Some Things to Remember Now That Santorum Is Running for President Again: Punching In

Pregnancy shouldn’t disqualify women from getting paychecks

“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, UPS permits light duty for drivers injured on the job or who have a qualifying disability. Even drivers who lose their licenses after a DUI offense are given alternative work to do. But women who get pregnant? You’re too big of a risk for a company that puts more than 96,000 vehicles on the road each year.”

Minimum wage will go up in Florida and other states, but it’s still not enough

“Something will be done in the next few years. Every year that we wait there are more states that are moving to a higher increase and we’ll find ourselves as a state on the low end of the minimum wage scale.”

Rick Santorum wants to run for President again, so let’s remember his stance on unions

“There is no tougher bullies than the public employee unions,” said the former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential candidate in March 2012.

Enrollments on health care exchanges surge in December

“Obamacare customers shook off their Thanksgiving food comas last week and began signing up at a much quicker pace on HealthCare.gov, which has now sold 1.38 million insurance plans.”

Republican Lawmakers Fight for Last-Minute Gift to Big Banks

If Republican lawmakers have their way, one of the final acts of the 113th Congress will be to make it easier for big banks to gamble with taxpayers’ money.

As Congress negotiates a last-minute deal to fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown on Dec. 11, it appears likely that a last-minute trade-off will roll back a provision of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act aimed at limiting bank bail-outs.

The provision, “Section 716,” requires banks that trade some of the riskiest types of financial products to conduct the activity in subsidiaries separate from the portion of the bank that is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

A group of pro-reform senators sent a letter to Senate budget negotiators late last week urging them to leave the controversial provision intact. The letter, signed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) states, “Section 716 of the Act was a key component of the financial reforms. We urge you to oppose inclusion of provisions modifying or repealing this reform in any funding legislation.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) blasted the efforts to roll back derivatives regulation, calling it “reckless.” She said:

Middle-class families are still paying a heavy price for the decisions to weaken the financial cops, leaving Wall Street free to load up on risk. Congress should not chip away at important reforms that protect taxpayers and make our economy safer.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Help Save Christmas for the Children of Striking FairPoint Workers

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This post originally appeared at NH Labor News.

When the IBEW and CWA workers said they were about to go on strike against FairPoint Communications, I knew they were in for a long fight. The decision to walk is not an easy one. Workers weigh the decision to walk against their personal financial situation. How long can we afford to go without pay?

A strike can be especially hard on the children of the striking workers. Some older children understand the reasoning behind the strike, others just know that mommy or daddy are not getting paid right now.

Many workers have already begun to inform their children that Christmas is going to be very, very small this year. Buying gifts falls way down on the list of priorities when you are on strike. Just keeping the roof over your head and the food in the fridge become serious issues.

This is where you and I can help save Christmas for hundreds of children.

CWA Local 1400 has compiled a wish list of gifts on Amazon for the children of its members who are currently on strike. There are hundreds of items to choose from, and every gift will bring a smile to a child’s face this Christmas.

After you purchase the gift through Amazon, have it shipped directly to the CWA hall at:

CWA Local 1400
Christmas Gifts
155 West Road
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Help make the holiday season bright by buying a few items for the children of these striking workers.

No gift is too big or too small, and every gift is special. Help to keep the magic of Christmas alive by spending a few dollars buying gifts for children who otherwise won’t be getting anything this year.

There are other ways you can help and show your support for the IBEW and CWA workers on strike against FairPoint.

Make a donation to the IBEW–CWA Strike Fund by clicking here.

If you live near one of the many strike lines throughout New England, please stop by and show your support. Hold a sign for a while. Bring a “box of Joe” or a couple of pizzas to show your support as they stand out in the cold.

The IBEW and CWA are also asking for people to drop off gift cards to local grocery stores and gas stations.

This holiday season dig deep and give a little extra to our brothers and sisters standing up for their rights against a greedy corporation who would rather outsource their jobs, than settle their contract disputes.

Send a gift to the children of striking workers today.

If you would like to donate to the IBEW–CWA Strike Fund, click here.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Clarence Thomas Makes The Most Curious Statement of His Career About Unions: Punching In

Conservatives Supreme Court Justice suggests Amazon workers join a union

Clarence Thomas: ”These arguments are properly presented to the employer at the bargaining table…not to a court in an FLSA claim.”

Elizabeth Warren is not backing down in her fight against Wall Street-backed Treasury nominees

As Warren pointed out, three of the last four Treasury Secretaries under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama worked for Citigroup at some point, and the fourth, Tim Geithner, was offered the Citi CEO job.

Introducing the app that gives control back to shift workers

WellStar Health System is using a new system that allows its nurses to pick their own shifts.

How a full-time job at Whole Foods left this man in poverty

“It’s no secret that Whole Foods Market is hostile to unions. Its co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey has compared unions to herpes, and has insisted that his company is ‘beyond unions.’”

Bike-Share Employees Reject Walmart Model, Vote to Unionize

Wanted: skilled employees willing to work in a hazardous, low-wage environment without training, benefits or a predictable schedule.

This isn’t an ad for working at Walmart. Rather, it’s a list of the reasons that workers at a bike-share venture in Boston voted to unionize with the Transport Workers (TWU) in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board conducted on Thursday. The election drew in 95% of eligible voters and led to an overwhelming three-fourths vote for union representation in a clear repudiation of practices that are becoming more common in technology-driven ventures.

“The workers want a better company,” said TWU Vice President John Samuelsen in a statement. “A union contract will provide them a platform to have real input in giving Boston a world-class bike share operation, and it will enable us to address current problems, including operational difficulties and safety concerns. We’re thrilled that the vote was so decisive.”

Prior to the election, the workers complained of unpredictable and disruptive last-minute scheduling, being told they’re not needed after being called in, needing too many repairs while having too few mechanics, unsafe rental vans when the company vehicles were out of service and $15 per hour wages that don’t match with the precision, organization and safety required in some of the company’s jobs.

“We all believe in Hubway and want it to succeed,” said Tom Langelier, a 29-year-old station technician with Hubway who voted to unionize. “But we’re expected to be on call as if there are formal rules, but there really are no rules. We’re all here in the first place because we bike and care about the future of our cities.”

Technology-driven sharing-economy ventures market themselves as attempts to make life more convenient, yet they still fall through old trapdoors of subtle and overt dehumanization in the search of profit. The workplace issues at Hubway and Citi Bike are not unusual. Take the examples of TaskRabbit employees earning just dollars a day after TaskRabbit revamped how it allocated their work, or the Facebook shuttle drivers whose split dawn and dusk shifts amount to a 15-hour workday. Yet the recent organizing victory at Hubway, along with similar victories in other bike-sharing ventures in Washington, D.C., and New York City, shows that a voice at work is just as important in the new technology-driven economy as it was in years past.

“These are supposed to be good green jobs you can live on and have pride in, not transient green jobs,” said Natalie Matthews, a 24-year-old office administrator, in a telephone interview. “The prime reason we want to organize is so we don’t lose more good people.”

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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This Burger Joint Pays $15 an Hour, and Yes, It’s Making Money: Punching In

We don’t need more public service from Wall Street bankers

Dean Baker on why Obama Administration’s latest treasury nominees are getting some well-deserved scrutiny for their connections to the financial industry.

This burger joint pays $15 an hour, and yes, it’s making money

“Because of our low turnover, and the fact that people are really into their jobs, $15 an hour wasn’t a big stretch.”

Unionized Amazon workers in Germany go on strike for better wages and conditions

“Union supporters believe the company is misclassifying workers in order to underpay them, and the strikers hope to force the company to raise its starting pay from the current level of nearly $12 an hour.”

It’s easier to raise wages for 100,000 than to unionize 4,000

“Blocked from unionizing workplaces by ferocious management opposition and laws that fail to keep union activists from being fired, unions have begun to focus on raising wages and benefits for many more workers than they can ever expect to claim as their own.”

321,000 New Jobs Added in November, Jobless Rate Remains 5.8%

The economy added 321,000 jobs in November—a big jump from October’s 214,000—and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over the year, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.2 percentage points and the number of jobless workers has decreased by 1.7 million.

But even with better job growth this year—wages remain stagnant, with the median family income in the United States falling back to 1995 levels. Earlier this week, the BLS reported that productivity increased in the 3rd Quarter by 2.1%, but that unit labor costs fell by 1.5% because wage gains are still lagging productivity growth.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 2.8 million, slightly down from October’s 2.9 million. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term jobless workers has decreased by 1.2 million.

Last month’s biggest job gains were in professional and business services (86,000), retail trades (50,000), health care (29,000), food services (27,000) and manufacturing (25,000).

Other sectors that showed increases included financial activities (20,000), construction (20,000) and transportation and warehousing (17,000).

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, wholesale trade, information and government, showed little change over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in November for adult men rose to 5.4% from 5.1%. The jobless rates for adult women (5.3%), teenagers (17.7%), blacks (11.1%), Latinos (6.6%) and whites (4.9%) showed little change in November.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Why Are Dentists Associating With Anti-Worker ALEC? Punching In

Why are dentists still associating with the climate-denying, anti-worker-law-creating ALEC?

“So when ALEC decided to take up the issue of dental care—it’s weighing whether to urge states to allow non-dentists to do routine procedures like filling cavities—it suddenly seemed like a really good idea for the American Dental Association to pay their dues and hang out at the group’s policy summit in Washington.”

GOP-controlled Ohio House passes bipartisan redistricting reform

“In 2012, House Democrats received 51 percent of total votes statewide, but the current legislative map favors Republicans in 62 of 99 House seats, according to analysis by the League of Women Voters of Ohio.”

Paging Walmart: Costco had a great month, despite closing on Thanksgiving

“Costco’s total November sales rose 7 percent to $9.43 billion, and revenue for its first quarter, which ended Nov. 23, also climbed 7 percent to $26.28 billion.”

Tea Party House members still fulminating over Obama’s commonsense (and legal) immigration action

Ted Cruz and Co. using the strongest and most ridiculous language possible to describe President Obama’s executive actions to fix our broken immigration system.

Philadelphia Could Finally Get Paid Sick Days, If Comcast Doesn’t Block It

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In the past, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has made his position on a paid sick days law very clear. In 2011 and 2013, he vetoed paid sick days bills passed by a majority of the City Council, turning a deaf ear to the nearly 35 percent of Philly’s workforce that doesn’t have access to a single paid sick day.

But third time might be the charm for Mayor Nutter. The Mayor’s Task Force on Paid Sick Leave produced a report this week formally recommending that businesses with more than 15 employees allow all workers to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. And Nutter indicated he would support such a bill if it came to his desk:

“A healthy worker is a happy worker, and it’s a person that’s ultimately going to be more productive and just spreading a lot less stuff around the workplace,” Mr. Nutter said after accepting the report of a 14-member mayoral task force formed to study the issue.

In 2013, Working America drove hundreds of calls and emails to the Philadelphia City Council and Mayor Nutter’s office urging support for a paid sick days law. After Nutter’s veto, the Council was one vote short of an override.

The fight this time might be over the details. Councilman William Greenlee, who introduced the 2013 bill and is expected to do so again, thinks “15 employees is a little high” for an exemption. He supports exempting businesses with 10 employees or more.

Another player to watch? Comcast, the Philadelphia-based cable giant that lobbied hard against paid sick days in 2013. “Almost all of the $108,429.25 Comcast spent on lobbying in 2011 was in opposition to paid sick days,” reported PRWatch.org last year, “It also is a major contributor to Mayor Nutter, contributing $7,500 to his campaign in 2011 and an additional $8,500 in 2012.”

We’re hoping that Mayor Nutter, who leaves office next year, will side with Philadelphia workers over the corporations that have funded his previous campaigns.

Photo by PhillyCam on Flickr

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Unions And The Tea Party Find Themselves On The Same Side In TPP Fight: Punching In

Unions and tea party activists are strange bedfellows in fight against bad TPP trade deal

“The internal GOP feud over what some conservative critics are calling ‘Obamatrade’ is just the latest in a series of skirmishes between the party’s corporate-friendly leadership and its populist base.”

Airport workers join nationwide fast food strikes

“Airline cost-cutting measures over the years have resulted in airlines contracting out work that was once performed by the airlines themselves.  Often, these contracts go to the lowest bidders, who in turn pay their workers very low wages.”

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr expected to resign within days

“It’s time for Kevyn Orr to put more steaks in the fridge and line his pockets in the private sector for a while,” he said (bizarrely) in a recent speech.

Here’s an idea: abolish the U.S. Senate

Daniel Lazare at Jacobin lays out why we’d be better off without “one of the world’s most undemocratic legislatures.”