Saturday, February 28, 2009

National Labor College Offers Green Workplace Representative Certificate Program

The National Labor College (NLC) announced this month the creation of a green workplace representative certificate program. The certificate program is part of the AFL-CIO’s Center for Green Jobs both of which were announced at a press conference held at the national Good Jobs Green Jobs conference in Washington D.C.

“With this new certificate program, the NLC will partner with the Center for Green jobs as part of the AFL-CIO’s critical national initiative,” said NLC president William E. Scheuerman.

“This certificate program will provide education that empowers workers to become change agents, working to advance sustainability values and practices that meet the mutual interests of worker and managers, as well as enhance the competitiveness of American firms in the global economy,” said Tom Kriger, NLC provost. “The NLC is also exploring other curricula related to labor and climate change.”

The creation of AFL-CIO’s Center for Green Jobs (CGJ), which is headed by Jeff Rickert, was announced at the press conference attended by AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, Mark Ayers, president of the Building and Construction Trades of the AFL-CIO, Barbara Byrd, Secretary-Treasurer of the Oregon AFL-CIO, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, executive officer of the South Bay Labor Council, Dave Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance and William Scheuerman. The CGJ will work with a coalition of labor union and employers to help working Americans prepare for the next generation of jobs.

The NLC is the nation’s only accredited higher education institution devoted exclusively to educating union leaders, members and activists.

For program information contact Tom Kriger at 301-431-5603.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Upcoming AFL-CIO State Convention, May 4-6

The Official Call to the Arkansas AFL-CIO's Twenty-Seventh Constitutional Convention was sent out a couple days ago. It will be held May 4-6, 2009 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The convention will convene at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 4th. Delegates may register on Sunday, May 3rd, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. or on Monday, May 4th, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Please note: Convention Credentials will be mailed to the Financial Secretary of each Local Union in the next few weeks provided all dues are paid through the month of January, 2009. If you did not receive a copy of the call and would like one, please contact the office at 501-375-9101.

Clean Energy and Good Jobs Go Hand in Hand

Twenty-five major leaders from government, business, labor and activist organizations—including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore—met on Monday to discuss strategies for boosting the nation’s renewable energy production, reducing dependence on foreign oil and ensuring that “green jobs” are quality jobs.

The forum, titled “National Clean Energy Project: Building the New Economy,” was sponsored by the Center for American Progress (CAP). Participants focused on modernizing and expanding the electricity grid, rapidly increasing transmission capacity for renewable energy and reducing dependence on foreign oil by examining short- and long-term solutions to replace foreign oil with domestic resources. Click here for a video of the discussions.

As Sweeney told the participants:

The challenge of clean energy and climate change creates a rare opportunity to do two things at once—meet the challenge of a cleaner planet and at the same time use it to create the good jobs of a new economy. A new U.S. energy strategy can be the foundation of rebuilding the middle class if we ensure that the jobs we create are good, innovative jobs here in our country—and that can then become the foundation of a strong new economy.

It is essential, Sweeney said, to provide good training to create good jobs—and we need access to this training for a diverse group of residents of local communities. We need apprenticeship programs and labor-management partnerships to create high-quality training and good jobs with career ladders.

The nation also must invest in the materials and equipment needed for green technology, Sweeney said. One reason the AFL-CIO pushed for Buy American language in the economic recovery package was to ensure that we invest the money in building new technology here, he added.

Those investments should include job standards so federally funded programs support good living standards, Sweeney said, with health care, worker safety programs, apprenticeship and training programs, and respect for workers’ rights. On that note, Sweeney told the participants:

A related point is the importance of Congress passing the Employee Free Choice Act to allow workers the freedom to bargain with their employers to make their jobs good jobs—workers will organize to make their jobs better if we protect their right to do so.

Sweeney also told the forum how the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department is leading a national initiative joining their affiliates and 1,100 apprenticeship training centers with community organizations to train workers for the opportunities offered by new energy investment.

In the past year, the Electrical Workers (IBEW), Utility Workers and their employers have created a series of joint regional training programs for linemen and other skilled workers in the industry. And the AFL-CIO has created a Center for Green Jobs that will expand the research, training and policy work in support of good green jobs.

A new report released in conjunction with the forum calls for a national clean-energy grid that can transport energy long distances to market and deliver it efficiently to local consumers.

The report, Wired for Progress: Building a National Clean-Energy Smart Grid by CAP’s Bracken Hendricks, outlines a plan to develop such a secure, reliable, national clean electricity grid to power America’s coming clean energy economy. The report recommends strategies to break the principal bottlenecks for building grid projects

You can read the full report here.

Other leaders attending the forum included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and energy executive T. Boone Pickens.

-- James Parks, AFL-CIO NOW BLOG

Hilda Solis Confirmed as New Labor Secretary

We have exciting news! Hilda Solis is our new secretary of labor. Solis was approved in the Senate by an 80-17 vote Tuesday afternoon after Republicans backed away from an expected filibuster and agreed to stop their weeks of delaying tactics.

Thanks in part to your e-mails and calls, Solis didn't just squeak by. She was approved by a large majority, including a majority of Republican senators. Upon her confirmation, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney had this to say:

The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis is a huge victory: Finally, Americans will have a secretary of labor who represents working people, not wealthy CEO's. It is also a historic moment as Rep. Solis becomes the first Hispanic secretary of labor.

The delay of Rep. Solis's nomination for partisan and ideological reasons was overcome by the grassroots support of millions of Americans who are struggling and desperately need a secretary of labor who will be their voice.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Unions and Upward Mobility for Women Workers

In 2007, women made up 45 percent of union members. If the share of women in unions continues to grow at the same rate as it has over the last 25 years, women will be the majority of the unionized workforce by 2020.

This paper uses the most recent data available to examine the impact of unionization on the pay and benefits of women in the paid workforce. The data suggest that even after controlling for systematic differences between union and non-union workers, union representation substantially improves the pay and benefits that women receive.

On average, unionization raised women's wages by 11.2 percent - about $2.00 per hour - compared to non-union women with similar characteristics. Among women workers, those in unions were about 19 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and about 25 percentage points more likely to have an employer-provided pension.

For the average woman, joining a union has a much larger effect on her probability of having health insurance (an 18.8 percentage-point increase) than finishing a four-year college degree would (an 8.4 percentage-point increase, compared to a woman with similar

Similarly, unionization raises the probability of a woman having a pension by 24.7 percentage points,compared to only a 13.1 percent increase for completing a four-year college degree (relative to a high school degree). For the average woman, a four-year college degree boosts wages by 52.6 percent, relative to a woman with similar characteristics who has only a high school degree. The comparably estimated union wage premium is 11.2 percent - over 20 percent of the full four-year college effect.

Read the full report by John Schmitt here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Employee Shot Defending Customer, Denied Workers Comp

“Victim's heroics rouse judge,” read a headline in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, but Nigel Haskett's heroics apparently didn't rouse his employer, McDonald's. The hamburger kingpin has denied Haskett's claim for workers compensation benefits.

According to newspaper accounts and Haskett's lawyer, Philip M. Wilson, Haskett was working at the McDonald's at 10201 Rodney Parham Road last August when he interceded to stop a man who was beating a woman in the restaurant. The assailant, later identified as Perry Kennon, went outside. Haskett also stepped outside and stood at the door to keep Kennon from re-entering the restaurant. Kennon retrieved a gun from his car and shot Haskett – “multiple times,” according to Wilson. Haskett, now 22, underwent three abdominal surgeries and still carries part of a bullet in his back, according to Wilson. Haskett's medical bills exceed $300,000, Wilson said.

Read the rest of this story by Doug Smith in the Arkansas Times.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Raise the State Minimum Wage!

State Representative Jim Nickels, Democrat of Sherwood and a member of AFSCME Local 965, has introduced House Bill 1464 to have the state minimum wage parallel the federal minimum wage. If enacted, the current state minimum wage of $6.25 an hour would increase to $7.25 an hour in July.

Write your state Senators and Representatives and ask them to work for passage of this legislation to help working families.

Black Labor History Month

February is Black History Month, and with just a few resources, teachers, parents and union locals can turn it into Black Labor History Month.

The American Labor Studies Center (ALSC) and unions such as AFSCME and AFT have compiled numerous excellent resources to help highlight black history this month by focusing on the history of African Americans in the labor movement.

A key teaching point is the shared values of the civil rights and union movements. One of the best resources for exploring the common ideas and goals of the two movements is the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who died in 1968 while helping striking sanitation workers in Memphis form a union with AFSCME. (See video.)

But the Memphis strike was not King’s first labor-related effort. In a speech to the 1961 AFL-CIO convention, King said:

History is a great teacher. Now, everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.

The 1963 March on Washington, where King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, was organized to push for better jobs and freedom and was organized primarily by black labor leaders A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin. The march had significant labor supporters including then-UAW President Walter Reuther.

On both the ALSC and AFSCME websites, you can find extensive materials on King and the Memphis strike. The resources include videos of King and interviews with some of the strikers. Click here for the ALSC site and here for the AFSCME site.

The AFT also has identified a variety of resources to help celebrate Black History Month, which spotlight key historical events, influential figures and the continuing contributions African Americans are making to our nation and the world.

The AFT’s Black History website, which you can find here, features a special focus on the landmark 1954 desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education, including profiles of its leaders, key events, recommended readings for grades K-12 and links to primary documents and lesson plans.

There is a plethora of other resources available. Here are some you can reach through links on the ALSC website. Click here for the full list.

  • The Pullman Porter Museum showcases the first real union for African American workers. The struggle for recognition in the labor movement created the impetus for many civil rights gains. You also can view “Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle,” a moving film of the Pullman porters’ remarkable history. The film “A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom” takes viewers on a tour of 20th century civil rights and labor history as it chronicles Randolph’s legendary efforts to build a more equitable society.
  • James Gilbert Cassidy’s book African Americans and the American Labor Movement draws on records from the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Servitude to Service: African-American Women as Wage Earners is a lesson plan by Rita Koman designed to analyze social and economic discrimination against African American women in the work force.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

John Boozman Said NO to American Jobs

Have you ever wished you had a second chance to do the right thing? Well this week, Representative John Boozman has a second chance to get it right when it comes to our economic crisis.

The first time around, Rep. Boozman joined with every single House Republican and voted AGAINST President Obama's jobs and recovery plan. Every day since that vote 20,000 more Americans have lost their jobs, including 700 just yesterday in Benton County..

If you ask me, that's plenty of reason for Rep. Boozman to think again and vote FOR President Obama’s economic recovery plan.

Tell Rep. Boozman to stop standing in the way of creating the jobs we desperately need. Just click on this link to make your call now! (We've set up a special system so all you have to do is provide your cell number and we'll be able to patch you through directly to the switchboard at the U.S. Capitol.)

President Obama's plan would prevent cuts in state and local government services, save or create nearly four million jobs, extend unemployment and health insurance for people who have lost their jobs and get our economy working again. Groups from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to AFSCMEand 80 percent of Americanssupport President Obama's economic jobs and recovery plan. It's time for Rep. Boozman to support it, too.

A vote on the final bill is expected within the next day. Please tell Rep. Boozman to vote YES on the Obama plan. Click here to call.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

AFL-CIO Center for Green Jobs

As part of the AFL-CIO union movement’s commitment to fighting for green jobs, President John Sweeney and other union leaders today announced a major program to help working Americans prepare for the next generation of jobs by creating a Center for Green Jobs.

Starting with $1 million from the Working for America Institute, the AFL-CIO’s workforce and economic development arm, the center will partner with affiliated unions to help pave the way to good union jobs in a variety of the country’s unionized and greening industries. The center also will spread the lessons of AFL-CIO affiliates who have successfully joined the green economy, especially in manufacturing.

At a packed press conference this morning in Washington, D.C., Sweeney said the center is part of the AFL-CIO’s effort to “make progressive energy and climate change a first order priority.”

The mission of the center is not only to engage public policy but to also move beyond that to help our labor unions implement real green jobs initiatives—initiatives that retain and create good union jobs, provide pathways to those jobs and assist with the design and implementation of training programs to prepare incumbent workers as well as job seekers for these family-sustaining careers.

It is a think-do tank that will be a one-stop shop for our affiliates and partners, providing information and technical assistance on public policy, consortium development, workforce and economic development programs, economic analysis and even curriculum development.

The announcement coincides with the Green Jobs, Good Jobs National Conference in Washington from Feb. 4-6.

The Center for Green Jobs already has joined with the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) in its efforts to help construction unions recruit and train the “green workers” for tomorrow’s jobs.

The BCTD is working to engage its more than 1,100 training programs to create the skilled workforce needed for a clean energy future and provide new opportunities to join the middle class for workers in underserved communities, nontraditional workers, and communities of color.

At the press conference, BCTD President Mark Ayers held up a picture of his grandchildren and said the best reason to work together on environmental and economic issues is for the future generations.

A lot has been said recently about green jobs. But that conversation has been far too focused on the potential quantity of these jobs.

The core mission of the Center for Green Jobs will be to cultivate an equal focus on the quality of those jobs and to ensure that they are available to all Americans.

The Center also has formed a partnership with the National Labor College to develop a “green” certificate program for students of the college.

--James Parks, AFL-CIO NOW BLOG, Feb 5, 2009

Buy America Will Create U.S. Jobs. We Need Lots of Jobs

The Buy America provision in the economic recovery package Congress now is finalizing has some rich and powerful voices against it.

AT&T, Dow Chemical, Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Consumer Electronics Association sent a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying the provision “will harm American workers and companies across the entire U.S. economy, undermine U.S. global engagement, and result in mirror-image trade restrictions abroad that would put at risk huge amounts of American exports.”

Wrong. Such cries of protectionism are red herrings for the corporate search for the lowest-wage labor possible—at the expense of America’s workers and the U.S. economy.

United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard sums up Buy America this way:

This isn’t about a trade war. It’s about making sure we’re not putting our jobs out to bid for China.

Buy America would help ensure that our tax dollars funding the economic recovery package are spent on products that are made in America—to the maximum extent possible. When we buy products made in the United States, that creates jobs. And with 3.6 million jobs lost in this country since the recession started in December 2007, job creation is fundamental.

But if the big corporations can’t understand how that works, they can take a lesson from the president. The inauguration of President Obama was not just American-made, but union-made from start to finish. Here are just a few examples from the AFL-CIO Union Label & Service Trades Department about the inauguration:

  • Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) employed by the all-union Hargrove Co., along with electricians, carpen­ters, Teamsters and assorted skilled building trades workers worked for weeks crafting parade floats, and designing and executing décor for 10 official inaugural balls, a prayer breakfast, dozens of formal dinners and 30 other “unofficial” inaugural events.
  • All official inauguration printed materials—programs, schedules, tickets—carried a union “bug,” indicating members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Teamsters Graphic Communications Conference or both produced them.
  • Except for the military bands, musi­cians performing on the official inaugural stand were members of the American Federation of Musicians. Performers entertaining at the various balls were union members as well, as were the sound and lighting engineers and backstage personnel.
  • Hundreds of thousands of spectators who opted for public transportation to the formal inauguration ceremony were served by members of the Amalgam­ated Transit Union who operate the city’s Metrorail and Metrobus systems.

So rather than yelling “trade wars,” Big Business should repeat the following: “Investing in America makes the nation stronger. Investing in America makes the nation stronger…”

--by Tula Connell, AFL-CIO NOW BLOG, Feb 9, 2009

You Know It Is Bad When . . .

Layoffs Begin At Wal-Mart


Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., began laying off 700 employees at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club home offices this morning.

Ed Clifford, president of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, said he began hearing of the layoffs about 9:30 a.m. today. He said the effect of the action will be widespread across Northwest Arkansas.

A person who lost her job today as a recruiting coordinator for Wal-Mart told The Morning News that she was called into a meeting at 8:30 a.m. with a group of other people from her department and was told that they were among 700 people being laid off.

Those being laid off were given packets with information about severance arrangements and escorted from the building, she said. They will be allowed to come back after hours to retrieve personal belongings and clean out their desks, she added.

"You could tell who was leaving because we all had our folders with us," she said. "It was very quiet."

Messages seeking comment have not yet been returned from Wal-Mart.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace Exposed!

You'd think a group called the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) would be dedicated to promoting the needs and desires of America's workers. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, CDW spreads half-truths and lies about the Employee Free Choice Act to wage an ill-conceived assault on the rights and opportunities of millions of men and women across the country.

Here's the real scoop on the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace...

CDW is a front group for business associations, industry lobbying groups, and right-wing policy centers who are against workers getting a fair shake in this economy. Its financial backers include some of the most virulent anti-worker and anti-union organizations in the country, including:

* the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s most powerful business lobbying organization,

* the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a group whose biggest member is Wal-Mart, the poster child for low wages,

* and the Associated Builders and Contractors, an association of anti-union contractors who fight against workers having unions to improve their wages and safety on the job.

CDW is doing the dirty work for CEOs and corporate special interests. Too ashamed to be fighting publicly against policies that would provide workers with real economic opportunities, these companies instead use their deep pockets and powerful influence to fund CDW’s dishonest PR and lobbying campaign.

The CEOs and multimillion dollar business industry groups backing CDW don’t care about democracy or privacy. They’re distorting the truth because they want to stop workers from having a better standard of living, access to health care, job security, and the rest of the benefits that accompany union membership. These same groups oppose everything from paid sick days to fair pay and even the hugely popular Family and Medical Leave Act. It's unbelievable that business interests would suddenly care about privacy now, when corporations increasingly monitor employees’ every move – including e-mail, phone calls, personal belongings, and even interactions outside of the workplace.

CDW spreads misinformation. Contrary to the lies and distortions displayed in CDW’s new TV ad and on its website, the Employee Free Choice Act does not take secret ballots away from workers. The legislation instead offers employees an alternative to the current, broken system that is slanted heavily in favor of management against workers. In fact, the bill would ensure that workers can choose their own union formation process, either through majority sign-up or a National Labor Relations Board election.

CDW’s own data and research is flawed
. Instead of using well-respected academic research and public opinion surveys to test the merits and support for the Employee Free Choice Act, CDW released a poll in April 2008 claiming widespread opposition to the bill. However, even the most conservative political scientists and pundits could easily review the poll’s loaded questions and determine that it in no way accurately tested the public’s perceptions on the issue.

-- Union Review

Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights

Near the end of 2008, the Federal Reserve Board adopted new rules that would end some of the worst abuses by credit-card issuers. These rules, 18 months in the making, would put an end to such practices as hiking interest rates on customers who have never made a late payment and kept their accounts current, as well as the practice of increasing interest rates on money already borrowed. Trouble is, the rules won't take effect until July of next year.

The banned practices have victimized consumers for years. They unfairly remove untold amounts of money from households already squeezed to the limit by debt and add to the revenue of financial institutions often controlled by the same entities receiving billion of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.

One result is to hurt the credit standing of individuals who don't deserve bad treatment. One gimmick that the companies have relied on, for example, is to shorten the time between the arrival of the bill and the due date. Under the new rules, credit-card companies won't be able to charge a late fee if they mail bills to cardholders less than 21 days before payment is due. The rules also put an end to the practice called "universal default," whereby one issuer can jack up the interest rates if the consumer makes a late payment on any other credit account for any reason.

Consumers should not have to wait until mid-2010 for these rules to take effect. The alternative is for Congress to speed up consideration of the "Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights" (H.R. 627), which would take effect three months after enactment. An earlier version passed the House last year by a 312-112 vote, but died because the Senate failed to act in time.

The new measure contains many of the same common-sense rules as those adopted by the Fed, but adds some provisions designed to reform the credit-card industry and improve consumer protection without resorting to rigid measures such as interest-rate caps or price controls. It requires card companies to offer consumers the option of a fixed credit limit that cannot be exceeded, a useful provision that would remove one of the pretexts often used to raise interest rates.

The legislation is preferable to the Fed regulation not only because it could take effect sooner, but also because it offers stronger protection in a variety of ways. Enacting the measure into law is preferable to an executive rule that could be overturned if the Federal Reserve Board reverses itself at a later date. Given the indefensible nature of abusive practices and the increasing difficulty that Americans have making ends meet in a tight economy, there is no point in waiting longer than needed. --Miami Herald

U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd has scheduled a hearing on February 26 to consider the Senate version sponsored by Senators Udall and Schumer. It is important to contact Senator Blanche Lincoln and urge her to support legislation enacting the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights. She is a member of the Senate finance Committee and was a supporter of legislation that removed protections for working families with credit card debt.

In the 2008 election cycle, Blanche Lincoln has received three times more money from PACs than Individuals ($299,705 v. $86,086). Lincoln has received more money from Out-Of-State donors than In-State donors ($1,576,831 v. $1,125,911) and received more in contributions from Finance, Insurance & Real Estate this year than any other economic sector. Lincoln has received more than four times as much money from Business PACs than from Labor PACs in the 2008 election cycle.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Obama Pitches His Plan for American Jobs

The White House
Saturday, February 7, 2009

Yesterday began with some devastating news with regard to our economic crisis....

In the morning, we received yet another round of alarming employment figures – the worst in more than 30 years. Another 600,000 jobs were lost in January. We've now lost more than 3.6 million jobs since this recession began.

In the midst of our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people were hoping that Congress would begin to confront the great challenges we face. That was, after all, what last November's election was all about.

Legislation of such magnitude deserves the scrutiny that it's received over the last month, and it will receive more in the days to come. But we can't afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary. The scale and scope of this plan is right. And the time for action is now.

Because if we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes, and their health care. Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold.

Let's be clear: We can't expect relief from the tired old theories that, in eight short years, doubled the national debt, threw our economy into a tailspin, and led us into this mess in the first place. We can't rely on a losing formula that offers only tax cuts as the answer to all our problems while ignoring our fundamental economic challenges – the crushing cost of health care or the inadequate state of so many schools; our addiction to foreign oil or our crumbling roads, bridges, and levees.

The American people know that our challenges are great. They don't expect Democratic solutions or Republican solutions – they expect American solutions.

From the beginning, this recovery plan has had at its core a simple idea: Let's put Americans to work doing the work America needs done. It will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, all across the country – almost all of them in the private sector, and all of them jobs that help us recover today, and prosper tomorrow.

Jobs that upgrade classrooms and laboratories in 10,000 schools nationwide– at least 485 in Florida alone – and train an army of teachers in math and science.

Jobs that modernize our health care system, not only saving us billions of dollars, but countless lives.

Jobs that construct a smart electric grid, connect every corner of the country to the information superhighway, double our capacity to generate renewable energy, and grow the economy of tomorrow.

Jobs that rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and levees and dams, so that the tragedies of New Orleans and Minneapolis never happen again.

It includes immediate tax relief for our struggling middle class .... It protects health insurance and provides unemployment insurance for those who've lost their jobs. And it helps our states and communities avoid painful tax hikes or layoffs for our teachers, nurses, and first responders.

That's what is at stake with this plan: putting Americans back to work, creating transformative economic change, and making a down payment on the American Dream that serves our children and our children's children for generations to come.

Americans across this country are struggling, and they are watching to see if we're equal to the task before us. Let's show them that we are. And let's do whatever it takes to keep the promise of America alive in our time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Upcoming Labor Education Program

Download the brochure
Register Online

Technically Speaking:

Moving Your Local into the YouTube Age

February 26-27, Reynolds Building, UALR Labor Education Program

Topics include:

  • Legal Rights to Communicate in the Workplace
  • Bargaining for Union Communication Rights
  • Effective Use of E-mail and Web Sites
  • Creating Videos and Posting on YouTube
  • Using Facebook and MySpace
  • Texting Your Union Messages

Bring your cell phones!
Hands on practice using technology.

Who should attend:

Union members and officers interested in effective communication.

Seminar sign in Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Lunches provided
Park in Lot 13 on the north side of 28th Street.
Registration fee: Early Bird: $110 | Regular: $125
Online Registration Deadline: Early Bird: February 6, 2009
Regular: February 12, 2009
If registering after February 6, call to confirm your seat.
Click here to register online

The UALR Labor Education Program (LEP) provides educational services and training programs for labor organizations and workers. Programs are conducted for local unions, central labor councils, and international unions at the regional or district level. Several seminars are held each year which draw participants from Arkansas and surrounding states. LEP provides training in traditional areas such as steward training, collective bargaining, arbitration, effective leadership, and workplace safety. In addition, LEP develops specific programs in response to needs expressed by client unions.

The LEP also houses the Workplace Skills Enhancement Program (WSEP). The purpose of WSEP is to provide information, resources, and services that will assist in providing the training necessary to equip workers to participate in today's global economy. The program is structured to help working men and women to acquire the foundation skills and knowledge essential to perform effectively on the job and to achieve their occupational goals.

Other upcoming programs:

Issues in Collctive bargaining, March 12-14, 2009 UALR campus, Little Rock, AR

Labor and Employment Law, April 23-24 UALR campus, Little Rock, AR

MidSouth Union Leadership Institute, June 11-13 Clarion Resort on the Lake, Hot Springs, AR

National Economy Continues to Tank

The Morning News reports today on a speech by economist Jeff Collins at the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce banquet last night. He told them that the country has been in a recession since December 2007, but economists did not admit it until after the presidential election. Discussing such truth might have damaged President Bush's reelection campaign.

The U.S. economy has lost a staggering 3.6 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, the greatest annual job loss on record going back to 1939. This morning the Labor Department reported the loss of 598,000 jobs in January, the most since the end of 1974, pushing the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent. The official number of unemployed workers climbed to 11.6 million.

Each job lost means more than one person is out of work due to a multiplier effect, Collins told the Chamber. Unemployed people don't shop, eat at restaurants, or visit the doctor without health insurance, so restaurant, retail and health care employees' jobs also become endangered. "This current recession obviously is affecting the psychology of individuals. Consumer confidence is hammered and people are afraid something bad will happen to them," he said, something working families already know from personal experience.

President Obama said yesterday, "We are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin." The American people "didn't vote for the status quo; they sent us here to bring change. We owe it to them to deliver."

Collins predicted that President Obama's
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will result in 32,000 new jobs in the state, mostly in central and Northwest Arkansas. Last week, Congressman John Boozman (R-AR3) voted against it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

State Legislative Conference

The AFL -CIO in conjunction with the Arkansas Professional Firefighters will be hosting a Legislative Conference on February 9th – 10th, 2009 . We will also be hosting a reception on Monday evening. The conference will be held at the Comfort Inn & Suites located at 707 Interstate 30, Little Rock, Arkansas .

At the conference we will be discussing legislation of interest to union members and the working families of Arkansas . Arkansas Legislators will be invited to the conference and a reception Monday evening. There will be presentations on Workers Compensation, PAC Registration and Lobbying. There will be a breakfast hosted for all Legislators on February 10th, giving you an opportunity to meet with and lobby your Legislators.

After breakfast we will go to the Capitol to continue lobbying on the issues of interest to Labor. There is a registration fee of $45.00 per person, breakfast and all materials are included. Lunch will be provided on February 9th.

We have negotiated special hotel room rates of $79.00 for all rooms and $89.00 for suites. You may call the hotel at (501) 687-7700 to make reservations. To get the special room rate, you must tell the hotel that you are attending the AFL-CIO & APFF Joint Legislative Conference. January 26th, 2009 is the cut-off date for making reservations. Rooms are limited please make your reservations now.

Fraternally yours,

Ricky Belk, Secretary-Treasurer

Questions: Call the Arkansas AFL-CIO at (501) 375-9101.