New Hampshire AFL-CIO Endorses HR 676

Author of Medicare for All Rep. John Conyers (D)
Author of Medicare for All Rep. John Conyers (D)

New Hampshire AFL-CIO Endorses HR 676

“On Saturday, May 4th the New Hampshire AFL-CIO unanimously passed a
resolution supporting HR 676 and the adoption of a national single payer
health care system that covers all Americans for all necessary medical
care including prescription drugs and dental,” reported President Mark

New Hampshire is the 42nd State AFL-CIO Federation to endorse HR 676,
Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, sponsored by Congressman John
Conyers (D-MI).

“HR 676 will save hundreds of billions of dollars by eliminating the
private health insurance industry with its high overhead and profits,”
said MacKenzie.

“As President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO I am proud to have our members
actively participate in the movement to win passage of HR 676 and to make
health care a human right.”

On May 21, 2013, HR 676 gained another co-sponsor in Congress with the
addition of Danny Davis (IL-7). HR 676 now has 42 co-sponsors.

Continue reading New Hampshire AFL-CIO Endorses HR 676

Labor Endorsed Candidates Advance in PA Primary

Labor Wins On Primary Day

The Labor Movement across Pennsylvania flexed its muscle on primary election day, propelling many of our endorsed candidates to victory.  In municipal, school board, and judicial races, and in two special elections for state house, it was a good day for working families, and for the candidates who support us.

“Elections have consequences;” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale.  “After seeing the consequences of recent election cycles, labor members and a majority of voters from across the Commonwealth stood together yesterday in so many of these elections, and delivered victories for Pennsylvania’s workers.”

In the special election for House District 42, Dan Miller (D – Allegheny) won a commanding 20-point victory over his opponent to fill the seat of newly elected State Senator Matt Smith.   Kevin Schreiber (D – York), running in the 95th House District to replace Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, also won on Tuesday by an impressive 15-point margin.

“The voters in HD 42 and HD 95 spoke loud and clear, in what will become a referendum opposing the failed policies of the Corbett Administration, in favor of a pro-worker, pro-community agenda;”  added Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.  “The PA AFL-CIO would like to give special credit to the Allegheny and York / Adams Central Labor Councils, who spearheaded these Special Elections through their early recommendations and affiliate-field mobilization.”

Central Labor Council bodies from across the Commonwealth also endorsed in many local elections, and worked hard to propel their candidates to victory.

Continue reading Labor Endorsed Candidates Advance in PA Primary

PA DEP Forced to Reveal Drilling Damage in 161 PA Water Supplies

Dimock, Pa. resident Craig Sautner shows off his water.
Dimock, Pa. resident Craig Sautner shows off his water.

Oil, gas drilling damage in 161 Pa. water supplies

SCRANTON (AP) — Oil and gas development damaged the water supplies of at least 161 Pennsylvania homes, farms, churches and businesses between 2008 and the fall of 2012, according to state records obtained by a newspaper.

The (Scranton) Times-Tribune first requested the records in late 2011 under the Right to Know law, but the Department of Environmental Protection mounted legal challenges and didn’t release the records until late last year.

The Times-Tribune analyzed nearly 1,000 letters and enforcement orders written by DEP officials. The determination letters are sent to water supply owners who complained that drilling activities polluted or diminished the flow of water to their wells.

About 17 percent of the investigations across the five-year period found that oil and gas activity disrupted water supplies either temporarily or seriously enough to require companies to replace the source. According to the letters, faulty wells channeled natural gas into the water supplies for 90 properties. Three of those cases were tied to old wells, one of which caused an explosion at a home after gas entered through a floor drain and accumulated in a basement.

The department repeatedly argued in court filings that it does not count how many determination letters it issues or track where they are kept in its files. The DEP has also fought efforts by The Associated Press and other news organizations to obtain similar records.

Continue reading PA DEP Forced to Reveal Drilling Damage in 161 PA Water Supplies

Labor Unions to Oppose Obama Nominee for Commerce Secretary

EXCLUSIVE: Organized labor to oppose President Obama’s nomination of Penny Pritzker for commerce secretary

National hotel workers union upset with Pritzker for labor practices at Hyatt Hotels, the source of her family’s fortune


Published: Monday, May 20, 2013, 1:22 PM
Updated: Monday, May 20, 2013, 1:57 PM

ObamaPritzkerChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama’ with his nominee for commerce secretary, Chicago business executive Penny Pritzker, at the White House earlier this month. A major union announced Monday that it will oppose her nomination.

Organized labor will break its silence and oppose President Obama‘s nominee for Commerce Secretary, Chicago’s Penny Pritzker, the Daily News has learned.

The decision stems from long-standing grievances with labor practices at the Hyatt Hotels chain, a source of her family’s fortune, and despite earlier reports that unions would not raise objections to the nomination.

Donald “D” Taylor, president of the 270,000-member union of hotel and restaurant workers known as UNITE HERE, confirmed the move to The News on Monday. His opposition was spurred by his just learning that the Senate Commerce Committee was moving up its confirmation hearing for Pritzker.

The union had been led to understand that hearing would take place perhaps well after the Memorial Day weekend. But the surprise decision to move up the hearing forced the union’s hand.

Continue reading Labor Unions to Oppose Obama Nominee for Commerce Secretary

‘Clean and Green’ Industrial Laundry Comes to Pittsburgh as a Worker Cooperative


Pittsburgh, PA is the home of a new worker cooperative, the ‘Clean and Green Laundry.’  The industrial-scale cleaning firm was brought into being by a joint effort of the United Steel Workers and the City University of New York School of Law’s Community Economic Development (CED) Clinic, both of whom are in a new partnership with the Mondragon Cooperatives, the largest worker-owned cooperative in the world, located in Spain.

Under the new partnership, the CED Clinic, in collaboration with Pennsylvania-based Regional Housing Legal Services, will help launch the job-creating effort, an eco-friendly laundry based on Mondragon’s cooperative model.

Pittsburgh Clean & Green aims to re-employ 100 primarily minority laundry workers, who were laid off when their Sodexho Corporation laundry closed. They will work in a new state-of-the-art facility in Pittsburgh’s Central District.


Photo: Industrial laundry similar to ‘Clean & Green’

CUNY’s CED Clinic will provide legal support for a new model of unionized worker cooperatives—called “union coops”—recently launched by Mondragon, the United Steelworkers union (USW), and the Ohio Employment Ownership Center (OEOC).

“Union coops can create well-paying, democratically run workplaces in communities hard hit by the economic recession,” explains Carmen Huertas-Noble, associate professor and director of the CED Clinic. “The union component of the model provides front line worker-owners with the security of a collective bargaining agreement and leverages the organizational expertise and economic power of the labor movement.”

Continue reading ‘Clean and Green’ Industrial Laundry Comes to Pittsburgh as a Worker Cooperative

“Right to Vote” Constitutional Amendment Introduced

Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair Congressional Progressive Caucus
Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair Congressional Progressive Caucus

Representatives Pocan and Ellison Introduce “Right to Vote” Constitutional Amendment

Saturday, 18 May 2013 11:25 By Brendan Fischer, PRWatch | Report

“The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected,” wrote Thomas Paine in 1795.

Yet contrary to popular belief, there is no affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. This gap in our founding document has provided an opening for the wave of voter suppression measures that swept the country in recent years, and before that, the poll taxes and Jim Crow restrictions that disenfranchised millions. This week, two Congressmen — both from states at the epicenter of today’s voting rights struggles — are seeking to fix that.

“The right to vote is too important to be left unprotected,” said Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, who is co-sponsoring an amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote.

“Even though the right to vote is the most-mentioned right in the Constitution,” added Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the bill’s other sponsor, “legislatures across the country have been trying to deny that right to millions of Americans, including in my home state of Minnesota. It’s time we made it clear once and for all: every citizen in the United States has a fundamental right to vote.”

U.S. Constitution Does Not Protect Voting Rights

Under the U.S. Constitution, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments ensure the vote cannot be denied on the basis of race, the Nineteenth prohibits discrimination based on gender, the Twenty-fourth outlaws the poll tax, and the Twenty-sixth Amendment extends voting to age 18. When the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the franchise was limited to white, property-owning men, and these amendments have edged the document closer to its democratic aspirations.

But beyond those amendments — and a few federal statutes, like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which might be neutered by the Supreme Court this term — the right to vote is mostly a matter of state law. And states in recent years have hardly been careful about protecting access to the ballot box.

After Republicans gained new statehouse majorities in the 2010 elections, a majority of states introduced proposals to enact restrictions on the right to vote. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 25 laws and 2 executive actions passed in 19 states between 2011 and 2012 to impose strict ID restrictions, or shorten early voting, or limit registration drives, among other measures. More restrictive bills have been proposed in 2013.

Continue reading “Right to Vote” Constitutional Amendment Introduced

Banks in Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

PriceFixingEverything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

April 25, 2013 1:00 PM ET


The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.

Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.

It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.