KC Labor Newsletter
Week In Review, June 14, 2004
by Bill Onasch, webmaster, kclabor.org
Worker Rights I
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) last week cited the USA as being among the top violators of labor rights. “Far from being a shining beacon of labor practices," the US is a country in which "trade union rights violations continue unabated."
Worker Rights II
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took a step last week toward eliminating card check union certifications, such as the UAW has used extensively. When employers agree to card checks the need for time consuming NLRB conducted representation elections is eliminated. The UAW has agreements with some auto parts suppliers to not oppose union organization and to recognize the union when they submit authorization cards signed by a majority of a plant work force. Other unions, such as HERE, have also effectively used public pressure to get card check recognition from hotels, casinos, restaurants, and other high profile businesses.
Worker Rights III
On May 7, 2001, Continental Carbon, a major producer of carbon black—a key ingredient in tire manufacturing—locked out 86 PACE members at its Ponca City, Oklahoma plant. It was the first work stoppage in the plant’s history. The company, acquired during the Nineties by a Taiwanese conglomerate, not only demanded huge cuts in wages and benefits. They also insisted on contracting out all but twenty union jobs. The union has carried out an unrelenting corporate campaign. Last week three Ponca City workers, along with two PACE staffers, began a hunger strike in front of the Taipei headquarters of the Koos Group of Taiwan.
Worker Rights IV
Canadian labor law is marginally more democratic than what we are stuck with south of the border. But you might have a hard time convincing members of the Health Employees Union (HEU) in British Columbia that. The B.C. Supreme Court ordered the union to pay their employers 150,000 dollars as a fine for a four-day “illegal” strike April 30-May3.
USLAW Sends Material Help To Iraqi Unions
US Labor Against the War has reached an initial goal of providing 10,000 dollars to the two legitimate trade union federations functioning in Iraq—the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions of Iraq and Iraq Federation of Trade Unions. Katharine Harer, Co-President of AFT Local 1493 at the San Mateo County Community College System, and Neal Bisno, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 1199P in Pennsylvania, will travel to Geneva, Switzerland to meet with representatives of the Iraqi labor federations, the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions, and other unions and federations from across Europe. They will press the case for Iraqi labor rights with the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the UN at its annual meeting there. Sister Harer and Brother Bisno will present the IFTU and FCWUI with certificates memorializing these contributions to their important work.
Protests Against Occupation
June 26-27—the weekend prior to the phony “hand over of power” in Baghdad—will be marked by local protests across the U.S. In Kansas City I will have the honor, on behalf of Kansas City Labor Against the War, of sharing a speakers platform with Amy Goodman of the Democracy Now! radio show. Click here for more information.
Putting Rubber To the Road Once More
This coming Thursday morning, around 5AM, will find me in my car instead of at the computer updating the Daily Labor News Digest. I’m heading to Chicago to attend the Socialism 2004 conference, an annual event expected to attract several hundred labor and movement activists. I will be posting reports from this gathering upon my return. The next Week In Review will be a little late and there will be no daily news updates after this Wednesday until the following Wednesday.
You’ve Heard This One Before
I must apologize for failing to get out the long promised third installment about the experiences of my last major road trip. This one takes up the health care issue and the Meeting the Challenge conference. I have had to tend to a variety of tasks not necessarily more important than the article but more time sensitive. I swear, in Debs’ name, this will get done before I leave Thursday.
Can You Help?
KC Labor is an independent, not-for-profit site. There are no corporate or organizational sponsors. Since taking an early retirement, I have no income until my princely Social Security checks start rolling in next year. I am among those sharing the losses on expenses for the Worker Rights At Home and Abroad conference last March. I have also laid out personal funds for travel to events I've reported on such as the March For Women’s Lives, the Labor Party Interim National Council meeting, the Meeting the Challenge conference, and now another trip to Chicago coming up.
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