Labor Advocate Online

KC Labor Newsletter
Week In Review, March 13, 2005
The image “http://www.kclabor.org/image002.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
by Bill Onasch, webmaster, kclabor.org

In For A Penny A Pound
Perhaps the biggest labor victory in the U.S. last year was the Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s
historic agreement with the North Carolina Growers Association. The most impressive win in 2005 so far came in the agricultural sector as well last week. Taco Bell announced that it will fund a penny per pound "pass-through" with its suppliers of Florida tomatoes, and will undertake joint efforts with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) on several fronts to improve working conditions in Florida’s tomato fields. For its part, the CIW has agreed to end its three-year boycott of Taco Bell, saying that the agreement "sets a new standard of social responsibility for the fast-food industry." About 1500 workers, picking about ten million pounds a year, are immediately affected.

A Most Loyal ‘Opposition’
An e-mail message from a feminist member of the Missouri House included these remarks about a recently passed
severe attack
on women’s right to choose: "Though a pro-choice victory was unlikely, I joined other pro-choice legislators in opposing the bill during floor debate. I also offered an amendment in an attempt to fix the bill, but this amendment failed. I am disappointed to report to you that many of my fellow State Representatives voted in favor of the legislation, and it was passed by acclamation."

Another message, signed by seven prominent national leaders of feminist groups, opened with this sentence:

"We have very disturbing news to report – some Democratic leaders are actively recruiting anti-abortion candidates and forcing out pro-choice Democrats!"

Disturbing indeed. Democrats betraying a key base of their supporters? That’s as shocking as the discovery by the Casablanca prefect of police that gambling was going on at Rick’s. But wait!–there’s more.

Eighteen senate Democrats voted for the Bush bankruptcy bill. The New York Times reported comments from a couple of them:

"I think we can all agree on a basic principle, and that is when people incur a debt and have the ability to repay some or all of them, they should repay some or all of them," said Senator Thomas R. Carper, Democrat of Delaware, whose state is home to large credit-card issuers that have been clamoring for tighter bankruptcy laws.

"There is a benefit in being involved in something that puts more fiscal discipline in the lives of individuals," said Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska. "My opinion from the very beginning has been: you support the president when the president is right, you oppose when you need to and, in every case you can, you look for compromise."

A similar number of "opposition" Democrats earlier voted for the Bush "reform" making class action law suits much more difficult.

Even a former Clinton administration honcho–remember those New Democrats who brought us NAFTA and "reformed" welfare?–John Podesta had to whine, "You have got poll after poll saying there is no distinction between the parties on these core economic issues and one has to say, no wonder."

Be prepared for the "opposition" to look for compromise of our Social Security soon as well.

Patients, Nurses Win Another Round
The California Nurses Association–one of the founding unions of the
Labor Party--recently prevailed in court a second time in their fight against Governor Schwarzenegger’s attempt to circumvent the state’s nurse/patient staffing ratio. Due to a law won through militant action by CNA, ratios were to go from one-to six to one-to-five at the beginning of this year. The governor issued an "emergency order" delaying the change for three years. A judge ruled he had no such authority to delay laws he doesn’t like. In the weeks before the ruling, the nurses duked it out with the governor in a series of public protests, including hiring airplanes to trail anti-Schwarzenegger banners at the Oscars and taking out advertisements criticizing the governor as too tied to big business. The state and the hospital bosses have announced they will appeal.

Conference Update
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1287 has come on board as a sponsor of the
Future of American Labor conference, slated for April 22-23 in Kansas City. Trent Bell, president of the Greater Kansas City Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, has been added to the speakers list.

As always much of this material is based on stories posted in the Daily Labor News Digest Monday through Saturday.

That’s all for this week.

Regards to all

This weekly column in Labor Advocate Online is also available by e-mail. Send a request to: list@kclabor.org