Airlines on Final Approach to Monopoly of the Skies

By Carl Finamore

Carl Finamore

Carl Finamore

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, April 29 that United Airlines (UAL) is very likely to soon announce their merger with Continental Airlines, making it the world’s largest airline by number of passengers carried. UAL is the nation’s third-largest airline while Continental is number four. If actually successful, the single carrier will reportedly keep the Chicago-based United brand name.

This comes partially in competitive reaction to Delta swallowing up Northwest Airlines in 2008, itself becoming, briefly, the world’s number-one carrier in both market value and passengers.

All this jockeying is not new. Recently, Southwest tried to purchase Frontier before Republic ultimately took it over and United was actually courting US Airways several weeks ago even as its talks got started with Continental.

When Congress deregulated airlines in 1978, the central premise was to expand competition, to offer consumers more choices and to lower prices. On all accounts, these have been exposed as complete myths and distortions. Today, thirty years after the deregulation of airlines, there is a virtual monopoly in the skies and steadily increasing fares.

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Global Unions May Day Message

Jobs, Justice and Public Service – Getting the Economy to Work

Global Unions, the voice of the global labour movement,  issued the following statement to mark May 1st 2010:

On today of all days trade unionists around the world demand fresh steps to reform the global economy in favour of social justice, investment in jobs and fairness in society. This is no time for business as usual.

Neo-liberal economists and reckless financial dealings have created a crisis that has put millions of people out of work and forced many more into precarious employment to survive. Social safety nets are being torn apart. Public spending that provides for cohesive communities is being savagely cut.

With all of this in mind, Global Unions call on policymakers and democrats everywhere to support a new paradigm of recovery and social justice that will:

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Make Wall Street Pay

Watch the union movement’s March on Wall Street today.http://aflcio.org/wallstreet

Richard Trumka: So now we learn that as millions of America’s families were losing their homes, Goldman Sachs cheered because it stood to make huge money betting on a housing market gone bad. Is that Wall Street’s vision of American values? It’s not mine. And it’s not the values of the thousands of working Americans who are marching on Wall Street today in person with me and online.

Our message is simple: Big Banks tanked our economy and took our money when they needed a bailout. Now they’re thumbing their noses at our communities but making billions in profits. It’s time they pay up.

Pay up by investing in communities to create jobs for the millions of unemployed workers — like Terry in Florida, who was laid off a week before Christmas. Being forced to return his family’s Christmas gifts to the store was just the beginning of his pain. While the corporation he worked for is turning a profit, he fears his family will be homeless by summer. Continue reading

The Fiscal Crises of the States: Neoliberalism’s Next Terrain of Struggle, and Ours

By Michael Hirsch

Social peace as corporate America’s prescription for sound labor relations was always more mist than material, but even that fog lifted after the Reagan Administration destroyed the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization in 1981. The PATCO attack declared open season on union hunting, leading to a radical shrinking of union density in the private sector, a downsizing of heavy industry and an outsourcing of jobs to low-wage nations. Now get ready for the ongoing assault on public sector workers, for a drastic shrinking in the services they provide, and for the political space and opportunity for a fight back.

Virtually every state is undergoing a second or third round of budget cuts, an evisceration of public services and an ideological and political attack on its public sector workers and their unions led by state businesses, their good-government toy poodles and right-of-center think tanks. In order to fill huge budget holes, public workers are being laid off or their positions attrited, even as more contracts – often noncompetitively bid and often not even cost-effective – are let to private vendors for the same work. California, Illinois and New York are the hardest hit, in part because their public services are among the most generous, even as states elected officials studiously avoid enacting progressive tax legislation.

The states’ budget shortfalls – what John Shure of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls “a revenue collapse” – are the outcome of the late 2007/2008  recession, the Wall Street mortgage bond market/housing bubble collapse that followed, and the drop in state taxable revenues. Yet even before Wall Street’s September 2008 crash, 29 states already faced total budget gaps of at least $48 billion. After Wall Street stopped shuffling housing debt but before the federal government began playing 52 Pick-Up, some $15 trillion in personal wealth disappeared.

The effect: 8 million jobs lost in the last three years even as the 2009 federal stimulus package led to a growth in GDP and a shrinkage in job losses. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that without the February 2009 recovery act’s injecting  $787 billion into the economy, the nation would have lost an additional 1.5 million jobs. While many, including Paul Krugman, argued that the stimulus was weak tea compared to the jolt needed to shock the economy awake, it did have demonstrative results. Not so the Bush administration’s TARP dollars put into banks too big to fail – the single largest investment the Treasury Department ever made for U.S. banking – and which is still largely unaccounted for. Continue reading

Wooster aims to become “sweat-free” campus

By Alexandra DeGrandchamp
Senior Staff Writer, The Wooster Voice

The Wooster Democratic Socialists is actively campaigning across campus to affiliate The College of Wooster with the Workers Rights Consortium. According to Celeste Tannenbaum ’13, the WRC is a labor-rights organization that investigates collegiate apparel suppliers to ensure fair labor standards are instituted across the globe. Tannenbaum states affiliating with the WRC is a strong step, signaling that Wooster is committed to becoming a “sweat-free campus.”

The Wooster Democratic Socialists circulated a petition to President Cornwell. The petition is co-signed by 18 student organizations and over 500 students. Citing the 2009 Commencement speech and Cornwell’s commitment to global engagement, the petition states, “It is our moral obligation to ensure that the Wooster name and logo appear only on ethically produced products. For this reason, it is imperative that we begin work with the WRC as soon as possible.”

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Arizona conflict and immigration law

Activists Face Tough Choices on Immigrant Rights

By Randy Shaw

In April 2006, immigrant rights supporters took to the streets in an unprecedented public demand for legislation that would protect 8-12 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The marches were followed by two national elections in which anti-immigrant Republican Congress members were defeated for re-election by increased Latino voter turnout, and heavily Democratic Latino voting brought Barack Obama four states that George W. Bush carried in 2004.

Yet comprehensive immigration reform remains an even more uphill battle than in 2006. Activists have set nationwide marches for May 1, and are aggressively pressing President Obama for action. But Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law shows that opponents are also on the move, and that winning Senate passage in 2010 or beyond will likely require political compromises that many activists will reject. Continue reading

Strategic Research Summer School at Cornell

The AFL-CIO and Cornell University are sponsoring a Strategic Corporate Research Summer School on June 13-18, 2010 in Ithaca, New York. The course (credit or non-credit) is designed for undergrad and grad students who are interested in working as union researchers and campaigners. The application deadline is May 1. Credit scholarships are available. To obtain an application form and other information, go to website or contact Becky Sheffield at 607-254-4749 or rjs373@cornell.edu .

Too big to fail is too big to exist

13 Bankers. The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.  (2010.) Johnson and Kwak.

Reviewed by Duane Campbell

The currently proposed reforms of Wall Street by the Obama Administration are too limited.   To protect our society we need to:
1.     Re-establish the Glass Steagal act of 1933 which separates savings banks from commercial banks.
2.     Break up the banks that are too big to fail.
3.     Add  substantive regulation to the markets.
This recent book  develops the important thesis that the U.S. is being directed and exploited by an Oligarchy.  This Oligarchy protects  their profits and their privileges; they dominate the government.  And they will continue to do so until they are stopped.  The authors argue that in the crisis of 2007/2009, which the oligarchy created, the rich seized billions of dollars for themselves.  They made massive profits from the economic disaster. The Great Recession cost  the homes, the jobs, and even the lives of working people.  It is devastating our schools. This is the nature of our current state. Continue reading

March for California’s Future reaches Sacramento

President, California Federation of Teachers

by Duane Campbell.

The March for California’s Future covered in prior posts on Talking Union  arrived at the California State Capitol on April 21, 2010.

Over 8,000 teachers and other public workers  demonstrated in support of  the marchers and for a fair tax system to respond to the economic crisis.  Eight  marchers  walked over 300 miles in 48 days to demand that schools and public services be adequately funded.   California Federation of Teachers President Marty Hittelman said, “Since 1992, the top 1% of California income earners – people who average $1.6 million per year, have doubled their share of the state’s income from 13 percent to 25%.  At the same time, this group has had its income tax rates reduced.”

Revenue shortages in California have led to the lay off of some 14,000 teachers, school closures, and cuts in social services.   Lost tax revenue due to loopholes for the rich and large corporations is costing the state’s general fund billions.  For example, California does not have a law to tax oil companies for taking oil from the ground, a major source of revenue for  the states of Alaska and Texas.

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Union Summer Application Deadline is May 7

What are you doing with your summer? The Union Summer for Jobs Internship is a 10-week educational internship to participate in and develop skills useful for union organizing drives and other campaigns for workers’ rights and social justice.

Union Summer is a ten week educational internship in which participants are introduced to the labor movement.  The Union Summer Internship will run from June 7th through August 13th. It will begin with a weeklong orientation and training, which will be held in Washington, D.C. June 7-June 13.  After the training, interns will work in teams in support of the AFL-CIO’s Jobs Campaign in various parts of the country.  Their work could include organizing direct actions such as marches and rallies, talking with workers impacted by the jobs crisis, as well as assisting in building community, labor and religious support for the Campaign.  Interns will play an important role in helping to build support for our top priority – making sure that everyone that wants a job can get one. Participation in Union Summer is also an ideal way for people to learn about unions and our work in the community.

Applications must be received by May 7.

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