Plant Explosions, Spills Test Industry’s Response to Harvey

Friday, September 1, 2017
By MATTHEW BROWN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Explosions and fires at a Texas chemical plant inundated by Harvey’s floodwaters are raising questions about the adequacy of industry preparations for the monster storm and stoking fears of more accidents in the days ahead.

As portions of the plant erupted in flames for the second day in a row, its owners said Friday they would let 500,000 pounds (227,000 kilograms) of liquid organic peroxide that caused two explosions continue to burn, because they have no way to cool the unstable chemical to prevent it from igniting.

Eric Frumin, health and safety director for a federation of labor unions, Change to Win, said the plant flooding was foreseeable.

“They clearly knew they were in a hurricane zone and could lose power because they had backup generators,” he said. “Where was their ‘plan C’?”

Read the full story from Associated Press

Labor groups step up pressure on Trump to deliver

Saturday, August 20, 2017
By DAVE WEIGEL, WASHINGTON POST

Labor leaders, once courted by President Trump, are stepping up their campaign to turn workers against the White House if it does not deliver more on jobs and trade — and if it does not stop undoing Obama-era regulations.

The most visible effort, which starts in Indianapolis on Monday afternoon, is a two-week tour organized by the coalition Good Jobs Nation that ropes in labor-friendly politicians. The coalition, launched in 2013 to pressure Barack Obama’s White House on trade and wage issues, is organizing rallies throughout the Midwest through Labor Day.

“Trump ran as a working-class hero, so let’s look at the results,” said Joseph Geevarghese, Good Jobs Nation’s executive director. “We’re seven months into his administration, and wages are flat. People are still getting pink slips.”

Read the full story at Washington Post

Progressives quickly organize responses to Charlottesville

Saturday, August 12, 2017
By DAVE WEIGEL, WASHINGTON POST

ATLANTA — The aftermath of the weekend’s white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, and the resulting violence, reverberated in the last hours of the annual Netroots Nation conference. On Saturday afternoon, attendees of the progressive gathering quietly shared the latest news from Virginia. Some began organizing a response.

One of the first responses came from Mikey Franklin, a digital director of the labor-backed Good Jobs Nation campaign, who had found a print shop that could quickly make T-shirts. Franklin made a black-and-white shirt reading “Punch More Nazis,” then was dogged by questions about them, then printed 30 more.

Read the full story at Washington Post

Anti-union intimidation won the day at Nissan, but not the war

Friday, August 11, 2017
By JOE ATKINS, FACING SOUTH

Threats of lost jobs and a closed plant, fear-mongering, intimidation, interrogations of pro-union workers, and even the use of state inmate labor to pull down pro-union signs on roads and highways paid off last Thursday and Friday as Nissan workers at the Canton, Mississippi, plant voted against United Auto Workers representation 2,244 to 1,307.

The 64 percent victory for anti-union forces, however, was quickly followed by UAW officials filing a new set of charges against the company for violating legal labor and labor election practices.

“The result of the election was a setback for these workers, the UAW and working Americans everywhere, but in no way should it be considered a defeat,” UAW president Dennis Williams said in response to the vote. “The courageous workers of Nissan who fought tirelessly for union representation alongside community and civil rights leaders should be proud of their efforts to be represented by the UAW.”

Read the full story at FACING SOUTH

How the Battle For Mississippi Went South

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
By HAMILTON NOLAN, Splinter News

In Jackson, Mississippi, in the state capitol, inside the very top of the rotunda, in a circular frame on a large wall panel, not far below the fierce, gilded golden eagle that sits atop the dome, there is a painting of two white-haired men who look like Colonel Sanders hoisting a Confederate battle flag. Not far below, flanked by a Mississippi state flag featuring a Confederate cross in its top left corner, sits the office of the governor, Phil Bryant. Late last month, Bryant spoke out on an issue of importance to regular Mississippians: he urged Nissan workers in the town of Canton to reject a union in their plant, calling the union a “con game to destroy private market success.”

The state capitol’s broad front staircase is flanked by decorative cannons. Their vintage appears too new for them to have been used to shoot at people trying to free Mississippi’s slaves.

Why do foreign automakers now build their factories in the Deep South? They do it because the government is friendly, and labor is cheap. These two facts are not unrelated.

Read the full story at Splinter News

Trucking investigation sparks Senator action

Friday, August 4, 2017
By STAFF, USA TODAY

In response to the recent year-long USA TODAY NETWORK investigation about the port trucking industry, Rigged, a group of high profile Democratic Senators have signed a letter to the nation’s top retailers demanding that they crack down and root out “shameful” labor abuse of truckers.

Rigged is a year-long NETWORK investigation uncovering the mistreatment of port truck drivers in California. The investigation details the stories of drivers who say they were forced into debt and then required to work up to 20 hours a week for pay that dropped to pennies per hour.

The effort was led by Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), who is working with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.),and California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, to pressure some of America’s largest retail brands to root our labor violation in the port trucking industry they rely on to move their goods.

Read the full story at USA Today

RIGGED. Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing.

Friday, June 16, 2017
By BRETT MURPHY, USA TODAY

Los Angeles — Samuel Talavera Jr. did everything his bosses asked.

Most days, the trucker would drive more than 16 hours straight hauling LG dishwashers and Kumho tires to warehouses around Los Angeles, on their way to retail stores nationwide.

He rarely went home to his family. At night, he crawled into the back of his cab and slept in the company parking lot.

For all of that, he took home as little as 67 cents a week.

Then, in October 2013, the truck he leased from his employer, QTS, broke down.

When Talavera could not afford repairs, the company fired him and seized the truck — along with $78,000 he had paid towards owning it.

Talavera was a modern-day indentured servant. And there are hundreds, likely thousands more, still on the road, hauling containers for trucking companies that move goods for America’s most beloved retailers, from Costco to Target to Home Depot.

These port truckers — many of them poor immigrants who speak little English — are responsible for moving almost half of the nation’s container imports out of Los Angeles’ ports. They don’t deliver goods to stores. Instead they drive them short distances to warehouses and rail yards, one small step on their journey to a store near you.

A yearlong investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford. Companies then used that debt as leverage to extract forced labor and trap drivers in jobs that left them destitute.

Read the full story at USA TODAY

This Dreamer Works For The Politicians Who Will Decide Her Fate In The U.S.

Saturday, May 13, 2017
By Dave Jamieson, HUFFINGTON POST

One day earlier this year, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions passed through the cafeteria in a Senate office building to buy lunch. The Alabama Republican was slated to become the attorney general under President Donald Trump and help lead an immigration crackdown. Having railed for years against undocumented immigrants, Sessions signaled a new hard-line approach to deportations in the Trump era.

The Senate cashier who rang up Sessions that day was a 26-year-old mother of three from El Salvador, Ana Gomez Ramirez. She is a so-called Dreamer: a young immigrant who came to the country as an undocumented child. She recognized Sessions and knew how he felt about people like her who had entered the country illegally. The soft-spoken Gomez Ramirez greeted him with a hello. Sessions politely asked her how she was doing.

“He was nice,” Gomez Ramirez recalled after a recent shift. “Even though he doesn’t want us here.”

Like hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers, Gomez Ramirez received a temporary work permit and a reprieve from deportation under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As a DACA recipient, she has felt the whiplash of the government’s shifting policy toward immigrants ― all while serving and cleaning up after the very politicians who will determine her family’s future here.

Read the full story at HUFFINGTON POST

Trump a Hypocrite on Outsourcing? This Union Thinks So.

Friday, May 5, 2017
By CONNOR D. WOLF, INSIDE SOURCES

President Donald Trump was denounced as a hypocrite by a major union Friday for supposedly subsidizing companies that continue to outsource jobs.

Trump promised throughout his campaign that he would protect domestic workers. He has primarily focused on immigration and outsourcing. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is now claiming the president continues to provide billions in subsidies to companies that outsource jobs.

“One of Trump’s most recurrent campaign promises was to protect American jobs from being shipped overseas,” AFSCME expressed on its website. “But something’s changed. After 100 days in office, Trump continues to reward U.S. companies that offshore jobs.”

Read the full story at INSIDE SOURCES

Workers strike for a $15 wage, and this time with the support of the entire Democratic Party

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
By Kira Lerner, Think Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C .— Daquan Jackson was supposed to be at work at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. By late morning, he should have been grilling the large amounts of chicken and steak required to feed customers during the lunchtime rush at the Qdoba Mexican restaurant in the Pentagon.
Instead, Jackson joined roughly 400 other federal contract workers and low-wage employees with Good Jobs Nation striking outside the U.S. Capitol in support of new legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of the next seven years.

“It feels good,” said Jackson, a 22-year-old father of a three week old baby, to ThinkProgress about being on the lawn outside the Capitol instead of behind the grill. “I ain’t got to bust nothing or work too hard today, sweat today.”
Jackson said he makes just $10 an hour. Though he has been able to squeeze by on that wage, he said he worries that the recent birth of his baby will make it harder to stretch his paycheck.

“I want more. I want $14 or $15 an hour,” he said. “That would change my life a lot. I could feed my family… Milk ain’t cheap.”
On Wednesday morning, Democratic lawmakers in both the House and Senate came together to introduce a bill that would raise the minimum wage across the entire country to $15 an hour. Until recently, the party was splintered over what wage to support, with many including Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) holding out at just $12 an hour.

Read the full story at THINK PROGRESS