Palermo’s Agrees to Reinstate Eight Fired Workers

In a settlement reached with the Palermo Workers Union and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Palermo’s Pizza has agreed to return eight fired workers to their former jobs with back pay.

The company also has agreed to post a notice in its Milwaukee plant informing workers of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act and to hold a union election.

The workers have been on strike since June 1, 2012, to protest unfair labor violations, workplace safety and to call for a voice on the job. After the workers requested that Palermo’s recognize their union and bargain with them over serious workplace problems, Palermo’s fired more than 75 workers.

Raul de la Torre, an organizing committee member of the Palermo Workers Union, says:

Palermo’s Pizza repeatedly violated our rights to join a union. This agreement confirms that Palermo’s used threats, intimidation, surveillance, discrimination and retaliation to deny the freedom to choose a union voice.

The United Steelworkers (USW) union has been working closely with both the fired Palermo’s workers and those currently on the job who are seeking a union voice. USW District 2 Director Mike Bolton called the settlement positive but also a disappointment.

It took much too long to get even this small bit of justice for these workers. And unfortunately, they will be going back to jobs where union-busters have created such an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that a democratic election is not possible. So for Palermo’s to claim they want a union election is a travesty of justice—they know that 75% of employees already expressed support for a union when they signed a petition calling for union representation over a year ago, and that most of those workers—more than 100 former employees—will never get to vote because they were fired for speaking out.

The Palermo Workers Union says there still are numerous issues related to the labor dispute at Palermo’s Pizza that remain outstanding.

  • There is a pending NRLB settlement with BG Staffing, a temp agency that was the employer for numerous fired union supporters.
  • The NLRB is currently investigating recent charges that Palermo’s illegally fired an African American employee who was engaged in pro-union activity at work.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to open an investigation into Palermo’s refusal to release federally mandated records of injuries, which have been requested by a lawfully designated representative of numerous employees.
  • Palermo’s so far has refused requests from elected officials to provide evidence that they fulfilled promises to create family-supporting jobs with some of the $48 million in taxpayer money they have received in recent years, including loans they received, via the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Read more about the settlement from the Palermo Workers Union.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Senate Confirms NLRB Nominees; Board at Full Strength

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is now fully staffed and able to continue to function to protect workers’ rights after the U.S. Senate today confirmed five members. The votes end a months-long blockade on President Obama’s nominees by Senate Republicans who threatened to shut the board down Aug. 27.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the confirmations are:

Good news for all workers seeking to exercise the rights they are guaranteed by law. Those essential rights include the ability to bargain together for fair wages and living standards and a workplace safe from abuse, harassment and intimidation.

The five members are current NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce; Nancy Schiffer, a former AFL-CIO associate general counsel; and NLRB attorney Kent Hirozawa, currently the chief counsel to Pearce; and attorneys Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, who represent management in labor-management relations.

Earlier this month, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was set to change Senate rules that would have eliminated filibusters against certain executive branch nominees, Republicans ended their obstruction tactics on the NLRB nominees, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and several others.

Trumka said the obstructionism by extremist Republicans “delayed the confirmation of a full Board and caused unnecessary anxiety and pain for working families.”

He also said:

With today’s vote, our country has qualified public servants on duty to defend America’s workers, businesses and families. We congratulate all of the nominees and look forward to having a functioning NLRB that will fairly and impartially oversee the workplace rights of millions of Americans.

Read Trumka’s full statement.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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A Nonpartisan Ethics Organization Just Named the Worst Governor in America. The Contest Wasn’t Even Close.

 

Note: This post is from July 31, 2013, but Scott Walker has not stopped his attacks on working people since then. Please join our fight against the Walker agenda nationwide, including stopping fast track for bad trade deals.

The nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has declared Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker the “Worst Governor in America.”

Even though he had fierce competition from fellow Republicans Tom Corbett and Susana Martinez, this is a choice CREW had no trouble making:

In the past he’s employed illegal tactics and abused his power to round up votes, but Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) didn’t have to break a sweat to win this contest. For racking up a record that has veered from unethical conduct to staggering incompetence, CREW’s voters awarded Gov. Walker the title of Worst Governor in America.

Gov. Walker had made his name in 2011 by ramming through unprecedented restrictions on the collective bargaining of public workers, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg:

Gov. Walker also presided over illegal activity and wasteful spending at a public-private partnership that he and the state legislature created to promote economic development.  Additionally, a long-running investigation into Gov. Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County executive and his 2010 gubernatorial campaign resulted in criminal charges against several of his aides.  CREW cited these scandals and others in naming Gov. Walker to the second edition of its Worst Governors in America report.

“Scandal and embarrassment seem to follow Gov. Walker wherever he goes,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Given his inability to competently handle the most basic responsibilities of his office and willingness to overstep his authority to help his donors, it’s no wonder CREW’s voters recognized him as a singularly terrible American governor.”

Currently, Scott Walker is under fire on multiple fronts. In June, Wisconsin was ranked 49th out of 50 in job creation by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Over the past few weeks, dozens have been arrested in the Wisconsin state capitol for the simple act of singing, under new protest restrictions Walker’s administration put in place. Just yesterday, Walker shocked many of his former political allies by suggesting expanding his union-busting Act 10 to include police officers and firefighters as well.

All this, and Scott Walker is not-so-secretly laying the groundwork for a presidential run.

Read the full report.

Photo by GageSkidmore on Flickr

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We Said #GiveUs5. They Gave Us 5: Punching In

For the first time in a decade, we have a fully-functioning five-member NLRB.

“Today’s Senate action is a step toward justice for 80 million private sector workers.”

Confusion over Pennsylvania voter ID law disenfranchised 35,000 people.

The labor movement has entered a “period of experimentation.”

August is a BFD month for immigration reform.

Why did Senator John McCain visit the AFL-CIO HQ yesterday?

How Amazon is worse than Walmart.

ALEC’s latest assault on fair wages.

Finally: Join us at 1pm EST for a discussion of how the labor movement can make a difference for women.

Chat with AFL-CIO Leadership and Reps. Linda Sánchez and Donna Edwards About Lifting Up Women’s Voices

Leaders of the labor movement are looking at how to create a re-energized movement that’s even more relevant to working people’s lives—and we need your advice. When it comes to making a difference for women today, what’s working and what do we need to change? What are the most important issues for working women? How can we make the biggest impact on those issues? How can we swell the ranks of women leaders—and why does it matter?

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker and Reps. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) are leading an online discussion on how we can make our movement all it can be for working women, as the AFL-CIO continues itscrucial conversation about the future of working people and of unions.

They will be moderating the online discussion on Wednesday, July 31, from 1–2 p.m. EDT. Please join the conversation at http://go.aflcio.org/ConvQ9 and encourage others to participate. We need broad and diverse voices to help shape the future of working people.

Thank you for helping us convene a robust discussion on this important topic, and please add your voice: http://go.aflcio.org/ConvQ9.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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You Won’t Believe How Walmart Responded to This College Student. Actually, You Will.

Walmart, the country’s largest private employer and huge wielder of political influence, is taking on their greatest challenge yet: A college junior writing an op-ed in her student newspaper.

Georgetown student Erin Riordan wrote a piece for The Hoya, Georgetown’s student-run university newspaper, in support of the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA), which would raise the minimum wage for big box retail employees to $12.50 an hour.

To deal with this threat, Walmart dispatched Steven Restivo, a senior director of communications at Walmart, to write a responding op-ed.

To review: The day before the DC City Council voted on the issue, Walmart threatened to cancel the development of three of six planned stores in the District, specifically announcing plans to pull out of DC’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Residents were confused: why would Walmart balk at the idea of paying $12.50 an hour when they had previously promised comparable or higher wages? Luckily, the Council ignored Walmart’s shenanigans and passed the measure 8-5; now Mayor Vincent Gray now has the opportunity to sign it or veto.

Erin’s piece on July 24 pointed out the reasons that many of us want the LRAA to become law: to establish a living wage for a notoriously underpaid retail workers in one of the most expensive cities in the world. She also points to Walmart’s enormous revenue and their previous promises to pay $13 an hour. Perhaps most importantly, she points to the LRAA’s ability to lift DC families out of poverty.

The current minimum wage creates a cycle of poverty where even full-time workers struggle to make a living, then transferring the burden of paying for necessities to the taxpayer through welfare and food stamps.

In his July 29 response, Steven Restivo, who we’ll mention again is a senior director of communications at Walmart responding to a student op-ed in a college newspaper, says LRAA is bad policy because it doesn’t apply to all residents.

Workers at places like Starbucks, McDonalds, Exxon, Giant, Applebee’s, Safeway, Nike, Banana Republic, Five Guys, and the Apple Store, and hundreds more businesses like them aren’t covered by the LRAA. The legislation does not create a level playing field and imposes arbitrary costs on only a handful of businesses in D.C…that’s bad public policy.

Restivo is referring in part  section of the LRAA that states that “employees are not barred from entering into a written valid collective bargaining agreement waiving provisions of this act if such waiver is set forth in clear and unambiguous terms.”

He and other Walmart spokespeople have said this is a “discriminatory” exemption for unionized retail stores, when in fact it’s simply a bargaining chip workers can use in a collective bargaining negotiation, keeping $12.50 as the wage floor.

(Not that we’re surprised a Walmart spokesman doesn’t fully understand unions or the process of management negotiating with workers.)

In addition, Restivo claims the full-time average wage for a Walmart associate in Virginia is $12.39 an hour, and yet he says a $12.50 living wage in DC – a more expensive place to live – is an “arbitrary cost.”

Refuting Restivo point by point could be the basis of a much longer post. But the fact remains that Walmart is so desperate, so insecure about their reputation, and so prone to bullying behavior that when a college student writes an op-ed in a campus newspaper that in support of a policy Walmart doesn’t like, they just can’t resist the urge to launch their PR machine at her.

Don’t let bullying rule the day. Tell Mayor Gray to sign the LRAA and help lift DC families out of poverty.

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Union-Made in America Back to School Supplies

First, my apologies to any students in the middle of their summer reverie who stumble across this blog. But like Christmas ads, back-to-school messages start earlier and earlier. Here’s ours, courtesy of the Union Label and Services Trades Department (UL&STD) and Labor 411, from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

The products below are made by union workers, including members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), United Steelworkers (USW), Printing, Publishing and Media Workers Sector-CWA (PPMWS-CWA), UAW and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Paper Products:

International Paper Co.; Mead Lined Paper; Roaring Springs Wirebound Notebooks (including these sub-brands: Environotes, Imagine, Genesis, Enviroshades, Emoticon, Lifenotes and Maxim); Roaring Spring Environotes Index cards; and Roaring Spring Legal Pads (including these sub-brands: Boardroom, Enviroshades, WIDE, Enviropads and Envirogold).

Notebooks and Binders:

Acco/Mead; Day-Timer Organizers; Roaring Spring Pocket Folders; Roaring Spring Composition Books.

Pens:

Sharp; Sheaffer; and Parker.

Student and Teacher Supplies:

Martin Weber Art Supplies; Roaring Spring Art Supplies; Scotch Tape; Master Lock; Kleenex and Puff Tissues; and Claus Scissors.

Shops Staffed by Union Employees:

Office Max; Safeway; Giant; Albertson’s; Supervalu; Ralph’s; and Vons.

Back to School Clothes:

All USA Clothing; Ben Davis; Hugo Boss; Oshkosh B’Gosh; Russell Athletic; Union Line; and Windjammer.

Lunchbox items:

Jif peanut butter; Oroweat bread; Farmer John lunch meat; Mott’s apple sauce; Wheat Thins; Slim Jim; Minute Maid juice; and  V8-Splash.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

Image by theogeo on Flickr

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Over 500 Fast Food Workers Went on Strike Yesterday: Punching In

Over 500 fast food workers went on strike in seven cities.

Yesterday’s Moral Monday rally was the largest yet.

“I can’t afford my shoes or my rent.”

Scott Walker opens door to stripping police and fire collective bargaining rights.

Remember when he definitely wasn’t going to do that?

Why in the world is President Obama visiting an Amazon warehouse?

Finally: Four workers are in critical condition after a gas tank explosion in Florida. We’re keeping them in our thoughts.

25 Ways the Sequester Causes Real Harm to Real People

While many Republicans and conservatives have minimized the impact of the sequester and its effects on America’s working families, nearly 40% of people say it has hurt them personally. Here are 25 ways the sequester is affecting people’s lives, not just right now, but more and more over time.

25. Fewer Services at National Parks: As the sequester goes on, national parks will have fewer and fewer employees and will have to cut hours, maintenance and visitor center services.

24. Customs Wait Times: Long wait times at customs have exceeded four hours at some airports and passengers have missed flights because of the delays.

23. Lower Pay for Defense Department Workers: Furloughs for more than 628,000 workers at the Department of Defense mean their take home pay will decline.

22. Loss of Weather Satellites: In order to save on-the-ground jobs, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is delaying the replacement of satellites that collect and transmit data that enhance weather forecasts and climate models.

21. Increasing the Deficit: With $50 billion being cut from enforcement activities by the Internal Revenue Service, less tax revenue will be recovered, with as much as $4.5 billion being lost and added to the deficit.

20. Loss of Work-Study Jobs: More than 33,000 college students will be dropped from the work-study program and will lose funding for school. Some of them won’t be able to afford to continue their education.

19. Weaker Public Safety: Massachusetts is cutting back on inspections of food plants, hospitals and air quality. This is after the state’s 2012 deadly outbreak of meningitis, which could have been prevented with improved inspections.

18. Failure to Make School Repairs: Districts like Heart Butte in Montana are forgoing necessary repairs, leaving students without hot water, with holes in building roofs and buses and playgrounds that are falling below regulations.

17. Cutting Music and Physical Education Programs: The McLaughlin Independent School District in South Dakota cut music programs and P.E. and may have to close schools.

16. Loss of Unemployment Benefits: Already modest unemployment insurance payments will be cut or eliminated for millions of workers at a time when jobs are still scarce.

15. Teachers and Staff Laid Off: School districts like Window Rock in Arizona are laying of staff and teachers and may have to close schools if the sequestration continues.

14. Less Scientific Research: Funds for the National Institutes of Health are being cut, which will delay research that is critical for developing new treatments for diseases.

13. Loss of Counselors: Schools like those in the Hays/Lodge Pole District in Montana are unable to fill counseling jobs as youth suicides are on the rise.

12. Less Job Search Assistance: Workforce training and support programs are expected to see cuts up to 25% of their budget, and organizations like SuperJobs Center in Cincinnati will suspend all training for the thousands of job seekers it serves.

11. Elderly Adults Not Being Able to Eat: Cuts to the Meals on Wheels program mean that local deliveries are dropping by hundreds of meals a day in places like Contra Costa County in California and Lamar County in Texas. The programs are being frozen or reduced and some of those who have lost the meals have no other means of getting daily meals.

10. Decreased Law Enforcement Capability: The only crime gun tracing facility in the country has laid off 90 workers, hampering their ability to track down weapons like those used by suspected Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

9. Fewer Firefighters to Battle An Extreme Fire Season in the West: $28 million has been cut from the Forest Service budget, meaning less equipment has been purchased and 500 fewer firefighters have been hired in a season that already is larger and deadlier than other recent years.

8. Declining GDP Growth: The rate of economic growth in the United States declined in the first quarter of the year because of budget cuts.

7. Increasing Children’s Exposure to Lead: Programs designed to lower children’s risk of lead poisoning have faced cuts and could see more. Meanwhile lead poisoning is described by Think Progress as “one of the most important and overlooked national public health problems.”

6. Kids Kicked Out of Head Start: As many as 70,000 children will lose their chance of participating in Head Start this year because of the cuts.

5. Increased Homelessness: According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as many as 100,000 homeless and formerly homeless people will be removed from programs that have been proven to reduce homelessness.

4. More Air Pollution: Cuts have forced the Environmental Protection Agency to delay the implementation of new monitoring sites for dangerous air pollutants.

3. Fewer Public Defenders and Worse Representation: Offices are being closed in 20 states, cases are being delayed and defendants are being forced to be represented by Criminal Justice Act panel attorneys, which some studies have found to be less effective than public defenders.

2. Less Support for Domestic Violence Victims: Shelters for domestic violence victims like those run by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence are cutting back on beds and services for the first time in their history, increasing the chances that women and children in the state will be victims of violence.

1. Lost Homes: More than $2 billion in cuts to Section 8 and other housing programs to freeze or shrink their programs and people are starting to lose their homes as a result. It is projected that 140,000 fewer households will get assistance this year.

Learn much more about how the job-killing sequester is hurting communities around the country at Mapping the Sequester.

Working families are calling on Congress to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefit cuts (i.e., raising the retirement age and the “chained” CPI), repeal the sequester and close tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthiest 2%.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Hey Congress: Before You Go on Vacation, Tell This Mom Why Her Son Can’t Become a Citizen

Delrose Wellington of High Point, North Carolina has a son. Her son wants to be a job creator.

Not one of the theoretical, talking point job creators you hear about from talking heads on Fox and CNBC, but an actual small business owner who hires people.

Unfortunately, Delrose’s son faces an obstacle. Even though he has lived in the U.S. since he was 3 years old, he is technically undocumented. And while the U.S. Senate passed a bill establishing a clear path to citizenship for folks like Delrose’s son, the House of Representatives is sitting on that bill and doing nothing.

Delrose, a member of Working America wrote to the News & Record in a heartfelt letter about how her son deserves a chance to become a citizen and have a shot at becoming one of the actual job creators we so desperately need:

I adopted my son when he was 3 years old. Since then, he has had difficulty obtaining legal status. We have gotten many lawyers to try, and we have been unsuccessful and lost money through the process.

My son majored in business and accounting at High Point University. He made excellent grades and always has made good grades since childhood. He even helps illegal immigrants in the community with their school work and to apply to colleges. In the community, he also repairs televisions and computers for people.

With legal status, he could start his own business or even be a professor at HPU. He has a clean record and has only been beneficial to the community.

Think about how much more he could do if the House passed immigration reform. We need to give him a chance. He is one out of so many undocumented workers in our country.

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