Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ulster County: We Insist On Low Wages For Our Residents!

The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency has suspended a requirement that construction workers be paid prevailing wages in order for a developer to receive tax benefits.

Michael Berardi, chairman of the IDA’s board of directors, said the six-member body voted unanimously last week to suspend the wage rule for one year.

For at least a year now the IDA board has tried their hardest to undermine their own policy and it has finally come to a head. The policy became a cheap excuse for the boards lack of success at attracting businesses to the county.

There are speculators that say some members on the IDA board purposely told half hearted developers to complain about the policy and feign reluctance to proceed because they would "have" to pay decent wages to construction workers.

That doesn't seem so far fetched considering all of the crying from Colony Liquors last year and the fact that they are building with prevailing wages in their new location in Greene County. Not to mention that prevailing wages actually fit into their budget here.

There is also a rumour that some on the board have kept a couple of developer pals in the wings so that after they finally killed the policy - they might look smart for once when these poor, needy developers step up. One of them owns half of Ulster and Orange County. He really needs the money.

I wonder if they made a new policy that said construction workers should be paid in food stamps if that would be more in line with their thinking?

Using their logic, the County whose people make the lowest wages are the biggest winners!

IDA board member Jennifer Fuentes, who supports decent wages, said she favored suspending the wage policy for a year because she believes it has nothing to do with the lack of developers seeking agency assistance and that the suspension will prove that.

Fuentes says that opponents have said repeatedly that the wage policy hampered development, and “now they have a year to prove that business will be pounding down the doors of Ulster County now that we have no standards.”

IDA board member David O’Halloran said the wage policy has been a roadblock to developers and that suspending it will send an encouraging signal to companies looking to build in Ulster County. Dave is obviously is against people in Ulster making decent wages. What a guy! Wonder where Dave works.

“We need to remove every possible barrier to allow business to grow, expand or relocate to Ulster County,” O’Halloran said. “We need to roll out the welcome mat.”

Sam Fratto, assistant business manager for Local 363 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said the IDA board should not have suspended the policy and never really gave it a chance.

“This (agency) was created to enhance the economic well being of residents in the area,” Fratto said. “It wasn’t made as a form of corporate welfare, which it has become.”

Rally the troops.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

IBM Cuts 800 Jobs in Hudson Valley


About 700 IBM employees in East Fishkill and 100 in Poughkeepsie lost their jobs this week, according to former employees and more layoffs are still expected. Sources said 85 percent of those let go Tuesday are 40 or older.

Just one week ago, IBM announced breathtaking profits and earnings. Fourth-quarter income from continuing operations was $4.4 billion compared with $4.0 billion one year earlier, an increase of 12 percent. This included: record revenue of $103.6 billion; record pre-tax profit of $16.7 billion; record earnings per share of $8.93;record free cash flow of $14.3 billion, up $1.9 billion, excluding Global Financing receivables.

“A strong fourth quarter capped an outstanding year,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. “In 2008 IBM performed well in an extremely difficult economic environment.”

Another IBM worker said last week that while IBM shows stunning profits, "none of that money trickles down to the employees."

The feeling among many employees is that IBM is not the company it once was when it comes to caring for their employees.

A worker said that on Tuesday at approximately 9 a.m., a supervisor announced "the layoff has begun." "She had a list, and she said she stopped counting at 350 people, because it's just too much," that employee said. "She said there's plenty more."

This comes after weeks of rumours and denials by big bosses at IBM. When asked recently if there were any layoffs coming, IBM spokesmen repeatedly said that the company will not comment on rumors or speculation. That's fine, but this was neither - it was fact.
Lee Conrad, national coordinator for Alliance@IBM, an IBM employee group trying to organize a union for IBM employees,said that the job cuts came only days before Feb. 1, 2009.

Coincidentally, that is when a new state law, the New York WARN Act, goes into effect requiring employers to notify workers 90 days in advance of losing their jobs. "They're sidestepping that."

Longtime employees losing jobs, short term employees not, crying, confusion, secrecy, denial,strategically avoiding the law.

IBM gave their employees many benefits over the years. But there was one benefit that they would not agree to give them, the forbidden fruit......and in the end, it was what they needed most.

A contract.

A contract would have addressed layoffs, how they were announced and how they would be administered.

With this type of treatment to look forward to, you may see IBM employees begin to realize that their only way to gain respect and a voice is to form a union.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Labor History: The Song Remains The Same

This particular event occurred 41 years ago. It is really amazing that even with all of the time that has passed - the struggle of workers to form unions, to be recognized, to make a fair wage and to be treated with dignity - continues on today.

No one GIVES the working man and woman anything, they must gain and earn every right by speaking out and up for those rights that they desire. NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

All of the unpleasant parts, for people on both sides, could have been then and can be now - avoided - if both sides would respect the other and work together.

It is a suprise to some people that when Martin Luther King was shot, he was in town to support the sanitation workers in Memphis.

The Employee Free Choice Act will make situations like this one and thousands of others cease to exist. Those Sanatation workers should have had their union long before they got it. Denying American workers the right to organize was and still is just wrong.

Pass the Employee Free Choice Act

Live Better: Join The Union

With times as tough as they are now, there is no better time to look into joining a union. No matter what your profession.
Working with STRUCTURE and A CONTRACT is always the right choice.
Give yourself and your family the protection you need - get it all in writing - and do that along with ALL OF YOUR FELLOW WORKERS.

Don't listen to people who talk against the concept of Americans banding together - especially at their workplace. They ALWAYS have ulterior motives that are not in your best interest.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Peoples President Speaks About The Employee Free Choice Act

Here is the first President in a long time that hasn't had an ax to grind with his own middle class people. He is the type of President who will ENHANCE the way the working people are treated in this country.

He thinks that workers are better off when they organize into a union. And like he says himself, he is a President that "isn't afraid to say the word union."

The last President wasn't afraid to say the word union either- it's just the fact that whenever he did say something - IT WAS AGAINST UNIONS AND THE PEOPLE IN THEM.

Some Sean Hannity-esque detractors question the great excitement and enthusiasm that is overtly evident out in the general public. It puzzles them. They even mock it.

The reasons for all of the excitement are varied but they have one very important and common component: they each relate to his genuine concern with something that the American people need addressed. That is the change if you haven't caught on yet - he cares about us, the Americans.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hey You.........

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama Inaugural Speech

Finally, a President for the people.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Labor Movement and The Civil Rights Movement

A labor law professor that I once had pointed out the vast similarities of the labor movement and the civil rights movement. Both exist for the good of the people. Both go through struggle to advance. Both meet with resistance. Both must remain non-violent. Both are ridiculed. Both work against great odds. Both gain strength by unifying and organizing. Both are treated unfairly. Both must do their work in public, and involve the public. Both have enemies who, no matter what, will always be enemies. But both also have the power of the people. And both have the ability to facilitate change.

Then he showed us this speech.
How many people do you know that could do what Martin Luther King did?
You have the utmost respect for him. He educated and organized the masses of people into one, speaking with one voice.

And he changed the world.

In unity, there is strength.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This Happens More Than You Would Ever Believe! (Among Other Bad Things)

There are many people that work in environments like this one. Sometimes in order for that to change,it takes just one person to finally say, "That's enough!" but most will agree it is very chancy to do that.

Even with all of the "protective" laws we have in 2009, if a situation was unsafe or unfair, it is still very chancy to speak out in a non-union workplace. And that is a fact.

Some will say, "well, that person can leave! He doesn't have to work there." That is a true statement - but another true statement is that if a person wants to work there - and is willing to work hard for their money - then they deserve a safe and fair place to work, just like the employer deserves their hard work.

If that's wrong, I'm on the other team.

We need the Employee Free Choice Act to be passed so that workers can more freely organize themselves into unions. Some think of that as threatening or disloyal. It is a mistake to think that. Another mistake is thinking that when the people speak as a group in a union it's automatically adversarial. When both sides are fair- everybody wins.

If that's wrong, I'm on the other team.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Remember When? Get Ready - Change Is Coming

Change is coming. President Elect Obama has a tremendous task ahead of him to lead this country out of the recession/depression we are in. He keeps the well being of all of our American citizens as his first priority- with a special place in his heart for the middleclass working people. Thank God for that fact because nobody else has in a long time. (About 8 years)

Fixing this country and the mess it is in will take time,
remember - Fred and Barney didn't change overnight.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Union Construction Trades

If you are a person who wants to learn a trade and earn a middleclass living, you need to check out the Local Union Construction Trades. If you are a person who is working in the trades now but are not working in the union, you need to check out the Local Union Construction Trades. The training cannot be matched anywhere. The training is paid for by the union and the union contractors. You will be taught not only how something works but why it works. Every worker that completes the Union Apprenticeship classes is a potential Foreman or even General Foreman.

The Union Trades do a lot of good things for their community too.
Senior citizens groups, countless charities, little leagues, libraries, churches, hospitals and those faced with difficult times all know who to call in their time of need. When they call the trades, they know they will get help.

Find out how you can join the Trades and be part of the union movement.
Our proudest moments are when we are supporting our community and the people who work within it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

House Passes Two Major Working Family Bills: Fair Pay Act, Paycheck Fairness Act

House Passes Two Major Working Family Bills: Fair Pay Act, Paycheck Fairness Act

by Mike Hall, AFL_CIO NEWS Jan 9, 2009

Lilly Ledbetter says she knows she’ll never recover the hundreds of thousands of dollars she lost from her paychecks because of nearly 20 years of pay discrimination. But today the U.S. House of Representatives, with a big push by Ledbetter’s refusal to go quietly away, took the first step to make sure millions of other women don’t suffer the same fate.

By a vote of 247-171, the House passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Act (H.R. 11) overturning the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that denied Ledbetter—and any worker who suffers pay discrimination—justice. Then shortly after, lawmakers added some new teeth to equal pay laws and passed the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12) by a 256-163 vote. Both bills now go to the U.S. Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says the two bills are

Not only important to the women of this country. They are very important to the economic security of this the country. That’s why we are taking them up in the first week of Congress.

During a conference call with reporters yesterday, Ledbetter said:

I’m a living example of the fact that pay discrimination is a pervasive problem in workplace today….My case is just the tip of the iceberg. My case is over and I will never receive any pay. But Congress has the power to ensure what happened to me won’t happen to anyone else.

After years of working at an Alabama Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant, Ledbetter discovered she was being paid less than the lowest-paid man doing the same work. She gathered enough evidence to file suit, and a jury awarded her $3.8 million. But Goodyear appealed to the Supreme Court.

But in May 2007, the Supreme Court squelched the award and ruled Ledbetter—and other workers—has no right to sue for a remedy in cases of pay discrimination if she—or any worker—waits more than 180 days after her first paycheck, even if she didn’t discover the pay discrimination until years later.

Following the court’s ruling, hundreds of pay discrimination cases have been thrown out based on the 5-4 decision that basically overturned decades of precedent that considered each paycheck a discriminatory act, thus allowing workers who don’t discover the discrimination for years to seek legal remedies.

Marcia Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) says the Ledbetter bill

is a matter of economic justice and a matter of economic urgency for women and the families they support. More than 300 cases…were lost because of the court’s ruling. How many more were told by their lawyers, “It’s too bad. You’re too late.” We can’t wait another day to pass this law.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s (D-Conn.), would provide more effective remedies for women who are not paid equal wages for doing equal work, by adding some teeth to the 1963 Equal Pay Act

Women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Women workers covered by a union contract are guaranteed equal pay. But millions of other working women don’t have that protection and must rely on today’s inadequate fair pay laws.

DeLauro says pay discrimination, coupled with the economic crisis,
has put so many women on the edge financially. The Paycheck Fairness Act makes the 45-year-old Equal Pay Act a more effective tool. It stiffens penalties, protects workers from retaliation and offers concrete solutions to what is a real problem.

Both bills passed the House in the last session, but Senate Republicans blocked a vote in the Senate. Congressional Democrats hope to have both bills ready for President-elect Barack Obama to sign shortly after he takes office. But it is unclear how vigorously Senate Republicans will oppose the bills.

One thing this clear, their friends and donors on the corporate world are “horrified,” screaming about the fair pay bills, reports Art Levine on the Huffington Post. He suggests their reaction to these “two common sense bills” is a preview of the vitriolic and hysterical arguments they will mount against the Employee Free Choice Act.

Anti-labor groups and Republican leaders are sharpening their attack lines, or lies, about these measures and the upcoming Employee Free Choice Act.

We’re not backing down, so this should be a fun year.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Coalition For A Democratic Workplace: EXPOSED AS A FRONT AND FRAUD

Here is another example of naming a group or a law with a name that is exactly the opposite of what it really is or does.

You would think that a group called the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) would be dedicated to promoting the needs and desires of America's workers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, CDW spreads half-truths and lies about the Employee Free Choice Act to wage an ill-conceived assault on the rights and opportunities of millions of men and women across the country.

Here's the real scoop on the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace...

CDW is a front group for business associations, industry lobbying groups, and right-wing policy centers who are against workers getting a fair shake in this economy. Its financial backers include some of the most virulent anti-worker and anti-union organizations in the country, including:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s most powerful business lobbying organization,The Retail Industry Leaders Association, a group whose biggest member is Wal-Mart, the poster child for low wages,The Associated Builders and Contractors, an association of anti-union contractors who fight against workers having unions to improve their wages and safety on the job.

CDW is doing the dirty work for CEOs and corporate special interests. Too ashamed to be fighting publicly against policies that would provide workers with real economic opportunities, these companies instead use their deep pockets and powerful influence to fund CDW’s dishonest PR and lobbying campaign.

The CEOs and multimillion dollar business industry groups backing CDW don’t care about democracy or privacy.

They’re distorting the truth because they want to stop workers from having a better standard of living, access to health care, job security, and the rest of the benefits that accompany union membership.

These same groups oppose everything from paid sick days to fair pay and even the hugely popular Family and Medical Leave Act.

It's unbelievable that business interests would suddenly care about privacy now, when corporations increasingly monitor employees’ every move – including e-mail, phone calls, personal belongings, and even interactions outside of the workplace.

CDW spreads misinformation. Contrary to the lies and distortions displayed in CDW’s new TV ad and on its website, the Employee Free Choice Act does not take secret ballots away from workers.

The legislation instead offers employees an alternative to the current, broken system that is slanted heavily in favor of management against workers.

In fact, the bill would ensure that workers can choose their own union formation process, either through majority sign-up or a National Labor Relations Board election.

You will hear more and more about groups like this one formed as fronts for big business to push lawmakers to deny Americans their rights to organize as the Employee Free Choice Act gets closer to passage. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Unions Help All People And Improve Lives!

If you are in a union, you know that working under a contract,(as every professional person with half a brain insists on doing also), is the absolute smartest move you can make.
No business person does anything with another business person or customer without a contract - stating what will be done and what will be paid for that action.

To work everyday without a contract is a very chancy situation. You are in what is called an "at-will" arrangement and are an "at-will" worker. Sounds logical on the surface. Another one of those cleverly worded political phrases.

At-Will means just that, at will. Your whole career, your pay, your benefits, your hours of work your lifestyle and your life can be changed AT WILL by another person at ANY TIME. No explanation needed. And you have absolutely nothing to say about how any of it is going to work.

With a contract, that same situation requires discussion and reason and fairness.

Who in the heck would want that? Huh?

If you know someone who needs a contract or if you do yourself - make that point on this blog and the first steps will be taken to make that happen.

You can have a union where you work right now and soon, with the Employee Free Choice Act - it will be easier than ever to join or form a union at your workplace.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! : Unions Create "Helmets To Hardhats" Program To Support Our Veterans

"We Support The Troops"
The Union Building Trades across America have created a program to give employment preference to those that served our country in the armed forces. It's called," Helmets To Hardhats".

Today, it is very popular for everyone to say that they "support the troops". It is very easy to agree with that statement and to say that. However, we have not heard of EVEN ONE CORPORATION that has made a concrete commitment to those words in regard to promising any returning vets a job. Not one.

THE BUILDING TRADES UNIONS in America, with the creation of "Helmets To Hardhats", are actually doing something to back up those words.

They are pushing the vets to the front of the line when it comes to having an opportunity to learn a trade and have a career after their military duty is completed.

That is because the unions are the ones that are actually in the "people" business. They care about the welfare of all workers and really believe that our Vets deserve to be rewarded for their service and for protecting this country.

Think about who it was that stepped forward the next time the union bashers come out against Organized Labor. Or when we have local politicians speaking out against the Prevailing Wage Laws for construction workers.
We need more organizations to step up like the Unions do and start supporting the idea that American citizens and workers deserve to have and to be able to maintain a decent standard of living.

If you know a Veteran who wants to get into the Building Trades locally, check out the Hudson Valley Building Trades Council website at You will find a directory of local unions on that site.

So when you see the building trades members out at a site picketing for wage standards or speaking out at public meetings for the creation of local jobs,realize that they are performing a service for all local workers.

....and remember - help us support the Vets by supporting the Local Union Building Trades.