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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.

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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Canada Labor Laws Support Workers' Freedom to Form Unions

In 1960, the same number of workers were in unions in Canada and in the United States. After that, unionization in this country started a steep decline. Yet Canada’s unionization rate has held fairly steady. By 2011, 11.8 percent of U.S. workers were in unions, compared with 29.7 percent in Canada (click chart to enlarge).

So what happened here?

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Poll: Income Inequality Too High, Rich Aren't Paying Fair Share of Taxes

The U.S. public sees a danger in the nation’s growing income inequality and says the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes (click on chart to enlarge), according to a new Pew Research Center survey released yesterday.

Nearly six in 10, or 58 percent, say the rich don't pay enough in taxes, while 26 percent believe the rich pay their fair share and 8 percent say they pay too much.

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What's Mitt's Secret?

What's Mitt's secret?

What do you think Mitt Romney is hiding by not releasing his tax returns prior to 2010?

The United Steelworkers (USW) union wants to know. Go the USW’s new website, www.WhatsMittsSecret.org, and submit your response.

Here are some samples from the site:

“Mitt’s hiding that he claimed Paul Ryan as a dependent.”

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On Anniversary of Women's Right to Vote, What Do Romney-Ryan Offer?

On Anniversary of Women's Right to Vote, What Do Romney-Ryan Offer?

Ninety-two years ago yesterday, U.S. women won the right to vote.

The Indiana State AFL-CIO mentioned in an e-mail yesterday, Rose Schneiderman, who headed the Women’s Trade Union League, explained in 1918:

We want to tell our Senators that the working women of our State demand the vote as an economic necessity. We need it because we are workers and because the workers are the ones that have to carry civilization on their backs.

The anniversary is a good time to reflect on how women would fare under a Romney-Ryan administration.

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America the Undertaxed

In refusing to turn over more than two years of his tax returns, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney brags that he paid all his taxes but "not a penny more." Meaning no matter what he paid, he coughed up a pretty minimal amount, however you slice it. Not only can Romney get away with legally paying very little in taxes, but his low tax rate is within an already low national tax rate (click to enlarge chart).

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