How You Can Help the Oklahoma Tornado Disaster Relief

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

While rescue operations continue in Moore, Okla., after one of the worst and deadliest tornadoes on record that has claimed more than 50 lives, with the toll expected to climb, relief efforts are being organized. The Oklahoma State AFL-CIO and central labor council community service liaisons are working through the United Way.

Relief efforts are in their early stages and the United Way of Central Oklahoma has activated its disaster relief fund. Information on the fund can be found at www.unitedwayokc.org. Donations may be made through their website or by mail to United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK 73101, with notation for May Tornado Relief.

Emergency officials are urging people to stay away from the devastated area so as to not interfere with the rescue efforts.

If you’re in Oklahoma and need assistance, you can call the OKC HeartLine 2-1-1 (877-362-1606). Find more info on 2-1-1 here.

Currently the Oklahoma State AFL-CIO is asking every local union (affiliated or not) to forward them the following information of any union member affected by the storms of the last few days:

Name:
Local Union:
Home Address (Even if it was destroyed):
Contact Phone Number:
Immediate Needs:

Please send the above information to [email protected].

The Oklahoma State AFL-CIO will compile a database so to ensure their members’ immediate needs are taken care of now, as well as in weeks to come.

We will bring you updates and more information on relief efforts as they develop.

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Changing One Woman’s Life in Oklahoma in Only Eight Hours

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

Dorothy was a longtime activist with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the Oklahoma State AFL-CIO. In the summer of 2012, she lost her only son and found that her home, which she bought for her retirement, was in serious need of repair. That’s when her church, Journey Church, in Norman, Okla., and the state federation stepped in and did what they could to change her life.

Check out this video to see what they did in only eight hours.

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Michigan Moms and Workers vs. Restaurant Industry and ALEC

Lawmakers in Michigan are still pushing a bill that would keep cities and towns from making their own decisions about paid sick days laws. We call them “preemption bills” – restaurant lobbyists and their allies call it the “kill shot” to paid sick days.

The bills in the House and Senate are ALEC model bills, inspired by none other than Wisconsin union-buster Gov. Scott Walker. Quick story: In early 2011, Walker pushed and passed a preemption law in Wisconsin, completely invalidating the will of Milwaukee voters who had just passed a sick days ordinance.

The restaurant lobby was so excited that they handed out copies of the bill to attendees of ALEC’s August 2011 meeting.

And, as if by magic, preemption bills have been introduced in Michigan, Mississippi, Washington, Arizona, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Such laws are already on the books in Wisconsin and Louisiana. Just this week, a preemption bill passed both houses of the Florida legislature. Textbook ALEC.

In Michigan, along with statewide mothers’ organization Mothering Justice, Working America delivered petitions signed by over 2,500 Michiganders to the Michigan Restaurant Association and the state legislature.

All workers deserve the opportunity to earn paid sick days, so that not another person has to make their choice between going to work sick and not making rent, or not being able to eat, or not being able to care for their child.

But even the threat of workers in a few cities and towns having this basic right has the restaurant lobby and ALEC running scared, using their politician pawns to introduce ridiculously undemocratic preemption bills that won’t create a single job. Since when did these “small-government” obsessives get into the business of telling cities and towns how to conduct their business?

Join us. Tell the Michigan legislature to stand with workers, mothers, and democracy – not ALEC and the restaurant lobby.

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Dear David: Hitting the Ceiling

Question:

I work for a large national retailer. How do you get them to remove caps on wages? I’ve been told that it’s “not a cap,” and that I just “chose not to advance”! There are not enough management positions for everyone. I have worked for the company for 26 years and now I will never make any more money. Is that even legal?

- Not living better, Kansas

Answer:

It’s understandable that it feels like your wages are actually capped. After all, you’ve been with the same company for quite a while. That’s the problem you face when the power to decide whether or not you get a raise rests only with the boss.

In a way, there really is a cap on wages. And it’s not just happening to you. Worker productivity has increased steadily for the past forty years but wages have not. We’re working harder and creating more value, but we’re not getting any of that back. Corporations and rich CEOs are so out of touch that they no longer feel like they should have any responsibility to share the increased profits they earn. I know I keep citing the same statistics, but I think they’re key to understanding what change is needed.

Your prospects for a raise shouldn’t just be a limited number of management positions—especially when your advancement is completely in your boss’s control. Part of the reason why we’ve seen this rise in inequality is that workers and communities accepted that it just has to be that way. I say, no way! This is a big-picture problem, but one we can take on if we band together—like workers for one national big-box retailer or fast food workers in New York City have been doing. There is plenty of room even in this economy to treat workers with respect and dignity, and to do so through a fairer share of the profits they create. Ready to do something about it? You definitely aren’t alone.

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99 Stories and More to Come: Job-Killing Sequester Cuts Hurt Families Across the United States

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

Forget the silly fluff pieces mainstream media are reporting about sequestration’s effect on White House tours—there is real pain happening all over the United States.

Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel of The Huffington Post cover 99 stories of the job losses and pain felt in states across the country in Sequestration Effects: Cuts Sting Communities Nationwide.

Here are the first 10 stories:

1. Air Force base jobs lost in Tullahoma, Tenn.—The Aerospace Testing Alliance announced it is cutting 128 of 1,809 civilian jobs at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma starting April 19. It also has put in place a 20% pay cut and weekly furloughs for workers at a research facility. [Link]

2. Loss of jobs in Rock Island, Ill.—The U.S. Army garrison, Rock Island Arsenal, announced it is firing 175 employees, 44 of whom are temporary workers, 131 of whom will see their jobs unrenewed when their terms expire. [Link]

3. Medical response times lengthened in central Nebraska—Medical responders have had response times lengthened because of the closing of a control tower at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport. [Link]

4. Food pantry closed in Murray, Utah—The Salt Lake Community Action Program closed its food pantry, one of five locations that serve more than 1,000 people every month. Executive Director Cathy Hoskins told The Huffington Post that in addition to the closure, the organization has stopped paying into employees’ retirement plans, won’t fill an open job and told some staffers to take a week’s unpaid leave. “I’ve had one person retire, we’re not replacing them. We’re not doing any hiring at all,” Hoskins said. “We’re trying very hard to boost our volunteers, but this is hard work working in a pantry. And if you get a volunteer, usually it’s a short-term volunteer because it’s just very, very difficult work…. No raises, no increases, none of that stuff. We’re cutting everything we possibly can.” [Link]

5. Research employees lost in Durham, N.C.—The Duke Clinical Research Institute is planning to “downsize” 50 employees. [Link]

6. Contractor jobs lost in southwest Oklahoma—Northrop Grumman Information Systems’ Lawton, Okla., site issued 26 layoff notices. The defense contractor CGI is anticipating that sequestration would affect 270 workers at its Lawton site. [Link]

7. Health care jobs cut in Hampton Roads, Va.—Officials at Hampton Roads Planning District Commission announced that 1,600 jobs in the region’s health care sector would disappear. “It won’t be job cuts,” said James A. Clary, an economist with the group. “It will be not filling the positions.” [Link]

8. Health care workers laid off in Saranac Lake, N.Y.—Adirondack Health, a medical center at Lake Placid, announced it was laying off 18 workers after firing 17 in December. [Link]

9. Rehabilitation center for Native Americans closed in Sitka, Alaska—The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium announced that on April 30, it is closing the Bill Brady Healing Center, a residential drug and alcohol treatment center for Alaska Natives. Michael Jenkins, communications director, said the approximately 20 people who work there will be transferred to other positions in the organization, furloughed or fired. “For the most part, because of our location here in Southeast, alcohol and drug abuse has a very high incidence. So taking this away is going to make it difficult,” he said. [Link]

10. Education jobs lost in Sioux City, Iowa—The Iowa Early Intervention education program is bracing for the loss of 11 teaching positions, while the Sioux City Community School Board is looking at potentially 30 staff positions being eliminated. [Link]

Read the rest of the 99 stories on The Huffington Post.

Remember, the sequester is a completely made-up, dumb idea and can be easily repealed by Congress. This year alone, 750,000 people will lose their jobs because of 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%.

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Oklahoma Workers Expose RTW Lies

by Mike Hall – Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

In 2001, Oklahoma passed a so-called right to work (RTW) law and its backers made the exact claims Hoosiers are hearing today. RTW proponents painted a picture of a booming economy with huge job creation as companies would swoop into Oklahoma like the Boomer Sooners of the 1889 land rush. None of that ever materialized, two Oklahoma workers told an Indiana statehouse news conference this morning.

Jesse Isbell worked for 36 years at the Bridgestone Tire plant in Oklahoma City before it shut down 2006 and the jobs were shipped to Mexico.

There is absolutely no anecdotal or empirical evidence that RTW has benefitted Oklahoma’s state economy in any way. The company made the decision to outsource our jobs even though the proponents of the right-to-work legislation claimed it would prevent such departures and even attract new businesses to locate in the state.

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and the Republican lawmakers pushing RTW in the Hoosier State claim hundreds of businesses have decided not locate in Indiana because the state lacks a RTW law. But they cannot produce a single example. Isbell says that’s a re-run of what Oklahomans heard in 2001.

Proponents of RTW in Oklahoma literally said that employers were lined up at the state line ready to move to Oklahoma once the bill became law. Mind you, they never offered any specific examples, and those nameless companies never materialized to become employers in Oklahoma. Beware of any argument that makes similar claims without specifics to back it up.

Since the law passed in 2001, the number of new companies coming into Oklahoma has decreased by one-third and the number of manufacturing jobs in the state has fallen by one-third, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Kitti Asberry, who lost her job of 27 years after the General Motors plant in Oklahoma shuttered in 2005–tossing 2,400 people out of work–said:

Right to work has not fulfilled the promises of its proponents in the 10 years since it passed. In fact, Oklahoma has slipped economically with so many jobs moving to Mexico and other countries. And the jobs that remain are paying lower wages than before the law took effect.

Asberry told reporters that those lower wages since RTW became law means working families have diminished disposable income and are buying less food, housing, services, travel and entertainment and are relying more on government assistance.

I have to warn the people of Indiana of the slow, vicious cycle that RTW has on families. Cycles of decreasing resources for our schools, cycles of increasing reliance on public assistance, cycles of increasing crime and incarceration rates, just to name a few, have all been fueled by the downward cycle of lowering wages and job quality. This is what a RTW economy looks like and it falls far short of the promises made by those who were pushing for its adoption 10 years ago.

Photo from Stand Up for Hoosiers on Facebook.

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