Beaver County Blue

Progressive Democrats of America – PA 12th CD Chapter

Archive for the ‘trade unions’ Category

Union Victory! Point Park Adjunct Faculty Votes to Join AFA-USW Union

Posted by carldavidson on June 26, 2014

 

ppark2

University’s Part-Timers Seek to Improve Education, Working Conditions

CONTACT: Randa Ruge: (412) 562-6967, rruge@usw.org

PITTSBURGH (June 25, 2014) – Part-time faculty members at downtown Pittsburgh’s Point Park University have voted to join the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers (AFA-USW).

The group filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in April to hold a mail ballot election. A total of 314 part-time Point Park instructors were eligible to vote, and the ballots were counted this morning at the NLRB’s downtown offices.

“The adjunct instructors have spoken very clearly with this vote,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “Now it’s time for the Point Park administration to work with them to craft a fair collective bargaining agreement that provides the faculty with the benefits and basic protections that all workers deserve.”

Among the issues the instructors hope to address are: a decade of wage stagnation as well as their lack of benefits, job security, office space and other tools needed to provide the quality education that Point Park students deserve.

Point Park instructor Sharon Brady said the vote was a victory for the university’s teachers and their students.

“I am looking forward to working with the administration, with the support of the USW, to enhance both the adjuncts’ experience and their effectiveness for the students they serve,” said Brady, who has taught theater arts at the college for 13 years.

The Point Park instructors are the second group of adjuncts to join the AFA-USW. Instructors at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University voted overwhelmingly in the spring of 2012 to join the AFA-USW, and the university at first agreed to abide by the election results before quickly reversing that decision, claiming a religious exemption.

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments and agencies.

Posted in Organizing, Pittsburgh, trade unions | Leave a Comment »

Income Gap Widens as American Factories Shut Down: the Case of Reading, PA

Posted by carldavidson on June 16, 2014

Beaver County Blue via AP

June 15, 2014 – READING PA – In August 2008, factory workers David and Barbara Ludwig treated themselves to new cars – David a Dodge pickup, Barbara a sporty Mazda 3. With David making $22 an hour and Barbara $19, they could easily afford the payments.

A month later, Baldwin Hardware, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker Corp., announced layoffs at the Reading plant where they both worked. David was unemployed for 20 months before finding a janitor job that paid $10 an hour, less than half his previous wage. Barbara hung on, but she, too, lost her shipping-dock job of 26 years as Black & Decker shifted production to Mexico. Now she cleans houses for $10 an hour while looking for something permanent.

They still have the cars. The other trappings of their middle-class lifestyle? In the rear-view mirror.

The downfall of manufacturing in the United States has done more than displace workers and leave communities searching for ways to rebuild devastated economies. In Reading and other American factory towns, manufacturing’s decline is a key factor in the widening income gap between the rich and everyone else, as people like the Ludwigs have been forced into far lower-paying work.

It’s not that there’s a lack of jobs, but gains often come at either the highest end of the wage spectrum – or the lowest.

“A loss of manufacturing has contributed to the decline of the middle class,” said Howard Wial, an economist with the Brookings Institution and the University of Illinois at Chicago. “People who are displaced from high-paying manufacturing jobs spend a long time unemployed, and when they take other jobs, those jobs generally pay substantially less.”

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Posted in Economy, Manufacturing, Poverty, trade unions, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

In Pittsburgh’s New Economy, Organized Labor Reorganizes in Unconventional Ways

Posted by carldavidson on June 10, 2014

Organizers Robin Sowards and Clint Benjamin at USW headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh, two blocks away from the campus of Point Park University. PPU adjunct faculty are voting this month on whether to join the Steelworkers. Credit Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

Steelworkers organizing Professors

By Josh Raulerson

Beaver County Blue via NPR Pittsburgh

Like any English professor, Clint Benjamin spends a lot of his time grading papers.

“There’s a mountain – a teetering Matterhorn of papers at the end of the weekend, or during the week,” Benjamin said. “You’ve just gotta get through them.”

By his own estimate, Benjamin spends 30 to 40 hours a week on grading alone. He also has to attend meetings, answer emails, keep office hours, and commute between the Community College of Allegheny County and Duquesne University campuses, where in a typical week he prepares and teaches five sections’ of English and writing classes.

For his troubles, Benjamin earns between $25,000 and $30,000 a year and no benefits – if he’s lucky enough to get the maximum number of appointments each institution offers. As a contingent employee, Benjamin is compensated at a fraction of what his similarly credentialed tenured and tenure-track colleagues earn. (Adjunct faculty normally hold a terminal degree in their field: typically a PhD or, in Benjamin’s case, an MFA.)

Benjamin recently took on a third job as an organizer with the United Steelworkers’ Adjunct Faculty Association, which recently led a successful effort to organize part-time faculty at Duquesne.

The campaign drew national attention last year, when the death of 83-year-old adjunct professor Margaret Mary Vojtko became a cause célèbre for the higher-ed labor movement. Vojtko was broke and facing homelessness when she died shortly after being let go by Duquesne, her employer of 25 years.

Many adjuncts, like Benjamin, saw in Vojtko’s story a glimpse of their own possible future – and that of their profession.

"I do love what I’m doing, but that’s how the administration gets us," he said. “It’s a crisis.”

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Posted in Austerity, labor, Organizing, trade unions | Leave a Comment »

Six Arrested in Philly Protest at Corbett, Christie Campaign Stop

Posted by carldavidson on June 10, 2014

Teachers, Parents and Students Spotlight School Cuts

By Allison Steele and Julia Terruso
Beaver County Blue via Philly Inquirer

June 10, 2014 – As many as 1,000 protesters, many angry about school funding, blocked traffic and waved signs in Center City on Monday afternoon, hoping to disrupt or at least deflect attention from a fund-raising stop by Govs. Corbett and Christie.

"Our members are here because they’re being mistreated," said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Six people were arrested for obstructing the highway – a summary offense – after sitting down on 17th Street. Police did not use handcuffs as they led them away.

The names of those arrested were not available Monday night, but a statement from the coalition group Fight for Philly identified them as "parents, activists, and retired teachers."

The two Republican governors were scheduled to appear Monday evening at a private fund-raiser hosted by the Republican Governors Association. The association did not release details of the event, including its location.

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Posted in 2014 Election, Education, GOP, trade unions, Youth and students | Leave a Comment »

Turkish Mine Disaster: ‘Not an Accident. It’s Murder”

Posted by carldavidson on May 16, 2014

Turkey swept by protests as anger grows over fatal mine explosion

Thousands join strike and crowds heckle president while relatives begin to bury the nearly 300 coalminers killed in Soma

Relatives mourn during the funeral of one of the miners killed in Soma, Turkey

Relatives mourn on Thursday during the funeral of one of the coalminers killed in Soma, Turkey. Photograph: Ahmet Sik/Getty Images

Anger at the deadly mine explosion in Turkey spread across the country on Thursday as thousands of workers joined a protest strike, demonstrators clashed with security forces, and families began to bury scores of men killed in the disaster.

As the death toll at the Soma coalmine pushed towards 300, with hopes extinguished for at least 100 more miners thought to be trapped deep in the pit, fury was directed at the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – and fuelled by pictures of one of his aides violently assaulting a protester, and claims that Erdoğan himself had struck a teenage girl.

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Posted in trade unions, Worker Safety | Leave a Comment »

Blood on the Coal, Another Reason for Moving to Green Energy

Posted by carldavidson on May 13, 2014

Two Miners Killed in W VA Mine

Union member from Brody Mine…Thanks to John Case of Harpers Ferry for sending this…

WHARTON, W.Va. — Officials from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday that two workers had been trapped and killed in an accident at a West Virginia coal mine.

One official with the agency, Amy Louviere, said in an email Tuesday morning that a ground failure occurred at the mine around 8:30 p.m. Monday. She said the miners’ bodies had been recovered, and personnel from the agency are on the site.

The accident occurred at Brody Mine No. 1, in Boone County, which is in the southwest part of West Virginia. It is owned by the St. Louis-based Patriot Coal.

In October, the safety agency designated the mine as a pattern violator, meaning it had repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations in the previous year. Patriot said in a statement at the time that it believed the mine did not qualify for the status and that it intended to contest it.

Posted in Green Energy, trade unions, Worker Safety | 1 Comment »

We Win a Round on Voting Rights in PA!

Posted by carldavidson on May 10, 2014

Corbett Administration Abandons Voter ID Appeal

From PA AFL-CIO

May 9, 2014 – After more than two years, multiple trials, and a confusing roll-out that ultimately disenfranchised tens of thousands of eligible voters and cost millions of dollars, Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law has been defeated.  In a statement yesterday, the Corbett administration indicated that they would not appeal the Commonwealth Court’s January ruling, which found the law to be unconstitutional on its face.

At the time of that ruling, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO urged the Commonwealth to accept the judge’s findings and to abandon further appeals.  “This process has already cost the Commonwealth millions of dollars, and risked the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of our citizens,” said PA AFL-CIO President Bloomingdale.  “We are pleased that the administration has finally decided to face the fact that their voter ID law was never constitutional.”

While defending the broader concept of voter ID requirements in their statement yesterday, the Corbett administration also made the surprising acknowledgement that ‘for a voter identification law to be found constitutional, changes must be made to address accessibility to photo identifications.’

“While the court ruling in January, combined with this week’s developments, are a victory for voting rights, there is still much work to do,” said PA AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Snyder. “We have avoided taking a step backwards, but Pennsylvania is still one of the more restrictive states when it comes to ballot access.”  Among the changes that voting rights advocates have called for in Pennsylvania are early voting, same-day registration, and no-excuse absentee ballots.

Posted in NAACP, PDA, trade unions, Voting Rights | Leave a Comment »

Ohio: Lorain Workers Rally to Save Our Steel Jobs

Posted by carldavidson on May 6, 2014

USW News

Yesterday, in Lorain Ohio, hundreds of workers and supporters joined U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, and Rep. Marcy Kaptur to tell America that we need to Save Our Steel jobs.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is bringing the issue of a surge of illegally dumped oil tubular goods (OCTG) imports, primarily from South Korea, is flooding the U.S. market. These foreign steel pipes are priced below fair value and in deceptive ways are designed to circumvent international trade laws.

U.S. workers and their communities deserve a fair shot. The United States has trade remedy laws that serve as the last line of defense for American firms and workers in the face of illegal trade. But when the rules are not effectively enforced, U.S. producers lose sales and profits, workers lose their jobs and communities lose homeowners and a sustainable tax base.

Watch for future planned rallies and join us in Granite City, IL; McKeesport, PA; Longview, TX; Fairfield, AL and in the iron range in Minnesota.

Posted in Steelworkers, trade unions, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

Pittsburgh and The Revolt of the Cities

Posted by carldavidson on April 26, 2014

AN ARTICLE FOR DISCUSSION. During the past 20 years, immigrants and young people have transformed the demographics of urban America. Now, they’re transforming its politics and mapping the future of liberalism.

By Harold Meyerson
Beaver County Blue via American Prospect

Pittsburgh is the perfect urban laboratory,” says Bill Peduto, the city’s new mayor. “We’re small enough to be able to do things and large enough for people to take notice.” More than its size, however, it’s Pittsburgh’s new government—Peduto and the five like-minded progressives who now constitute a majority on its city council—that is turning the city into a laboratory of democracy. In his first hundred days as mayor, Peduto has sought funding to establish universal pre-K education and partnered with a Swedish sustainable-technology fund to build four major developments with low carbon footprints and abundant affordable housing. Even before he became mayor, while still a council member, he steered to passage ordinances that mandated prevailing wages for employees on any project that received city funding and required local hiring for the jobs in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ new arena. He authored the city’s responsible-banking law, which directed government funds to those banks that lent in poor neighborhoods and away from those that didn’t.

Pittsburgh is a much cleaner city today than it was when it housed some of the world’s largest steel mills. But, like postindustrial America generally, it is also a much more economically divided city. When steel dominated the economy, the companies’ profits and the union’s contracts made Pittsburgh—like Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago—a city with a thriving working class. Today, with the mills long gone, Pittsburgh has what Gabe Morgan, who heads the local union of janitorial and building maintenance workers, calls an “eds and meds” economy. Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, and its medical center are among the region’s largest employers, generating thousands of well-paid professional positions and a far greater number of low-wage service-sector jobs.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto

Peduto, who is 49 years old, sees improving the lot of Pittsburgh’s new working class as his primary charge. In his city hall office, surrounded by such artifacts as a radio cabinet from the years when the city became home to the world’s first radio station, the new mayor outlined the task before him. “My grandfather, Sam Zarroli, came over in 1921 from Abruzzo,” he said. “He only had a second-grade education, but he was active in the Steel Workers Organizing Committee in its early years, and he made a good life for himself and his family. My challenge in today’s economy is how to get good jobs for people with no PhDs but with a good work ethic and GEDs. How do I get them the same kind of opportunities my grandfather had? All the mayors elected last year are asking this question.”

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Posted in Democrats, Organizing, Pittsburgh, trade unions, Youth and students | Leave a Comment »

Busy Week for Pittsburgh Area…

Posted by carldavidson on April 22, 2014

Calling all activists! We have a busy day ahead of us on Thursday, April 24,  starting with a noon rally in Market Square for fair wages for women and low wage workers, then to support postal workers at Staples on McKnight Road, the to the Pump House for the first film of the season: Sacco and Vancetti! Top it off on Saturday afternoon at the Pump House for a discussion on the fight for meaningful immigration reform. Join us!

Thursday, April 24 from 12:00 to 1:00 pm The Equal Pay Rally is on at Market Square. The rally will focus on the minimum wage, the impact of the gender wage gap on Pittsburgh families, and economic justice for all. The students of the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) GirlGov program will have an Equal Pay Bake Sale at the rally to help illustrate the wage gap. Men will be charged $1 per item, and women will be charged 75 cents to exemplify the impact economic discrimination has on every aspect of our daily lives. We also are going to have "Will Work for Equality" t-shirts.

Thursday April 24, 2:30 PM – 6:30 PM, Rally in support of postal workers! At STAPLES, 4801 McKnight Road, Pittsburgh, PA. 15237. Demonstrations will occur at Staples stores across the country on April 24 to protest the deal between Staples and the U.S. Postal Service that jeopardizes mail service and thousands of good jobs. The deal takes living-wage USPS jobs and full service U.S. Post offices and replaces them with knock-off post offices at Staples staffed with low wage employees. This is privatization and a race to the bottom for customers, workers and our communities.  The Staples deal is bad for the consumers who will pay the same for less service. The public has a right to post offices and services that are staffed by uniformed employees that are accountable and sworn to safeguard your mail.

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Posted in Pittsburgh, Steelworkers, trade unions | Leave a Comment »

 
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