Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Question Before the Court: Can Corporations Betray Retirees?

Question Before the Court: Can Corporations Betray Retirees?
M&G Polymers is Point Pleasant's new Mothman

At a chemical plant called Point Pleasant in a town named Apple Grove in a state John Denver labeled almost heaven, a man known as Freel Tackett helped negotiate three collective bargaining agreements that provided raises and decent benefits for workers and retirees.

Heaven ended in 2007 for Tackett and other retired Point Pleasant workers. That’s when the corporation that now owns the plant betrayed them by refusing to continue paying the full cost of retiree health benefits. These days, it’s almost hell for retirees. For seven years they’ve lived under a dark shadow, as if Point Pleasant’s most infamous denizen, the monster Mothman, immortalized in the book and movie The Mothman Prophesies, had returned.

The United Steelworkers (USW) union told the U.S. Supreme Court last week that these workers had labored a lifetime to earn retiree health benefits. The court should forbid the company from rescinding earned benefits, the USW argued. The corporation, M&G Polymers, asked the court to validate its reneging on its pledge to workers because, it contended, the collective bargaining agreement is insufficiently specific. M&G insisted that vagueness gives it carte blanche to shift costs to workers. 

 

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Obama's Immigration Move About Much More Than Politics

Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson Editor-at-Large, The American Prospect

The commemorations of the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall have thrust into the public spotlight the border guard who ordered the gates opened. The subject of both a new German-language book and film, one-time Stasi Lt. Col. Harald Jäger has recounted why he defied his orders. And his story couldn’t be more relevant to the debate consuming our own nation.

On the evening of Nov. 9, 1989, prompted by an erroneous announcement from an East German Politburo spokesman that his compatriots would be free to cross the border, thousands of East Berliners flocked to the checkpoint Jäger supervised. His superiors told him to keep the gates closed, though he could let a few people through, provided he marked the passports of those he determined were activists and blocked their reentry when they came back.

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Forget The Pundits: Reactions To Obama’s Speech From The Immigrants Who Are Actually Impacted

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

Love was the strongest emotion felt at a downtown Washington, D.C. office Thursday night as President Obama announced that he would use his executive power to grant deportation relieffor millions of undocumented immigrants. At least 50 undocumented immigrants and advocates, many who have been in the immigration fight for years, were scattered at a watch party to view Obama’s speech from a projector. About five million undocumented immigrants are expected to be helped by the executive action. Just as advocates were quick to congratulate immigrants whose family could now come out of the shadows, others also expressed cautious happiness, and even sadness over the family members who were not given deportation cover.

Outlining a few points to address the broken immigration system, Obama welcomed millions of undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, including the parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident (LPR) children, as well as undocumented immigrants who have been here for at least five years. Clouding that announcement, however, was the advocates’ knowledge that Obama did not provide deportation cover for the parents of those who came here as children but do not have legal status, known as DREAMers.

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The Bare Knuckle Fight Against Money in Politics

Bill Moyers Author, Television Documentary Journalist

In this turbulent midterm election year, two academics decided to practice what they preached. They left the classroom, confronted the reality of down-and-dirty politics, and tried to replace moneyed interests with the public interest.

Neither was successful -- this year, at least -- but on this week's show, Bill talks with them about their experiences and the hard-fought lessons learned about the state of American democracy.

Lawrence Lessig, who teaches law at Harvard, is a well-known Internet activist and campaign finance reform advocate. This election cycle, he started a crowd-funded SuperPAC aimed at reducing the influence of money in politics. Lessig tells Bill: "Our democracy is flat lined. Because when you can show clearly there's no relationship between what the average voter cares about, only if it happens to coincide with what the economic elite care about, you've shown that we don't have a democracy anymore."

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Here’s Your Union-Made in America Thanksgiving Shopping List

Mike Hall

Mike Hall Senior Writer, AFL-CIO

Here’s Your Union-Made in America Thanksgiving Shopping List

Before you put together your Thanksgiving dinner shopping list, check our list of union-made in America food and other items that are essential to a traditional family Thanksgiving feast. Speaking of thanks, a big “thank you” to the Union Label and Service Trades Department (ULSTD), Union Plus and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's resource site, Labor 411, for compiling their extensive catalogs of union-made products.

Here are some of the best union-made Thanksgiving eats and cookware from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM); Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers (GMP); Machinists (IAM); United Steelworkers (USW); and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Appetizers

 

Kraft/Nabisco crackers—BCTGM

Nabisco (Mondelez) crackers—BCTGM

Keebler (Kellogg) crackers—BCTGM

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Wage Theft Should Not Fly

Wage Theft Should Not Fly

Union Matters

Obamacare: Unconstitutional?

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has a somewhat checkered history.  On the one hand, there are decisions like Marbury v. Madison.  That case helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of our Federal government.  On the other hand, there are decisions which were much less commendable.  Dred Scott, anyone?

According to Talking Points Memo, reporters who cover the court are, are, as TPM put it, apoplectic.  Why?  SCOTUS agreed to hear a case that, if won by the plaintiffs, would effectively gut the Affordable Care Act.

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