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Showing blog posts by Tula Connell

About Tula Connell

I got my first union card while I worked my way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee (we were represented by a hotel and restaurant local union—the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism—covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia—I started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), I now blog under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.

Bob King, Workers Laid Off by Bain Show a Romney America

In 2008, at the height of the recession, Mitt Romney declared that government should “let Detroit go bankrupt” rather than providing federal aid to automakers. President Obama was a lot smarter than that. As a result of federal assistance, General Motors (GM) posted record profits and paid back its loans early, Chrysler paid back all its loans and hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers are on the job who otherwise would be out of work (click on chart to enlarge).

Karen Eusanio, a UAW Local 112 member and second generation auto worker, is one of those workers. Speaking last night at the Democratic National Convention, Eusanio recalled her struggle to support her children after GM laid her off, and the unpopularity of Obama’s plan to save the auto industry. Yet, President Obama didn’t think about the polls or the politics, said Eusanio.

He thought about the people. Because he put himself in our shoes, we’re back on our feet. Obama believed in us, he stood up for us.

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Bad Jobs on the Rise

Nearly one-quarter of America’s workers are in bad jobs—and the number is climbing, according to a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). “Bad Jobs on the Rise” defines a bad job as one that pays less than $37,000 a year—the inflation-adjusted earnings of a typical male worker in 1979—and offers no health insurance or retirement plan (click on chart to enlarge).

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USW: Salt Mine Owner Violated Worker Safety, Should Not Get Award

True Value should take back the 2011 Supplier of the Year Award it gave North American Salt, says United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard, because North American operates a salt mine in Louisiana that has received safety and health citations for serious violations and been shut down temporarily by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Some 100 workers at the company’s Cote Blanche mine in Louisiana are USW members.

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Hug A Thug Booth Big Hit in Charlotte

thug

Walking through CarolinaFest in Charlotte, N.C., this past Labor Day, you could buy a funnel cake, ride down a bouncy slide—and hug a union “thug.”

Compliments of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, the Hug A Thug booth featured teachers, firefighters, nurses—just about everyone who’s a union member and/or thug, depending upon your political perspective. The union movement's "hug a union thug" campaign poked fun at conservative attempts to scapegoat union members.

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Labor Day Reports Show Long-Term Income, Wealth Decline

Several new economic reports out in time for Labor Day point to long-term trends that are driving a declining standard of living for America’s middle- and low-income workers. Here’s a quick summary (click on chart to expand).

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Fewer Workers in Unions = Growing Income Inequality

The U.S. public is painfully aware of the growing income inequality in this nation.

Now, a new report shows a big reason why the gap is growing: fewer workers in unions.

Declining unionization was responsible for roughly one-third of the growth of wage inequality among men from 1973 to 2007, a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report finds. Declining unionization can explain roughly one-fifth of the growth of wage inequality among women over the same period (click to enlarge chart).

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Crystal Sugar Shareholders Losing Lots of $$ from Yearlong Lockout

Locking out workers is costing American Crystal Sugar Co. shareholders lots of money.

In the first nine months of fiscal year 2011—the period immediately preceding American Crystal Sugar’s lockout of 1,300 employees—American Crystal’s production costs were $382 million (click on graphic
to expand).

The production costs for the first nine months of this fiscal year shot up $90 million to $471 million. That’s more than a 23 percent increase. During the same period, another sugar beet cooperative, Minn-Dak, saw its costs decrease, dropping 16 percent.

Tell American Crystal CEO Dave Berg to stop wasting shareholder’s money and go back to the bargaining table.

Now.

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Labor Day Made in America Shopping List

overview

Labor Day means thanking a special worker for all he or she does (after all, that barbecue didn't make it itself.

It also means get-togethers with lots of hot dogs, beer and treats for the pets.

We updated our popular Made in America July 4 shopping list for the long Labor Day weekend.

Speaking of thanking workers: Thanks to members and staff at Union Plus, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's LA Labor 411's website and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) for your great work in creating union-made, American-made products and services (many of which are featured inside).

Here are some highlights:

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Crystal Sugar Workers Offer Company 'Ready to Work' Plan

When a company locks out skilled employees and replaces its entire workforce with inexperienced new hires, here’s what happens: productivity plunges and profits tank.

Losing money is not a wise corporate strategy. Yet, unless American Crystal Sugar Co. agrees to return to contract negotiations with the 1,300 workers the company locked out a year ago, the company is on course to repeat its sorry fiscal 2012 performance. After the company replaced all its seasoned employees, production costs increased by 23 percent and payments to its shareholders lagged behind the rest of the industry, which saw their shareholder payments increase. That followed a year in which Crystal Sugar was hugely profitable, with $1.5 billion in net earnings.

(Sign a petition calling on American Crystal Sugar CEO Dave Berg to treat workers fairly and return to the bargaining table.)

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Celebrate Workers and Join a Labor in the Pulpits/on the Bimah/in the Minbar Event

Celebrate Workers and Join a Labor in the Pulpits/on the Bimah/in the Minbar Event

What are you doing this Labor Day weekend to celebrate everything workers do to make our lives better and our communities strong?

Here are a couple ideas.

First, thank someone you know for all his or her hard work.

Next, take time out to honor the sacredness of work by joining with faith communities and union members through a Labor in the Pulpits/on the Bimah/in the Minbar event.

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