KC Labor Newsletter
Week In Review, August 22, 2004
by Bill Onasch, webmaster, kclabor.org
No Reservations About A Union
Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) at America West Airlines have voted to join the Teamsters. The 3,200 CSRs work in 50 airports and 2 reservations call centers around the country for the Phoenix-based airline. This is one of the biggest private sector union victories this year. “These workers built their union from the ground up,” said Jeff Farmer, Director of Organizing for the Teamsters. “They formed committees at all of the stations and have built a solid organization.”
This Rising Tide Has Us Reaching For the Life Jackets
Classical economists have always argued that increased productivity is the cure for all ailments, that the rising tide lifts all boats. Since “recovery” began in 2002 productivity of American workers has shot up 11.1 percent. Total worker compensation--all wages and benefits–has nudged up only 3.4 percent. The average weekly wage of $525.84 is at the lowest level since October 2001.Wonder where the rest of that extra wealth we produced went?
Here’s A Clue
The wealthiest 20 percent of households in 1973 accounted for 44 percent of total U.S. income, according to the Census Bureau. Their share jumped to 50 percent in 2002, while everyone else's fell. For the bottom fifth, the share dropped from 4.2 percent to 3.5 percent.
While Ford and Chevy are offering big rebates to try to move their inventory Porsche Cars North America Inc. says sales are up 17 percent for the year.
No al Pasado
“No to the past,” was the main campaign slogan of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Before Chavez two parties of the rich politely danced with one another while a small elite got the lion’s share of the country’s considerable oil wealth. Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution” has used oil revenues for social programs and a big drive to teach the poor to read and write. He also contracted with Cuba to provide quality health and dental care to millions who had never before seen a dentist or doctor. This irresponsible use of money from oil companies greatly displeased the Bush administration. First they tried to engineer an army coup but that fell apart. Then they backed a California style recall campaign, pouring millions, including through the National Endowment for Democracy, into the effort. But, on election night, the poor were joyously singing Uh, Ah, Chavez No Se Va (Chavez Isn't Leaving).
He’ll Miss the Last Train to Brighton
Tony Blair invited his new good friend Ayad Allawi, former MI6 operative, now “interim prime minister” of Iraq, to the Labour Party National Conference in Brighton next month. But that didn’t sit well with the party members who plan to attend. Fearful that the guest would prompt a big and rowdy demonstration on the floor, Blair withdrew his invite.
Others Need Not Apply
Pressure by the Democrats succeeded in keeping Ralph Nader’s name off the ballot in four more states–including Missouri–last week. It appears in at least half the states the choice will be restricted to Bush or Bush Lite. Where’s Jimmy Carter when you really need him?
I just received my first copy of a new quarterly Kansas City based paper, The Work Force. I’ve only had a chance to glance at it but it looks worthwhile. The first issue focuses on unemployment and workplace safety issues. More next week.
That’s all for this week.
Regards to all
P.S. Don't forget the Labor Day Picnic. Please RSVP
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