February 2015 labor roundup

‘Now or never’ in fight vs. TPP fast-track. Warning that it’s “now or never” in the fight against presidential authority to jam job-losing trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress, Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen has summoned unionists and their allies to battle.

In a January press conference with the Sierra Club and other groups, Cohen laid out the points unions and lawmakers are pushing to halt fast-track trade promotion authority in its tracks.

“We must negotiate trade deals that work for tens of millions of Americans, not just hundreds of corporations,” he said.

But workers face problems in halting TPA, which would let President Obama work his will on trade pacts, creating them without worker rights. Plus, the House GOP, which mostly supports so-called free trade pacts, has a 246-188 majority.

That didn’t stop the outspoken Cohen, or his allies, who are also allies of workers.   They predicted 190 representatives, including some Republicans, will oppose fast-track, and they’re targeting 75 more swing votes among members of both parties.

“Except for corporate management and their large shareholders, the rest of us will lose big if fast-track is adopted, making TPP a certainty,” Cohen said.

The 2,000-page TPP makes Vietnam and the other nations fertile fields for multinational corporations to exploit, Cohen said.

“TPP has much more to do with protecting the investment of multinationals,” Cohen added. “These are the very corporations that moved millions of jobs out of the U.S. because every trade deal since NAFTA has allowed them to sue nations that adopt legislation that limits future profits, not simply safeguards their initial investment.”

The anti-fast-track mobilization will include days of action in key communities and swing districts, especially of House Republicans and generate “millions of e-mails” against fast-track and the TPP.

Panera Bread workers may get their union: BCTGM Local 70. It’s taken more than two years and two trips up to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), but bakers at Panera Bread may finally get their union: Local 70 of the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), as the MLRB this winter ruled 3-0 that bakers legitimately voted to unionize.

“The Panera bakers’ story affects everyone in America who cares about their right to stand up for themselves at work,” the union said in announcing a rally for the ‘Give Us 5’ NLRB board members campaign in mid-2013.

Postal workers launch ‘return to sender’ campaign vs. Staples scheme. U.S. Postal Service management has launched a new offensive, one that clearly reveals the sinister goals of its no-bid deal with non-union Staples. And Postal Workers launched their own anti-Staples “Return to Sender” drive.

In the fall of 2013, USPS and Staples implemented, over the protests of organized labor, a pilot privatization establishing knock-off Post Offices in 82 Staples stores nationwide.   Low-wage, no-benefit Staples workers – not highly trained and well-paid USPS employees – staffed those counters.

After nationwide protests, the USPS modified the plan but extended it to all 1,500 U.S. Staples stores.

So the union is striking back with its “Return to Sender” drive, on its www.StopStaples.com website, where suggestions include posting on Facebook or Twitter, holding up the USPS pro-Staples ad, while holding a note card written “#ReturnToSender”; returning taxpayer-funded Staples discount mailings by crossing out the address and barcode, writing “Return to Sender,” and dropping it in the mail; and sending out Tweets opposing management’s Staples scheme. Some 140-character messages are “@USPS subsidizes postal privatization in ad for @Staples. #ReturntoSende@ apwunationaltinyurl.com/ojgj3” or “@USPS advertises for Staples, its partner in postal privatization. #Return toSender@apwunational tinyurl.com/ojgj3.”


News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper in Peoria

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