Friday, March 27, 2009

Who's Really Intimidated and Why?

I find it completely mindboggling that a vast majority of corporate America and CEO's would be so anti-worker. The facts do not bear out their claims being made in the news. It is beyond me how they are able to throw out such false information and innuendos when it comes to the Employee Free Choice Act.

The proposed Employee Free Choice Act would provide working Americans an opportunity to form a union of their own choosing, to represent them and their co-workers for mutual aid and protection through the collective bargaining process(union contract). I guarantee you all the CEO's here in Arkansas have a contract provided them by the corporate office, shareholders, board of directors and stockholders they answer to. Why not the workers who generate the product and profit?

Union organizers "Intimidation and playing it rough", wow, is some 1950's movie? Since the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 there have been 113 cases of fraud, coercion, intimidation and misconduct filed against labor unions in organizing efforts. Of which, only 42 cases have been found with merit. That is less than 2 cases of intimidation a year. To read the news and see the commercials on the TV you'd think it was an epidemic and everyday occurrence.

On the other hand in 2007 there were 29,559 instances of illegal firings and other employer discrimination against workers for workers for exercising their federally protected labor law rights, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Also to help everyone to fully understand the intimidation of the employer against employee, here are some numbers of the annual reports from the National Labors Relations Board; in 2006 employer violations 26,824; in 2005, it was 31,358; in 2004, it was 30784; and in 2003, it was 23,144.

That would be 113 violations filed against the union since 1935 versus 141,669 filed against employers in the last 5 years. So tell me, who is really intimidating who?

Lindsay Brown
Painters Local Union 424
Little Rock, AR 72201

Public Supports the Employee Free Choice Act

Politico recently reported that a new poll by the independent Gallup organization shows a majority of Americans favor a new law to make it easier for workers to form unions and to bargain for better lives for their families. That public support may be pivotal to the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would protect workers from coercion, harassment and illegal firing when they try to form unions. It would also give workers the choice on how to form a union instead of leaving that choice to their employers.

Workers also got strong backing from President Obama, a supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act, who said “We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests because we cannot have a strong middle-class without a strong labor movement,” earlier this month.

The poll of 1,024 adults across the country shows 53 percent of respondents support the Employee Free Choice Act, and illustrates positive public attitudes toward unions. The independent survey echoes the fundamental public support for labor found in previous surveys.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

GAO: Labor Department Failing Miserably in Enforcing Wage Laws

The federal agency that is supposed to protect workers and enforce minimum wage, overtime and child labor laws is failing miserably, leaving low-income workers vulnerable to [2] wage theft. In a report released today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division “has left thousands of actual victims of wage theft who sought federal government assistance with nowhere to turn.”

GAO investigators posing as fictitious complainants filed 10 common complaints with Wage and Hour district offices across the country. In one case, the division failed to investigate a complaint that underage children in Modesto, Calif., were working during school hours at a meatpacking plant with dangerous machinery.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Reception Honoring Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan

The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council will host a reception honoring Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Past President of the NWA Labor Council, at 4:30 pm on Thursday, March 26th, at the Martin and Kieklak Law Firm offices at 2059 Green Acres Road in Fayetteville.

AFSCME Local 965 will be cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for the event, so come hungry and bring the brothers and sisters from your local for the event.

NWA Labor Council will meet immediately following the reception at 5:30.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Corporate Lobbyists Oppose Employee Free Choice Act

Here's what Lee Scott, former CEO of Wal-Mart, says in opposition to the proposed Employee Free Choice Act: “We like driving the car, and we’re not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us.”

Like Wal-Mart, many big corporations that benefit from a lack of worker bargaining power are fighting hard to prevent the bill from passing.

The Employee Free Choice Act would protect the freedom to form unions and bargain. It would put decisions about how to form a union in the hands of workers, not bosses, and would impose real penalties when companies abuse, harass or fire workers who are trying to form unions.

Big Business and its highly paid lobbyists have made blocking the Employee Free Choice Act their top priority, and they’re putting all of their efforts into a vicious and dishonest campaign, using shady front groups to spread falsehoods to the public, the press and politicians.

Many of these front groups have misleading names meant to convince people they’re on the side of workers, and they don’t reveal their funding sources. But these are the same groups and donors that fight against good wages, workplace safety and protection of workers’ rights.

That’s right: The groups operating under names like “workplace fairness,” “democratic workplace” and “job security” are the same as those that have fought against the minimum wage, workplace safety standards, medical leave and protections against discrimination.

Corporate efforts to block the Employee Free Choice Act are straight out of the same playbook that employers use to block workers’ attempts to form a union: blanketing their targets with deliberate lies and scary rhetoric. The biggest lie? That the Employee Free Choice Act would “eliminate the secret ballot.” It’s simply not true. In fact, the bill would protect the option of workers to form a union through a ballot process or by signing cards saying they want to form a union.

The Employee Free Choice Act takes away the boss’s right to interfere and tell you how to form a union. The corporate shills know this, but they hope to yell their lies loud enough that journalists will repeat them and politicians will vote based on them.

The anti-union, anti-worker campaign is so pervasive that Bank of America, days after being approved to get a taxpayer bailout, put its time and resources into hosting a conference call of CEOs and lobbyists to strategize against the Employee Free Choice Act. This act featured opponents of workers like lobbyist Rick Berman and Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, who has said that retail industry leaders who didn’t dump money into anti-Employee Free Choice front groups and political candidates “should be shot.”

Why are these industry leaders so afraid of the Employee Free Choice Act? Because they know the same thing that the bill’s supporters know: U.S. labor laws are badly tilted in favor of bosses, and that under the legislation the workers, not companies, would have a say in forming unions and bargaining for health care, pensions, fair wages and better working conditions. Corporate cronies have been the only winners in our economy for a long time, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep it that way.

So next time you see a television ad or a newspaper op-ed attacking the Employee Free Choice Act, ask yourself: Who’s paying for this? And how do they stand to benefit if workers’ freedom to form a union is blocked?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Brother Rusty Adams

Russell H. "Rusty" Adams, 97, of Elm Springs passed away Tuesday, March 17, 2009, in Fayetteville. He was born Sept. 1, 1911, in Chicago, the son of John Francis Adams and Mabel Marie Schott Adams Auer. He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Henrietta Lois Weber Adams. He attended public school in Chicago and its suburbs and Chicago Musical College. He taught reed instruments at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, played in the Wurlitzer Concert Band of Chicago and was a member of Kappa Gamma Psi National Musical Fraternity. He worked at Pioneer Publishing Co. in Chicago as a typesetter and compositor.

Rusty was a life member of the Painters & Allied Trades International Union, past president of the Arkansas State Conference of Painters, vice president of the Central States Painters Organization. He was financial secretary and business representative of Local Union 14 of the Painters & Allied Trades and was a member of the northwest Arkansas Joint Labor Council. Rusty was instrumental in the formation of the apprenticeship program at the University of Arkansas Physical Plant, served as its first chairman and retired from the physical plant in 1976. He was a member of both the Democratic Central Committee and the Senior Democrats of Northwest Arkansas.

He is survived by a sister, Virginia Stowe of Fayetteville; three nieces, Joyce Stafford of Fayetteville, Dawn DeLong of Springdale and Austin, Texas, and Mary Jean Adams of Gloversville, S.C.; a nephew, James Stowe and his wife Regina of Fayetteville; and many grandnieces and nephews.

A private family memorial will be held at a later date.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Will Pryor and Lincoln Join the Republican Oligarchy?

Cheap labor. Even more than race, it's the thread that connects all of Southern history -- from the antebellum South of John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis to Tennessee's Bob Corker, Alabama's Richard Shelby and the other anti-union Southerners in today's U.S. Senate.

It's at the epicenter of a sad class divide between a desperate, poorly educated workforce and a demagogic oligarchy, and it has been a demarcation line stronger than the Mason-Dixon in separating the region from the rest of the nation.

The recent spectacle of Corker, Shelby and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky leading the GOP attack on the proposed $14 billion loan to the domestic auto industry -- with 11 other Southern senators marching dutifully behind -- made it crystal clear. The heart of Southern conservatism is the preservation of a status quo that serves elite interests.

Expect these same senators and their colleagues in the U.S. House to wage a similar war in the coming months against the proposed Employee Free Choice Act authorizing so-called "card check" union elections nationwide.

"Dinosaurs," Shelby of Alabama called General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler as he maneuvered to bolster the nonunion Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and other foreign-owned plants in his home state by sabotaging as many as three million jobs nationwide.

Corker, a multimillionaire who won his seat in a mud-slinging, race-tinged election in 2006, was fairly transparent in his goal to expunge what he considers the real evil in the Big Three and U.S. industry in general: unions. When the concession-weary United Auto Workers balked at GOP demands for a near-immediate reduction in worker wages and benefits, Corker urged President Bush to force-feed wage cuts to UAW workers in any White House-sponsored bailout.

If Shelby, Corker, and McConnell figured they were helping the Japanese, German and Korean-owned plants in their home states, they were seriously misguided. The failure of the domestic auto industry would inflict a deep wound on the same supplier-dealer network that the foreign plants use. The already existing woes of the foreign-owned industry were clearly demonstrated in December when Toyota announced its decision to put on indefinite hold the opening of its $1.3 billion plant near Blue Springs in northeast Mississippi.

The Southern Republicans are full of contradictions. Downright hypocrisy might be a better description. Shelby staunchly opposes universal health care -- a major factor in the Big Three's financial troubles since they operate company plans -- yet the foreign automakers he defends benefit greatly from the government-run health care programs in their countries.

These same senators gave their blessing to hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to the foreign automakers to open plants in their states, yet they were willing to let the U.S. auto industry fall into bankruptcy.

In their zeal to destroy unions and their hard-fought wage-and-benefits packages, the Southern senators could not care less that workers in their home states are among the lowest paid in the nation. Ever wonder why the South remains the nation's poorest region despite generations of seniority-laden senators and representatives in Congress?

Why weren't these same senators protesting the high salaries in the financial sector when the Congress approved the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street? Why pick on blue-collar workers at the Big Three who last year agreed to huge concessions expected to save the companies an estimated $4 billion a year by 2010? These concessions have already helped lower union wages to non-union levels at some auto plants.

The idea of working people joining together to have a united voice across the table from management scares most Southern politicians to death. After all, they go to the same country clubs as management. When Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker warned of Democratic opponent Ronnie Musgrove's ties to the "Big Labor Bosses" in this year's U.S. Senate race, he was protecting the "Big Corporate Bosses" who are his benefactors.

The South today may be more racially enlightened than ever in its history. However, it is still a society in which the ruling class -- the chambers of commerce that have taken over from yesterday's plantation owners and textile barons -- uses politics to maintain control over a vast, jobs-hungry workforce. After the oligarchy lost its war for slavery -- the cheapest labor of all -- it secured the next best thing in Jim Crow and the indentured servitude known as sharecropping and tenant farming. It still sees cheap, pliable, docile labor as the linchpin of the Southern economy.

In 1948, when the so-called "Dixiecrats" rebelled against the national Democratic Party, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina declared war on "the radicals, subversives, and the Reds" who want to upset the Southern way of life.

Seven years later, Mississippi's political godfather, the late U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland, told other prominent Southern pols during a meeting at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis that the South will "fight the CIO" (Congress of Industrial Organizations) and unionism with just as much vehemence and determination as it fights racial integration.

Eastland, Thurmond and their friends lost the integration battle. Their successors are still fighting the other enemy.

“Southern oligarchy and the labor unions,” by Joseph B. Atkins, from The Progressive Populist.
Joseph B. Atkins is a veteran journalist, professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi and author of Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press (University Press of Mississippi, 2008), a book that details the Southern labor movement and its treatment in the press. A version of this column appeared in the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American and the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Setting Standards for Green and Good Jobs

If the nation’s economy is to truly recover, the funds from President Obama’s economic recovery package—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—must be spent in ways that keep working families’ needs in mind and create a foundation for their future.

To ensure the jobs created under the bill are family-supporting jobs, the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute (WAI) and its brand-new Center for Green Jobs have created standards to help community-level unionists assess the quality of jobs created under the recovery act. They also are urging the forming of new partnerships among employers, government, labor, community groups, environmentalists and other stakeholders to make sure the standards are carried out.

Green Jobs Center Director Jeff Rickert says standards are important because

we have to make sure that the idea of the green job is that it is a good job. The blue-collar job was the cornerstone of the golden era. We want to make sure the green collar job is the cornerstone of a platinum one.

The standards include:

  • Jobs created by the legislation should be enduring, family-sustaining jobs, in work environments where employers remain neutral when workers seek to join a union. Construction jobs should pay the prevailing wage. And the jobs should provide family-supporting wages, health care and retirement security.
  • Employers who receive funds under the act should demonstrate a proven commitment to sound stewardship of public dollars.
  • Training and education programs that claim to help workers and future workers qualify for these jobs should be quality ones that offer portable credentials in the rapidly changing job market; have a record of achieving quality job placements; and prepare current and future workers with the education and skills to continuously improve energy and environmental practices.
  • Jobs and training programs supported by the act should provide affirmative outreach to communities of color and to other disadvantaged job seekers.
  • The benefit of investments under the bill should accrue to businesses that employ workers here in the United States.
  • To the extent possible, the jobs created should lower overall greenhouse gas emissions and create positive environmental returns.

Speaking to the first meeting of Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force in Philadelphia late last month, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard emphasized that any new green job also must be a good job.

To rebuild our middle class, we must also be sure that the jobs created in this new, green economy are good jobs with family-supporting wages and benefits, that we maximize the number of jobs created in this economy, and that these jobs truly contribute to the protection of our environment for future generations of Americans.

James Parks, AFL-CIO NOW BLOG, 3-11-2009

Why Labor Law Doesn't Work for Workers

Brother Loren Adams (APWU Local 667) passed along this excellent article that explains why current labor law does not protect the right the organize.

David Bacon | Why Labor Law Doesn't Work for Workers

"After months of a media war supporting and condemning it, the Employee Free Choice Act was finally introduced into Congress again this week. The bill has been debated before, but with a larger Democratic majority, its chances of passage are much greater today, and President Obama has said he'll sign it. Employers, therefore, are fighting it as never before."

Read the full article here:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Legislative Action Alert

Currently circulating in the Arkansas General Assembly is an Anti -Employee Free Choice Act Resolution asking our Congressman and Senators to vote against the Employee Free Choice Act when it comes up in Congress. We have been told that legislators, Democrat and Republican alike, have signed on to this resolution so far.

We are asking you to contact your State Senators and House members and ask them not to sign on as a sponsor and to vote in opposition of this resolution.

If you know your Senator's name, call 501-682-2902 / Representative's name, call 501-682-6211. If not, you can look them up here: and

Also, contact the Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Todd Turner at 501-374-2361 and encourage him to get Democrats to oppose this resolution.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wilma Liebman Designated NLRB Chairman

President Obama has appointed Wilma B. Liebman to chair the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that enforces federal labor law. Chairman Liebman has served on the Board since November 14, 1997. First appointed by President Clinton, she is now serving her third term, which will expire on August 27, 2011.

Chairman Liebman is considered one of its most union-friendly members, and was often a strongly dissenting voice on the Board during the eight years of the Bush administration. Her appointment was not unexpected, and confirms predictions that the NLRB would shift to the left during the Obama administration.

In a statement, Chairman Liebman said:

I am honored by President Obama's designation to serve as Chairman, and I look forward to continuing my service on the Board with my colleague, Peter Schaumber, and ultimately with a full complement of Board Members.

The Board's work matters, just as it did when the National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935. Democracy in the workplace is still basic to a democratic society, and collective bargaining is still basic to a fair economy. The statute we administer is the foundation of America's commitment to human rights recognized around the world.

Before joining the Board, Chairman Liebman served from 1994 to 1997 at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, first as Special Assistant to the Director and then as Deputy Director. She began her legal career as an NLRB staff attorney in 1974, then served on the legal staff of two labor unions: the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (1980-1989) and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen (1990-1993).

A native of Philadelphia, Chairman Liebman holds a B.A. from Barnard College and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law Center.