.

Citigroup was still committing mortgage fraud as late as this year.

Want to shop at a union grocery store? There’s an app for that.

#RickScottFail #45: Florida governor on his state’s massive voter purge “there will be more names.”

New data from Florida confirms voter purge list includes thousands of U.S. citizens.

Union negotiations American Airlines soon to begin.

Combustible dust kills hundreds of workers in explosions, but GOP Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner wants to regulate it less.

Finally: Here’s a frightening reality check: more paid maternity leave in Pakistan than the U.S.

Source: upworthy.com via Working America on Pinterest

Minnesota’s Photo ID Amendment: Common Sense Policy or Trojan Horse?

This November 6th, Minnesotans will voted on a constitutional amendment which will read on the ballot as follows:

Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?

While this might seem like common sense, the so-called “voter ID” amendment is just another part of the corporate-backed, nationwide push to restrict voting rights. Here are just three reasons Minnesotans should vote NO on the voter ID amendment:

1.) One thing that the ballot question does not clarify, which the actual amendment does is, “All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot.” This is important, because previous legislation has defined “government-issued” to mean only a Minnesota Driver’s License or State Issued ID Card.  This means Passports, Military ID’s, Veteran ID’s, Student ID’s and Tribal ID’s, to name a few, will no longer be valid forms of government-issued photo ID.

To make matters worse, MN Statute 171.07 requires all citizens applying for driver’s licenses and ID cards have a valid permanent residential address. This means if you are a homeless veteran, victim of domestic abuse living in a shelter or a recent foreclosure victim, you cannot obtain the required ID needed in order to exercise your right to vote.

2.) Many other states that have passed similar laws (including Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas, Georgia and Indiana) provided clear provisions for those who cannot vote in person.  By doing this, they made sure that absentee balloting would be protected those who live in nursing homes and deployed military troops, for example, before the public decided to pass the amendments.  Minnesota’s Voter ID amendment offers no provisions for absentee voting, leaving it entirely up to the discretion of future legislatures, and throwing the voting rights of thousands of seniors into question.

3.) This constitutional amendment would effectively dismantle Minnesota’s very popular same-day voter registration system, which has allowed our state to become one of the highest in voter turnout in the country. The question of same-day registration is conveniently omitted from the ballot question, but included in the amendment as follows:

“All voters, including those not voting in person must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.”

This means that showing a valid ID will not be enough to cast your ballot.  Each and every polling place will need to verify that you haven’t had your voting rights revoked, in cases such as felons or documented immigrants.  This check will be required before you are allowed to vote, but will require expensive computer systems in each polling place (which we currently do not have) in order to process this eligibility check on Election Day.  If you register early, this should not be a problem, since the check should be completed ahead of time.  But for all of those who register on Election Day, which is 20 percent of Minnesota’s electorate or 500,000 voters, who are not able to be verified at the polling place are to be given a provisional ballot instead of a real ballot.

The intent of how these provisional ballots will work is described in GOP legislation that Governor Mark Dayton vetoed in 2011, “If a voter does not appear before the county auditor or municipal clerk within 7 calendar days following the election [to verify their identity and eligibility]…the voters provisional ballot must not be counted.” [HF210 – Sec. 24, 204C.135 – subd. 2(b)] The distance many voters will be required to travel to validate their provisional ballots will be over 100 miles round trip, which many eligible voters do not have the resources to make.  Most states with provisional balloting systems do not put this burden on the voter, but the Minnesota legislature has not clearly explained this burden before we vote on the amendment in November.

These issues alone should alarm all voters in Minnesota and raise into question the true intent of this constitutional amendment. Just like similar measures in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee, and other states, backers claim to be addressing voter fraud while the real intent is voter suppression. Because the truth is, if less people cast their vote, less people are making their voices heard against anti-worker agendas and the increasing power of corporate money in politics.

Minnesotans may want to think twice before they cast their vote this year, because next year they may not be allowed to.

Wisconsin: What’s So Important About Collective Bargaining?

Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

There are many reasons to fire Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) next Tuesday. But some people in Wisconsin and others who are following the recall battle between Walker, who last year eliminated the collective bargaining rights of 380,000 public employees, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), who supports workers’ rights to bargain, are asking:

What’s so important about collective bargaining in the first place?

Let’s start with the fact that collective bargaining builds and protects the middle class, not just for union members, but for all workers. Here’s how.

Companies and other employers don’t just hand out fair wages and better benefits, even to employees they say they value. Middle-class wages and benefits like health care and paid sick days are built over time by working people who come together to insist on fair standards.

Through their unions, working people bargain collectively with employers—both private and public—to determine their terms of employment, including pay, health care, pensions and other benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work and family and more.

Raising standards in an industry affects other workers in the industry, too, even if they aren’t part of a union. As the American Worker Project pointed out in its 2011 report “Unions Make the Middle Class,” collective bargaining draws the map for all workers to get to the middle class.

In America today, states with higher concentrations of union members have a much stronger middle class. The 10 states with the lowest percentage of workers in unions all have a relatively weak middle class.

Let’s not forget another basic fact about collective bargaining. It is an internationally recognized core workers’ right. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls it an “enabling” right—a fundamental right that ensures the ability to protect other rights.

Collective bargaining also provides a check and balance to employers’ power—and yes, cities, counties and states are employers. You really can’t expect every worker to bargain his or her own terms of employment. Without collective bargaining, employers can and do unilaterally impose their own terms and conditions.

Then we have the cold hard political reasons why collective bargaining is so damn important, especially for public workers like the 380,000 Wisconsin teachers, health care workers, snow plow drivers, social workers and more.

Politicians like Walker and others in the past couple of years who have attacked workers’ rights claim they are simply trying to curb spending and arrest state budget problems by eliminating collective bargaining.

But just a little closer look makes it clear they want to limit the power of working people, balance budgets on the backs of working families and deliver political pay-back to corporate and wealthy campaign contributors.

In Walker’s case, the elimination of collective bargaining was part of a package that included tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy and drastic cuts to health care, education and other vital working family programs. It’s no surprise that Walker’s close allies such as the extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the far, far right-wing Koch Brothers and other corporate and anti-worker groups so passionately back Walker.

You could even make the case that collective bargaining is a core conservative principle. In 1968, then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan (R) signed a law granting public employees collective bargaining rights. Who’s more core conservative than Reagan? Of course, he changed his tune as president, but that’s another story.

There are many reasons to fire Scott Walker next Tuesday and his attack on collective bargaining is a pretty good one.

Clocking Out: Dog Bless Amercia Edition

After three years of tax breaks and bailouts, Bank of America moving support jobs to Philippines.

Again, 42 Republican U.S. Senators filibuster bill capping student loan rates.

More on Rick Scott’s Florida voter purge: it’s part of the Governor’s pattern of voter suppression.

Koch-backed group offers Illinois residents free food and transportation to those who want to support Scott Walker. #desperation

Pro-worker candidates kicked some butt in last night’s Texas primaries.

While Walker ignores the jobs crisis, Dept. of Labor funds green jobs training in Wisconsin.

Coloradans protest Wells Fargo’s tax dodging.

Only 37 percent of Michiganders approve of Gov. Rick Snyder. Does he need an emergency manager?

Awesome letter to the editor tells readers to treat service workers like human beings. #novelconcept

100,000 wealthy households paid no income tax in 2009, says IRS study.

Spending to defeat Barack Obama will top $1 billion – and that’s before the Romney campaign gets involved.

Finally: Romney campaign misspells “America” in smartphone app.

Higher Turnout Than 2010 Predicted for Wisconsin Recall

In Wisconsin, the highest turnout in a November gubernatorial election was in 1962, when 52.4 percent of voters cast ballots.

But for the June 2012 Wisconsin recall election, the state election board is predicting between 60 and 65 percent of voting-age Wisconsinites will vote, either in person or by absentee ballot. By contrast, in the 2010 election that swept Governor Scott Walker and his anti-worker allies into office, there was 49.7 percent turnout.

The Government Accountability Board (GAB), which manages Wisconsin elections ,was clear to say that this is just a prediction. “Wisconsin has never had a statewide recall election, which makes predicting turnout difficult,” said GAB director Kevin Kennedy. “We typically look at history for guidance in predicting turnout.”

It’s worth noting that although 65 percent is high, it’s not at the high water mark of 2008, when thousands of first-time and revitalized voters elected President Barack Obama. Turnout was 69.2 percent. At least 400,000 Wisconsinites voted in 2008 but did not show up in 2010.

A key county in this election will be Milwaukee County, where Walker once served as County Executive (he won through a recall election, by the way) and where Democratic challenger Tom Barrett serves as Mayor of Milwaukee. Turnout in the sea change election of 2008 was 316,916, but that dropped to 209,929 two years later.

That’s almost 107,000 voters in Milwaukee County alone that have yet to express how they feel about Scott Walker at the ballot box – and with polls showing a consistent statistical tie, they are sure to make the difference on Tuesday’s election.

Democratic pollster Paul Maslin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Barrett a win is assured if turnout is 2.5 million or more, but that turnout is far from certain. With Walker’s millions of dollars in negative TV ad spending, it’s up to each of us to make sure everyone understands the importance of this unprecedented, unpredictable recall election. Please use check out the AFL-CIO Friends and Neighbors Tool, which allows you to do just that.

Yet Another Veteran Disenfranchised by GOP War on Voting Rights

Three weeks ago, Bill Internicola received a letter from his home county, Florida’s Broward County. “The Broward County Supervisor of Elections’ Office has received information from the State of Florida that you are not a United States citizen,” it read, and went on to say that he was ineligible to vote unless he responded with proof of citizenship.

Not only is Bill Internicola a United States citizen, he is a veteran of World War II and a Bronze Star recipient who has been voting in Florida for 14 years.

Bill was one of 182,000 Floridians caught in Gov. Rick Scott’s purge of the state voter rolls, allegedly an attempt to get non-citizens off of voter lists before the 2012 election. If we took Gov. Scott at his word, it would be at the very least a sloppy, poorly executed, costly plan, so ridiculous that Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning resigned in its wake.

The state attempted to identify non-U.S. citizens by comparing the voting file with data from the state motor vehicle administration, but the motor vehicle data does not contain updated citizenship information. The process, which created a list of 182,000 people, was considered so flawed by Browning that he refused to release the data to county election officials. Browning resigned in February and Scott has pressed forward with the purge, starting with about 2600 voters.

Let’s repeat: this plan to purge the voter rolls didn’t use up-to-date data, and was so bad that the official in charge didn’t want to talk about it and ended up resigning. Let’s also repeat that Gov. Scott continued the process anyway.

We do not take Rick Scott at his word that this is simply about removing non-citizens from voter rolls. This is about keeping as many Hispanics, people of color, seniors, and young people from voting as possible; just another part of the coordinated, nationwide attack on voting rights perpetrated by radical governors and right-wing legislators across the country.

The Miami Herald reported that in this haphazard list of 182,000 voters is roughly 58 percent Hispanic, even though Hispanics make up just 13 percent of Florida voters. In addition, 40 percent of the voters on list of “potential non-citizens” are Democrats.

It’s common knowledge that Florida has a spotty history with voting rights and election accuracy. Nearly 7,000 people were wrongfully removed from Florida’s voter rolls in the run up to the 2000 election, which George W. Bush won by 537 votes.

But the idea of veterans who have risked their lives for their right to vote being disenfranchised might be shocking enough to shed light on the messy, chaotic, blatantly politically-driven process that will shape Florida’s 2012 electorate.

“When someone who put their life on the line to protect the right to vote from fascists and empires is denied the right to vote, and is purged from voting rolls, there is something horribly, horribly wrong.” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chairman of VoteVets.org, “Anyone who would stand behind an action that threatens the right to vote of a WWII vet is someone I would call un-American.”

As an American veteran disenfranchised by new GOP-led corporate-backed voter suppression tactics, Bill Internicola joins Gil Paar, a Racine, Wisconsin Air Force veteran who could not use his VA card as voter ID (featured in the video below). He also joins 40-year Aurora, Ohio resident and World War II veteran Paul Carroll, kept from casting a ballot for the same reason, who said “I went to war for this country, but now I can’t vote in this country.”

Clocking Out: Rage Against the Blog Edition

Occupy Homes saves a Minnesota family from eviction twice in 48 hours.

#RickScottFail #45: Florida governor purges a 91-year-old World War II veteran from the voter rolls.

NLRB member Terence Flynn resigned today after allegedly leaking sensitive information to Romney campaign.

Reports of ALEC’s influence in Ohio breaks into the mainstream media.

Watch out, overpaid CEO’s. Here come your shareholders.

Roger Bybee says Wisconsin workers and their allies should stop watching polls and get hustling. We agree.

Look below the radar: John Nichols on Mahlon Mitchell’s campaign for lieutenant governor.

Plus: How we know Scott Walker wants to strip fair share rights next.

Tom Morello and friends are rocking Madison in support of the Wisconsin recall.

No state is safe: the war on public education has arrived in Oregon.

Corbett’s changes to Pennsylvania voter suppression law are just a PR stunt.

Finally: Best of luck to the Bed Bath and Beyond warehouse workers in New Jersey seeking union representation.

IAM’s Guide Dogs of America Changes Lives

Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

Guide Dogs of America changes lives—thanks to the Machinists (IAM) union and, of course, some dedicated best friends.

Watch the video and share it with your friends.

Punching In: Make That A Double Edition

Welcome back from Memorial Day weekend! Check out these nine progressive veterans running for Congress.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin legislature limits veterans’ access to the courts.

Thanks to the New York Times for highlighting the divisive agenda of Scott Walker – and melted cheese.

Related: After deer hunting, what popular Wisconsin institution does Walker want to privatize? The UW system.

Infographic of the Day: The revolving door between Wall Street and Congress.

#RickScottFail #43: The Florida governor is waging a War on Voting – and it could hand the Presidency to Romney.

#RickScottFail #44: Unemployed Floridians face more obstacles getting assistance than any other state. That’s not an accident.

Ohio students registering to vote also getting challenged by right-wing groups.

A big welcome to Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition fighting for a tax code that works for the 99%.

Finally: A big shoutout and salute to the IBEW workers helping keep our troops safe in Afghanistan.

Photo by chichacha on Flickr, via Creative Commons