Friday, May 15, 2009

Milwaukee Elected Officials and Community Members Rally in Support of the Employee Free Choice Act

Legislation Needed to Re-build the Middle Class

On Tuesday, May 19th, supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act will rally outside of the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Participants will protest a closed-door speech by Karl Rove, former advisor to President Bush, scheduled to be delivered to members of Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce.

“The Employee Free Choice Act is not just good for the labor movement, it also makes sense for our communities,” says State Rep. Barbara Toles. “Unions provide a buffer in difficult economic times. They help preserve economic benefits and maintain job security. Moreover, unions do so in a manner that is sensitive to the needs of business.”

“This is about basic fairness and human dignity,” says Rev. Dr. Rolen Womack Jr. “The Employee Free Choice Act would give working people a fair and direct path to form unions through majority sign-up, help employees secure a contract with their employer in a reasonable period of time, and toughen penalties against employers who violate their workers’ rights.”

New Labeling Required for OTC Pain and Fever Medicines

Makers of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and fever reducers must revise their labeling to include warnings about potential safety risks associated with these popular drugs. These risks include internal bleeding and liver damage.

Final Rule

In a final rule issued on April 28, 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directed that labeling be revised for acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are two classes of commonly used drugs that are effective in reducing fevers and relieving minor aches and pain such as headaches and muscle aches. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen.

The final rule applies to all OTC pain relievers and fever reducers, including those that contain one of these ingredients in combination with other ingredients, such as in cold medicines containing pain relievers or fever reducers.

Under the final rule, manufacturers must

  • ensure that the labeling warns of the risk of stomach bleeding for NSAIDs and the risk of severe liver damage for acetaminophen
  • ensure that the active ingredients of these drugs are prominently displayed on the drug labels on both packages and bottles
  • revise the product labeling within one year of the date the rule was issued
Overdoses and Other Risks

Safety data reported in medical literature indicate that people sometimes take more acetaminophen than the labeling recommends. Others unknowingly take multiple products containing acetaminophen at the same time.

Exceeding the recommended dosage of acetaminophen may increase the risk of severe liver damage. Alcohol use can also increase the risk of liver damage with acetaminophen.

The risk of stomach bleeding may increase in people who use NSAIDs and who are taking blood-thinning drugs or steroids. Stomach bleeding risks also increase for people who take multiple NSAIDs at the same time, or in people who take them longer than directed. Alcohol use can increase the risk for stomach bleeding with NSAIDs use.

An FDA Advisory Committee meeting will be held on June 29 and 30, 2009, to discuss further steps the agency could take to reduce the risk of liver damage associated with acetaminophen overdoses.

This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products. Sign up for free e-mail subscriptions at

For More Information

FDA Press Release

A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine

Excessing: Know Your Rights

In an effort to reduce the employee complement, postal management seems intent on compelling employees to resign, APWU President William Burrus said in an Update for union members. “To combat this coercion, the union advises employees who are notified that they are excess to their craft or installation to make sure they are knowledgeable of all of their contractual rights and to demand specific information from management about their ‘new assignments.’” [full story]

Source: National APWU Website

Kenosha Workers Picket Chrysler Engine PlantTaxpayer Money Should Be Used to Maintain U.S. Jobs

On Monday, May 18th, workers and community members will picket outside of the Chrysler Engine Plant in Kenosha, urging the company to reconsider its restructuring plan.

As things stand, the Kenosha Engine Plant is scheduled to close, eliminating 800 Wisconsin jobs. Meanwhile, Chrysler is planning to build and expand facilities in Mexico. This is a betrayal of billions of dollars that United States taxpayers have invested to keep Chrysler in business.

What: Kenosha Workers Picket to Save Chrysler Engine Plant
Who: UAW Workers, Retirees, and Community Supporters
When: May 18, 2009 at 5 PM
Where: Chrysler LLC Kenosha Engine Plant 5555 30th Avenue; Kenosha, WI 53144

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Durben/Fostner May/June 2009

Click on Cartoon to enlarge.

OSHA, MSHA Move on Bush-Stalled Health and Safety Rules

by Mike Hall, May 12, 2009

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is moving forward on several new workplace safety measures that languished for years under the Bush administration. The move follows last week’s unveiling of the Obama administration’s Labor Department budget that boosts OSHA’s funding by $51 million and includes the hiring of 160 new safety inspectors.

According to the Labor Department’s regulatory agenda released yesterday, the safety agency will move on several rules stalled under Bush’s OSHA, including rules to protect workers from exposure to dangerous substances and chemicals such as silica (which can cause serious respiratory disease), diacetyl (a flavoring additive linked to “popcorn lung”) and beryllium (a light metal that can cause lung damage, especially to metal and dental workers). [Full Story]



It’s an old song lyric but still true: what a difference a day makes. Like November 4, 2008. It was an historic day nationally with the election of President Obama, but Wisconsin voters also turned the tide at the state level. On that day Republicans lost their long-held majority in the State Assembly. For the first time since 1986, Democrats control both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s office. The labor movement and progressive allies can now actually enact pro-worker legislation that was opposed and obstructed for more than twenty years.

This seismic shift did not just happen. Union members worked very long and hard in 2008 to turn out the votes for candidates who support working families. Workers voted for change so that we could finally quit playing defense and really make some gains.

We now have the only State Legislature in the country where the leaders of both houses are also union members. Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker is from the Bricklayers union and Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan is from the UAW. The committee appointments are key as well: Sen. Spencer Coggs, chair of the Senate Labor Committee, is an AFSCME member and Rep. Christine Sinicki, chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, has a solid pro-worker record.

There are many examples of a new day but just two of them are: AB 172, a bill requiring that labor history be included in instructional standards for schools, just passed the Assembly; and SB 20, which strengthens the penalties for employment discrimination related to equal pay, age, race and other protected classes, was passed by both houses. The right of collective bargaining for UW System faculty and academic staff is finally moving forward as well.

Union members just participated in a very spirited and successful Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Legislative Conference and Lobby Day—but we know we can never take anything for granted. The mobilization of workers’ strength must continue beyond elections and conferences because the other side does not rest. As labor and Democratic allies try to advance workers interests in Madison, corporate lobbyists cry that business is being treated unfairly. During good times they tell legislators that employers will do what’s best for workers without legislation. In tough times they say that any legislation that benefits workers is a job killer. According to corporate lobbyists, there is never a good time to be on the side of working families.

We need to remind legislators of the efforts of union members on their behalf, hold them accountable for their votes, and urge them to stick with us in these tough times. It’s never been clearer why organized labor and union members must be engaged in the political process. A day does make a difference. It’s a New Day at the Capitol.

Phil Neuenfeldt
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO
Secretary-Treasurer & Legislative Director

Monday, May 11, 2009

Leaders in Investment Community Speak Out for Employee Free Choice

A coalition of investors, representing nearly $400 billion in assets, has stepped forward to say the Employee Free Choice Act is the right move right now to protect workers and strengthen the economy.

In a letter to Congress, 26 leaders from the investment community strongly endorse the Employee Free Choice Act, saying that it’s critical not just for the cause of human rights, but for business, too. The support of these business leaders is a valuable corrective to the anti-union spin and disinformation promoted by corporate lobby groups.

Adam Kanzer, managing director and general counsel at Domini Social Investments LLC, says workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain is critical to a strong economy.

The Employee Free Choice Act is an investment in our shared economic future. The act will help to stabilize our economy, both in the United States and abroad, by establishing a more balanced relationship between labor and management. Today, American workers are producing more and receiving less. This is an unsustainable trend that creates material risks for employees, investors and the global economy. By more effectively protecting workers’ fundamental human rights, the Act would help to reverse these damaging trends.

The letter from investors details the flaws in our current system for forming unions, starting from the simple proposition that it should be workers, not their bosses, who make the decision about whether, and how, to form a union. The investors say that workplaces where workers are free to join unions are safer, fairer to workers, have lower turnover rates and deliver a better return on investment. In addition, when workers can bargain for a fair share of the value they create, they can get the economic security they need to have stronger purchasing power—an absolute must to turn around the economy.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says that the letter points out how many in the business community want to work with, not against, their employees for a stronger, more sustainable economy:

These investors know from experience that businesses that honor strong labor standards are much more likely to benefit from higher productivity, less turnover and a better-trained workforce. They have recognized, along with many in the business community, that working people need to have the tools to increase their purchasing power and bargain for financial stability in order to get this economy growing again.

You can read the full letter here. The voices of these investors are yet another addition to the broad coalition that demands labor law reform and a free and fair chance for workers to bargain for a better life.

Dispute Initiated Over Revisions to Contract Postal Unit Handbook

The Union has initiated a national dispute over the issuance of a new Publication 156, "Postal Employees Guide to Contract Postal Units", that replaces the Handbook AS-707-F, "Contracting for Contract Postal Units." The provisions of Handbook AS-707-F are utilized by the Union in regard to the enforcement, administration and/or interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement, and have been the subject of disputes at both the field and national level. It is the APWU's position that the Postal Service has unilaterally made revisions, replaced or renamed the Handbook AS-707-F, in an attempt to circumvent its obligations under the collective bargaining agreement.

Click here for a copy of the National Dispute letter.

Source: APWU National Site

H.R. 22 Gains Support from Twenty-Five More U.S. Representatives

APWU Web News Article #056-09, May 8, 2009

Support continues to grow in Congress for much needed legislation to save the Postal Service from a crushing financial crisis.

As of May 6, 299 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 22 [PDF], which would modify a provision of the 2006 postal “reform” law that needlessly drains the Postal Service of billions of dollars per year and has contributed to a financial crunch so severe that it threatens the viability of the nation's 235-year-old postal system. [Full Story]

Source: APWU National Site

Thursday, May 7, 2009

FERS and CSRS Disability Retirement: Common Principles to Follow

By Robert R. McGill

[Full Story]

President's FY 2010 Budget for FDA Invests Substantially in Food and Medical Product Safety

$3.2 billion request reflects a 19 percent increase from FY 2009

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is requesting a budget of $3.2 billion to protect and promote the public health as part of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget – a 19 percent increase over the current FDA fiscal year budget.

The FY 2010 request, which covers the period of Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2010, includes increases of $295.2 million in budget authority and $215.4 million in industry user fees. The FDA budget proposes two major initiatives for FY 2010: Protecting America’s Food Supply and Safer Medical Products. It also includes increases for current law user fees and for infrastructure to support critical agency operations. The FDA is also proposing four new user fees to facilitate review of generic drugs, register and inspect food manufacturing and processing facilities, reinspect facilities that fail to meet Good Manufacturing Practices and other safety requirements, and issue export certifications for food and feed.

“This historic increase in the FDA's budget is a great investment in public health,” said Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., acting commissioner of food and drugs.

The following are the FDA's key proposed budget increases:

Protecting America’s Food Supply ($259.3 million) – The goal of this effort is to protect American consumers by preventing intentional and unintentional contamination. This effort invests in priorities that strengthen the safety and security of the supply chain for foods. Supply chain safety and security relies on the principle of risk-based prevention with verification. Under this principle, the FDA holds all segments of industry accountable for ensuring that their products meet U.S. safety standards. The Protecting America’s Food Supply initiative focuses on foreign and domestic sources of ingredients, components, and finished products at all points in the supply chain, including their eventual use by the American public. Within this initiative, the FDA proposes to collect a total of $94.4 million in new user fees to register food facilities and increase food inspections, issue food and feed export certifications, and reinspect food facilities that fail to meet the FDA’s safety standards.

Safer Medical Products ($166.4 million) – This effort provides targeted resources to improve the safety of human and animal drugs, medical devices, vaccines, blood, and other medical products. It will allow the FDA to strengthen safety and security of the supply chain for medical products. The initiative also includes $46.6 million in new user fees for generic drug review and new fees to reinspect medical product facilities that fail to meet safety standards.

Current Law User Fees ($74.4 million) – In addition to the new user fees proposed for FY 2010, the FDA request also includes inflationary and other authorized increases for fees that support FDA review of applications for new human drugs (+$67.5 million), animal drugs (+$2.3 million), and medical devices (+$4.5 million).

Follow-on Biologics & Drug Importation ($5 million) – Within the Safer Medical Products initiative, the budget proposes a new authority for the FDA to approve follow-on biologics through a regulatory pathway that protects patient safety and promotes innovation, and includes $5 million for the FDA to develop policies to allow Americans to buy drugs approved in other countries.

Stamp Out Hunger: Join Letter Carriers Food Drive This Saturday!

With U.S. unemployment at 8.5 percent in March, the highest rate in 25 years—and expected to get even worse when April's figures are released this week—the Letter Carriers (NALC) annual national food drive on Saturday comes at one of the most critical times in its 17-year history.

You can help "Stamp out Hunger" by collecting canned goods and dry food, such as tuna, canned meat, soups, pasta, rice and cereal, and leaving them in a bag or box by your mailbox.

Your letter carrier will pick up your contribution as they deliver your mail this Saturday, May 9.

NALC members will deliver the goods to local food banks, pantries and shelters to help needy families in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions.

In solidarity,

David Newby, President
Sara J. Rogers, Exec. Vice President
Phil Neuenfeldt, Secretary-Treasurer

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

FMLA Restoration Act’ Introduced

APWU Web News Article #055-09, May 6, 2009

A bill intended to reverse changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations that were implemented just before President Obama took office has been introduced in the U.S. House.

The FMLA Restoration Act, introduced on April 29 by Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), would “nullify certain regulations promulgated under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, and restore prior regulations.” [Full Story]

Source: National APWU Website

USPS Notifies APWU of Flu Guidelines

APWU Web News Article #054-09, May 5, 2009

The APWU has received notification from the Postal Service of “interim measures to be taken by management and employees” to address concerns about H1N1 influenza, commonly known as “swine flu.” The material provides guidance to managers for various scenarios, including when there are no known cases of the flu in the community or among employees, when there is a known case in the community, where there is a confirmed or probable case in a postal employee or in his or her immediate household, and in the event the federal government declares “a pandemic in progress.”

Postal Service Interim 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) Influenza Outbreak Guidance [PDF]

Installation Head Pandemic Flu Checklist [PDF]

Use of Surgical Masks During H1N1 Flue Outbreaks [PDF]

Maintenance Management Order on Pandemic Flu Cleaning Contingency [PD

Source: National APWU Website

Colombian Workers Pay High Price for Flowers

by James Parks

This Mother’s Day, remember the mothers in Colombia who grew, cut and trimmed the flowers you receive. Six days a week, Amanda Camacho and thousands of her co-workers at flower plantations in Colombia cut and trim at least 350 flowers an hour. In the weeks before holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, the work extends deep into the night—all for about $8 a day, less than the cost of a bouquet of carnations in the United States. [Full Story]

Source: AFL-CIO Now Blog