Political Activities

Senators Beat Back Attack on Workers’ Rights

4:41 PM Eastern – Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Senators Beat Back Attack on Workers’ Rights

BY RICHARD NEGRI

Today the U.S. Senate voted in favor of working people when it smacked down a right wing resolution to block a common sense National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule impacting how workers organize our unions.

The year-long fight for something so simple, so sensible began when the NLRB proposed a rule change that would restore a measure of fairness to the union election process.

But as SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement, “Relentless attacks on workers have become all too familiar in our politics.”

Until now, anyone who has ever been part of an NLRB union organizing drive will tell you, it is not as easy and swift as most would think. It is an ongoing process of mudslinging and delays played out in legal proceedings. For Bob O’Neill it took eleven years!

O’Neill, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at one of Florida’s largest for-profit nursing homes, was one of the caregivers there who voted to join SEIU 1199 in May 1997, but by exploiting the appeals process, the company was able to delay the election certification for eleven years.

Management harassed Bob and his coworkers by trumping up disciplinary problems, like signing in from break a minute late, or changing their schedules for them to leave early, and then writing them up for either not finishing up their work or for staying late to finish it up.

The right wing politicians have done everything in its power to keep workers like Bill down just a little bit more. Regardless of the fact that in this economy we need to strengthen our workers’ rights, there are many right wing organizations teamed up with puppet politicians they support that they’d do anything and everything to ignore the 99% of us living a check or two from being on the streets.

“We should be working together – unions, government and the private sector – to continue rebuilding our economy and creating good jobs that can support a family, instead of trying to undermine workers’ fundamental right to organize a union if they choose to,” President Henry said.

At the end of the day, instead of creating quality jobs and protecting what we have now, the majority of the Republican Party has spent ridiculous amounts of money and resources to keep a broken and antique section of labor law.

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FROM THE DESK OF MARY KAY HENRY – A POSITIVE STEP FOR WORKERS

One of the fundamental rights we all share as Americans is the right to vote

– to vote for our elected officials and to vote whether to form a union.

But for too long workers who have exercised their right to join together to raise standards on the job and reach for the American Dream are met with intense intimidation, bullying and even firings.

Well, the National Labor Relations Board took a stand for working families across the country by issuing a rule that would remove bureaucratic barriers that employers use to delay union elections after employees indicate their desire to form a union at the workplace.

We’ve created a petition thanking them for the positive step they’re taking for Americans hoping to create a better life for themselves during these difficult economic times.

Add your name with others across the country who have signed the letter and we’ll be sure to deliver it to the NLRB next week:

http://action.seiu.org/page/s/nlrb

What Are Corporations Afraid Of?

The Board will almost certainly come under attack by the same corporate interests who wrecked our economy while profiting mightily at the cost of millions of American jobs.

You remember the corporate rhetoric from their past campaigns against unions, right?

“The demise of a civilization.”

“Businesses are hearing about it and they’re ready to riot in the streets.”

Let the Board know that working families stand with them by signing a letter of support and we’ll deliver it for you. Sign and follow our progress here:

http://action.seiu.org/page/s/nlrb

We’ve set an ambitious goal of 10,000 petitions signed in the next seven days. Between SEIU members and allies, it’s a goal we can meet that will send a powerful message to the Board.

This is a very important campaign, and we’ll be in touch as the debate begins.

In solidarity,

Mary Kay Henry

President, SEIU

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COLLMANN AND EIVINS LEAD IN THE “FIGHT FOR A FAIR ECONOMY”

Two dedicated members are leading the way in our Fight for a Fair Economy.

Sara Collman, a member of our HACAP chapter and a Head Start teacher along with John Eivins, an RN at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, agreed to get out in front on this because they felt it was so important.

Earlier this year, the pair went to California with 1,500 SEIU member leaders for training on how to mobilize for the Fight for a Fair Economy.

“Working people need a chance in this country and they’re not getting it,” John said. “In fact, the rich are getting richer and we’re barely staying even. It’s not right.”

John and Sara are recruiting other leaders to help them make the kind of change they want to see a reality.  Those people, in turn, will recruit others. So don’t be surprised if you hear from them soon.

“I know my union sisters and brothers get just how important this work is. This is not about left or right or anything like that. It’s about giving everyone an equal shot at a good life. We can’t let the American Dream die. Right now it seems like it sure is on life support,” Sara said.

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WE MUST “FIGHT FOR A FAIR ECONOMY NOW!”

Our Union recognizes these are extraordinary times, and that such times call for extraordinary measures.

So we are joining forces with other unions and an array of groups nationwide (and here in Iowa) to start a grassroots movement that will reclaim our democracy for regular people and not just those with the deepest pockets.

The movement, something we’re calling the “Fight for a Fair Economy,” is going to take time and effort to build. The time to start is now.

That’s why we are focusing our attention on putting a stop to the unfounded attacks on public sector workers. In Iowa we have a very thin margin protecting our right to collectively bargain. Our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin lost their right.

Now is not the time to let someone else do the work. We need to take our futures into our own hands.

In addition to stopping the attack on hard-working union members, we are exposing the Wall Street banks, multinational corporations, and the super rich as the people responsible for our financial meltdown and persistent unemployment. We must put a stop to their takeover of our democracy and make sure our country works for everyone – not just the well-connected.

As time goes by, you will be hearing more about this movement.

Please be ready to help when the call comes. This is going to take all of us to fix this mess.

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SEIU Local 199 Holds Wall Street Accountable

Recently our union joined forces with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) to send a message to Wall Street:  “Clean up the financial mess you made. Pay your fair share of taxes. And stop blaming working people!”

We held a press conference to outline some of the issues and tell our stories.

Then we marched to the Wells Fargo branch in Iowa City to have the bank employees deliver a letter to the CEO with our demands.

We then followed that up with a visit to Congressman Dave Loebsack’s office to make sure he continues to take the lead on our issues.

All of us know how important it is that we, as union members and the general public, understand that people like us — nurses and teachers and custodians — didn’t cause the budget crisis in this country. Rather, it was the corporations like General Electric and Wells Fargo that do not pay their fair share in taxes.

Wells Fargo, for example, pays a fraction of its federal tax obligation by exploiting loopholes in corporate tax law.  While the federal corporate tax rate is supposedly 35 per cent, Wells Fargo paid no federal taxes, and even received a $4 billion rebate in 2009. This is despite reporting $18 billion in pre-tax income.  In 2010, Wells Fargo only paid 7.5 per cent on $19 billion in reported income.  THIS IS NOT RIGHT!

When companies don’t pay their taxes, we all suffer. Schools deteriorate, roads go unrepaired, and we’re asked to sacrifice.

Remember:  We DO NOT have a spending problem in this state and in this country. NO! We have a revenue problem.

Wall Street needs to pay to correct that. NOT US!

EVEN WHEN THE GOING IS TOUGH, WE WORK HARD FOR GOOD CONTRACTS

In the last few months, many of our public sector chapters settled their contracts with management. Given Iowa’s financial situation (see the article above for why we’re in this mess) our members did okay.

  • Dubuque Custodians bargained a 2.64 percent package. Wages went up 40 cents per hour across the board.
  • Employees in the Washington School District settled for a 1.65% package that included 5-cent-an-hour raise and improvements to the paraprofessionals’ matrix.
  • Central Clinton Custodians negotiated at 15-cent-per-hour across-the-board raise.
  • Linn Mar employees will receive a 21-cent-per-hour increase on a 3% package.
  • Members in Bettendorf’s mixed chapter improved their contract so that they now have bereavement for the death of a friend, a personal day for part-time staff, and unpaid leave up to 12 weeks for care of relative. In addition, they won a 28-cent-an-hour wage increase with no increase to their insurance payments.
  • Bettendorf Secretaries and Teachers’ Aides also negotiated better CBA language and a 27-cent across-the-board raise
  • The Pleasant Valley chapter agreed to take a $1600 bonus in June, prorated for part-time employees and a 31-cent-an-hour pay hike while insurance stays same.
  • Clinton Custodians bargained for a 2.56% package, which includes a 22-cent-an-hour across-the-board increase with step movement.
  • Bettendorf Health Care Center employees agreed to an across-the-board wage increase of 2.8%.

Meanwhile, your union sisters and brothers at HACAP and Finley are gearing up to bargain new contracts.

WE MUST “FIGHT FOR A FAIR ECONOMY NOW!”

Our Union recognizes these are extraordinary times, and that such times call for extraordinary measures.

So we are joining forces with other unions and an array of groups nationwide (and here in Iowa) to start a grassroots movement that will reclaim our democracy for regular people and not just those with the deepest pockets.

The movement, something we’re calling the “Fight for a Fair Economy,” is going to take time and effort to build. The time to start is now.

That’s why we are focusing our attention on putting a stop to the unfounded attacks on public sector workers. In Iowa we have a very thin margin protecting our right to collectively bargain. Our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin lost their right.

Now is not the time to let someone else do the work. We need to take our futures into our own hands.

In addition to stopping the attack on hard-working union members, we are exposing the Wall Street banks, multinational corporations, and the super rich as the people responsible for our financial meltdown and persistent unemployment. We must put a stop to their takeover of our democracy and make sure our country works for everyone – not just the well-connected.

As time goes by, you will be hearing more about this movement.

Please be ready to help when the call comes. This is going to take all of us to fix this mess.

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SEIU AND CCI PROTEST WALL STREET!!

Fight For A Fair Economy!!!  June 1st Iowa City Rally

Check out more photos of the event here…
Check them out here!

Check out these articles also!

Activists, union protest Wells Fargo

Group critical of “corporate tax dodgers”

This is What Democracy Looks Like


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