Labor Upfront: Labor Fight Against Racism has Impact

BY:Labor Up Front| August 20, 2008
Labor Upfront: Labor Fight Against Racism has Impact

Vol. 1, Issue 14

goal of Labor UpFront is to provide members and friends with news,
information, and general ways to stay connected with the on-going
struggles of workers. You can also visit our blog,, for further information on the stories in this newsletter and much more!
Please feel free to forward this to anyone you feel may benefit, and if you received this from a friend, e-mail to join the list.

Scott Marshall, Labor Commission Chair
Melissa ORourke, Labor Commission Coordinator, Labor UpFront editor

In This Newsletter:
Labor Fight Against Racism has Impact
Action Alerts:
CLUW; LabourStart
Liberian Rubber Workers Sign Landmark Contract
Dole Flower Workers Sign Contracts in Colombia
Contract and Strike round-up:
CWA/IBEW Verizon Workers
ILWU West Coast
Kansas Machinists on strike
Election 2008: Labor Teams up to Fight Wal-Mart; Blogging from the DNC
Union Jobs (still more needed!)

Labor’s fight against racism has impact

Obama holds 10 pt. lead among lower income white workers

CHICAGO The leaders of Americas labor movement are calling upon
white union members to put aside any racial biases that could undermine
Barack Obamas labor-supported effort to become President of the United
States. The AFL-CIO, at its executive council meeting here Aug. 5,
echoed similar calls put forward recently by leaders of the
Steelworkers and the Miners unions.

If recent polls
are indicative the effort is working. Obama has a 10-point lead over
McCain among white workers earning less than $27,000 per year and a
two-to-one lead over McCain among all workers in this category. An Aug.
4, Washington Post poll shows Obama out-performing both John Kerry who
lost the white vote by 17 points in 2004 and Al Gore who lost the white
vote by 12 points in 2000. The last Democratic candidate for president
to win a majority of the white vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. (continue  here)

Must Read: Trumka’s speech to the United Steelworkers convention on Obama and race.

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Action Alerts
CLUW: Fair Pay Act
On July 31 we celebrated a major victory when the House of
Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. But now we are facing
new obstacles to obtaining equal pay for women because some Senators
are beginning to quietly sign on to an alternative bill that would
undermine efforts to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

This competing bill, introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
with the misleading name ‘Title VII Fairness Act,’ would require
employees to show they filed their pay discrimination claims within six
months of the date when they had — or ‘should’ have had — enough
information to suspect they’d been subject to discrimination.

CLUW urges you to tell your Senators that the Hutchison bill is not a
reasonable alternative to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to combat
pay discrimination. Click here to easily email your Senators today.

LabourStart: Iranian and South Korean Trade Unionists

Iran: Protest intensified repression against labour activists – No to whippings and executions!
against labour activists in Iran is intensifying. In recent weeks,
there have been numerous cases of arrests and jailings. Most shocking
perhaps was the sentencing of two women labour activists (Sousan Razani
and Shiva Kheirabadi) to 15 lashes and four months in prison — for the
‘crime’ of participating in a May Day celebration.

We call on the Iranian government to immediately release these
prisoners and to cease all repression of labour activists.  Click here to send a message. 

Korea: Stop arrests of trade union leaders
Following a massive wave of protests and demonstrations, on 24 July the
South Korean government issued arrest warrants for top leaders of the
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) including Lee Suk-haeng
(President) and Lee Yong-shik (General Secretary). Ms. Jin Young-ok,
First Vice-President of the KCTU has been arrested and detained.

The police surrounded the building where the main office of the KCTU is
located, ready to move in and arrest the leaders. Arrest warrants have
also been issued for other union leaders (see list below).

This anti-union repression threatens to return Korea to the dark days
of the military dictatorship which ended two decades ago. Korean trade
unionists are asking for a huge international campaign to pressure
their government to respect human rights.

Click here
to send a message to President Lee Myung-bak and Police Commissioner Eo
Cheong-soo calling upon the government to immediately stop the
repression against the KCTU and its affiliates, release the detainees
and call off arrest warrants.

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International Labor News
Liberian Rubber Workers Sign Landmark Contract Workers at one of the world’s largest rubber plantations will
receive wage increases, an improvement in work conditions and upgraded
housing and educational facilities thanks to a historic labor agreement.

The Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia, also known as
FAWFUL, signed the deal with Firestone Aug. 6, 2008.  The new
collective bargaining agreement covers more than 4,000 union members
and provides significant gains for workers, including wage increases of
24 percent for rubber tappers, retroactive to the expiration of a
previous agreement in January of 2007.

agreement at Firestone marks a new day for workers throughout Liberia,’
said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. ‘It is also a crucial
victory in the global fight for workers’ rights.’

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Victory! Dole Flower Workers Sign Contracts in Colombia!
USLEAP: Workers at two Dole plantations are celebrating today after
signing contracts on the Splendor and La Fragancia plantations last
month. These contracts are the only agreements held by Dole flower
workers in Colombia, and are the second and third contracts to be
signed by independent unions in the Colombian flower sector.

Both contracts provide significant new benefits for workers. Another
new flower union received legal recognition this month as well. There
have been more victories in the past week in the Colombian flower
sector that the past 4 years combined! Read here for more details.

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U.S. Labor News
Contract Negotiation Updates

Verizon Settlement Provides New Union Jobs, Preserves Health Security
The new tentative three-year settlement with Verizon reached on Aug. 10
achieves CWA’s goals of creating union jobs, securing fully paid health
benefits for both active and retired workers and boosting wages and
pensions for 65,000 workers in the northeast and mid-Atlantic.

The settlement creates at least 2,500 new jobs by eliminating
subcontracting in a number of job areas, converting 1,200 temporary and
part-time jobs to permanent, and bringing additional FiOS jobs into the
bargaining units.
In a breakthrough agreement, Verizon
agreed to extend recognition to 600 former MCI techs at Verizon
Business who have been seeking union representation for nearly two
years, with strong support from CWA and IBEW members who have
campaigned to ‘tear down the wall’ between union and non-union parts of
the company.

The settlement preserves fully-paid
health care premiums for all active and retired workers over the course
of the contract.  For new hires, retiree health benefits will be
covered by a new defined contribution plan with the amount of
contributions to be negotiated in each future contract. In addition,
Verizon agreed to work with the unions in a joint effort to achieve
national health care reform with universal coverage, and to provide $2
million a year to fund the project.

‘This is a
breakthrough agreement in many ways,’ said Cohen.  ‘It creates new
union jobs including major growth areas like FiOS, it takes a big step
forward on health care and brings hundreds of Verizon Business
employees the union rights they deserve.’ He said the settlement
‘provides a framework for growth at Verizon and a good standard of
living with careers for our members.’

Members of
the combined CWA-IBEW bargaining committee, speaking for regional
bargaining teams in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, stated: ‘The
involvement and mobilization of tens of thousands of our members made a
huge difference in these negotiations.  All of us together showed our
strength, our commitment, our determination to get the best possible

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ILWU West Coast
Four months of hard-nosed negotiating and disciplined solidarity by
rank-and-file members have secured a preliminary agreement for 26,000
West Coast dockworkers with the worlds most powerful global carriers
and port operators.

The proposed agreement is
preliminary; it must be carefully evaluated by the rank-and-file, and
is subject to a democratic ratification vote by the membership. The
proposed agreement will first be reviewed by elected Longshore Caucus
delegates who will meet in San Francisco beginning the week of August
18. If delegates so choose, the proposal will be mailed to the homes of
Longshore Division members, with extra copies available at local
dispatch halls. An election date will be set that allows enough time
for full consideration, questions, and answers about the proposed

The Negotiating Committee did a hell of
a job securing this agreement, but they couldnt have done it without
the solidarity and discipline of the rank-and-file, said International
President Bob McEllrath. We want to thank everyone on the docks who
made this possible.

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Kansas Machinists out on Strike
lines went up at 12:01 am on Monday, August 4, 2008, at Hawker
Beechcraft in Wichita and Salina, KS, after IAM members in both
locations voted overwhelmingly to reject the companys offer and to
strike the plane maker.

The IAM represents nearly
5,000 aircraft assemblers and production workers at Hawker Beechcraft
in Wichita and approximately 500 in Salina.

Hawker Beechcraft is feeding the media lies about the number of workers
crossing the picket line, the workers themselves are being asked to
hang in there through the summer heat and tough times of the strike. 
Negotiations remain at a standstill until Hawker Beechcraft requests
that they resume.  You can stay updated and read first-hand stories
from the workers at their strike blog

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Election ’08
Labor Teams up to Fight Wal-Mart
Washington, August 14) – – Today, the AFL-CIO, joined by other worker
rights groups, filed a formal complaint with the FEC demanding they
look into Wal-Marts intimidation of workers. The complaint stems from
a Wall Street Journal article that detailed the specific steps Wal-Mart
took to encourage employees to vote against Sen. Obama because of his
support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

has bullied its workers and managers for years.  Now it wants to bully
the political process, and the FEC should take Wal-Marts threats very
seriously, said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. Wal-Mart has shown
exactly why our nation needs the Employee Free Choice Act  – – we must
outlaw the kind of behavior for which Wal-Mart is famous and give
workers a free and fair choice on whether to form a union.

The complaint states, there is reason to believe that Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc. has made prohibited corporate expenditures by expressly advocating
against Senator Obamas election to employees who were not in its
restricted class in violation of  2 U.S.C. § 441b. We request that the
Commission immediately open an investigation to determine whether a
violation occurred and, if so, to take all appropriate steps to remedy
that violation of federal election law.

complaint explains that ‘informing employees that it is imperative that
the Employee Free Choice Act not be enacted and, simultaneously, that
their voting for Senator Obama and other Democrats would lead to its
enactment constitutes express advocacy’ that Wal-Mart cannot finance.

It goes on to say: The Employee Free Choice Act is strongly opposed by
Wal-Mart because it would, in fact, go a long way toward rectifying the
imbalance that currently exists between workers seeking to form unions
and employers that oppose them.  Currently, the law fails to
effectively protect workers seeking to organize, and employers are able
to violate the law with virtual impunity.  This legislation would allow
workers throughout the United States to decide whether or not to form a
union. If an employer intimidates or obstructs a workers free choice,
it would incur increased penalties.  Senator Obama is a co-sponsor of
the legislation, while his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain,
opposes the bill and voted against bringing it to the Senate floor last

The complaint was filed on behalf of the AFL-CIO, American Rights at Work, Change to Win, and WakeUp

Live from Denver:
Be sure to check out the Labor UpFront blog
during the Democratic National Convention, August 25-28.  PWW Labor
Editor John Wojcik will be posting up-to-the-minute news daily from the

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Union Jobs (We need more listings!)
Chicago: IBEW: further info is available at
Chicago Education-to-Careers:
Nationwide railroad jobs:

There is also a website, that lists union jobs, including staff, trades and apprenticeships, by state.

Keep them coming!!!! 
In an effort to assist young workers in finding decent-paying union
jobs, Im requesting that anyone who knows of job openings or
apprenticeships, in all fields and across the country, please forward
that information to

To remove your name from our mailing list, please e-mail

We welcome questions, comments and stories for our next newsletter.  Send them to us at or call (773) 446-9920, ext. 212.



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