Friday, May 18, 2007

Labor News: Week-In-Review Ending May 19, 2007

Listen to the Workers Independent News Week-In-Review ending May 19, 2007. Script below:

"With Workers Independent News Week In Review, I'm Jesse Russell.

Trade was a major focus of the labor movement last week as a Democrat supported trade deal with Panama and Peru caught labor leaders off guard. The Change to Win Federation’s Yvette Pena Lopez told the Workers Independent News said they were blindsided:

[Pena Lopez]: “...the Democrats, the Democratic leadership, stood together and announced this quote, unquote great deal for the American worker. If it really was a great deal, then we should have been able to stand right next to them and hold hands and say, yes, this is a great deal finally, the day has come. And unfortunately that’s not where we’re finding ourselves.”

Meanwhile new numbers out this week showed record trade deficits of more than $3 trillion in the past six years alone. Bob Baugh is Executive Director of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Council said it is clear the deficit is costing Americans jobs:

[Baugh]: “"Every one of those dollars certainly represents jobs that have gone away from here and are being produced elsewhere, or could be produced here and are not.”

Autoworkers in North America are split over private equity firm Cerberus buying Chrysler. While the United Auto Workers President Ron Gettlefinger says the sale is in the best interest of workers, Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove is not so sure:

[Hargrove]: “They come in, buy as low as they can get and then throw a lot of people out of work, downsize as much as they can and then - in a very short turnaround period - they sell and make a bundle of money for a small number of executives at the expense of thousands of workers and their families and their communities."

In other private equity firm news, the Tommy Hilfiger Company pulled a Circuit City last week when it fired a contract company that paid janitors an average of $19 per hour in order to hire replacement workers who earn on average $9 per hour. The Hilfiger Company was bought out by private equity firm Apax Partners last year for $1.54 billion.

Minnesota became the 20th state in the country to ban smoking in bars and restaurants last week. Mike Maquire with the American Cancer Society says the bill is not only good for the health of service industry workers, but will also boost the state economy in the long run because it means lower health care costs for employers:

[Maquire]: “The most primary economic impact will be healthier employees. It means lower healthcare costs. In terms of the impact on customers and patronizing bars and restaurants nationally, look at the data, the fact of the matter is that trends in the industry continue after a smoke-free law, the same as they did before”

And iconic U.S. candy maker Hershey has told nearly 1500 workers to kiss their jobs goodbye. The company announced plans last week to close its last Canadian factory and additional plans to shutter plants in Oakdale, California, Naugatuck, Connecticut, and Reading, Pennsylvania. Many of the jobs from those plants will end up at a new plant in Mexico or contracted out to factories in China and India.

Finally, the United States is “no-vacation nation.” Just in time for summer, a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that one in four US workers don’t get any vacation time. European workers have a legally mandated 20 paid vacation days a year.

This has been Workers Independent News Week In Review.”

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,