Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

GOP: It’s OK for Corporations to Kill Workers

Alan White couldn’t shout jubilation from the rooftop on March 25 when he heard that the U.S. Department of Labor, after decades of trying, had finally issued a stricter rule to limit exposure to potentially deadly silica dust in workplaces.

He was happy, all right. After all, he’d worked with the United Steelworkers (USW) to get the rule adopted. It’s just that he knew shouting would induce his silicosis coughing.

Within days, though, indignation replaced his jubilation. White, who’d been sickened by the debilitating, irreversible and often fatal disease at work in a foundry, watched in disgust as Republicans attempted to overturn the rule that the Labor Department said could save more than 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis annually.

Last week, GOP House members conducted a hearing to further their case against saving those lives. They did that just days before Workers Memorial Day, April 28, when organized labor renews its solemn pledge to strive for workplace safety rules and formally commemorates those who have died on the job in the previous year.

The totals aren’t in for 2015 yet, but the year before, 4,679 workers died on the job. That’s nearly 90 a week, 13 a day, seven days a week. Twenty-eight members of my own union, the USW, died on the job since Workers Memorial Day 2015.

But the GOP position is clear. Republicans will do whatever it takes to ensure that corporations can sicken and kill workers with impunity. If the argument is that workers’ lives and lungs must be sacrificed to ensure that foundries and fracking operations and construction companies can make bigger profits by releasing silica particles under 40-year-old standards now considered dangerous, then the GOP will take the side of CEOs who value workers as trivial.

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Ohio Official Blasts ‘Sickening’ Voting Restriction

Alice Ollstein Political Reporter, Think Progress

In Ohio’s March 15 presidential primary, a car crash blocked a major highway near Cincinnati, leaving thousands of people stranded in their cars as the polls were set to close. A local judge received calls from voters frantic about losing their chance to cast a ballot, and ordered the polls to remain open just one hour later than scheduled. Now, a Cincinnati Republican is pushing a bill to make sure it’s much more difficult, and expensive, to get such an emergency extension in the future.

If legislation sponsored by Republican State Senator Bill Seitz is approved, anyone petitioning a judge to extend voting hours would have to put up a cash bond to cover the cost, which could range in the tens of thousands of dollars. If a court later finds that the polls should not have remained open, the voter would forfeit all the money. Only those who are so poor they can be certified as indigent would be exempted.

Rep. Dan Ramos, a Democrat who represents the working class Lorain community, told ThinkProgress he finds the effort “sickening.”

“This has been par for the course, ever since the Republicans took control of the House. They’ve been trying to do everything they can to make it more difficult to vote,” he said, noting the state’s cuts to early voting hours, voter roll purges, and attempts to block some students from voting in the primaries. “Now they’re saying the only way a person can have access to courts for voting is if they’re a wealthy person.”

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Clinton Must Toughen Up On Trade To Be Ready To Face Trump

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Yes, much of Donald Trump’s message has a white nationalist and anti-woman character to it. But here is a warning: If Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee she had better get tough on trade – and mean it.

One of Donald Trump’ main elements of appeal to his voters – if not the main appeal – is his stance on trade and bringing jobs back to America. It is a winning message and Clinton is waaaayyyy behind the curve on this.

Much Of Trump Appeal Based On Trade

Much of Trump’s campaign message is about how our country’s trade deals have wiped out jobs. On Day 1 much of his speech announcing that he was running was about trade. From the transcript, here is some of the trade talk:

“That’s right – a lot of people up there can’t get jobs. They can’t get jobs because there are no jobs because China has our jobs and Mexico has our jobs. They all have our jobs.

[. . .] I’m going to tell you a couple of stories about trade, because I’m totally against the trade bill for a number of reasons.

… Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have people that are stupid. We have people that aren’t smart, and we have people that are controlled by special interests and it’s just not going to work.

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Remembering the Past, Fighting for the Future

Duronda Pope

Duronda Pope

Editor’s note: The Department of Labor will host a Workers’ Memorial Day event at 10:30 a.m. ET on April 28. The author of this guest post, Duronda Pope, will participate. Watch at dol.gov/live.


May 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day, a day set aside to mourn the dead and fight for the living.

But that’s every day for me.

For 10 years, my job with the United Steelworkers has been to jump in to help when a member of the union has been killed or permanently injured on the job. I’ve been there for hundreds of families at the lowest times in their lives, when they have to imagine going on without their wife or husband, parent or child.

Earlier this month, a 32-year-old was checking fire extinguishers when he walked into a room full of deadly nitrogen. He and his wife had just lost a child, and then she lost him, too.

Before that, a member was crushed by a falling steel door. She was a mother and a grandmother, and was just six months into the job.

I went to the home of a member who died after falling 75 feet into a pit, and I met his two sons, Jason and Josh, 6 and 7 years old. They were telling me about a fishing trip with their dad when his truck pulled up and they ran over to it, so excited. But it wasn’t him behind the wheel, and we had to explain why.

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Indiana Carrier Plant Workers Take Their Case Directly To UTC Shareholders

Matt Murray

Matt Murray Creator, Author, NH Labor News

 

United Technology shareholders came face-to-face with workers being destroyed by insatiable corporate greed.

On February 10th, United Technologies (UTC) announced its “business decision” to shutter the Carrier plant in Indianapolis and move production to Monterrey, Mexico.  The move would eliminate at least 1,400 jobs in Indianapolis. A video of the heartless announcement was posted on YouTube and has received more than 3.7 million views, drawing national attention to UTC offshoring plans.

On Monday, members of the United Steelworkers Local 1999 who work at the facility scheduled for closure traveled to the UTC shareholder meeting in Florida.  The USW members delivered a petition signed by 4,500 people, asking the company to reconsider moving their jobs to Mexico, and called on UTC to keep good, family-sustaining jobs in Indianapolis.

“Abandoning the Indianapolis plant will have a devastating effect on not only 1,400 workers, but also our families and our community,” said USW Local 1999 Unit President Donnie Knox. “UTC’s decision to move our jobs to Mexico and the video of a manager’s callous delivery of that devastating news to workers in Indianapolis have made Carrier and UTC into poster children for corporate greed.”

United Technologies’ greed is not unusual. It is exactly what many of the other American companies have done over the last thirty years.  Corporations sell out American workers, who labored to build the company from the ground up, only to watch their jobs shipped overseas so the stockholders can make a quick buck.

In October, United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, used a stock buyback program to temporarily inflate the share price.  They announced plans to buy back $12 billion worth of the corporation’s own stock — boosting the price per share up by almost 5%.  UTC plans to spend another $3 billion later this year, to buyback even more shares. This is great news for the wealthy executives and Wall Street hedge fund managers who hold the majority of UTC stock (even though it’s one of the reasons for a recent downgrade in UTC’s bond rating).

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Welfare Hypocrisy

Welfare Hypocrisy

Union Matters

As CEO Dough Rises, Workers Fall as Flat as a Pancake

Pulling out may seem like a good idea in theory, but it sure as hell ain’t foolproof. In fact, sometimes it can be devastating.  

Take Indianapolis-based heating, air conditioning and refrigeration manufacturer Carrier. In February, the corporation announced to its 1,400 employees that their jobs were being sent to Mexico.

“This is strictly a business decision,” a Carrier executive told the bereaved and angry crowd of workers.

Newsflash, Carrier: This is NOT strictly business.

By pulling out of Indianapolis, the corporation guts the city’s school system of essential tax dollars, strips thousands of families of their incomes, and decimates the whole region. Carrier isn’t just shuttering a factory. It’s shuttering an entire community. And because it’s a corporation, it’s laughing all the way to the bank.

But, of course, the United States treats corporations like Carrier as royalty for behavior like this through tax breaks. CEOs also get monstrous bonus packages -- at an average of $15 million per year – for throwing Americans out of work when they can be replaced by workers paid a pittance in countries that allow environmental degradation.

Carrier gets the advantage of paying workers in Mexico the same amount per day that their workers here in America make per hour. The CEOs and shareholders reap all of the benefits.  American workers and communities suffer all of the pitfalls.

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