Category - Labor

U.S. Oil Workers’ Union Expands Biggest Plant Strike Since 1980

Bloomberg, by Lynn Doan & Barbara Powell, February 21

The United Steelworkers, which represents 30,000 U.S. oil workers, called on four more plants to join the biggest strike since 1980 as talks dragged on with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, negotiating a labor contract for oil companies.

The USW, with members at more than 200 refineries, fuel terminals, pipelines and chemical plants across the U.S., asked workers late Friday at Motiva Enterprises LLC’s Port Arthur refinery in Texas, the nation’s largest, to join a nationwide walkout on Saturday, and issued notices for three other plants to go on strike in 24 hours.

This brings the work stoppage — which began on Feb. 1 at nine sites from California to Texas and expanded to two BP Plc refineries in the Midwest a week later — to 12 refineries and 3 other facilities. The union has rejected seven contract offers from Shell, which is representing companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp.

An agreement would end a strike at U.S. plants that account for almost 20 percent of the country’s refining capacity. It’s the first national walkout of U.S. oil workers since 1980, when a work stoppage lasted three months. The USW represents workers at plants that together account for 64 percent of U.S. fuel output.

Previously: US oil workers on largest national strike since 1980

Wisconsin Republicans plan to push right-to-work bill next week

Reuters, By Brendan O’Brien, February 20

Milwaukee – Wisconsin Republicans plan to call an extraordinary session to fast-track a right-to-work bill in the state legislature next week, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said on Friday.

Governor Scott Walker, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016, supports the policy and will sign it into law if the bill makes it to his desk, a spokeswoman said Friday.

So-called right-to-work laws prohibit workers from being required to join and financially support a union – such as by paying dues – as a condition of their employment.

The announcement drew immediate criticism from Democrats and a union leader in Wisconsin, where Republican lawmakers in 2011 approved restrictions on collective bargaining for most public-sector unions except police and fire amid large demonstrations.

Hey, Remember How VW Wanted to Open More Factories in the United States?

And remember how they supported unions, the (informed) workers supported unions, and hell, most of America wanted to see those plants opening up here because, jobs? And it was only a small handful of conservative morons who were all Socialism!!!!!, which of course neglects the fact that the same “socialism” was expanding production into America?

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By Your Leave

I meant to blog about this when the baseball season opened in April but it slipped my mind. Thankfully I have a second chance to:

CHICAGO — New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy and his family will be guests at the White House on Monday for a discussion about the state of working dads.

Murphy received talk-radio backlash after choosing to take paternity leave and miss the team’s first two games of the season to be present for the birth of his first child on March 31. Murphy’s wife Tori gave birth to 8-pound, 2-ounce son Noah about an hour before the first pitch of the Mets’ season.

The White House Summit on Working Families will be held in the South Court Auditorium of the White House. It aims to advance talk about how fathers play a role at home, discuss the challenges of balancing a career and family, and advocate for rights such as parental leave from work.

Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman will participate in the discussion along with Murphy.

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A Bit of an Eye-Opener

When you think “poverty in New York City,” what springs to mind? What stereotype has been so drilled into our heads from the newspapers, magazines and TV shows we all watch, like Law & Order or The Wanderers?

The very poorest among us in this city are Hispanics, perhaps African-Americans. Want to portray a neighborhood as poor in a TV show? Get a graffiti-coated wall, and stick a couple of Latinos playing handball against it.

Right? I mean, that’s the face of poverty in the Big Apple. Right?

Wrong:

Despite a rise in employment, nearly half of New York City’s population is living near poverty levels — a problem that is particularly striking in the city’s Asian population, which has surpassed Hispanics as the city’s poorest group, according to a new report conducted by the Center for Economic Opportunity. The study revealed 45.6 percent of New Yorkers are barely making ends meet, even with more adults working full-time since the recession. A combination of low wages, rising rents, and a lack of benefits is largely to blame.The dismal numbers, presented Tuesday to City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, follows a growing number of studies showing the harsh realities of income inequality in New York.Just last week, city comptroller Scott Stringer released a study showing just how unaffordable the city has become, with the median rent in New York City rising a staggering 75 percent from 2000 to 2012. The annual study also showed significant shifts within racial and ethnic demographics. As the report indicates, the poverty rate of Asians and Hispanics were “statistically identical” in 2008, at 22.4 percent and 23.5 percent, respectively. But by 2012, the rate surged to 29 percent for Asians, more than 3 percent higher than Hispanics.

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Pope Francis – Marxist in Disguise?

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

It is not surprising that Rush Limbaugh, spiritual leader of the Republican Party – the man who determines Republican ideology and who enforces obedience to orthodoxy within the party – now finds Pope Francis a “Marxist”.  Pope Francis, spiritual leader to over one billion Catholics, has issued a direct assault on the Rush Limbaugh’s of this world, their paymasters in the business and financial community, and their political lackeys such as Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Stephen Harper, David Cameron, Shinzo Abe, Tony Abbott, and Li Keqiang.  “I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere, effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply the appearances – of the evils in our world!”  Francis put an exclamation point at the end of that sentence, and he could have said “give us just one politician” rather than “more politicians”, because it is clear when you read his pastoral exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospels), that none of the men or women in positions of power over today’s global economy qualifies as a healer of anything or anybody.

Political leaders come and go, but men like Rush Limbaugh seem to linger forever.  What is it about Pope Francis that makes Limbaugh see shades of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao?  Could it possibly be criticisms such as these:

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Fighting Back Against Wretched Wages

New York Times, By Steven Greenhouse, July 27

Often relegated to the background, America’s low-wage workers have been making considerable noise lately by deploying an unusual weapon — one-day strikes — to make their message heard: they’re sick and tired of earning just $8, $9, $10 an hour.

Their anger has been stoked by what they see as a glaring disconnect: their wages have flatlined, while median pay for chief executives at the nation’s top corporations jumped 16 percent last year, averaging a princely $15.1 million, according to Equilar, an executive compensation analysis firm.

In recent weeks, workers from McDonald’s, Taco Bell and other fast-food restaurants — many of them part-time employees — have staged one-day walkouts in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle to protest their earnings, typically just $150 to $350 a week, often too little to support themselves and their families. More walkouts are expected at fast-food restaurants in seven cities on Monday. Earlier this month hundreds of low-wage employees working for federal contractors in Washington walked out and picketed along Pennsylvania Avenue to urge President Obama to press their employers to raise wages.


Fast Food Workers To Hold One-Day Strike To Protest Low Wages

Strike To Be Held In New York And 5 Other Cities

CBS New York, July 28

New York — Fast food workers in New York and six other cities across the country were set to go on strike Monday, on the grounds that their wages are just too low to live on.

Workers will walk out for a one-day strike at several major and well-known fast food purveyors, including McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Wendy’s, according to a Washington Post report.

The walkouts will be held in New York, as well as Chicago; Detroit; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Kansas City; and Flint, Mich., the newspaper reported.


Also, Washington Post: Good Jobs Nation gives voice to low-wage workers at federal buildings, July 3
Also, Washington Post: Low-wage workers strike at Smithsonian museums, July 11

Morning Criticism

Truthout: The Violence of Organized Forgetting

America has become amnesiac – a country in which forms of historical, political, and moral forgetting are not only willfully practiced but celebrated. The United States has degenerated into a social order that is awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat. Not only is this obvious in the presence of a celebrity culture that embraces the banal and idiotic, but also in the prevailing discourses and policies of a range of politicians and anti-public intellectuals who believe that the legacy of the Enlightenment needs to be reversed. Politicians such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich along with talking heads such as Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Anne Coulter are not the problem, they are symptomatic of a much more disturbing assault on critical thought, if not rationale thinking itself. Under a neoliberal regime, the language of authority, power and command is divorced from ethics, social responsibility, critical analysis and social costs.

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Attention: American Labour

This is the way you do it:

Beijing (CNN) — Dozens of Chinese workers angry over a pay dispute have held their U.S. boss hostage for five days, the American businessman said.

Chip Starnes, co-founder and president of Specialty Medical Supplies China, has been trapped in the company’s suburban Beijing factory since Friday. He told CNN it’s all because of a misunderstanding about layoffs and severance packages.

“I tried to leave a day and a half ago, and there was like 60 or 70 of them here inside every entrance, and every exit was barricaded,” Starnes said Tuesday from behind the gates of the factory. “I can’t go anywhere.” Read More

A New Socialism

TruthOut.

A socialism for the 21st century must include and stress the importance of micro-level social transformation at the base of society in the workplace. Ending exploitation in workplaces is that transformation. Instead of workers producing surpluses for others to appropriate and distribute, they must now do that for themselves collectively.

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The Apple of My Eye

Long-time readers of my blog and friends of Team Actor212 know I’m in the tank for Apple products. By my count, I’ve either purchased for myself or as gifts about two dozen Apple products over the years. Without getting into a Windows v. Mac debate here, I find Apple’s technology and ease of use, combined with its sophistication to be far superior to anything MicroSoft has had a hand in. I use a PC at work, so it’s not like I’m a Luddite.

Well, I am, but an informed Luddite.

Which is why the developments over the past twelve months in the Apple universe have been so distressing:

The Irish government on Tuesday denied it shelters some of the world’s largest corporations, such as Apple, from paying taxes, saying its long-standing low corporation tax regime is transparent and doesn’t make it a tax haven.

The U.S. Senate investigation report, published on Monday by the Senate’s Permanent Committee on Investigations, said that in Ireland, Apple “has negotiated a special corporate tax rate of less than 2%.”

Ireland’s Prime Minster Enda Kenny told lawmakers Tuesday that: “Ireland does not do, let me repeat, does not do special tax [relief] for companies, ” but that companies do exploit loopholes that arise from the interaction of different national tax systems.

To be clear, the issue isn’t confined to Apple. Last week Google was in front of the U.K. Parliament’s Public Affairs Committee to discuss its tax arrangements in the U.K.

Couple this with the ongoing Foxconn controversy, and Apple is starting to become less of an attractive technology supplier to me.

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