Strong Unions Mean a Strong Work Force


“Collective bargaining … has played a major role in America's economic miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere.”

Those aren't the words of AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka or President Obama. It may come as a surprise, but that's a quote from a 1981 speech given by Ronald Reagan.

To be sure, Reagan's relationship with unions was complicated, and, at times, quite contentious. But there's no question that he understood the value — even necessity — of collective bargaining. He remains the only president in history to have also served as the head of a union, the Screen Actors Guild.

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Who’s the Worst Governor in America?

Who is America’s worst governor?  That is the question being asked by National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in U.S. history – with close to 160,000 members across all 50 states.  NNU’s internet game – Wheel of Misfortune, a colorful portrayal of America’s 10 worst governors, goes live today.  Spin the wheel and find out:

The ten are Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Jan Brewer of Arizona, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Rick Perry of Texas, Rick Scott of Florida, Paul LePage of Maine, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Chris Christie of New Jersey, and John Kasich of Ohio. All are Republicans. Players get the inside story on what makes each of these faux public servants an active threat to their state’s well-being.

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2011 PayWatch: Average CEO Salary— $11.4 Million

by Tula Connnell

While 25 million unemployed and underemployed U.S. workers are drowning, CEO pay skyrocketed by 23 percent, for an average salary of $11.4 million in 2010, according to the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch. Released today, data compiled at PayWatch also show CEOs have done little to create badly-needed jobs, instead sitting on a record $1.93 trillion in cash on their balance sheets.

The 2011 Executive PayWatch features the compensation of 299 S&P 500 company CEOs and provides direct comparisons between those CEOs and the median pay of nurses, teachers, firefighters and others. For instance, while a secretary makes a median annual salary of $29,980, someone like Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf rakes in $18,973,722 million—632 times the secretary’s salary. The pay gap between Wall Street and Main Street has widened egregiously—as recently as 1980, CEOs made 42 times that of blue-collar workers.

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The Truth About Taxes

, Tamara Draut, vice president of Policy & Programs at Demos, gives us a quick list of the top 10 tax stats.

1. The government collected less in taxes in 2010 than it has in over three generations, and tax rates are at historic lows.

2. The Bush tax cuts added $1.7 trillion to the nation’s debt over 2001-2008, which is more than it would cost to send 24 million kids to four-year public universities.

3. Corporate income taxes totaled about 1 percent of GDP this year, 60 percent lower than 40 years ago.

4. General Electric, which reported $5 billion in U.S. profits, paid ZERO taxes this year. Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in history, paid ZERO federal taxes in 2009.

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Rants & Raves for the Week of April 11th

* Rep. Issa hosts anti-worker hearing featuring Wisconsin Gov. Walker * Ikea blocks workers' rights and unions at Virginia plant * Ohio Gov. Kasich seeks to outsource any job, any time, tax-free * Super-wealthy earning 400% more, paying less taxes * Missouri senators push Paycheck Deception to silence workers' voices *

* Bill to fight misclassification of independent contractors moves forward * Hotel housekeepers testify to end “on your knees” cleaning practices * Assembly Transportation Committee defeats bill to de-fund high-speed rail * Voter suppression bills die in Assembly * Farmworker organizing bill passes Senate * Assembly Labor Committee approves Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights * Senate panel finds Goldman Sachs profited off of financial crisis *

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Hundreds Rally in LA to Kick Off ‘Pinpoint Boycott’ of Two San Pedro Rite Aid Stores

On April 1, hundreds of supporters demonstrated in front of the Rite Aid drugstore in San Pedro and dozens of others around the country to protest the company’s eroding labor policies that hurt working families.

The protest helped launch a “pinpoint’ boycott of two Rite Aid stores in San Pedro.  Last year these two stores were patronized by union families who filled 17,000 prescriptions worth almost $2 million. The boycott is limited – for now – to the two San Pedro stores, and customers are being referred to other UFCW union pharmacies in the community.  Customers will resume their business at the San Pedro Rite Aid stores once the company agrees to respect workers.

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Hotel Housekeepers Take Action to End “On Your Knees” Cleaning and Back-Breaking Bed-Making Practices

It’s not every day that someone testifying before the Senate Labor Committee gets down on her hands and knees — at least not literally. But on Wednesday, more than 30 hotel housekeepers from up and down the state converged on the Capitol to do just that.

Eleazar Dumuk, a hotel housekeeper from the Hyatt Regency Hotel Santa Clara, explained, and demonstrated, why. “In hotel bathrooms, I have to get down on my hands and knees to clean the floor and bathtub well. I wear knee pads under my uniform pants so that I can protect my knees better, but still, the pain in my knees is getting worse and worse. They are swollen, and last week I was in constant pain,” she said.

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Death and Taxes

As a graduate of California’s public schools, community colleges and universities, I would gladly vote to extend temporary taxes that I pay. I would even vote to give myself a tax increase if I knew it would save public education in California. I owe it to the state that educated me to at least pay my fair share in taxes.

But not everyone shares that sentiment. For the last several decades, corporations have employed aggressive strategies to dodge their responsibility to pay state and federal taxes. The outcome is that over the years the share of taxes paid by corporations has declined, shifting more of the burden of paying for roads, schools and services to average taxpayers like you and I (even though corporations clearly benefit from those taxpayer-funded services just as much as the rest of us, if not more).

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When the Going Gets Tough, Republicans Get Going… to Texas

It’s been clear for months that Republicans in the legislature aren’t interested in meaningful solutions to California’s budget crisis. They’ve blocked a vote of the people on extending existing taxes to prevent disastrous cuts to schools, public safety and programs that are a lifeline for seniors, people with disabilities and the poor. They’ve refused to offer any proposals to bridge the remaining $15 billion shortfall facing our state. They’re taking their marching orders from out-of-state ideologues and radio shock jocks while their own constituents suffer the consequences of their inaction.

Now, with our state on the brink of disaster, they’ve finally decided to do something… they’re leading a junket to Texas for what they call a “fact-finding” trip. That’s right, Texas. The same Texas that’s dealing with its own budget crisis. The same Texas that has seen its unemployment double in recent years. Instead of dealing with our budget crisis, Republicans are flying off to Texas for a few days of hobnobbing with officials for what’s sure to be a back-slapping, good ole-fashioned Texas good time.

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The Truth About the Right-Wing’s Latest Scheme to Punish Workers

Throughout the state, local unions have worked with cities to save jobs and continue to provide quality services. But in Costa Mesa, Mayor Gary Monahan and Councilman Jim Righeimer — who were the forces behind anti-union Props 226 and 75 – met in secret as a two-man working group to hatch their latest scheme.  In a purely political move, they rushed the City Council into sending layoff notices to 213 of the City’s 472 workers, including firefighters, maintenance workers and jail staff.

Despite their own studies showing this misguided agenda will cost taxpayers more for outsourced services, Monahan and Righeimer chose politics over facts. Their anti-union actions were cheered by the Chair of the Orange County Republican Party who called Costa Mesa “Ground Zero” in a plot to roll back workers wages, rights and protections.

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