Biden & Solis: ‘We Need Collective Bargaining’

Last night at 6pm est the AFL-CIO along with the SEIU, the National Education Association (NEA), Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Teamsters held a virtual town hall meeting for some forty five minutes.

I was hoping to catch it so to archive, no luck with the program I have while live. Then was hoping the Unions would and have it posted up, no luck as to the whole call in Town Hall at least so far, nothing on any of the sites except a quick writeup.

Low and behold the Huff post did catch the comments by Vice President Biden. This first part is what I posted on my site, the taped comments were just added, all below the fold:

‘Will They Get What They’re Paying For?’ — the Best Election Flier I’ve Seen

As campaigns and volunteers hone their final electoral messages, the best flier I’ve seen asks a simple question — “Will They Get What They’re Paying For?”  Created by the Washington State Labor Council, and proudly bearing their name, not that of some shadowy front group, it portrays a check from the US Chamber of Commerce to Republican Washington State Senate candidate Dino Rossi. Notes in the memo field remind us of Rossi’s positions: Lower minimum wage, repeal Wall Street reform, offshore U.S. jobs. Below the check is a field of corporate logos: BP, Fox, JPMorganChase, Walmart, AIG, Philip Morris, Citigroup, Pfizer, McDonalds, Comcast, AT&T and more.  The relatively conventional back contrasts Rossi and Senator Patty Murray on key economic issues, stating “Dino Rossi works for them. Senator Patty Murray works for us.”

On Online Brainstorming, Or, “Hey, Unions…Wanna Grow?”

Sometimes stories happen because of planning; other times serendipity intervenes, which is how we got to the conversation we’ll be having today.

In an exchange of comments on the Blue Hampshire site, I proposed an idea that could be of real value to unions, workers…and surprisingly, employers.

If things worked out correctly, not only would lots of people feel a real desire to have unions represent them, but employers would potentially be coming to unions looking to forge relationships, and, just to make it better, this plan bypasses virtually all of the tools and techniques employers use to shut out union organizers.

Since I just thought this up myself, I’m really not sure exactly how practical the whole thing is, and the last part of the discussion today will be provided by you, as I ask you to sound off on whether this plan could work, and if so, how it could be made better.

It’s a new week…so let’s all put our heads together and rebuild the labor movement, shall we?

DREAM Now Recap: The Ghost of Virgil Goode Possesses the Republican Party

Originally posted on Citizen Orange.

The “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service.  With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

A lot has happened as we complete the third week of the DREAM Now Series.  The DREAM Act picked up two new co-sponsors in the U.S. House: Mike Thompson (D-CA-1) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1).  Two extremely important and influential organizations have also come out strongly in support of passing the DREAM Act as a downpayment on comprehensive immigration reform: the Center for American Progress and the AFL-CIO.  Finally, a major victory was won in Arizona where the deportation of Marlen Moreno was deferred.  Please express support for the above in anyway possible.  It has all helped build a lot of momentum for passing the DREAM Act, this year. 

Just was we have been busy moving the DREAM Act forward, though, nativists have been busy undermining it.

We Energized Each Other: Finding Engaged Allies Where We Work

Whatever our situation, we need allies to work successfully for change. We need people to talk with, brainstorm ideas, lift us up when we’re down, and build power by acting together. Many of us involve ourselves in local and national political issues, but what about our workplaces? How do we shift these contexts to help create a more just and sustainable world? Unionization is one key approach. Had the Deepwater Horizon workers been unionized, they could have challenged the dangerous shortcuts that BP was taking without fear of being capriciously fired. Instead, many may well have held back from expressing their concerns for fear of losing their jobs. But whether or not our workplaces are unionized, we need to find engaged allies if we want to make a difference.

Why the Arkansas Primary Challenge Was Worth It

It was a tough loss, 10,000 votes. Bill Halter might have even upset Blanche Lincoln in the primary run-off had his stronghold of Garland County not dropped the number of polling places from 42 to 2, or had a few thousand more of us called to get Halter voters to the polls. But despite an unnamed Obama administration official attacking attempts to defeat Lincoln by telling Politico’s Ben Smith  “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise,” I believe the groups who tried to unseat her made the right choice.

Photos and Stories from the Labor March on Wall St.

Cross-posted many places including DailyKos.

On Thursday afternoon the AFL-CIO held a rally to protest the banking bailout and demand a peoples’ bailout. There was a call for not just regulating the banks that almost took this nation down but also doing an about face and forcing the bankers to bailout the people.

Do you think Wall Street should pay for the jobs they destroyed?

“People in New York and across the country who did nothing wrong and want to work have paid for the misdeeds of the big banks with their jobs, homes and retirement savings,” said Richard Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. president.

Do the elected officials of this nation think Wall Street should pay for the jobs they destroyed?

See a few photos and read some people’s stories below.  

AFL-CIO: Not Ready For Explicit Primary Threats

cross-posted from Sum of Change

Just hopped off the conference call with Richard Trumka from the AFL-CIO.

This morning, the AFL-CIO leadership voted in overwhelming favor (higher than 90%) of “active support” for the current health care proposals in the face of slight changes to the excise tax agreement.  

Jump start that Engine, Help Small Business to Hire

Obama: Small Business Key for Recovery

Kent Bernhard, Jr. — Jan 27, 2010

The president proposed eliminating all capital-gains taxes on small-business investment, creating tax incentives for small businesses to hire new workers and raise the wages of those they already employ, and steering $30 billion in money from the Wall Street bailout to community banks to lend to small businesses.

“Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America’s businesses. But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers,” Obama said. “We should start where most new jobs do–in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss.”


OK, how will Small Business, get the help they need, to put Americans back on the Road to Recovery?

Banksters get Tagged in the UK, Only to Flee to, Guess Where?

Finally a Representative body, that knows WHO they work for …

Class war breaks out in the U.K.

The Labor government announces a tax on exorbitantly-paid bankers. American populists gnash their teeth in envy

By Andrew Leonard, Dec 9, 2009

Unsurprising headline of the year: “U.S. Probably Will Avoid Matching U.K. 50 percent Bonus Tax.”

Alistair Darling, the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the tax — aimed squarely at overpaid bankers


From Bloomberg:

“There are some banks who still believe their priority is to pay substantial bonuses,” Darling said in Parliament. “I am giving them a choice. They can use their profits to build up their capital base. If they insist on paying substantial rewards, I am determined to claw money back for the taxpayer.”

Paul Krugman says the move is “entirely reasonable.” Justin Fox asks, “why the heck not?” Felix Salmon says “well done.”

But don’t expect a repeat across the pond.


Interesting … maybe the People CAN Fight back?

Health Care Reform and the Moment We Are In

[An old friend of mine, Nick Unger, has been working on the AFL-CIO’s campaign to win National Health Care. He gave me permission to post this talk that…but let him tell it:

I was asked to confront the lack of energy and even negativity at the annual meeting of the Illinois Campaign For Better Health Care. Packed room — ~150+. Very diverse. Here is the result. They taped and transcribed it. I cleaned it up a bit.

This is a pep talk. Nick always gives great pep talk, and this one is brilliant. My own work in recent years has mainly been in the anti-war movement, so I can certainly relate to lack of energy and battle fatigue. But I am not posting it because of that. I am posting it because it makes the most passionate argument I’ve seen that “the Obama moment” was not a mirage or a con-job, nor was it a window that is now already closed. I’m not sure I buy it, but I think it’s an argument worth considering.]

Edited transcript of remarks at the November 19, 2009 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care by Nick Unger, AFL-CIO Health Care Campaign Training Director

Every once in a while, a country gets to have a conversation about what kind of people we are, who we are as a country. Sometimes it’s in an election, most of the time it isn’t. An election might start the conversation but Election Day usually ends it and you haven’t quite finished.

And most elections don’t even start the conversation, they just keep business as usual going. The 2008 election began a conversation as to what kind of country we are, but I don’t believe it finished it. I think it just opened it up, and that conversation continues.

There are those out there who act like they want a recount on the 2008 election, that Obama is not their president and you–we–can’t have “their country.” And they say it with vigor and with passion, and with earned and unearned media, in that they own TV stations and TV networks. Their view of earned media is that they get to say what they want, whatever they want, and echo it over and over, and control the national conversation from above.

But they don’t control the national conversation from below. The 2008 election showed that. People were wrestling with who we are. Actually it was mainly about who we’re not. That election seemed more of a rejection of what was wrong than a climbing onto what was right. That means we didn’t finish the conversation.

We did say that the country is going wrong. And there was a deep sense of it, of pain and suffering. The presence of my brother Rev. Sal Alvarez being here the faith community reminds me that the word compassion means shared suffering. It doesn’t mean feeling for somebody else, it means suffering with somebody else.

So last year people got a sense that the country ain’t doing it right, and we can’t go down that road anymore. But we haven’t picked the road that we’re going to be on yet. We haven’t turned the corner yet.

But I would offer to you that we are at the corner. And when you’re at a corner, you best turn, because we don’t know when the next one comes up. From a political analytical point of view, the last time America turned the corner was 1980, and we sure turned wrong.  And we are living with the price of it now.  We are at a corner now. If we miss this one, I don’t know if I will ever get a shot at another one.

The battle to turn that corner is on health care.  Health care doesn’t “deserve” to be the battle. It’s not that health care is more important than any other issue. It could have been fought over jobs. It could have been fought over education because education’s real important. I’m not going to say health care’s more important than education. It turned out that the two armies have met on the battlefield of health care. It could have happened some other way, but this is what it is.

My wife and I went to Gettysburg this past summer–anybody here been to Gettysburg? To a New Yorker, Gettysburg is a one stoplight town. In 1863, when they had the battle there it was a one-horse town.

They weren’t fighting for Gettysburg. The battle was not about Gettysburg. They were fighting for what kind of country America was going to be. Two armies met in one little town in Pennsylvania, and right there, in Gettysburg, America decided what kind of country it was going to be. At the end of the battle, one army was beaten and one army was marching ahead, and America found its soul, on Little Round Top in Gettysburg, PA.

If you go to Gettysburg the ghosts of that battle speak to you. The field is empty, but you can hear the battle. One monument stands out, the Pennsylvania Monument. t lists the names of all the Pennsylvanians who fought and died there.  A hundred years before the Vietnam Wall, they just listed the names, and every one of those names talks to you.

We are in a battle for the soul of America today, right now. It is being fought over health care. Six weeks, tops eight weeks from now, one army marches ahead and the other one is on the side of the road with their banner in the dust.

On one side you have Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, the insurance companies, the Chamber of Commerce, Goldman Sachs all saying, “If health care reform fails, that’s good for us and our team.” All of them lined up on that side saying to us, “You are not going to decide the future of America your way and we will take you down over health care.”

So where are we today? There are a thousand things wrong with that bill and the process of getting to it was a pain in the ass. Each day you say: “We lost this, we gave up this, we conceded this, what about this, this isn’t in it, they don’t have enough here.”..I mean, no part of it is quite right.

And yet today, November 19, we are closer to defining the soul of America properly than we have been in decades, in your lifetime for most of you. The metaphor I would use is we are falling uphill. We keep falling down. But turn around. You will see we are so much further ahead. Each time we fall and get up we are getting closer to where we’ve got to be.

We have pushed this process so far that America can say eight weeks from now, maybe six weeks from now, we are going to establish a new public good with government and the public in it, a public health care structure, and we’re going to say that everybody in America should have health care. This is the first time America will say it, and it comes after two generations of attacks on these kinds of ideas.

And we’re going to tax the rich to pay for a public good after two generations of saying taxes are bad and the rich can have all the money–all of my money and all of your money. Man, that is heavy!

And we are going to say to the insurance industry, you can’t write all the rules. You can write some of them, but not all the rules, and this is after thirty years of telling corporations, do whatever you want cause that’s the way the world should work.

We are six weeks from doing that as a people. We are six weeks from setting America in a direction where We the People act like we, instead of every man for himself. We are six weeks from turning the corner, making history, and somehow here today we don’t feel the energy of it.

And so when Reverend Sal Alvarez says it’s a moral issue and when Dr. Jonathan Arend says it’s a medical issue, and when the woman who said she can make $60,000 but can’t afford health care says it’s an economic issue, they are all right.

And each of you is the center of a universe of people to talk to  You are not just the Illinois Campaign For Better Health Care. You are much more than that. If the only people you talk to are in this room, I have some advice for you: You should get out more.

You come from churches and neighborhoods and groups and mosques and all sorts of things, and you have to talk to your friends about the history that is being made right now, and what kind of country we are going to be, so that 75 years from now, they read your names the way I read the names on the Pennsylvania memorial:  These are the people who made the country that I live in be the way I wanted it to be.

And 75 years from now, people will look at the fall of 2009 the way I look at the summer of 1863. They’ll say, “America had a chance to become who we should be, and we took it. And these individuals fought to make that happen.” That’s where we are today.

For many of us, this is the first time in our lifetime that we have had this chance. Some of us were around in the Civil Rights Movement. This moment feels like that was for those of us who were around then. This is the moment that you get to turn around the entire future, and it’s over health care. And if you didn’t stand up strong over it…you will always regret it.

There are better organizers than me who throughout their whole life were getting kicked in the face, fighting a defensive battle, getting smacked around, and they were better–they worked harder, they were more straightforward, they cursed less…and they never once had a chance to be on the offensive to make the world the way it should be because it was their dumb luck to start their work when the world was going wrong and retire before it got right.

And you should think about the people whose shoulders you stand on today, because we’ve got six or eight weeks to decide what kind of country we are, to decide which army wins.  This is our opportunity, and if you get lost in the weeds of that bill, then some friend of yours better stand you up and say, “We are making history and I am writing my name down on the memorial that people are going to visit 75 years from now and if you miss it, shame on you!”

There should be anger and energy and elation and glee…because we get a chance to make this country right.

In 1964, in Alabama, an old civil rights worker said to a young reverend–the old civil rights worker was my age, and the young reverend was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr–and he said to him, “How long, how long do we have to wait for justice?”  And Dr. King replied, “The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

But he knew it doesn’t bend by itself–you bend it. You reach up, you grab it and you bend it. And when enough of us grab the moral arc of the universe, it bends towards justice, and in 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed.

So the person who just asked “How long do we have to wait for health care justice?” is repeating the history of our movement. That’s the same question they asked Dr King in 1963. And the answer: when enough of us put our hands on the arc, it bends towards justice.

Right in front of our eyes, the moral arc of the universe is about to decide which way it bends, in six weeks. You can’t ask for anything better than that. You are blessed with this opportunity. How long? You decide.

Thank you.

Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

Labor’s ‘Bulldog’ Trumka

Last night on the PBS News Hour they had a discussion with the new AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka

On a separate page from the transcript and video/audio links of the discussion they have a short video of a round-table meeting of the lobbyist of the AFL-CIO with Trumka talkin ‘bluedogs’ and ‘public option’.

Inside the AFL-CIO’s Health Care Lobbying Efforts

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