Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is this what you want Conway doing to you?

Without a Pension's Security
Once, Americans could expect enough money to take care of themselves after a life of work. The promise was pulled away.

by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele

In “The Betrayal of the American Dream,” Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele revisit their 1991 Inquirer series, “America: What Went Wrong,” in which they forecast a decline of the middle class. Now, they document how actions going back three decades have left millions of Americans in economic ruin. Excerpts from their book continue in Currents every Sunday through Aug. 19.

Of all the statistics that show how the rules are changing for middle-class Americans, here is one of the most alarming: Since 1985, corporations have killed 84,350 pension plans - each of which promised secure retirement benefits to dozens or hundreds or even thousands of men and women.

Corporations offer many explanations and excuses for why they are cutting down a vital safety net for Americans, but it all comes down to money. The money saved by not funding employee pensions now goes for executive salaries, dividends, or some pet project of a company's CEO. Congress went along and even compounded the betrayal by pretending that the change was in employees' best interest.

What this means is that fewer and fewer Americans will have enough money to take care of themselves in their later years. As with taxes and trade, Congress has been pivotal in granting favors to the most powerful corporations. Lawmakers have written pension rules that encourage businesses to underfund their retirement plans or switch to plans less favorable to employees.

These rules deny workers the right to sue to enforce retirement promises. Lawmakers have also written bankruptcy regulations to allow corporations to scrap the health-insurance coverage they promised to employees who retired early - including workers who were forced into early retirement. Congress has enacted legislation that adds to the cost of retirement. One by one, policies that once afforded at least the possibility of a secure retirement to many seniors have been undermined or destroyed, while at the same time Congress has allowed corporations to repudiate lifetime-benefit agreements.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster Organizing Victory In CA!


Please welcome our over 200 new brothers and sisters who work at Marquez Brothers Inc. in Hanford, CA. They voted to join Local517 in Visalia on Friday, July 20th. Marquez is the largest distributor of Mexican consumer products in the United States.

The Teamsters represent more employees in California’s food chain than any other union, and with this election victory Joint Council 7 celebrates over 10,000 new members organized in the last two years.

This new unit of employees joins more than 35,000 Teamsters employed in dairy production throughout California and the United States. Work in the dairy industry proves to be both difficult and dangerous, and Teamsters are able to make a living wage with good benefits andretirement security in return. The employees at Marquez knew they deserved the same.

For Marquez Brothers employees, organizing was not an easy feat. The company held daily meetings to try and influence their employees against joining the union. Marquez Brothers is now challenging the election results and spreading fear throughout the workplace in hopes of coercing employees into calling for a new election. Additionally, on the Monday after the election, Marquez Brothers began telling the employees that representatives from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would be at the plant on Friday checking immigration status as workers picked up their paychecks.

“99% of the employees at Marquez are Latino,” said Chester Suniga, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 517. “It’s outrageous that a Latino company appears to be taking advantage of our broken immigration system to deprive their employees of a voice at work.”

Rome Aloise, President of Joint Council 7 and Director of the Dairy Conference and Food Processing Division, is reaching out to Latino elected officials to ask for their support in future negotiations with Marquez. Joint Council 7 understands that organizing is part of a long-term project to build power for Latinos in the Central Valley. The same week that the employees at Marquez Brothers in Hanford voted to join our Union, a Teamster-supported project registered over 500 Latinos to vote in the City of Hanford itself. “Our Union is steadfastly committed to Latinos having representation at their workplace and in local government,” stated Aloise.

Fortunately, the new Teamsters at Marquez have refused to be persuaded or discouraged by their management. These employees understand and appreciate the many advantages of being Teamsters.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Federal Judge orders Los Angeles recycling firm to stop threatening union supporters and offer reinstatement to fired employees

August 02, 2012
Office of Public Affairs

A federal judge has ordered American Reclamation, Inc., a Los Angeles trash hauling and recycling service, to stop violating federal labor laws by threatening employees with dismissal for supporting a union, among other things, and to offer interim reinstatement to three employees who were fired.

Judge Dean D. Pregerson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued the temporary injunction on Tuesday at the request of the NLRB, while the case is pending before Administrative Law Judge William Kocol. The injunction will remain in effect until the NLRB process is complete.

A complaint issued by the NLRB Regional Office in Los Angeles in April alleged that American Reclamation engaged in multiple unfair labor practices beginning in early October 2011, during a union organizing campaign. The company allegedly threatened employees that they would be fired for supporting the union and that the company would be closed or sold if the employees voted for the union. In addition, company officials unlawfully promised improved working conditions, including better safety equipment, to discourage their support for the union.

Two employees who openly supported the union were discharged in October 2011, and a third was discharged in January 2012 after photographing hazardous materials and encouraging employees to voice concerns about hazardous materials they were handling. The injunction orders the company to offer reinstatement to the three employees, and to read the order to all employees.

Attorneys Juan Carlos Ochoa Diaz and J. Carlos Gonzalez represented the Board in this matter in the District Court.