Union Reactions to Obama Re-election

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Tonight, working families across the country celebrate the re-election of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden – and breathe a sigh of relief that our country will move forward on the path of sanity and shared prosperity. Nothing about the last four years has been easy, from the Great Recession to Hurricane Sandy, from unrelenting partisan obstruction by Republicans to the greatest onslaught of negative ads ever unleashed against an American president.

Throughout the tumult, President Obama and Vice President Biden have been steadfast allies of working men and women and the values we cherish, focused on repairing the economy, rebuilding the ladder to the middle class and investing in our shared future. That’s why workers and their unions made an historic effort on their behalf, bringing home the vote for the President from Nevada to Ohio, from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania.

With “Osama dead and GM alive” and the economy beginning to pick up steam, we are ready to work together with the President and all willing parties to win greater equality and economic opportunity for all – starting with ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and opposing any cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.

Below are statements from the AFT, UFCW,UAW AFGE , UFW, SEIU, IBEW, and IAM
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Obama Administration Pushes to Privatize Poultry Inspection

by Mike Elk

Mike Elk

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Last Monday, members of American Federation of Government Employees union and food safety advocates rallied outside of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protest a plan that they argue would essentially privatize poultry inspection. The USDA wants to expand a pilot program that currently allows 20 chicken slaughterhouses and five turkey slaughter houses to employ their own meat inspectors instead of using independently funded federal government inspectors.

The HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) expansion plan proposed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack would expand the pilot program to 200 slaughterhouses, allowing companies to employ their own poultry inspectors. Chairman of the National Joint Council of AFGE Food Inspection Council Chair Stan Painter says that the proposed program could lead to the elimination of 1,000 USDA poultry inspection jobs. The USDA has claimed (PDF) that the proposed change could save inspectors $95 million during its first three years and would save the poultry industry about $250 million.

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The Federal Underclass

by Joseph Riedel

To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”

Abraham Lincoln’s call for Americans to care for Civil War veterans and their families, taken from his Second Inaugural address in 1865, adorns the Department of Veterans Affairs office building in Washington, D.C.

Yet within that Cabinet-level department exists a small agency—the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS)—employing thousands of veterans at near poverty wages. Given the VA’s explicit mission to care for American veterans, Americans ought to be shocked by this fact—but most have never even heard of the canteen service.

In 1946, following reports of rampant price gouging at several VA facilities around the country, Congress established the VCS and charged it with providing inexpensive goods to veterans and their caregivers at VA medical centers around the country. Today, VCS operates a total of 172 retail stores, cafeterias and catering shops in every state but Hawaii. It sells everything from food to shoes to stationary. It’s big business: In 2009, the VCS took in over $370 million in revenue ($23 million more than its expenses)—the highest grossing year in the history of the organization. In 2010, the service is on track to surpass its own record once again.

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AFGE Moves Forward To Represent TSA Workers

by Ron Moore

Ron Moore

Since the very beginning the American Federation of Government Employees has supported TSA’s Transportation Security Officers as they serve while working under onerous conditions made possible by the lack of collective bargaining rights. Today is a step forward to a better TSA.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority has moved forward with AFGE’s petition for an election at TSA by directing the agency to provide the FLRA with documents needed to make a decision on whether a union election should be held.

In a letter to TSA Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Richard Whitford, FLRA Acting Regional Director Peter Sutton asked Whitford to provide a list of employees described in AFGE’s petition, which are non-supervisory Transportation Security Officers in pay bands D, E, F, and G. Sutton also asked for a list of employees who won’t be part of the bargaining unit, including supervisors and TSA headquarters staff. Sutton further asked for TSA’s position on AFGE’s petition, which seeks to determine whether TSOs wish to be represented by a union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

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Transportation Security officers file to make AFGE their union

by Ron Moore

After 9/11 Americans faced a dilemma; namely how to get the airplanes off the ground while the nation was still shaken by the attack. A decision was made to take aviation security from the patchwork for-profit system and establish one unified agency. That agency was the Transportation Security Administration established in November, 2001.

Americans stood up to serve by the thousands; leaving behind jobs, going through an exhaustive clearance and training regimen and showing up at the nation’s airports to report for duty under still difficult and evolving circumstances. But they didn’t count on one thing; as soon as they took an oath to uphold the Constitution and reported for work they discovered they were serving under a personnel system stripped of even the most basic workplace rights including collective bargaining.

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