If you want your Halloween to be all treats and no tricks, make sure all your candy is union-made in America. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411, has an extensive list of union-made candies. Here are some highlights, featuring sweets made by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):
Why not give your valentine some union-made sweets this Feb. 14? It turns out, there are many union-made treats you can give out on Valentine’s Day. The iconic Necco candy Sweethearts conversation hearts are made by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM). Here are some more products compiled by our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, made by members of BCTGM and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):
Cultural awareness or corporate exploitation? From the October 16, 2011 NY Times:
The college student from Moldova was in the United States on a cultural exchange program run for half a century by the federal government, a program designed to build international understanding by providing foreign students with a dream summer of fun in America. So he summoned his best English for the e-mail he sent to the State Department in June.
“Pleas hellp,” wrote the student, Tudor Ureche. He told them about “the miserable situation in which I’ve found myself cought” since starting a job under the program in a plant packing Hershey’s chocolates near the company’s namesake town in Pennsylvania.
Students from other countries pay as much as $6,000 to come to the US as part of this program. They’re expecting to be able to make friends, work on their English speaking skills, sightsee, and have a summer job. A combination of education, work, and fun, in other words. The fun seems to have been left out of the equation.
Instead, many students who were placed at the packing plant found themselves working grueling night shifts on speeding production lines, repeatedly lifting boxes weighing as much as 60 pounds and financially drained by low pay and unexpected extra costs for housing and transportation. Their complaints to the contractor running the program on behalf of the State Department were met with threats that they could be sent home.
The students, who were earning about $8 an hour, said they were isolated within the plant, rarely finding moments to practice English or socialize with Americans. With little explanation or accounting, the sponsor took steep deductions from their paychecks for housing, transportation and insurance that left many of them too little money to afford the tourist wanderings they had eagerly anticipated.
Essentially, these students paid to come here and be exploited for the summer. After they’re gouged for housing and transportation costs they earn next to nothing, and in this case, they were working in unsafe conditions. It seems likely that this is NOT the kind of “international understanding” that the State Dept. was hoping to foster.
Hershey’s packing subcontractor is fined for safety violations. From the February 21, 2012 NY Times:
After a six-month investigation prompted by the protests of student workers on an international exchange program, the Labor Department on Tuesday issued fines of $283,000 for health and safety violations against a company that operates a plant in Pennsylvania packing Hershey’s chocolates, saying it had covered up serious injuries to workers.
The 24-page citation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the company, Exel, intentionally failed to report 42 serious injuries over four years to workers at the plant in Palmyra, Pa., or 43 percent of all such injuries in that period at the plant. The injuries, which were discovered by safety inspectors during their investigation, required medical treatment, and many were related to lifting and moving big boxes of Hershey’s chocolates along a packing line.
OSHA found that Exel (the subcontractor) had not recorded dozens of injuries. They also determined that that failure was not the result of ignorance, that they were deliberately not recording injuries. OSHA also determined that in 6 of the 9 violations, Exel willfully failed to protect workers; hence the high fines. Naturally, Exel is going to appeal the fines.
Labor officials said they had found an e-mail in which Exel managers explicitly decided not to provide audio protection for workers in the noisy plant, even though they were aware of the problem.
Jennifer J. Rosenbaum, legal director of the Guestworker Alliance, said the packing was too strenuous for an American worker to perform for a long time. “It was just another way they were turning long-term factory jobs into a job that even a 20-year-old student could not survive for more than a few months.”
The only reason we know anything about this, is because some 200 of the students walked off the job in Palmyra, some carrying signs. It was the first labor strike at the anti-union plant. Fining Excel is a good first step, but this entire program program is in need of an overhaul.
The job cuts, representing as much as 5 percent of Hershey’s workforce, are part of a manufacturing and supply operations makeover aimed at decreasing costs. The 116-year-old maker of Kisses has closed seven plants in recent years and opened a facility in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2008.
The City of Lawrence, MA laid off 75 school dept. employees, including 32 teachers, but recently announced more layoffs:
Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua says layoff notices have been sent to 115 municipal employees, including 70 police officers and firefighters.
The city of Baltimore is looking at laying off police officers and closing fire stations:
The Baltimore police department has submitted to City Hall a list of 250 officers who would be laid off if the budget gap is not closed, officials said.
The cuts are based on union-mandated requirements that would result in the most recent hires being the first out. The patrol division would be the hardest hit, and the officers who could be laid off include 50 officers recently hired using $10 million in federal stimulus money, which officials say would have to be given back.
Layoffs notices have been sent or are being prepared for other city employees across departments, and fire officials released details on the three city fire companies that face closure if no new funds are found. City officials say they remain hopeful that the plans represent only doomsday scenarios as the council works on new revenue streams.
The Milwaukee school board has approved a budget that cuts more than 600 positions, hundreds of which would be teachers.
Even global financial services firm (a beneficiary of TARP) Morgan Stanley is feeling the pinch:
Morgan Stanley slashed about 200 brokerage support staff this week as the largest U.S. wealth manager further consolidates people and offices acquired from Citigroup’s Smith Barney one year ago, a person familiar with the situation said.
Several hundred jobs in support areas were cut, including marketing and product support, primarily in the brokerage’s headquarter offices, the source said. Morgan Stanley ended the first quarter with about 18,140 financial advisers and 870 offices, mostly in the United States.
Before we get all misty-eyed over poor Morgan Stanley:
At the same time, Morgan Stanley is expanding staff that works with ultra-wealthy customers, adding 150 private bankers, as well as 35 new securities sales and trading staff dedicated to working with the brokerage arm, the person familiar said.
Whew, what a relief! The ultra-wealthy won’t be suffering.
While we’re on the subject of bankers, this piece on how badly bankers have failed, by economist Dean Baker is well worth reading:
However, what the public may not recognize is that the same people who caused this disaster are still calling the shots. Specifically, there has been little change in personnel and no acknowledgment of error at the central banks whose incompetence was responsible for the crisis.
Remarkably, this crew of incompetents is still claiming papal infallibility, warning governments and the general public that bad things will happen if they are subjected to more oversight. Instead, the central bankers and their accomplices at the IMF are dictating policies to democratically elected governments. Their agenda seems to be the same everywhere, cut back retirement benefits, reduce public support for health care, weaken unions and make ordinary workers take pay cuts.
Given how much they have messed up, it is amazing that these central bankers have the gall to even show their face in public. They are lucky that they still have jobs — and very good paying ones at that. (Many of the boys and girls at the IMF can retire with six figure pensions at the age of 50.) Ordinary workers, like teachers, autoworkers, or custodians, would be fired in a second if they performed as badly as the world’s central bankers.
His point about the lack of consequences that these bankers have faced is well taken. Meanwhile, teachers, firefighters, and police officers who didn’t destroy the economy are getting laid off in droves.