New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) vetoed a so-called right to work bill today, saying that "There is no evidence that this legislation will offer any benefits to New Hampshire's economy or workers."
Earlier this month, the bill passed the state Senate by a veto-proof majority but fell short of a super majority in the House, where a close override fight is expected.
In his veto message, Lynch says New Hampshire has a lower unemployment rate and a stronger economy than most states with so-called right to work laws. He also points out that in states with "right to work" for less laws, workers on average have a lower standard of living, bring home less in their paychecks and go without health insurance more frequently.
In my time as a CEO, in my years spent in the private sector turning around companies, and in my seven years as governor, I have never seen the so-called right-to-work law serve as a valuable economic development tool.
He also says that the push for "right to work" in New Hampshire is being driven by "national outside interest groups and is not a result of problems facing New Hampshire businesses or workers."
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Thurs May 11 2011
For years, billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch flew under the radar as they financed right-wing campaigns and extreme conservative think tanks to overturn financial regulations, corporate rules, environmental standards, workers' rights and the entire litany of "evils" on the radical right agenda.
But their cover was blown in a New Yorker article last year and further shredded when their connections to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his attack on public service workers and workers' rights were exposed.
Now, our friends at the Brave New Foundation—the same folks who bring us Brave New Films—are making the spotlight on the Kochs even brighter with a series of new videos in their new Koch Brothers Exposed campaign.
In the first video (above) they take us to five of the Koch's multimillion-dollar mansions around the country. Three seniors who rely on Social Security go to David's $37 million Palm Beach, Fla., estate to ask why the Kochs want to destroy Social Security.
Pushing the intercom at the $18 million Koch South Hampton beach estate, a Brave New filmmaker asks the Kochs why they are "financing all these organizations designed to smash the American worker."
He gets the same answer—nothing—at the luxurious $15 million Aspen, Colo., getaway when he asks why they are "spending millions of dollars to destroy American unions."
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Tues May 10 2011
In 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin became the third city in America to guarantee workers paid sick leave, joining Washington D.C. and San Fransisco. These cities are stepping up to fill a void left by the federal government, which is content to leave America as one of the only countries in the developed world that does not guarantee workers paid time off if they are sick.
The sick leave law was approved by referendum — with nearly 70 percent of voters in favor — and was upheld a few weeks ago by the state's court of appeals. However, Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature passed a bill preempting the city's law and ensuring that no jurisdiction within the state of Wisconsin is allowed to decide it wants to mandate paid sick days. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) — who gained notoriety for proposing a law stripping public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights and sparking mass protests — signed the anti-sick leave bill into law today:
Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that prohibits local governments from passing ordinances guaranteeing workers' paid sick and family leave...Walker, a Republican, says in a statement the bill removes another barrier to creating jobs.
But Walker's concern about job-loss is overblown. The Drum Major Institute conducted a study examining San Francisco's paid sick leave law and found "no evidence that businesses in San Francisco have been negatively impacted by the enactment of paid sick leave." In fact, the U.S. economy as a whole loses $180 billion in productivity annually due to sick employees attending work and infecting other workers.
Despite Walker's misguided action, as the National Association of Working Women noted, plenty of other cities are forging ahead with paid sick leave legislation:
In Philadelphia, a paid sick days bill was passed out of a City Council committee a few weeks ago, and in Connecticut, the state legislature is moving forward on a bill with bipartisan support. Paid sick days legislation in New York City has 35 City Council sponsors, legislation is about to be introduced in Seattle, and more than a dozen states have coalitions advocating actively for paid sick days and paid family leave policies. San Francisco and Washington, DC have already implemented paid sick days laws.
In the end, repealing Milwaukee's paid sick leave law is simply one more way in which Walker is undertaking his assault on Wisconsin's workers.
Wonk Room, Thurs May 5 2011
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO communications team, Jim Deegan and Karen Gownley, sent us this report.
Some 5,000 private- and public-sector union workers came together in Harrisburg, Pa., yesterday to rally for a responsible budget. Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale called it an incredible event because it
"wasn't just about public sector workers—this was about ALL working men and women in our state. Today they all came together and demanded that the budget not be balanced on the backs of working families.
Gov. Tom Corbett's recent budget proposal slashes millions from public education and other vital public services. Meanwhile, big corporations like Marcellus Shale gas drillers, pay little or no taxes to the state. As Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder put it:
The corporate loopholes must be closed. It is time corporations pay their fair share.
The rally was sponsored by the CLEAR Coalition, which is made up of labor organizations across the state, and represents more than 1.1 million people. AFSCME Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman emceed the event, in which workers from SEIU, UFCW, PSEA and others spoke about their experiences.
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Wed May 4 2011
Imagine one day you woke up and there were no sanitation workers to pick up the pile of stuff in your trash. No letter carriers or postal workers to move your mail. No teachers in the classrooms, no firefighters to stop your neighbor's house—or yours—from burning to the ground.
Such is the scenario being created by many Republican lawmakers in the states who are destroying collective bargaining rights for public employees and decimating our ability to attain good middle-class jobs.
Sam Gilberg, an 18-year-old songwriter with a band, One Track Mind, thinks about the plight of workers and has created a video depicting this bleak scenario, with the hope that it will stir people to action. Watch it.
AFL-CIO Now Blog, Tues May 3 2011
Byline: Tula Connell
The Egyptian revolution has opened the door for workers' unions to mobilise in Egypt – and it is bearing fruit. The Egypt Federation for Independent Unions was established as a result of the revolution and gave their first press conference yesterday at their headquarters to raise the curtain on the 1 May Labour Day and to explain several issues.
"Before the revolution all laws limited the syndicates' activities, but the constitutional decree gives us back our rights - and here we are establishing our independent union," Kamal Abbas, one of the founders of Egypt Federation for Independent Unions, told Ahram Online.
Labour Day celebration in Tahrir on Sunday
Thousands of labourers and Egyptians are expected to celebrate Labour Day this Sunday in a way that that has never been seen prior to the January 25 Revolution.
"Workers will gather with their families in Tahrir Square on Labour Day with Egyptian flags to celebrate their day after the revolution," said Abbas.
According to Abbas, the union has informed the military council, the ministry of interior and the Egyptian cabinet about the celebration, which will kick off with a 20-minute play, then several speeches by the heads of the unions, followed by a concert of famous Egyptian singer, Ali El-Haggar.
Current labour issues
Abbas, speaking on the petition to the Egyptian state council to dissolve the General Federation of Trade Unions of Egypt, asserts: "This is a part of the old regime and the National Democratic Party, which, having been dissolved by the revolution, should also be dissolved." They are also petitioning for the NDP-affiliated trade union to have their assets frozen and transferred to the strongest independent available labour union.
Not only is this union accused of being too closely related to the old, corrupt regime, but its head, Hussein Megawer is furthermore accused of taking part in the planning of the "Battle of the Camel," which was a camel- and horse-mounted deadly attack spearheaded by the NDP of peaceful protesters on the third day of demonstrations.
Blacklist us no more from the International Labour Conference
The ministry of manpower and immigration is proposing new draft laws on the freedom of association, especially as related to labour laws.
"We are working on a law that ensures freedoms to be able to attend the International Labour Conference held in Genève by the beginning of June and delete Egypt from the blacklist," said Abbas.
Egypt was blacklisted from the International Labour Conference because the Mubarak regime denied Egyptian workers the right to organise independent trade unions, but now the Egypt Federation for Independent Unions has 12 syndicates with 250 thousands members.
ahram.org, Sat Apr 30 2011
In a joint statement, “Winds of change for social justice and democracy”, Global Unions supported the struggle by the peoples of the Arab States, with their legitimate trade unions, where they exist, to fight corruption and build democracy and social justice. The revolutions in the region served as the basis and background for a global call for action by governments for good jobs, quality public services, human rights, including trade union rights, and for measures to redress the slide into growing inequality, discrimination, and exploitation, much of it due to the explosion of precarious work.
Global Unions also initiated a joint “Declaration of Trade Unions from Arab countries for Democracy and Social Justice”. Trade union organisations in Arab countries affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Global Union Federations (GUF) and some friendly, independent unions in the region were given the opportunity to sign onto the Declaration. It associates the free trade union movement with the profound changes that are underway in the region as people, often demonstrating incredible courage and determination, oppose corrupt, dictatorial regimes and fight for social and economic progress and democracy.
In connection with any possibility of the development of democracy in the region, it is vital to repeal any legislation or practices that restrict freedom of expression and the rights of journalists to independently gather and impart information on society’s needs. Transparency is part of having government that is accountable. It is a key, although not sufficient, tool to fight corruption. This is true for all countries and regions. Government control and influence over the media is far from limited to the Arab countries. In addition, in far too many countries the commercial interests of owners and advertisers can limit the free flow of information that is essential to having healthy, democratic societies.
Free information is part of combatting fear. The fact that fear has not won in several Arab countries in spite of bullets, beating and brutality inspires us all.
globalunions.org, Fri Apr 29 2011
Post Author: AllGov. Bio: AllGov.com provides up-to-date news about more than 300 branches of the U.S. government, most of which operate under the radar of the media, even when they have annual budgets of billions of dollars. AllGov tells you what each agency says it does, what it really does, and who is making a profit from the agency. It also gives a history of the agency, illuminates controversies relating to the agency and shares critiques and suggested reforms from both the left and the right. The Meet Your Government section provides profiles of hundreds of department and agency heads, as well as ambassadors to and from the United States.
govinthelab.org, Sun Apr 24 2011
On Tuesday 12 April 2011, the Swazi authorities responded with brutal repression and hundreds of arrests to peaceful protest actions from workers and pro-democracy activists. The offices of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) were raided, and the General Secretary of the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) was arrested, among many others. The violence used by the authorities was hugely disproportionate, and the Swazi government has threatened not to allow trade union activities anymore in the future. The protests, which were announced correctly and well in advance, and conducted in a peaceful way to support legitimate demands for more democratic rights for Swaziland’s impoverished citizens, were suppressed by heavily armed police and military, which occupied the city of Manzini as well as other important centres with ostentatious display of power. In doing so, they used teargas against protestors, arrested hundreds of people, among which at least twenty two trade union leaders, and there are even reports that live ammunition was fired. Repression was particularly vigourous in the city of Manzini, where paramilitary police in full riot gear, including shields and rifles, marched through the streets. In the course of the morning, hundreds of people were arrested, and four trade union activists were still missing on 15 April. Furthermore, security forces started arresting everyone wearing a political party T-shirt or cap. Students at the Swaziland Kwaluseni Campus were confined to the campus, which amounts to arrest.
Simultaneaously, the offices of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, the Swazi National Association of Teachers and the National Public Services and Allied Workers Union were raided by heavily armed security forces. The police started to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. It started preventing all buses from going to the meeting points and started to arrest all the people on them, reportedly even without checking whether they were going to take part in the demonstrations or not. A number of buses was even driven to far away forests or the mountainous region on the border with South Africa, and the activists who were on them were left in remote places without transportation. The authorities at one point even sent in the Red Berets, a special Swazi Army branch. In and around four protest centres, including the bus rank in Manzini and the Swazi National Association of Teachers Centre, there were numerous skirmishes, with security forces dispersing the crowds, who subsequently regrouped, time and again. The army eventually declared a curfew in Manzini, ordering the people to empty the city’s streets after 9 pm.The International Trade Union Confederatoin firmly protested to the Swazi government and invites you to do the same.
Act Now!, Apr 21 2011
There was a telling exchange during Gov. Scott Walker's appearance Thursday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The governor had gone to Washington to take a star turn before former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was scheduled to fly into Wisconsin and defend the Walker Way: stripping Wisconsin public employees of basic rights in the workplace, rendering public employee and teacher unions dysfunctional, undermining democracy at the school district and municipal level, and restructuring state government to limit access to health care and sell off public properties in no-bid deals with campaign donors.
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is chaired by a rigid conservative ideologue, Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. And Issa, like the other Republicans on the panel, has something in common with Walker: He is a major recipient of campaign contributions and political support from groups associated with the billionaire Koch brothers. So the governor's appearance was supposed to be a typical D.C. insider gathering, where Walker's political allies would toss the governor softball questions and let him ruminate on the joys, er, the "necessity" of cutting funding for public services and education.
But it did not turn out that way. Walker was paired on the panel with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has maintained good relations with public employee and teacher unions while renegotiating contracts and addressing budget shortfalls. Shumlin's presence exposed Walker as an outlier who has caused unnecessary divisions and inflicted unnecessary pain on Wisconsin workers, farmers, communities and schools.
Walker tried his best to peddle the fantasy that his general attack on state, county and municipal employees and teachers, and his specific attempt to silence them in the workplace by stripping them of most collective bargaining rights, was needed to balance the state budget.
But then Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, asked the million-dollar question, or, to be more precise, the $137 million budget repair bill question.
"Your proposal would require unions to hold annual votes to continue representing their own members. Can you please explain to me and members of this committee how much money this provision saves for your state budget?" asked Kucinich.
Walker tried to avoid the question.
Kucinich pressed him. "Did you answer the questions?" the congressman asked. "How much money does it save, Governor?"
A reluctant Walker finally responded: "It doesn't save any."
That is the takeaway line from Walker's trip to Washington.
Busting unions is a political ploy, not a fiscal necessity. Walker has divided Wisconsin, thrown our Legislature and our communities into disarray, and caused what many legal observers believe to be the most serious constitutional crisis in the modern history of the state. And for what?
Not to save money.
Not to get Wisconsin's finances in order.
But to play politics with people's lives.
When the time comes to hold this governor to account, much will be said on all sides. But the most powerful condemnation of Walker's false claim that he needed to bust unions in order to balance the budget has come from the governor's own lips.
"How much money does it save, Governor?"
"It doesn't save any."
The Cap Times, Apr 17 2011