Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Breaking: Specter to switch to Democratic Party

The Washington Post is reporting that Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has announced he is switching political parties and will run as a Democrat for Senate in 2010. Here is the official statement from Bill Samuel, AFL-CIO Legislative Director:

"We look forward to continuing an open and honest debate with SenatorSpecter about the issues that are important to Pennsylvania and America.We move forward with the understanding that America’s workers supportelected officials based on their positions on issues that matter toworking people, not political affiliations.

This is a new day for the Employee Free Choice Act and labor lawreform. Sen. Specter has said all along that he recognizes the need toreform our broken labor law system and we will continue to work withCongress to give workers back the freedom to form and join unions andpass legislation that stays true to the principles of the Employee freeChoice Act."

Wal-Mart workers tell their stories in new video from Change to Win

Change to Win and UFCW are ramping up a campaign to help Wal-Mart's workers organize.

Check out this hard-hitting video featuring workers from around the country telling their own stories of hardship and disrespect from the nation's largest private employer.

The new website, called "Wal-Mart Workers for Change," provides Wal-Mart workers with some organizing tools, including a hotline number for the union, a sign-up form to receive text messages by phone, and a downloadable union representation card. Part of the site also informs workers of their rights with an easy-to-read checklist of what management can and cannot legally do.

Webmeister note: Check out the hard-hitting video above. I've been in Wal-Mart a very limited amount of times since they've been in the my area and have only gone there because in my small community where I live there's not much else available or not much else left. Do you really want to support a company like this? Granted, these are American Workers but they are being taken advantage of and there's a fine line for some about not supporting the company for their labor practices. All I can say is... If and when the Employee Free Choice Act comes in to law, Wal-Mart will have to make amends.

Report released to mark Workers' Memorial Day

In honor of Workers' Memorial Day today, the AFL-CIO released its annual report on workplace fatalities, Death on the Job. There were a total of 5,657 fatal workplace injuries in 2007, a slight decrease from the year before, according to the AFL-CIO's analysis. This year's report also examined job safety enforcement in cases of worker deaths, finding that the average national total penalty in fatality investigations was just $11,311. Download sections of the report here.

Mark Gruenberg of PAI has more on Workers' Memorial Day in the Swapping Stories section of www.ilcaonline.org.

In keeping with Mother Jones' famous admonition to "pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living," union members and women are also holding rallies today in honor of Equal Pay Day.

Although the recently enacted Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act marks a step in the right direction, women in the US still make an average of just 78 cents for every dollar men earn. James Parks of the AFL-CIO blog reports on the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) are continuing the fight for fair pay, and why unions should support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Senate to Consider Legislation Giving Sick Leave Credit to FERS Retirees

APWU Web News Article #050-09, April 27, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has placed on the Senate calendar legislation that would give retirement credit for unused sick leave to postal and federal employees enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS). The legislation is part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (H.R. 1256), which passed the House of Representatives on April 2, by a vote of 298-112.

[Full Story]

A Hole in the Zero Tolerance Policy

(Click Here for Complete Story)

Alert: Contact Legislators to Support Labor History Bill!

The State Assembly will vote on Tuesday, April 28, on Assembly Bill 172 which requires school districts to address the history of the labor movement and the collective bargaining process in their curriculum. It does not tell the districts how or when to teach these topics, or even how much of the topic to cover. No extra classes would be required. There is a “Lessons in Labor History” curriculum available from the Department of Public Instruction for teachers to use. AB 172 will help balance the scales in our education system, which has essentially ignored the contributions made by workers and their unions to our nation’s economy and democratic process.

School districts are strongly fighting this bill. Contact your Assembly Representative today and urge that he/she support AB 172. Thank you!

LEGISLATIVE HOTLINE: 1-800-362-9472 (Madison Area: 266-9960) Staff will give you the legislator’s toll free office number to call.

E-MAIL: Your representative can be identified at: http://waml.legis.state.wi.us or e-mailed directly: rep.(insert last name) @legis.wisconsin.gov

David Newby

Sara J Rogers
Executive Vice President

Phil Neuenfeldt

Friday, April 24, 2009

Support union jobs in the U.S. and Canada

This guide is prepared by the UAW to provide information for consumers who want to purchase vehicles produced by workers who enjoy the benefits and protections of a union contract.

All these vehicles are made in the United States or Canada by members of the United Auto Workers (UAW), Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) or International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America (IUE).

Because of the integration of U.S. and Canadian vehicle production, all these vehicles include significant UAW-made content and support the jobs of UAW members.

However, those marked with an asterisk (*) are sourced from the United States and another country.

When purchasing one of these models, check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

A VIN beginning with "1", "4" or "5" identifies a U.S.-made vehicle; "'2:' identifies a Canadian-made vehicle.

Not all vehicles made in the United States or Canada are built by union-represented workers. The Toyota Corolla, for example, is made in the United States by UAW members, but the Canadian model is made in a nonunion plant and other models are imported from a third country.

To order copies of the 2009 union vehicle buying guide, contact the

UAW Purchasing Department,
8000 E. Jefferson Ave.,
Detroit, MI 48214,
(313) 926-5221.

Our day to remember the fallen: Workers' Memorial Day

Every April 28, the international labor movement stops to commemorate the lives and sacrifices of workers who never made it home, and to renew the struggle for safer and healthier workplaces. Here is a sampling of the events taking place next Tuesday around the world:

Canada(British Columbia): 10am, BC Federation of Labour hosts a rally in honor of BC's fallen workers at Hastings Park, Vancouver BC.

Unions in India will hold meetings all day April 28 with government ministry officials to push for a ban on asbestos.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions will host a one-day conference on improving reporting of workplace fatalities and enforcement of Ireland's workplace safety laws.

The South African Department of Labour in partnership with the ILO will hold an event May 8 titled "Health and Life at Work: A Fundamental Human Right."

Here in the U.S., Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will participate directly in Workers' Memorial Day, as she helps to break ground for a new national workers' memorial at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, MD.

Solis' involvement marks a sharp turnaround from the Bush era, and underscores her commitment to improving worker health and safety. James Parks of the AFL-CIO blog has more about the day

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twenty-Two More U.S. Reps Sign Up as Sponsors of H.R. 22

APWU Web News Article #049-09, April 23, 2009

Legislation that is desperately needed to save the Postal Service from a crushing financial crisis continues to garner support in the House of Representatives.

As of April 23, 274 members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 22 [PDF], which would modify a provision of the 2006 postal “reform” law that drains the Postal Service of billions of dollars per year and has contributed to a crisis so severe that it threatens the viability of the nation's 235-year-old postal system. [Full Story]

Click here to see if your U.S. representative is a co-sponsor of H.R. 22.
Click here to send a message to your legislators.
Click here to view a PowerPoint slide show about H.R. 22.

USPS ‘Clarifies’ Some Early-Retirement Deadlines

APWU Web News Article #048-09, April 23, 2009

The Postal Service has informed the APWU that the deadline for eligible employees who wish to apply for Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) effective June 30 or July 31 is June 19. The USPS has also designated June 19 as the “irrevocable” date, by which employees who have applied for retirement but wish to withdraw their applications must do so. [Full Story]

New Poll Shows GOP Becoming 'Irrelevant' to Young People

A recent Democracy Corps poll finds the Republican party becoming increasingly "irrelevant" to America's young people while President Barack Obama's popularity continues to grow.

Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner's first post-election survey of youth suggests voters ages 18 to 29 have undergone a striking political evolution in recent years.

By a 59 to 14 percent margin, these voters people prefer the Democrats when it comes to "paying attention to issues that affect younger people," a six point gain since 2007.

Meanwhile, young people's support for President Obama has expanded beyond the 66 percent support they gave him last November.

See the poll results

Letters from Postal Workers

The American Postal Workers Union of Wisconsin (APWU-WI) dedicated part of their annual Spring Seminar to the Employee Free Choice Act. [Full Story]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To Save the Postal Service, Congress Must Approve Legislation

APWU Web News Article #047-09, April 21, 2009

A new PowerPoint slide show about H.R. 22, a bill of critical importance to anyone concerned about the Postal Service, is now available to local, state, and national officers for use at union meetings. The slide show explains the significance of H.R. 22 in staving off a financial collapse of the USPS.

“We hope union activists will use the slide show to inform rank-and-file members about the legislation,” said APWU President William Burrus. “This bill is essential to the viability of the Postal Service — and to our jobs.”

“It is imperative that APWU members contact their legislators and ask them to support the bill,” Burrus said.

More than half the members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 22. “We expect a similar bill to be introduced in the Senate soon,” said Myke Reid, director of the APWU Legislative & Political Department.

“As soon as this happens, we must be prepared to act: Union members must urge their senators to support the legislation.”

Testifying before a House subcommittee last month, Burrus told lawmakers that without H.R. 22, “it is unlikely that the Postal Service can survive in its present form.”

[more H.R. 22 news]

Organizing for America Kicks Off Listening Sessions in Wisconsin

Barack Obama's Organizing for America (OFA) is back on the ground in Wisconsin, hosting town hall-style listening sessions across the state.

The Obama campaign brought an unprecedented number of new voices into the process -- and OFA is working to make sure those voices remain at the center of the debate as the President and Congress work on providing solutions for our economy.

At Listening Tour meetings, you'll get a chance to meet new state staff members, hear about some lessons learned during the general election, and offer your thoughts on how we can organize Wisconsin going forward. Your ideas will be used to write a Wisconsin-specific plan for Organizing for America in 2009 and beyond.

APWU Health Plan’s Consumer Driven Option

Check Out the APWU Health Plan's Consumer Driven Option

Monday, April 20, 2009

APWU-Led Consolidation Protests Gather Steam, Gain Public Support

APWU Web News Article #045-09, April 20, 2009

Owners of small businesses, workers, and other concerned citizens continue to speak out at protests and at public meetings staged by the Postal Service to “share initial results” of Area Mail Processing studies.

At one of the noisier of such gatherings, several business owners and public officials in Wilkes-Barre disagreed sharply with the USPS conclusion that moving mail processing operations 25 miles away to Scranton would leave the economy of Luzerne County unharmed.

The Wilkes-Barre City Council unanimously approved a resolution that opposes “any and all efforts” to close the USPS facility. “We have employers that really rely on getting their mail out,” Mayor Thomas Leighton said at the meeting. “That’s why it’s important for the future of the city, while we’re going under revitalization, that we maintain this kind of service.” [Full Story]

Big Business Blocks Working Family Bills by Keeping Franken’s Senate Seat Vacant

It’s April 2009 and we’re still checking back in to see who won in Minnesota’s hard-fought 2008 Senate race between incumbent Norm Coleman and AFL-CIO-endorsed challenger Al Franken—because corporate front groups are dumping money into delaying and dragging out the process.

When last we visited Minnesota, the state was just beginning to recount the votes in the excruciatingly close race. The recount was an exhaustive, transparent process, with every step open to the public and examined closely by Minnesota’s judiciary. And this week, a three-judge panel—in a 68-page decision issued after extensive consideration—ruled that Franken “received the highest number of votes legally cast” and is “entitled to receive a certificate of election.”

Yet Franken can’t be seated, because ex-Sen. Coleman is planning to appeal to the Minnesota state Supreme Court. Although election-law experts suggest that Coleman’s arguments are unlikely to have any more effect on the state Supreme Court than they did in front of judges from around the state who have heard them throughout this long process, Coleman is still keeping his team of lawyers busy and well-paid. And who’s paying for those mounting legal bills? The same corporate front groups bankrolling the fight against the Employee Free Choice Act.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent reports that Coleman’s cronies—a coalition of deep-pocketed corporate lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Restaurant Association and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW)—are willing to “raise as much as necessary” to keep Coleman’s lawyers going and bankroll his attempts to overturn the judges’ ruling that Franken is the winner.

It’s clear what’s underlying this: Franken ran—and won—as a friend to working families and a supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act. Franken, a former member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the Screen Actors (SAG) and the Writers Guild of America, campaigned alongside union members throughout his campaign, and their energetic mobilization made the critical difference in one of the closest Senate races in U.S. history.

Now, after their failure to defeat pro-worker Franken at the ballot box, corporate front groups are hoping to keep him out of the Senate seat that’s rightfully his, to prevent him from voting to break minority filibusters and pass critical legislation to make the economy work for everyone. Because of the rules of the Senate, having a vacant seat is just as effective in squelching pro-worker bills as having someone there to vote against them. Even Dirk Van Dongen, NAW president, acknowledges that keeping the seat empty is a feature that Coleman’s backers are happy about.

(Worth noting: the Chamber of Commerce gets at least some its money from groups that have taken taxpayer bailout money. Not only is the Chamber putting its resources into anti-worker lobbying and anti-Employee Free Choice commercials—they’re paying to prevent Minnesota from seating a senator.)

Coleman and his cronies already have lost the battle in the court of public opinion as well as in Minnesota’s judicial branch. At Daily Kos, Arjun Jaikumar provides a comprehensive rundown of the voices from across the political spectrum asking Norm Coleman to give it a rest—including three newspapers that endorsed Coleman during election season. And Sam Stein at The Huffington Post gets a Republican official on the record suggesting Coleman isn’t doing himself any favors:

If this goes much farther, he will lose whatever goodwill he has remaining with the voters of Minnesota and he can kiss a political comeback goodbye. There is a fine line between toughness and obstinacy.

A poll of Minnesota voters shows that 63 percent think Coleman should concede, and 59 percent say Franken should be seated now, giving Minnesota’s voters the two senators that every other state gets.

Experts say Coleman has minimal chances of getting the previous rulings overturned—and he knows it. He can’t overturn the vote, but as long as the seat is vacant, Coleman & Co. can make it harder for the majority in the Senate to break filibusters and pass pro-worker legislation.

It’s the equivalent of saying: if we don’t get to win, nobody does.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

APWU Local Shows Support For H.R. 22 at New York City Rally

APWU Web News Article #044-09, April 17, 2009

The APWU is supporting H.R. 22 — legislation that is critically needed to preserve the nation’s postal system — not only by reaching out to lawmakers but by rallying at the heart of the issue, in front of facilities threatened by the Postal Service’s precarious fiscal situation. “H.R. 22 will provide necessary financial relief for the USPS,” said New York Metro APWU President Clarice Torrence during a rally in front of a Manhattan Post Office slated for closure this summer. “The bill will enable the Postal Service to survive without making such drastic cuts and it won’t cost the taxpayers one cent.” [full story] [Union Asks Members to Contact Congress]

Delivery Unit Relocation (DUR)


By: Marty Mater, President - Madison WI Area Local

Delivery Unit Relocation (DUR) is the unpleasant flavor of the day. Actually, DUR started in our area in December 2008. Our employer, the USPS, is bleeding red ink and looking to cut expenses wherever possible. Right, wrong, or otherwise, the carrier operations in one Post Office are relocated to another Post Office. The immediate impact (savings) comes from the pocketbook of the clerk(s) in the losing office as most of the work the clerks used to perform disappears along with the carriers. The ultimate goal, once the carriers are relocated, is to move the clerk(s) out (voluntarily or involuntarily), downgrade the office (and eventually the postmaster’s rate of pay), and hire a Postmaster Relief (PMR). A PMR is a non-bargaining unit position and essentially a glorified casual with low wages, no benefits, and the right to quit or be fired.

So far it appears DUR has impacted at least nine (9) offices represented by the Madison WI Area Local, with five (5) additional offices slated for DUR, and I have heard of two (2) other offices on the chopping block but not yet on any officially approved DUR list. The clerks in these small offices have seen their hours reduced over the course of the past several years, from 20-30 hours per week, down to 14-20 hours per week, and now only a few hours on Saturday. Additional hours only come about when the postmaster is gone and the clerk fills in, or if the clerk can be loaned out to another post office. It is not an easy life for the PTF clerk in a small office but we make ever effort to ensure their rights under the CBA are protected.

Click Here - to read the entire article as published in: THE FLASH REPORT

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When Is Your Ideal Retirement Date in 2009?


‘Summer Sale’ Will Discount Our Future

Burrus Update #05-09, April 15, 2009

In response to declining mail volume and deteriorating financial circumstances, the Postal Service has announced plans for new price incentives for major mailers.

One proposal, which is designed to increase volume during the time of year when mail volume is typically lowest, is being called a “Summer Sale.” The plan calls for large mailers to be granted rebates of 20 to 30 percent for increasing their Standard mailings between June 15 and Sept 15. [Full Story]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the Field: Employee Free Choice Actions Everywhere

With members of Congress at home for the April congressional recess, the grassroots campaign to pass the Employee Free Choice Act is in high gear, with more than 300 events taking place around the country in support of workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain. Here are some highlights of this nationwide effort.

Last Tuesday, hundreds of workers rallied for Employee Free Choice in Harrisburg, Pa. Among the speakers were Ed Sadusky and Ken Matz, two workers at a steel plant in Cressona, Pa., who were subjected to intimidation, harassment and management roadblocks in their attempt to form a union. Their efforts to bargain for a better life were thwarted by corporate pressure and delays, and it took them two and a half years to get a fair first contract. Their story illustrates why we need the Employee Free Choice Act.

In Florida, union members and members of Jobs with Justice delivered more than 8,500 letters to the office of Sen. Bill Nelson to thank him for co-sponsoring the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s just one of the many activities in support of the legislation happening all across Florida during the recess.

As part of the “Faces of the Employee Free Choice Act” campaign, union members and community allies are touring Colorado accompanied by moving billboard trucks bearing the faces of Dan Luevano and other workers whose stories show the need for the Employee Free Choice Act.

In Indiana, supporters of the bill held a faith empowerment breakfast featuring Kim Bobo of Interfaith Worker Justice and members of various religious groups.

In northwest Indiana, union members held a working lunch where they wrote letters and made phone calls to their senators asking them to support the Employee Free Choice Act. A similar working lunch was held in Texarkana, Ark., and another was held in Omaha. Thousands of phone calls and letters are going out to senators around the country.

In Orono, Maine, author Barbara Ehrenreich was the featured speaker at a symposium about the Employee Free Choice Act. She said that by reducing inequality and giving workers bargaining power, the bill will serve as an economic stimulus.

The campaign to pass the federal legislation is active in Louisiana, too. Louisiana AFL-CIO President Louis Reine recently published an op-ed in the Bogalusa Daily News in support of the bill, which he says is critical to strengthening the economy by protecting workers’ ability to bargain for a better life. Says Reine:

Companies routinely intimidate, harass, coerce and even fire people who try to form a union and have collective bargaining.

Current law is ineffective in stopping these corporate practices, and penalties are so slight for breaking the law that many corporations simply consider it the cost of doing business. The government found that companies violated the rights of 26,824 workers in 2006 alone. Especially under these current economic conditions, it is time to stand up for working Americans. It is time to rebuild the American middle class.

AFL-CIO’s 2009 Executive PayWatch Highlights 10 of the Worst CEO Pay Practices

Popular Website Includes Latest CEO Pay Data; Bailout Bonuses

(Washington, April 14) – Retention bonuses. Golden coffins. Turbo-charged pension plans. Hefty severance packages. Lavish “executive physicals.” These are some of the outrageous CEO pay practices highlighted in the AFL-CIO’s 2009 Executive PayWatch website launched today at www.paywatch.org. Despite the worst economic slump in decades, companies continue to heap millions of dollars in pay, bonuses and perquisites on CEO for poor performance, according to the latest data for 2008. The 2009 PayWatch site highlights 10 of these worst CEO pay practices through case studies and includes a comprehensive database of new CEO pay figures.

“Americans are rightly angered by CEOs who haven’t learned their lesson,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka. “After driving the economy into the ground and gambling with the nation’s retirement savings, these same corporations are giving out huge bonuses for bad behavior.”

The 2009 PayWatch includes a new section on pay practices at companies which received taxpayer assistance under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The new PayWatch also includes companies which are actively lobbying against workers’ ability to form unions and bargain collectively for fair pay and benefits.

Corporations and pay practices featured in the 2009 Executive PayWatch are:

‘Super-Sized’ Stock Options: SunTrust (STI) received $4.9 billion from the TARP bailout fund and wants shareholders to approve a mega-grant of $7.7 million in stock options for James Wells, its chairman and chief executive officer, even as investors have lost billions of dollars.

Pay for Failure: Bank of America Corp’s (BAC) board of directors subscribes to a philosophy that rewards executives regardless of performance. Experts say this practice encouraged CEO Ken Lewis to make risky acquisitions of troubled financial companies such as Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial.

Retention Bonuses: American International Group A.I.G. (AIG) has been kept afloat by more than $170 billion in federal assistance since September 2008 – about $1,500 for every household in the nation. But the New York-based giant insurer that nearly brought down the global financial system paid out more than $500 million in salaries and bonuses to hundreds of senior employees even as it was being bailed out by the government.

Executive Physicals: Employees of Wal-Mart (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, have a strong incentive to stay healthy. Only 48% are enrolled in Wal-Mart’s health care plan for its employees, according to an internal company memo, and 46% of Wal-Mart employees’ children are either on Medicaid or uninsured. To put that in perspective, 11% of children in America were uninsured in the U.S in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the CEO and top executives receive an annual “senior executive physical” examination paid for by the company. While Wal-Mart doesn’t list the exact cost of the executive physical it is listed as part of the $431,446 received by former CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. under the category of “all other compensation.”

Moving the Performance Goalposts: Toll Brothers (TOL), the nation’s largest luxury home-builder, benefited from the housing bubble. As the housing market cratered in 2007 and it became clear that Robert Toll, the founding chairman and chief executive officer, would not qualify for a bonus under the existing plan, the company decided to move the performance goalposts. Instead of linking Toll’s bonus to the company’s net income, the new plan is tied to a percentage of the company’s income before taxes and bonus, revenues of at least $1.5 billion, and several squishy factors such as “management enhancement and efficiencies, and financial market visibility and access.”

Job Security for the CEO, insecurity for workers: FedEx Corp.’s (FDX) Frederick Smith, the chairman, president and chief executive officer, receives a generous salary, assurance of a severance if the company gets bought, perks and a traditional pension. Yet FedEx has a double standard for its workers. FedEx Ground classifies drivers as independent contractors so it doesn’t have to provide them with basic benefits, such as overtime pay or expense reimbursements. FedEx Ground drivers also are required to pay for their own delivery trucks, as well as for the insurance, repairs, gas and tires they need to do their jobs. By arguing that the drivers are independent contractors, not employees, FedEx maintains they can’t unionize. FedEx even opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would ensure all workers can have the freedom to form unions to bargain for fair pay and better benefits.

Lavish Perquisites: While most working Americans struggle to file their federal tax returns by April 15, that’s one thing Ray Irani, chief of Occidental Petroleum (OXY), doesn’t need to worry about. In 2008, the company provided Irani with more than $400,000 in tax preparation and financial planning services. That’s nearly eight times the $50,233 median U.S. household income in 2007, and more than the $400,000 salary of the President of the United States.

‘Golden Coffin’ Death Benefits: Americans have lost nearly one-fifth of their household wealth in the past year, leaving many wondering about the legacy they will leave their children. But James Bernhard’s heirs are well taken care of. When the founding chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Shaw Group (SGR) dies, the Baton Rouge, La. construction giant will pay more than $40 million to his heirs through “golden coffin” benefits, including pay, stock awards, life insurance and health benefits.

‘Golden Parachute’ Severance Benefits: Workers laid off by companies in these tough economic times are lucky if they receive more than their last paycheck and their legal right to extend healthcare benefits, but chief executive officers at many of America’s largest companies often receive a “golden parachute,” or a generous severance package, when they depart. Richard L. Bond, president and top executive of Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) until January 5, stood to collect more than $14 million in severance.

Turbo-charged Pension Plan: Deere & Co. (DE) workers and pensioners have good reason to fret over their retirement. Deere expects to earn 8.3% on its pension plan investments in fiscal 2009, but the stock market decline makes that highly unlikely, jeopardizing the company’s $683 million pension surplus. Overall, the nation’s pension funds lost roughly $1 trillion in assets by last summer alone. But CEO Robert Lane’s retirement income is secure: the value of his total pension benefits increased $5.5 million in fiscal 2008 to $22.5 million - or about $1.6 million annually. Lane and other senior executives participate in not one, but three different pension plans.

The AFL-CIO launched Executive PayWatch in 1997 to draw attention to runaway CEO pay packages and the widening gap between the compensation of corporate chieftains and workers. In 1980, CEOs of large U.S. companies made 42 times the wages of the average worker; by 2006 the gap had widened to more than 364 times.

The AFL-CIO represents 11 million workers in 56 unions nationwide and works to advance the interests of America’s working families.

Monday, April 13, 2009

APWU of WISCONSIN... Puts Money Where Mouth Is

By: John E. Durben

At the last APWU of Wisconsin Board of Directors Meeting a motion was made, second and carried unanimously to send a check for $2,000.00 to support the Freedom of Choice Act. This is a very important piece of legislature that gives the right of what type of voting for Union representation to the employees and not the employers as it is now.

APWU and the AFL-CIO have been fighting from the onset to get this legislation before the legislature to become law. It's been far too long that the employers have been dictating the type of vote that dictates the forming of a Union. The employees are going through the process... they should be the ones that dictate how... they want to proceed.

The Union Busting organizations have spent over 200 million dollars to defeat this legislation, obviously labor can not match the deep pockets of corporate America, but we have you... the voters... and our legislators need to hear your voices.

Sign up Now for Strategic Research Training

It’s a good time to sign up for a course in strategic campaign research, writes Charles Taylor, coordinator for the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Research recruitment program. Here’s why.
The union movement is poised to launch new waves of campaigns that will require skilled strategic researchers supporting organizing, bargaining and representation. To help meet the demand, the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Research (CSR) offers technical training for union researchers and campaigners to help prepare for the opportunities ahead.

The CSR co-sponsors a unique training on strategic corporate research for undergraduate and graduate students interested in working as strategic researchers and as campaigners in the union movement. Launched in 2001, the annual, one-week course takes place in Ithaca, N.Y., the site of the School of Labor and Industrial Relations at Cornell University (ILR), which also co-sponsors the training.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2009 Spring Seminar Clips from Oshkosh, WI

Delegates to the 2009 Spring Seminar were given the opportunity to participate in some role playing. This included receiving a complaint, doing the grievance investigation and then following up with processing the grievance. Here are a couple of clips of a grievance involving attendance. The players in these scenes are Sue Pederson and Mike Victory, both from the Milwaukee Area Local APWU. There is also a cameo appearance by Marty Mater from the Madison APWU.

Click on Cartoon
to Enlarge

Monday, April 6, 2009

Union Asks Members to Contact Congress

APWU Web News Article #042-09, April 6, 2009

Support Growing for H.R. 22

Legislation that would provide the Postal Service temporary relief from a crushing financial crisis is gaining wide support in Congress. More than half of the members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 22, which would suspend an onerous provision of the 2006 postal “reform” law that requires the USPS to “pre-fund” retiree healthcare benefits. The requirement drains the Postal Service of more than $5 billion dollars a year and has contributed to a financial crisis so severe that it threatens the viability of the nation's 235 year-old postal system. [full story]

House Confirms Support for FERS Sick-Leave Credit

APWU Web News Article #039-09, April 2, 2009

For the second day in a row, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would provide sick-leave credit to employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

The “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” (H.R. 1256), introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), incorporates the provisions of H.R. 1804, which was adopted on April 1. The new bill also would provide the Food and Drug Administration with greater authority to regulate tobacco products. It passed 298-112, with 21 members not voting.

In addition to the tobacco provisions, the merged bill would:
  • Give credit for unused sick leave to FERS employees;
  • Provide automatic enrollment for new employees in the Thrift Savings Plan;
  • Establish a “qualified” Roth contribution program, and
  • Permit separated former employees to redeposit retirement contributions they withdrew in order to qualify for past service credit.
(For more information, see the article, “House Approves Bill to Give Sick-Leave Credit to FERS Employees).

FDA: Insulin Pens and Insulin Cartridges Must Not Be Shared

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued an alert to health care professionals reminding them that single-patient insulin pens and insulin cartridges should not be used to administer medication to multiple patients due to the potential risk of transmitting blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and the hepatitis viruses.

Insulin pens are pen-shaped injector devices that contain a disposable needle and either an insulin reservoir or an insulin cartridge. The devices typically contain enough insulin for a patient to self-administer several doses of insulin before the reservoir or cartridge is empty. All insulin pens are approved only for single-patient use (one device for only one patient).

The FDA is aware of incidents at two undisclosed hospitals involving more than 2,000 people in which the cartridge component of the insulin pens were used to administer insulin to multiple patients, although the disposable needles were reportedly changed among patients.

“Insulin pens are designed to be safe for one patient to use one pen multiple times with a new, fresh needle for each injection,” said Amy Egan, M.D., deputy director of safety at the FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Insulin pens are not designed, and are not safe, for one pen to be used by more than one patient, even if needles are changed between patients due to the risk of transmitting blood-borne pathogens.”

Patients exposed to shared insulin pens are being contacted by the two hospitals and are being offered testing for hepatitis and HIV. Some of the potentially exposed patients have reportedly tested positive for the hepatitis C virus, although it is not known if the virus was spread as a result of insulin pen sharing.

The FDA is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and professional organizations to address infection control issues related to insulin pens.

For Information:Information for Healthcare Professionals: Risk of Transmission of Blood-borne Pathogens from Shared Use of Insulin Penshttp://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/InfoSheets/HCP/insulin_pensHCP.htm

John Akey Seminar - August 14 & 15

The John Akey Seminar will be held in Wausau on August 14 & 15. Plans for that seminar are almost complete. The Akey Seminar is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever. Your NBAs and State Officers are working hard to keep you up to date and informed. Please plan now to attend.

Click Here for more information

Business Owners, Elected Leaders Support Employee Free Choice

by Seth Michaels, Mar 31, 2009

Over the past week, union members have made more than 4,000 calls and sent more than 8,000 letters to members of Congress urging them to support the Employee Free Choice Act to protect workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain.

Meanwhile, more and more small business owners, community members and lawmakers are indicating their support for the proposed legislation, which would level the playing field for workers seeking to form unions. [Full Story]

Source: AFL-CIO Now Blog

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