Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year To Everyone!

Happy New Year to the hard working people who make up the shrinking middle class.

Happy New Year to the hard working employers too, the ones who treat their employees fairly.

Happy New Year to all of the people who support labor and understand the vital need for American labor to be organized.

We need to set the standards in the world. We ended 2010 down at number FIVE - not good.

Have a safe and prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Congratulations To Employees Of Deb-El On Settling Their First Union Contract

The employees of Deb-El, a Sullivan County company that manufactures and processes egg products have unanimously votes yes for a union contract. The 57 employees of the Thompsonville company had to fight a long battle to get that contract because management of Deb-El foods, Inc. did not want them to become unionized.

Workers finally have clear, written rules to follow in regard to their employment with the company.

Prior to having a contract, rules were a one way street - without a contract, an employer can make and change any rule or procedure at will and at any time - without any regard to how it affects the employees. This is very frustrating to workers who have things changed on the fly that can adversely affect them and their families without so much as a discussion.

The contract, approved this week by a unanimous vote of the workers, is a five year pact.

Represented by Local 342 of the United Food and Commercial Workers,the workers have benefits they never had before, said union spokeswoman Kate Meckler.

“It provides for guaranteed wage increases over the course of the contract. It provides for benefits they never had before like real vacation pay and real time off,” she said. They also have access to union funds and access to the 401K and annuity plan, which they never had before, Meckler said.

Congratulations to the Deb-El workers! Now show the company that there was really no need to fight it and prove how a unionized plant can be an advantage for both the workers and the company.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Powerful Speech - Open Your Ears And Your Mind To The Truth

This is a powerful speech that can just stand on its own. This is the 800 pound gorilla in the country. All of this goes on while they have us enthralled with reality shows and Snookie.

It's more like Snookered.

Pass this around for people to see because it is something we never hear or get breaking news on......the truth.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Cut List Starts At The End Of The Line

Whether you are working or not - you know the economy is a mess. You know jobs are hard to come by. You know there is and has been for a long time, terribly high unemployment.

Congress is debating whether to extend emergency unemployment checks for more than 6 million Americans who are approaching the 99-week limit, some four million others are facing the certain end of their benefits over the next year.

The President's Council of Economic Advisers said "the exhaustion of unemployment benefits for so many will curb spending power enough to significantly impede an already weak economic recovery."

The typical household would see their income fall by a third should they lose their checks, according to the report. For the sole breadwinner, income would fall by 90 percent.

Multiply that number by 4 million and climbing for those who would have nothing. That is not a good situation for anyone.

Say what you want about lazy people and pulling yourself up - easy for you to say if you are one of the employed. The fact is that there are not 4 million jobs for those curently unemployed and we all know it's getting worse.

These are not the people you fear that DO NOT WORK. These are people that are very unfortunately BETWEEN WORK that are the subjects here. This is not about LAZY.

And here is a news flash: If they keep letting companies go offshore, taking our jobs with them and coming back here to sell it all back to us at nice high inflated American prices - the job mess will continue....and it will infect and affect everybody - working or not.

To think of letting our countrys people whither away and at the same time give out financial support to other coutries and THEIR people is mindboggling.

If we really can't afford to take care of someone - shouldn't AMERICANS be the last on the cut list?

The unemployment benefits need to be there for these Amercican Workers who are STUCK BETWEEN jobs.

The cut list starts on the other end of the line.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Poll: Majority of Americans Say Health Care Law Should Stand or be Expanded

Fifty-one percent of registered voters say that Congress should let the new health care reform law continue as is or change it so that it does more, according to a McClatchy/Marist Institute poll conducted Nov. 11-15. Thirty-three percent want to repeal it completely, 11 percent want it changed so that it is less sweeping and 5 percent are undecided.

Among those who support the legislation, 16 percent are in the "let it stand" camp while 35 percent believe it should be changed to do more.

You wouldn't think that was the case by reading the papers, watching TV or listening to the radio - they made it seem that everybody thought it was a bad idea.

I often wondered, what part of the law don't the middleclass people like?

Is it that insurance companies cannot drop you or refuse you coverage for pre-existing illnesses? Do they not like that?

Is it that now your insurance covers your children up to the age of 26 if they do not have access to insurance?

Or do the middleclass people not like that their lifetime medical expenses CANNOT have a cap or maximum anymore?

The Republican congressional leadership included a vow to repeal health care in its pre-election "Pledge to America".

Many GOP candidates ran on a promise to work towards scrapping what they dubbed "Obamacare."
Read between the lines folks - it's POLITICAL.

That is in the Pledge To America???

No matter what party is in they all pull the same tricks - give a catchy "nice sounding" name to a bill or law that actually screws the middleclass people.

When they do that, a large number of those same middleclass people trust it by the name it's called and end up supporting it. Nice trick that works over and over.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Former Anheuser Busch Workers, Now Known As ABINBEV Vote YES To Join IBEW Local 363

The workers at the ABINBEV Metal Container Corporation in Newburgh have chosen IBEW Local 363 to represent them in collective bargaining.

The workers at the ABINBEV Metal Container Corporation have chosen IBEW Local 363 to represent them in collective bargaining in an election that was held on Friday August 27 and Saturday August 28 by the National Labor Relations Board.

These workers manufacture the cans for Budweiser Beer and other beverage companies affiliated with the company which is now called ABINBEV after the sale of the Anheuser Busch Company to INBEV - a Belgium owned company.

This campaign started approximately 6 months ago and there was a tremendous amount of work put into this effort by countless workers at the plant and by IBEW Local

A group of workers came to IBEW Local 363 in early February and spoke about how much they were losing with the new foriegn owned company. Soon after and through much effort, Local 363 began to increase the number of employees involved and held numerous small meetings with the workers on each shift.

Through their own efforts, the workers themselves brought more than double the amount of authorization cards required by law to file for the election to the union.

At that time, Senior Assistant Business Manager Sam Fratto became involved and suggested that they try a new way to organize the workers throughout the process – by using the electronic media and creating a blog that all of the workers could have access to 24 hours a day. The theory was that the blog would equalize the captive audience meetings and the fact that physical access to the workers was limited. It worked great and is still being used today in this next part of the election / negotiation process. The blog address is

On Saturday night, August 28 the majority of workers chose to have IBEW Local 363 as their collective bargaining agent.

There was much pressure applied by the company and many veiled threats were levied at the people. This is a solid group of workers who are very proud to become members of the IBEW and especially of Local 363 and they held strong. After the election there were workers who voted no calling the union everyday stating that they would be supporting the union and that they were sorry they voted no because of immense pressure from the company.

They understand the power associated with having a written contract to work under. With the sale of AB, the workers knew they had to take steps of their own to protect themselves and they contacted Local 363 to make that happen. They picked the right union to do that!

There are now 164 NEW IBEW 363 union members in the Hudson Valley because of their courage and effort to band together to join the union and to speak with one voice.

Hopefully, more workers in the Hudson Valley will see that there is a choice available when it seems that everything is being taken from them - call in the IBEW or any other union in the area. Organize.

Now the ABINBEV workers have a voice at the table with the multi-billion dollar company from Belgium that owns the former AB Budweiser Brand.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day To All Union Members And Their Families!

Happy Labor Day to all union members and their families. Here is a short Labor History lesson for your use:

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day Warm Up - Here's To The Workers

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Schools In: Warming Up For labor Day

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kingston Nurses Looking To Unionize

The Registered Nurses at Kingston Hospital want union representation!

They have asked the New York State Nurses Association to file a petition for election with the National Labor Relations Board. The union also represents RNs at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie.

The Nurses Association represents the registered nurses at Benedictine Hospital. They have helped the nurses with such issues as health care benefits, binding arbitration to resolve grievances, and negotiated layoff and seniority provisions.

Union elections are up in the area with union wins increasing at a rapid pace.

In this time of uncertainty, workers are beginning to realiize that without a written contract, nothing "they have" with the employer has any legal standing. To ensure that workers keep what they have they can seek out union representation and negotiate for a written contract in their workplace.

Good luck Kingston Hospital Registered Nurses!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

There's Organizing Going On In The Hudson Valley

Contractors and manufacturing employees are contacting union offices more than they have in a decade. With job security at such a low point people are not as concerned as they were about attempting to form a union. And with no job security to offer on the other end, the contractors are looking for a ready made workforce that can be ready at the drop of a hat and that they can discard just as fast.

Even though many companies do not want their workforce to have a union, it gives the workers power, there is nothing wrong or illegal about wanting a union or joining a union. In fact, it is an American right that is guaranteed by Federal Law. Did you know that the policy of the United States has written into it that the policy of the United States of America is to ENCOURAGE collective bargaining?
There are more than a couple of major organizing campaigns going on in the Hudson Valley this summer.. The union involved doesn't want to go public but said that we can mention to the people that there is movement in the movement. I hear there are more to come. That is good news. People are much better off working under a contract than without. Fair contracts work, Fair to both parties. Then it always will work and you can work together as partners.

When we can we will give some more info. It will have to go public soon just by word of mouth.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July To All American Workers

Happy Fourth of July to everyone who works for a living, union or non union. We live in the greatest country in the world where we can say what we wish and do whatever we want to do.

We have rights in this country that do not exist in most countries. We should cherish those rights and exercise them as we feel the need.

No American should ever be be intimidated or threatened in retaliation for defending those rights.

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sottile: Contract Law Be Damned

Mayor James Sottile has made a deal to have a private hauler pick up recyclables at the curb for 700 homes free of charge in a test run aimed at privatizing the service in the city.

The Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing the majority of city workers opposes the mayor’s plan.

County Waste & Recycling Service of Clifton Park will begin on Aug. 1.

At present, city residents must put out recyclables in separate containers AND THE CITY WORKERS PICK IT ALL UP UNDER THEIR CONTRACT.

Sottile said city workers freed up from collecting recyclables would be able to do other jobs, like collecting yard waste at the curb. He also said the city would use less fuel, and cut its truck maintenance costs.

The mayor said no employees would be laid off as a result of the move.

Troy Ashdown, a shop steward for the Civil Service Employees Association, promises that the union will file a grievance over the matter.

Under its contract with the union, Ashdown said, the city is not allowed to use other workers to do jobs that had been performed by employees who had been laid off in the Department of Public Works, unless the laid-off workers are paid.

“You can’t downsize your workforce and then privatize it or bring in cheap labor without benefits,” said Ashdown, who added that the provisions are spelled out in a contract agreed to by Sottile and the Common Council.

“The CSEA doesn’t run the day-to-day operations of the city, the administration does,” was Sottiles response.

Contract Law will decide this issue. Even a non-expert can agree that when you are a party to a contract - you cannot unilaterally change it - it doesn't work that way.

Alderman Charles Landi, D-Ward 3, said of Civil Service Employees Union “What goes around comes around,” and “This could be the tip of the privatization iceberg.”

Ashdown responded by saying the union is looking forward “to seeing Mr. Landi in court.”

The City of Kingston should either fire their attorney who is giving this mayor contract administration advice or spend the money to send Sottile to a class on contract law himself because this one is a loser for the mayor and his fellow anti-union blowhard and big mouth, Landi.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Contractors Caught Paying Off The Books And Deducting No Taxes On Job Built Using NYS Money

Remember when the local construction unions were told that their contractors were NOT competitive enough with their bids to build the new Orange Regional Medical Center hospital?

Well, well, look at this one.

No wonder why legitimate union contractors prices were rejected as being too "HIGH".

The New York State Department of Labor has heavily fined THREE NON-UNION CONTRACTORS at the Orange Regional Medical Center for paying workers off the books, not paying them overtime and illegally deducting money from their paychecks.

Not to mention they brought in Out of State Workers to do it.

The Department of Labor announced Wednesday that it fined the three companies a total of $265,207. The workers were robbed of $118,000 in wages and illegal deductions from what little pay they did get.

It all seems pretty clear now who were the good guys, who were the bad guys in the construction of this hospital.

The ones working and building the hospital didn't pay their taxes on their pay and yet the unemployed locals paid the tax on their unemployment checks.

Thanks Orange Regional Medical Hospital for all you have done to and for our local LEGITIMATE CONTRACTORS AND WORKERS.

And thanks for showing the entire Hudson Valley and the union workers why you cannot believe the spin put on the "sin" of making a prevailing wage or that it is bad for business.

We will forever use the Orange Regional Medical Center as an example of how many contractors in the construction business submit that "lowest bid".

Thank you Thank you Thank you

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Where's The Beef?

Speaking of jobs - how many economic development people do we have employed in the public sector in the Hudson Valley?

Remember how hard some of them fought the local construction workers when they begged for local jobs for local people? We do!

Or what about how hard some of them fought against even bringing up the subject of a liveable wage for local people in the jobs that could be created?

Don't get lulled to sleep because that has not changed.

Everybody talks jobs jobs jobs. All the big shots want their name in the paper for the announcement - but when it comes to actually discussing the kind of jobs or an actual number - forget it !

They can't be more clear with their motto on that-

"Don't ask and don't tell"

Here is a hint to all - That is no longer going to be acceptable.

So for starters, drop the cocktails, fingerfoods and drinks and give us the "solar details".

Sunday, June 6, 2010

JOBS JOBs JObs Jobs jobs

There has been much written, many discussions had and many press conferences called in regard to our goal to make Ulster County the hot bed of the Solar Industry on the East Coast.

There is a solid effort being put forth to make that happen by the solar groups and every politician in our area. That is a great move and one that should be supported.

The goal is to create jobs. Good jobs. Putting people to work. Taking people who are unemployed and who have been displaced and involving them in a new and exciting career. One in which they can support a family.

There have been multi- millions of dollars of taxpayer provided funds and grants that have been pumped into this effort. The amount of press conferences held announcing the next grant to the next business coming in or given again to those who are in line a second time are staggering. The unemployed person who reads of these events in the paper gets some life and hope pumped into their viens that maybe things will really improve around here.

But there is a component missing in the equation - tell us about those jobs. Give us the real information on what those millions are bringing in besides headlines. Why do we NEVER read that part?

Solar/ Green jobs are always touted as the new "high paying" jobs.If that is even partly true it would definitely be an improvement for the area.

How many people have a job because of this effort? How many new hires are there? What is the starting pay? Are there health plans and retirement plans?

Some might feel that this is wrong to ask - but it is not. Too many times in the past we in the Hudson Valley have heard the great, high paying jobs story only to find out they were paying $9-10 dollars an hour with no benefits.

Let's make the solar industry a benefit for everyone - the owners and the workers.

Show us the details.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remember Our American Veterans On Memorial Day

This weekend, take a few minutes to remember the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our rights and our freedom. Remember, it is the veteran who stood up to those who want to take those freedoms away.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ulster Solar Jobs - The Unasked and Unanswered Question

It is great to see that the Tech City Solar jobs look like they are starting to come to fruition. The Good Lord knows that our local people need jobs very badly.

We have been following the various articles in the paper and so many of our elected officials are squeezing into the picture eager to announce the "hundreds" of jobs that will be created. We also noticed and appreciate the multi-million dollar grants and government payouts that are making these jobs possible.

That all makes great news, the governmental assistance is welcome and neccessary to stimulate the industry..............

With all of that said - we have yet to hear what kind of jobs these will really be. Will they have hourly wages that will help someone maintain a middleclass lifestyle? Will they pay enough to buy a house in Ulster County? Will they have a health plan that covers the employee? What about family coverage? Is there any chance of having something put away for a retirement or pension plan?

The sad part is that the great majority of our "leaders" will shudder at the prospect of someone asking that question.

Just once it would be nice for someone who is considered a "leader" - someone who is in place to help the residents - someone who feels that just creating "jobs" is not really good enough unless they are "good paying jobs" - to ask the "hard" questions.

The sad fact is that is a subject that you are just not supposed to speak of or ask questions about. To do so would make you an ingrate - or someone who is "crossing the line" - a jerk who is looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Want proof of that??? When was the last time you heard any of our "leaders" ask about it? We believe the answer to that is.....never.

So consider the question asked - can someone explain to the community - what kind of jobs are our millions creating?? And please don't give the generic, fluff-off answer - be specific.

Please - don't take this wrong - we hope these are great paying jobs with great benefits. If they ARE, they are worth every penny of investment and MORE.

But can somebody answer the question, "What kind of jobs are we really creating and what are the particulars concerning the COMPENSATION FOR THE WORKERS THERE?

We believe that in order for those jobs to REALLY BE good paying jobs with good benefits - they need to be covered under a collective bargaining agreement and the people should be represented by a union from the area.

The good news is that inroads are being made to ensure Ulster residents get something worthy of their investment and "good" jobs are not just an afterthought in the process.

Hey........somebody's gotta do it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Public Lawyers, Supervisors and Managers Get Union Contract

Forty mid-level managers working for Ulster County have ratified their first-ever union contract. This should be a shining example to all other workers that banding together to bargain for workplace rules and compensation is a smart thing to do. Ulster Legislators should be approving the new contract this month.

The Ulster County Staff Association – a group that includes social-services lawyers, nursing managers and probation supervisors – had been fighting for a contract since 2005.

How could that be the case? That is an extra long time to bargain. Maybe someone from that association could explain who held it up so long and why.

As always, negotiations for contracts are a two way street. The new agreement, which runs through 2010, would give them a 13 percent pay hike but also raises their contributions toward health benefits. The pact does not include retroactive pay, which could have cost Ulster roughly $250,000 but cost them nothing due to collective bargaining. Nice advantage for the County on that one.

Working with and under a contract is the best option for all American workers. Without a contract, you have no say in anything that goes on in your workplace. It's that simple.

Don't listen to the ignorant people and the corporate shills who bash organized labor and unions. There is strength in numbers - and it is an AMERICAN TRAIT to band together for the good of each other. Comments to the contrary are bullshit.

...and to all of those union bashers I have just three little words...........

the Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Industry Experts Confirm Economic and Social Value of PLAs at Michigan State University Conference

Experts from the construction industry, academia and local government spoke to the value of Project Labor Agreements at a conference jointly sponsored by the School of Labor & Industrial Relations and the School of Planning Design & Construction at Michigan State University.

The conference, "Understanding PLAs", was designed to bring together leading experts on the subject of PLAs.

There was even an unintended surprise when a panelist for the Associated Builders and Contractors, an industry group that is aggressively opposed to PLAs, shocked both his colleagues on the panel - there to present the ABC’s opposition to PLAs - when he actually praised PLAs as being a “good thing.”

The ABC panelist – an attorney with Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith, PC in Michigan – even singled out for praise a Metropolitan Building Trades Council for their work on a PLA project in Michigan that included both union and non-union contractors.

Other panelists unanimously endorsed the concept of PLAs as being good for on-time and on-budget construction. Steve DiBartolo – a Vice President for Hill International; a professional services and construction management firm that specializes in helping its clients minimize the risks inherent in the construction process – spoke to the cost savings that can be achieved by construction owners through the use of project labor agreements.

He was followed by Doug Maibach, of Barton Mallow (a nationally recognized provider of construction management services) who offered a unique perspective of the value of PLAs. Most “revenue producing” projects (i.e. sports stadiums; casinos; etc.) that require a fast construction phase in order to minimize revenue loss, are almost universally constructed under a PLA. This is due to the fact that PLAs offer greater jobsite efficiencies and cost savings through the employment of a safe, highly skilled, highly trained and highly productive workforce.

Another value that PLAs bring an area is to provide pathways for local, disadvantaged residents to secure career training opportunities through the building trades’ local joint skilled apprenticeship programs.

All in all, the conference offered a ringing endorsement of the overall economic and social value that PLAs provide to construction owners, contractors, government entities, and the community at large.

Employing a knowledgable,trained, productive and safe workforce on a project is the most important component required in making the project progress efficiently.

When the public hears the truth about PLA's they overwhelmingly support using them.

Help spread the word - PLA's make Sense!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Must Read - Manufacturing And The USA : A Discussion

President Leo Gerard of the USW sat down for a discussion with Richard McCormack, the editor and publisher of Manufacturing & Technology News, a publication he created in 1994. This entry is their full discussion.

Leo W. Gerard: Richard, when you appeared recently at Youngstown State University as a guest of the Center for Working-Class Lecture Series, you talked about how essential manufacturing is to the U.S. economy and how politicians seem clueless about that. In fact, you said, “Politicians don’t get it.” When did that happen because clearly politicians in the 1950s understood that a solid economy rests on manufacturing products of real value?

Richard McCormack: It happened imperceptibly over the past three decades, but perhaps the defining (though little observed) event was when Wal-Mart overtook General Motors as the country’s largest employer. When that happened, the retail industry became one of the most powerful political entities in the country, replacing the manufacturing industry.

The crossover from GM to Wal-Mart is important because retail started setting the terms of the debate not only with politicians, but also with manufacturers. Retailers are driven by increasing profits by pennies on the dollar by paying workers low wages with no benefits and buying cheap imports.

The loss of the manufacturing sector’s political influence also occurred with the rise of the finance sector, which became the dominant force in political gift-giving. The Wall Street financial sector does not give one-half hoot about American jobs.

The loss of America’s industrial capability also coincided with the persistent selling of economic ideology to the American public and its politicians that the country would be a lot more prosperous getting rid of crappy manufacturing jobs and creating jobs in the service and “knowledge” sectors. That grand experiment in creating a “post-industrial economy” just suffered a monumental collapse.

Americans have allowed the big corporate multinational companies and their agents to take control of their political system. It remains to this day a system that is stacked against American workers and American taxpayers. Americans have not entered the fight to save American jobs. I wonder if the middle class is drugged up on Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Tiger Woods; addicted to sugar, salt and fat; fake “news” shows on television; and Prozac to deal with depression and lull them into thinking that their condition is beyond control. Something is stopping Americans from getting off their couches and demanding a voice in America’s economic future. Americans have lost their country to a few people who make a lot of money off outsourcing, off-shoring and importing everything Americans used to make and continue to buy. Americans must take their country back before it is too late.

Gerard: You have written about this problem in the book, “Manufacturing A Better Future for America,” and elsewhere. How do we make politicians understand how vital manufacturing is?

McCormack: Politicians need to be hit over their heads with a baseball bat as forcefully as is possible, with Americans insisting that they at least acknowledge that a country that doesn’t make what is consumes is going to fail. It is a simple concept. There are many historical precedents of countries and empires failing after having lost their productive capacity. It is an ancient concept: a country that does not have industry cannot support an army.

The United States has just gone through a period of unprecedented loss of wealth. Its citizens have taken a collective economic step down. Yet politicians are sitting smug in the belief that they can borrow more money. They work in Washington, D.C., where I live. This place is humming. Most of them have no idea what the country looks like. Have they been to Detroit, Saginaw, Youngstown – America’s heartland? America’s heartland is dead. That means its heart has stopped beating. What happens to a person when their heart stops beating?

The financial meltdown wasn’t caused by the housing bubble or the financial bubble or the dot-com bubble, although all of those things contributed. It was caused by the simple fact that American consumers have sent all of their wealth to China, Korea, Japan, Germany and Mexico buying all of the things they once made. Tell that to the politicians. They don’t get it. They don’t get it and they don’t get it, which means they have to be hit over the head and be hit over the head and be hit over the head as hard as is possible to hit them with the simple message, over and again: the country cannot survive if it sends all of its wealth offshore. The country has to produce what it consumes. Our politicians do not understand this basic FACT. Have they looked at why China is becoming a superpower? It’s not because China exports its sports heroes and pop culture. It’s because China has embraced manufacturing as THE means to economic superiority. It is the same path the United States took to reach global dominance. Inexplicably, the United States abandoned that path.

Gerard: In Youngstown, you quoted Ralph E. Gomory, the retired IBM senior vice president for Science and Technology and a winner of the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment, as saying the interests of American corporations have diverged from the interests of America, yet politicians act as if they’re still the same. Can you explain what that means both in terms of the economy and employment?

McCormack: Ralph Gomory has made one of the most profound and important observations on the current global economic situation. He says that outsourcing is not free trade. Yet the federal government still represents the interests of the powerful companies that are firing millions of American workers and shifting those jobs offshore.

Domestic manufacturers have told me repeatedly that the greatest protectionists in our country are the corporate and financial companies that are doing everything in their power to protect their assets in China. To influence policy in their favor, the multinationals, retailers, importers and foreign producers fund think tanks, trade associations, lobbyists, lawyers and public relations firms. These are the real protectionists, not American businessmen who want to save American jobs and the American middle class.

The U.S. government continues to craft policies that are beneficial for companies that outsource jobs. For instance, the U.S. government refuses to confront China over its currency manipulation because the companies that benefit most from China’s undervalued currency are the American companies that have shifted their production there. Who does the U.S. government represent? The tens of millions of American workers who get the ax due to China’s blatant cheating, or the few CEOs at multinational companies and the financial class who make more and more money?

It was no coincidence that the stock market had its best year ever in 2009 – the same year millions of Americans were losing their jobs. The dynamic still hasn’t changed, despite the financial sector’s meltdown: Every time a company announces American worker layoffs, its stock price goes up. Yet policymakers equate the stock market with a healthy economy. They are as wrong on that as they are on the belief that the world is flat.

Gerard: You have also said that politicians’ decision to implement the concept of free trade – which is not fair trade – has largely contributed to the nation’s problems. Would you talk about how something as positive-sounding as free trade devastated American industry?

McCormack: A friend of mine works at the Commerce Department. He says that free trade is a farce. The United States has tariffs of 2 percent or 3 percent on incoming products. Yet the United States trades with countries with tariffs that are 10 times higher. Is that free trade? He has a simple solution to the U.S. trade crisis: hold up a mirror to any nation trading with the United States. Whatever their tariffs are on U.S. products entering their country, that is what the U.S. tariff should be on their products entering America.

How can U.S. producers compete when they must pay for all of the costs that foreign producers don’t have to add to the price of their product? These costs include things like scrubbers and baghouses on coal plants. Not requiring the generation of clean power is a Chinese subsidy offered to all manufacturers setting up shop in China. It is an unfair subsidy that U.S. companies cannot counter without the U.S. government saying that it is unfair. Even worse, 75 percent of the mercury pollution in the United States can be attributed to Asian coal-fired plants that do not have emissions controls. The majority of these plants are located in China. China is poisoning America. If it was happening in the United States, the federal government would take the American utility or industrial company to court and impose fines of millions of dollars. What does the U.S. government do about China’s toxic emissions drifting over U.S. airspace? Nothing.

U.S. manufacturers have to abide by a thousand EPA rules and OSHA standards. Not so in China. That is a huge advantage. The United States government lets American companies that have set up shop in China get away with not having to abide by American standards – even though their products are being sold in the United States.
It is morally wrong.

Any foreign product sold in the United States should be required to be produced under the same conditions as is required for producers of the same product in the United States. If these requirements are not going to be enforced on overseas competitors, as they are here so vigorously by our federal government, then those cost advantages should be calculated and tacked onto the price of the product entering the United States.

Foreign producers should NOT have this unfair advantage. It is an outrage that the United States has allowed this to occur.

It is time for the country to stop listening to importers, their agents in Washington, including foreign governments, retailers and the financial industry. The U.S. government has to start representing the interest of American manufacturers, workers and business owners. It does not now. This is not a conspiracy theory. This is reality.

Gerard: In the chapter you wrote for the book, “Manufacturing A Better Future for America,”you said something that every American should find frightening. You said that when Congress cuts the taxes of individuals or gives them tax rebates in an attempt to stimulate the economy, the actual effect is to create jobs in foreign countries. Can you explain that?

McCormack: The U.S. government has just spent the past 10 years trying DESPERATELY to stimulate the U.S. economy, with trillion-dollar tax cuts, tax giveaways, low interest rates and even two wars that have lasted for nine years. Then the Democrats took office in 2009 and enacted their own $787 billion “stimulus.” Every time Americans have had a few extra bucks in their pocket (from tax cuts to direct government payments to home equity loans) they have spent that money on products that are now made somewhere else in the world. Is it any wonder why China’s economy was growing by 10 percent per year during the past 10 years, as U.S. consumers shipped more and more of their hard-earned dollars there to buy everything?

Gerard: You have been critical of the second economic stimulus bill – called a jobs bill – that Congress is now talking about. You contend that the proposed bill won’t create new jobs. Here’s what you actually said, “I don’t see any jobs there. I just see more money being spent.” What’s wrong with that bill?

McCormack: It is more of the same. Only a very small percentage of the bill encourages investment in U.S. production. There is not a single program aimed at countering the incentives that foreign countries are providing their companies and U.S. producers to set up operations in their country. The United States has to start competing – to start countering those incentives with its own incentives to manufacturing companies. It doesn’t matter if these companies are American companies or foreign companies. To create lasting, decent jobs, the United States needs global companies to open production in the United States to serve the U.S. market.

Small American companies do not need a $30-billion tax cut to hire workers. They need CUSTOMERS. They won’t hire a soul unless they have a customer to sell them a product. Yet the country continues to lose manufacturing plants to China.

Gerard: If you could actually get Congress to listen to you, what would you tell them is necessary to create good new jobs?

McCormick: Ask the 50 economic development officers from each of the states to form a U.S. Economic Development Council. These people and their offices know what is being planned in terms of company expansions. Give them a war chest, some of the TARP money or funding from the proposed “jobs” bill, and tell them to deploy the same tactics they use in their states to attract industry to America. All of the states are competing against each other to attract industrial investment. They should be working together, especially since supply chains cross state borders.

Gerard: When I go to Washington, what I hear is that we don’t need manufacturing. That’s old and dirty. So many politicians say the U.S. can move to a financial and service economy. You disagree with that. Why?

McCormick: I hear it too, though a little less often, thank goodness. This argument is what has led to the demise of the United States. People are just starting to realize that as manufacturing goes offshore, high-end jobs in design and research and development go with it. When a plant closes, the supply chain disappears. This supply chain includes materials and parts producers, software providers, like CAD (computer-aided design), ERP (enterprise resource planning) and dozens of other high-tech equipment providers, machine tool companies, maintenance, accounting, packaging – the list goes on to include such things as the local restaurants, janitorial services and those dependent on the plant’s tax revenues, like librarians, county clerks, police officers and teachers. These are service jobs, all of which depend on manufacturing. One manufacturing job supports 15 other jobs. No other category of job has such a high multiplier. The United State must do whatever it can to start creating manufacturing jobs.

Gerard: We are losing at the international trade game with imports far exceeding exports and creating a massive trade deficit. Is it over for the U.S., or can Washington actually do something to reverse this situation?

McCormick: The game is not over. Not yet. But the country is perilously close to a period of sustained pain caused by continuing huge trade and budget deficits. The United States is assuming greater and greater debt. The country cannot borrow its way to prosperity. At some point very soon, the United States has to stop accumulating debt and start the process of paying it down. The only way to do this is by producing the products Americans consume – like cellphones, televisions, digital cameras, computers, semiconductors, printed circuit boards, autos, steel, household items, appliances, luggage, clothes – everything – and to start producing a new generation of radical and revolutionary products that the rest of the world needs to buy.

Richard McCormack is editor and publisher of Manufacturing & Technology News, a publication he created in 1994. It is read by industry executives, government officials and academics on five continents. McCormack has reported on science and technology, industry and government in Washington, D.C. for 26 years specializing in economic competitiveness and globalization. He has won numerous journalism awards for investigative, analytical and interpretative reporting. He is author of the book, “Lean Machines: Learning from the Leaders of the Next Industrial Revolution.” And he is the editor of the new book, “Manufacturing A Better Future for America,” for which he wrote the first chapter, “The Plight of American Manufacturing.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We Need Skiing, a Shower and Haircut

Last night, Ulster County Legislators voted 27-3 in favor of a resolution supporting the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park a multimillion-dollar resort adjoining Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.

The project that would create hundreds of jobs has been trying to work its way through the system for more than a decade. THAT IS RIDICULOUS.

The legislative chambers were overwhelmingly filled with supporters who stood in the chambers and the hallway.

With people either losing jobs or scared of losing their jobs in this flat almost depression-like economy, it was obvious the most people have lost patience with some of the unsatisfiable, wild haired environmentals that have chased away so many business in Ulster County over the last 10 - 20 and and even thirty years or so.

Those people still act as though there are absolutely no regulatory laws or rules protecting the environment from "bad" projects and that THEY ALONE are the saviors of the earth.

In fact, the project is still undergoing review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and WILL NOT BE BUILT IF IT DOES NOT MEET ALL REQUIREMENTS.

What was evident last night was that quite a few of these "environmental saviors" are devoid of reason and really need a dose of reality, a shower and a haircut and some common sense.

Area workers - both union and non-union - and union representatives all spoke in favor of the development. Don't believe the spin the paper put on it that those who support the project were not residents and those who spoke against it were. Unless you can look in the mirror and say you believe that no Ulster residents need jobs.

Don't forget that when a project like this is built hundreds of ancillary businesses feed off of it. They supply paper, rugs, supplies, do their books, fix the air conditioning, paint, deliver packages, install and fix alarms, deliver lunch, sell produce, get the point.

To answer concerns that were first brought foward in regard to the environment Developer Dean Gitter of Crossroads Ventures LLC scaled down the proposal he first unveiled in 1999. The project now would include two hotels — one a four-star family-style resort, and the other a five-star luxury spa resort — conference facilities, a golf course, some 629 detached lodging units and time-share townhouses.

He has also pledged to make this a "Green Built" project.

Nope - not enough say the saviors. It will never be enough. Just build "trails" they say. Just don't rake any spotted snails up when you do it.

Gitter has said that when completed, the project will generate millions of dollars each year in sales tax revenue to the county in addition to hundreds of full- and part-time jobs.

Here is the bottom line to this:

This project MUST meet all requirements to build. The majority of Ulster Businesses and residents support this project. People are losing their jobs and homes here in Ulster County with no hope for getting new ones. People are leaving this area for a better way of life.

The good part is that at least they are now following their children -who have been leaving Ulster County for decades.

Here's a warning shot to the crazy haired bunch - you aren't going to be steering our ship to the point of crashing anymore. The working people of Ulster County will be adding another impact statement for public review - the ECONOMIC IMPACT STATEMENT- and we are going to insist that test is also seriously considered.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

IBM - Profits Up, Employees Down ( And Out )

IBM laid off hundreds of North American employees Monday - making this a yearly cut for their loyal employees. Remember the OLD IBM? In order to keep the unions out they bragged that they would take care of their workers for life. Family picnics, carnivals and no time clocks helped convince the people that the Original BIG BROTHER would be all that they would need.

And the people fell for it - they didn't think long term.

As of Monday evening, Alliance@IBM, which gathers information from IBM employees, had tallied more than 900 cuts across several divisions and at it's operations in Dutchess County. The total laid off in Dutchess is not clear.

An IBM spokesman, Doug Shelton would not go into details about the cuts but said, "We continually remix our skills and structure to meet the changing needs of our clients."

Very robotic answer Doug.

IBM eliminated more than 1,000 positions in Dutchess and Orange counties in 2009. The company's mid-Hudson payroll is now below 10,000 workers for the first time in a decade.

IBM enjoyed record profits of $13.4 billion in 2009.

Thousands of "IBM" families had their lives ruined.

In the past few years, IBM has repeatedly laid off and fired American Workers and instead increased their hiring of workers outside of the United States.

Another Great American Company screwing American workers for more money, bigger golden parachutes for the executives and higher profits.

Remember kiddies - 3rd World Wage Rates = Huge American Profits.

Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge called the layoffs "cost-cutting" and "an ongoing part of our overall business model." Loughridge also said reductions would continue in 2010, but at a slower pace than last year.

IBM Employees - the few that are left - it's time to stop believing the corporate crap and look into ORGANIZING A UNION with the Alliance@IBM group.

It just may be the the beginning of having a future again. Right now, you ALL have nothing to lose. In other words, grow a little pair and stand up for yourselves.

Otherwise, pick out a good stump and go put your neck on it for the next round of "cost cutting".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fire Away

Mayor James Sottile e-mailed city aldermen, asking them how they would pay to fill positions left empty by retirements in the fire department if the city abides by the contract with the Kingston Professional Firefighters Association. The contract says positions must be filled.

The union correctly says that the city is required to replace the three firefighters who retired last year. Sottile has said he offered retirement incentives and wanted to save money by leaving the positions unfilled. The union filed a grievance in response.

Sottile filed a lawsuit to prevent the grievance from going to arbitration even though the contract clearly states that they should do so in the event of a dispute.

Last week, a state Supreme Court judge ruled the firefighters had a right to bring the matter to arbitration. Sottile is appealing that ruling.

Sottile is pulling the old bait and switch now and trying to shift the "problem" to lawmakers who have suggested the Mayor does not have a solid court case in the position he has taken refusing to abide by the contract - THAT HE SIGNED.

Alderwoman Jennifer Fuentes of Ward 5 and Common Council Majority Leader Bill Reynolds, D-Ward 7, already have suggested Sottile's case is weak. They both realize and agree that according to the contract authorized by the previous Common Council and signed by the mayor, the Firefighters have every right to seek arbitration.

“Unfortunately, some of our employees in the police and fire departments don’t recognize the seriousness of the economic (situation) that we in the Northeast and the entire country are in,” Alderman Charles Landi said.

Alderwoman Andi Turco-Levin, R-Ward 1, who took office this year, said the latest contracts were negotiated during a time when an economic crisis was looming and she feels that not "enough consideration was given to these issues when contracts were negotiated back in 2007".

Sottile's e-mail demanded that those who think the city should give up its court case give clear ideas on how to pay to fill the three positions.

Sottile wrote, “I am being advised by some members of the council not to appeal the decision and hire three firefighters immediately. I am asking those of you who feel that these positions should be filled please give me some suggestions on how we can pay to fill these positions from the current budget.

“I would be happy to review your suggestions to see if this can be accomplished.”

Here are a couple good, solid ideas: cut some of the fat you have in that front office in your "economic development" department - who haven't economically developed shit but a drug store in 10 years or created any meaningful jobs for our residents and ax a few of the other do nothings you have wearing ties and suits and hire the three Firemen - just like YOU agreed to do when you negotiated the contract. At least they will actually do some work for their taxpayer paychecks.

If you don't like that one - fire whatever attorney you wasted our money on who helped you negotiate that contract. Don't blame the Fireman who came to that table in good faith.

Or better yet "Mayor" .....offer to cut your pay to make up for not thinking ahead or negotiating a better contract with better language in regard to retirement incentives.

Try this in the future Jimmy - think ahead for once and really do your job - and include that flip flopping Landi in this - Blaming the unions for everything when it's you two that constantly screw up is making you both look like asses every time you open your mouths.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pants On Fire?

Here's the story - The Firefighters union, who were in good graces with the Mayor of Kingston for delaying their raises are now in a slight conflict with their former buddy. They filed a grievance claiming that the city must fill three positions left vacant when three firefighters retired last year through a retirement incentive program.

Sottile filed a lawsuit last year to prevent the Kingston Firefighters Association Local 461 from seeking arbitration on the grievance. Problem is that the Firefighters are following exactly what the contract - that Sotille agreed to and signed - says.

Seems like Sottile has a slight habit of agreeing to things and then renegging on them later - that's not how it works in big boy land.

A state Supreme Court judge has ruled that the union has the right seek arbitration on whether Mayor James Sottile must fill three firefighter positions left vacant. Once again and to be clear, the contract that Sottile agreed to says the union has a right to bring the matter to arbitration.

Sottile said Wednesday the city has filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court Appellate Division. Talk about wasting the taxpayers money!

The mayor said he will not fill the positions until the matter is decided through the court system. That is fine - that is what he should do - that is his right.

But then he says:
“I am not going to do it. The city of Kingston is not in the position to ... hire firefighters. You have to be able to have the right to manage and when you take control out of management’s hands, that is not a healthy organization.”

The decision said the union has the RIGHT TO ARBITRATE - not that they are correct in saying the three new firefighters need to be hired.

On a more stable note, Tom Tiano, President of the Firefighters said the decision was a victory for the union, but it did not settle the matter of whether the three positions would be filled. See? Tom understands

“We are very pleased that the judge has ruled in our favor,” Tiano said.

Tiano said that the contract is clear that when there is a grievance it must be resolved by an arbitrator. He also said it is clear in the contract, which was approved by the Common Council and endorsed by Sottile, that firefighters must be replaced.

“We are willing to abide by an (arbitrator’s) decision, and it seems to me that the city should honor the same thing,” Tiano said.

Sottile said if some ruling does wind up directing the city to hire back the firefighters there will be consequences.

Probably said while stamping up and down in his City of Kingston Taxpayer paid boots.

“Either raise taxes or lay people off,” Sottile said. Hey Jimmy, try that in the overloaded front office once in awhile.

Tiano said the union was “disappointed” to hear such comments from the mayor.

Looks like yet another honeymoon is over and Sottile has another union President is fight with. Point is, boths sides need to abide by what is right and what they agreed upon - no matter how that comes out.

Like we have said in the past - vote for the person not the party - ya hear us Democrats?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

IBEW Local 363 Electricians Install LED Lighting On The Walkway Over The Hudson

If you look just north of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and see another set of lights across the Hudson River, you will be looking at the new LED lights that have been installed by IBEW Local 363 Electricians on the Walkway Over the Hudson.

The new lights are now being tested by those same Union Electricians who installed the lighting over the 1 ¼ mile southern railing during the last several months.

The LED lights will complete the overall electrical installation on the bridge, which will activate security monitoring equipment and include electrical outlets across the entire span.

The State Office of Parks and Recreation, which operates the Walkway will use the new LED lighting system for events that request permits.

In the spring of 2010, the lights will be formally unveiled in a special public ceremony.

Thank you to the trained and talented union electricians of IBEW Local 363!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

IBM - Non-Union Employees Get Ready For Another Layoff

IBM Corp. showed off their financial report Tuesday, showing the company as a whole with record-breaking profits in 2009 of $13.4 billion, earnings per share of $10.01 and and predicting an improved outlook for 2010.

At first glance the regular, middleclass worker would think, "Hey! This looks good for jobs in the area!" Maybe they are done with the recent history of substantial downsizing and job cuts.

However, Mark Loughridge, chief financial officer, told brokerage analysts that there will be more reduction of costs through "work-force rebalancing." That invariably means disappearing jobs in IBM.

While Loughridge put a 2009 number of $3.7 billion on cost reductions, including job cuts and consolidating work in various centers, he did not give a specific number for 2010. A year ago, he gave a more detailed report.

"How should we think about additional cost and expense savings?" asked David Bailey of Goldman Sachs. Let me guess - Cut the working people out of the equation and give yourselves huge bonuses??

"It's not going to be at the $3.7 billion spend takeout that we saw last year," Loughridge said. But such reductions, he said, will be an "ongoing part of our overall business model."

IBM cut about 10,000 jobs in the United States in 2009, according to various company disclosures - get ready for more. Hundreds of those jobs lost were in Dutchess County.

Profits are good - jobs are a cost to those profits - no matter how high those profits get - they can't get high enough.

The IBM workers should have organized into a union ten years ago - now they are paying the price of being at-will employees for a corporation that couldn't give a shit less about them or any "American" job.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Newburgh Orange County Community College Project Built With A PLA

The big new building north of the foot of Broadway in the City of Newburgh will be bustling with college students in about a year from now.

The campus, which will house facilities for health studies and science programs, will be ready to start classes for the spring 2011 semester.

College President Dr. William Richards said the facilities will include a three level underground parking complex with labs on the top floor with offices and a student center on the lower levels.

County Executive Edward Diana, a SUNY Orange alumnus, said that he was very proud of the project and the fact that it is being built completely with local labor and under a project labor agreement. He said that this project is the seventh project that Orange County has built using a PLA. He also said that the local union trades have saved the county money and built each project on time and within budget. He spoke of the job opportunities it created for existing local workers and the new apprentices entering the trades because of that opportunity.

Local Union Ironworkers lifted and bolted the top beam into place Tuesday at the new SUNY Orange campus, marking the ceremonial placement of the final beam on the multi- million dollar building which will become home to over 2000 students.

This project is a great example to all municpalities of how to really get the most return on their investment for their constituents.

Too many times the local construction workers and the jobs that are created are LOST to out of state and non-local workers and contractors. Orange County did NOT let that happen on this project.

Thank you Orange County Executive Edward Diana and to all Orange County Legislators for leading by example and demonstrating that economic development can be done in such a way that NO job opportunities are wasted. Too many of our elected officials waste those opportunities by turning a blind eye toward the construction jobs created by our taxpayer financed capital projects.

Thank you again Orange County for a true shining example of smart growth.