Tag Archives: union

Workers Demand Higher Wages and Walmart Punishes Active Workers


Strikers march outside a Wendy's restaurant in Boston

Strikers march outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Boston, for link to story click on image.


Across the country low-wage workers of all sectors went on strike demanding a raise to the minimum wage to $15/hour.  From Boston to Los Angelos and even globally, low-wage workers were making noise on tax day.

David Moberg an award-winning journalist for In These Times reports:

Fast Food Workers in 236 Cities Pull Off Largest Strikes Yet as Other Low-wage Workers Join Fight

(Milwaukee Teachers Education Association / Flickr)

A hand-lettered placard, reading “McDonald’s: Stop Fooling Around, $15 and a union,” caught the spirit of the crowd of at least 3,000 protestors in Chicago for a march to a McDonald’s restaurant in the downtown Loop area connected to the Chicago Board of Trade. In 236 cities in the U.S. and roughly 100 more around the world from Sao Paulo to New Zealand and from Glasgow to Tokyo, according to protest spokespeople, fast food and other low-wage workers joined together to pressure employers like McDonald’s to raise their workers’ pay.

Organizers claimed that it was the largest protest by low-wage workers in U.S. history. And it may very well rank as one of the broadest global worker protests ever undertaken against multinational corporations—one reinforced by recent investigations and lawsuits in Europe against the company for violations of labor, health, safety, tax and other laws.

With its intense public relations campaign, the campaign amplifies the actions of fast food workers—some of whom walk off their assigned shifts as in a traditional strike. For brand-sensitive consumer product companies, many organizers believe, such bad publicity can cost companies greatly—and potentially open up new organizing possibilities.

These protests have also changed the political climate, both locally and nationally. Seattle and Sea-Tac in Washington and San Francisco have raised their minimum to $15 an hour. The same change may be possible sometime soon in both Los Angeles and the District of Columbia. In Chicago, politically embattled Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed under political pressure to raise the minimum to $13 over several years—far above what he would have contemplated a short while ago. The movement is likely to keep pressure over the coming year on Democratic candidates, even presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton, to advocate the higher pay levels.

For more click to In These Times: Fast Food Workers…

But there’s always a push-back when one pushes the powerful and nowhere is that more evident than right here in good ole America.  A writer for Daily KOS connects the dots with the mysterious “plumbing issues” closings of Wal-Marts across the country.  It seems that possibly, its not really plumbing that Wal-Mart intends to fix, but more likely, the “problem” of workers standing up for themselves:

Walmart Temporarily Closes 5 Stores Citing Plumbing Problems

In a highly unusual move Monday, Walmart closed 5 stores, citing plumbing problems requiring a 6 month closure being needed for repairs to be made. The closures were made suddenly with as little as 5 hours notice to many of the employees of the pending closures and layoffs. This is a highly unusual move by Walmart when you look at the work being done in the stores through renovations and upgrading to Walmart SuperCenters where contractors and employees were forced to work through the projects without store closures. This raises suspicion that the reason for the store closures may be something other than what Walmart is claiming publicly.

The stores closing are located in the southern tier of the US coast to coast. The stores are located in:

Pico Rivera, CA. 530 employees, were told they will continue to receive regular pay, and benefits for 60 days, along with possibly being transferred to another store.

Midland, TX. 400 employees, were told they would be able to transfer to other stores or, get the compensation packages. With 60 days pay due to the short notice of closing and are eligible will receive a severance pay of one week of pay per year of service. Upon reopening current employees who did not stay with Wal-Mart will have to reapply.

Livingston, Tx. 400 employees, employees will receive two months pay, with some being eligible for severance pay, and also a position at another store which isn’t guaranteed.

Tulsa, OK. 400 employees, employees will receive two months pay, with some being eligible for severance pay 1 week per year worked, and also a position at another store which isn’t guaranteed.

Brandon, FL. 400-500 employees, who will be able to receive two months pay, severance pay depending on length of service, and possibly a transfer to another store.

It should be noted that the 60 days pay is required by law in the event of a closure without notice and not the benevolence of America’s Richest Family. All of the affected stores have had at least 100 plumbing issues documented in the last year claimed by Walmart as the reason for closing. Despite that claim several news reports claim to have contacted local building officials asking if permits have been applied for or, plans have been submitted and none were noted as of yet. Building officials also stated that no building code violations were noted at the locations. In addition no contractors or repair services have been visible at any of the locations closing. Liberty Tax Service who had kiosks in many of the stores were also suddenly told to vacate the building along with the employees on April 13th, just 2 days before the April 15th, IRS Tax Filing Deadline.

But there’s more! Read on at Daily KOS: Wal Mart Temporarily Closes Stores

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Teacher’s Unions are Like All Teh Stoopid and Who Needs Educashun Anyway?

When you post on Facebook, a blog or any other public forum, you throw out your thoughts to the public, open for debate and discussion where ever it leads.  Based on the idea that you are the baddest ass in town and you got New Ideas that everyone should know, you post a comment.
So, when someone like myself comes and stumbles upon a killer of a post, hey why not capture that and repeat it right.  What an idea.  Maybe even some feedback might be come forth in the form of some blogger who just kind of likes to set things straight and can’t believe it when they hit upon something as good as this:
I should have become a teacher instead of a millwright…Average pay of $76,000 a year for working 40 hours a week 9 months out of the year and my union demands that I strike because a 16% pay raise (to $88k a year) over 4 years plus sterling silver retirement benefits isn’t enough…I make about a $100k a year now but I work 3000 hours a year for it and my pay IS dependent on the successful performance of my job…quite unlike the collective bargaining agreement for the Chicago teachers union.
Yes, even though this Millwright is a union millwright, posting on a Union Millwright page.  So we can presume that unless he pulled himself by his bootstraps for the last 100 years, the union had something to do with his pay.Last I knew all unions use collective bargaining, no?  According to this here report straight from the horse’s mouth, Millwrights have unions that exercise collective bargaining too!
Contrary to popular myth as well, usually said about all unions, union teachers are all just as duty bound to perform their job to standards agreed upon or they are out.  Evidenced though by this person’s thought processes, I would suggest that we reduce class size, stop allowing wingnuts to screen public school textbooks,  get back to teaching science instead of superstition and earn a living wage that is commensurate with where they live and most importantly what they do.

The Chicago teacher’s union currently in the headlines and, in my opinion every single other worker’s union comprised of those who work for the government, are not legitimate unions…They should receive no support whatsoever and, in fact, should be despised, derided, refuted, shot down, and ridiculed by our respective Millwright unions…

Yes, teachers, a part of that ugly liberal cabal we know as education! Our wonderful union man even suggests shooting them down.  Wow.  And he wants his Millwright brothers to get out there and show the rest of the brotherhood how its done.  Because apparently, if you don’t need an education to make nearly $100k a year, why the hell should anyone else have one?
How many of you enjoy reading in the headlines about how the ‘Teacher’s Union and unions in general are killing America’?
Yup and its all because of teacher’s unions.  Unable to grasp the larger goal of the theme presented there; that this union is bad so that means all unions are bad, he goes for the bait and decides he’s different and he’d better join forces with the anti-union crowd and stop out all those fake unions.  Because his taxes pay his wages.  Isn’t that rich?  This is a guy whose major forms of work are public works projects or public/private partnerships, highly regulated and yes, highly needed by that particular industry at the particular time that Millwrights come in and do their work.
See this deserves pointing out since our union man can’t seem to understand that nuclear plants, gas plants, refineries all get a lot of tax dollars. Yeah, our dollars. So I guess that means that me and a bunch of teachers should come in and tell him what his stupid Millwright job is worth.
Unfortunately, you’d half to have a brain enough to think far enough and understand that there’s a similar relationship between teachers and democracy.  Highly needed for that machine to work, so you’d think they’d be highly valued and thus highly paid.  Nope.  Unlike deep thinkers like union man, who seemed to have drowned in the shallow puddle that is their mind, local governments decide teacher salaries and local governments are usually headed up by people who aren’t teachers.
Believe it, I’m telling you.  They for city offices like city counsel or alderman, or school board that are for the most part, open public sessions.
And in fact, in those cities and towns, the people can get up, get in the streets and protest that teachers are just big mooching union thugs who should be paid like the teenager who last gave you your burger order. In fact it seems like the last couple years, your people have been at it already :
Of course we see evidence of towns where all the sensible people are running the school board or city council all the time.  Which proves as always that no one needs teachers and school is just a big waste of time.
The Teacher’s unions and other unions of government workers are giving the real unions in America a black eye and a bad name…Legitimate unions work for businesses and and corporations and bargain for a fair share of the profits that company makes. Unions of teachers and other government workers have no such concern, all of their money comes out of OUR pockets in the form of taxes…
Because his taxes pay their wages.  Isn’t that rich?  This is a guy whose major forms of work are public works projects or public/private partnerships, highly regulated and yes, highly needed by that particular industry and probably the public sector at the particular time that Millwrights come in and do their work.

See this deserves pointing out since our union man can’t seem to understand that nuclear plants, gas plants, refineries all get a lot of tax dollars. Yeah, our dollars. So I guess that means that me and a bunch of teachers should come in and tell him what his stupid Millwright job is worth.

This is not how it should be…compensation as well as as reforms on hiring and firing should be decided by the public who pay their salaries NOT by renegade unions who can strike and extort more and more power and money from those who pay their salaries. If we want better teachers to school our children it should be OUR decision and we should vote on it, not the result of an act of extortion holding the education of our children hostage…

At least not held hostage by the publicly elected school boards and city government, no way, they have their hands completely tied.  Since apparently the Millwright’s union at some point got someone’s hands tied at their industry and now they’re sucking out $100k wages!  The injustice!  Why, I’m sure that with a little on-the-job training, I could build a turbine and repair it and get a second job at Wal-Mart to boot if I want some luxury like paying my light bill.
I would ask of each of you in your next union meeting to call for a vote for condemning the teacher’s union strike and for issuing a public statement that your union does not support in any way the current strike in Chicago…It will probably get shot down but what the hell..
Yes, it will probably get shot down, just the way it is on that page, because thankfully there’s some union members who got a decent education from a union paid teacher.
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O’Brien of Worcester City Council Gets It

“When someone tosses out venom and inaccurate statements, they must be answered,” he said. “This will pass legal muster, I am confident of that. The doomsday scenario that the city will have to pay legal costs is a red herring. The statement that is based on politics is also a red herring. I could care less whether this hurts me politically; I’m more concerned about whether this hurts my moral compass. To me, this is an important first step for this council and this city.” [bold ours]

This said by a city councilman at a meeting of the Worcester city council on which a new Responsible Employer ordinance was voted on this week.  The ordinance will specifically focus on contractor bid jobs for the municipality.  The words reflect a moral courage that we need to see more often.  As Mr O’Brien states, doing the right thing often has nothing to do with getting another vote, opinion polls or the endless chatter of the media.  Instead when one sits in a position of government, with the power to decide on their city’s future, they must consider the residents of that city.  Mr. O’Brien did.

Those who voted against the measure threatened that it wouldn’t stand up to the courts and of course end the world as we know it.

“Before the vote was taken, Mrs. Lukes spoke against it, saying the council would in effect be managing competition for city construction projects by limiting the companies eligible to bid on them to union shops.

She contended that the ordinance will increase the costs of city construction project by 20 percent to 30 percent.

“To what extent does free enterprise exist?” Mrs. Lukes asked. “This is bad for taxpayers, it’s bad for business and it’s bad for this country. This is more of a political decision than anything else.

“We are taking a vote that is going to lose in the courts,” she added. “I expect the courts to throw this out. The taxpayers seem to lose all around in this process.”

Ms. Laken has a point.  As construction company’s practices now do not resemble anything like the union’s and do not favor worker’s interests, yes, they might have some catching up to do.  But, that has to do with prioritizing business strategies.  Unions demand that companies, in exchange for stable, trained and well managed workers, agree to certain sets of standards in their operational priorities.  Sure cost adjustments will be required, but large companies fit to bid on commercial projects generally aren’t going to suffer the small monetary gains in order to possibly reap advantage.

The model that Ms. Laken draws upon as calling unions uncompetitive — which she does when one considers her claim that now that the tables are shifted, the non-union shops no longer have the competitive edge; that edge is based on priorities.  As a municipality that represents all people and must have within its logical interest, the financial welfare of all, then worrying about the bottom lines of businesses is not her business, especially when protecting wealth accumulation of the few over the benefit of the many — the residents she supposedly represents.

Ms. Laken uses the tired and worn-out claim that somehow looking out for the workers will not benefit employers.  Threatening that companies could suffer a 20 -30% loss of business.  While one can certainly dispute the figures,  when Ms. Laken cries about a “free market” to whom shall it be free?  Then one wonders, what interest would a representative of workers in a city have above that of the workers that make up the majority of their electorate?  This begs the question on all levels of the public interest.  Why would any civil servant believe that policies that benefit the few, especially at the expense of the many constitute worthy policies?

When this country has suffered nearly a quarter century under deregulation and now has started to reap its results, how can anyone of reasonable mind continue to support such “free market” ideology, the very ideology that has soiled this democracy.

The issue at dispute in this city council meeting encapsulates the attack on all working people that has caused the erosion of the value of a workday for all from waitresses to teachers, to mechanics to office workers.  Workers have taken on the chin the stagnation of their wages and the simultaneous rises in the cost of living.  Strangled by the false prophet of supply-side, Laffer Curve driven economics that intentionally benefited the chosen few, workers have had enough.

Attempting to claw through by leveraging their lives and hopes of bank offered credit, continuing to have faith in the educational system, taking on debt sometimes larger than a first house mortgage, suffering a pock-marked safety net and an increasingly unavailable healthcare system, workers have had enough.

Then along comes someone in a city council to belly-ache about the businesses.  Along comes a presidential candidate that sneers at the masses like so many ignorant peasants.  Workers have watched and sat quietly at home, thrown out, removed, disposed of, laid waste and left to rot on unemployment checks, as their source of sustenance moves off the continent or into oblivion; a shell of flaking bricks and crumbling mortar.

Workers have struggled alone, in silence, like champs, like martyrs from the most extreme religious sect, long hoping for redemption from something, even if it has no relation to the hell of earth.  Struggled with the pain of cancer eating their bodies, struggled with their bodies screaming in pain, rotting away with no relief.  Turned away by blind bureaucratic bodies designed for profit and not for care, they suffer alone and do not blame the system they grew up to believe in; the system of free enterprise.

They never blame the businesses, protected by petty politicians and plundering plutocrats.  Plutocrats who with the politicians as their soldiers, point the finger back at the worker and tell them, “Find your enemy within, it is not us.”  while they have their hand on the noose on every worker’s neck.  Plutocrats hire those who will work for less so they can profit more and when those not hired express anger, the plutocrats point their finger, “Find your enemy within, its not us.”

And so it is, the man from another country, the weak, the hungry, the jobless, the ones less able to fight back.

Now that has finished as well.  Finally workers have begun to figure out, to learn that all of us together are workers, whether born here, whether a woman or a man. Workers know that the sick were workers too, could be workers in the future.  Workers know the hungry is a worker without a job, the family has workers that need jobs, that need sustenance and when all workers fight together, in unison, against the forces of the plutocrat, the worker wins.

Read the entire article in the News Telegram.

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