Time Is Now for TSO Bargaining Rights

Hundreds of workers braved the cold Washington, D.C., weather today to send a message to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): Give transportation security officers (TSOs) who protect the flying public the opportunity to protect themselves with the right to bargain a union contract.

“Chanting Union Rights for TSOs,” members of dozens of unions rallied at AFL-CIO headquarters this morning. Speaking within earshot of the White House, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker said:

“It is way past time for the Obama administration to give the TSOs their right to bargain collectively and hold their election so they can sit down at the table with management, start the negotiations and change their lives for the better.”

AFGE yesterday filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) for an election to allow the 41,000 TSOs to vote on union representation. In 2003, the Bush administration stripped the workers of collective bargaining rights.

Although TSA workers have been denied the freedom to bargain collectively, 13,000 of them are members of AFGE, which regularly represents them before the TSA Disciplinary Review Board, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Congress and the courts.

Kimberly Kraynak, a TSA worker at Pittsburgh International Airport, told the crowd:

The time is now for change at TSA.

The AFL-CIO and affiliated unions are mobilizing to draw attention to the plight of these workers and the unfair ways they are being treated. Even though federal border guards, immigration and customs and Federal Protective Service employees have collective bargaining rights, TSA employees still do not.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told the rally the union movement “will not rest until the TSOs are treated equally” with other Homeland Security employees who have the right to bargain a contract.

AFGE President John Gage took head-on arguments by conservatives in Congress that allowing TSOs to have a union contract would jeopardize national security. He cited union members who have acted heroically when national security was threatened, such as the first responders to the Sept. 11, 2001, bombings and the police officers who shot a gunman who killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas. Gage said:

The national security argument is an insult to AFGE, the AFL-CIO and every union member. Don’t tell me that being in the union movement doesn’t do anything but good for national security.

Other speakers at the rally included Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen, Flight Attendants-CWA President Patricia Friend, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi, Letter Carriers (NALC) Vice President George Mignosi, Transport Workers (TWU) Executive Vice President Harry Lombardo, Machinists (IAM) Vice President Robert Roach and Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO President Ernest Grecco.

Click here, here and here to read how TSOs around the country are mobilizing for their rights and here to become a Facebook friend of TSA workers.

Senate passes jobs bill awarding tax breaks for businesses that hire the unemployed

By Andrew Taylor

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate has passed a bill aimed at boosting job growth by giving tax breaks to businesses that hire the unemployed.

The jobs legislation would also extend highway and mass transit programs through the end of the year and pump $20 billion into them in time for the construction season. Economists say the tax breaks could create perhaps 250,000 jobs.

It’s the first of several job-creation measures promised by Democrats, who also want to give cash-strapped states further help with their budgets and give subsidies to people who make their homes more energy efficient.

The measure passed by a bipartisan 70-28 and now goes back to the House, which passed a far more ambitious version in December.

Thought for the Day–Will You Lower Your Expectations?

From the Wall Street Journal(2/22/10) A Letter to the Editor:

Susan Michaelson wants the American public to shift expectations about what constitutes “appropriate” compensation because American wage and benefits demands have “priced” U.S. workers “out of the world market” (Letters, Feb. 11, responding to John Hofmeister’s “The U.S. Needs an Industrial Policy,” op-ed, Feb. 8).

As for me, I am grateful that the labor movement in this country has fought to support a livable wage for the vast majority of American workers, and has prevented us from competing with the Third World on wages.

Is she suggesting that we should all compete with citizens of countries that pay a tiny fraction of what workers in the U.S. are paid? Would she or any of her family members accept such a salary in order to be competitive? If we are going to race to the bottom in wages and benefits for blue-collar work, will she and her family be happy to join the race to the bottom?

Edwin Andrews
Malden, Mass.

Put A Union Label On It–Fast-Acting IUPAT Member Rescues Five from IRS Plane Crash Attack

by Mike Hall, Feb 22, 2010

Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) member Robin De Haven is being hailed as hero for his role in rescuing five people from the blazing Austin, Texas, building where a man with a vendetta against the Internal Revenue Service crashed his fuel-laden plane Thursday.

De Haven was on his way to work when he saw the single-engine plane, which witnesses say was at full throttle, heading toward the building. The IUPAT Local 1778 member told Fox News that when he looked again and saw black smoke pouring from the second story:

I immediately drove my truck over there, got the ladder off, went up to the side of the building and I saw people up on the second floor with their heads out the window for air because the room was filled with smoke.

The 26-year-old Iraq war veteran positioned the 17-foot ladder to reach as far as it could to the second floor. But when the people in the building were unable to secure the ladder so they could safely descend, De Haven scrambled up to them.

I climbed inside the broken-out window into the building with them. My ladder slipped a little bit actually.

 

With the help of one of the men inside, he then broke another window near a ledge, securing the ladder there so he could get five people out safely.

I held onto their waists and their backs so they wouldn’t fall if they slipped….I don’t feel like a hero. I was just trying to help.

But IUPAT President James Williams sees it a bit differently:

His actions were nothing short of heroic and we’re proud to have him in our ranks. Robin’s courage and character are a shining inspiration in these hard times. I hope his actions remind us all of what is most dear in our lives, and how important it is to take care of each other.  Robin De Haven is a prime example of what a good union member is made of.

Williams says De Haven is a graduate of the Helmets to Hardhats program that helps match vets and soon-to-be vets with apprenticeship and training programs offered by the 15 unions in the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD).

Veterans can use their G.I. Bill education benefits as they complete the certified apprentice programs. Helmets to Hardhats has helped more than 5,000 military vets find new careers as electricians, plumbers, roofers and in other skilled trades.

Tell Whirlpool: ‘Keep It Made In America—Save Our Jobs’

The Whirlpool Corp. is closing a refrigerator manufacturing plant in Evansville, Ind., putting more than 1,100 people out of
work. Even worse, Whirlpool will continue to produce these refrigerators, but not in Evansville and not anywhere else in
America. They are planning to manufacture them in Mexico, where weaker labor and environmental laws make them “cheaper” for Whirlpool to produce.

This is outrageous and unacceptable, especially in light of Whirlpool’s profitability and the $19 million dollars in economic recovery money Whirlpool recently received from the federal government as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those are OUR economic recovery funds, not Mexico’s.

To protest Whirlpool’s decisions and demand good jobs in America, I’m heading to Evansville next Friday to rally and march with local workers and labor leaders–and I’d like you to join me. No, I’m not asking you to join me in person, but I would like you to sign a petition in solidarity with the Evansville workers for me to deliver to Whirlpool’s management.

Click here to sign our petition to Whirlpool: Keep It Made in America: Save Our Jobs: http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/evansville/k7sxdra7dmjbi6?

Too many people have lost their jobs. Too many jobs have been sent overseas. Enough is enough. Whirlpool’s management can’t take our money, shut down our factories and lay off our workers. It’s not acceptable–and together we’re going to deliver a loud and clear message to Whirlpool: Keep It Made in America and Save Our Jobs.

Sign our petition today: http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/evansville/k7sxdra7dmjbi6?

Tell your friends to sign the petition in solidarity: http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/evansville/forward/k7sxdra7dmjbi6?

Together we will fight against corporate greed and for good jobs. Together we will rebuild the American economy, because everyone deserves a good job NOW!

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