Court Ruling on Labor Board Harms Workers

By RoseAnn DeMoro
NNU Executive Director

When the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Friday to overturn President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, it handed a huge gift to Wall Street, big corporations and the politicians they control.

In health care, the implications are especially insidious. It is a clear assault on the ability of nurses to act collectively to improve safety standards and public protections for patients.

When the labor board is not dominated by corporate-oriented appointees, as it has been most of the past four decades, the game plan of the antiunion crowd is to bar the board from operating, either by refusing to confirm appointees, de-funding it or destabilizing it. That was what prompted these recess appointments, made by President Obama only after the Senate minority blocked confirmation of his nominees needed to restore a quorum on the board to enable it to function. Continue reading

DSA position on the elections of 2012

The November election is about voting to defend Democracy

Democratic Socialists of America logo

Democratic Socialists of America logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a statement [see below] issued by its national political committee, the Democratic Socialists of America calls upon the nation and DSA members to defend democracy by participating in the critical 2012 elections. The statement says, “The Left confronts a Republican Party thoroughly controlled by right-wing forces that are determined to cement a long-term control of the federal government and a majority of the states.”  The statement notes that after the 2010 Congressional elections, “A newly established Republican political control over several Midwestern states turned into a sweeping assault on public sector unions and on the social safety net.”

The statement says “A major weapon of the Radical Right is an unprecedented flood of money from super-wealthy individuals and corporations into the political arena, buying influence and votes on a massive scale.”

Joe Schwartz, chair of DSA’s national political committee, criticizes the Democratic Party for its past tepid response to the Right Wing resurgence saying, “when the country cried out for a vigorous defense against the ravages created by Wall Street greed, Obama’s economic advisors (largely drawn from Wall Street) extended the Bush administration’s bailout of the banks and financial elite without extracting a return in restored, strict financial regulation.” Continue reading

AFL-CIO Executive Board endorses Obama

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 31:  U.S. President Ba...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

March 13. This afternoon, the AFL-CIO’s General Board voted unanimously to endorse President Obama for re-election.

For many reasons, we are pledging to work with President Obama throughout the elections and in a second term. The bottom line is this: As president, Barack Obama has placed his faith in America’s working men and women to lead our country to economic recovery and our full potential. So we’re putting our faith in him.

Please join us in pledging to get to work for working people by supporting President Obama and other working family candidates: [ ].

Although the labor movement has sometimes differed with the president and often pushed his administration to do more–and do it faster–we have never doubted his commitment to a strong future for working families. With our endorsement today, we affirm our faith in the president. We pledge to work with him through the election and his second term to restore fairness, security and shared prosperity. Continue reading

Support unemployed workers


Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

From Wall Street to Main Street to Capitol Hill, we’re taking action for America’s jobless workers this Thursday.  Find an event near you and RSVP to attend a National Day of Mobilization for the Jobless and Jobs action: [ ].

If Congress fails to act by Dec. 31, nearly 2 million job hunters will lose their emergency unemployment aid in January alone. And without action in 2012, that number will rise to 6 million.

Lawmakers need to be reminded that these aren’t statistics–they’re real people, like Mickey from Battle Creek, Mich. He told us his story: “I have worked since I was 15 years old. I’ve been laid off before but never have I had this much trouble finding employment….I have always given my best to my job and have gone the extra mile.…I am BEGGING you to extend unemployment benefits and the payroll tax and act on it soon.”

And Elizabeth from Kamuela, Hawaii, has struggled, in spite of her advanced degree: “Even with credentials as an advanced practice nurse, I went 2 and a half years without full employment. I lost my house, had a bankruptcy and would have starved had it not been for unemployment benefits.”

Stories like these illustrate why we all need to do what it takes to make sure the voices of America’s jobless workers are heard loud and clear. So Thursday, we’ll bring more than 2,000 unemployed workers and clergy to Capitol Hill. As long-term jobless workers and clergy meet with Congress, we’ll be backing them up at local congressional offices and public spaces across America.

Join the fight for emergency unemployment Thursday. Find out where and RSVP to attend now: [ ].

America has never experienced the record stretch of high unemployment and long-term joblessness that plagues our economy today–not since the data were first collected in 1948. And Congress has never cut back on federally funded unemployment insurance when unemployment was anywhere near this high for this long. (1)

It’s time to demand obstructionists in Congress put a stop to the partisan bickering and reauthorize extended unemployment insurance aid–without delays or strings attached.

Tell Congress that inaction is not an option: find an event near you: [ ].

Thanks for all the work you do.

In Solidarity,

Manny Herrmann
Online Mobilization Coordinator, AFL-CIO

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Sheet Metal Workers Opposes Eviction of Peaceful Protestors

Joseph Nigro

The following statement from General President Joseph Nigro of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) is in response to police actions initiated in the dead of night against participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

You cannot evict an idea whose time has come. Our democracy belongs to all of us, not big donors and corporate interests who equate mass amounts of wealth proportionally with the right to free speech.

A movement is emerging to reclaim our nation’s democracy. That is why the protesters’ message and actions have resonated throughout America.  No action by a billionaire politician to silence the ninety nine percent of the America people will ever shut that down.

We urge our current generation of politicians to bear heed to how history has unkindly judged those in the past who have stood in the way of progress.

The Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) represents over 140,000 skilled men and women employed throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico in the construction, manufacturing, service, railroad and shipyard industries.

The SMWIA is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Council of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO  and the Canadian Labor Council.

How politicians can kick the Wall Street habit

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

The pols are in no position to enact any further left-populist reforms — laws that create, say, a financial transaction tax, or that make it easier for employees to form unions — so long as Republicans control the House and have veto power in the Senate. For that matter, the Democrats couldn’t even get those bills enacted when they controlled both houses of Congress. So what, besides affirming their solidarity with the demonstrators, can they do?

Here’s a modest proposal: Refuse all campaign contributions from banks, hedge funds, private equity funds and their partners and employees. From the whole financial sector. Sign a pledge to go off the sauce. Unlike the signatories to Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge, lawmakers wouldn’t be asking voters to trust them once the election is over. They’d be honoring their pledge before the election. And unlike the Groverians, they wouldn’t surrender their powers of judgment and freedom of action once they’re in office. Indeed, their freedom of action would expand because they wouldn’t be indebted to “what is far and away the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties,” as the Center for Responsive Politics, which tallies all federal campaign contributions, characterizes the financial sector. In the 2008 election cycle, those contributions came to a cool $500,863,000.

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Free: I am the 99 % bumper sticker

A Robin Hood (financial speculation) tax on Wall Street and financial institutions was introduced in Congress. It could raise billions to create jobs, lay the groundwork for long-term economic prosperity and help reduce the national debt. Click here to tell your senators to co-sponsor the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act ( ) and we’ll send you a free “I am the 99%” bumper sticker.

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It’s hard to hate these occupiers

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

By the hoary conventions of American politics, Americans should fear and loathe Occupy Wall Street. The occupiers are vaguely countercultural, counterculturally vague. They are noisy. They are radical. They offer no solutions, though they are prey to the damnedest ideas. (Anti-consumerism! Anti-leaderism!) They are an extra-parliamentary menace, mocking the very possibility of liberal reform. They are anarchists or, worse, McGovernites. Some of them appear genuinely nuts. For all these reasons and a hundred more, real Americans should hate their guts.

And yet, they don’t. Despite the best efforts of trained pundits, working feverishly to convince the public that these are not people you’d want running the republic or dropping by for lunch, Americans seem remarkably unperturbed by the menace of Occupy Wall Street. In fact, the majority supports the protesters. According to a National Journal poll, 59 percent of Americans agree with Occupy Wall Street, while 31 percent disagree — a level of support comparable to that found by a Time magazine survey last week. The Post’s Greg Sargent has thoughtfully broken down the data and found that the group that should resent the occupiers most — working-class whites — doesn’t resent them any more than anyone else does. In the National Journal poll, 56 percent of non-college-educated whites back the demonstrators, though the right-wing media continually depict them as trust-fund babies gone wild.

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Labor Joins Occupy Missouri

Hugh Mcvey and Herb Johnson

#OccupySTL - We are the 99 percent, YOU are the 99 percent

What started on Wall Street has spread to nearly 1000 cities and towns in the United States and around the world. This movement is a direct response to the stark income inequality gap between the richest one percent, and the struggling 99 percent of workers. It is time for Wall Street to be held accountable and for politicians to listen to the people who got them elected – and not to the ultra-rich one percent who line their pockets. America wants to work!

Our brothers and sisters were mobilized and energetic on the days of the Occupy marches. Participation was seen by the American Federation of Teachers Local 420, AFGE Local 3354, Missouri National Education Association, SEIU Local 1, Teamsters Local 688 and 682, Communication Workers of America Local 6300, LIUNA (Laborers) Local 110, 660, 840, 42 and 44, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, UAW Local 2250, 1760, 1887, and 282, UFCW Local 655 and 88, United Steelworkers Local 50, Pipefitters Local 562, Insulators International (AWIU), AFSCME, Bricklayers Local 1, St Louis Building and Construction Trades, Operating Engineers Local 148, Ironworkers 148, IBEW Local 1 and 124, Fire Fighters Association of Missouri, Machinists Union District 9, American Postal Workers Union District DAL, IUAW, among others.

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How the Times Have Changed, Part 386

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

On Wednesday afternoon, within a few minutes of one another, many of America’s leading unions — the Service Employees, the Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers — not to mention labor’s omnibus federation, the AFL-CIO — all released endorsements of Occupy Wall Street and its ongoing demonstrations in New York’s (and the world’s) financial center. Nothing surprising here — other individual unions and numerous local unions had already released statements of support for OSW, and the AFL-CIO itself has held several demonstrations on Wall Street since the financial collapse of 2008.

But for geezers like me, who came out of the student left of the ’60s that found itself in various pitched battles with organized labor, the difference between then and now couldn’t be greater. To review the bidding for a moment, the AFL-CIO under the leadership of George Meany (and later, Lane Kirkland), while an indispensable champion of most domestic progressive legislation, was an ardent supporter of Cold War policies in general and the Vietnam War in particular. Despite some faltering efforts in the early and mid-’60s to keep the Old and New Lefts from splitting, that’s exactly what they did. And it wasn’t just the radicals of the New Left who viewed labor with disdain and contempt; it was also the New Politics liberals who rallied around the anti-war presidential candidacies of Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. (The ’70s sitcom “All in the Family” rather faithfully captured the upper-middle class liberals’ disdain for white male blue-collar workers, and that disdain certainly extended to their unions.)
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