As Governor, Union Member Mark Schauer Will Stand Up for Michigan Working Families

Phorto from www.markschauer.com

It’s an election year, and we are quickly approaching the time when working families will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote for candidates who support policies that protect or expand our rights, raise wages and work for an economy that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy few. We’re going to focus our spotlight on some of the key candidates who care about working families, and one of those candidates is Mark Schauer, who is running for governor in Michigan.

Mark Schauer, a member of Laborers (LIUNA) Local 3555, has never forgotten his working-class roots. The son of a teacher and a nurse, Schauer paid for his college education with a paper route, by flipping burgers and pumping gas. When Schauer was in Congress, he was fierce champion for working people. He stood by workers by:

  • Saving auto jobs: Protecting Michigan’s heritage and jobs by fighting for the auto industry rescue.
  • Supporting the Make It in America law: Creating tough, new Buy American laws to invest in Michigan workers. [H.R. 4213, Vote 424, 5/28/10]
  • Demanding tax breaks for working families: Cutting taxes for middle- and lower-income families, expanding child care, college and home buying tax credits. [H.R. 1, Vote 70, 2/13/09]  

That’s just some of what Schauer did for working families in Congress. Here are his priorities as governor for every family in Michigan, not just a handful at the top.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Hip-Hop Star Common to Perform in Support of Nissan Workers

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Hip-hop star Common, famous for songs like “I Used to Love H.E.R.” and acting roles such as “Terminator Salvation” and “Happy Feet Too,” is performing as part of a free show in support of workers who are organizing for a voice on the job at the Nissan plant in Canton, Miss. The workers are pushing for a vote to organize as part of the UAW. The show will take place Friday at 8 p.m. at the Jackson State University’s Rose E. McCoy Auditorium. Common will be joined on stage by actor Danny Glover and local musicians and leaders.

UAW is engaged in an ongoing campaign to get a union vote at the Nissan Canton location. Workers at the Mississippi plant say the company relies too heavily on temporary workers who get reduced pay and benefits. Nissan’s business practice of staffing plants with a high percentage of temporary workers, who earn lower wages, have limited benefits and have no job security, won’t strengthen families and grow communities. They also say that Nissan is engaging in a campaign to intimidate workers to stay away from the union and imply that the plant will close if the union vote is successful.

Read more about Nissan: This Is What a Job in the U.S.’s New Manufacturing Industry Looks Like and the Nissan organizing campaign: www.choosejustice.com.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

 

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Trumka: ‘Right-Wing Zealotry’ Played Role in VW Vote

After unprecedented interference from politicians and out-of-state extremists like Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers, workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant voted 712–626 against representation by theUAW that would have led to the establishment of a works council, the first such model of labor-management relations in the United States.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the workers stood up to “enormous odds to try to form their own union and to create an historic new model of workplace governance.” He adds:

Unconscionably, what should have been a local workplace decision by workers and management was turned into an experiment in new forms of right-wing zealotry over issues having nothing to do with how stakeholders decided for themselves the best way to build automobiles and create a strong Chattanooga community.

While Volkswagen had agreed to remain neutral, Republican lawmakers and right-wing groups mounted a large-scale anti-union attack. UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who directs the union’s southern organizing, says:

Unfortunately, politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that would grow jobs in Tennessee.

Says UAW President Bob King:

While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union.

Trumka says:

But, make no mistake, the closeness of the results and the courage and tenacity of union supporters prove that this election is a minor setback, and not a permanent defeat.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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UAW, GM Team Up to Make It in America

Another great win emerges from autoworkers and industry collaboration. General Motors Co. (GM) will invest more than $1.3 billion to upgrade and expand five manufacturing plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana that also will create or retain more than 1,000 jobs, GM and the UAWannounced Monday.

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who represents GM workers, calls the investments a “win for American workers.” He says:

The UAW is proud to be a part of this successful collaboration with GM that has helped rebuild the nation’s economy, created good paying, union jobs in communities across the country and brought manufacturing that was moved overseas back to the United States. This is further proof that collective bargaining works.

In 2011, when the UAW negotiated new contracts with the Big Three automakers, the union won commitments from General MotorsFord and Chrysler to invest more than $27.3 billion in their plants, creating 20,000 new jobs at the three automakers and thousands more in the industries that are part of the auto manufacturing supply chain.

At the ceremony at GM’s Flint, Mich., truck assembly plant announcing the investment, GM North America President Mark Reuss told the cheering workers:

These investments are a sign of our confidence in our workforce and our UAW partners that have given and tried so hard and in our vehicles and the continued demand for excellence in each one of these products. You earned this.

Since the auto industry was on the verge of collapse during the Bush recession, car makers and the UAW have worked closely in forging a partnership that was instrumental in securing the financing in 2008 and 2009 that kept the industry alive. Working together not only kept the auto industry afloat and saved tens of thousands of jobs, the negotiated investments like Monday’s GM announcement have opened the doors to good middle-class jobs.

Ashton notes that while income disparity grows in the country and the middle class declines, collective bargaining has created a ladder to the middle class for millions of America’s workers.

This announcement today is further proof that collaboration and collective bargaining works and will continue to be the way that we rebuild America’s middle class.

At the Flint ceremony, Barry Campbell, chairman of UAW Local 598, said he was “proud to pay my union dues, and this is just a great example why.”

GM’s nearly $1.3 billion investment includes:

  • $600 million in Flint Assembly for facility upgrades.
  • $493.4 million in Romulus (Mich.) Powertrain Operations.
  • $121 million in Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly for a logistics optimization center.
  • $30.6 million in Toledo Transmission Operations for increased capacity for an existing six-speed transmission.
  • $29.2 million in Bedford (Ind.) Castings, which includes $22.6 million to produce components for transmissions.

For more on the success of the labor-management partnerships in the auto industry, read Labor Secretary Thomas Perez’s recent article on the UAW and Ford working together. Perez says that is just one example of how:

Across the country, creative labor-management partnerships are saving and creating jobs, keeping businesses competitive, growing the middle class and helping more Americans climb ladders of opportunity.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Need Some Wheels? UAW’s 2014 Union-Made Car List

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The UAW’s 2014 Union-Built Vehicles List features quality, variety and fuel-efficient vehicles along with a number of new additions that represent new jobs for America’s workers.

As a result of 2011 bargaining between the UAW and Ford, Fusion sedans are being made at the Flat Rock, Mich., Assembly Plant. The Fusion was previously made only in Mexico. Also, the Ford Transit Connect van, insourced from Europe, is now being produced at the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo.

The Chevrolet Equinox is being made for the first time in Spring Hill, Tenn., as a result of 2011 bargaining between the UAW and General Motors. Also new on the list are GM’s Cadillac ELR hybrid/electric-powered luxury sports car and the revival of the Jeep Cherokee.

Mpg-conscious consumers might also take a look at Ford’s C-Max hybrid plug-in and Focus electric models, which are made at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich.

UAW President Bob King says that in 2011, UAW members won investment and product commitments that led to some real increases in jobs for UAW members and others in jobs that support the auto industry throughout the United States.

We continue to see the results from that round of bargaining and will continue to press for more jobs for communities that are still recovering from the economic recession.

As for consumers, King says, “There’s plenty to choose from on this list, no matter what kind of vehicle you are looking for.” He adds:

Be assured that when you buy any car on this list that you are doing the utmost to support decent-paying jobs in communities across the United States.

The list also includes Canadian-assembled vehicles built by members of Unifor, formerly the Canadian Auto Workers union, because they include significant UAW-made content and support the jobs of UAW members.

Read more here and download the list here.

Photo by autovivacom on Flickr

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Volkswagen and the UAW: Will Republicans Still ‘Get Government Out of the Way’?

This post by Dante Atkins originally appeared at Daily Kos.

It’s a common refrain among conservative economists and politicians: If only government would end its interference in the affairs of private enterprise, the efficiencies of the free market would buoy the economy, lead to high profits and in turn result in higher wages for everyone. This argument is used to defend corporate-friendly policies of all stripes, including deregulation, opposition to living wages and worker safety protections.

While conservative governments have strong objections to imposing rules and regulations on employers, however, they have no problem setting stringent rules and regulations on the labor unions that seek to represent the interests of workers. The most usual imposition of regulations on labor comes in the form of so-called “right to work” laws, which forbid labor unions from requiring dues from the workers they represent. Ultimately, the objective of these laws is to defund unions by allowing represented employees to get away with being “free riders”—thus weakening their position across the bargaining table as well as making it harder for labor to compete in the political marketplace of ideas.

Ultimately, the objective of conservative governance is to give every advantage possible to employers while simultaneously restricting the rights of employees to organize or redress grievances. And in an economic system where corporations and employee associations have traditionally antithetical and combative relationships, these two principles go hand-in-glove. But what happens when Republican ideology has to confront a new paradigm: one of intentional cooperation between employers and workers that seeks to improve efficiencies and ensure that everyone enjoys the profits of productivity? Hint: Intellectual consistency shouldn’t be a first, second or even a third choice.

In 2011, Volkswagen opened an assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, continuing a trend of automakers choosing to build plants and facilities in the South to take advantage of the possibility of cheap labor and government hostility towards labor unions. But Volkswagen is a German company, and they do things a little bit differently from their American, Japanese and Korean counterparts. See, European companies are governed by the European Works Council Directive, which requires that workers be given the right to consult on management decisions at larger multinational companies in the European Union.

According to the United Auto Workers, every major manufacturing plant for Volkswagen has representation at the company’s Global Works Council, except for the recently opened plant in Tennessee—a fact which did not sit well with the company’s worker representatives. This dissatisfaction led to discussions about creating a works council in Chattanooga. But because of the particularities of labor law in the United States, creation of such a Works Council would require the participation of an actual labor union. The most natural fit? The UAW, of course. And how are Tennessee’s Republicans reacting? Why, just about how you’d expect at the mention of a union having a prominent role in their state.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday that some auto suppliers considering moving closer to Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant may balk if the United Auto Workers succeeds in unionizing the factory.

“[VW] wants more suppliers closer to them. We’ve worked really hard to do that. A lot of those suppliers are saying, ‘If the UAW comes into the plant, I don’t know if we’ll be as close as we would,”‘ the governor said.

Haslam, speaking to Times Free Press reporters and editors, said business recruitment to the state is being hindered by the UAW’s organizing efforts at the plant.

“I’ve had several folks recently say that if the UAW comes, that would dampen our enthusiasm for Tennessee,” he said. “They feel like, ‘We’re looking at Tennessee because it’s a right to work state.’”

These comments were at least somewhat measured in tone and content. The same, however, cannot be said forthe comments of Republican Sen. Bob Corker:

“For management to invite the UAW in is almost beyond belief,” Corker said. “They will become the object of many business school studies—and I’m a little worried could become a laughingstock in many ways—if they inflict this wound.”

Corker, who played a large role in persuading Volkswagen to build its lone U.S. assembly plant in the city where he was once mayor, said he hopes the company pulls back from its decision to engage in talks with the UAW.

“We’ve talked to management, and to me it’s beyond belief that they’ve allowed this to go that far and displayed this kind of naivety that the UAW is somehow different than they were years ago,” Corker said.

Now, keep in mind that Volkswagen, far from sputtering because of its close relationships with its workers,surpassed both General Motors and Toyota in annual profit in 2012. And yet, Gov. Haslam has seen fit to try to tell one of the world’s most successful companies how to run its business, while Sen. Corker has taken the bold step of insulting one of his state’s best-known employers by calling it a “laughingstock.” Fortunately for the workers, they saw things differently: A majority of workers at the plant have now signed cards favoring UAW’s representation in creating a European-style works council at the plant to provide the workers a voice in issues like job security and working conditions.

On one hand, this story is notable because it shows that Republican politicians have absolutely no problem telling private companies what to do when it suits their ideology. But even more importantly, the creation of a Works Council system in one of the most unexpected places in the country is introducing a new paradigm into the labor movement where workers and management work with co-determination and collaboration to ensure a positive result for all stakeholders. And the last thing Republicans want is for that to spread—especially through their precious “right to work” territory.

Photo by ShawnJooste on Flickr

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14 Worker Struggles To Pay Attention To This Labor Day

Sure, to some people #LaborDayIs about barbecues and fashion rules. But #LaborDayIs also about, you know, labor. Today, workers across the country are struggling for decent wages, safe workplaces, affordable healthcare, and even basic civil rights.

North Carolina’s Moral Monday

North Carolina's Moral Monday

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) and the North Carolina legislature have passed huge cuts to state unemployment insurance, an overhaul of the state tax code, big education cuts and the nation’s strictest voting restrictions. Lead by the NC NAACP’s Rev. William Barber, North Carolinans of all stripes have gathered by the thousands to for huge weekly “Moral Monday” protests to stand up to Gov. McCrory’s agenda.

Learn more about Moral Monday and check out some sweet protest photos.

Oh and thanks to @sherierb for the thumbnail photo.

The Wisconsin Solidarity Singers


The Wisconsin Solidarity Singers
After the huge protests in 2011 against Wisconsin’s new collective bargaining restrictions, Gov. Scott Walker and his allies changed the rules at the state Capitol Building in Madison, requiring protesters to have permits. His reasoning? Um, none.

The Wisconsin Solidarity Singers had been gathering in the Capitol every day to protest the Walker agenda through song, and suddenly their gatherings were illegal. Singers started getting arrested. In response, hundreds of Wisconsinites joined their singing brethren to stand up to the ridiculousness of the arrests and the broader anti-worker Walker agenda.

Learn more about the Solidarity Singalong and read more intrepid reporting on the protests from John Nichols.

The fast food strikers

The fast food strikers

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On August 29, fast food workers in 58 (!!!) cities went on strike for better wages and a voice at the workplace. Learn more from Josh Eidelson and check out some awesome strike photos on our Tumblr.

Walmart associates seeking respect

Walmart associates seeking respect

Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, pays low wages, inconsistent schedules, and little to-no health benefits. But across the country, Walmart workers are organizing primarily for respect at the workplace.

Learn more at ForRespect.org.

Philadelphia teachers, students, and parents

Philadelphia teachers, students, and parents

First, Gov. Tom Corbett cut over a billion dollars from public education in Pennsylvania. Then Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and school officials demanded $133 million in concessions from school employees. Philadelphia teachers, students, and parents are marching, striking, and even fasting to call attention to their city’s school crisis.

Houston wage-earners fighting against theft

Houston wage-earners fighting against theft

Houston workers are fed up with employers committing wage theft – not giving a last paycheck, making employees work after punching out, etc. – and are pushing the Houston City Council to pass a wage theft ordinance.

Learn more from the Down With Wage Theft campaign.

Washington, D.C. retail workers

Washington, D.C. retail workers

The D.C. City Council passed the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) in July, which raised the minimum wage for big box retail workers to $12.50/hour. Walmart responded by freaking out and threatening to cancel construction of their D.C. stores. Mayor Vincent Gray has still not made up his mind about whether to cave to Walmart’s wishes or stand up for D.C. retail workers at stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Target.

Learn more about the LRAA and D.C. retail workers.

Albuquerque minimum wage workers

Albuquerque minimum wage workers

In the 2012 election, Albuquerque voters passed a minimum wage increase with 66 percent of the vote. But in 2013, Albuquerque’s Republican Mayor Richard Berry and members of his city council refused to enforce the new law.

No joke, they are actually telling workers who make as little as $4 or $5 an hour to hire private lawyers to sue their employers. That’s their solution.

Needless to say, Albuquerque workers aren’t taking this lying down. Working America and allies have launched a “Got Your Raise?” campaign to pressure city officials and educate workers about their rights. Learn more about the situation in Albuquerque or click here if you prefer your news in “Breaking Bad” form.

Concert tour dancers and choreographers

Last year, music video performers won a groundbreaking union contract after, establishing workplace standards for the industry after decades of advocacy.

Now, the Dancers’ Alliance and SAG-AFTRA are launching #theUNIONIZEtour to ensure that performers on concert tours have workplace protections, access to affordable health care, and a fair shot at gigs.

Watch the video above and learn more here.

LGBT workers in 29 states

LGBT workers in 29 states

Thanks to the activists who came before us, we have federal laws saying that you can’t be fired for being old, female, pregnant, or disabled (yay!). Unfortunately, in 29 states, there are no such protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender workers. That’s why workers’ rights and LGBT groups are organizing to pass a strong Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Learn more from Pride at Work.

Transgender workers in 33 states

Transgender workers in 33 states

Add Maryland, Delaware, New Hampshire, New York to the map above. Pride at Work has great information on this too.

Domestic workers

Domestic workers

Millions of domestic workers, mostly women, are employed by households and businesses across the country. Most of them have little to no worker protections – no minimum wage, overtime pay no nothing.

State by state, domestic workers and allies have worked to pass “Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights” to establish basic protections. Ai-Jen Poo, founder and director of theNational Domestic Workers Alliance (and Working America board member #plug) toldThe Nation that President Obama might soon bring domestic workers under the protections of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which would be “one of the most significant victories for low-wage workers of this administration.”

Learn more about the Ai-Jen and the NDWA.

Mississippi auto workers

Mississippi auto workers

Auto workers at Nissan in Mississippi have been trying to exercise their basic right to form a union, but are getting blocked by the company. Lethal Weapon/workers’ rights star Danny Glover has been active in calling attention to the situation. Not only that, but Nissan workers in Brazil, France, and South Africa have expressed solidarity. Learn more at DoBetterNissan.org.

Danny Glover: He’s not too old for this. #LethalWeaponJoke

Solidarity in Brazil.

No big deal, it’s just Common. (!!!)

Finally: 11 million undocumented workers and their families

Finally: 11 million undocumented workers and their families

Establishing a path to citizenship isn’t just about immigration. It’s about bringing millions of undocumented workers out of the shadows, where they are currently vulnerable to every employer abuse imaginable.

Learn more about the connection between workers’ rights and immigrant rights here.

What did we leave out?

What did we leave out?

There’s a lot more going on that we didn’t cover. Feel free to keep the list going in the comments below, and visit WorkingAmerica.org for more information on how you can get involved.

Respoted from BuzzFeed

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