This Thanksgiving, Help Strikers at Kohler

WI AFL-CIO
Brothers and Sisters,

As you know, the workers of UAW Local 833 at Kohler have been on strike for over a week. On Sunday, November 15, workers took a strike vote with 94% voting to strike.

We, as labor brothers and sisters, must do our part to help them in their fight. We must stand strong in solidarity.

At issue, is a two-tier wage system.

At the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, we will keep you updated as things develop.

Thanksgiving is just two days away. Workers will be walking the picket line on Thanksgiving Day. It would be a great show of support to join them Thursday in solidarity.

These are things that we all can do to help our brothers and sisters at UAW Local 833.

Join the picket line anytime including Thanksgiving Day at the Clock Tower, 444 Highland Drive, Kohler, and stand in solidarity with the families of UAW Local 833.
Donate to the Kohler UAW 833 Workers Relief Fund

 

Sign the petition calling on Herbert and David Kohler to return to the negotiating table, give fair and equal treatment to their employees, and move away from the two-tier wage structure.
Donate to the food bank.
Donate wood and fire wood for burn barrels to help keep strikers warm in the Wisconsin winter.  Food and wood donations can be dropped off at:

Emil Mazey Hall
5425 Superior Avenue
Sheboygan, WI 53083

The entire labor movement proudly stands with Kohler workers as they fight for fair wages for all workers and a strong middle class for America.

In Solidarity,

Phil Neuenfeldt, President

Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer

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LA FEDERAZIONE INTERNAZIONALE DEI SERVIZI PUBBLICI CONDANNA I BRUTALI ATTACCHI CON LE BOMBE

La PSI condanna il brutale attacco con le bombe di questa mattina ( ieri per chi legge) , uccidendo 69 persone e ferendo 250 pacificisti che sfilavano ad Ankara. Gli affiliati della PSI , DISK e KESK partecipavano alla manifestazione pacifista per chiedere la fine delle violenze che si succedono tra i ribelli Kurdi e le forze di sicurezza Turche.

“C’e’stato un massacro nel centro di Ankara, ha detto Lami Ozgen, Segretario della Confederazione dei servizi pubblici, KESK . 2 bombe sono esplose a breve distanza. La Polizia sta ostacolando l’accesso alle autombulanze per i feriti”.

Le esplosioni si sono succedute vicino alla stazione ferroviaria di Ankara dove 100.000 persone si stavano riunendo per partecipare alla manifestazione organizzata dal settore dei lavoratori dei servizi pubblici nel paese. Non era chiaro ( subito dopo l’attentato, per chi legge ) se si trattasse di kamikaze. L’attacco avviene a qualche settimana dalle elezioni generali del 1 Novembre
Rosa Pavanelli, Segretaria Generale della PSI, ha dichiarato :

“Chiediamo al governo Turco di dare immediata assistenza alle vittime degli attacchi alle bombe avvenuti ad Ankara, e di fermare gli attacchi alla popolazione kurda. Ieri il premio Nobel per la pace e’stato attribuito al Quartetto Tunisino per il Dialogo Nazionale, incluso il sindacato UGTT. Questo e’un esempio che il governo turco dovrebbe prendere molto seriamente, ed aprire il dialogo con i sindacati e le organizzazioni democratiche per fermare la spirale di violenza e discriminazione che sta avvelenando il paese ».
Pavanelli continua  « Questo e’il messaggio che le delegazioni dei sindacati che parteciperanno ai prossimi eventi del GFMD e L20 dovrebbero trasmettere alla Turchia, chiedendo al governo turco di rispettare i sindacati e proteggere le minoranze ».
La PSI esprime la sua solidarieta’ e sincere condiglianze alle vittime e alle loro famiglie.

La CES : Il cuore dei sindacalisti con le vittime dell’attentato di Ankara

Luca Visentini, Segretario Generale della Confederazione Europea dei Sindacati , ha dichiarato sabato pomeriggio : ’I cuori ed i pensieri di tutti i sindacalisti sono con le persone decedute e ferite a seguito di questo terribile attentato ad Ankara. Esprimiamo tutta la nostra solidarieta’ alle vittime , alle loro famiglie ed ai loro cari »

Visentini ha condannato l’ assassinio a sangue freddo dei partecipanti alla manifestazione per la pace organizzata da affiliati della CES, i sindacati turchi DISK e KESK. « E’ un attacco feroce contro i sindacati e contro la pace. I responsabili non hanno alcun rispetto per la vita umana »

Il Segretario Generale della CES ha espresso preoccupazione per il fatto che la polizia abbia attaccato coloro che cercavano di aiutare le vittime, e ostacolato i servizi di emergenza nel raggiungere il luogo delle esplosioni.

Ha aggiunto : ” Ieri il Premio Nobel per la Pace e’stato dato a coloro che in Tunisia, compreso il movimento sindacale, hanno creato un dialogo nazionale contribuendo ad una pacifica transizione della democrazia. Oggi in Turchia vediamo l’assassinio a sangue freddo di coloro che chiedono la pace.

Nel corso della loro storia i sindacati hanno subito attacchi fisici, verbali e legali per difendere i lavoratori. L’attacco di oggi e’ un episodio particolarmente sanguinoso ed orribile. Ma i sindacati non saranno intimiditi e noi non ci fermeremo nel rappresentare i bisogni della classe lavoratrice. Tutti i sindacalisti sono con DISK e KESK »

La CSI condanna l’atroce attacco terrorista in Turchia

La CSI- Confederazione Sindacale Internazionale- ha condannato l’atroce attacco terrorista in Turchia dove sono morte 86 persone ( al momento in cui si scrive) e ferite 186 persone . 2 bombe sono esplose durante una manifestazione pacifista ad Ankara organizzata dai sindacati turchi e dalla societa’civile .

Sharan Burrow, Segretario Generale della CSI, ha dichiarato ”I nostri pensieri sono innanzitutto con le famiglie di coloro che hanno perso la loro vita e con i feriti. Questo attacco inferto al tessuto stesso della societa’civile aveva come obiettivo quello di intimidire e chiudere la bocca di tutti colori che amano la pace. La CSI estende tutta la sua solidarieta’ai nostri affiliati turchi, che hanno senza sosta e senza paura lavorato per la pace, la democrazia e i diritti di tutti.

2 esplosioni, apparentemente causate da kamikaze , si sono succedute una dietro l’altra . Le autorita’turche sono state pesantemente criticate per le azioni delle forze di sicurezza, che hanno bloccato l’accesso dei servizi medici alle vittime, e usato gas lacrimogeni per disperdere la manifestazione pacifica.

Chiediamo una piena, trasparente e indipendente indagine su tutte le circostanze dell’attacco e delle sue conseguenze »ha dichiarato Burrow, parlando da Sao Paolo dove la CSI sta tenendo il suo Consiglio Generale annuale.

La IUF condanna le bombe di Ankara come un attacco terroristico al lavoro, alla pace e alla democrazia.

2 esplosioni poco prima dell’ inizio della Marcia per “ il Lavoro, Pace e Democrazia” ad Ankara, Turchia, il 10 ottobre, hanno causato 86 morti ( al momento in cui scriviamo) con centinaia di feriti . I 2 sindacati, DISK e la Federazione dei Servizi pubblic KESK , rappresentanti anche dottori ed architetti, erano tra gli organizzatori. I 2 sindacati hanno convocato uno sciopero di 2 giorni a cominciare da lunedi per condannare l’attacco e permettere alla popolazione di partecipare ai funerali.La IUF si unisce al lutto delle famiglie, dei colleghi ed amici delle vittime.
Violenza e criminalizzazione del dissenso democratico si sono intensificati in Turchia dopo che lo sfondamento elettorale del Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP ha contrastato i piani del Presidente Erdogan nell’installare un esecutivo di governo autoritario. Le bombe del 10 Ottobre marcano una nuova ancora piu’pericolosa escalation
Il successo elettorale del HDP non ha solo bloccato i piani del partito al governo per accrescere la presa istituzionale del potere ; ma il HDP ha rappresentato una grande sfida all’intero sistema, come alternativa , con una larga base democratica, ai metodi e discorsi classici dell’AKP e dei suoi alleati.

Bombe e violenza di massa hanno percorso la campagna elettorale, con Erdogan che denigrava l’opposizione come ‘terrorista,marginale, gay e atea’. Non ci sono state azioni penali. I giri di vite aggressivi e retorici del dissenso democratico e gli attacchi alle liberta’civili si sono intensificati dopo le elezioni, in preparazione del voto di Novembre. Le bombe di Ankara hanno avuto un lungo periodo di incubazione
Il governo ha condannato le bombe e richiesto una indagine, ma il tutto nel quadro della’guerra al terrore’che ha neutralizzato il criticismo dei governi occidentali rispetto ai metodi violenti ed autoritari del governo stesso.Nessuno dovrebbe trattenere il respiro.La protezione della polizia e’mancata mentre la preparazione della Marcia cominciava ;dopo le esplosioni testimoni hanno confermato che la polizia ha usato gas lacrimogeni e cannoni d’acqua contro i dimostranti, impedendo immediate cure mediche per i feriti e i morenti .
La IUF esprime la sua piena solidarieta’e sostegno alle sorelle e fratelli in Turchia. E’ questo il momento per il sindacato , ovunque esso sia , di insistere perche’ogni possibile pressione internazionale sia esercitata sulla Turchia per assicurare che il governo provveda alla sicurezza di tutti i cittadini e al rispetto dei diritti fondamentali.

Statement on a meeting of trade unions held on 7 September 2015, Johannesburg

A significant number of trade unions and federations – FEDUSA and NACTU – met in Johannesburg on 7 September 2015 to analyse the state of the trade union movement in South Africa today, and to assess the prospects of achieving unity.

The meeting noted that while ‘Unity is Strength’ has been a watchword for all federations and many independent unions for decades, the reality is that the movement has become increasingly fragmented and weak, because:

–      There are 180 registered trade unions

–      70% of all workers are not in any union

–      Union membership is largely amongst the higher paid, permanent, directly employed workers

–      Many unions are divided and splintering

–      There is a reserve army of labour

The meeting agreed that such fragmentation leads to less power for the workers, at a time when they face unprecedented threats of mass retrenchments and attacks on union rights. Weak unions are also bad for democracy in the country as a whole, as it confronts the quadruple challenge of mass unemployment, deepening poverty, widening inequality and burgeoning corruption.

All the organisations present were happy with this initiative and fully endorsed the urgent need for strong, democratic and worker-controlled trade unions and a, united and independent national union movement, aligned with community struggles and with national campaigns against corruption and for better health and education services, a decent national minimum wage and an end to retrenchments.

The meeting discussed how to unite all workers around a minimum programme of action and to plan for a Workers Summit which will take this forward in a more detailed way.  It was also agreed, in the best traditions of union democracy and accountability, that each organisation required a firm mandate from its members before deciding on the best way forward to achieving these aims before taking decisions on specific ways to achieve them.

It was agreed to establish a steering committee, with one representative from each of the organisations present, to plan for a Worker’ Summit and chart the way forward. It was also agreed to reach out to other unions not present.

The meeting also agreed to mobilise the workers in force for the Unite Against Corruption March on 30th September and stressed that this campaign was against all forms of corruption in the public and private sectors and the inherently corrupt capitalist system.

For further information Patrick Craven on 061 636 6057

If you care about your privacy and use Gmail, read this

by Eric Lee

I recently read Dave Eggers’ new novel, The Circle, which describes a world in which a Facebook-Google-like company takes over people’s lives and brings about a complete end to privacy. Some would describe the book as being visionary, or a warning. I think it actually didn’t go far enough.

Increasingly, we live in a world without privacy.

Millions of us wear devices that track our every step (I use FitBit for that) and we record every morsel of food we eat (my food diary of choice these days is MyNetDiary). We use web browsers or even computers (such as Chromebooks) that track our every step on the net, every term we have ever searched for, every byte we have ever downloaded.

Soon, we’ll have Google Glasses and driverless cars and countless other bits of hardware and software that turn our lives into an open book. And that’s a book which is open not to the security services of governments which we, in the end, elect, but to the data mining departments at faceless, privately-owned giant corporations which are accountable to no one.

One could withdraw from all this, close down accounts on Facebook and Twitter, get rid of that FitBit, and ditch the mobile phone which can pinpoint exactly where we are at any moment. Or one could take some simple steps that would radically improve one’s privacy without totally disconnecting from everything.

An easy one is Gmail.

I’ve ditched it and you can too.

When Gmail came on the scene, it was an exceptionally good web-based email client, and those of us who were using Hotmail (later purchased by Microsoft) or Yahoo Mail, eventually moved over to Google’s service. There was, however, one tiny little problem with Gmail.

It exists for just one reason: to help Google make money. Google is not in business to make the world a better place (OK, they say they are, but they’re lying). They are in business to make a profit. Gmail is a very important part of their business model.

They give it away for free (mostly), and crushed the competition by giving away more gigabytes of storage than anyone else.

Millions of us signed up to use it. And we discovered, if we were paying attention, how Google benefited from this: they data mine our emails. We turn over the content of our address books and our emails, including attachments, to Google, and in exchange they mine the data to find ways to sell us things.

If Google knows that you are discussing having a holiday in Spain with your friends and family, it will helpfully show you advertisements promoting various Spanish-related holiday deals — on the same screen as you see your emails.

Google will say in its defense that no one at Google reads your emails. That’s also a lie. While there are no slave-labouring children chained to their desks in Burma while they read your emails, there are massive server farms with countless thousands of powerful computers — and they are reading your emails.

That’s how Google makes it money from Gmail — by selling your most private information to anyone willing to pay for it, in order to sell you a product or service.

Now Google is not alone in doing this, and Facebook is possibly an even more egregious violator of your private space. Facebook’s business model is also to sell your information to advertisers, and they’re very good at this.

But the difference between using Gmail and using Facebook is an important one: if you quit Facebook, you lose access to all your friends and contacts who are, for better or worse, using the space.

But if you quit Gmail, you can move to an alternative web-based email platform and keep all your emails, all your contacts, as if nothing changed.

You use Facebook (and Twitter and LinkedIn and other social networks) to stay in touch with people who are part of closed digital ecosystems.

But you use Gmail as one of many possible email clients and quitting Gmail doesn’t mean you stop using email.

I’ve seen the difference between using Gmail and using a service that you may have to pay for (but which doesn’t run ads) summed up in this way: for Google, you are not a client, you are an asset.

I’d rather be a client than an asset. Let me explain why.

I’d rather pay a small amount of money to not see any ads — and more important to protect my privacy from the prying eyes of private corporations aiming to know me better in order to sell me more.

Most of the web-based email services out there are not much better than Gmail when it comes to privacy. But many of them acknowledge the privacy issues raised by Gmail’s practice.

When Microsoft launched Outlook.com as a replacement for Hotmail, it challenged Google on this very issue. In an online table comparing their service to Google’s and Yahoo’s, Microsoft writes that Outlook.com (unlike Gmail and Yahoo Mail) “doesn’t serve targeted ads based on email contents”.

But of course Microsoft is hardly to be trusted with one’s privacy any more than Google is. And one of the “advantages” of using it, they claim, is its tight integration with Facebook, Skype and Twitter. In other words, sharing your personal information across all those platforms rather than letting Google have it. Why do I not feel any more secure reading this?

If you don’t want to be anyone’s “asset” and are willing to pay a company a small amount of money to provide you with a web-based email service, here are the things you should be looking at:

  • How much would it cost?
  • What’s the company’s policy — and record — on privacy?
  • Can I easily migrate all my Gmail contacts and content (emails I’ve sent and received) to the new service?

The service I’ve chosen is Fastmail — an Australian based company that’s been around for 15 years, longer than Gmail.

For a time it was owned by Opera, the Norwegian browser company, but became independent recently as its original owners bought it back.

Here’s how Fastmail stacks up on the issues I raised above:

Cost: The most basic plan is just $10 per year, but that wouldn’t be very useful if you’re a serious email user. I am a very serious user, and I’ve gone for the Enhanced Plan — $40 per year, for which I receive 15 GB of email storage. All my emails in recent years total up to barely a third of that, so it’s plenty of room for most people. So I’m paying £2.00 a month for the privilege of privacy — and for a first-class, extremely fast and intuitive email server.

Fastmail’s privacy: This is a company that really does take privacy seriously. They not only show you no ads and sell your information to no one, but their website goes on at some length about privacy laws in Australia and much more. While there is no guarantee that they will be 100% better than Google, they’re already a lot better by not selling your information to anyone.

Migrating from Gmail: I admit that this had me worried. But actually, Fastmail has a one-click IMAP migration button. You basically tell it your email address on Gmail and your password there, and it goes to work. When it’s done, it sends you an email telling you how many emails it’s imported and where (into which folders) it has put them. It was completely painless. For the handful of people who may write to me at my old Gmail address (see more on this below), I’ve simply instructed Gmail to forward my mail to Fastmail, which it does.

But wouldn’t I have to inform everyone that I no longer have a Gmail address?

I don’t recommend that people use email addresses given to them by their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or web-based email companies. We need the flexibility to change ISPs and change web-based email providers whenever we want to. That’s why my own email address isn’t a Fastmail address or a Gmail address — it’s a labourstart.org address and I’ve had the same one for some 16 years, even though I’ve used a wide range of ISPs and web-based email companies over those years. Getting one’s own domain name is relatively cheap and if you can afford it, set up a permanent email address that will stay with you for life.

I’ve used Fastmail on and off in the past, but am committed to it now and encourage everyone who’s using Gmail, Outlook.com or Yahoo Mail to consider making the shift.

Click here to learn more.

PSC-CUNY Contract Update & Other News

CONTRACT UPDATE

August 11, 2014 

Momentum is growing in negotiations for a new contract, with two formal bargaining sessions and several subcommittee meetings held during the last month.  Both PSC and CUNY management representatives have expressed a commitment to reaching a settlement as expeditiously as possible, given that several other public-employee unions in the city have already completed bargaining.

Adjunct Health Agreement a Victory for All
A major advance occurred last week, when the union won our 14-year campaign to transfer responsibility for adjunct health insurance from the Welfare Fund to the University. The adjunct agreement means that one of the union’s major goals for this round of bargaining—equity in health benefits for adjuncts—has already been largely achieved.  It also means that in these contract negotiations, unlike many in the past, we do not start with a crisis in the Welfare Fund to resolve.  The agreement helps to stabilize the finances of the Welfare Fund, which provides supplemental health benefits to faculty and professional staff.  It is a material as well as a moral victory for all of us.

Productive Discussions, But No Economic Offer Yet
Discussions at the bargaining table have been productive, as have the discussions in smaller subcommittee meetings on specific contract issues.  In this round of bargaining, the labor and management negotiating teams have agreed to do some preliminary work in subcommittees in order to make progress quickly.  The two formal sessions in July focused on management’s preliminary response to our demands, the union’s response to theirs, and the PSC’s detailed presentation of certain demands.

CUNY management representatives acknowledged the importance of raising salaries, especially after the long wait for this contract.  On the other hand, they stressed that they will have to work within an economic package approved by both the City and the State.  CUNY contracts typically take longer to resolve than those of many other public-sector unions.

The union bargaining team understands that dynamic, but we also know that PSC members cannot wait much longer for a raise.  We have pressed CUNY management to make an economic offer—one that will lift salaries and provide financial relief to our members.  Management has not put an offer on the table, but we have had promising discussions of economic needs.

Bargaining Sessions
The PSC presentations at the bargaining table have focused on the urgent need for salary increases, and at the same time the importance of addressing other longstanding needs. The union continues to raise four overarching priorities: the need for more competitive salaries, especially given that CUNY recruits nationally; the need for a more reasonable teaching load for full-time faculty; the need for HEOs to be able to advance in their careers; and the need for progress toward equity and fairness for adjuncts.  We recognize that these will be difficult to achieve at a time of continued austerity politics and limited collective bargaining settlements, but the quality of education at CUNY depends on the quality of our working conditions. CUNY will not be competitive nationally—or reach its full potential for the people of New York—if it does not invest in its entire faculty and staff.

The union has also begun detailed presentation of specific demands.  At the July 30 session, library faculty representatives made a compelling presentation on the need for equity with other faculty in annual leave and research time. The PSC bargaining team is working with other groups to prepare presentations of specific demands.  Meanwhile, we have indicated to CUNY management that we are willing to work with certain proposals they have made, but that we will not compromise on fundamental issues, such as the preservation of salary steps—rather than management’s proposal of discretionary increases under the control of college presidents.

 (If you would like to attend a negotiating session, tell us by sending a message here. The PSC bargaining team will do our best to accommodate you.  With some preliminary negotiations occurring in subcommittee meetings, however, there may be fewer formal bargaining sessions than in the past.)

Next Steps
Contracts are won by the power of the union members, not by the bargaining team.  The PSC bargaining team will need your help as negotiations intensify or if we need to call for movement on economics.  Please be ready to join in speaking up for our needs and fighting for a contract worthy of the work we do.  The PSC has seen before, and we will see again, that our collective pressure on management works.

Barbara Bowen
President, PSC/CUNY

CUNY will receive extra NYS funding to provide health insurance for adjuncts

The Professional Staff Congress and The City University of New York have reached a landmark agreement with the City of New York on inclusion of eligible CUNY adjuncts in the New York City Health Benefits Program. The agreement provides regularized health insurance for an important part of the CUNY teaching workforce and contributes to stabilizing the finances of the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund.

Extending health insurance to this significant group of part-time employees at CUNY has required the vision and persistence of many partners, said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken and PSC/CUNY President Barbara Bowen. “We thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, legislative leaders, budget and labor relations offices and the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund for their critical roles in making this agreement possible,” they said.

Adjunct health insurance has been provided by the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund for several decades, through funds negotiated in collective bargaining. As the number of adjuncts grew and the costs of health care skyrocketed, however, the burden on the Welfare Fund escalated to an untenable level, necessitating stop-gap measures to maintain the Fund’s solvency.

The PSC, including the affected adjuncts, vigorously advocated for equitable adjunct health insurance. The University responded, and successfully sought and obtained additional funding from New York State to provide support for adjunct health insurance. Shortly thereafter, the University and the PSC entered into negotiations regarding the benefit and began working with the City of New York to allow coverage for eligible adjuncts to be transferred from the Welfare Fund to the City Health Benefits Program. During the negotiations, the Welfare Fund Trustees voted to extend the adjunct health insurance coverage through September 30, 2014.

“This accomplishment assures equitable access to health insurance, which will profoundly affect the lives of dedicated adjuncts, many of whom have been teaching core courses for decades. Qualified CUNY adjuncts will now be able to receive their basic health insurance through the City Health Benefits Program, on an equitable basis with full-time CUNY employees,” Bowen and Milliken said.

Qualified adjuncts may enroll in the City Health Benefits Program effective October 1, 2014; the University has established a deadline of September 19 for enrollment through college human resources offices. The University will provide additional funding to the Welfare Fund to enable it to continue to provide coverage until October 1.

AFSCME DISTRICT COUNCIL 37 MEMBERS OVERWHELMINGLY RATIFY CONTRACT

By an overwhelming 96 percent, members of District Council 37 ratified a new economic agreement, Executive Director Lillian Roberts announced today. It gives employees 10.41 percent in compounded wage hikes and maintains basic health and welfare benefits with no additional out-of-pocket costs. The pact covers the period from March 3, 2010 to July 2, 2017.

 

The seven-year, four-month agreement passed with over 96 percent voting yes, according to tallies by the American Arbitration Association. Of the approximate 88,000 eligible members, 45,561 voted yes and only 1,673 voted no.

 

“I want to thank all the members for their overwhelming support for this contract,” said Ms. Roberts. “This just shows what is possible, even in a difficult economic climate, when you have a union that does its research and finds real savings for the city and an administration willing to listen and treat employees with respect. In addition, this contract contains a ground-breaking Joint Recruitment and Promotion Committee, which addresses inequities and increases promotional opportunities for public employees, the majority of whom are women and people of color.” Additionally, it includes a gain-sharing proposal which lets workers benefit from mutually agreed upon cost-saving strategies.

 

The tentative agreement was reached on July 2. The ratification vote was conducted in accordance with the DC 37 Constitution, which mandates that all union-wide contract votes be conducted by an independent third party.

 

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District Council 37 is New York City’s largest public employee union, with 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees.