Shop Talk: Faith groups join jobs campaign

Faith groups join jobs campaign

In tough times many turn to their religious faith for hope. During this jobs crisis much of the nation’s faith community, which includes many union members, is moving to provide hands-on aid to families, in addition to the usual spiritual solace.

Under the leadership of Interfaith Worker Justice they launched the Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign on Dec. 1 at a Capitol Hill meeting.

In its mission statement, the campaign says:

“As people of faith, we call for an economy that provides a job for everyone who wants and needs one. We affirm that all jobs should be good jobs, paying living wages and benefits, allowing workers dignity and a voice at the workplace, ensuring workers’ health and safety, and guaranteeing their right to organize unions.”

The campaign will organize 1,000 congregation-based unemployed worker support committees in 2011. The committees will support working people and families economically, emotionally and spiritually, while also educating members about the unemployment crisis and advocacy avenues available to them.


82 raids that unions backed

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service has a reputation for raiding factories and rounding up undocumented workers just when unions at the places succeed in organizing. Unions, of course, have long opposed those raids.

On Nov. 29, however, ICE raided 82 websites that it says were engaging in intellectual piracy of the performers’ films, music and other creative works – raids the performers’ unions say they support.

ICE grabbed and shut down domain names whose websites sold counterfeit goods, said the agency’s director, John Morton. “Sale of counterfeit U.S. brands on the Internet steals the creative work of others, costs our economy jobs and revenue and can threaten the health and safety of American consumers,” he said.

Supportive of the raids were the Screen Actors Guild, the Television and Radio Artists, the Directors Guild and the Theatrical and Stage Employees. Those unions, and the Musicians, have complained for years about intellectual copyright theft, which deprives their members of income.


Deficit cutter’s conflict of interest

The president’s deficit panel includes Honeywell CEO Davis Cote, who has plenty of reason to slash deficits by cutting benefits – unemployment benefits. He is counting on no benefit extensions so he can push more of his own workers out of the middle class.

Cote’s minions have told 230 Steelworkers at his uranium processing plant in Metropolis, Ill., that Honeywell will sit tight and not bargain with them as their lockout continues into its sixth month. The firm figures that if they run out of money faster they will cave into company demands.

Officials at USW Local 7-669 tell us that Cote hired replacement workers to take the union jobs and is seeking to axe pension plans.


AFSCME goes after the Glenn Becks

AFSCME is launching an aggressive new “Stop the Lies” campaign to fight back against lies about public workers by radical right talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and John Stossel.

The campaign will use social media, videos, paid advertising and ground events across the country to get the truth heard amidst the din from Fox News, loudmouthed TV and radio talkers and their attacks blaming public workers for the financial crisis cities and states are facing.

Says AFSCME President McEntee: “Public workers have become the scapegoats for the far right. We’re not going to sit around and let corporate CEO’s define the debate. After all, it was their greed and incompetence that drove this country’s economy into the ditch.”

A powerful five minute video by Brave New Films calls out right wing lies about pensions, wages and state budget cuts. The voiceover says:

“When Wall Street tanked and 15 million Americans lost their jobs, the billionaires decided they had to blame someone else. Instead of accepting responsibility for their greed-fueled actions, Wall Street and the corporate giants blamed librarians, corrections officers, nurses, teachers, firefighters, cops and public service workers. Right wing talking heads have been only too happy to join the attack.”


New York State protects workers against wage theft

Workers in New York State soon will be protected against wage theft by a new law. The State Assembly Dec. 1 passed the Wage Theft Prevention Act, which will increase penalties significantly and improve enforcement of state laws on wage theft. The State Senate passed the bill in June and Gov. David Paterson has vowed to sign it into law.


Unions launch ad for Dream Act

On Nov. 30 the AFL-CIO, SEIU, the Campaign for Community Change, the Reform Immigration for America Campaign and America’s Voice launched a six-figure advertising campaign aimed at Republican senators whose votes will be crucial to passing the Dream Act during the current lame-duck session of Congress.

The ads are running on radio and in print publications in Portland, Maine; Boston; Miami; Houston; and Las Vegas.

The Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act, which polls say is backed by 66 percent of Americans, would allow undocumented students who have lived in the United States for at least five years and have graduated from high school or received a graduate equivalency diploma to legalize their immigration status by pursuing a college education or serving in the U.S. military.


AFT links good health and learning

If a child goes to school hungry, with a toothache or unable to see the board clearly, his or her learning suffers. Good health, most agree, is critical to children doing their best in school.

The American Federation of Teachers has launched a new website, Linking Children’s Health to Education , which provides practical advice to parents on ways to keep their children healthy and at their best in school.

In the section on hunger and nutrition, AFT points out that nearly 17 million children face hunger each day. Their limited access to nutritious food impairs their physical and mental development. The site links to sires with information on ending childhood hunger and providing good nutrition.


Pilots demand fair deals

The pilots for Continental Airlines and United Airlines, which merged last month, conducted informational pickets in Chicago, Houston and Newark this week to inform passengers of management plans to expand the practice of outsourcing flying to other airlines.

The pilots, who are in contract negotiations with the newly merged airline, say management wants to use outsourced 70-seat jets and nonunion pilots on some regional flights from Continental hubs, a practice the union says violates the Continental pilots’ current contract.

“Management’s concept of using outsourcing is based on outdated business models that simply fail to recognize that the business of an airline is to fly – not to outsource flying to the lowest bidder or to merely act as a ticket agent,” said Capt. Wendy Morse, chairman of the United unit of the Airline Pilots Association.

Photo: Steve Rhodes, cc 2.0

Shop Talk is compiled by People’s World labor editor, John Wojcik.



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.