It Is Always Darkest Before The Dawn…

It Is Always Darkest Before The Dawn…

As a result of the last election, we currently control the Senate, the House, and the Presidency. We have now been truly given a chance to really make some strides for the working people of America. My hope is they take full opportunity to now pass some long-needed assistance in Unionizing and rebuilding the Middle Class.

The last four years we have watched as the National Labor Relations Board was slowly being decimated by Peter Robb. This anti-union lawyer was hired by the Trump administration and has done everything he could to take away our rights to Organize. Joe Biden fired him on the first day of his Presidency and then fired his second in command Alice Stock on January 21st.

We have also gotten to see the realigning of Buy American. Which will ensure when your taxes are used for government purposes then American products and services will be utilized. There will be a new leader appointed here and the loopholes to the system will be closed. This will do way more than sanctions ever would.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “What about that shutting down of the Keystone pipeline.” To those folks, I say maybe you should look at the photos of the 410,000 gallons of spilled oil which was caused by that pipeline so far. Then ask yourself just how many jobs were lost. By the numbers I have been given it was about 1,000 lost jobs. Some Union and most not. Meanwhile we saved the environment and ensured a lot more work for the Teamsters who will be driving trucks to deliver the oil instead. Those trucking jobs were going to be gone after the pipeline was completed.

These are just a few things we have had happen so far. I believe we will finally get an infrastructure bill soon. We will also see more stimulus granted to help the working class. The Coronavirus is slowly getting better and will continue to lessen now that there is a Federal plan of containment. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

I honestly think we are about to see the rebuilding of the American Labor Unions. Groups like Amazon are already seeing people trying to Organize the facilities and this is going to catch on. The people are tired of not making a decent living and they know the only way to change it is to Unionize.

Many people have lost hope for the future. I have spoken with many young people lately and they are tired of the bullshit which has become the political norm for the last 20 years. They have spent their whole lives watching the government do nothing but fight between the two parties for control. This has inspired them to action.

I anticipate we will begin seeing the old rule leave and a new group of fresh new faces with fresh new ideas take over. The youth believe in this country, but they feel it has lost its way. They are ready for real changes and they believe in Unions. This country has always had a way of fixing its problems and the time has come for some real changes.

While I am excited about what the current office holders will do for us, I am even more excited for were we will be in 10 years. The attitudes and ideas I have heard from people under 25 have restored my faith in the future. We are on the dawn of a new generation. While it has been very dark times for our country lately, remember, “It is always darkest before the dawn”

(Dave Baker is Business Manager / F.S. – T. Iron Workers Local Union #44 and a member of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council Executive Board – davebakeronline@gmail.com)

“We are always stronger when we act collectively together”

“We are always stronger when we act collectively together”

In 1935, Congress passed, and President Franklin Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act (aka Wagner Act), the legal foundation for a new national labor policy, guaranteeing the right of private sector employees to organize into unions, engage in collective bargaining and participate in collective employment actions. Under this Act, the government would act as a neutral intermediary, to promote labor peace, protecting and balancing the rights of employers and workers, while promoting stronger labor-management relationships. In the midst of the Great Depression, massive economic inequalities and expanding Fascist and Communist dictatorships, the United States government decided that it served the best interests of our nation, our democracy, and our people, to have a national labor policy based on cooperation, collaboration, and collective bargaining. Utilizing this policy, we put people back to work, rebuilt our economy and country, won victory in the Second World War, and built the strongest, working/middle class citizenry in the history of the world.

Over the last forty years, anti-union corporations, far-right extremists and their political allies have continued their relentless attacks to weaken and dismantle the NLRA and national labor policy: politicizing the National Labor Relations Board; allowing Federal judges to create countless loopholes, exemptions and exceptions to the law; disproportionately favoring the rights of employers to the detriment of employees under the false claims of economic/individual freedom and so-called “free trade”. The consequential results speak for themselves: a rapidly declining American middle class; corporations closing American factories and moving production overseas; a U.S. trade deficit of more than $679 Billion dollars (2020); parents having to work 2-4 jobs with longer hours, less pay and benefits to support their struggling families; lower jobs/economic opportunities for our children; lower union membership/density; and, finally, a weaker United States of America, trying to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and facing greater challenges/threats from other rising world powers (China, Russia, etc.).

In 2021, our country is ready for change and an economic revitalization; to strengthen our national labor policy and bring it into the 21st century: Congress must pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, and the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. These federal laws will bring back a new, fairer balance of employer-employee rights; promote strong labor-management relationships and collective bargaining; hold bad employers both responsible and accountable for their unlawful actions against workers; bring renewed hope, jobs and economic opportunities to millions of American working families and future generations; and finally, these laws will help to rebuild America and make our nation stronger and more united.

Sisters and Brothers, if there is one lesson to be learned over the last forty years, it is this simple truth: We are always stronger when we act collectively together.  So please, on behalf of yourself, your family, and your union sisters and brothers throughout the country, join our collective action campaign and contact Congressman Steve Chabot, Congressman Ben Wenstrup, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and U.S. Senator Rob Portman, and demand that they stand up for all working Americans by co-sponsoring and voting for the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, and the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.

Thank you, and may God’s Blessings be with all working American families throughout 2021… In Solidarity, U and I…

(Peter M. McLinden Esq. is a proud member of AFSCME Local 2461/Union Township, and Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council – pmclinden@cincinnatiaflcio.org)

Are “WE’’ Willing To “Buy-In”?

Are “WE’’ Willing To “Buy-In”?

Definition of “buy-in.” Acceptance of and willingness to actively support and participate in something (such as a proposed new plan or policy or organization such as a labor union) Without buy-in from his troops, Gruden’s just another tuned-out coach. — Tim Keown

I heard this story about a football coach that was passionate about having his players tuck in their shirts. Of course, the players really questioned him and pushed back on tucking in their shirt. They asked him, “Is tucking in my shirt going to help me score more touchdowns? Will tucking in my shirt help me run faster?” And, of course, the coach responded, “No… it’s for buy in.”

This coach was testing the commitment level of his players. Are they willing to do whatever it takes? Are they willing to show everyone that they trust the team? Are they willing to cut the life raft and go down with the ship? Are they “buying in”? Or will they send the message to their teammates that they are not willing to simply tuck in their shirt.

Brothers and Sisters,

As members of Local 392, or any other organization that we are members of, the story is almost always the same. Those organizations are continually looking for members who “buy in” to whatever the organization advocates for. If you are a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars or Disabled American Veterans you advocate on behalf of veterans of the United States military. If you are a member of a Kiwanis club you advocate on behalf of children and local communities. As a member of several organizations over the past 54 years of my life it is no secret that many of them are struggling to attract new members or to retain existing members. As the Business Manager of Local 392 this is something that concerns me deeply because at times it feels like many of our own members are not “buying in” to what we as a labor union advocate for every day.

It is no secret why teams are successful whether it is at the grade school, high school, college, or professional level. Success of an organization is always tied to the level of “buy in” from its members, Local 392 is no different. Whenever we speak to new apprentices at orientation, whenever we speak to new members who come to us through organizing, whenever we speak to members who have been with local 392 for any length of time our message is always the same, “Local 392 NEEDS our members to “buy in” to the mission of the United Association which has always been to help our members build a better life for themselves and their families. For over 130 years, this has been the cornerstone of who we are and what we stand for. Even as our organization and the world have grown and evolved, we have not changed in our commitment to the following core values, 1. The highest standards in training, 2. The health and safety of our members, 3. Fair wages and benefits, 4. Building industry relationships with our partner contractors and the end users who utilize them.

As your elected leaders of local 392 our ability to advocate for our members and all workers will only be effective if we have “buy in” from you.

The next union meeting will be on March 12th, 2021 @ 7 P.M. at the Local 392 JATC. Please remember that you are responsible for keeping your dues and drug card current.

(Bill Froehle is Business Manager for Plumbers, Pipefitters & Mechanical Equipment Service Local Union No. 392 and President of Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council – bill@local392.com )

Take Action To Build Back Better With Unions

Take Action To Build Back Better With Unions

Outdated labor laws have hampered our fundamental right to join together and negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act will empower America’s workers and make our economy work for working people.

Click here to call your members of Congress and tell them to pass the PRO Act now!

The House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act last year, but anti-worker legislators in the Senate blocked it. Undeterred, working people fought to elect pro-worker lawmakers to the Senate, House and White House. And we won. We thank Senator Sherrod Brown and Representatives Tim Ryan, Joyce Beatty and Marcy Kaptur for signing on as co-sponsors. Now is the time to put pressure on our Republican Representatives to stand up for working people.

Lawmakers gave us their word they would make the PRO Act a top priority. It’s time for them to keep that promise. You can read my statement on the bi-partisan introduction of the PRO Act here.

The PRO Act is the cornerstone of the AFL-CIO’s Workers First Agenda. If it passes, it would:

Empower workers to organize and bargain.

Hold corporations accountable for union-busting.

Repeal “right to work” laws, which were created during the Jim Crow era to keep White and Black workers from unionizing together.

Stronger unions mean higher wages, safer working conditions and dignity for all people who work. The PRO Act is our first step to get there.

Click here and we’ll connect you to your member of Congress: Tell them to vote “yes” on the PRO Act.

In Solidarity,

Tim Burga, President

Ohio AFL-CIO

 

 

MEDIA ADVISORY FROM OCSEA: Union Cries Foul Over More Privatization of ODJFS

The union representing State of Ohio employees who handle unemployment claims is crying foul after the announcement by Governor DeWine that the administration will hire yet another private contractor to “take over” unemployment insurance.

Leaders of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association say hiring another contractor is not the answer. In fact, the contracting out of unemployment claims is the major reason claims processing in the Ohio Department of Job and Family (ODJFS) Services has fallen so far behind, says the union.

Multiple ODJFS private contractors hired since the pandemic have caused an unprecedented number of overpayments and fraud claims, which has slowed down the whole unemployment process.

Alarmingly, a data breach with at least one of those vendors has caused the number of fraud claims to spin out of control. Now, existing ODJFS staff are having to keep up and clean up.

Those developments have had a ripple effect within the agency, causing existing unemployment staff to work overtime to try to keep up with fraud claims and overpayments—in addition to performing their regular work of processing unemployment claims. For months, ODJFS unemployment staff have been working up to 14 hours per day as well as weekends to keep up with the workload.

Due to the fraud alone, state unemployment staff must now verify and double check every claim as well as address new appeals of claims, which has also risen in number. All of these things have stalled the unemployment process.

“The slow-down of unemployment claims rests squarely on the shoulders of these private vendors,” said OCSEA President Chris Mabe.

But the agency’s problems go back many years, says the union. OCSEA leadership had been pressing the agency even before the pandemic to hire more full time staff. Between 2011 and 2019, the agency lost nearly 600 full-time unemployment claims specialists, so were already short-staffed going into the health crisis.

The outsourcing of unemployment duties to unskilled, untrained staff has made the problems exponentially worse.

“This is at least a two-part problem. On the one hand, even before the pandemic, staff in the unemployment division in ODJFS was bare bones,” said OCSEA President Chris Mabe. “Secondly, private vendors from other states and countries, hired at a cost of at least $20 million dollars to the taxpayer, have made the problems much worse,” he said.

Despite these difficulties, state unemployment workers have paid out an unprecedented $16 billion dollars to 1.7 million claimants in less than a year. “Our members in ODJFS have done a remarkable job in the face of these challenges,” said Mabe.

An outdated computer system at the agency, which Governor DeWine has recognized, is only part of the problem, according to the union. The other is the long-term lack of investment in the agency and the continued use of unskilled private contractors.

OCSEA leaders believe the unemployment process could be dealt with from within the agency using existing staff and smarter work processes.

“We’ve been down this road during the Great Recession,” said Mabe. “We did it then, we can do it now. It’s still a lot of work, but it can be done,” he said.

“Privatization is often government’s default position during a crisis,” said Mabe. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction that appears easier at first, but, ultimately, is much more costly. We need a measured, thoughtful approach that invests in existing, skilled staff, that brings us all to the table and maps out a path forward with all stakeholders. We are willing and able to do that,” he said.

###

OCSEA represents approximately 27,000 state and local government employees who work in a wide range of security, regulatory, administrative, direct care, maintenance, customer service and other positions, including 2,188 employees in the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services. For more information, contact Sally Meckling, 614-865-2602 or 614-404-3881 (cell).

MEDIA ADVISORY: JUDGE ALLEN RULES AGAINST TEACHERS and STUDENT SAFETY

MEDIA ADVISORY: JUDGE ALLEN RULES AGAINST TEACHERS and STUDENT SAFETY

For Immediate Release: FEBRUARY 1, 2021
Contact: President Julie Sellers, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers Email: jsellers@cft-aft.org Phone: (513) 961-2272

CFT was disappointed to receive Judge Lisa Allen decision denying CFT’s request to delay in-person instruction until an
arbitrator could decide the union’s health and safety grievance. The Judge failed to recognize the union’s fundamental
right to enforce the terms of its contract with CPS. The contract requires CPS to co-operate with CFT on safety issues
and gives union members the right to file grievances contesting unsafe working conditions.
CFT will examine its legal remedies in light of the court’s decision today.

In the meantime, CFT will continue to fight for the health and safety of its members and the entire CPS community. In
person instruction is scheduled to begin tomorrow for some of our students. We have advised our members that each of
them must make their own personal decision on whether they should risk COVID infection by ignoring state health
guidelines to minimize contacts with others while our county remains in the “Red”. They and the parents of our students
must consider their own health conditions, and the conditions of their family members in making the decision on
whether to report to school.

We are disappointed that unlike the Columbus School District, CPS has so far declined to extend the FFCRA COVID leave
options previously available under federal law. As a result, if our members get infected or are required to quarantine
because of COVID exposure while at school, they will have to take their own sick leave, if they have any left.
We know many CPS families are also concerned about whether they can safely return their children to school under
these circumstances. We appreciate the support many parents have shown for wanting our members to be effectively
vaccinated before returning to in person instruction.

We had hoped to collaborate with CPS so we could assure our members and the entire community that our schools are
as safe as possible before children return to class. Unfortunately, the Board chose to ignore the concerns of teachers,
staff and many CPS parents. As a result we cannot assure our members or parents that schools will be safe as they
reopen starting tomorrow and in coming weeks.

###

The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals who champions the social and economic wellbeing
of our members, Cincinnati’s children, families, working people and communities. We are committed to
advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political
activism and especially through our members’ work.