segunda-feira, 24 de janeiro de 2011

Sandy Pope speaks out on mud-slinging by the Hoffa campaign for Teamster general president and what it will take to organize the nonunion competition

Taking on the Nonunion Competition

Question: The Hoffa Campaign says Local 805 is losing money and that you can’t be trusted with our union’s finances.
Local 805 has a strong financial foundation. We’ve put our reserves to work taking on the nonunion competition. 
The Hoffa Campaign has made a big deal of attacking Local 805 because we have less money in the bank. I will never apologize for putting members’ dues money to work protecting their jobs and their contracts.
Q: How does one local take on the nonunion competition?
It’s tough. The lack of leadership and support from the IBT on organizing is a big reason I’m running for General President. Most local unions don’t have the resources or the reach to succeed on their own.
At Local 805, we’ve still made organizing a priority. I cut my salary. I make $40,000 less than the Local 805 President did more than ten years ago. We hired full-time organizing staff and launched campaigns to take on the nonunion competition.
We’ve organized around a dozen companies—and taken on major targets like FreshDirect, a grocery warehouse that employs more than a 1,000 nonunion workers in the heart of New York City.
When nonunion companies have threatened to take our work, we’ve leafleted customers and protected Teamster jobs.
We even took on Mayor Bloomberg when he tried to kill union jobs by shutting down the Brooklyn Piers. We teamed up with community groups—and took to the streets.  
People told me I was crazy. They said you can’t beat City Hall. We proved them wrong. 
Not many unions have even dared to take on Mayor Bloomberg. We did and we won. Teamsters are working on those piers today because we took on that fight.
Q: The Hoffa Campaign says your local has lost membership….
A few. Since I’ve been President, the local’s membership has been steady at around 1,200 members. I have never had a company decertify. But we have lost members when electronics companies and tobacco distributors have closed.  
Under Hoffa, our International Union has lost a quarter of a million members—and added 140,000 through mergers. 
I’m not interested in finger-pointing.  We need less of that—and more organizing. The biggest threat to our union’s membership is the nonunion competition.
Q: What can the International Union do differently to boost Teamster organizing?
First, we’ve got to make it a priority. The International Union needs long-term, nationally coordinated campaigns to target the nonunion competition in our core industries—including freight and FedEx.
The concessions we’re seeing, especially in freight but in other industries too, they are the direct result of a decade of failure to make organizing in our core industries a priority. 
As an International Union representative, I negotiated a neutrality agreement with the biggest nonunion grocery company in the Northeast, C&S. 
We protected thousands of grocery workers under good contracts and good Teamster benefits. Hoffa let that agreement expire. Now C&S is eliminating Teamster warehouse distribution jobs up and down the East Coast.
If we’re going to protect our contracts, our jobs and our benefits, we’ve got to get serious about organizing. 
Q: What about organizing at the local union level?
The International has got to do more to help. Hoffa doubled the International Union’s income when he raised members’ dues. He found the money to raise his own pay to more than $350,000. But he can’t find the money to help local unions organize.  
As General President, I will expand funding to local unions to help finance strategic campaigns to organize the nonunion competition at the local union level.
That goes for any local. We’ve got to take the politics out of this. If you’ve got a plan to organize the nonunion competition, you’ll get resources to help you do it.
We’ve got to get smarter and more aggressive—and we’ve got to work together. I want to bring local unions together who operate in the same market to organize the nonunion competitors that are undercutting us.
Local unions in the Northeast have started to coordinate on our own to take on nonunion warehouse distribution employers. But locals unions can’t be abandoned to do this by ourselves. We need backing and resources from the International Union.

quinta-feira, 13 de janeiro de 2011

Sarah Palin shows her true colors -- yellow -- and takes no blame at all for her gunsight map -- refuses to dial down rhetoric in aftermath of shooting tragedy in Tucson, Arizona

Palin: Blaming me for Tucson shootings is 'blood libel'

Right-wing firebrand goes on offensive as Obama leads national mourning for victims
by David Usborne in Tucson, Arizona, The Independent (UK), January 13, 2011

On a day set aside for healing and prayer in the wake of last weekend's mass shooting in Tucson, all vestiges of a political armistice were shattered when Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, issued a video message accusing her critics of committing "blood libel" against her.
In a nearly eight-minute video posted on Facebook that veered between defiant and defensive, the Tea Party figurehead broke her days-long silence to answer allegations that her own rhetoric and the passions stirred by the Tea Party had somehow propelled the man accused of Saturday's carnage that left six dead and critically wounded congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Her video was posted just hours before President Barack Obama, in the role of healer-in-chief was to address a memorial event at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and John Boehner, the new House Speaker, opened a day of debate and reflection on the floor of the House of Representatives as Ms Palin's video played.
Ms Palin, [once] seen as a likely Republican candidate for president in 2012, had been under pressure to respond publicly to the criticisms piled on her since the Tucson shooting, notably linked to a map posted by her political action committee last year that used cross-hair symbols to identify districts with vulnerable Democrat incumbents before last year's midterm elections. One was Ms Gifford's.
Her statement may have had a greater impact than she expected because of her citing "blood libel," a phrase associated with the centuries-old slander of Jews that they used the blood of Christian children in their rituals and one used as a pretext for anti-Semitic persecution. Some Jewish leaders objected to her using the phrase. Ms Giffords, still in intensive care, is Jewish.
In her video, shot before a stone fireplace and an American flag, Ms Palin rejected the case for drawing a link between the attempted assassination of Representative Giffords and the heated rhetoric of political debate in last year's campaigns. She had listened to commentary on the killings, she said, "at first puzzled, then with concern and now with sadness to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event... Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
"There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal," Ms Palin went on. "And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those 'calm days' when political figures literally settled their differences with duelling pistols?" [nice of her to compare the 1800s with the 21st century]
Violent acts, she went on, should be blamed on the perpetrators only. "They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of the state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle [huh, oh, I think she just said it was ok to put gun sights on maps], not with law-abiding citizens who respectably exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies."
While the fairness of pointing a finger at Ms Palin will be fiercely debated, her standing may already have suffered serious damage, possibly not helped by a statement that seemed more focused on her than on the dead and 14 wounded victims of the assault. "Instead of dialling down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a 'blood libel' against her and others," David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Association said of the governor's video. "This is, of course, a particularly heinous term for American Jews."
Mr Obama was expected last night to say nothing in his speech that could be interpreted as partisan. His challenge was to make a speech that will be remembered as uplifting and inspiring at a time of tragedy. The address is inevitably going to be compared to the widely praised words of Bill Clinton in 1995 after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma that claimed 168 lives, including 19 children under six, and injured more than 680 people.
Mr Obama's predecessor, George W Bush, faced a similar challenge in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, when he stood in the rubble of New York's World Trade Center, speaking through a bullhorn.