Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

NAFTA Negotiators Send Corporate Whiners Back to Swamp

Giant corporations, loyal to coin and faithless to country, staged a public display of blubbering in the run up to this week’s fourth round of negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Whaa, whaaa, whaaaa, groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sniveled into the swamp from which they crawled to conduct their press conferences. President Trump isn’t doing what corporations want, they wailed.

The President’s trade priorities, which he repeatedly stated on the campaign trail, do not include groveling to the whims and whining of corporations or their toady, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. President Trump said he would create good, American jobs. To do that, he wants more stuff made in America and less stuff made in factories off-shored by greed-motivated American corporations. 

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Why the Best Protectors for Workers Are Other Workers

Robert Struckman AFL-CIO

As concertgoers fled the mass shooting at the country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay in Clark County, Nev., at the end of the Las Vegas strip, dozens of off-duty fire fighters attending the concert sprang into action. Twelve were among the wounded by gunfire.

At the same time, more than 150 fire fighters and paramedics from Clark County Local 1908 and surrounding locals rushed to the scene to save lives, treat the wounded and help the survivors.

"Our members–including those attending the concert off duty–reacted as they always do," said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "They put their training to work immediately, without hesitation and without regard for their own safety, making quick and difficult decisions on how best to save lives."

As the news of the unfolding tragedy flashed across the nation, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) – the union representing more than 310,000 professional fire fighters and paramedics–also took action, reaching out to Clark County Local 1908 and other affiliates in the area to provide assistance.

On Monday morning after the shooting, Patrick Morrison–a retired Virginia fire fighter who heads the health and safety division at the IAFF, was on the phone with affiliates across the country to organize and mobilize experienced teams of peer support counselors and trauma specialists to help members involved in the response to the mass shooting. Within hours, he too was on a plane to Las Vegas.

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Unionists on Puerto Rican Relief Mission Call Situation Dire

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Unionists on the extended relief mission to hurricane-smashed Puerto Rico call the situation there, three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit, dire. And the head of the Puerto Rico Labor Federation is blunt about the attitude of the U.S. government: “They want us to die.”

The group, including doctors and nurses from California and Oregon, are just a few of more than 300 unionists who headed for the island in a mission the AFL-CIO assembled. They spoke in an October 13 AFL-CIO-arranged conference call.

What the union volunteers found when they arrived, and still find, is devastation, with a lack of food, no running water, virtually no electricity outside the capital of San Juan and spotty cellphone service, if it works at all. Volunteers came from unions with nurses, the Teamsters, building trades union members to clear roads and repair smashed structures, and more.

Despite all the efforts, fallen trees still block numerous roads, preventing relief shipments from getting through and many mountainous communities are virtually isolated, reached only by union teams in small vans dodging those and other obstacles. The Auto Workers’ engineer members had to repair eight of one city’s bulldozers, out of 12 total, disabled by the hurricane, so the dozers could clear the roads.

By contrast, Republican President Donald Trump blames the Puerto Ricans for their own problems and threatens to cut off all federal aid to the commonwealth, whose 3.4 million residents are U.S. citizens.  But three weeks after Hurricane Maria smashed in, “This is a man-made disaster,” retorts Dr. Jim Packard, a Service Employees member from Oakland, Calif.

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Michigan State Panel Opens Way For Cancelling Contracts Covering State Workers

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Another day, another way to put the screws to Michigan's union members.

On September 20, the Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC), over the vehement protests of state employee unions, gave the state the authority to override collective bargaining contracts for state employees during financial emergencies.

The commission also gave government managers ultimate authority for how employees receive overtime, are reassigned after layoffs, while reducing the issues upon which they're allowed to bargain.

The worker “reforms” are the most significant since the state legislature adopted right-to-work laws for public and private workers in 2012.  The Michigan push for so-called RTW laws is part of a national campaign by the right wing, its business backers and their GOP handmaidens to emasculate and destroy workers and unions, especially public worker unions.

This time, it was a ruling by the Michigan Civil Service Commission, which voted 3-1 to approve the new language, covering the state's nearly 50,000 employees. The three supporters were Republican-appointed.

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Trump’s Delay on Security Investigation is Making Imports Crisis Worse, AAM President Tells Congress

Cathalijne Adams Intern, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul urged the Trump administration to finally act to protect the U.S. steel and aluminum industry when he testified before a House Ways and Means subcommittee on U.S. trade relations in the Asia-Pacific region on Wednesday.

In his testimony, Paul cited China and other countries’ abuses of trade agreements and encouraged the administration to provide further trade protections while opening new markets as massively imbalanced trade deficits with countries in the region have plagued American exports.

Since Beijing entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, the U.S.-China trade deficit has risen “from $83 billion in 2001 to $347 billion in 2016,” Paul said.

“In just 15 years, the impact of the surging U.S.-China trade deficit on U.S. companies and American workers has been severe and too often overlooked,” said Paul in his written testimony. “Our communities have shed more than 54,000 manufacturing facilities, and we’ve seen our global market share in manufactured exports shrink from 14 percent in 2000 to nine percent in 2013. Altogether, a staggering 3.4 million jobs, largely in manufacturing, have been lost because of this massive trade imbalance.” 


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Union Matters

Turkish Sentencing of Wall Street Journal Reporter Horrifies News Guild

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Turkey’s sentencing of Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak horrifies The News Guild-CWA, which sees it as part of the government’s campaign to shut down criticism, Guild President Bernie Lunzer says.

On October 10, A Turkish court sentenced Albayrak to 25 months in prison on charges that she engaged in “terrorist propaganda in support of a banned Kurdish separatist organization,” the Journal reported.

The “propaganda” was an article two years ago about the Kurdish insurgency in eastern Turkey and its local impact.

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America Needs Fairer Taxes

America Needs Fairer Taxes