Friday, April 30, 2010

2010 APWU of Wisconsin State Convention - Day 1 Pt.1

Wisconsin AFL-CIO President David Newby addressed the Delegates and guests gathered at the APWU of Wisconsin State Convention on Friday morning.

Newby presented a slide program outlining items such as how worker salaries have been dormant since the mid seventies, how the US worker compares with the rest of the World worker, US worker is the most productive worker, general labor information, jobs in America is priority number one, etc.

It should also be noted that Newby had pledged Labor’s support of the APWU in our quest to preserve the best postal service in the world for the American Citizens and businesses in our fight against the 5-day delivery threat and more.

The Convention was sponsored by the Appleton, WI. Local American Postal Workers Union.

Click Here - to see short video of Dave Newby presentation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Equal Pay Day 2010: Women, 78 Cents, Men, $1

Today’s the day when women workers finally catch up with the pay men received last year—the day we mark as Equal Pay Day. Being three months and 20 days behind men’s wages means women who work full-time still are paid, on average, 78 cents for every dollar men are paid. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wages of full-time, year-round workers in 2008 stood at $35,745 for women and $46,367 for men.

The wage gap is even worse for women of color. In 2008, the earnings for African American women were $31,489, 67.9 percent of men’s earnings (a drop from 68.7 percent in 2007), and Latinas’ earnings were $26,846, 58 percent of men’s earnings (a drop from 59 percent in 2007).

The chart here shows the molasses-like movement in closing the wage gap. One way to speed up the progress is to urge lawmakers to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was passed by the U.S. House in 2009. It updates the Equal Pay Act by giving employees the tools they need to close the wage gap and providing the government with enforcement power to correct pay inequities. Momsrising has an action here to urge your senator to close the wage gap and back the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The group notes that given equal résumés and job experiences, mothers are offered $11,000 lower starting salaries than non-mothers. Yet fathers are offered higher starting salaries than non-fathers. More than half of women bring home at least half the family’s earnings—which means entire families suffer when women are paid less.

The average woman loses $700,000 in pay due to gender discrimination in her lifetime.

Kudos to President Obama who has established the White House Council on Women and Girls. The high-level body, made up of Cabinet members and heads of sub-Cabinet agencies, is charged with advancing the rights and needs of women, including equal pay. Declaring today National Equal Pay Day, Obama notes that “government can only advance this issue so far.”

The collective action of businesses, community organizations, and individuals is necessary to ensure that every woman receives just treatment and compensation….I call upon American men and women, and all employers, to acknowledge the injustice of wage discrimination and to commit themselves to equal pay for equal work.

And kudos to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who changed his Twitter icon to reflect Equal Pay Day.

Sen. Tom Harkin, who has sponsored the Fair Pay Act, and Lily Ledbetter, whose landmark U.S. Supreme Court case re-ignited the issue of equal pay, put the issue of wage discrimination in the broader context:

[W]e must recognize that the problem of unequal pay goes beyond insidious discrimination. As a nation, we unjustly devalue jobs traditionally performed by women, even when they require comparable skills to jobs traditionally performed by men. Why is a housekeeper worth less than a janitor? Why is a parking meter reader worth less than an electrical meter reader?

The Fair Pay Act would ensure that employers provide equal pay for jobs that are equivalent in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.

Civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height, who died today, early on championed the notion that the rights of women are fundamentally connected to issues of fairness for all Americans. As the New York Times put it:

Ms. Height is widely credited as the first person in the modern civil rights era to treat the problems of equality for women and equality for African Americans as a seamless whole, merging concerns that had historically been largely separate.

Height “embodied struggle, strength, determination, love and elegance,” says AFL-CIO Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, and her passing today is a reminder of how an injustice to one is an injustice to all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Limbaugh Lies About Big Branch Mine: No, Rush, It Wasn’t Union

by Mike Hall,  Apr 16, 2010

It was Sen. Al Franken (D- Minn.) in his previous incarnation as an author and comedian who called Rush Limbaugh “A big fat liar.” Well, others can address the first part, but Limbaugh himself has again offered solid evidence about the liar part.

Last week, Limbaugh lambasted the Mine Workers (UMWA) for not protecting their members who, he claimed worked at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., where 29 coal miners were killed when the Massey Energy Co. mine exploded.

Of course as we all know, and has been widely reported in mainstream media–and even on Fox News–Upper Big Branch was non-union coal mine. While he never acknowledged his mistake, at least he piped down for a few days.

But yesterday, with a full bag of gas at the ready, Rush claimed he had irrefutable facts to back him up, that UMWA did certainly represent the miners at Upper Big Branch. He said the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had ordered Massey to hire union coal miners.
There were union workers at this mine…You people, it’s been 21 years. At some point you are going to learn: If you go up against me on a challenge of fact, you are going to be wrong. It’s just that simple.

Let UMWA President Cecil Roberts throw the challenge flag on this one.

Yesterday, Rush said on his program, “But in 2009, the [NLRB] agreed with the decision that Massey Energy rehire 85 coal miners who said they had been discriminated against because they were union members. So there were union workers there. So the United Mine Workers should have been overseeing their safety, the United Mine Workers of America.”

Wrong again, Rush. The decision you refer to was AT ANOTHER MINE! And, Massey is appealing that decision, meaning the workers who were discriminated against at the Cannelton mine (in another county from the Upper Big Branch mine) have yet to reclaim their rightful jobs as the NLRB ordered.

Those are the facts. Who’s wrong now, Rush?

While Limbaugh may have lost a few pounds, that liar part still fits quite snuggly.

Workers Memorial Day - April 28th

Remember the coal miners.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 PayWatch Exposes Corporate Lobbying on Financial Reform

The nation’s biggest banks helped create the current financial crisis that required a $700 billion taxpayer bailout. In return, the banks cut back on lending to consumers and small businesses but paid out a record $145 billion in total compensation in 2009.

The 2010 AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, which launched today, shows the same Big Six banks—Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo—are spending millions of dollars lobbying on financial regulations, including limits on executive pay and risky actions like the ones that caused the current crisis.

Source: AFL-CIO Now Blog

RE: Microsoft supplier in China Forces Teenagers to Work 15-hour Shifts Under Sweatshop Conditions

Producing computer mice & webcams for Microsoft, HP and other companies
The National Labor Committee is releasing an in-depth report, "China's Youth Meet Microsoft: KYE factory in China produces for Microsoft and other U.S. Companies."

Over the course of a three-year investigation of the KYE factory in Dongguan, China, unprecedented photos were smuggled out of the factory, of exhausted teenagers, seen slumping over asleep on their assembly line during break time.

* KYE recruits hundreds (up to 1,000) "work-study" students 16 and 17 years of age, who work 15-hour shifts, six and seven days a week making webcams, mice and other computer peripherals. Some of the workers appear to be just 14 or 15 years old. A typical shift is from 7:45 a.m. to 10:55 p.m. Most of the students work for three months, but some stay longer.

* Along with the students, KYE prefers to hire only women 18 to 25 years old, who are considered easier to discipline and control.

* Workers report that before the recession, they were at the factory 97 hours a week, while working 80 ½ hours. In 2009, workers were at the factory 83 hours a week, while toiling 68 hours.

* Workers are paid 65 cents an hour, which falls to a take-home wage of 52 cents an hour after deductions for factory food.

* Workers have to report early, unpaid, for military-like drills. Management controls every second of their lives.

* The work pace is grueling as workers race to complete their mandatory goal of 2000 Microsoft mice per shift. During the long summer, factory temperatures reach 86 degrees and the workers are drenched in sweat.

* Security guards sexually harass the young women. Workers are prohibited from talking, listening to music or going to the bathroom during working hours. Freedom of movement is restricted and workers can only leave the factory compound during regulated hours.

* Fourteen workers share each primitive, dirty dorm room, sleeping on narrow bunk beds. To "shower" workers fetch hot water in a small plastic bucket for a sponge bath. Workers report that the food is awful.

KYE management claims factory conditions are excellent, and that they are in full compliance with China's labor laws. But the young women describe the factory as a prison, where everyone who can flees within six months. It is almost impossible to find a worker who has been at the factory for more than a year or two. As usual, the codes of conduct for Microsoft, HP and the Electronics Industry Council have zero impact.

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Welcomes the Improved Clean Energy Jobs Act... Latest proposal makes bill better for working families

“We are excited about the proposed modifications to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The working families that we represent appreciate the improvements made to increase and to speed up job creation,” says Phil Neuenfeldt, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “The provisions added to allow job creating conservation and efficiency to count towards the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the clarification to the nuclear language are both positive changes.”

Wisconsin has no natural gas, no coal and no oil. We currently send $16 billion out of our state every year to meet our energy needs.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act will create clean energy that works for Wisconsin, and is made in Wisconsin. This is a huge opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign fuel and make sure that Wisconsin doesn’t lose green jobs to countries like China.

“The jobs created by this legislation are good, family-wage jobs,” says Neuenfeldt. “This is the right choice for the environment and our economy.”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

NARFE Lauds OPM for Consultation on New Voluntary Annuitant FEHBP Option

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Margaret L. Baptiste praised John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), for consulting with NARFE on a proposed Medicare-related pilot project in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). The proposed project would test the viability of a voluntary “sub-option” within the FEHBP that would pay all or part of a Medicare Part B (as appropriate) for Medicare-eligible federal annuitants. The proposal was released yesterday in OPM’s “2010 FEHBP Carrier Letter” (also known as the “Call Letter”).

“If proven feasible, the Medicare sub-option could save some federal annuitants money and help to contain costs in FEHBP for workers, retirees and survivors,” said Baptiste. “What’s more, we appreciate that, through our consultation with Director Berry, the call letter clarifies that the ‘sub-option’ would not open the door for separately rated annuitant plans, which we believe would result in retirees and survivors paying substantially higher premiums than other FEHBP enrollees. NARFE would oppose the creation of any FEHBP plan for annuitants with premiums based on their age and health costs.”

The OPM letter stipulates: “We do not support splitting risk pools for annuitants and active employees and believe that these pilots can demonstrate ways of stemming cost growth through strengthened benefits coordination.”

The new coverage would be offered to Medicare-eligible annuitants as a sub-option of an existing FEHBP plan. If an annuitant chose the sub-option of an insurance carrier’s “standard option,” they would pay the same premium share as a worker or retiree enrolled in the traditional standard option. However, unlike the standard plan, the sub-option would pay all or part of a Medicare Part B premium, as appropriate. As a result, an annuitant enrolled in the sub-option would save about $1,200 a year on Part B premiums.

However, a sub-option participant would be required to pay the same deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance as workers or retirees who are age 64 and younger and not yet eligible for Medicare. With the exception of premiums and prescription drug co-payments, most annuitants age 65 and older who are enrolled in Medicare and a traditional FEHBP fee-for-service or preferred provider plan pay no out-of-pocket costs. Therefore, the sub-option could be cost-effective for an annuitant who does not have high out-of-pocket costs. In addition, annuitants might appreciate an option for what is basically seamless coverage, which mirrors what they had while they were on the payroll.

“Given the potential savings to federal annuitants, and the voluntary nature of the pilot, we believe that the Medicare sub-option ought to be given a chance. We are pleased that the Call Letter clarifies that the sub-option will not automatically become a regular feature of FEHBP until OPM evaluates it and decides whether it merits continuation after the second year of the demonstration. NARFE will continue to review the development of the new option with OPM as the pilot project moves forward,” Baptiste added.

NARFE, one of America’s oldest and largest associations, was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers. The largest federal employee/ retiree organization, NARFE represents the retirement interests of nearly 5 million current and future federal annuitants, spouses, and survivors.

Trumka Warns ‘Forces of Hate’ Fanning Flames of Workers’ Economic Anger

An economy that seems to work for just a privileged few, 11 million vanished jobs and a bailout for banks and Wall Street—but not working families—is fueling justified anger in workers. Speaking last night at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told an audience about the “forces of hate” and “radio voices” that are frantically fanning the flames of that justified anger to divide working people.

There are forces in our country that are working hard to convert justifiable anger about an economy that only seems to work for a few of us into racist and homophobic hate and violence directed at our President and heroes like Congressman John Lewis. Most of all, those forces of hate seek to divide working people—to turn our anger against each other. [Full Story]

Source:  AFL-CIO Now Blog

Early Retirement Rumors:

Again, APWU Says: Don’t Go!

Burrus Update 07-2010, April 8, 2010

Rumors about Voluntary Early Retirement offers are once again circulating throughout the Postal Service, and employees are evaluating the possibilities.

Let me state plainly:
  • There have been no discussions with postal management about offering new monetary incentives as an enticement for retiring.
  • If incentives are contemplated at some future date, the law says they must be negotiated with the union.
  • Any rumor that monetary incentives are under consideration is false.
In recent years the Postal Service has offered Voluntary Early Retirements (VERs) — without monetary incentives — without the union’s involvement. Management may do so again in the future.

The APWU has challenged these VER offers in the appropriate forums. As we noted in grievances protesting non-incentive VERs, the National Agreement requires the payment of severance pay to employees who voluntarily terminate their employment through early retirement.

We await final disposition of the dispute. In the meantime, it is very likely that postal management will pursue further reductions in the employee complement through Voluntary Early Retirement offers.

The union repeats the advice we offered regarding prior VERs without incentives: Don’t Go!

William Burrus

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ask the President (April 7, 2010)


For the first time in my union heart, I feel you have let me down. You have allowed the government to make you blind to socialism. A union’s fight is to stop management, CEOs and government from telling the workers what’s best for them. But you have endorsed a program that 65 percent of the American people did not want. You are rejoicing in a system that allows government to dictate my health care.

A program that requires its citizens to buy a product is not freedom, and putting the IRS in charge makes it worse. This new law will not change the cost or the real problems in the health care system. In a few years the health care system will be destroyed.

Is there a problem with healthcare in the country? Yes. But the cost and insurance impunity are the problem, not access. Everyone having an insurance card will not fix the problem; it’s just going to compound it.

I now have to think really hard if I still want to belong to a union that endorses socialism and not freedom.

Greg, Eastern Montgomery County PA Area Local

President Burrus:

Thank you for communicating with my office through Ask the President. It is important that the lines of communications between union members and the president remain open, and that you feel as though you are part of your union.

It is apparent that you are a proponent of small government, and you oppose government expansion into areas that you believe are best left to individual effort. I respect your position and I believe that we probably have many similar beliefs, but I find that those who object to government’s role in society often use a very broad brush.

The most glaring example of extreme anti-government rhetoric is to characterize government efforts to address serious national problems as “socialist” or anti-American. This is unfortunate, because without these sweeping denouncements, individuals of good heart and positive intent could engage in meaningful dialogue — and perhaps reach agreement somewhere in the middle.

Our strength as a nation lies in the effectiveness of our government, which encourages individual initiative and provides for the common good. Where the line should be drawn is the subject of legitimate debate and frequent disagreements.

Those who decry government nonetheless accept the government’s role in providing Medicare, Social Security and unemployment insurance, and in the schooling of our children, the protection offered by police and firefighters, the construction of roads, enforcement of traffic rules, protection against unscrupulous entrepreneurs, national defense, and thousands of other benefits.

Government records our birth, documents our citizenship and eligibility for Social Security, records our demise and the effect on our estate, and — a result of healthcare reform — will soon guarantee that every citizen has access to medical care.

The opponents ignore the fact that previous generations decided long ago that all citizens are entitled to emergency medical services. If government involvement in medical care is socialist, we crossed that bridge long ago. The alternative would be to stand by and watch people die because they lack insurance. I am sure that despite your opposition to government, you would not advocate refusing to provide emergency care to those who cannot afford to pay for it or who refuse to purchase it.

You and others who share your views prefer that the insurance companies set the rules. And they have: The insurance companies decided to deny coverage to people with “pre-existing conditions,” to limit medical services with lifetime “caps,” and to set fees based on whether or not an individual’s employer offers insurance.

I prefer that the representatives of the people set the rules. I respectfully acknowledge your position, and expect you to recognize my right to arrive at a different conclusion.

And I ask that you refrain from threatening to withdraw from the union. In our democratic organization, you have the right to express your disagreement through the ballot box. I notice that you do not renounce your citizenship, because the consequences would be too great. Unfortunately, non-members are not denied union representation. Perhaps you would temper your threat to quit the union if it meant you would lose protection against layoffs or that you would suffer a 20 percent reduction in pay.

I believe citizens must provide for the common good through their government. That’s not socialism, it’s civilization.

Massey Mine Cited for 450+ Safety Violations Before Deadly Blast

The Massey Energy Co. mine, where 25 coal miners were killed and four remain unaccounted following an explosion yesterday, was assessed nearly $1 million in fines for safety violations last year, including violations concerning escape routes and ventilation, according to federal records and news reports.

The mine is owned by Massey and operated by its subsidiary, Performance Coal Co.

Early indications indicate the blast was caused by highly explosive methane gas leaking from sealed-off areas of the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va.—the same cause of the 2006 Sago Mine disaster that killed 12 miners. New federal mine safety rules enacted after the Sago disaster included tougher new requirements for sealing off worked-out areas. [Full Story]

Source: AFL-CIO Now Blog

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Do You Expect From an Organization Intent in Creating Corporate Suicide?

Food for Thought by the webmeister.

Recently the Postal Service sent their proposal for 5-day delivery to the PRC. One would think that they would use the popular premium service and frequently advertised click and ship along with a flat rate priority box with delivery confirmation right? (If it fits - it ships.)

Wrong... Although they complain that it will cause our demise - they sent it via email!!!

Way to go people - way to make it look like you're really concerned about keeping us in business for the American public.

End to Saturday mail faces resistance

Two key lawmakers overseeing the U.S. Postal Service said they do not support the cash-strapped agency's plan to cut Saturday mail deliveries in hopes of saving more than $3 billion. [Full Story]

Source: Government Executive

New Labor Dept. Drive Sets to Stop Wage Theft

In a 180-degreee turn from a Labor Department under the Bush administration that tried to gut overtime rules for millions of workers, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has unveiled a new campaign to inform workers about their pay rights and to put a stop to wage theft.

In Chicago last week before a group of union, community and faith activists, Solis said: [Full Story]

No Mandatory Overtime

Last week, the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP) launched a new web site,, focusing on the issue of mandatory overtime for nurses and healthcare workers.

This site provides facts about mandatory overtime and allows users to take action by contacting their legislators and urging them to pass a bill which would ban mandatory overtime in Wisconsin.

Legislation to ban mandatory overtime for nurses and healthcare workers has been introduced by Senator Judy Robson (SB 108) and Representative Sandra Pasch (AB 152).

“This web site will give nurses, patients and the public the tools to put an end to the unsafe practice of mandatory overtime,” said Candice Owley, RN, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals.

Nurses are routinely forced to work beyond the end of their shift, sometimes up to 16 hours in a row. Forcing tired nurses, often on short notice, to work beyond their shift is unsafe for patients. Tired caregivers are more likely to make medical mistakes such as medication errors.

“Nurses are calling on state legislators to show the courage to pass the bill to end forced overtime. Patients are at risk when exhausted nurses make life and death decisions,” said Owley.

Fifteen states have already passed legislation to protect patients by limiting forced overtime.