Archive | November 2011

Senator Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to Protect the Postal Service

Bernie Sanders is awesome! If we had more Democratic Socialists like him in congress, the US would be a much better place.

The North Carolina Letter Carrier Activist

God bless Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). On November 10 Senator Sanders introduced a bill in the Senate that seems to have flown below most everyone’s radar and it shouldn’t have, at least not for those who are advocating changes for the Postal Service that would save it (HR 1351) rather than destroy it (HR 2309). Below is a summary of a more detailed summary from the November 10 bill compliments of Postal Employee Network. It starts with a quote from the network’s Legislative and Political Director Myke Reed:

“Senator Sanders’ bill gets at the underlying causes of the Postal Service’s dire financial situation, and outlines methods for resolving the crisis. It offers solutions that would strengthen service and protect the network of post offices and mail processing centers. The network is one of the Postal Service’s greatest assets. Unfortunately, several other bills currently pending in Congress would destroy this essential…

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Turkey: End the lockout at GEA

Sign the petition:

62 workers, all members of the Turkish metal union, Birlesik Metal-IS, have been locked-out since July at a Turkish subsidiary of German-owned GEA Group located in Gebze, Turkey. The company, which professes to respect fundamental labour rights and freedom of association and has an International Framework Agreement with the International Metalworkers’ Federation, is claiming that workers took illegal strike action during 10:00-10:15; 12:00-12:30; and 15:00-15:15, which are also designated times for tea breaks and lunch. A collective bargaining agreement, hard won by workers three years ago, will be up for renegotiation on December 31. An expert’s report petitioned by GEA found there was no strike action taken. A separate investigation petitioned by Birlesik Metal found that workers were denied access to the workplace. In late November the Gebze court ruled that four workers dismissed on May 31 must be reinstated, a clear indication that the Turkish courts have found GEA to be acting unlawfully. There is a heavy police presence inside of the company yet GEA continues to refuse to meet with Birlesik Metal. The IMF, ITUC, IUF, ITF, ICEM and its global partners in partnership with LabourStart are calling on GEA to immediately meet with the union, end the lockout and reinstate all of the workers.

Talking Union

The national political environment, not globalization or technology, is the most important factor driving long-run changes in unionization rates in the United States and other rich economies, according to new research from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

The report, “Politics Matter: Changes in Unionization Rates in Rich Countries, 1960-2010,” reviews unionization data covering the last 5 decades for 21 rich economies. The researchers consider both union coverage (the share of workers whose terms of employment are covered by a collective bargaining agreement) and union membership (the share of workers who are members of a union) and find a wide range of trends in union membership and collective bargaining coverage in countries subject to roughly similar levels of globalization and technology.

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About me/this blog

Wrote up a whole long thing for the About This Blog section, and just figured I’d post it as well.  I should be regularly posting relatively soon, still trying to get used to WordPress, tumblr is less complex.  Feel free to check out the tumblr version of this blog:

This blog is run by Peter Klein.  It is dedicated to labor unions, workers rights, and politics.

About me:

I am a Michigan State University Alum (2010), Union organizer, radical, and a Democratic Socialist.
I enjoy unions, politics (of the left of center and radical varieties mostly), music, movies, the outdoors, hunting, fishing, cars, driving, sports, college football (Go Green!), history, causing trouble, etc.

I grew up in a small rural town in Michigan, the son of UAW parents.  The area is German Catholic mostly made up of factory workers and farmers, and is unfortunately conservative.  I attended Michigan State University where I received a BA in Communicative Sciences and Disorders (think audiologists and speech pathologists), and got into politics.  I was one of the founding members of the MSU Young Democratic Socialists (one time President, two time Vice President, member of the Coordinating Committee, Education Committee, and Ministry of Information), worked as a volunteer for the Obama-Biden ’08 campaign, and was the founder and Chairperson of the short lived MSU Young Communist League.  I was also on the YCL National Council, and the Executive Committee of the YCL Midwest Regional Council.

Realizing that CSD was not for me, but not wanting to switch majors and incur more student loan debt, I committed myself to the progressive movement on campus through MSU YDS, MSU YCL, and MSU Students for Obama to help me get experience for a career in the labor movement.   I walked on picket lines with Laborers on campus, and participated in Anti-War marches that took over the streets (amongst many fun activities and events).  I volunteered with the MSU Union of Nontenure-Track Faculty, AFT, AFL-CIO toward the end of my senior year.  I now currently work as an organizer for the MSU UNTF.

I am no longer a member of the Communist Party USA or YCL.  I still believe they are a good organization, but I cannot be a member of a group that has many members that support North Korea and China (especially with regard to Chinese State controlled unions being a total joke that do nothing helpful for workers), though that is not my only reason for no longer being a member .  The CPUSA had a reformed version of Leninism that I at one time enjoyed, but I myself have abandoned that and any democratic centralist/vanguard party ideology since.  I have recommitted myself to Democratic Socialism after having left the CPUSA and moderating out into more of a progressive after college.  My commitment to union movement has stayed strong, and I got back to my Democratic Left roots after being sparked by the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  I have considered rejoining the Democratic Socialists of America, but I’ll have to do some more reading of Harrington and such before I do.

I’m pretty far Left, but I’m also very realistic.  One of my favorite quotes:  ”one should always try to be as radical as reality itself” (Yes, that is a Lenin quote, just because I no longer ascribe to Leninism doesn’t mean I now ignore everything positive he did, nor not enjoy a quote).  I think that the beginnings of socialism can be realized today: single payer healthcare, a living wage, the employee free choice act, overall labor law reform, a graduated income tax, getting money out of politics, more public participation in government and the economy, reining in wall street, a financial transaction tax, an increase in capital gains tax, better public school, more funding for social programs, a new New Deal, an economic Bill of Rights, etc., etc.  People want these things, they just don’t know that they are at the heart of American Socialism.  Taking steps toward that is what I consider being as radical as reality.  Once those type of things are implemented, we can really begin to build a society that puts people and the earth before profits.

Well, that’s my story for now, and I’m sticking to it.

Verizon is tax deadbeat, report shows

Verizon is tax deadbeat, report shows

WASHINGTON – In the last three years, as it raked in more than $100 billion in revenues and $33 billion in U.S. profits, Verizon – which is campaigning to cut its unionized workers’ health care – has been a tax deadbeat, a new report says.

Unpaid Bills: How Verizon Shortchanges The Government, by Good Jobs First and the Citizens for Tax Justice, reveals Verizon actually got tax rebates from the federal Treasury worth a total of $951 million, and also paid only about one-third of the state taxes it owed.

With the nominal U.S. corporate tax rate at 35 percent, Verizon should have paid about $11.4 billion in taxes, the report adds, rather than getting about a billion dollars back.

“Verizon doesn’t use its tax avoidance gains to keep up its copper network or extend its fiber optic technology to cities like Boston, Baltimore, Buffalo, or other communities, or create quality jobs. It isn’t negotiating a fair contract with the workers who have made this company so successful,” said CWA senior director George Kohl.

Click the link above to read the whole story from People’s World.

Republicans Deep-Six the NLRB

You’ve got to be kidding me, Republicans complain constantly about how lazy everyone is, and this asshole won’t even show up to a vote, just to get his way. Classic Republican horseshit.

Talking Union

by Harold Meyerson

Doing filibustering Senate Republicans one better, the one Republican member on the (currently) three-member National Labor Relations Board appears to have decided to bring the board to a screeching halt by refusing to vote and thus denying it a quorum.

In a letter made public yesterday, Republican Brian Hayes wrote fellow GOP-er John Kline, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, that he might well not participate in the Board’s scheduled November 30 vote on changing the rules for union certification elections. The proposed rule change essentially would shorten the period between the time that workers file for a union-representation election and the election itself from the current time period, which is as long as management can delay a vote (sometimes, for years) to roughly three or four weeks.

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