Manufacturing Jobs: New Trade Deal Will Hit Us Hard


The 4th Congressional District of Pennsylvania Will Lose 7,623 Jobs If New Trade Deals Pass

4th CD Breakdown:

299   in Motor Vehicles & Parts

158  in Other Transport

812  in Electronics

4092 in Metal Product

2025 in Iron Metals

130  in textiles

116  in Apparel

Join the AFL-CIO National Call in to Congressman Altmire on Oct. 4th to stop the Korea Free Trade agreement.

The history of NAFTA shows that Pennsylvania and the 4th CD suffer from free trade deals. We need fair trade.

Pennsylvania lost 313,839 manufacturing jobs (or 35.8 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2010), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change.

The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania declined from 20.1 percent to 11.7 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.
These are aggregate numbers, but the Department of Labor tracks instances of specific workers at specific workplaces who applied for special benefits for trade-displaced workers. In Pennsylvania, there are 149,519 such workers certified as having lost their job due to imports or offshoring under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. (Note: This program is difficult to qualify for, and this figure only includes those workers who were certified.)

The Economic Policy Institute found that 26,300 jobs have been lost or displaced in Pennsylvania – and over 680,000 in the United States – due to the rise in the trade deficit with Mexico alone since NAFTA was enacted in 1994.
The Economic Policy Institute also found that 95,700 jobs have been lost or displaced in Pennsylvania – and over two million in the United States – due to the rise in the trade deficit with China since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Local Postal Workers Join Nationwide Protest to Defend USPS


Beaver County Mail Carriers Rally

at Rep. Altmire’s Office to Stop

GOP’s Wrecking of National Postal Service

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Fifty postal workers and their allies rallied outside the Aliquippa office of Congressman Jason Altmire on the afternoon of Sept 27. They joined postal workers around the country demanding changes in special accounting rules imposed on them by Congress. The cost of the rules threatens to end Saturday deliveries, lay off 120,00 workers and close many post office facilities across the country.

“Congress created this problem and Congress can fix it,’ states a USPS TV ad explained the problem. Unlike any other agency, the are required to overpay billions of dollars into their pension fund by the same amount that it would take to clear up the Post Office’s current deficit.

“They could fix this problem with the stroke of a pen and not cost the taxpayers a penny,’ said Charlie Hamilton, a retired mail carrier and Labor Council member who organized the rally. “But the Republicans are determined to destroy anything with ‘public’ in it connected to the government.”

Altmire spoke briefly to the gathering, saying that he agreed with them, and would back legislation to support them. He warned, however, that the fight would be hard.

“What’s with Issa? Why is he doing this?” shouted one of the workers in a question to Altmire. He was referring to California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, the House leader of the drive against the Post Office.

“We have a block of people in Congress with the ideology that government shouldn’t do hardly anything, that wants private businesses to take over things like the Post Office. They’re a minority, but they’re what’s making it a tough fight.”

The workers were glad to get Altmire’s support on the issue, but many were still wary due to his recent ‘Blue Dog’ votes with the GOP on other budget matters.

Altmire Votes to Hold Emergency Aid Hostage

by Randy Shannon

PA 4th C.D. Congressman Jason Altmire voted with the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives to hold hostage emergency aid to flood victims in PA and other states.

Altmire supported the austerity agenda of the far right which says that emergency aid cannot be funded without cutting the funds of programs already in place.

Neighboring Democratic Congressmen Mark Critz and Mike Doyle voted against the bill that ultimately failed due to overwhelming Democratic opposition and the opposition of a handful of Republicans.

UAW Contract Analysis

UAW Makes Significant Gains in New Contract

By: David Dayen Sunday September 18, 2011 3:42 pm

The successful auto industry rescue is definitely a feather in the cap for the Administration, protecting up to a million direct and indirect auto industry jobs, and putting GM and Chrysler in a position to succeed. Now there’s a new contract with the United Auto Workers to share the success with labor.

Continue reading UAW Contract Analysis

Plan to Protect Social Security Offered


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Urge Deficit Commission to Reject Privatization or Raising Retirement Age; Make Wealthy Pay Same Rate as Working Men and Women


WASHINGTON, September 30 – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today sent a letter to the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the so-called Deficit Commission, outlining a plan to protect Social Security for the more than 50 million American seniors collecting benefits. The bi-partisan Deficit Commission is charged with making recommendations to rein in federal spending in order to reduce the federal budget deficit.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and others have recently suggested that Congress may need to privatize Social Security or raise the retirement age to help save the Social Security program from insolvency. However, we do not need to raise the retirement age or cut benefits to ensure the future solvency of the program. According to the Social Security Trust Fund Board of Trustees annual report which was released last week, without any changes in the program, the Social Security Trust Fund will continue to pay current benefits up until 2037 – 27 years from now. And without any changes in the program, after 2037 the Social Security Trust Fund would continue to pay up to 75% of current benefits until 2075.

Continue reading Plan to Protect Social Security Offered

Thousands at Labor Day Parade Focuses on Plight of Unemployed

Photo: Aliquippa’s SOAR Contingent in Parade

By Kaitlynn Riely
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Labor Day was a day off work for many, but for Shawn Wygant, it was one more day he didn’t have a job.

In May, Mr. Wygant, 37, of Forest Hills, was laid off from his job as a washing machine operator for Sodexo. Since then, he has been searching for work, without success.

He uses unemployment benefits to pay his bills and makes large pots of spaghetti to feed his wife, her sister, her brother and a niece and nephew.

Frustration sets in when he sees news reports that say the job situation may not improve for years.

"I can’t wait that long," he said. "We need people to start standing up for us."

On Monday morning, he stood in the rain on Freedom Corner in the Hill District as he prepared to march in the Pittsburgh Labor Day Parade. He was one of about 70,000 who participated in the Downtown procession.

On the annual observance of the contributions of workers, Mr. Wygant’s story was similar to those of millions across the country who have found themselves unemployed or underemployed in the economic downturn.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, and in Pennsylvania, it is 7.4 percent.

Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, and Frank Snyder, the secretary-treasurer of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, called attention to the plight of the jobless at a news conference before the parade Monday.

For the unemployed and the underemployed, the dreary holiday weather was another chapter in a bleak period of their life.

"For the past two years, it’s not been that happy of a Labor Day as they’ve not been able to find work," Mr. Snyder said.

At this year’s Labor Day Parade, one of the largest in the country, Mr. Snyder said he and other leaders of Pittsburgh’s labor community wanted to focus on putting people back to work.

That focus includes both union and non-union workers, he said.

"Unemployment does not discriminate," he said. "Union members as well as non-union members, Democrats, Republicans, no affiliation, find themselves unemployed on this Labor Day."

Dave Ninehouser, the Pittsburgh coordinator for PA Wants to Work, said his group was using Labor Day to ramp up its efforts to help the jobless gain access to resources and to spur the creation of jobs.

"This parade is a perfect example of what we need to do," he said. "Come together, stick together, stand together and fight back."

The parade began at 10 a.m. and lasted almost three hours. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Bishop David Zubik joined union members ranging from postal employees to Teamsters as they marched from the Civic Arena to the Boulevard of the Allies.

A steady rain fell throughout the morning, but there was a fair turnout, particularly among parade participants.

It was, for many parade participants, a bittersweet Labor Day.

About 5,000 members of the Pennsylvania State Education Association have been laid off from their jobs due to education cuts in the state budget, said Michael J. Crossey, president of the association. As the school year starts, they are out of work instead of in the classrooms, he said.

"We need to start doing the positive things that will move the economy forward," Mr. Crossey said. "This cuts budget doesn’t work."

More than 50 people came out in support of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said Mike Plaskon, the executive vice president for Branch 84.

Part of their aim in marching in the parade, Mr. Plaskon said, was to urge Congress to find legislative solutions for the U.S. Postal Service’s funding crisis.

"Our job is, we are going to get the facts out there, let the public know that they don’t need to close post offices," he said. "They don’t need to eliminate Saturday delivery. They just need to fix the funding."

Therese Kisic of Morningside has never been in a union but has family members who have, and she watches the parade every year.

This year, she said, she wished the labor movement would take its jobs message to Congress.

"I want to move this parade to D.C.," she said.

Although the parade had a definite message — of supporting organized labor, providing access to health care and promoting job creation — it was still a parade, with bands and banners and a few people throwing candy and other prizes to the umbrella-wielding bystanders.

Sandy and Andrew Pszenny of Franklin Park sat in lawn chairs on the sidewalk outside the DoubleTree Hotel, Downtown, and watched for their daughter Amanda, a piccolo player in the North Allegheny marching band.

They sought cover under their umbrellas as rain fell. It was their daughter’s first time marching in a downpour, they said.

"But she’s a tough kid. She likes the weather," Mr. Pszenny said.

Kaitlynn Riely: o

A ‘Street Heat’ Lesson from Italy

Italians Launch General Strike against Austerity

BBC New, Sept 6, 2011

Millions of Italian trade union members are thought to be taking part in a day-long strike against the government’s latest austerity measures.

Flights have been cancelled, trains and buses are stationary, and government offices have been shut across Italy.

The government has faced criticism over a 45bn-euro (£40bn) austerity package, and has been scrambling to revise it.

"This is a plan the country doesn’t deserve," said CGIL union leader Susanna Camusso, marching through Rome.

CGIL, which called the general strike, is Italy’s largest union federation.

It is demanding stronger action against tax dodgers and continuing job protection.

Continue reading A ‘Street Heat’ Lesson from Italy