Former Massey Energy CEO Indicted

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For those of you who have been following the Massey Energy story, the Mine Workers (UMWA) passed along this news yesterday:

United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that a federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging Donald L. Blankenship, former Chief Executive Officer of Massey Energy Company, with four criminal offenses. The indictment charges Blankenship with conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and securities fraud. The indictment alleges that from about Jan. 1, 2008, through about April 9, 2010, Blankenship conspired to commit and cause routine, willful violations of mandatory federal mine safety and health standards at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine, located in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The indictment alleges that during this same period of time, Blankenship was part of a conspiracy to impede and hinder federal mine safety officials from carrying out their duties at Upper Big Branch by providing advance warning of federal mine safety inspection activities, so their underground operations could conceal and cover up safety violations that they routinely committed.

The indictment further alleges that after a major, fatal explosion occurred at Upper Big Branch on April 5, 2010, Blankenship made and caused to be made false statements and representations to the SEC concerning Massey Energy’s safety practices prior to the explosion. Additionally, the indictment alleges that, after this explosion, Blankenship made and caused to be made materially false statements and representations, as well as materially misleading omissions, in connection with the purchase and sale of Massey Energy stock.

The FBI and the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General are in charge of the investigation. United States Attorney Booth Goodwin, Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby and Assistant United States Attorney Gabriele Wohl are handling the prosecution.The four counts charged carry a maximum combined penalty of 31 years’ imprisonment.

Click here to view a copy of the indictment. An indictment is only an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The Massey Energy Upper Big Branch (W. Va.) deadly blast killed 29 in 2010. Families of the victims reacted to the indictment yesterday.

Photo by D.D. Meighen on Flickr. Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Obama Should Act On Immigration, No Matter What Cable Pundits Say: Punching In

Volkswagen will allow labor groups to represent workers at Chattanooga plant

“We recognize and accept that many of our employees are interested in external representation, and we are putting this policy in place so that a constructive dialogue is possible and available for everyone.”

Your next bike share could be powered by union labor

280 bike share workers across four cities could soon become members of the Transportation Workers Union.

NYT editorializes on gerrymandering and the Voting Rights Act

“As long as politicians are entrusted with drawing legislative maps, they will use their pen to gain partisan advantage.” OH SNAP.

Obama ignores right-wing cable, will go ahead with fixing our broken immigration system

“The post-grand-bargain-collapse version of Obama is far less willing to extend his hand to Republican–having, in his estimation, had it bitten so many times before.”

Trumka: Labor Prepared to Combat Assaults on Workers’ Rights

While conservative legislators across the country are gearing up to propose extreme legislation, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement that working families and the labor union are prepared to fight back and make sure that harmful and unpopular policies don’t pass. He said the labor federation would continue to focus on the agenda that working families want, one of raising wages and creating an economy that works for all Americans.

Trumka’s full statement:

In the wake of last Tuesday’s elections, many state and local politicians have already begun to signal their intent to wage assaults on working people in their states. While national political pundits debate outcomes, the AFL-CIO and its allies also have a keen eye on the developments at state and local levels.

We have no illusions there are radical politicians who are far more concerned with appeasing their corporate donors and being a tool for groups like ALEC than standing for working family issues. This is despite the fact that the Raising Wages agenda remain of utmost importance to most Americans. A majority of the electorate are struggling economically and 68 percent of voters agree that raising wages is good for workers and the economy. The majority of people want rights at work. We want the ability to stay home if we’re sick. We want fair and equal pay. And we believe if you work for and earn a pension, you should get it.

Make no mistake that the labor movement is more prepared and ready to combat these attacks than ever before.

We also know that this fight will not be the labor movement’s alone. We are fully engaged with our allies in the community and more importantly know that the values we stand for are in complete sync with the majority of Americans. It will take a collective effort to preserve and expand our values, and we are up to the task.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Here’s the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Pro-Union Op-Ed You Didn’t Know You Needed: Punching In

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NBA’s all-time leading scorer makes the case for college athlete unionization

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sounds like Emma Goldman in this new Jacobin op-ed: “History has proven that management will not be motivated to do the right thing just because it’s right.”

West coast dock worker strike could make huge impact on holiday economy

If contract issues aren’t resolved, port worker strike could spread from San Diego to Seattle and Tacoma.

Hey, Walmart, Want to Fix Those Sales Problems? Why Not Invest in Workers?

An internal memo, recently leaked by a Walmart manager, urged store managers to improve lagging sales, primarily through addressing problems with understocked shelves and with keeping fresh meat, dairy and produce stocked and aging or expired items off the shelves. Such complaints are widespread at Walmart stores and are likely a significant factor in the company’s sales, which have lagged for 18 months. While the memo catalogs problems the company faces, it ignores the two most obvious solutions—giving workers adequate hours and paying those workers the $15 living wage they’ve been calling for.

Janet Sparks, a member of the OUR Walmart campaign seeking to improve wages and working conditions, said that substantial staffing cuts that began in 2010 are a big part of the problem: “Understaffing, from the sales floor to the front end, has greatly affected the store.”

Retail consultant Burt P. Flickinger III echoed Sparks’ comments:

Labor hours have been cut so thin, that they don’t have the people to do many activities. The fact that they don’t do some of these things every day, every shift, shows what a complete breakdown Walmart has in staffing and training.

Want to stand with Walmart workers? Get involved at blackfridayprotests.org.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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They May Be Old School, But AOL Is Ahead of eBay and Expedia When It Comes to This

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Today, they’re known primarily for the iconic “You’ve got mail!” voice and introducing a generation of early 2000′s teens to instant messaging (and to a lesser extent owning the Huffington Post). But AOL, the still-giant Internet company, has jumped far ahead of companies like eBay and Expedia when it comes to dropping ALEC.

This week, AOL formally cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council:

The Web company decided “weeks ago” not to renew its membership with ALEC, a company official confirmed Monday. The departure makes AOL the latest in a remarkable wave of tech giants to recently separate from the conservative nonprofit.

With this decision, AOL joins Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Yahoo in ending their affiliation with the corporate-funded bill mill behind Stand Your Ground, Arizona’s SB 1070, and the “right to work” bills introduced in Missouri and passed in Michigan and Indiana.

“This further shows more companies don’t want to be in bed with ALEC anymore,  said Jay Riestenberg, research analyst with Common Cause, “whether it’s regarding ALEC’s denial of climate science, opposition to net neutrality, or the fact that ALEC is facing an IRS complaint charging the organization with tax fraud.”

While AOL is the latest in a “tech exodus” from ALEC, hundreds of companies remain–and those are just the ones we know about. Most notably in terms of tech companies are eBay and Expedia.com.

Photo by jasonpersse on Flickr

A Letter From Canada About the American Midterm Elections Takes Internet By Storm: Punching In

The real reason the Democrats lost and the choice they must make

Robert Reich lays out what went wrong in 2014 and what must change to make 2016 a success.

An open letter from Canada that’s gone viral

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Shocker! Scott Walker has already started another term of being terrible

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Taking on Rahm by taking the Chicago City Council

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Here’s Your Union-Made in America Thanksgiving Shopping List

Before you put together your Thanksgiving dinner shopping list, check our list of union-made in America food and other items that are essential to a traditional family Thanksgiving feast. Speaking of thanks, a big “thank you” to the Union Label and Service Trades Department (ULSTD), Union Plus and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411, for compiling their extensive catalogs of union-made products.

Here are some of the best union-made Thanksgiving eats and cookware from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM); Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers (GMP); Machinists (IAM); United Steelworkers (USW); and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Appetizers

Kraft/Nabisco crackers—BCTGM

Nabisco (Mondelez) crackers—BCTGM

Keebler (Kellogg) crackers—BCTGM

Turkey 

Boar’s Head—UFCW

Butterball—UFCW

Foster Farms—UFCW

Thumann’s—UFCW

Side Dishes

Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce—IAM

Birds Eye vegetables—UFCW

Bread 

Pillsbury crescent rolls, frozen and ready to bake rolls/breads—BCTGM

Pillsbury pie crusts—BCTGM

Stroehmann bakery products (for stuffing)—BCTGM

Dessert

Sara Lee pumpkin, apple pie—BCTGM

Mother’s Kitchen cheesecakes—BCTGM

Nabisco (Mondelez) cookies—BCTGM

Rich Products pies and cakes—BCTGM

Cookware/Cutlery

Cutco knives—USW

All-Clad cookware—USW

Corning—USW

Ware—USW

Fiestaware—GMP

Anchor Hocking—GMP

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Jobless Rate Dips to 5.8% with 214 New Jobs Added in October

The economy added 214,000 jobs in October, down from September’s 248,000 new jobs, but the unemployment rate fell to 5.8% compared to last month’s 5.9%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since the beginning of 2014, the unemployment rate has dropped by .8 percentage points and the number of jobless workers has decreased by 1.2 million.

While jobs are being created—about 200,000 a month for the past year—wages remain stagnant, with the median family income in the United States falling back to 1995 levels. Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said:

The good news is that manufacturing jobs have grown over the past few months. The bad news is that they haven’t grown fast enough. I’m very concerned that a surge of imports from China and a paucity of public investment in infrastructure will continue to hamper the great potential of the productive sector of our economy….No doubt the economic anxiety that many Americans still feel is compounded by stagnant wage growth and diminished opportunities for middle-class careers.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 2.9 million, slightly down from September’s 3 million. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term jobless workers has decreased by 1.1 million.

Last month’s biggest job gains were in food services (42,000), professional and business services (37,000), retail trades (27,000) and health care (25,000).

Other sectors that showed increases include manufacturing (15,000), transportation and warehousing (13,000) and construction (12,000).

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

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in September declined for whites (4.8%) last month. The rates for adult men (5.1%), adult women (5.4%), teenagers (18.6%), blacks (10.9%) and Latinos (6.8%) showed little change in October.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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New Mexico Could Be Site of Next “Right to Work” Battle: Punching In

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New Mexico may be right wing’s next target for “right to work” attack

Says Republican Senator Stuart Ingle: “The Senate will take a look at it, and there are the votes.”

Believe it or not, bright spots for voting rights in Election 2014

Montana voters defeated an amendment eliminating same-day registration, Missourians reject ballot question curtailing future voter access.

Passage of paid sick days in Massachusetts a victory for Massachusetts women

“For the almost one million workers in Massachusetts who today can’t take a single day of paid sick time, this vote is a major victory.”