By Teamsters – Today, the Teamsters Union posted the first of several roadside billboards about the Toyota Corporation [NYSE: TM] in order to educate the American public about the economic and safety dangers posed by the company. The first billboard is located along I-95 in Baltimore and reads, “Toyota: A Danger to American Families.” “Toyota spent years trying to regain consumer confidence after mass recalls in 2009-2011 due to sticking gas pedals and faulty floor mats. Millions more Toyotas are being recalled due to dangerous faulty airbags. Now, on top of these very public issues, Toyota is bidding out much of its automobile transport work to small, unproven operators who undercut the health care protections and retirement security of their drivers,” said Kevin Moore, Teamsters International Trustee and Director of the Teamsters Carhaul Division.
By Bryce Covert in Think Progress – A $15 minimum wage hike marks a significant increase from past Democratic bills to raise it. In his 2013 State of the Union, President Obama called for an increase to $9 an hour. Some lawmakers went further a month later with a bill that would have raised it to $10.10 an hour. Then earlier this year, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) got closer to the $15 mark when theyintroduced a bill raising it to $12 an hour by 2020. Their bill also would phase out the lower minimum wage for tipped employees and automatically increase the wage as median wages rise. Details are not yet available on whether the Sanders and CPC bill will eliminate the tipped wage and when it would take effect.
By Michael Snyder in The Economic Collapse Blog – If the U.S. economy really is improving, then why are big U.S. retailers permanently shutting down thousands of stores? The “retail apocalypse” that I have written about so frequently appears to be accelerating. As you will see below, major U.S. retailers have announced that they are closing more than 6,000 locations, but economic conditions in this country are still fairly stable. So if this is happening already, what are things going to look like once the next recession strikes? For a long time, I have been pointing to 2015 as a major “turning point” for the U.S. economy, and I still feel that way. And since I started The Economic Collapse Blog at the end of 2009, I have never seen as many indications that we are headed into another major economic downturn as I do right now. If retailers are closing this many stores already, what are our malls and shopping centers going to look like a few years from now?
By Rafael Azul in Global Research – Puerto Rico’s non-voting member of the US House of Representatives, Pedro Pierluisi of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, is sponsoring a bill to grant Puerto Rico bankruptcy protection while it negotiates with its creditors and restructures its economy. The bill envisions a bankruptcy process for the island similar to that imposed on the city of Detroit in 2013. The House Judiciary Committee has sidelined Pierluisi’s bill. A statement issued jointly by the chairman of the committee, Bob Goodlate, and committee member Tom Marino, both Republicans, declared the general consensus on the committee to be that providing “Puerto Rico’s municipalities access to Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code would not by itself solve Puerto Rico’s problems, which are associated with underlying structural problems.”
By Nora Loreto in Rabble – On June 30, Canada’s Senators voted on one final piece of legislation; so important that it didn’t matter that they might waste that precious extra second in the Red Chamber. They voted in favour of passing Bill C-377 into law. The amendments contained in C-377 to the Income Tax Act are sweeping, broad and idiotic. If Canadians need any example that the Harper Conservatives care more about personal vendettas than good governance, the proof is wrapped up in C-377. C-377 requires a ridiculous level of compliance from labour organizations and trusts. It forces unions, labour organizations, labour federations, organizations comprised of different unions, labour trusts and professional associations to publically report all expenditures of over $5000 and itemize exactly what that the money was dedicated to.
By Kim Scipes in Labor Notes – For plenty of workers, health and safety is about as boring a subject as there is. They don’t want to hear about this “crap,” many will say—they just want to get the job done. Yet health and safety issues are as important as it gets, and a new book argues that organizers can use them to build power on the shop floor to “encourage” bosses to do the right thing. “The most important product of any factory,” the authors argue, “is the health and safety of its workers.” Production schedules and profits should come second. The comprehensive Workers’ Guide to Health and Safety, published in May, is based on 10 years of work. It’s been field-tested by workers in a number of countries. This book shows how to advance workplace health and safety from a worker-centered, pro-union, organizing perspective.
By George Zornick in The Nation – When Congress finally passed fast-track trade authority last month, there was a major problem for President Obama and his trade negotiators: a provision of the bill forbid any fast-tracked trade deal from including countries on Tier 3 of the State Department’s human trafficking list. That’s the worst classification the United States gives to countries in its Trafficking In Persons annual report, a status earned by countries like Zimbabwe, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and North Korea. Also on the list: Malaysia, one of the 12 potential signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that is in the final round of negotiations this month.
By Staughton Lynd and Andy Piascik in Vietnam Full Disclosure – A.J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century is the most comprehensive and thoroughly-researched account of the life of A.J. Muste yet to appear. It is particularly valuable in its treatment of the years that Muste devoted to building a radical labor movement, 1919 to 1936. This review limits itself to that period of Muste’s life. Muste’s decision in August 1936 to give up labor advocacy and (as he put it) “return to pacifism” is puzzling. During the 1920’s and early 1930’s Muste had dedicated himself to the creation of industrial unionism, with the ultimate goal of a transition to socialism. And at first glance it might seem that he and his colleagues were on a pathway to success.
By Tracey Pollock in Fight Back News – Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 998 started a 72-hour work stoppage this morning, July 1, at 3:00 a.m. It will go through 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning, July 4. The work stoppage comes during the middle of Summerfest, billed as the largest annual music festival in the world. An average of 800,000 to 1 million people attend over 11 days, with an estimated 15 to 20% of festival-goers taking public transportation. ATU president James Macon made clear that the company and the county government are to blame for the work stoppage, as they refused to provide a fair contract offer to the workers. “We have tried over and over again with the company to get something done but they kept putting it off and making excuses,” Macon said at a press conference in front of the ATU hall June 30.
By C. Robert Gibson in Occupy – So, to be clear, $15 an hour now is neither an unreasonable nor irrational demand. By contrast, the default argument against increasing the minimum wage is the alleged harm it will do to businesses. This can be negated by simply restructuring existing corporate entitlement programs already in place. According to a 2014 report by Good Jobs First, just 965 corporations have received over 75 percent of all state business subsidies. Fortune 500 companies – by definition the most successful and profitable in the world – received $63 billion in taxpayer handouts. Good Jobs First found that out of 441,000 entitlement programs (277,000 state and local; 164,000 federal), those 965 corporations received a total of 25,000 entitlements worth $110 billion through various subsidiary corporations.
By UCLA Labor Center – Over the last decade, the labor movement has begun to transform, rebuilding and reinvigorating itself from the ground level. A decisive element of this transformation is organized labor’s evolving partnership with worker centers. In 2006, the AFL-CIO institutionalized partnerships with worker centers through a process of affiliation. Today, 16 worker centers, 16 central labor councils and one state federation involved in 16 local affiliations are active throughout the country. These partnerships have led to significant accomplishments in local policy campaigns against wage theft and other forms of exploitation against workers, strong solidarity support for organizing efforts to win a union or address conditions in the workplace, and ongoing local joint initiatives that couple collaboration and innovation.
By Rucha Chitnis in ReImagine – “There is an entrenched devaluation of immigrant women workers. Domestic workers are breadwinners of their families throughout Latin America and Asia. In so many ways they are uplifting the economies of their countries through remittances,” said Katie Joaquin, campaign director of the California Domestic Workers Coalition. “We see this as an international struggle that is critical to the leadership of women,” she said. There are nearly two million domestic workers in the United States, more than 90 percent of them women, mostly low-income immigrant women from diverse ethnicities. Over the past 25 years, MUA has built a worker-center model of sharing power and harnessing workers’ collective bargaining rights.
By John Spina and Ben Chapman in Ny Daily News – The brigade of men and women who keep the city’s schools clean are calling on Mayor de Blasio to end a two-tier system which, they say, leaves thousands in their ranks underpaid. Under the system, about 800 of roughly 5,000 cleaners earn a base $23.85 an hour, while the rest, doing the same work get about five dollars less. A bureaucratic loophole is to blame, union reps and workers said in front of City Hall Wednesday. The lower paid workers were brought on by private contractors, while their higher paid counterparts were hired directly by the schools. None of the workers are city employees.
By Anna Susman – Tears of joy streaked the faces of cheering home care workers assembled in their Dorchester union hall on Thursday afternoon as a decades-long struggle for recognition and a living wage culminated in a historic moment of celebration. According to an agreement reached in contract negotiations between the 35,000 home care workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the administration of recently elected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R), Massachusetts Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) are poised to become the first in the nation to achieve a statewide $15 per hour starting wage. Upon reaching the agreement, workers called off the fifteen-hour picket they had planned to begin at the Massachusetts State House on the morning of Tuesday, June 30th. Instead, caregivers are planning a celebration of this milestone and nation-leading achievement of a $15 standard at 4:00 p.m. on the State House steps the afternoon of June 30th.