Rants & Raves for the Week of June 20th

* Supreme Court throws out class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart * Amazon.com has new scheme to avoid paying taxes * Boeing interfers with workers' right to strike * New Jersey Democrats back Gov. Christie's attacks on workers' rights *

* Anthem Blue Cross settles lawsuit accusing them of deliberately closing policies * Costa Mesa Police Chief resigns amid anti-worker attacks and layoffs * New NLRB rule will improve union elections * 44,000 TSOs win union representation with AFGE *

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TSOs Elect AFGE As Their Union

Even as the right to join a union is under attack across the country, more than 40,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees in 450 airports today made a strong statement for workers’ rights by electing AFGE as their exclusive union representative. The 8,903-8,447 vote came in a runoff with the National Treasury Employees Union.

Although the TSOs did not have collective bargaining rights until now, more than 12,000 TSO members had joined 40 AFGE local unions across the country. It took 10 years before the TSOs finally gained the right to bargain. The Obama administration restored the TSO’s legal right to bargain collectively after George W. Bush took it away.

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Supreme Court Tells Working Women, You’re on Your Own

Sitting in the majestic paneled courtroom in the U.S. Supreme Court three months ago, it did not take long to get that dreaded sense that Betty Dukes and 1.5 million other current and former women employees at Wal-Mart were not likely to prevail in their epic 10-year battle against the nation’s largest private employer.

On Monday, that premonition came true. The Supreme Court threw out several lower-court rulings and declared that the women’s claims of massive, persistent sex discrimination were not sufficiently similar to merit class-action status. Ladies, you are on your own!

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AB 16: Keeping High-Speed Rail Jobs in California

by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea

There has been much debate in the last few months about High Speed Rail (HSR) in California. Where should it start? Who should have the power to make decisions about the project?

In a show of support, Federal transportation officials stepped forward to once again solidify their decision to build the first leg of the project in the job-starved Central Valley. While this is an encouraging announcement, their efforts to bring jobs to California must be matched by our efforts to keep those jobs in California.

I introduced Assembly Bill 16, High Speed Rail Jobs, with the goal of keeping HSR funds in California. This bill will require the High Speed Rail Authority to make every effort to purchase rolling stock and related equipment that is made in California, with the ultimate goal of putting folks back to work.

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Cry Wolf Project Debunks Corporate, Conservative Claims

How many times have we heard from big corporations and their political allies—usually well-financed by corporate campaign contributions—that the latest workplace safety, environmental or consumer protection regulation will kill jobs, ruin the economy and lead to the end of civilization as we know it?

I’ve lost track—but the new Cry Wolf Project hasn’t.

The Cry Wolf Project is a network of advocates, researchers and scholars dedicated to demonstrating that, in fact, conservatives and business groups are only “crying wolf” to delay, prevent and weaken important and commonsense regulations that save lives, clean our environment and make our families more secure.

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Labor Joins Bloggers, Activists and Decision-Makers Working Toward Progress at Netroots Nation

by Rebecca Greenberg

Let’s face it – in this day and age, progress is more tech-driven than ever before. More and more forward-thinking advocates and activists are enhancing their work and broadening their campaigns through new media, blogs, email, mobile and online tools in order to reach out to new supporters and spread their message to a broader audience.

That’s the impetus for the annual Netroots Nation conference, a broad gathering of progressive bloggers and activists from across the nation, most of whom have dedicated their lives to finding new ways to use technology to support progressive causes and campaigns. This year’s Netroots Nation conference drew upwards of 2,400 participants (including this blogger) to the Minneapolis Convention Center on last week, where we spent three intense days participating in panel discussions, workshops, trainings, rallies and brainstorming sessions, and interacting with some of the most inspiring progressive leaders of our time.

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What’s Really at Stake in the Boeing Dispute?

These are strange times in U.S. labor relations, and they are getting stranger by day. The past two weeks have seen several important developments in the bizarre on-going saga between the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Boeing, which has become a cause célèbre for conservative politicians and pundits, even forming part of the discussion during the New Hampshire Republican presidential debate, with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich calling for abolition of the labor board.

So what happened? 

First, after more than a year of construction, Boeing opened its new billion dollar facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, which will act as a final assembly plant for the 787 Dreamliner, widely considered the future of commercial aviation. Then, NLRB started its administrative law judge hearing that will decide the fate of the complaint issued by the acting general counsel, which accuses Boeing of breaking the law by moving work from a unionized plant to a non-union plant.

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Housekeepers Across North America Speak Out Against Abuses at Work

When two housekeepers in New York came forward to report assault on the job, taking on some of the most powerful men in the world, they exposed some of the grittier and often hidden aspects of hotel work–the work of scrubbing toilets, changing sheets, and encountering guests alone behind closed doors. Hotel housekeepers–overwhelmingly women, immigrants, and people of color–are the invisible backbone of the hotel industry. While incidents of sexual assault are uncommon, the women who work as housekeepers routinely face a broader spectrum of dangers at work, from sexual harassment to debilitating injuries from years of making beds and scrubbing floors.

Now, housekeepers from across North America are breaking the silence on abuses they face at work.

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Get the Scoop on Microtargeting to Win at Netroots Nation 2011

by Rebecca Greenberg

In today’s political environment where “cash is king”, how can progressives stand up against the CEOs and big corporate interests with such overwhelmingly deep pockets?

The answer? Using sophisticated, cutting-edge technology to engage swing voters in innovative ways.

One of the key reasons for Meg Whitman's defeat in 2010 was labor’s sophisticated microtargeting program to identify swing voters and communicate with them on the issues they care about using a convergence of online, field, direct mail and traditional media.

Building off President Obama’s successful use of microtargeting in 2008, the Labor Federation took that technology one step further and combined it with a number of complementary tactics that played a large role in Brown’s overwhelmingly victory.

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Rants & Raves for the Week of June 6th

* SoCal supermarkets force workers onto the picket line * Diageo seeks to close Menlo Park plant * Wal-Mart allows unions in other countries, but not ours * House GOP tactics on debt ceiling will increase gas prices * More long-term unemployed in California lose benefits *

* Wisconsin Dems launch campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker * Local coalitions hit the street for a fair budget * California Retailers Association voices support for Gov. Brown's budget plan * New National Workforce Network is counter-balance to Fox News *

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