Labor

Vice President Biden cheers unions at a campaign event, saying “You fired the first shot”

November 16, 2011

“”Folks, you fired the first shot. It’s not about Barack Obama. It’s not about Joe Biden. It’s about whether middle-class people are going to be put back in the saddle again – because you are the people who make this country move,” Vice President Joe Biden said at a campaign event in Ohio today.”

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The Effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) begins Tuesday

November 13, 2011

“The effort to recall Wisconsin’s controversial Republican governor is expected to begin Tuesday, although his opponents have yet to come up with a candidate to replace him.

The recall effort comes in response to a Wisconsin law passed earlier this year that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers. Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal sparked weeks of protests that drew tens of thousands of people to the state Capitol, and two Republican state senators who supported it were ousted in recalls last summer. Seven other lawmakers targeted for their support or opposition of the law survived recall elections.

Walker, who was elected last fall, isn’t eligible for recall until he has been in office for one year. Democrats have been working closely with union leaders on the effort, and they plan to kick off their petition drive Tuesday. They must gather more than 540,000 signatures by Jan. 17 to force a recall election.”

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Wisconsin unions encouraged by Ohio voters’ defeat of anti-union measure

November 10, 2011

“Democrats and union officials encouraged by voters’ rejection Tuesday of an anti-union law in Ohio hope to channel that momentum and money into the next big fight — the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The drive to recall Walker, a Republican, just a year into his term stems from legislation he backed that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers in Wisconsin. Walker opponents plan to begin next week collecting the more than 540,000 signatures needed to trigger a recall election.

Unlike Ohio, Wisconsin law does not provide for a referendum vote on rejecting the collective bargaining law. Opponents initially targeted state senators who supported the measure and now will turn to Walker.

The recall campaign will be broader than the Ohio effort and encompass other actions Walker pushed, including passage of a budget that made deep cuts to public education.

Labor organizers who helped mobilize the Ohio vote are already on the ground in Wisconsin. The Ohio election shows that the public is ready to reject conservative policies that weakened unions and cut public programs, said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin state AFL-CIO, which represents 250,000 workers in the state.”

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Both the controversial Ohio union measure and Mississippi abortion measure were rejected by voters

November 9, 2011

“Controversial ballot measures aimed at banning abortion in Mississippi and reducing public sector union power in Ohio were soundly defeated on Tuesday in local elections that cheered President Barack Obama’s Democratic party.

Democrats and Republicans split the two races for governor on the ballot, with Kentucky Democratic governor Steve Beshear handily winning re-election and Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant victorious in Mississippi.

Neither result changed the balance of power, with Bryant succeeding popular outgoing Governor Haley Barbour in Mississippi. But the outcome means Republicans will hold a 29 to 20 lead in governors going into the presidential election cycle in 2012, with Rhode Island held by an Independent.

The nationwide local elections were the last before the presidential primaries and caucuses begin in January.”

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Democratic National Convention outsourcing Charlotte jobs for its 2012 convention giving preference to businesses with unions

November 7, 2011

“John Monteith, a Charlotte, NC print shop executive who was told that he would not be awarded any contracts in conjunction with the upcoming 2012 Democratic National Convention to be held in his town because his shop was not unionized. Given that Charlotte is located in a right-to-work state, this upset John enough that he sought media attention to shine light on what he viewed to be in stark contrast to the stated goals of Mayor Anthony Foxx, a close ally of President Obama. Foxx claimed that the convention would be a boom to the Charlotte economy creating plenty of jobs for everyone and plenty of work for local businesses while fervently denying that unionization was the primary factor in decision making.”

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49 state retirees in Michigan receive an annual pension greater than $100,000

November 7, 2011

“Forty-nine state retirees are paid more than $100,000 a year in pensions from a system many lawmakers — concerned about burgeoning costs — say needs reform.

More than a third of Michigan’s 244,356 state retirees collect less than $10,000 a year in pension income, and roughly two-thirds get less than $20,000.

Michigan spent roughly $925 million on retirement costs last year, about 2 percent of the state’s $45.7 billion budget, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency.

A never-before-published tally of the highest-paid retirees — obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests of public records — includes well-known politicians and judges and little-known school administrators, some still working in public jobs.

Former Republican Gov. John Engler and former Democratic House Speakers Lewis Dodak and Gary Owen earn six-figure pensions. Former Republican Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus receives close to that, while working as a top appointee of Gov. Rick Snyder.

Public employee pensions have been a hot topic of discussion ever since Republican Snyder proposed taxing them for the first time, causing angst among retirees.

The tax is set to start Jan. 1 and will generate an estimated $230 million annually for the state budget. The tax has been challenged and is now before the Michigan Supreme Court, which has heard arguments on the law’s constitutionality.”

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Ohio prepares to vote on State Issue 2, which would reduce public employees’ union bargaining rights

November 7, 2011

“There was harsh criticism Sunday night of Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich for his support of State Issue 2.

It’s coming from Democrats attending Lucas County’s annual chicken paprikas dinner in East Toledo.

Issue 2 is a referendum on Senate Bill 5, which would reduce public employees union bargaining rights.

“I wish he would be a little more respectful of people who have different opinions than he has,” said former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.”

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United Steelworkers International President: “I think we’ve got to start a resistance movement. If Wall Street occupation doesn’t get the message, I think we’ve got to start blocking bridges”

November 4, 2011

GERARD (Union President): You’re damn right Wall Street occupiers speak for us. They do in Pittsburgh, they do in Chicago, they do in Oakland, they do in San Francisco, they do all across the country. And I think what we need is, we need more militancy.

SCHULTZ (MSNBC): What does that mean, more militancy?

GERARD (Union President): I think we’ve got to start a resistance movement. If Wall Street occupation doesn’t get the message, I think we’ve got to start blocking bridges and doing that kind of stuff. This doesn’t have to be this way. The economy doesn’t have to be this way. It’s being put this way because the Wall Streeters are getting their way.

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Detroit city bus services shut down as bus drivers, fearing for their safety, refuse to show up for work

November 4, 2011

“WWJ Newsradio 950?s Scott Ryan spoke with Henry Gaffney, spokesman for the D-DOT bus drivers union AFL-CIO Local 26, who said this was not an organized maneuver by the union.

Gaffney said it’s a matter of bus drivers fearing for their safety, citing an incident that happened Thursday afternoon.

“Our drivers are scared, they’re scared for their lives. This has been an ongoing situation about security. I think yesterday kind of just topped it off, when one of my drivers was beat up by some teenagers down in the middle of Rosa Parks and it took the police almost 30 minutes to get there, in downtown Detroit,” said Gaffney.

Speaking live on WWJ, Mayor Dave Bing spokesman Stephen Serkaian said they are working hard to resolve the matter and get drivers back on the road.”

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Detroit Mayor: City dealing with “extremely serious” fiscal issues

November 3, 2011

“Michigan’s largest city is facing a projected cash shortage of about $150 million by the end of March, a statement from his office said.

To avoid having a state-appointed emergency financial manager, the city needs to address pension and health-care costs and “inefficient services” such as transportation and lighting, while labor union contracts need to be renegotiated before their expiration next June, the statement said.

“City government has to live within its means,” Bing said in the statement. “Continuing to do business the same way is not an option, given our extremely serious financial condition. The last thing I want is for Detroit to be run by an emergency financial manager, whether it’s me or someone else.”

The state said it is not contemplating appointing an emergency manager for Detroit right now.”

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