Friday, February 20, 2009

Jobs With Justice National Update

On February 17th, President Obama signed a large scale economic
recovery package that is projected to create or save more than 3
million jobs and has substantial funding for health coverage,
medicaid, unemployment comp, school rehab, energy efficiency and
other programs.

Jobs with Justice mobilized for dozens of events across the
country and generated nearly 11,000 thousand letters in addition
to phone calls to Congress - THANK YOU to everyone who took
action! For more information on the package, see
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/fpqDxgp1PcF6/ or
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/f1qDxgp1PcFt/.

Jobs with Justice and other progressive groups were able to
remove several damaging provisions from the final bill,
including a misguided, anti-worker requirement to use the flawed
e-verify system.

The package is far from perfect, and Obama himself said it is
not enough to fix our economic problems. JwJ will continue to
demand a recovery that makes the economy work for everyone,
including a national Week of Action for Resistance and Recovery,
March 27 - April 4.

Millions Strong for the Employee Free Choice Act!

As our country's economy continues to fall deeper into economic
crisis with roughly half a million American's losing their jobs
each month and foreclosures continuing to leave more families
without homes, we are relieved to have passed the first Bill
which addresses the impact of the recession on working people.

Jobs with Justice understands that without workers' freedom to
bargain, the economy can't be rebuilt in a way that guarantees
the middle class will be rebuilt with it. We expect Congress to
move quickly to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Senate
Majority Leader Reid, who is in touch with the White House on
matters of timing, recently said the Employee Free Choice would
come up in the Senate this summer. Currently there are 202
co-sponsors of the Bill in the House and 38 in the Senate. 218
represents a majority in the House, and 60 votes is required for
cloture in the Senate, in order to break a filibuster.

Jobs with Justice's role in this campaign is to clarify at every
opportunity that reforming labor law so that workers have the
right to choose if and how they want to bargain collectively is
not only a union issue, rather it is an issue of economic
fairness and sustainability, as well as democracy for us all. To
date, 43 Jobs with Justice local coalitions in 23 states are
helping to build and demonstrate broad support for Employee Free
Choice.

Since October 2008, JwJ has gathered thousands of signatures of
people who are not union members to demonstrate widespread
support for Employee Free Choice Act outside of the labor
movement. JwJ has garnered the support of nearly 100 grassroots
organizations and nearly 200 Workers' Rights Board members and
other community, faith and academic leaders who have signed a
letter, written personal statements and taken pictures or video
to show broad public support. Jobs with Justice activists have
canvassed major events such as the inauguration of the 44th
President to inform people about Employee Free Choice and to
solicit their support.

Jobs with Justice is also participating in a national media
rapid response network. Wherever the Chamber of Commerce and
their talking heads spread misinformation about the Employee
Free Choice Act, Jobs with Justice activists are there to
publicly correct the record. We have submitted dozens of Op-Eds
and Letters to the Editor, and over a dozen have been published
so far. JwJ coalitions have also provided content for dozens of
fair portrayals of the issue in newspaper articles across the
country. In addition, we are training key JwJ leaders and
Workers Rights Board members with the latest facts and messaging
to demonstrate student, religious, and broad community support
for the Employee Free Choice Act. From this, we are building a
Jobs with Justice Spokespersons' Bureau that we hope will be
there, not just for this campaign, but for future campaigns as
well.

On February 4, 2009 Jobs with Justice supported union members as
they delivered over one million of their sisters and brothers'
demand to Congress that the time is now to reform labor law in
this country by passing the Employee Free Choice Act into law.
On that same day, Jobs with Justice joined with the labor
movement to form a virtual demonstration of more than "A Million
Strong for the Employee Free Choice Act". See this as well as
other support on the JwJ homepage at:
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/E1qDxgp1Pc-c/.

This week, during the Congressional Recess, Jobs with Justice
coalitions are showing their support for the the Employee Free
Choice Act during our "I heart worker justice" week of action.
JwJ coalitions are work with our allies in the labor movement
and the community to form delegations to visit their
congressional representatives in at least 13 districts to
educate them further on this issue and make their support a top
priority. In at least 14 cities this week, JwJ is continuing to
build our base of individuals and organizations through signing
folks up in support of Employee Free Choice as well as other
events.

We look forward to the week of March 27 ? April 4, where the
Student Labor Action Project and Jobs with Justice will have
complimentary weeks of action. The 10th Annual National Student
Labor Week of Action will activate thousands of students on
campuses and in communities to "Resist and Reclaim Our Future".
Jobs with Justice will organize a week of actions across the
country as well to "Resist and Recover". Both weeks of action
will publicly support passage of the Employee Free Choice Act in
a myriad of way, including supporting local and national worker
justice campaigns, taking on corporations and banks that
suppress workers' rights and economic justice, and educating the
public and elected officials. This week is also symbolic because
it commemorates the lives of both Cesar Chavez (born March 31)
and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (assassinated April 4 th 1968).

All of this activity contributes to a Spring Uprising that will
culminate with a DC-based event where Jobs with Justice will
take its place among the growing drum beat of progressive voices
calling for Congress and the President to even the playing field
for working families. JwJ will plan an event where Workers'
Rights Board members and other community, faith, academic and
students can articulate clearly and deeply why the Employee Free
Choice Act is long overdue.

UE Sit-Down Strikers Tour to Talk about their Victory at
Republic Windows & Doors

Resistance & Recovery Tour

In December, 260 workers at Chicago's Republic Windows & Doors,
members of the UE, occupied their plant for six days, a sit-in
strike launched in response to the closing of their plant with
only 3 days notice.

These workers chose to resist.

Jobs with Justice coalitions along with other community, faith
and labor activists from across the country mobilized in support
of these workers, helping them win a settlement from Bank of
America and Republic owners including severance pay and
compensation for unpaid earnings. Negotiations are underway now
to reopen the plant to make eco-friendly windows.

This fight is just the beginning.

As the economic crisis deepens, millions of people face jobs
loss and foreclosures. Join Jobs with Justice and other groups
in celebrating the successful resistance at Republic and launch
the broader campaign for an economic recovery that puts Main
Street before Wall Street. Join the fight as Jobs with Jutice
allies discuss how we can take direct action to resist, fight
for recovery that puts workers before wall street and keeps
people in their homes.

The workers toured 13 cities in the Midwest and Northeast.
Hundreds of activists in the came out to hear from UE Local 1110
Vice President Melvin "Ricky" Maclin, UE Local 1110 Steward Raul
Flores, UE Local 1110 President Armando Robles, and UE
International Representative Mark Meinster, and more workers.
They shared lessons and reflections on their campaign and
victory.

"You learn how to fight by fighting. This was the right time for
us and now is the right time for labor. I believe we need strong
unions and now is our time to fight," said Melvin Maclin.

"We're trying to spread the message of resistance on this tour.
Things may look dark out there, but there's hope if you stand
with you co-workers and fight. You can use bold tactics like
this and win," said Mark Meinster.

Throughout the tour, JwJ and UE activists highlighted the fight
for Employee Free Choice Act as a key next step in the fight for
a real people's economic recovery.

"Having a union made it possible for these folks to fight back
and win. We need more workers in unions, fighting back against
corporate greed to get out of this economic crisis. The Employee
Free Choice Act will make that possible," said JwJ Northeast
Organizer Laura McSpedon.

Another World is Being Born: 2009 World Social Forum in Belem,
Brazil

Under the theme "Another World is Possible, over 140,000
participants from a wide array of organizations including trade
unionists, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, women's rights
advocates, land and agrarian movements, academics, youth and
student organizers, and countless more came together in for the
9 th World Social Forum. Jobs with Justice (JwJ) sent Young
Worker Project Coordinator Carlos Jimenez as part of the
Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) delegation of 20 participants
from a wide-range of sectors and organizations in the U.S. A few
highlights from the WSF:

GGJ was lucky to have an orientation with Walden Bello, renowned
activist and thinker from the Philippines, on the current
economic and human crisis as well as an in-depth analysis and
orientation on the World Social Forum Process from his
perspective.

Trade unions were prominent at the Forum. It was hard to go
anywhere without seeing shirts or posters of working people who
were proud to be "syndicalistas". The "El Mundo del Trabajo"
("The World of Work") was host to dozens of workshops and panels
relating to working people, trade unions, and discussions on the
Financial Crisis.

A presentation by the USW and Solidarity Center alongside the
Brazilian Chemical Worker's Union (Confederacao Nacional do Ramo
Quimico) explored the role of young workers within trade unions
and approaches being taken to mobilize, engage, and organize
younger members.

GGJ members and other US participants were invited to an
invitation-only discussion taking place between the Heads of
State of Paraguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia as well as
various social movements and their leaders. The discussion
focused around the "Human Crisis" and alternatives moving
forward such as the the ALBA, a different model of free trade
being promoted by Venezuela and others.

Members of the of the WSF's International Council (IC) and Tammy
Bang-Luu of the US Social Forum and C/L Strategy Center spoke
and shared their opinions on where the WSF process is headed at
a discussion on the "Future of the Forum." The WSF (and the USSF
in the U.S.) has had many positive political developments in the
host countires and relationships were built that could not have
developed any other way.

Part two of a three track session sponsored by the "Labor and
Globalization" network focused on the financial crisis and
responses taking place at the national level, with the intention
of identifying potential global responses and plans of actions.
Many of the responses and demands are similar across the globe,
with most asking for the creation of millions of new jobs in
social services, infrastructure, and the public good including
"green" jobs. Unions shared their experiences of the crisis so
far. The Brazilian CUT proclaimed that if any transnational
corporation used the crisis to cut jobs, the first and immediate
response would be to strike. European trade unions warned
right-wing fascists in their countries had used the crisis to
blame on workers and unions for what was happening.

At the "financial crisis" assembly, among the proposals were a
global week of demonstrations around the G-20 and a new demand
for "decent work" with shorter work-weeks. Potential
opportunities for upcoming global action include: March 28-April
4 th ? G-20 actions across the globe October 7 ? Decent Work
Campaign October 12 ? Indigenous resistance global day of action
against colonization and commoditization of life Actions on the
G8 Summit in Sardinia, the Climate Summit in Copenhagen, the
Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, etc.

Another world is being born, and the current crisis presents
both danger and opportunity to create a new paradigm.

Richmond JwJ Organizes for First-Ever Virginia People's Assembly

On January 10, 2009 the first mass meeting of a newly formed
organization called the Virginia People's Assembly took place in
Richmond Virginia. In attendance, for the first time that even
life-long residents could recall, were representatives from all
aspects of the progressive movement. They came from all walks of
life and lifted up a wide-array of issues around immigrant
rights, labor, students, prison justice, the African-American
community, healthcare, anti-war, LGBT, and many others. Out of
this meeting a People's Agenda was formulated and accepted
unanimously by all in attendance.

A mass protest and rally was held on January 14, 2009 in front
of the Federal Reserve Bank with an impressive list of speakers
including Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-74th District) and King
Salim Khalfani, Executive Director Virginia State Conference of
the NAACP. VPA members braved frigid temperatures to march from
there to the Virginia General Assembly to take their Agenda to
the legislators.

The group plans to continue to keep pressure on specific
legislation that has been introduced in the session?including
opposing a proposed Right to Work Constitutional Amendment and
bills related to prison advocacy like the Restoration of Voter
rights for ex-offenders. Long-term goals include remaining a
united front focused on lifting up each others issues and
potentially preparing legislation that can be introduced in
future General Assembly sessions by allies in the legislature.

The VPA was formed through the initiation and organizing efforts
of Richmond Jobs with Justice and the Defenders for Freedom,
Justice, and Equality and has been supported through the
outreach efforts of the VPA organizing committee that is truly
representative of all aspects of the progressive movement in
Virginia.

More details can be found at a page hosted on the Richmond JwJ
website: http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/4dqDxgp1PcFB/ or by
emailing VAPeoplesAssembly@gmail.com.

Tompkins County Workers' Center/JwJ Uncovers Wage Violations;
Helps Workers Win Back Pay

The Tompkins(TCWC), in collaboration with the New York State
Department of Labor(NYSDOL), announced the results of an
investigation which found substantial labor law and wage
violations (involving 36 workers and a $28K settlement) found
against two Ithaca restaurants: Taste of Thai and Tamarind.

Two 'front of the house' workers approached the TCWC this past
summer with great concern about how they and others, especially
'back of the house' workers, were being treated with respect to
tip, overtime, and days of work violations, after feeling like
attempts to talk with restaurant ownership were rebuffed.

The TCWC then had a meeting in June with the owner and business
manager of the restaurants, who expressed interest in signing a
Community Responsibility Agreement (CRA)--see sample here--with
the TCWC. However, the TCWC was never again contacted by the
restaurants about signing the CRA. The TCWC fearing that it was
hearing only part of the story, then contacted the NYSDOL to
find out what was legal and what was not.

Says former waitperson at Taste of Thai, Deidra Cross, "I feel
it is imperative to keep open, honest communications with
superiors and co-workers in the workplace in order to establish
an honest and legal work environment. I think the results of
this situation shows that people need to have a willingness to
seek outside assistance if they feel their work environment
unjust or operating in an illegal fashion."

The news of the settlement with Taste of Thai and Tamarind comes
within the context of a growing movement to end 'wage, a serious
problem in various industries (a record level of recovered wages
in New York was reported in 2008 alone in New York State--$24.6
million for 17,000 workers, probably the tip of the iceberg).
The TCWC has a strong record in dealing with 'wage theft' and
other labor law violations (Kinko's, Pizzeria, New, and the
Plum).

Workers should know that they can contact the Workers' Center at
607-269-0409 or http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/E7qDxgp1Pc-X/ if
they have concern about their rights at the workplace, or would
like to report 'wage theft' at work.

VWC/JwJ Says: No More Budget Cuts!

The Vermont Workers' Center/JwJ, working with the Save Our State
coalition, helped organize fourteen candlelight vigils around
the state on February 1 st to send a strong message to Vermont's
governor not to balance the budget on the backs of workers.
Hundreds of Vermonters participated in the vigils, demanding no
cuts to jobs or services. After the vigils, over a dozen
Workers' Center/JwJ members met Governor Douglas at the airport
to bring their message directly to him.

The Vermont Workers' Center/JwJ is advocating for the following
principles as the state faces a budget crisis:1) Public services
are necessary for a just and sustainable society. 2) Among the
roles of government is to guarantee the human rights of all
residents. 3) A revenue shortfall is a reason to change revenue
policy not budget policy. 4) Public services, including
education, should be funded based on ability to pay, not fees or
regressive taxes like property and sales taxes. 5) Only by
concerted collective action can people ensure that
government/public policy serves the needs of the people. 6)
Healthcare is a human right, and by establishing it as a public
good it will not only be more just, but by eliminating the waste
of private insurers, we will save tens of millions of dollars.

800 Attend Portland Town Hall on the Economic Crisis

More than 800 people crowded into Portland, Oregon?s First
Unitarian Church on Saturday for a ?Town Hall on the Economic
Crisis.? In large-group plenary and a variety of action-oriented
breakout sessions, participants discussed the causes of the
financial meltdown, the government?s response and what people in
the room can do to make a difference.

Throughout the rapid-fire, five-hour program, speakers urged
their audiences to view the current economic crisis as an
opportunity. Many argued that economic stimulus proposals aimed
at ?getting the country back to some pre-meltdown state? are
inadequate for a number of reasons?not the least of which is
that inequality left large numbers of American families
struggling to survive even before the financial collapse.

Rather, people should be looking forward for ways build a new
economy that helps working people, protects the environment and
avoids unsustainable market ?bubbles.? Most felt that the
stimulus proposed by President Obama does not think big enough
nor go far enough.

The afternoon?s more than one dozen workshops included titles
like ?Stopping the Global Race to the Bottom,? ?Uniting Across
Racial and Ethnic Divides,? ?Rebuilding the Safety Net,? ?Why
Unions?? and ??Push Me? Said Obama to Progressives: But How??
Each featured presentations by local organizations that have
been working to improve the economy for many years.

This event was organized by Portland Jobs with Justice and more
than fifty other community partners from labor, environmental,
faith and social justice communities. After the closing plenary,
hundreds of people gathered in the church basement for free food
and mingled among information tables set up by groups focused on
health care, trade, peace, immigrant rights, the environment,
the Employee Free Choice Act and more. Many took home
information, signed petitions, and, most importantly,
volunteered to get involved.

To learn more about the Town Hall, and how to organize one in
your own community, visit:
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/EdqDxgp1Pc-B/.

1 Comments:

Blogger vishnuprasath said...

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November 27, 2009 at 12:56 AM  

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