Contract Ratification for MBTA

Today's contract ratification meeting for Local 264 Machinists at the MBTA was held at the Mass Bay Credit Union in South Boston.  Every member that was there was given a copy of the Memoradum Read more

New Officers and executive board members sworn in

At the January member meeting the new officers and executive board members were sworn in. Congratulations to Vice President Chris Gagne, Executive Board members Ben Sherman, Bob Walker Jr., Jeb Mastandrea,  Mike Haywoood and Read more

It’s Coming: The Worst Trade Agreement You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

by Robert Reich Republicans who now run Congress say they want to cooperate with President Obama, and point to the administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, as the model. The only problem is the TPP would Read more

Contract Ratification for MBTA

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Today’s contract ratification meeting for Local 264 Machinists at the MBTA was held at the Mass Bay Credit Union in South Boston.  Every member that was there was given a copy of the Memoradum Of Understanding for the contract that will run from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2018. After the meeting was called to order by President Mastandrea, the floor was opened for any questions that people wanted to ask were asked to and were answered by Business Agent Jimmy Foley as well as members of the negotiating committee.

The MOU was gone over in detail and there was some discussion on some of the changes to language and finally the vote was called for. All members that were in attendance had a vote. There were 121 votes cast.

Results to accept 2014-2018 contract proposal.

YEAS – 109

NAYS – 12

New Officers and executive board members sworn in

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At the January member meeting the new officers and executive board members were sworn in. Congratulations to Vice President Chris Gagne, Executive Board members Ben Sherman, Bob Walker Jr., Jeb Mastandrea,  Mike Haywoood and Trustee Sean Tempesta. We wish you all the best of luck in your new positions.

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Also at the meeting newly retired member Jim Bain was presented a plaque that was made by Everett Main Repair Facility Machinist Chris Fernald. Jim was at the MBTA for 32 years. He served the union in many positions and will continue to help in any way he can. We wish him well in his retirement.

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It’s Coming: The Worst Trade Agreement You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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by Robert Reich

Republicans who now run Congress say they want to cooperate with President Obama, and point to the administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, as the model. The only problem is the TPP would be a disaster.

If you haven’t heard much about the TPP, that’s part of the problem right there. It would be the largest trade deal in history — involving countries stretching from Chile to Japan, representing 792 million people and accounting for 40 percent of the world economy – yet it’s been devised in secret.

Lobbyists from America’s biggest corporations and Wall Street’s biggest banks have been involved but not the American public. That’s a recipe for fatter profits and bigger paychecks at the top, but not a good deal for most of us, or even for most of the rest of the world.

First some background. We used to think about trade policy as a choice between “free trade” and “protectionism.” Free trade meant opening our borders to products made elsewhere. Protectionism meant putting up tariffs and quotas to keep them out.

In the decades after World War II, America chose free trade. The idea was that each country would specialize in goods it produced best and at least cost. That way, living standards would rise here and abroad. New jobs would be created to take the place of jobs that were lost. And communism would be contained.

For three decades, free trade worked. It was a win-win-win.

But in more recent decades the choice has become far more complicated and the payoff from trade agreements more skewed to those at the top.

Tariffs are already low. Negotiations now involve such things as intellectual property, financial regulations, labor laws, and rules for health, safety, and the environment.

It’s no longer free trade versus protectionism. Big corporations and Wall Street want some of both.

They want more international protection when it comes to their intellectual property and other assets. So they’ve been seeking trade rules that secure and extend their patents, trademarks, and copyrights abroad, and protect their global franchise agreements, securities, and loans.

But they want less protection of consumers, workers, small investors, and the environment, because these interfere with their profits. So they’ve been seeking trade rules that allow them to override these protections.

Not surprisingly for a deal that’s been drafted mostly by corporate and Wall Street lobbyists, the TPP provides exactly this mix.

What’s been leaked about it so far reveals, for example, that the pharmaceutical industry gets stronger patent protections, delaying cheaper generic versions of drugs. That will be a good deal for Big Pharma but not necessarily for the inhabitants of developing nations who won’t get certain life-saving drugs at a cost they can afford.

The TPP also gives global corporations an international tribunalof private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, who can order compensation for any “unjust expropriation” of foreign assets.

Even better for global companies, the tribunal can order compensation for any lost profits found to result from a nation’s regulations. Philip Morris is using a similar provision against Uruguay (the provision appears in a bilateral trade treaty between Uruguay and Switzerland), claiming that Uruguay’s strong anti-smoking regulations unfairly diminish the company’s profits.

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Anyone believing the TPP is good for Americans take note: The foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-based corporations could just as easily challenge any U.S. government regulation they claim unfairly diminishes their profits – say, a regulation protecting American consumers from unsafe products or unhealthy foods, investors from fraudulent securities or predatory lending, workers from unsafe working conditions, taxpayers from another bailout of Wall Street, or the environment from toxic emissions.

The administration says the trade deal will boost U.S. exports in the fast-growing Pacific basin where the United States faces growing economic competition from China. The TPP is part of Obama’s strategy to contain China’s economic and strategic prowess.

Fine. But the deal will also allow American corporations to outsource even more jobs abroad.

In other words, the TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.

At a time when corporate profits are at record highs and the real median wage is lower than it’s been in four decades, most Americans need protection – not from international trade but from the political power of large corporations and Wall Street.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is the wrong remedy to the wrong problem. Any way you look at it, it’s just plain wrong.

The Five Best Labor Stories of 2014

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Walmart employees picket outside of the Walmart store in Pico Rivera, California on November 6, 2013. The employees accuse Walmart of continued unlawful retaliation against workers who speak out for change at the company. Some of the striking workers say that when they have come forward to call on Walmart to address issues with scheduling, wages, benefits and above all else, respect in the work place, Walmart has reacted by retaliating against them. (Photo: UFCW International Union / Flickr)

Walmart employees picket outside of the Walmart store in Pico Rivera, California on November 6, 2013. The employees accuse Walmart of continued unlawful retaliation against workers who speak out for change at the company. Some of the striking workers say that when they have come forward to call on Walmart to address issues with scheduling, wages, benefits and above all else, respect in the work place, Walmart has reacted by retaliating against them. (Photo: UFCW International Union / Flickr)

Via truthout.org-

This year has turned out to be another tough one for US workers. In particular, the results of the 2014 midterm elections, which saw the reelection of anti-union governors in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, demonstrated that the attack on labor rights at the state level, which started in earnest in January 2011, has yet to run its course. Next year, more states will introduce legislation that restricts collective bargaining rights, right-to-work bills that outlaw voluntary union security agreements and “paycheck protection” bills that make it more difficult for unions to raise and spend money on politics.

But 2014 also saw several more positive developments for workers and unions that suggest that the labor movement might yet have a brighter future in the coming years. Below are five important and hopeful stories from the past 12 months.

1. The Fight for Fifteen: Nothing comes close in significance to the struggle of fast-food workers, airport workers, home-care workers and workers at federal government buildings for a minimum wage of $15 per hour. In the latest round of actions, fast-food workers and their allies held strikes and protests in at least 190 cities around the country. Prior to the first strikes in New York City two years ago, few would have taken seriously the demand for $15 per hour for McDonald’s and Burger King workers. Now, not only is it taken seriously, but it has also influenced living wage battles in cities across the nation. Next year the most important labor campaign in decades will escalate its protest action.

2. OUR Walmart: Just over two years ago, Walmart workers participated in the first ever strikes in the history of the world’s largest retailer. This year’s Black Friday protests were the largest so far: Thousands of community allies joined workers from OUR Walmart to engage in walkouts, sit-down strikes and other protests. These actions highlighted the high cost to the public of poverty wages, poor working conditions and management retaliation. Each year, employees at Walmart, like those at McDonald’s, receive billions of dollars in public assistance because their wages are so low. Workers continue to face intimidation, but the tide may be turning against billion-dollar corporations that pay poverty wages at home and abroad. Coordinated by UNI Global Union, the campaign at Walmart has a vigorous international component: Workers in Chile and South Africa have protested this month, and next year will see more protests in the United States and overseas.

3. The UAW Campaign at Volkswagen in Tennessee: In February, when the United Automobile Workers (UAW) narrowly lost a representation election at the Chattanooga plant, this campaign could easily have been remembered as one of the year’s low points. After the UAW collected membership cards from a majority of workers, Tennessee’s governor and senior US senator colluded with anti-union organizations to mislead and intimidate workers into voting against the union. But the UAW has rebuilt support within the plant and now at least 45 percent of the Volkswagen workers are members. The company, which has behaved in an exemplary fashion throughout, has granted it limited bargaining rights. The campaign demonstrates that if employers remain neutral and workers are free from coercion, they will choose union representation – even in the South. If McDonald’s and Walmart were to behave like Volkswagen, their employees would benefit from unions, decent wages, full-time hours and respect at work.

4. The Reinvigoration of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): For much of the past four years, the GOP Congress, anti-union groups and big business have attempted to stop the NLRB from functioning, with considerable success. In the past few months, however, the Board has made a number of important decisions that should offer some protection to workers who want to choose a union. Earlier this month, the NLRB reissued its final rules to streamline the union certification process and get rid of the worst cases of pre-election delay. In a landmark case in December, an administrative law judge ruled that Walmart violated the law when it discriminated against protesting workers at two California stores. Most recently, the Board’s general counsel ruled that McDonald’s is a “joint employer” and thus responsible for the unlawful actions committed by franchise managers against workers who participated in legal strikes and protests. It’s tempting to dismiss the NLRB as increasingly irrelevant, but the Board under the Obama administration has shown that it still matters and can still play a critical role in protecting workers’ rights.

5. The San Francisco Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights: For several years, California has bucked national trends, both in terms of maintaining union membership levels and improving labor standards. Perhaps the most significant development in the latter respect has been the enactment in December of San Francisco’s “Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights.” The pioneering legislation provides several important benefits for tens of thousands of low-wage workers in grocery and department stores, restaurants and banks: advance notice of work schedules and estimates of how many hours they are likely to work; the posting in conspicuous places of schedules two weeks in advance; and “predictability pay” if their employer changes their schedules at short notice. Enforcement of the new law will prove challenging, but progressive lawmakers throughout the country are watching it closely, as are its opponents. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce said that state and national chambers were extremely concerned that “what’s happening in San Francisco can spread nationally.” And with a bit of luck, it just well might do that.

Some commentators have suggested that the labor movement’s problems have been caused by “self-sabotage,” including its alleged backing for law enforcement after recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, and its support for more prisons. Such an analysis both exaggerates the influence of the labor movement – militant managers, not militant workers, have been the driving force behind the transformation of US employment relations – and misrepresents the labor movement’s position on these issues, which has evolved significantly. In the wake of the killing of unarmed black men in Ferguson and New York, AFL-CIO president Rich Trumka, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry, AFT president Randi Weingarten, among others, spoke out in support of “Black Lives Matter” protests.

Trumka said: “We cannot wash our hands of these issues…. Racism is part of our inheritance as Americans. Every city, every state and every region of this country has its own deep history with racism. And so does the labor movement.” Trumka, who has made confronting racism a priority, has also attacked mass incarceration, stating that we need to replace it with “mass employment,” and has given it significant attention at AFL-CIO conventions. Police and prison guard unions disagree with these actions, of course, but they have seldom played well with most other unions, and should not be confused with the entire labor movement. The views of the leadership of the mainstream labor movement on race, policing and mass incarceration is now more progressive than ever before. While that is a welcome development, it will not reverse the long-term decline of unions.

“Self-sabotage,” if it exists, certainly does not explain the decades-long decline in union membership. If the labor movement is to be criticized, it should be for being a little too timid for a little too long. The experience of the past few decades has demonstrated that organizing within the official NLRB system is virtually impossible, and that organizing “outside of the law” is extraordinarily difficult. Most likely, it can be done only as part of a mass movement, which is why the Fight for $15 is potentially so important.

Next year, like 2014, will likely pose serious challenges for US workers and their organizations. But the campaigns and the policy and regulatory developments discussed above demonstrate that there’s life left in the labor movement, which remains the last, best hope for reversing skyrocketing levels of economic inequality and restoring some measure of justice and decency to the US workplace.

Local 264 Elections Results

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Congratulations to all of the candidates who were newly elected or re-elected. We also thank the candidates who did run in this election, it was great to have so many solid people running for positions. There will be a re-vote for Norfolk  County Labor Council during the monthly member meeting in February.Local 264 Election Results 12-19-2014 copy

IAM Local 447 on strike at country nissan

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Local 264 members traveled to Hadley MA to show support for the newly organized workers on strike.

Local 264 members traveled to Hadley MA to show support for the newly organized workers on strike.

The International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 447 has organized seven technicians and three car detailers at Country Nissan in Hadley. To frustrate their efforts for a first contract, the company has committed unfair labor practices, including a sharp reduction in hours as well as unnecessary disciplinary actions. On Saturday November 15th over a hundred union brothers and sisters from IAM Locals 264, 447, 743, 1420, 1871, and retirees.  Also members from IBEW Local 103, SEIU, UFWC, MA Nurses Association, MA Teachers, Jobs with Justice, students from UMass and MA AFL-CIO President Steve Tolaman all came out to show their support for these workers on the picket line. The great turnout on Saturday is just proof that when one union member is being taken advantage of it is crucial that all union members stand with them and fight injustice in the workplace.

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Election Results ‘Will Not Weaken Our Resolve’

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Tuesday’s elections brought disappointing results for union members and working families, but voters went out of their way to support minimum wage initiatives in numerous states.

While the GOP took control of the U.S. Senate and widened its majority in the House, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota overwhelmingly passed minimum wage increases. Four ballot initiatives supporting paid sick days also passed.

“The results of this election will not weaken our resolve,” said IAMAW International President Buffenbarger. “We will continue to fight for our members and their families in Congress and in statehouses around the country.”

 

Robert W. Alley, Sr., a member of the newly-formed IAM Maine Lobstering Union, was one of many union members to be elected Tuesday.

“Given our early successes at the statehouse acting collectively as a newly-formed union, I had a new found faith in the idea of government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” said Alley, who will represent Maine’s 138th House District, a collection of seaside communities on the state’s northeastern coast. “I then decided to take it to the next level – we were going to have our own lawmaker at the statehouse working hard not only for Lobstermen, but for all working families in Maine. More union members need to run for public office. We can win and I’m living proof.”

“The labor movement is finding out that many of our so-called friends in government have forgotten that friendship is a two-way street,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Lynn Tucker, Jr. “This is how we change that, this is how you change your government – you take their jobs.”

Penn National Gaming Celebrates Topping out of Plainridge Park Casino

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PLAINVILLE, Mass., Aug 27, 2014 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Penn National Gaming, Inc. celebrated the “Topping Out” of Plainridge Park Casino today in Plainville, Massachusetts. Hundreds of union construction workers, small business leaders, employees, and area residents attended the celebration and luncheon.

“Today marks another milestone in the development of Plainridge Park Casino,” said Jay Snowden, Chief Operating Officer for Penn National Gaming, who was in attendance to commemorate the day. “We are proud that this project has already employed over 200 union construction workers and that number grows daily. Their hard work has made today possible and we are honored to partner with the Massachusetts Building Trades Council.”

“The facility that we are topping out today has been constructed by hundreds of union tradesmen who support their families and invest every single day in the Massachusetts economy,” said Frank Callahan, President of Massachusetts Building Trades Council. “That is exactly what is at stake on November 4th – jobs and opportunity for working families. That’s why it is so important to Vote No on Question 3.”

“Topping Out” is one of the construction industry’s oldest customs, dating back to an ancient Scandinavian ritual. A tree is placed on the last beam fitted into the exterior, celebrating the completion of the structural components and marking the halfway point in the construction of a facility. Plainridge Park Casino is expected to open in June of next year, creating one thousand construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs, in addition to the over 100 employees currently working at Plainridge Racecourse.

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“We are committed to building the facility, creating jobs, and ensuring the 76% vote in favor of Plainridge Park Casino by Plainville residents last year is not ignored,” said Snowden. “This is the beginning of an industry that will create 6,500 construction jobs, 10,000 good paying permanent jobs, many of which are union jobs, and keep the $1 billion annually and hundreds of millions in tax revenue that leaves Massachusetts for neighboring states where it belongs – in the Commonwealth.”

“We are excited to be partnering with Penn and their Plainridge Park Casino project,” said District 15/Local 264 Business Rep Jim Foley. “We believe their plan is by far the best one for the working families of Plainville, the surrounding communities, and throughout the region.”
“Penn has an established record of working closely with local organized labor in projects across the country,” said District 15 DBR Jimmy Conigliaro. “Partnering with them to create good jobs, with good benefits is good for working families, their communities and the IAM.”

 

About Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino will include a fully integrated 106,000 square foot racing and gaming facility featuring live harness racing and simulcasting with 1,250 slot machines, an upscale casual dining restaurant, the first-ever Doug Flutie Sports Bar, four-venue food court, harness concourse bar, multi-purpose banquet room, entertainment lounge and casino bar, 1,620 structured and surface parking spaces, 26,000 square foot grandstand with box and reserved seats, and 13,000 square foot clubhouse with box seats.

About Penn National Gaming

Penn National Gaming owns, operates or has ownership interests in gaming and racing facilities with a focus on slot machine entertainment. At June 30, 2014, the Company operated twenty-seven facilities in eighteen jurisdictions, including Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, and Ontario. At June 30, 2014, in aggregate, Penn National Gaming’s operated facilities featured approximately 30,900 gaming machines, 790 table games and 2,900 hotel rooms.

 

16 yr old Made an App That Exposes Sellout Politicians

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With US politics swimming in so much corporate money that it’s pretty much an oligarchy, it can be hard to keep track of which particular set of lobbyists is trying to milk more cash out of health care, fossil fuels, and other very important issues from one week to the next.

But thanks to 16-year-old Nick Rubin, keeping track of just how much politicians have sold out has become a lot easier. He created Greenhouse, a new browser plug-in that operates under the motto “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.” The plugin aims “to shine light on a social and industrial disease of today: the undue influence of money in our Congress.” It sounds like a bit of a lofty aim for an app, but it’s actually pretty simple and effective—it provides a breakdown of a politician’s campaign contributions when that politician’s name comes up in an article. It is currently available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari and is completely free. As you can imagine, reading about how your member of Congress voted in a recent health bill becomes all the more enlightening if you know how much money the health industry showered him in at the last election.

It uses the data from the last full election cycle which was 2012. This is simply because it’s just the most complete set of data that we have. But the browser does provide access to the most up to date 2014 information by just clicking the name of the politician on the top of the window or the OpenSecrets.org link in the popup. So the 2014 data is just one click away.

It works by highlighting the name of any member of Congress on any website, and when you hover over these names a little box appears that shows detailed contribution information with amounts and where those amounts have come from. It’s basically a list of the top-ten industries from which they receive their money. My goal was to create something that promotes transparency. It would be great if people used it on sites where they’re reading about politics every day. For example, if you’re reading a piece on Congress votes for energy policy, you might see that a sponsor has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry. Greenhouse allows people to see the money story behind the news story.

What is Greenhouse?


  • Key data with a mouse hover

    Highlights members of Congress on any webpage. Hover over name and popup will open. It contains total contributions, small donations of ≤ $200, and industry breakdown from the last full election cycle. For small donations, highlights percentages as follows: ≤5%5-10% ≥10% and provides rank #__ for the top 50 members of Congress.


  • Easy links to more info

    Click on the name in the popup to get the latest 2014 contribution data on opensecrets.org. Click on or to see which campaign finance reform bills each member of Congress supports on reform.to. Click on the small donor percentage for a ranked list of all members of Congress.


  • Simple drop down list

    Currently for Safari only, Greenhouse installs a $ button in the toolbar. Simply press the button and type a name or scroll to find any member of Congress. Hover over a name and popup will open. Provides access to the data whenever you need it.

This Bill: ‘Paid for by Union Wages’

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This post originally appeared on the Electrical Workers (IBEW) website.

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The St. Louis Union Label and Service Trades Council is printing stickers that union members can attach to cash, checks or credit card receipts, letting business owners know that the purchase was paid for by union wages.

The stickers are one response to the efforts of state Republicans to pass so-called right-to-work legislation, introducing a bill to that effect earlier this year.

Right-to-work laws have been shown to drive down wages by an average of $1,500 a year for all workers—union and nonunion alike. This wage cut hurts not only workers—it hurts communities and local businesses dependent on consumer spending.

As St. Louis Local 1’s blog recently pointed out, not only does Missouri boast higher wages and a better quality of life than neighboring right-to-work Tennessee, it’s also a better place to do business:

Missouri is ranked 34th verses Tennessee at 42nd in economic growth. Missouri also ranked 17 in cost of energy in all sectors verses Tennessee at 30. Additionally, Missouri made the list at three of top 10 states for tech job growth while Tennessee didn’t appear on the list at all.

To order stickers, contact the St. Louis Union Label and Service Trades Council at thedarrahs@hotmail.com or call 636-379-1134/636-293-1878.