Why It Would Be a Mistake for SEIU to Endorse Clinton

Français : Logo SEIU

Français : Logo SEIU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why it would be a tragic mistake for SEIU to endorse HRC at this time.
This letter is being sent to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and members of the IEB.  This is also being cc’d to members of the Board of Directors of SEIU Local 503 in Oregon, the local to which we belong.
Unhappy with the pro-corporate/pro-Wall St. bias of the Democratic Party establishment, of which Hillary Clinton is a major player; early on we have been among the many labor activists calling for Sen. Elizabeth Warren to step up and run for President.
We have long been appreciative of the stances taken by Senator Bernie Sanders on labor issues, and on broader economic and social justice issues.  However, when Sanders first announced his candidacy, many of us were unsure that he could mount a credible national campaign and candidacy.  What has happened since has surprised almost everyone.  The issues and values that we hold near and dear are today at the center of national discussion and in the Presidential debate.  For this, we largely have Senator Bernie Sanders to thank.
We list a number of reasons below why, 1) Hillary Clinton is not our candidate, at least not in this primary period, and 2) any primary endorsement should be the result of an exhaustive process of union-wide discussion in which our International provides hard facts to our members on the actual positions and voting records of all the candidates on the issues of critical importance to us. Continue reading

TPP Unveiled

TPP REVEALED: Special bulletin from our colleagues on Pro Trade: The Obama administration has released the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Read it here: http://1.usa.gov/1Pbxeru

The release sets the stage for a divisive fight in Congress next year that will once again pit Barack Obama against the labor movement and most of his fellow Democrats, reports Pro Trade’s Doug Palmer.

Approval of the landmark trade agreement between the United States, Japan and 10 other Asia-Pacific countries would rely heavily on votes from Republicans, in a replay of this year’s battle over trade promotion authority, which allows Obama to submit TPP to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without any amendments.

From Politico’s Morning Report.

Sanders Introduces Major Labor Law Reform

Progressive legislators introduced a law on Tuesday Oct. 6  that would speed up the process for forming labor unions and penalize companies that delay negotiating with newly formed unions — as labor allies in Congress try to preserve some of the gains they have made during President Barack Obama’s second term.

The Workplace Democracy Act, sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, would eliminate the two-stage balloting process for union election, a move that labor advocates say will make it easier for workers to form unions.

Under current law, employees in a given workplace can trigger an election if at least 30 percent of them sign union authorization cards. After those cards are signed, workers must obtain a majority vote in favor of the union in a second process to get the union certified. The Sanders proposal would eliminate the ballot and lead to union certification if a majority of workers sign cards.

“If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country,” Sanders said.

Labor union leaders say that the steady decline of union membership rates over the past four decades is, in part, a product of the cumbersome administrative process for forming a union. They also say they believe the recent strikes by workers who are not part of a union — such as the recent wave of day-long nationwide strikes initiated by fast food workers and other service employees — are a sign that workers are finding it easier to strike than to try to form a union.  Continue reading

European Trade Unionists Oppose Corporate Trade Deals

International Union of Food Workers [IUF]

250,000 demonstrate in Berlin to say ‘No to trade deals that threaten democracy’

Citizens across Europe took to the streets on October 10 to show their opposition to three pernicious trade and investment deals that threaten democracy: TTIP (EU/US), CETA (EU/Canada) and the TISA agreement on services driven by the world’s wealthiest countries.

Demonstrations were held across Europe in a week of action which including delivering a petition signed by three million EU citizens to the European Commission calling on the Commission to reverse its support for the deals and hold a hearing in the European Parliament. The Commission has rejected the petition [1].

Over a quarter-million German and European citizens, trade unionists and civil society organizations marched and rallied in Berlin.
A large delegation from the IUF-affiliated Italian food workers union FLAI-CGIL was among the  international trade unions that travelled to Berlin to show their opposition and solidarity.

The over 1,600 page EU-Canada CETA contains many of the toxic features which have united opponents to the TTIP: investor-to-state lawsuits which allow corporations to bypass national courts and directly sue governments in secret tribunals, opening public procurement and services to transnational investors and locking in privatization, and corporate gains on intellectual property which impact directly on, for example, food and pharmaceuticals. Because Canada does not have the economic weight or political resonance of the US, the wider threat CETA poses has been underappreciated. Virtually every significant US transnational has subsidiaries in Canada which can make use of its provisions. And TNCs based outside Canada and the EU can, under certain circumstances, invoke most favored nation clauses in the global web of trade agreements [2] to demand similar powers vis-à-vis Canada and the EU. CETA needs to be exposed and defeated with the same focus which has united opponents to TTIP and to the now signed but not yet ratified TPP involving the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a group of Pacific nations.

Pacific Trade Agreement a Recipe for Corporate Greed

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has described the 12-country “Trans-Pacific Partnership” (TPP) trade deal announced on 5 October as a recipe for corporate greed. While the final text of the agreement is still not publicly available, leaked texts have given rise to major concerns amongst trade unions and other civil society groups.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “Powerful corporations were given an inside track in the secretive negotiations of the TPP and their influence is clear in the outcome. Yet again, governments have put the interests of finance and big business ahead of ordinary people, with more financial deregulation, longer patents on medicines at the expense of the public, and restrictions on digital freedoms. Corporations will be able to sue governments under the infamous ISDS dispute procedures; there are no direct remedies for workers.”

Negotiators rushed to complete the deal in time for a “yes or no” vote in the US Congress before the presidential election campaign is in full swing next year.

A labour chapter is included in the agreement. Trade unions put forward a comprehensive proposal to make such chapters more effective in guaranteeing workers’ rights and standards. Few ideas were taken up, and none which would have ensured that complaints see their day in court. While companies can directly launch ISDS proceedings to protect their profits, workers have to ask governments to intervene on their behalf. “Labour enforcement of this type has only ever been used once, under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), against Guatemala. That case has already taken seven years, and still there is no final decision or compliance by the government,” said Burrow.

A leaked draft of the environmental chapter contained no enforcement mechanism and failed to take into account the need for action to mitigate climate change.

During the negotiations, the US controversially watered down its criticism of Malaysia in its Trafficking in Persons report, in a move widely seen as a tactic to help push through the TPP deal. While TPP-related labour compliance plans were developed for Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, these will not come into force immediately, with a five-year delay in the case of Vietnam. No such plan was adopted for Mexico, where there are severe violations of ILO standards.

The TPP will constrain public procurement tenders with highly restrictive international rules that put an ill-conceived notion of “competitiveness” above public policy aims such as job creation, environmental protection and human and workers’ rights, when awarding contracts for procurement. Similarly, several governments have granted market access in public services and utilities that will jeopardise the quality of and public access to such services.

The agreement will also constrain governments’ ability to regulate through the establishment of new procedures that aim at harmonising regulation across the twelve countries, with corporations again getting an inside track.

Lofty promises made by governments and business lobbies about job creation and living standards from this type of trade deal are a familiar refrain. Unfortunately, the bold predictions have rarely proven to be true, with powerful multinationals the real beneficiaries,” said Burrow.

[ed. note]  The ITUC is the most inclusive global organization of national centers of labor unions like the AFL-CIO.

Five Union Presidents Oppose TPP Treaty

by Paul Garver


Presidents of the IBT [Teamsters], USW [Steelworkers], UFCW [Food & Commercial Workers], IAM [Machinists] and CWA [Communication Workers] all issued statements today urging continued opposition to the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] treaty. Full statements follow.
Continue reading

Arrests in Atlanta at Stop TPP protests

Daniel just out of 3Photographs by Steve Eberhardt.stop TPP

(APN) ATLANTA  — Protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue in Atlanta, as negotiators from twelve countries work to finalize this latest, controversial proposal for an international free trade agreement.

Advocates from civil society organizations concerned with labor, the environment, health care, food, and other issues are worried about a new, free trade agreement that would further entrench corporate interests.

As of Friday evening, October 02, 2015, four activists have been arrested for civil disobedience including a DSA member.

On Wednesday, September 30, Zahara Heckscher, a breast cancer patient, was arrested for confronting TPP negotiators, while hooked up to an IV.

On Thursday, October 01, Daniel Hanley went down to the floor where negotiations were taking place and handcuffed himself to a railing.  Pictures that have surfaced of his arrest appear particularly brutal.  One of the officers was aggressive and hurt Hanley’s wrist while trying to remove the handcuffs, Hanley said.

Today, Friday, October 02, Nina Roark and an activist who goes by the name, “Scout,” were arrested for putting their bodies in the doorway of the meeting and refusing to leave.

The contents of the TPP are not being made public; however, an earlier version was leaked on WikiLeaks.

“Based on what we know about the TPP, this massive free trade agreement would let corporations unravel hard-won protections for health, working conditions, and the environment,” Nina Dutton, lead TPP organizer with the Sierra Club, said. Continue reading


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