• print
  • decrease text sizeincrease text size

Laborers Train Society’s Left Behind for Green Jobs; Launch Green Local

Share this post

adele_stan_140x140With the graduation of seven newly certified weatherization technicians from its Eastern New York Laborers Training Center, the New York State Laborers’ Union (NYSLIUNA) is blowing holes in several right-wing myths all at once, proving that jobless people do want to work, government programs can spur the creation of good jobs and labor unions can lead the way to prosperity.

Working in partnership with Peter Young Housing, Industries & Treatment (PYHIT), a non-profit that provides treatment, housing and vocational training to disadvantaged people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, the Laborers trained these first members of Green Jobs Local 58, chartered by the Laborers (LIUNA) as the first local in the Albany, N.Y., region dedicated exclusively to green jobs. Participants in the training had to be clean and sober for at least six months in order to be accepted into the program.

Thanks in part to the state’s 2009 Green Jobs/Green New York Act and a new program launched by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the demand for the retrofitting of homes to be more weather-resistant and energy-efficient is expected to climb. (Through the NYSERDA program, residents will be able to finance the weatherization of their homes via their monthly utility bills.)

The new Local 58 members will work for Eagle Street Construction, one of PYHIT’s vocational enterprises. Local 58 Business Manager Frank Marchese Jr. told the Albany Times Union that the workers would earn $14 per hour, plus a benefits package. He told the paper:

We are taking people involved in social programs who are now moving into being viable taxpayers.

Pete Wilcox, one of the local’s new members, expressed his enthusiasm to the Times Union this way:

I am very thankful for the opportunity to get green jobs training. I live in Albany and it means a lot to me to be able to have the skills to weatherize homes in my own backyard.

Sounds like a win for everybody.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on February 6, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Adele Stan writes: “My first union job was as a cashier at a New Jersey supermarket when I was 17, where I fell in love with the labor movement. My journalism career began at Ms. magazine (where, in the 1990s, I represented freelancers on an NWU arbitration team). I’ve covered the right wing of American politics for Mother Jones, The Nation, The American Prospect and, currently, for AlterNet, where I report on the tea party movement and cover the presidential campaign. I also served as a communications specialist for AFGE, 2001-2005.”

Share this post

HERvotes Turns Focus to Top Issues For Women in 2012: Health Care and Economy

Share this post

adele_stan_140x140Listen to the conventional wisdom, and you’ll hear that women have fared better than men in the recent recession. In reality, women are not only shouldering the burden of being the sole breadwinner in more families than ever before, they also account for the majority of public-sector layoffs. Single mothers and women in communities of color continue to suffer rising unemployment of more than 12 percent.

Against that backdrop, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), as part of a coalition of 40 national organizations, is launching HERvotes, a nonpartisan campaign to mobilize women around the pressing issues of health and economic rights.

While it’s true that the initial rounds of layoffs after the housing bubble burst in 2007 and the stock market crashed in 2008 hit men harder than women, men have now benefitted significantly from the jobs added to the economy in the ensuing years. As CLUW Executive Director Carol Rosenblatt notes in a post on the HERvotes blog:

According to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, women lost 46,000 jobs from December 2007 – June 2009 while men gained 1.26 million.

She also notes that women comprise nearly 64 percent of laid-off public-sector workers — a number disproportionate to their 57 percent representation in the public-sector workforce. (See our report, here.)

Drawing from the stories of unemployed people that appear on the AFL-CIO
site where jobless workers are relating their stories, Rosenblatt highlights the comments of two women among those ranks, including a poignant entry from a Pennsylvania woman named Juli, who writes:

Without unemployment, I have no way to feed my two sons, to pay our rent, to try and find another job.

Rosenblatt’s post appeared in a HERvotes blog carnival, part of a campaign to get Congress to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits to those whose benefits are about to expire in January.

One way you can participate, via Twitter, is to retweet these, which both HERvotes and MomsRising have been sending from their Twitter accounts:

Call Congress: 888-245-3381 Tell your Rep to oppose @RepDaveCamp bill #HR3630 to slash unemployment ins. #extendUI #HERvotes PlsRT

#Unemployment Insurance=critical 4 #women! TAKEACTION:EZ Click-to-call: http://j.mp/uZOqhp Tell Congress #ExtendUI Oppose HR 3630 #HERvotes

#ExtendUI! #Women speak up 4 #unemployed workers #HERvotes blog carnival http://t.co/kfQlC0qA

The HERvotes actions also included taking part in last week’s prayer vigil for jobless workers and a Friday gathering on Capitol Hill focusing on unemployment that featured Eleanor Smeal, president, Feminist Majority; Linda Hallman, executive director, American Association of University Women (AAUW); Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC); Nancy Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW); Gloria Lau, CEO, YWCA USA; Donna Norton, national campaign director of Mom’s Rising; Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and CLUW President Karen See. After the event, many of the participants joined in a prayer vigil that took place outside the U.S. Capitol Building.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on December 13, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Adele Stan is a journalist and lifelong member of the labor movement, reports on a timely forum on inequality and jobs at Georgetown University today.

Share this post

NLRB Drops Boeing Case as Machinists Requested

Share this post

adele_stan_140x140After months of contention that drew the attention of presidential candidates and members of Congress, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today announced that the Machinists (IAM) District 751 dropped its charge against the Boeing Co. after negotiating agreeable terms with the company.

Lafe Solomon, the NLRB’s acting general counsel, announced the closing of the case after Machinists in Washington State voted to accept a four-year contract extension and commitments from Boeing to expand manufacturing operations in the state.

Earlier this year, the NLRB agreed to hear the union’s complaint that claimed Boeing’s decision to produce its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft in South Carolina, an anti-union state, was made in retaliation for the union’s 2008 strike against Boeing. A Republican NLRB threatened to quit the board—which would have prevented the case from going forward—and Republican presidential candidates made the labor board a campaign-trail target.

District 751 also won raises described as “substantial” for its members, as well as job security measures deemed “unusual” by the New York Times.

From the statement issued today by the NLRB’s Solomon:

This is the outcome we have always preferred, and one that is typical for our agency. About 90% of meritorious NLRB cases are resolved as a result of agreements between the parties or settlements with the agency before the conclusion of litigation.

One of the stated goals of the National Labor Relations Act is to foster collective bargaining and productive labor-management relations. From the beginning of this case, and at every step in the process, we have encouraged the parties to find a mutually-acceptable resolution that protects the rights of workers under federal labor law.  The parties’ collective bargaining agreement, ratified this week, does just that…I am pleased that the collective bargaining process has succeeded and that the parties have begun a promising new chapter in their relationship.

IAM members ratified the new contract 74 percent.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on December 9, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Adele Stan is a journalist and lifelong member of the labor movement, reports on a timely forum on inequality and jobs at Georgetown University today.

Share this post

Restaurant Association, Big Bucks Donors Defeat Denver-Sick Days Measure for Low-Wage Workers

Share this post

adele_stan_140x140Advocates for working families in Denver had hoped to pass a measure in local elections that would have mandated paid sick leave for low-wage workers, but on Tuesday the measure was defeated by Denver voters, who were inundated with advertisements against the measure known as Initiative 300. Opposed by the National Restaurant Association and several local Chambers of Commerce, proponents of the family-friendly measure found themselves outspent by almost two-to-one.

On the Family Values @Work Web site, Executive Director Ellen Bravo writes:

Deep-pocketed may have defeated Initiative 300 in Denver, but they can’t stop the momentum for paid sick days around the country.

We salute the broad coalition in Denver, made up of 160 grassroots groups and business owners, who made visible the incredible need in their city for allowing workers to earn paid sick days. Thanks to the hard work of this coalition, the people of Denver have begun to make themselves heard.

Their voices will be magnified by groups across the country who will continue to add to the wins our movement has already achieved.

Read more on Initiative 300 here.

The blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now blog on November 2, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Adele Stan is a journalist and lifelong member of the labor movement, reports on a timely forum on inequality and jobs at Georgetown University today.

Share this post

When it Comes to Finding Workers, CEOs Suddenly Forget ‘Free Market’ Principles

Share this post

adele_stan_140x140Examining the complaints of some CEOs that they just can’t find qualified workers, economist Dean Baker lays waste to that argument on several fronts, most notably the CEOs’ apparent inability to apply the laws of supply and demand to fulfilling their stated workforce goals.

Baker, who co-directs the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), first crunches some data to show that, in fact, the ratio of unfilled jobs to employment is “down by almost a third from its pre-recession level,” Baker reports in a column titled, “A Generation of CEOs Who Don’t Know How to Raise Wages.” He writes:

According to standard economics, when businesses can’t fill job openings, they are supposed to offer higher wages. If these businesses offered higher wages, then they could lure away workers from their competitors…If these CEOs raised wages high enough, then these workers would be willing to work for their companies.


Since it would be rude to imply that CEOs are not being honest when they complain about the lack of skilled workers, we should assume that they don’t know how to raise wages. This is a problem that could be easily remedied. The government could offer short courses to CEOs and other top executives that would teach them how to raise wages and why this would be beneficial to their firms.

Of course, CEOs aren’t total strangers to methods of upping compensation packages — when it comes to their own, that is. The AFL-CIO annual PayWatch data shows that in 2010, CEOs of the largest companies received, on average, $11.4 million in total compensation last year.  Overall, CEOs of the 299 companies in the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch database received a combined total of $3.4 billion in pay in 2010, enough to support 102,325 jobs paying the median wages for all workers.

In 1964, the apex of performance of the economy, CEO pay relative to average wage-earners was 24 to 1. Now it is 340-1.

This blog originally appeared on AFL-CIO Now Blog on October 27, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Adele Stan is a journalist and lifelong member of the labor movement, reports on a timely forum on inequality and jobs at Georgetown University today.

Share this post

Creating Jobs the First Step to Ending Inequality in America

Share this post

adele_stan_140x140In Washington, D.C., as in dozens of other U.S. cities, the 99 percent movement is inescapable, even in the politest of venues, as demonstrated today at a forum titled “Jobs, Inequality, and the Role of  Government,” sponsored at the Georgetown Law School. The movement’s  chant, “We are the 99 percent,” is meant to draw the distinction between the average American and the top 1 percent who possess 42 percent of the nation’s  wealth.

Sponsored by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University and the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the forum brought together economists and academics with representatives of labor, the financial community and the Obama administration. The 99 percent movement, as represented by young people working with Occupy D.C. and the October 2011 protests, made its presence felt in  the question-and-answer session that followed opening remarks by  CWA President Larry Cohen, Goldman Sachs Senior Investment Strategist Abby Joseph, Cohen and Jason Furman, White House adviser and deputy director of the National Economic Council.

Cohen presented a series of slides that told a grim tale of the economic fate of the average American who, according to a analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has suffered virtually stagnant wages
while generating a nearly 200-percent growth in productivity. Cohen’s final chart suggested a major reason for the productivity/compensation disparity: compared with other major democracies, the U.S. lags far behind in collective bargaining coverage. Indeed, in a chart showing 10 major democracies – Germany,  Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. — the U.S. ranked dead last.

As the representative of  Goldman Sachs, which has become the poster child for corporate greed on both
the left and the right, Abby Joseph Cohen faced a polite, if skeptical, room.  Nonetheless, she made a
strong case for government investment in education, as well as research and development, and suggested that politicians design some new scheme for enticing corporations to bring back to the U.S. the $1.2 trillion in profits they’re holding overseas. She did concede, however, that the last time this was tried, via a tax holiday,  “it didn’t work out very well.”

The Goldman Sachs strategist expressed special concern for the drop in enrollment in science majors by U.S. college students, and suggested that the government had a role in preparing students  to enter those fields, which field the creation of jobs in manufacturing as  well as the service sectors.

As Jason Furman, one of the president’s economic advisers spoke, the Senate, he said, was scheduled to take up a vote  on the jobs bill proposed by President Barack Obama. The administration, he  said, was “hopeful” that the bill would pass, even as the consensus among political pulse-takers was that the bill would likely not make it out of the Senate.

If you want to do something about inequality, the first thing you want to something about is jobs.

Inequality is a pernicious ill, Furman implied, as it becomes a drag on economic growth and depresses participatory democracy. Even Alan Greenspan, he said, concedes that democratic capitalism is imperiled by

Furman suggested that although there are aspects of inequality that cannot be addressed immediately, there are others that can.  Among those things that government should address, he said, were the decline in unionization, allowing the expiration of tax cuts for the wealthy,and implementing the “Buffett rule” — that no one make $1 million or more should pay a lower tax rate than middle-class Americans.

Then came the audience’s turn. Sam Marrero, a young man who identified himself only as the winner of a Boren Fellowship, expressed surprise that no one on the panel had mentioned the Occupy Wall Street
movement, which is part of the 99 percent movement and is present in its Occupy K Street (or Occupy D.C.) at an encampment in McPherson Square Park, just blocks from the White House.
Marrero asked for the comments of Goldman Sachs’ Abby Joseph Cohen, who said all  she knew of
the movement was what she read in the newspapers, and suggested he speak with movement organizers.
Sam was followed at the mic by Allison Johnson, who counts herself as part of the Occupy D.C. movement and works directly with the anti-war October2011 protest, who asked how change could take place with the
Senate hopelessly deadlocked via rules that allow a minority to stop legislation in its tracks.

Cohen didn’t hesitate to take up the challenges issued by the 99-percenters. “It almost takes a new democracy movement” to rectify inequality, he said, adding that  his union is working with members of the Occupy Wall Street  movement.

After the session, Larry Cohen explained why he thought a mass ”new democracy” political movement, as represented by the 99-percenters, was critical to solving the inequality puzzle.

There’s almost no other direction for people to move in. I think we’re blocked [from enacting] any kind of federal legislation, with campaign finance, Senate rules and voter suppression. There’s almost no other direction for people to move in, you know?

He showed me a chart that was distributed  at the most recent CWA board meeting that called for a mass movement of 50 million Americans — enough to represent a majority of the electorate.

That’s what it’sgoing to take.

Both Marrero, whose Boren Fellowship took him to Egypt to study the labor movement there, and Allison
Johnson, who described herself as a Harvard-trained international political economist, are unemployed. Said Johnson:

There are unemployed Ivy League graduates all over this country, as well as unemployed working people. If you don’t have a job, it doesn’t matter that you went to Harvard University or Yale University or you didn’t finish high school…We’re all in the same boat.

This blog post originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on October 11, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Adele Stan is a journalist and lifelong member of the labor movement, reports on a timely forum on inequality and jobs at Georgetown University today.

Share this post

Subscribe For Updates

Sign Up:

* indicates required

Recent Posts

Forbes Best of the Web, Summer 2004
A Forbes "Best of the Web" Blog


  • Tracking image for JustAnswer widget
  • Find an Employment Lawyer

  • Support Workplace Fairness


Find an Employment Attorney

The Workplace Fairness Attorney Directory features lawyers from across the United States who primarily represent workers in employment cases. Please note that Workplace Fairness does not operate a lawyer referral service and does not provide legal advice, and that Workplace Fairness is not responsible for any advice that you receive from anyone, attorney or non-attorney, you may contact from this site.