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Still a Long Way to Go for Labor Rights in Colombia

A Colombian worker loading palm fruit—palm plantations are notorious for their use of cooperatives to avoid direct employment relationships, despite being fined by the Ministry of Labor.

Celeste Drake, trade policy specialist for the AFL-CIO, sends us this. 

It’s been more than seven months since the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (Columbia FTA) went into effect, and many U.S. workers are wondering exactly how the agreement is benefiting workers in either country. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. For America’s workers, the U.S. trade deficit with Colombia is on track to exceed last year’s deficit—never good news for job creation or wage growth. Meanwhile, Colombian workers still face momentous obstacles when trying to exercise even the most basic of workplace rights, including the right to organize unions and act collectively for better working conditions. 

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Unionmade Isn’t

Unionmade Isn’t

If there were fact checkers for corporate advertising, this would get four Pinocchios. Unionmade clothes aren’t. Unionmade is the San Francisco clothing company where those with way too much money and far too little common sense can spend $565 for a pair of “vintage” Levi Jeans or a $258 “work shirt.”

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Avoid Post-Holiday Spender's Remorse

Union Plus: Avoid Post-Holiday Spender's Remorse

"Avoid Post-Holiday Spender's Remorse" is a cross-post from Union Plus

Opening gifts each December is a ton of fun. Opening the resulting bills in January is not. Yet every holiday season millions of consumers use their credit cards to finance gifts they don’t have the cash to pay for. Consider the following before you start shopping this holiday season.

There are only two legal ways out of debt – cutting expenses or increasing your income. Decide which works for you and commit to it before you start shopping.

Prioritize.  What’s more important?  Paying your mortgage and buying food or giving gifts you can’t afford?  Consider shortening your gift list or giving smaller gifts to adults.  In times like these, friends and family understand.

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Those Affected by Superstorm Sandy Still Need Your Help

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While the election and other stories have taken Superstorm Sandy out of the headlines, millions of Americans who were in the storm's path are still in need of assistance. Don't let the the short attention span of the news cycle delay necessary aid to those whose lives have been permanently altered.

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Trumka: 'Austerity Economics is Bad Policy and Politics'

This is an excerpt of The Hill's, "Austerity Economics is Bad Policy and Politics," by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Not only is austerity bad politics – even Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan had to distance themselves from it – but it’s disastrous economic policy. Austerity economics is responsible for the country’s growing inequality, rising deficits and unemployment. Austerity economics means the wealthy remain unscathed while the people who rely on programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – the elderly, the disabled, the poor and the young – will get less and pay more. And let’s not forget the impact this will have on future generations.

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The Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Loses in Possible Hostess Liquidation

Photo courtesy of Jenn Durfey

As part of its liquidation filing, Hostess is requesting approval to pay $1.75 million in bonuses to executives—the same executives who ran the company so poorly it is closing its doors and liquidating its assets.

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'Fix the Debt' Group Would Receive Huge Tax Windfalls by Cutting Social Security and Medicare

'Fix the Debt' Group Would Receive Huge Tax Windfalls by Cutting Social Security and Medicare

Fix the Debt, the unserious coalition of CEOs and corporations who are lobbying to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while increasing tax breaks for their companies to send jobs overseas, have spent nearly $1 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions during the past four years, according to a new Public Campaign study

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Protecting Precious Cargo, School Bus Drivers Turn to TWU


The school bus drivers and monitors in Burleson and Weatherford, Texas, take their jobs of transporting “precious cargo” seriously—especially when it comes to safety. After recently voting (see video) to join the Transport Workers (TWU), they say their voice about safety can’t be ignored any longer. Says driver Amy Lytle:

We want safe buses to transport these children in. If you’re driving a bus with a bungee-corded door, they‘re OK with that. I’m not OK with that.

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Mexican Unionists, Campesinos and Lawmakers Host TPP Seminar

Pictured from L to R: Rick Arnold from Common Frontiers, Alberto Arroyo from RMALC , Celeste Drake, Isidro Pedraza Chávez, Senator PRD party, Melinda St. Louis of Public Citizen. Second row: Alejandro Villamar of RMALC

Celeste Drake, trade policy specialist for the AFL-CIO, sends us this. 

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, in Mexico City, Mexico, the PRD group of the Mexican Senate, along with the Mexican labor federation UNT and the campesino federation CONORP, hosted a one-day summit looking at the social and economic impacts of theTrans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP or Trans-Pacific FTA). The summit was held at the same time as delegations from the 11 TPP countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States) were meeting elsewhere in Mexico to negotiate the agreement. 

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Working Families Refused to Be Silenced in the 2012 Election Despite Outside Spending

Working Families  Refused to be Silenced in the 2012 Election Despite Outside Spending

Election Day is behind us now (someone please tell Rep. Allen West [R-Fla.]), and there’s plenty to be happy about. Nov. 6, 2012, brought a wave of victories for working families and the defeat of some seriously scary candidates backed by billionaires and their deep pockets.

America's workers refused to let their voices be silenced by the nearly $1.5 billion in independent spending that poured into the election and nearly every candidate backed by Karl Rove’s Crossroads conglomerate lost. It’s tempting in this atmosphere to say that Citizens United didn’t matter after all, and that unlimited spending isn’t a problem in U.S. politics.  But let’s not jump to premature conclusions on the basis of a single election. Karl Rove isn’t going anywhere, and there’s no guarantee the GOP and its billionaires will make the same stupid missteps next time around.

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