Monday, December 22, 2008

Jobs With Justice National Update

VICTORY AT REPUBLIC WINDOWS AND DOORS!
Workers Vote to Get Pay; Occupation Ends!

On Friday December 5th, the workers of Republic Windows and
Doors, members of UE Local 1110, occupied their factory, which
was due to close at 10:00 AM. The workers were fighting for pay
for their lost vacation days and for the 75 days notice that
they are guaranteed under Illinois law. This is the first time
in many years workers have taken the bold, militant strategy of
occupying their place of work to demand justice.

Only weeks after taking $25 Billion in bailout money, Bank of
America turned its back on hundreds of workers making energy
efficient doors and windows in Chicago by refusing to continue
credit to Republic Windows and Doors. To make matters even worse
than putting 300 people out of work, Bank of America has
instructed Republic to refuse to pay workers compensation they
are legally entitled to, either earned vacation pay or the
severance pay legally required under the WARN Act, in lieu of
proper notice of plant closing.

Like many other 'titans of Wall street,' Bank of America,
KeyBank and others are taking their bailout -- supposedly meant
to allow credit to get our economy moving again -- and using it
to take over other banks, pay bonuses to executives and
dividends to shareholders... just about everything except
helping businesses continue to employ workers.

After 6 days occupying the plant, workers at Republic Window and
Doors in Chicago voted to accept a settlement late on December
10th.

The settlement totals $1.75million. It will provide the workers
with:

Eight weeks of pay they are owed under the federal WARN Act;
Two months of continued health coverage, and;
Pay for all accrued and unused vacation.

JPMorgan Chase will provide $400,000 of the settlement, with
the balance coming from Bank of America. Although the money will
be provided as a loan to Republic Windows and Doors, it will go
directly into a third-party fund whose sole purpose is to pay
the workers what is owed them. In addition, the UE has started
the "Window of Opportunity Fund" dedicated to re-opening the
plant. Find out how to donate.

As the Local 1110 leaders characterized the settlement, "We
fought to make them pay what they owe us, and we won." Read more
about the settlement here.

We want to extend a big THANK YOU to all of you who participated
in this campaign. The tremendous support and solidarity from the
thousands of people like you around the country - and the world
- who took the time to send messages to Bank of America and who
rallied at banks across the country was crucial in winning this
victory.

This is truly an historic victory for workers in the United
States.

To donate to the workers' "Window of Opportunity Fund":

Local 1110, UE Hall
37 S. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60607

--------------------------------------------------

Victory at Smithfield!
Workers at the World's Largest Meatpacking Plant Vote Yes to
Union Representation

Tar Heel, N.C. - This week workers at Smithfield Packing in Tar
Heel, North Carolina, chose union representation with the United
Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). Workers
voted 2041 to 1879 for a voice on the job.

"When workers have a fair process, they choose a voice on the
job," said UFCW Director of Organizing Pat O'Neill. "This is a
great victory for the Tar Heel workers. I know they are looking
forward to sitting down at the bargaining table with Smithfield
to negotiate a contract. The UFCW has constructive union
contracts with Smithfield plants around the country. Those union
contracts benefit workers, the company and the community. We
believe the workers here in Tar Heel can achieve a similar
agreement."

Ronnie Ann Simmons, a worker of 13 years at the plant said, "We
are thrilled. This moment has been a long time coming. We stuck
together, and now we have a say on the job."

Jobs with Justice would like to congratulate the workers and
their union for their courage and inspirational example.

We would also like to thank the many faith, community, student,
labor and political leaders who stood by the workers at
Smithfield through their long struggle.

Smithfield workers have shown the way for workers everywhere as
we fight together for an economic recovery that benefits
everyone.

It shows the importance of passing the Employee Free Choice Act
so that all workers can have good jobs with decent wages,
respect on the job and a future for their families.

Sign on to Support the Employee Free Choice Act

--------------------------------------------------

People's Bailout Week of Action a Huge Success!

From December 7-13, Jobs with Justice coalitions organized 42
actions in support of a "People's Bailout" that would fix the
real economy, restore a voice for working people to challenge
corporate greed, provide emergency help to the victims of the
crisis and begin building a fair economy that works for all,
addressing crises in housing, health care, jobs, retirement
security and the environment. More than 100 actions total took
place during the week of action, which was organized in
conjunction with Institute for Policy Studies, US Action,
American Friends Service Committee, National Community
Reinvestment Coalition and ACORN. JwJ coalitions organized a
range of activities from teach-ins and rallies on the economic
crisis to celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th.

Central Florida JwJ organized canvassers to spread the word
about the People's Bailout and to collect signatures in support
of the Employee Free Choice Act, a crucial piece of legislation
that will help restore the middle class. On December 10th, local
labor and community allies turned out to support Detention
Service Officers at the Orange County jail who have been
fighting to join a union for many years and are one of many
examples of workers who need the Employee Free Choice Act to
pass. As Detention Service workers were changing shifts and
leaving in their cars, activists showed support by chanting,
holding candles and signs with various messages like "Where'sthe
People's Bailout?" and "DSO- Don't Stop Organizing". As they
left the parking lot, DSO's were given flyers on EFCA and ways
they could reach County Commissioners and demand justice at
their workplace. More than 30 people took part in the event and
came together at the end to hear from a DSO worker and an
unemployed person who was fired due to organizing activity.

Many JwJ coalitions and allies organized actions at Bank of
America. SE Michigan JwJ targeted Bank of America to demand an
end to foreclosures and evicitons. Other actions were organized
in solidarity with the laid-off workers at Republic Windows and
Doors who were occupying their factory to demand the severence
and vacation pay they were owed. After sitting-in for 6 days,
dozens of solidarity actions across the country, and thousands
of messages to Bank of America, the workers demands were met!
Read more about their story here.

Portland Jobs with Justice visited Key Bank to protest their
ongoing financial support of Oak Harbor Freight Lines, a rogue
company that has broken US labor law and violated international
labor standards during a three month strike in the Northwest.
Click here to send KeyBank a message. Portland JwJ also paid a
visit to Bank of America to support Republic workers. The banks
must have heard JwJ was coming - they both closed early that
day!

Jobs with Justice coalitions and allied organizations around the
country will take part in an emergency campaign over the next 2
1/2 months to get Congress and the new administration to enact a
People's Bailout.

--------------------------------------------------

Voters Align with Worker Justice and Progressive Agenda

On Nov. 4 voters rejected an anti-union big business campaign
against the Employee Free Choice Act and elected candidates who
support the Bill. Six newly elected senators expressed strong
support for the bill, despite the millions of dollars the US
Chamber of Commerce and corporate-backed outfits spent to try to
defeat them.

The new Senators elected in November - Mark Udall of Colorado,
Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Kay
Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Warner of Virginia and Jeff
Merkley of Oregon - could play a key role in building
bi-partisan support for and passing the legislation. In the
House, the solid majority that backed the Bill when it came to a
vote last year increased their numbers. President-elect Obama
was a co-sponsor of the Bill in the Senate and has said that he
will work to pass and sign the legislation when he takes office.

In Colorado, there was an all-out corporate and right wing
assault on workers' and civil rights. Colorado Jobs with Justice
teamed up with allies from labor and community to form the
progressive forces that defeated three anti-worker and equal
opportunity ballot initiatives championed by the same forces who
actively oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. These defeated and
regressive ballot initiatives included: Right to Work (for less)
- this was the first time in 30 years this type of ballot
initiative has been defeated in the US; Anti-Affirmative Action
ballot initiative - California millionaire Ward Connerly's
deceptively titled "Colorado Civil Rights Initiative" was aimed
at dismantling equal opportunity programs in the state; and
Payroll Deduction which sought to weaken unions and other
progressive organizations by barring the government from
deducting contributions or dues from employees? paychecks. These
victories have only strengthened the resolve and relationships
of progressives in CO to move ahead creating more
worker-friendly environment in their beautiful state.

In Oregon, Jobs with Justice mobilized community and faith
leaders to publicly support the Employee Free Choice Act. JwJ
organized events and positive press coverage in the form of
letters to the editor while corporate front-groups flooded
Oregon with anti-Free Choice ads to attempt to defeat the
pro-labor Senate candidate Jeff Merkley, who was ultimately
chosen by Oregonians as their next Senator.

A poll by Peter D. Hart Research Associates right after the
election showed that nearly two-thirds of voters believe it is
important to pass the Employee Free Choice Act and nearly
one-third believe it should be a top priority for Congress.
Overall, 55 percent of voters said they approve of labor unions,
compared with just 27 percent who say they disapprove.

Many have long viewed the Employee Free Choice Act as critical
to rebuilding the U.S. economy. "Workers support the Employee
Free Choice Act because it gives working people the freedom to
make their own decision about whether and how to form a union,"
says Jobs with Justice National Executive Director Sarita Gupta.
"Working people are struggling to make ends meet and the
Employee Free Choice Act will allow more people to bargain for
better wages and working conditions - which in turn helps
rebuild our middle class and create an economy that works for
all."

There is growing recognition, even in some business circles,
that unions play a critical role in building and maintaining a
sustainable economy. Robert Rubin, Treasury secretary under
President Clinton and now director of CitiGroup, recently
co-authored an article in the New York Times with Jared
Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
They wrote: "The problem is that the benefits of productivity
growth have largely eluded working families. Though productivity
grew by some 20 percent from 2000 to 2007, the real income of
middle class, working-age households has actually fallen
$2,000, down 3 percent... A true market economy should have
real labor markets in which labor and business negotiate as
peers. Many years ago, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith
argued that collective bargaining was necessary so workers had
the countervailing force to bargain for their fare share of the
growth they?re helping to produce. To establish that force,
workers should be allowed to choose to be unionized or not."

Moving forward, Jobs with Justice is focusing on building broad
support for the Employee Free Choice Act on the local and
national levels. JwJ is specifically engaging our allies from
community, faith-based, student, academic and independent worker
organizations to actively support this crucial step in reforming
labor law in the US. Local coalitions are leveraging their
relationships with individuals in communities across the country
by signing up tens of thousands of people on support pledge
cards and petitions, gathering signatures and personal
statements of support from community and faith leaders on a
letter directed to the 44th President of the US and the 111th
Congress. JwJ is also gathering organizational endorsements of
hundreds of grass-roots community, faith-based, student and
independent worker organizations, as well as key national
networks and organizations.

Allies of the labor movement are also being organized through
JwJ to be spokespeople on behalf of the Employee Free Choice Act
and workers rights by authoring op eds, letters to the editor
and speaking with reporters to set the record straight through
on-line and print media about what the legislation is really
about in the face of disingenuous and baseless attacks from
corporate special interests and anti-union ideologues.

--------------------------------------------------

DC JwJ Holds Hearing on Mayor Fenty's Assault on Public Workers
Based on a report by Andy Richards

On November 20th, more than a dozen DC public sector workers
came together to testify in front of the DC JwJ Workers' Rights
Board (WRB) and a crowd of 200 DC residents about the actions
taken by Mayor Fenty during his two years in office.

Metro Council President Jos Williams said that Mayor Fenty has
created an "environment based on intimidation" of workers
through the gutting of the Public Employee Relations Board,
abolishment of the Labor-Management Partnership Program, and the
appointment of School Chancellor Michelle Rhee who "has made it
her mission to make every employee at-will."

Candi Peterson, a 16-year veteran of DCPS and active member of
WTU Local 6, criticized Fenty and Rhee for the firings of
hundreds of DCPS workers which, she argued, created overcrowded
classrooms and forced teachers to work in areas outside their
certification. "Rhee regularly blames teachers and argues that
union contracts and teachers' seniority rights stand in the way
of the best education for our children." But the reality is that
her "anti-union tactics support more privatization and
outsourcing of public education, the creation of more unchecked
charter schools, unsound educational practices, gutting
hard-earned job protections and union busting."

Marketta McCoy - a recently fired investigator at the Child and
Family Services Agency (CFSA) and member of AFSCME Council 20 -
said workers are being scapegoated for recent high-profile
failures at the CFSA. McCoy added that the real issue is Mayor
Fenty and CFSA management?s refusal to help provide workers with
desperately needed resources and a reduction in caseloads.
"Management should treat workers with dignity and respect," said
McCoy.

Roy Rogers - an employee of the DC DMH Community Services Agency
(CSA) and 1199SEIU member - and Dr. Ray Brown - President of the
DC Doctors Council/AFSCME - also discussed the Fenty
Administration's plans to privatize mental health services
"Closing DC CSA will leave the most vulnerable, victimized,
voiceless, neediest and exploited citizens of the District
without a safety net," said Rogers. "Why eliminate these jobs
now with the current economic crisis which is bound to cause
more need for mental health services?" Brown said the
privatization plan could affect 4,000 patients and put
communities into crisis. "This is a catastrophe," said Brown
adding that the DC City Council must act to pass emergency
legislation to stop the contracting out.

DC City Councilmembers Phil Mendelson and Harry Thomas Jr.
briefly sat in with the Workers' Rights Board to listen to
panelists' testimony. Councilmembers Kwame Brown and Yvette
Alexander also made appearances. Mayor Fenty, Chancellor Rhee
and other Councilmembers were invited to attend but did not
show.

"I see what is happening right now as a major catastrophe," said
Roger Newell, chair of DC Jobs with Justice. "We need to speak
loudly and strongly that working people made this city and stuck
with this city through times of crisis. Workers should be
respected not attacked and politicians who attack workers should
be held accountable." An action plan, based on the testimony and
recommendations of panelists, from Workers' Rights Board members
is expected in the coming months.

--------------------------------------------------

Missouri JwJ Helps Teamsters at Anheuser-Busch Win Global
Victory
A/B InBev workers win historic contract with community support

Thousands of Teamsters across the United States just ratified
their first contract with Anheuser-Busch after the proposed
merger with global brewing giant InBev.

"Our demonstration played a huge roll in achieving our goal of
getting an outstanding offer from A/B... This contract is
without question the best agreement we have negotiated with this
employer. I appreciate the support you gave us and offer my
thanks to you," Jack Cipriani, International Vice-President and
Director, Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference,
International Brotherhood of Teamsters in his letter to JwJ
supporters.

Teamsters leaders credit community support organized by JwJ, as
well as the global solidarity organized with brewery unions
representing InBev workers in South America, Europe and Canada
as key factors in their victory.

St Louis Jobs with Justice also organized an invitation-only,
closed door briefing for members of its Workers' Rights Board,
including community leaders, elected officials, academics and
clergy. Read more about this briefing.

Special thanks from Teamsters leaders

"Our demonstration played a huge roll in achieving our goal of
getting an outstanding offer from A/B. Our members have ratified
a five year contract with job security, substantial wage
increases, pension improvements and, most important, continued
Health & Welfare benefits for our active members and retirees.
This contract is without question the best agreement we have
negotiated with this employer. I appreciate the support you gave
us and offer my thanks to you." - Jack Cipriani, International
Vice-President and Director, Brewery and Soft Drink Workers
Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

"Seeing the community come to support us at the rally and the
briefing meant so much to the workers. We knew that we wouldn't
be out there alone with this major corporation." - Robert
Gartner, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 6 in St Louis

"Workers can be powerful in this global economy when we stick
together. In this fight we organized global solidarity with
InBev workers throughout the world, and community solidarity
with working people through JwJ. That's how we win in the future
of the labor movement and why I'm a leader in Jobs with
Justice." - Steve Johnson, Organizer from Teamsters Local 688
and Mobilization Co-Chair, St Louis Jobs with Justice

This five-year contract impacting thousands of local families
includes:

a commitment to keep the St Louis brewery and all other US
breweries open, substantial wage increases, pension improvements

and, most important, continued Health & Welfare benefits for
active members and retirees.
St Louis Rally
As bargaining began in August, JwJ rallied hundreds of community
supporters to stand with A-B/InBev workers . The rally, held in
Kiener Plaza in Downtown St. Louis demonstrated strong community
support as Teamsters throughout the country were about to begin
negotiations, in the midst of the merger between Anheuser-Busch
with global brewing giant InBev.St Louis has cherished the
tradition of Anheuser-Busch as a quality employer and important
member of our economic community. InBev was quick to provide
assurances about its ongoing commitment to St Louis and at this
rally the community let InBev know we're watching.We didn't have
to wait long to see if InBev would really "walk the walk." On
Monday, August 18, 2008 A-B/InBev began talks with 8,000 workers
through their union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
A tentative agreement was reached by October which Teamster
International Vice-President Jack Cipriani described as "the
best agreement we have negotiated with this employer." Read more
from Brother Cipriani and other Teamsters leaders on this
agreement and the role of community support.

Workers' Rights Board Briefing
InBev union leaders from Brazil, Belgium and Canada visited St
Louis this month to meet with Teamsters from throughout the
country preparing to negotiate a new contract with the global
brewer.The Greater St Louis Workers' Rights Board (a project of
Jobs with Justice) collaborated with the Teamsters to be sure
the St Louis community benefitted from the experience and
solidarity of these international guests by organizing a private
briefing before Saturday's public rally in Kiener Plaza.The
closed-door, invitation only event allowed for a more open
dialog at this uneasy time. Local community leaders spoke
candidly about their concerns around InBev's purchase of
Anheuser Busch. International guests were blunt about their
experiences, and the challenges their communities faced when
InBev purchased their local breweries."I do fear that jobs will
be lost in my district and that it will have a ripple effect
through our community," said Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford
(59-MO), "I look to JwJ to mobilize community leaders to ensure
that we protect jobs, wages and retirees in addition to local
philanthropy."Representative Oxford was joined at the briefing
by newly elected officials Senator Robin Wright Jones and Rep
James Morris; and by representatives of Attorney General and
gubernatorial candidate Jay Nixon, Senator Claire McCaskill,
Congressman Lacy Clay, and Senator Joan Bray. Faith leaders also
filled the room, including Jobs with Justice Faith Co-Chairs The
Rev. Teresa Mithen of St. John's Episcopal Church and The Rev.
Tommie Pierson of Greater St Mark Family Church. The briefing
was chaired by The Rev. Dr. Martin Rafanan, ELCA and Director of
Gateway Homeless Services.

The Jobs with Justice Workers' Rights Board harnesses the power
of prominent individuals to provide the community's moral voice
for economic issues upon which justice for working men and women
rests. Learn more about the St. Louis Workers' Rights Board.

--------------------------------------------------

Workers and Lykins Reinforcing Reach Successful Agreement

After nearly two years, the Ironworkers' strike against Lykins
Reinforcing is over! The company has recognized the workers
demands and is in the process of addressing their issues.
Throughout this ordeal, Kentucky JwJ has stood in solidarity
with the workers in the struggle for fair treatment, honest
wages and respect in the workplace. KY JwJ demonstrated their
support publicly through leafleting, speaking to the community
on the workers' behalf and through showing moral support to the
striking workers by regular visits to the picket line of
community, faith and labor leaders.

--------------------------------------------------

The Mobile Home Council: Vecinos Unidos no Seran Vencidos

The Mobile Home Council won the extension of the redevelopment
moratorium they won in October of 2007 and organized a resident
caravan that visited five parks ending with a celebration at
Curtis Park in Miami.

Mobile home residents made sure elected officials extended the
redevelopment moratorium, currently the only protection for
residents, another four months. Due to this consistent resident
effort County Commissioners included the mobile home issue on
the prioirty list the Miami Dade county delegation will discuss
in Tallahassee.

As they have done over half a dozen times Mobile Home Council
leaders addressed the County Commission on October 21 to let
them know that Planning and Zoning recomendations are of no help
to mobile home park residents. And residents told them they are
developing their own solutions. In other words residents are no
longer asking for help but demanding and offering solutoins.

The Mobile Home Council defied developers by securing the
moratorium, organizing their home owner associations. Now they
have also started developing resident owned cooperatives that
will allow mobile home owners to buy the land where their homes
are located. One such project is already under way.

On the heels of all this work mobile home council leaders
organized on November 1 a caravan that led them through five
parks where they spoke to residents about the need to organize
home owners associations. The party at the end of the caravan
was to be held at River Park Mobile Home Park but the park owner
threatened participants with trespassing charges.

The event was finally held at Curtis Park where at least 50
resdients listened to home owner associations officers from
different parks as well as State Representative Julio Robaina,
who once again committed to introducing legislation in
Tallahassee that would defend the property rights of mobile home
owners and not only rich developers and park owners.

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