Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Fat Cat Tuesday: A Commemoration of CEO Excess

Fat Tuesday is Mardi Gras, a day of revelry, gluttony, intoxication and showers of shiny plastic beads. It is the party to end all parties because it’s followed by Ash Wednesday, when Lenten sacrifices commence.

Fat Cat Tuesday is the day – Jan. 2, 2018 – on which the boards of directors of America’s biggest corporations handed their CEOs more money than those same CEOs would deign to pay their workers for an entire year of labor, 260 days.

It was a day of revelry, gluttony and private jets for CEOs and worthless shiny plastic beads for workers. 

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Ruling Could Lead to End of AFL-CIO Raiding Ban

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

A National Labor Relations Board regional director’s ruling could, if upheld by the full board, up-end a longtime AFL-CIO ban on raids by one member union against another.

In a late-December decision, Sean Marshall, the agency’s acting regional director for the Baltimore-Washington area, said the board should completely disregard the raiding ban in the AFL-CIO Constitution’s Article XX.

The immediate effect was to set up a 3-way Jan. 9 representation election pitting the incumbent United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27 against the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333, and no union, at WWL Vehicle Services, a Dundalk, Md., vehicle processing, logistics and marine services firm at the port of Baltimore.

The longer-range impact, if the full board agrees with Marshall, could be to up-end Article XX and throw AFL-CIO unions open to raids by their confederation colleagues. Article XX does not cover relations between AFL-CIO unions and unions in Change To Win.

But one top labor attorney, making clear he was speaking on background, said “the regional director can’t make law.” Currently, the board defers to arbitration of such disputes first, including arbitration under the federation’s constitution, added another veteran attorney, retired UFCW General Counsel Ed Wendel.

UFCW Local 27 and WWL are currently bargaining over a new contract to replace one that expired last year. Both urged Marshall to uphold past precedents. An AFL-CIO-named arbitrator’s ruling, ratified by the federation’s executive council in December, sided with them.

And in his most recent communication to members, posted on its homepage, Local 27 President Jason Chopenning told members at WWL the contract is still in effect while the two sides bargain a new one. WWL employs 150 union workers.

The ILA local responded federal labor law gives the board the final – and only – say over who should represent workers. It also said a NLRB “contract bar,” designed to bar raids, covers pacts lasting three years or fewer. The expired UFCW-WWL contract lasted four years.

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Bipartisan Senate Bill Aims to Help Close Buy American Loopholes

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

A bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation this week to make sure waivers to Buy American laws are not overused.

Buy American gives preference to American-made goods during the federal government procurement process. For example, if the construction of a bridge is being funded by federal tax dollars, Buy American ensures it is built with American-made iron and steel.

These preferences are popular among the public and enjoy widespread bipartisan support, and for good reason. It makes sense to reinvest our tax dollars in the local economy; it makes no sense to send that money overseas when American workers are ready to do the same job at a competitive price.

Sometimes there are instances when a federal agency can use a waiver to buy goods from overseas, such as when an American-made product is unavailable or if there is a significant cost difference. Unfortunately, however, federal agencies often overuse waivers, and there’s currently no centralized system to track what’s going down.

As a result, federal agencies spent $47.7 billion on foreign-made goods over the past five years, according to the Senators introducing the bill. The Defense Department alone has spent $200 billion on foreign-made products since 2007.

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Oops! White House admits it has zero evidence of voter fraud in 2016 election

Melanie Schmitz

Melanie Schmitz Associate Editor, Think Progress

In a court filing on Tuesday, the White House announced that it had not uncovered any preliminary findings of voter fraud in the 2016 election and that it would be destroying confidential voter data initially collected for President Trump’s controversial voter fraud commission, which was disbanded on January 3.

The revelation stands in stark contrast to previous comments made by both Trump and former commission vice chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who claimed in an interview with right-wing outlet Breitbart one week ago that all investigation work would be “handed off” to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), implying that Democrats were becoming “uncomfortable” with how much Republicans had discovered thus far.

Trump also claimed previously that the commission — created in May 2017 and charged with identifying “vulnerabilities in voting systems” that could lead to fraud — had uncovered “substantial” findings which would be handed over to DHS.

Tuesday’s court filing contradicted those claims.

“The Commission did not create any preliminary findings,” White House Director of Information Technology Charles C. Herndon said. “In any event, no Commission records or data will be transferred to the DHS or another agency, except to NARA [the National Archives and Records Administration] if required, in accordance with federal law.”

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Steelworkers for the Future: We’ll need more, but are they part of Trump’s plan?

Scott Paul

Scott Paul Director, AAM

William Hill spent 25 years in the U.S. Navy. After leaving the service and a stint at a defense contractor he found himself back home again in Indiana and, aided by the G.I. bill, enrolled in Purdue University — known as “the cradle of astronauts” for its record of putting graduates into the space program.

Hill was there to study engineering, a Purdue specialty. He was decidedly not looking for a career in the steel mills that line Lake Michigan in northern Indiana.

“I thought it was the last thing I’m ever gonna do,” he recently told a panel forecasting American manufacturing’s future.

Then a professor introduced Hill to an apprenticeship program, offered through Purdue by ArcelorMittal, called Steelworker for the Future.

Through it, students partake in a 2 ½ year associate’s degree program — four semesters of classroom training, and 16 weeks of on-site training at an ArcelorMittal steel mill — that, if completed successfully, can end in a job offer from the company. ArcelorMittal even covers the cost of tuition.

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Union Matters

The Clock is Ticking, Mr. President

Richard Cucarese
USW Local 4889

There was a time during the history of America that our elected officials did their best to act expeditiously on the behalf of their constituents when it came to dealing with the ‘hot button’ issues of the day.

But over the past few decades especially, the most important issues seem to be pushed aside in the interest of partisan politics and media posturing while the proletariat suffers under the weight of indecision.  Within this framework of political grandstanding, the Section 232 cases for the steel and aluminum industries are no exception.

Contending these measures that would help save the industries and create jobs in these vitally important sectors, candidate Donald Trump used Section 232 as a dangling carrot to a workforce that has recently become resentful of presidents whom we thought were our allies promising us job security, only to have them deliver a hard slap to the face by decimating our ranks under the guise and false promises of the benefits of Free Trade.

Riding into the White House with not much wiggle room to have a mandate, President Trump still acknowledged that one of his key achievements would be to move along Section 232 expeditiously in the interests of national security due to their level of importance in the military sector and the resurrection of our once-mighty but now-crumbling national infrastructure.

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Delve Deeper for Justice

Delve Deeper for Justice