Thursday, December 2, 2010

Governor Beebe Ends Freeze on Cost of Living Adjustments for State Employees

After reviewing state revenues for the first five months of Fiscal Year 2011, Governor Mike Beebe has directed the Department of Finance and Administration to reinstate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), career-service recognitions and merit pay for Arkansas state employees.

"Going into this current budget, we froze state salaries out of an abundance of caution to see how our economy would recover," Governor Beebe said. "After seeing the strength of our economic indicators and remaining ahead of forecast for the year so far, I've decided to reinstate the COLA for our employees."

The COLAs are already built into the current budget and will not impact the funding of any state services or require any budget increases. Career-service recognitions and merit pay are funded through salary savings within existing agency budgets.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Local Food Pantries Need Donations

As the Thanksgiving season approaches, we know that many individuals and families in Northwest Arkansas have nothing to eat and little to celebrate. The recession continues, job opportunities have not returned, and Congress has refused to extend unemployment benefits to those who have lost their job and are looking for work. Many who can find jobs are paid only minimum wage, which is not enough to support a family, and many workers are unpaid or underpaid victims of wage theft.

One in six of our neighbors live below the poverty line and struggles to make ends meet and provide enough food for their family. Arkansas’ childhood poverty rate is 26% - compared to the national average of 18%. Arkansas children are going without food more than any other state in the country according to a new report by Feeding America. One in four children in Arkansas does not get enough to eat in order to sustain their growth and development.

The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council voted this week to make financial contributions to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, the Helping Hands Food Pantry in Bentonville, and the Life Source Food Pantry in Fayetteville. We ask that all local unions encourage their members who can to donate canned goods to area food pantries that are helping feed hundreds of Northwest Arkansas families each week.

Please share as you are able.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election a ‘Mandate to Fix the Economy and Create Jobs’

Union Members Jumpstart Renewed Fight to Create Good Jobs

The fight for working families begins again today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Wednesday morning, calling the 2010 election “a mandate to create jobs and fix the economy.”

“We are asking the president and every member of Congress to have the courage to act to create jobs. To stand up to corporate influence in our democracy. And to take bold steps to build an economy that works for everyone,” Trumka said.

Voters suffering from high unemployment, home foreclosures and a faltering economy rejected business as usual in Washington, D.C., and demanded action. “Let’s be clear,” Trumka said. “Working people think there wasn’t enough done to help average people, not that there was over-reach. They wanted results and they didn’t see them.”

By far, jobs and the economy was the top issue for voters-among union members and nonmembers-according to exit polls and an AFL-CIO survey conducted Tuesday night by Hart Research Associates.

“The election results were extremely disappointing for the millions of union families who voted in this election, and for the hundreds of thousands of union volunteers who spent hours working for working family candidates,” Trumka said.

“This election was about the economy and jobs, plain and simple,” Trumka said. “Here’s what it wasn’t: It wasn’t a mandate for the policies most Republicans campaigned on.”

The AFL-CIO poll, conducted in the top 100 swing congressional districts, shows that voters overwhelmingly reject privatizing Social Security and raising the Social Security retirement age; they oppose tax cuts for the top 2 percent who make more than $250,000 a year; they reject abolishing the Department of Education; and they oppose reducing or eliminating the minimum wage.

Voters in the swing congressional districts support a strong investment agenda to create jobs as well as an extension of unemployment benefits for jobless Americans. Fully 89 percent want to see tax credits for companies that create jobs in this country. An extraordinary 77 percent favor investing in rebuilding roads, bridges, schools and energy systems to create jobs. And 76 percent endorse investing in jobs to maintain U.S. competitiveness with China, India and Germany.

The AFL-CIO grassroots campaign was mammoth: 200,000 union volunteers knocked on 8.5 million doors, distributed 19.4 million flyers while talking to workers at their worksites and made tens of millions of phone calls. Members received 24.6 million pieces of union mail.

Additionally, Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was active in 13 cities, 9 states and more than 80 electoral races around the country and knocked on nearly 800,000 doors and made half a million phone calls to voters around the country.

But union volunteers’ efforts came up against a flood of anonymous corporate spending through front groups that ran television ads attacking Democrats and supporting Republicans. According to Open Secrets (, 74.2 percent of all contributions in this election cycle were by corporations.

Starting today, union members will shift their grassroots mobilization from election efforts and into a renewed fight to create good jobs and restore the middle class.

“The fight begins again now,” Trumka said.

Trumka said immediate priorities of union members include stepping up the fight to end outsourcing, supporting jobless workers, asking multi-millionaires to pay their fair share and putting that money to work to create good jobs and security for working families and investing to build a 21st century infrastructure.

“We have an energized membership that’s ready to fight, and we’re going to give it everything we have.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

NALC National Hero of the Year

Congratulations to James Dupont, named National Hero of the Year by the National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO). Dupont had just finished delivering mail on his rural Arkansas route when he saw a truck and car collide head-on. The member of Rogers, Arkansas NALC Branch 1514 pulled the driver from the truck and, as the vehicle caught on fire, saved a passenger engulfed in flames. He then managed to bend open the door of the burning car to rescue that driver—injuring himself in the process.

NALC honors its 2010 National Heroes of the Year

Heroes 2010
NALC's National Heroes of the the Year for 2010: (seated, from l) Deborah Czarney and Penny Bell, Muskegon, MI Br. 13; James Dupont, Rogers, AR Br. 1514; Larry Gunkel, Wichita Br. 201; Jeffrey Vollmar, Freehold, NJ Br. 924; (standing, from l) J.D. Stewart and Jack Hayes, Seattle Br. 79; Salli Hislop, Salt Lake City Br. 111. (Not pictured: Thomas Nehlen, Youngstown Br. 385.)

Several letter carriers were recognized for their heroism and community service at a special event Oct. 7 in Washington.

The 2010 National Heroes of the Year are:

Eastern Region Hero: Jeffrey Vollmar, a carrier from Freehold, NJ Branch 924, was delivering mail when he heard a young woman shout that her house was on fire and her mother was still inside. Without concern for his own safety, he ran into the smoke-filled house and found her on the second floor, disoriented. After bringing her outside, he ran back into the house and put out most of the flames.

Central Region Hero: Youngstown Branch 385 letter carrier Thomas Nehlen saw smoke on his route one morning, billowing from a house. He entered without regard for his own safety and helped the residents clustered in the kitchen reach safety outside. Then later that same afternoon, delivering mail in another part of town, he helped a 12-year-old boy who had crashed his bicycle into a van in traffic. Ohio State Chair John Dyce accepted the award on Nehlen's behalf.

Western Region Hero: Salli Hislop was on her mail route when a customer’s dog ran to her truck, barking urgently. Recognizing this as unusual behavior for the dog, the Salt Lake City Branch 111 letter carrier investigated and found the customer lying on his front porch, apparently suffering a heart attack. She performed CPR. Paramedics later revived him, thanks to Hislop’s prompt attention.

Special Carrier Alert: Muskegon, MI Branch 13 carrier Penny Bell was concerned when she noticed mail piling up in an elderly customer’s mailbox, and more worried when she noticed that the hard-of-hearing women’s TV wasn’t on loud as usual. She asked her sub, fellow Muskegon carrier Debbie Czarny, to check on the customer the next day. Seeing the same signs, Czarny pounded on the door, heard a faint voice and got into the house with a neighbor’s key. They found the resident on the floor, where she’d been for four days, disoriented.

Humanitarian of the Year: Larry Gunkel helps feed 35,000 families across Kansas and runs a Food 4 Kids backpack program that provides food over the weekend for several thousand Kansas schoolchildren. Gunkel, former president of Wichita Branch 201, where he began his involvement with feeding people, now is retired and is food program manager for the Kansas Food Bank.

Branch Service Award: Seattle Branch 79 letter carriers were recognized for their work building homes for Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricans Katrina and Rita. Representing the branch were Jack Hayes and J.D. Stewart.

National Hero of the Year: James Dupont had just finished delivering mail on his rural Arkansas route when he saw a truck and car collide head-on. The member of Rogers, Arkansas Branch 1514 pulled the driver from the truck and, as the vehicle caught on fire, saved a passenger engulfed in flames. He then managed to bend open the door of the burning car to rescue that driver—injuring himself in the process.

The 2010 Heroes of the Year represent the efforts of thousands of letter carriers who not only deliver the mail to 150 million households six days a week, but often assist or save residents in situations involving accidents, fires, crimes or health crises.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

1961 Chancellor Tom Butt issues injunction against IBEW Local 700 from picketing Acme Electric at construction site in Springdale, later reversed by Arkansas Supreme Court.

1965 Arkansas Supreme Court holds that union member Clara Andrews may maintain an action upon a collective bargaining agreement to enforce rights that are personal to her.

1994 Chamber of Commerce front Committee to Save Arkansas Jobs raised $1,517,672 to defeat ballot amendment to reform Workers Compensation. More than 25% came from out-of-state insurance corporations.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

1966. Arkansas Supreme Court holds that Chancellor Murray Reed had no authority to issue injunction against pickets of Cone-Huddleston Construction at Searcy.

1972. Searcy Mayor Leslie Carmichael refuses to meet with Bob Allison, Laborers Union Local 1282 and bargaining agent for Searcy sanitation employees seeking medical benefits.

1985. Paper Workers International Union Local 369 and management of Georgia-Pacific's paper mill at Crossett reach mediated tentative agreement to end strike over G-P changes in overtime and holiday schedule.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Moratorium on Home Foreclosures

TThe AFL-CIO welcomes the decision by JP Morgan Chase to temporarily halt processing home foreclosures, and we call on the rest of the banking industry to declare a nationwide moratorium on home foreclosures. Millions of working families are on the precipice of losing their homes, and we must stop the avalanche of foreclosures if we are going to save our communities from further economic harm.

In rallies and town hall meetings across the country, union members have demanded that the banks pursue alternatives to foreclosure such as modifying homeowners’ mortgages to more affordable levels. The banks must also stop abusive practices such as the use of “robo-signers” to process thousands of home foreclosures each month without properly reviewing the files associated with each home.

Unemployment is the leading cause of foreclosure, and millions of homeowners have lost their jobs because of the financial crisis and economic recession. Foreclosures hurt the property values of neighborhoods, the credit ratings of homeowners, and the possibility of an economic recovery. The same banks that caused the financial crisis must now do the right thing and stop home foreclosures.

Statement by AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker on
JP Morgan Chase
’s Moratorium on Home Foreclosures
September 30, 2010

This Date in Arkansas Labor History

1919 White planters attack and fire upon a meeting of the Progressive Farmers' and Household Union of America in a church at Hoop Spur, leading to the "Elaine Massacre."

1957 Pluss Poultry of Siloam Springs refuses to abide by arbitrators award in favor of Food Handlers Local 425, Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, regarding dues check off and job postings.

1971 David Gunderfest of Arkansas Retailers Association testifies before U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor for exemptions from raising federal minimum wage to $2.00.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

On Labor Day, Work to Save the Middle Class

This Labor Day feels gloomy. It’s a celebration of work when there is not enough of it, a day off when too many desperately seek a day on.

America has commemorated two Labor Days since this brutal recession began near the end of George Bush’s presidency in December of 2007. Now the relentless high unemployment, the ever-rising foreclosures, the unremitting wage and benefit take-backs have replaced American optimism and enthusiasm with fear and anger.

Happy Labor Day.

On this holiday, we can rant with Glenn Beck, kick the dog and hate the neighbor lucky enough to retain his job. Or we can do something different. We can join with our neighbors, employed and unemployed, our foreclosed-on children, our elderly parents fearing cuts in their Social Security lifeline and our fellow workers worrying that the furlough ax will strike them next. Together we can organize and mobilize and create a grassroots groundswell that gives government no choice but to respond to our needs, the needs of working people.

We can do what workers did during the Great Depression to provoke change, to create programs like Social Security and achieve recognition of rights like collective bargaining. These changes were sought by groups to benefit groups. In a civil society, people care for one another. And America is such a society – one where people routinely donate blood to aid anonymous strangers, children set up lemonade stands to contribute to Katrina victims and working families find a few bucks for United Way.

The self-righteous Right is all about individuals pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. That proposition – the do-it-all- by-yourself-winner-takes-all philosophy – clearly failed because so many Americans are jobless, homeless and too penniless to afford boots.

Over the past decade, the winner who took all was Wall Street. The banksters gambled on derivatives and other risky financial tomfoolery and won big time. Until they lost. And crashed the economy. After the American taxpayer bailed them out, those wealthy traders returned to making huge profits and bonuses based on perilous schemes.

Still, they believe they haven’t taken enough from working Americans. They’re lobbying to end aid for those who remain unemployed in a recession caused by Wall Street recklessness. And they’re demanding extension of their Bush-given tax breaks. This is the nation’s upper 1 percent, people who earn a million or more each year, the 1 percent that took home 56 percent of all income growth between 1989 and 2007, the year the recession began.

Since 2007, 8.2 million workers have lost jobs. Millions more are underemployed, laboring part-time when they need full-time jobs, or barely squeaking by on slashed wages and benefits. Since the recession began, the unemployment rate nearly doubled, from 5 percent to 9.6 percent, and that does not include those so discouraged that they’ve given up the search for jobs, a decision that is, frankly, understandable when there are only enough openings to re-employ 20 percent of the jobless. Five unemployed workers compete for each job created in this sluggish economy.

And American workers weren’t prepared for this downturn, having already suffered losses in the years before it began. The median income, adjusted for inflation, of working-age households declined by more than $2,000 in the seven years before the recession started.

At the same time, practices like off-shoring jobs and signing regressive international trade deals contributed to the loss of middle class, blue collar jobs. A new report, “The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market,” by the Center for American Progress and The Hamilton Project, says:
“The decline in middle-skill jobs has been detrimental to the earnings and labor force participation rates of workers without a four-year college education, and differentially so for males, who are increasingly concentrated in low-paying service occupations.”

The recession compounded that, the report says:
“Employment losses during the recession have been far more severe in middle-skilled white- and blue-collar jobs than in either high-skill, white-collar jobs or low-skill service occupations.”

What that means is high roller banksters are living large; lawn care workers and waitresses subsist on minimum wage, and working class machinists and steelworkers are disappearing altogether.

The researchers found the U.S. economy is increasingly polarized into high-skill, high-wage jobs and low-skill, low wage jobs. America is losing the middle jobs and with them its great middle class.

No wonder the rising anger in middle-class America.

But fury doesn’t solve the problem. This Labor Day, we must organize to save ourselves and our neighbors. We must stop America from descending into plutocracy. We must demand support for American manufacturing and middle class jobs. That means terminating tax breaks for corporate outsourcers, ending trade practices that violate agreements and international law and punishing predator countries for currency manipulation that subverts fair trade by artificially lowering the price of products shipped into the U.S. while artificially raising the price of American exports.

We must demand support for American industry, particularly manufacturers of renewable energy sources like solar cells and wind turbines that create good working class jobs, increase America’s energy independence and reduce climate change.

We must insist on policies that support the middle class, including preserving Social Security and Medicare, extending unemployment insurance while joblessness remains high, and enforcing the health care reform law so that every American worker and family can afford and is covered by insurance.

On this Labor Day, we should all have a picnic, invite neighbors, friends and family, and over hot dogs and potato salad, organize to save the American middle class.

Mobilize to end the gloom and restore American optimism.


Leo W. Gerard
International President, United Steelworkers
September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Study Highlights the Importance of Workplace Safety

Workers Rate Safety Most Important Workplace Issue in New Labor Day Study

Fatal Accidents Can Trigger Public Concern – But Follow-Through Lags Too Often, Experts Say

More than eight of ten workers — 85 percent — rank workplace safety first in importance among labor standards, even ahead of family and maternity leave, minimum wage, paid sick days, overtime pay and the right to join a union, according to a new study from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The study, "Public Attitudes Towards and Experiences with Workplace Safety," draws on dozens of surveys and polls conducted by NORC, one of the nation's leading academic survey operations, think tanks and public opinion firms. NORC’s analysis sought to gain a picture of Americans' experiences with workplace safety issues. The study was done for the Public Welfare Foundation, based in Washington, DC, which supports efforts to improve workers' rights.

Despite widespread public concern about workplace safety, the study also found that the media and the public tend to pay closest attention to safety issues when disastrous workplace accidents occur. Even during those tragedies, the fate of workers is often overlooked, such as during the recent oil well disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Workplace safety is too often ignored or accidents taken for granted," said Tom W. Smith, director of NORC’s General Social Survey (GSS). "It is striking that coverage in the media and public opinion polls has virtually ignored the 11 workers killed by the blowout and destruction of the drilling platform."

Instead, Smith pointed out, the media coverage and the polls focused on the environmental impact of the disaster, overlooking the worker safety aspects. But he noted that "if optimal safety had been maintained, not only would the lives of the 11 workers been saved, but the whole environmental disaster would have been averted."

Robert Shull, Program Officer for Workers’ Rights at the Public Welfare Foundation, stated that, "Workplace safety should be a constant concern. Given the importance that workers themselves place on this issue, we should not have to mourn the loss of people on the job before government and employers take more effective measures to ensure that employees can go home safely after work."

On August 19, the U.S. Department of Labor reported in a preliminary count that the number of workers who died on the job in 2009 fell 17 percent from the previous year, as workers clocked in for fewer hours because of the recession. While Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis called the results “encouraging,” she also noted that "no job is a good job unless it is also safe."

Despite a decrease in workplace fatalities, the study found reports of incidents of injury at work to be high.

Although most workers say they are satisfied with safety conditions at work, they also report job-related stress, a contributing factor to injury. The most recent NORC study on job-related stress, done in 2006, reported that 13 percent of workers find their jobs always stressful, while 21 percent find their jobs often stressful.

"Exhaustion, dangerous working conditions and other negative experiences at work are reported by many workers," Smith said. "Such conditions mean that workplace accidents are far from rare."

The new study done for the Public Welfare Foundation found that about 12 percent of workers reported an on-the-job injury during the past year and 37 percent said they have required medical treatment at one time for a workplace injury.

"Unsafe working conditions end up costing the public dearly," added Shull. "But no matter what the cost to the general public, the workers and their families pay the highest price."

The survey report is available here.

Known since its founding in 1941 as the National Opinion Research Center, NORC conducts high-quality social science research in the public interest. To learn more about NORC, visit The General Social Survey is supported with grants from the National Science Foundation.

The Public Welfare Foundation is a national foundation with assets of more than $460 million that supports efforts to ensure fundamental rights and opportunities for people in need. Its current primary areas of focus are Workers’ Rights, Health Reform, and
Criminal and Juvenile Justice. For more information, please visit

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Endorsements for September 21st School Elections

Fighting for the Importance of Public Education - For Our Children, Our Economy, Our Communities and Our Future

A strong public education system is essential to the individual and collective well-being of our state and its people, and to the development of an informed and engaged citizenry, without which no democracy can exist and flourish. A strong, universal system of public education is the foundation of the American middle class, and is vital to the survival of the United States as a broadly middle class society in the global economy. The guarantee of access to a free and quality public education should be a right accorded to every child in this country. Securing that guarantee should be a goal and a value that unites all Americans and is supported by our public policies and policymakers at every level.

At this time in the history of our country, all those who support public education, as the labor movement has historically done—who believe in its centrality to our national vitality and are committed to strengthening this institution so every child, in every corner of the country, has access to a great education—should come together to affirm this commitment. A public education system in all its component parts—pre-K, K-12 and higher education—can be strong, vital and productive only with the broad support, commitment and participation of all sectors of our communities.

To advance those important goal, the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council makes the following endorsements for the September 21st school elections in Northwest Arkansas. We urge our member unions and organizations and all working families in Northwest Arkansas to vote for a stronger system of public education. How you vote is your personal decision, but we believe that the following candidates and millage decisions will advance the quality of public education for our children, our economy, our communities, and our future.


FOR Bryn Bagwell, Fayetteville School Board, Zone 2. Ms Bagwell was named a 2010 Outstanding Volunteer in the Fayetteville Public Schools, and she brings a strong background in public finance that will be very helpful as the district completes construction plans and addresses budget issues to assure adequate teachers’ salaries.

FOR the 2.75 mill increase to complete Phase 2 of the Fayetteville High School project. In June the district was awarded $31.4 million of 0% interest Qualified School Construction Bonds that can be used for completion of Phase 2 of the new high school, but only if Fayetteville voters pass a millage increase by December 2010.


FOR Daniel Marzoni, Greenland School District, Zone 5. Mr. Marzoni is a retired classroom teacher and educational association leader who understands the issues facing the recently reinstated Greenland School District.


FOR the 2.4 mill increase to help pay for nearly $70 Million in upcoming school projects. The state has pledged additional $15 Million if construction begins on the projects by January of next year. "This millage is designed to build a middle school, a junior high, an athletic facility at Har-Ber High and renovation of Springdale High School football stadium

Those who have dedicated their careers and lives to providing a public education to our children should be recognized for their contributions, supported and included in our efforts to continuously improve our education system and to ensure that the students in every public school have equal opportunity and access to highly qualified teachers, staff and instructional resources. The complex and considerable challenges facing public education require a public school environment that fosters thoughtful solutions, shared responsibility, consideration of proven strategies and programs and public education policies that help ensure access to the excellent education every child deserves.

For the past several years, we have been living through the most severe recession since the Great Depression, which has affected public education, not just through cuts to core programs, but through job losses that destabilize students’ families, cuts to other critical services that the communities depend on, and stress that pulls at the social fabric that unites us. Rather than fostering an environment that allows for thoughtful, collaborative solutions, so-called “reformers” focus instead on imposing unproven programs and polices that shake the foundation of our schools, neighborhoods and communities. Public education is a public responsibility and must be a public trust.

Our shared pain, rather than divide us, must instead become the impetus for our shared efforts to force a commitment to programs and polices designed to invest, not disinvest, in public education and other vital public services to ensure opportunities for lifelong learning Exclusionary approaches, simplistic slogans and punitive strategies that substitute for real solutions, such as the mass removal of both instructional and non-instructional personnel from low-performing schools without regard to the investments that have not been made in those schools, distract from the important work needed to strengthen public education, divide our communities and undermine public education, which is the institution that has the potential and purpose of creating equal opportunities for all our children.

The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council is united in opposing shortsighted arguments that focus on affixing blame rather than finding solutions to the problems that confront our schools in this time of economic crisis. The labor movement opposes any effort to pit public sector and private sector workers against each other. All workers deserve adequate health care and retirement security. The labor movement understands that until private sector workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively is restored, no public sector worker is economically secure. And we also understand that attacks on public sector workers are led by those whose goals is to weaken and impoverish all workers.

The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council will support all efforts to show that working with labor is part of the solution. We will redouble our efforts to make common cause with communities and will act—not just one day or one week but every day—to mobilize support for the programs and policies critical to building strong and vibrant education systems and communities throughout America.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ask a Working Woman

It’s simple: Working women are the experts on the challenges working women face at work, at home and getting by in a tough economy. And if you want to know something, the best thing to do is ask an expert.

That’s what Working America and the AFL-CIO are doing with the 2010 Ask a Working Woman survey, and they could use your help.

If you’re a working woman (whether you work outside or inside your home), please take seven minutes to complete the survey. This is your chance to share how you feel about your job, how the recession has affected your family and what you hope and worry the next five years will bring.

For more than 12 years now, Working America and the AFL-CIO have been surveying women every two years or so, asking about their concerns and experiences, the challenges they face and the hopes they hold. You can be sure decision makers and the media will hear what you and tens of thousands of other women have to say. Please, take the survey now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Congress Passes Comprehensive Financial Reform

The Senate gave final approval to a financial reform bill today, voting 60-39 to send the measure to President Obama for his signature. Arkansas Senators Pryor and Lincoln voted for the legislation; Congressman John Boozman (R-AR3) voted against it in the House.

Today’s vote represents a historic shift of power—away from big bankers and CEOs to working families and Main Street. For years, big banks have profited on the backs of working families. Millions of working families lost their jobs and still can’t find work because of the reckless and selfish actions of Wall Street and the big banks.

After the financial meltdown brought on by Wall Street’s greed and irresponsibility, it would have been an outrage for the status quo to stand. Yet all but three Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted against reforming our bloated and unaccountable financial sector.

Fortunately, President Obama and working family leaders in Congress stood firm to put our country back on track toward an economy that works for everyone. In the end, fifty-seven Democrats and three Republicans voted for this landmark legislation. This vote will make it a lot harder for big bankers to indulge their greed at the expense of working people.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will:

· Create a strong consumer protection agency to protect working people from predatory lenders;

· Shed light on the shadow markets by requiring most derivatives to clear and trade on open, transparent exchanges and mandating that large managers of hedge funds and private equity funds register with the Securities and Exchange Commission;

· Give long term investors new tools to hold corporate boards and senior management accountable; and

· Help prevent future bank bailouts by creating a council of regulators to oversee systemic risk, giving regulators authority to dissolve failing financial institutions while prohibiting bailouts for bank shareholders and executives

· Moving toward restoring of Glass Steagall by limiting banks ability to make risky bets backed by taxpayer funds.

We will continue to fight for reforms that will further address too big to fail financial institutions and make Wall Street pay its fair share to create the 8 million jobs it helped destroy.

As we look ahead to November, when voters will once again have the ability to stay on the path to change or look back to the failed policies of the past, this vote is a defining line in the sand. Working families will be dedicated to supporting leaders who vote to create jobs and hold Wall Street and big business accountable.

Voters now have a clear picture of those who stand on the side of Main Street and those who choose instead to stand on the side of Wall Street. We will not forget.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Special Convention of the Arkansas AFL-CIO

The Special Convention of the Arkansas AFL-CIO is to be held August 21st in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The purpose of the convention will be to take action on recommendations of State COPE concerning candidates who will be running for office in the November 2nd General Election. Your credentials will be mailed to you soon. The registration fee is $50.00 per delegate, alternate, and guest.

The one-day convention will convene at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday August 21st, 2010 at the Clarion Resort at 4813 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, Arkansas, thus allowing over 5 weeks for campaigning. Candidate interviews will take place on Friday, August 20th. Any delegate desiring to sit in on candidate interviews is welcome to attend.

The Special Convention will be considering candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, all State Constitutional Offices, and State Legislative contests. Ballot issues will also be considered.

It is very important that all affiliates be represented at the Special Convention. Working together we can continue to build a more unified labor movement and a better Arkansas for all of our citizens.

The special hotel room rate for convention delegates is $95.00 for a single or double. The hotel is holding a block of rooms for our convention delegates. Their cutoff date is July 20th, 2010. Please make your reservations early by calling toll free 1-800-432-5145. Be sure to specify the reservation is for our convention.

It is each local union’s responsibility to make their delegates’ room reservations. Thank you for your cooperation on this. Also, please don’t forget to send your convention credentials to us no later than August 11th.

Fraternally yours,

Alan B. Hughes


Arkansas AFL-CIO

Please note:

= Deadline to apply to register to vote in the General Election is October 4th.

= Early voting begins for the General Election on October 18th.

Ask Senators Lincoln and Pryor to support our Public Safety Employees

The House of Representatives has approved the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010 (H.R. 4899) that included an amendment incorporating the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (PSEECA), which would provide firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel with collective bargaining rights in Arkansas and other states and localities that do not currently provide them, establish minimum standards for collective bargaining rights for these groups, and give the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) the power to regulate and enforce these rights.

The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act assures that fire fighters, police officers, and other first responders in every state will have the right to talk to their employer about how to improve public safety and do their jobs more safely. The initiative was included in a supplemental appropriation bill adopted by a vote of 239-182 on Thursday, July 1. Representatives Berry, Ross, and Snyder supported the provision; John Boozman voted NO.

“Seventy-five years after passage of the National Labor Relations Act, fire fighters are a step closer to having the same rights that workers in the private sector have had since 1935,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. The Fraternal Order of Police has a good analysis here.

While most fire fighters and law enforcement officers are already provided bargaining rights under state laws, too many public safety officers do not have the ability to present ideas about how they can better protect the public safety. The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act will ensure that Arkansas and every other state allows discussions between first responders and the agencies that employ them, and will promote productive partnerships between labor and management.

Collective bargaining is especially important in light of the fiscal crisis facing many states, cities and counties. Over the past two years, fire fighters and police officers have offered millions of dollars in concessions and given back raises and benefits previously agreed to in order to prevent cuts that would undermine public safety.

The Senate will take up the measure following its July 4 recess. This legislation is important to our union brothers and sisters serving in public safety agencies, so let's generate at least 200 calls from our members in Northwest Arkansas. It will only take a few minutes of our time, but it can mean so much. Please call Senators Lincoln and Pryor this week ask them to support it. Senate Bill 3194, also known as the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The House version that passed last week is included in H.R. 4899.

Call both offices of both Senators and ask them to support the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. You can also call these numbers after hours and leave messages.

Senator Blanche Lincoln
DC OFFICE: (202) 224-4843

Senator Mark Pryor
DC OFFICE: (202) 224-2353
LITTLE ROCK OFFICE: (501) 324-6336

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


America's workers congratulate Bill Halter on his almost unprecedented achievement in forcing a two term incumbent Senator into a run-off election.

Halter gave voters a clear choice between someone who fights for the working families of Arkansas or a DC insider like Lincoln who is in the pocket of Wall Street and big business.

With so much at stake, Arkansas workers are prepared to continue the fight. From the minute the polls closed tonight, we began our renewed efforts to elect Bill Halter to the Senate in the runoff election.

May 18, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

NALC Letter Carriers "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive

Help Stamp Out Hunger! On Saturday, May 8, 2010, the 18th annual National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) Food Drive will take place across the country. Every year, this highly anticipated event has brought hope, goodwill and sustenance to millions of people in need. The annual food drive has grown into the nation's largest one-day effort to help "Stamp Out Hunger" in America.

More now than ever, people around the country -- people in our own neighborhoods and towns -- are looking to us to help make a difference. This is when I feel most proud of the partnership between our brothers and sisters of the National Association of Letter Carriers and other supporting sponsors. This is when we all can say we made a difference in someone's life.

Just leave the donated food items in a sack by your mailbox this Saturday. When considering your donation, we ask that you avoid items packaged in glass; one broken jar can damage hundreds of other donations. In addition, please do not donate items that have gone past the expiration date. You can make your donation extra special by donating one or more of the high-protein and nutrient packed items such as peanut butter, canned meat, canned fish, beef stew, canned fruit or fruit juice and canned pasta with meat.

Gov. Mike Beebe says he's confident that Arkansans will respond big-time to the National Association of Letter Carriers’ drive to collect food for the hungry. Beebe spoke Wednesday at a news conference in Sherwood about the the 2010 Stamp Out Hunger food drive that takes place Saturday. That's the day Letter Carriers for the U.S. Postal Service will pick up donated non-perishable food items from mailboxes across the country. The food drive, which started in 1993, collected more than 73 million pounds of donated food last year, including 78,000 pounds from central Arkansas.

Summer is an especially high-risk period for hunger because many children in need are not receiving regular meals in school. Please give this food drive your full effort. Your commitment and support is what makes it a success year after year.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Endorsement of Beth Storey Bryan for Circuit Judge, Division 5

The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council has endorsed Beth Storey Bryan for Circuit Judge, Division Five. She has an exemplary record of public service, the relevant legal experience best suited for the position, a strong work ethic, and the deep sense of fairness and accountability that working families expect and deserve from our judges.

We find Beth especially qualified for this position on the 4th Judicial District Circuit Court to serve Washington and Madison Counties, due to her record in handling domestic relations cases and probate litigation that are primarily heard in Division Five. Over the last decade, she has represented more than a thousand clients and appellate experience before the Arkansas Court of Appeals and the Arkansas Supreme Court. She has the real courtroom experience to effectively and fairly handle the dockets of the 5th Division.

Beth’s record of volunteer public service demonstrates that she has a passion for children and protecting their best interests. She serves as a board member for the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is an active member of the Circle of Friends, a non-profit organization supporting the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. This service reflects her judicial philosophy that while courts have the obligation to hold everyone accountable under the law, they also have the duty to go the extra mile to protect our children.

We urge our members and all citizens to consider these outstanding qualification and to support Beth Storey Bryan for Circuit Judge. The election is on May 18th, and early voting begins on Monday, May 3rd.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Endorsement of Steve Zega for Circuit Judge, Division 7

The Northwest Arkansas Labor Council has endorsed Steve Zega for Circuit Judge, Division Seven. Mr. Zega has an outstanding record of public service, and we find him especially qualified for this position on the 4th Judicial District Circuit Court to serve Washington and Madison Counties. He has been a city and county prosecutor, and he has experience representing clients before experience before the Arkansas Supreme Court, the Arkansas Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.

Mr. Zega was named the Volunteer Lawyer of the Year for Washington County in 2001 and again in 2007. He has donated hundreds of hours of free legal service to low income families and individuals, a record unmatched by any of the other candidates.

In addition, Zega served our nation during a tour of duty in Iraq. As a JAG military lawyer, he gained broad experience in military law that allowed him to build extensive knowledge in multiple areas of legal representation. His civilian practice has included successfully representing veterans before the VA and the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims.

As a Justice of the Peace first elected to the Washington County Quorum Court in 2000, Mr. Zega understands both government and his constituents. Currently serving as Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committees, he has demonstrated the management skills and understanding of all aspects of county government. It is especially noteworthy that he led the successful effort to assure raises for county employees during tough economic times without having to increase taxes.

We urge our members and all citizens to consider these outstanding qualification and to support Steve Zega for Circuit Judge. The election is on May 18th, and early voting begins on Monday, May 3rd.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Arkansas Constitutional Offices

Triple Endorsement for Secretary of State:

Doris Tate; Mark Wilcox; County Clerk Pat O’Brien

Comm. of State Lands:

Representative Monty Davenport

U.S. Senate

Lt. Governor Bill Halter

U.S. House

1st District:

Chad Causey

2nd District:

Joyce Elliott

State Supreme Court

Duel Endorsement for Assoc. Justice Position 3:

Court of Appeals Judge Courtney Henry; Judge John Fogleman

Duel Endorsement for Assoc. Justice Position 6:

Court of Appeals Judge Karen Baker; Judge Tim Fox

Court of Appeals

Associate Judge District 2 Position 1:

Court of Appeals Judge Jo Hart

State Senate

Dual Endorsement for District 19:

State Rep. Gene Shelby; Q. Byrum Hurst

District 21:

Rep. Steve Harrelson

District 22:

State Rep. Dawn Creekmore

State Senate

Dual Endorsement District 34:

Jay Barth; Linda Pondexter Chesterfield

State House

District 22:

Krystal Thrailkill

District 27:

Vicky Morris

Dual Endorsement District 31:

Debbie Murphy; Scott Pace

Dual Endorsement District 34:

Terri Hollingsworth; John W. Walker

District 35:

Fredrick “Fred” Love

District 39:

State Rep. Richard Carroll

District 92:

Greg Leding

All primaries above are Democratic Primaries. The Arkansas AFL CIO has taken no position on any contested primary not listed above.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Immediate Effects of the Health Care Reform Act: March 2010

Immediate effects of the health care reform act signed this week: March 2010

Health Insurers cannot deny children health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. A ban on the discrimination in adults will take effect in 2014

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will get tax credits covering up to 50% of employee premiums

Seniors will get a rebate to fill the so-called "donut hole" in Medicare drug coverage, which severely limits prescription medication coverage expenditures over $2,700. As of next year, 50 percent of the donut hole will be filled.

The cut-off age for young adults to continue to be covered by their parents' health insurance rises to the age 27.

Lifetime caps on the amount of insurance an individual can have will be banned. Annual caps will be limited, and banned in 2014.

A temporary high-risk pool will be set up to cover adults with pre-existing conditions. Health care exchanges will eliminate the program in 2014.

New plans must cover checkups and other preventative care without co-pays. All plans will be affected by 2018

Insurance companies can no longer cut someone when he or she gets sick.

Insurers must now reveal how much money is spent on overhead.

Any new plan must now implement an appeals process for coverage determinations and claims.

New screening procedures will be implemented to help eliminate health insurance fraud and waste.

Medicare payment protections will be extended to small rural hospitals and other health care facilities that have a small number of Medicare patients.

Non-profit Blue Cross organizations will be required to maintain a medical loss ratio -- money spent on procedures over money incoming -- of 85 percent or higher to take advantage of IRS tax benefits.

The bill establishes a temporary program for companies that provide early retiree health benefits for those ages 55-64 in order to help reduce the often-expensive cost of that coverage.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services will set up a new Web site to make it easy for Americans in any state to seek out affordable health insurance options The site will also include helpful information for small businesses.

A two-year temporary credit (up to a maximum of $1 billion) is in the bill to encourage investment in new therapies for the prevention and treatment of diseases.