Friday, November 27, 2009

Follow The Money

Legislative Issues From The Building and Construction Trades Department and the AFL-CIO

Today, we are in the midst of an economic crisis that has affected every American. We have felt it at work, in our homes, and in our communities. The burden has fallen disproportionately on middle-class and low-income workers, and it has meant tremendous sacrifice for many hard-working Americans. In the construction industry alone, this economic slowdown has cost more than 800,000 jobs. Even for those who have managed to keep their jobs, wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, and job security, health care and the promise of a secure retirement are vanishing.

From this crisis has emerged an opportunity to put this country back on track. Our futures, our children’s futures and the future of our nation depend on the path that our lawmakers choose to take today. Right now, the U.S. Congress is working on several pieces of legislation that will not only transform the economy, but improve the lives of working Americans for generations to come.

If passed, these measures – which include Clean Energy legislation; the Employee Free Choice Act; and Health Care Reform – would help re-build an economy that works for everybody.

The Clean Energy bill could jumpstart entirely new industries, as well as re-vitalize our American manufacturing base. In the process, it would create hundreds of thousands of new well-paying jobs and bolster communities – both urban and rural – all across America.

The Employee Free Choice Act would put the power to choose a union and bargain for a better life back in the hands of workers.

Health care reform would have the effect of improving the affordability, availability and quality of health care for all Americans, while also leveling the playing field for responsible employers who currently provide health care coverage for their workers (and which, in many cases – such as unionized construction contractors – places them at a competitive disadvantage with their non-union counterparts).

Each of these bills, however, has been met with staunch opposition from Republicans and big business groups who want to preserve the status quo, in which our economy works for the benefit of the few…at the expense of the many. Simply put, the preservation of the status quo will have devastating effects on America’s future.

This is all driven by money. It is very easy to understand - those that have it - don't want to see you have it - because it may mean less for them. When you see or hear or read articles against these bills - it is not the working class or poor who are paying for that message to be broadcasted or put in print - it is those who have the money already who are paying to sway your mind.

Like they always say - follow the money.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Little National Labor Relations Board Insight

Over the past few years, if I was a lawyer advising a new employer on federal employment laws, I would tell them not to worry about violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). When an employer violates any of the three major federal employment laws covering minimum wage, discrimination, or safety, they must at least pay fines or damages. Yet, there are many times when no penalties are assessed on employers who commit unfair labor practices under the NLRA.

Of course, it hasn't helped that the board has been three members shy of a full deck - they normally have 5 members sitting on the board - all through the Bush years, they had two. Two anti- worker members by the way.

Things may start to change now because the board is now fully staffed, balanced and has both business and workers interests represented.

The board is supposed to see to it that employees have their right to organize protected, they can't be fired or discriminated against for attempting to form a union, they can't be rejected for employment because of their union affiliation among other related issues.

Our country needs strong labor unions. Even the people outside of the unions need strong labor unions. Many are too ignorant or too brainwashed against the unions to understand that, but it is true.

In a country where money controls everything, we need a strong National Labor Relations Board that will be fair, efficient and protect the peoples rights. We also need to know that there are penalities for those that ignore those rights. Let's face it, if you are a rich business owner I don't think that a $400.00 fine for violating a workers rights is going to effect you that much.

Soon we will begin to see some decisions come out of the Board that will set the stage for the next 100 years of labor law. Let's hope that they rule fairly and with the people of this country in mind.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Message from Uncle Sam

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Harp & Whistle Employees Fight Back

The Harp & Whistle, a bar and restaurant in Newburgh is a popular place for many to gather on Fridays after work and to have dinner every once in awhile. People who went there became close with those who worked there as waitresses, waiters and barmaids. Well, the place was sold and the new owners were taking over last week. Problem was - as is usual in the business world - nobody let the employees know anything.

They found out that after showing up for work one day last week that they didn't have jobs. One woman already began working her shift and the new owner told her to leave - she didn't work there anymore. She was also told not to bother to come back and apply for a job. In fact, all of the longtime employees were told that.

Funny how when they went to the newspaper and said they were going to - oh my, yes - PICKET the place - things began to change. Imagine that NON UNION WORKERS PICKETING and standing up for their rights.

The day after that hit the paper the new owner contacted all of the workers and explained that they all misunderstood. They could have their jobs back. They didn't have to reapply or anything.

Reminds me of the Godfather movie a little - the rent stays the same.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mayor Sottile - That's A Lot Of Garbage

Hey, what's that smell? Oh, it's Mayor Sottiles new garbage program. He used to have the crew start early and haul ass along with the garbage. Then politics got involved. Retaliation got involved. He was going to fix those CSEA union guys - no more stint work.

By the way, the union gave up stint work years ago - the Mayor kept using it. The idea was to get those trucks OFF the streets and out of everybodys way. However, it also became a convenient way to make believe that it was now somehow the union taking advantage of the taxpayers. That was political bullshit in a political season.

It is not about him running for office this time. It's about making himself look like he is doing something for the taxpayers - when he is really not.

Now the Mayor claims he has received at least 50 complaints this week about garbage not being picked up as it used to be.

We bet a few of those compalints were, "Hey, I'm stuck behind these dam trucks that were never in the way before!"

So he runs to the paper, tells us when he was born - which was at night - which also explains why he is so in the dark on everything - and bashes the union. He, along with his anti-union sidekick Barney Fife aka Robert Senor. Who by the way, is a staunchly non union mumbling windbag anyway.

“I will not tolerate” the continued delays in pickups said the Mayor. Nice sound bite. What he needs to also say is he will stop his supervisors from cramming extra rules down the workers throats. Can't drive over 10 mph or you will be suspended. Hurry up and drive 10 mph doesn't seem to go right - does it? And if I catch you driving 11 mph you can go home for 30 days. Hmmmmm, that would slow me down in this economy too.

Bart Robins, president of the Kingston unit of the Civil Service Employees Association, said he is aware of the delays in trash pickup but said they are unavoidable and that this is just a poorly thought out plan. This is not by any means a calculated effort on the part of the union to slow down the process.

Anyone with a little common sense can clearly see that starting later in the morning - which means less time to get to the transfer station - and getting threatened with suspension for going over 10 mph are two issues that are surely adding to the problem at hand.

A real Mayor would get his City of Kingston provided boots on and ride those trucks to see what was going on.

This is the exact situation he claimed he needed the CITY TAXPAYERS to buy WORKBOOTS for him and the other office girls inside of City Hall.

Let's go Jimmy - grab your friend Barney and hit the back of the truck - then come back and tell us what's wrong and how easy it is. Remember, 10 mph or you go home for 30 days. No cheatin now.

Maybe Paul Kirby can follow you both and do a story on it for us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Think It's Real This Time?

If you read the papers today or watched the news they are talking about the Casinos again in Sullivan County. In a nutshell, there is a movement to get the Federal Government to approve off reservation casinos on an individual basis. Across the country, there are politicians who want them and there are politicians who don't.

The problem is any decision in the past had to cover all of the possible locations in the whole country. So it never could pass. Changing that to approve them on an individual basis is a smarter way to look at it. Some places could actually be improved with the addition of casinos.

Can anyone deny that we need the jobs now? If it is crime that people are worried about - I think we kind of have that already, don't we? Most of it is probably because of the lack of jobs. The rest of it is because of a lack of "brung up". That slang phrase - if you never heard it before - means a lack of morals because no one taught you any better.

Let's give the casino approach a try. They have talking about them for the Catskills since the seventies and Sullivan County has been on the downslide since the seventies.

It's time to try something new. - Let's create a job for a change of pace.