Thursday, June 28, 2012

WHAT HAPPENED TODAY IN PLAIN ENGLISH



After a preliminary reading of the ruling, this is what we at the Voice Reporter have come up with:

The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. 

However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters-- because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding. Got it?

SCOTUS UPHOLDS AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE ACT; CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS IN MAJORITY

Supporters of the Affordable Heathcare Act gather in front of the Supreme
Court this morning before today's decision was made public. photo: Joshua Roberts
Washington, D.C.-- In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obama’s landmark legislative achievement.

The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax.
The decision came as a sharp rebuff and disappointment to congressional Republicans, many of whom had expected the court to strike down at least some parts of the law.
Passage of the law in 2010 had come at a high political cost, with 14 House Democrats in competitive districts losing their seats in the 2010 elections in part due to their votes for the bill and six Democratic Senate candidates who’d voted for the bill also lost their elections in 2010.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ANOTHER SAD DAY FOR AMERICA AND COMMON SENSE CAMPAIGN REFORM

Rochester, N.Y. -- Yesterday was an incredibly busy news day, most of it coming from the Supreme Court rulings. Setting aside the carnival-barking aspects of the Jan Brewer speech and Arizona’s SB1070 decisions, what really caught our attention is what happened in the state of Montana.
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Montana case challenging Citizens United. The same 5 conservative justices who swept away decades of case law when they first ruled on Citizens United, now continue to destroy any and all forms of common sense campaign reform.

We at the Voice Reporter have lost all faith in the judicial branch of government—especially with the SCOTUS. The justices are just as politically partisan as your average County Legislator— the only differences being the justices have colossal egos to manage.
We are rapidly becoming a nation owned by the super-rich and governed by the super-rich. We can now expect what the people of Montana fought so hard to prevent: widespread corruption as the moneyed interests buy government piece by piece. Already this election has been defined by Super PACs pouring millions of dollars into attack ads to protect the agenda of their anonymous donors.

We will not sit back while our country is slowly picked away by the 1%. We must join together across this country and organize to take back our government from corruption.

Even the 4 dissenting justices on the Supreme Court see the corrosive power of this decision. As Justice Breyer's writes:
"Thus, Montana's experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the Court's decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the Court's supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so."
The stakes are too high to allow our elections to be determined by the highest bidder. Just as the people have risen to reclaim their government before, we must once again fight back for the power and representation we need and deserve.

CORPORATE GREED AND PROFITS AT ALL TIME HIGH; WORKER PAY IS NOT


USA-- According to an analysis by the pay research group Equilar, compensation for top bank CEOs grew by nearly 12 percent last year. The Financial Times noted that these increases occurred despite widespread falls in profits and share prices.

We at the Voice Reporter are not quite sure how many times we have to spell this out for you.  If our middle class has no spending power, you can say goodbye to a functioning economy. And for the last time, rich corporations and wealthy people do not create jobs—a demand for goods, products and services does. Consumers with spending power are the real job creators.

The top US and European bankers, including JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit, have enjoyed double-digit annual pay rises averaging almost 12 per cent, despite widespread falls in profits and share prices. These are facts, not opinions. This is data, not conjecture.

The analysis of total pay awarded to 15 bank chiefs by Equilar, a US pay research group, shows they received an average 11.9 per cent pay rise last year to $12.8m, the second increase in a row. However, the pace of growth has slowed.

Bankers such as Brian Moynihan at Bank of America, Citigroup’s Mr Pandit and JPMorgan’s Mr Dimon enjoyed the largest gains. And, for the last 30 years, CEO pay has increased 127 times faster than worker pay.

According to a different estimate by Bloomberg News, Wall Street CEO pay grew by 20 percent last year. At the same time, worker wages grew by only 2.1 percent. And inflation adjusted wages actually declined by 0.6 percent between March 2011 and March 2012.

At the moment, in fact, wages as a percentage of the economy are near all-time lows. Consider this chart:





Saturday, June 23, 2012

MIDDLE CLASS FOLKS HAVE NO BUSINESS SUPPORTING GOP FISCAL POLICIES

DAY FIVE: AFSCME PREZ LEE SAUNDERS SAYS, "THIS IS A DEFINING MOMENT FOR OUR UNION"

The new Prez and VP address
AFSCME/CSEA delegates on
day five. photo: AFSCME Now

Los Angeles-- In his first address as president of AFSCME, Lee Saunders told delegates to the union’s 40th International Convention on Friday that members “must work our hearts out to re-elect President Obama” to meet the tough challenges facing labor and working families, and that the union will hold all politicians accountable for their treatment of public workers.
CSEA Monroe County Local 828 President Bess Watts called conference week exhilarating and brutal at the same time. "It was a ton of work-- and I'm very concerned about the direction and future of the labor movement. We are at a crossroads. Every middle class worker better wake up very soon and see that there are many people hellbent on destroying the American Dream for working families. We can not let that happen."
During the closing remarks on day five, Saunders said, “Our union does not work for any political party. We work for justice and fairness in the workplace. If someone takes us on, it does not matter whether they are a Democrat or a Republican, conservative or liberal. We are taking you on and we will take you out.”
The stakes are too high to do anything but, Saunders said. 
“This is a defining moment, not only for our nation but also for our union,” he said. “What we do will determine whether collective bargaining survives, whether members’ lives get better, whether retirement security is restored, whether public services are strengthened and whether the American dream is renewed.”
In her remarks, Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes, former president of UDW Homecare Providers Union/AFSCME Local 3930 (and also an AFSCME International vice president), focused on the critical importance of building a stronger union.
“We will dig deep into every state, every city to organize new workers from every sector,” Reyes said. “Our reason for organizing is not just to collect more dues, or boast higher numbers. Our reason for organizing is our reason for being: to give every worker a fair shot in a world where the decks are stacked against us.”
Saunders, who was elected by delegates Thursday to succeed retiring AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee, began his remarks by thanking his family, and also McEntee, calling him “a fearless and visionary leader” who led the union for 31 years.
Saunders acknowledged Danny Donohue, president of CSEA/Local 1000 (and an International vice president), and said that though they “disagreed on a number of points,” now that the campaign is over, “We start fresh. What unites us is our belief in, and love for, AFSCME. We are family, and we always will be.”
The union will continue to organize, he said, “even in hostile, right-to-work states, because we cannot win the fights of tomorrow unless we are growing today.” He also called for developing “long-term solutions to strengthen pensions, emphasizing that most of our members pay into their pensions, and that those pensions contribute to local economies.”
Reyes becomes AFSCME’s first woman secretary-treasurer.
“AFSCME is on a single path toward fairness for all,” Reyes said. “We must bring as many as possible along for the journey. That won’t always be easy. But I know, with Pres. Lee Saunders as our brother and our leader, we will keep moving forward together.”
Besides increasing efforts to organize new members, she said, AFSCME will fight hard for fair contracts. “Pay, pensions, non-discrimination measures, health care, workplace safety, leave – it’s all on the table. And we will give up nothing for working families.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

LEE SAUNDERS BECOMES THE FOURTH PRESIDENT OF AFSCME

Lee Saunders was elected as only the fourth President of AFSCME in the
75 year history of the union. Laura Reyes from California was elected V.P.
photo: AFSCME Blog

LOS ANGELES — Delegates to the 40th International Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME), yesterday elected Lee Saunders to be president, and Laura Reyes to be secretary-treasurer of the union representing 1.6 million public service workers.
Saunders received 683,628 votes to 582,358 for Danny Donohue, CSEA/Local 1000 president, also an International vice president. In the race for secretary-treasurer, the union’s second highest-ranking officer, Laura Reyes, UDW/Local 3930 president also an IVP, received 661,413 votes to 603,624 for Alice Goff, District Council 36 president. The election was administered by the American Arbitration Association.
“Both Laura and I are commited to our members and cherish this union,” said AFSCME President-elect Lee Saunders. “We had a vigorous and energetic campaign, but now the union will pull together to win victories for working families and our members all across this great country.”
“We know that Wall Street and their allies are engaged in an all-out assault against our members and the services we provide. They know that AFSCME stands in the way of their efforts to destroy the middle class. We are united in our commitment to stand up for the men and women who care for America’s children, nurse the sick, plow our streets, collect the household trash and guard our prisons. Our members are a cross-section of America, not some elite group as our opponents try to claim. We are energized and ready for the battles ahead, including putting boots on the ground to ensure the re-election of Pres. Barack Obama.”
Secretary-Treasurer-elect Laura Reyes said that she would “work night and day for the working families of America.”
“Together, we can and will stand up for fairness and for an end to the scapegoating of public service workers. We will pull together in communities across America to find real solutions to the problems facing so many families.”
Pres. Gerald W. McEntee, who retires today after 31 years as AFSCME president, said the delegates’ decision to elect Saunders and Reyes “strengthens our leadership and will enhance our ability to face the challenges that await us around the country.”
“Laura and I are humbled and honored to have been chosen to lead AFSCME,” Saunders said. “We have great respect for Danny and Alice and will work with them to move our union forward.”
Saunders will be the fourth president of AFSCME since the union’s formation 75 years ago in Madison, Wis.

A MESSAGE FROM DANNY AND ALICE

The Donohue Goff team came up short in delegate votes
at the 40th AFSCME Convention held in Los Angeles on June 24.
photo: Bess Watts

To Our AFSCME Brothers and Sisters-

This has been the most hard-fought and spirited national election ever held in AFSCME.

We want to thank all of you who took time away from the crucial struggles you are fighting on the frontlines every day to help choose a new leadership team for our union.

For us, from day one, this election has been about restoring this union to the members-to ensure that democracy remains AFSCME's hallmark and that all voices are heard, all views respected.

We've been deeply disturbed during the course of this election-and on the floor of this convention-to see how frequently violations of fundamental democratic rights have occurred.

Every one of us has a stake in ensuring that our union holds itself to the highest standards of fairness and integrity. 

We have no interest in promoting or prolonging division within our union.  But we, like every AFSCME member, do have a strong interest in promoting democracy, fairness, and integrity-- and we are determined to continue to do so.

While we may have conceded this election, we are not conceding our fight for a better union.

The enemies of working families are unrelenting in their determination to weaken union rights, to decimate the public services on which so many citizens depend, and to drive down our standard of living.

We can only combat them if we build our power from the grassroots up, if we strengthen councils and locals to make the critical fights at the local level, and if we firmly uphold democracy and integrity at every level of our union.  You have our promise to do everything possible to advance those goals.

In solidarity,
 Danny Donohue Signature                         Alice Goff Signature
Danny Donohue                                               Alice Goff




Thursday, June 21, 2012

DAY FOUR: PREZ ELECTION AND FIGHTING FOR OUR RIGHTS AS "ONE"

Thousands of AFSCME and CSEA delegates rally in
MacArthur Park today. photo: AFSCME Now Blog

BY CLYDE WEISS  |  JUNE 21, 2012
LOS ANGELES — Waving “Respect!” signs and chanting “We’re fired up, won’t take it no more,” thousands of AFSCME delegates rallied in MacArthur Park with their California sisters and brothers, calling attention to the fight for public service employees here and across America.
“The work we do, like the work that all of you do, is absolutely essential,” said Kathryn Lybarger, a gardener at U.C. Berkeley and president of Local 3299, which is entering into negotiations with the University of California System soon. “We’re ready to fight for what we all deserve.”
Local 3299 and other AFSCME unions are fighting cuts to public services statewide. Mike Milliner, executive board member of Local 1902, said his co-workers in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California are using “our political power to make a huge difference.”
”You might say that we water workers are making waves. In the political races that affect our future, candidates we supported won nine out of 11 races in the past year. With them in office, we’ve finally got a seat at the table.”
Annette Norwood Dunlap, a clinical care provider at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of Local 3299, said they are fighting at the bargaining table for adequate hospital staffing. It’s a personal fight for Dunlap, who begins radiation treatments this week to fight cervical cancer. Decent patient care, provided by quality public workers is crucial, she said. “I am going to continue this fight.”


Also today, AFSCME delegates went to the polls today to select the new International President of our union. Stay tuned right here for further developments.


Delegates encouraging members to vote for Danny Donohue outside the
Los Angeles Convention Center. photo: Bess Watts

DAY THREE: HISTORIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES FOR AFSCME AND CSEA

SOLIDARITY!
AFSCME presidential candidates Lee Saunders and Danny Donohue show
delegates and the world for that matter that the union has solidarity. 

LOS ANGELES — Candidates for AFSCME president and secretary-treasurer met Wednesday, June 20 in historic debates moderated by Art Pulaski, the AFL-CIO California Labor Federation executive secretary-treasurer.

In the presidential debate, Danny Donohue (top photo, right),CSEA/Local 1000 president and an International vice president, and Lee Saunders (top photo, left), AFSCME secretary-treasurer, answered questions submitted by members.

Immediately following, the candidates for secretary-treasurer, Alice Goff (left photo), president of District Council 36 in Los Angeles, Calif., and Laura Reyes (right photo), president of UDW/Local 3930exchanged their ideas about the union’s future.

Under terms previously agreed to by the campaigns, delegates limited applause to allow the maximum amount of time for questions and answers. As a result, delegates heard from all candidates on a wide-ranging set of issues, including their respective approaches to AFSCME’s organizing and political involvement. They also shared personal stories of union activism.
Local 828 president Bess Watts was tapped as an election observer, which meant her day started at 5 AM on Thursday morning. 
Stay tuned right here at the Voice Reporter for the latest results of the AFSCME presidential election.

CONGRESSWOMAN LOUISE SLAUGHTER: TAKING ON THE FIGHTS NO ONE ELSE WILL

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SLAUGHTER DEFENDS WESTERN NEW YORK AND MONROE COUNTY FROM FEDERAL OVERREACH



Washington, D.C.-- Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, today went to the House floor to defend Western New York from proposed legislation that would give the Department of Homeland Security unprecedented authority over lands within 100 miles of an international border.

In a speech delivered on the House floor, Slaughter criticized legislation that would create an "operational control zone" for the Department of Homeland Security. Within this zone a litany of environmental laws would be waived and the US Customs and Border Patrol would be empowered to take control over historic landmarks that fall anywhere within the 100 mile zone, such as the Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site.

She also strongly defended the sovereignty of Native American lands, such as the Tuscarora Reservation in Tonawanda. Under the proposed legislation, the federal government would be allowed to violate the sovereignty of sacred Native American lands if it fell within 100 miles of the US border. For example, the Department of Homeland Security would be allowed to build a road across tribal lands without approval from Native American populations.

In part, Slaughter said:

"My entire district would fall under the newly created 'operational control zone.' As a result, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol could take control over historic landmarks such as the Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site.

"Meanwhile the sacred, historic and sovereign lands of the Tuscarora Indian Nation would also be opened to federal agents. Such an extreme federal overreach would violate the sovereignty of the Tuscarora Indian Nation, and many other tribes around the country whose land falls within this zone."

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: THE BEST IS YET TO COME



Rochester, N.Y.-- Louise McIntosh Slaughter was born at midnight on August 14, 1929 in Lynch, Kentucky. Today, her distinct accent and homespun sayings are reminiscent of her rearing even after more than 40 years of life in Western New York.

Louise was first elected to Congress in 1986.  Since then, her constituents have come to know her as a strong proponent of progressive causes and a fighter for the employment concerns and the economic development of Western New York. She has earned a reputation for her dedication to constituent service.

As ranking member of the Committee on Rules, Louise has fought against the Republican Majority in an effort to curb the current deterioration of the democratic process. In early March of 2005, she unveiled a Congressional report titled "America for Sale"- which detailed the unprecedented levels of corruption within Congress.  Her report opened the door to the collapse of a right-wing lobbying machine that had ruled Congress.

A tireless promoter of labor rights and economic development, Louise is deeply concerned with the job losses suffered in Western New York and throughout America. In Congress, she has proposed legislation to end the era of free trade giveaways, and provide American businesses and unions with the power they need to stop unfair trade practices by other countries. To learn more about Louise and her campaign, you can go here.

DAY TWO: AFSCME CONFERENCE IN L.A.



Los Angeles, CA—On Tuesday June 19, the second day of the AFSCME conference, Vice President Joe Biden strongly defended public workers and community services during his address to delegates, including a large CSEA contingent, during the 40th AFSCME Convention in Los Angeles.

Biden emphasized the importance of the work that CSEA and AFSCME members deliver every day. He also stressed the Obama administration's commitment to strengthening the middle class as the best way to improve the economy for all.

Also on Tuesday, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz took to the mike and reassured delegates that fighting for a strong middle class is the right thing to do. CSEA President Danny Donohue was nominated for AFSCME International President, and his running mate, Alice Goff, was nominated for AFSCME International Secretary-Treasurer. Also, CSEA Executive Vice President Mary Sullivan, Capital Region President Kathy Garrison and Long Island Region President Nick LaMorte were nominated as International Vice Presidents.

Local 828 President Bess Watts said, “Today was a very inspiring day— hearing speeches from the Dias right on down to the listening to other national delegate’s talk of the struggles and successes they face on the job was truly eye-popping.”

CSEA/AFSCME delegates rally on the convention floor in support of
Danny Donohue and Alice Goff. photo: Bess Watts


Monday, June 18, 2012

40TH AFSCME CONVENTION GETS UNDERWAY IN LOS ANGELES

California House Rep. Nancy Pelosi addressed CSEA/AFSCME delegates
at the Los Angeles Convention Center earlier today. photo: Bess Watts

DAY ONE: Monday, June 18, 2012

Los Angeles, CA—CSEA Monroe County Local 828 President Bess Watts reports that earlier today Douglas Moore Jr., executive director of United Domestic Workers Home Care Providers Union(UDW/AFSCME) and an AFSCME International vice president, opened AFSCME's 40th International Convention and welcomed delegates to California.

By email, she said, “We were up at 7:00 am pounding the pavement meeting and greeting delegates from all four corners of the country. California House Rep. Nancy Pelosi took to the stage later on and gave a spirited speech about fighting back and finding our labor voice. It was also a day of tributes to outgoing International President Gerry McEntee.”

Watts added that delegates passed the convention rules earlier today and had full introductions to all the International Vice Presidents of AFSCME.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

AFSCME AND CSEA DELEGATES ARRIVE IN LOS ANGELES; HONORING SPIRIT OF SOLIDARITY


(Photo by Hey Suk Chong)
Los Angeles, CA.-- More than 5,000 delegates, alternates and guests will gather in Los Angeles this week to elect a new president and secretary-treasurer, celebrate AFSCME’s 75-year history while charting a course for its next two years, and gear up the Green Machine for the re-election of Pres. Barack Obama.

CSEA Monroe County Local 828 president and Unit 7400 Unit President Cris Zaffuto are representing us this year at the convention. AFSCME is the international parent union of CSEA.

Pres. Gerald W. McEntee, who is retiring after holding that position for 31 years, will set the stage for the week on Monday with his keynote address. His final speech as AFSCME’s president will be followed by a special tribute recognizing his tireless work in service to the labor movement for the past 56 years.

On Tuesday, Sec.-Treas. Lee Saunders will deliver the keynote address, followed by Vice President Joe Biden speaking to delegates. Also that day, Ed Schultz, host of MSNBC’s The Ed Show, will emcee the “Battleground” program, featuring AFSCME activists who are fighting back for public workers in battleground states nationwide.

Honoring the spirit of “Solidarity” – this year’s Convention theme – all delegates will rally Wednesday at MacArthur Park with our California sisters and brothers who are fighting cuts to public services statewide and kicking off collective bargaining with the University of California system. Also Wednesday, delegates will hear from the candidates for AFSCME president and secretary-treasurer in an historic debate. Moderated by Art Pulaski, chief officer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and such a debate is unprecedented in American labor history.

On Thursday, delegates will elect the new president, secretary-treasurer, and international vice presidents. Special programs will honor AFSCME members’ organizing work and PEOPLE, the union’s political action committee.

Throughout the week, delegates will consider key policy resolutions and Constitutional amendments. They will also be raising money for PEOPLE. Events wrap up Friday with the installation of the newly elected officers. Check the Local 828 Facebook page (see button at right on this homepage)  and the Voice Reporter starting Monday for Convention updates, videos and more.





Saturday, June 16, 2012

MONEY ISN’T EVERYTHING BUT IT SURE HELPS IF YOU RUN FOR CONGRESS


Rep. Louise Slaughter
Rochester, N.Y. -- Financial reports of candidates is extremely important and often tells more stories than meet the eye. Take for example the race for Congress in NY25. Between April 1 and June 6, Democratic incumbent Louise Slaughter raised $242,396.35, while Maggie Brooks raised $185,652.72. Slaughter also has more cash on hand too: she has $688,558.16 to Brooks’ $367,582.72.

Mitt Romney and folks like Maggie Brooks have the same game plan in mind: hide their special interest radical agenda for long as possible and raise vast of sums of money from the rich people they're working to protect. Maggie's average individual contribution is $1,627.80. Her campaign contribution list reads like a "Who's Who" of top brass and nonunion county employees. Not many regular average folks on that list.


Conversely, the average donation to the Slaughter campaign is $85.86. Early on, it shows that there is a ground swell of interest to keep this district blue, but it will take the strength of our progressive people-powered grassroots organizations to get this done.


Slaughter’s donations come from people of all walks of life who want to see a fair and honest government that represents all of us. Unfortunately, Maggie is already caught up in accepting help from mega-rich right wing extremists and will no doubt be beholden to them. If you want a strong middle class, good paying jobs and big oil and rich folk to pay their fair share, then Louise needs you to join her campaign today. We mean right now.


Go to her website here to find out how you can help.

NASCAR BOGO BENEFIT FOR CSEA MEMBERS


MI TO VOTE ON ANTI-WORKER "DICTATOR" LAW AND UNION RIGHTS AMENDMENT


BY CLYDE WEISS  |  JUNE 15, 2012
Repeal Emergency Manager LawIn a huge victory for public workers’ rights, the Michigan Court of Appeals will let voters decide whether the state's disastrous, undemocratic "local dictator law" should stand.
Known as Public Act 4, the emergency manager act demonstrates that the regime of Gov. Rick Snyder is even more radical than that of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who abolished collective bargaining for public service workers statewide. The Michigan law goes even farther in Snyder’s quest to silence our voices and strip us of our rights. Not only does it wipe out union contracts, it allows a unilaterally appointed “local dictator” to tear up any contract, displace any employee or elected official, suspend self-government, and even abolish a city or a school district. 
But we’ve gone on the offensive. In February, a coalition of AFSCME Council 25, community groups, churches and other labor organizations – called Stand Up for Democracy – collected more than 225,000 signatures to put the question to voters.
The Governor and Chamber of Commerce fabricated a challenge to the size of the wording used on the petitions, temporarily derailing this exercise in democracy. Their position was upheld by two Republicans members of the Board of State Canvassers, leading the coalition to appeal that decision in court. 
Last week, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals agreed that voters should be allowed to vote on the matter, ruling the petition was in “substantial compliance” with state law. But the court held up its ruling until all the judges on the court were polled to see if they wanted to conduct a review by a seven-member panel. In Thursday’s ruling, the court announced that the panel would not need to be convened and that the measure can proceed to the November ballot.
“This decision is a victory for democracy,” said Council 25 Sec.-Treas. Lawrence A. (Larry) Roehrig, also an AFSCME International vice president. “It allows the voters of Michigan to have their voice heard at the ballot box, not silenced because a partisan board’s decision to deny them that right because of a font size.”
Reacting to reports that the group challenging the petitions may appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court, Roehrig said, “Unfortunately, those who wish to stop the voice of the people are determined to delay and postpone a final decision by appealing its decision. Until justice is done, we will continue to fight for the rights of Michigan’s citizens.”
Next, in conjunction with the entire labor movement, AFSCME is working to put a Constitutional Amendment on the November ballot that provides the right to organize for collective bargaining as a fundamental constitutional right. Like the vote in Ohio that blocked the anti-worker SB-5, and unlike the recall votes in Wisconsin – it’s a pure question of whether the voters want unionism to be part of their state, or not. 
Our members in Wisconsin inspired us all to stand our ground, as did AFSCME members in Puerto Rico. They got the same governor and Legislature who stripped their rights to reverse direction 27 months later to restore workers’ rights to collective bargaining.  Now approximately 13,000 employees represented by Servidores P├║blicos Unidos (SPU)/AFSCME Council 95 are working under contracts that improved their wages, benefits and working conditions.
AFSCME Michigan has been helping in all these fights, while battling Gov. Snyder’s reactionary agenda on a thousand fronts. Michigan has been there for all of us, and we’re all going to be there for them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

OBAMA DEFINES THE FIGHT AHEAD; MIDDLE CLASS EXISTENCE HANGS IN THE BALANCE

Cleveland, Ohio-- This is a make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans -- and anyone who cares needs to watch the speech President Obama made in Cleveland today.

In this election, we face a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy. The path Mitt Romney and his Republican allies want to take us down is exactly the one that led us to the 2008 crisis. We have to reject those policies and embrace the President's vision of growing the economy, not from the top down, but from the middle class out.

Hear from President Obama in his own words, and sign on to the principles he laid out.

The choice couldn't be clearer on the issues most important to ordinary Americans:

    - Better Education: We need to invest in good teachers and help more students go to college and get job training -- not pack kids into classrooms and slash scholarships.

    - More, Cleaner Energy: We need to invest in promising new sources of energy to create a market for innovation and good jobs of the future -- not go back to relying on foreign oil.

    - Leading Through Innovation: We need to invest in our best scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs so they innovate here -- not cede new ideas to countries like China and India.

    - Job-Creating Infrastructure: We need roads, bridges, ports, and broadband technology that attract businesses that will create jobs here -- not more pet projects and bridges to nowhere.

    - Fair, Simple Tax Reform: We need to reward businesses that create jobs here instead of rewarding outsourcing, and must ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share again -- not sacrifice investments critical to the middle class. 

This economic crisis didn't start in 2008. For more than a decade before, we knew things weren't working the way they should. We saw costs for everything from health care to education rising faster than wages. Good-paying, middle-class jobs were becoming harder to find, as more and more companies moved production overseas.

The other side's solution was the same then as it is now -- massive tax cuts benefiting mainly the wealthy, rolling back regulations on risky behavior for Wall Street and banks, and slashes to services that the middle class depends on, like Medicare, education, and job training. A decade ago, Bill Clinton left a record surplus. But the last administration put two wars, two huge tax cuts, and the Medicare prescription program on a credit card, and handed President Obama a trillion dollar deficit and a raging economic crisis.

Incredibly, Romney and his allies want to go back to those same, disastrous policies: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and free rein for Wall Street to write its own rules. We tried Mitt Romney's failed formula for most of the last decade. It benefitted a few, but exploded the deficit, crashed our economy, and devastated the middle class. It didn't grow our economy, create good jobs, or pay down our debt -- it did the opposite. And it won't work this time around either: Independent economists confirm that Romney's plan wouldn't cut the deficit, or even create a single job now -- in fact, it could slow growth and push us back into recession.

Today the President laid out a very different vision, one where everyone -- no matter who you are, where you're from, or how big your bank account is -- pitches in together to rebuild the foundations of our country and economy. Instead of another $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, Obama believes we should pay down our debt and invest in the things we know we need to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class. That means restoring and upgrading our crumbling infrastructure, investing in education, paying down our debt responsibly, and yes, asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more. This approach requires tough choices and shared sacrifice -- exactly how we built the American economy in the first place.

As supporters, it's on us to get this message out there.

Watch the President's speech, and share it with your friends, family -- heck, share it with everyone you know. There's even a helpful printout you can download and pass around:

http://my.barackobama.com/The-Presidents-Vision

GALLUP POLL FINDS MAJORITY OF AMERICANS BLAME BUSH FOR BAD ECONOMY


A majority of Americans get this right-- he is responsible for
tanking our economy. photo: DailyMirror.com

Washington, D.C.-- As Romney continues to bash Obama on the weak economy, a new poll offers Obama a potential escape: place the blame exactly where it belongs. A new Gallup poll shows that 68% of Americans place the blame for the economy's ills on former President George W. Bush, rather than Obama. Even among Republicans, 49% blame Bush.

Let's start with his grotesque tax cuts for the rich and two unfunded wars. There are many other examples of how deregulation also created a climate that initiated the greatest transfer of wealth to the top one percent making for an unstable economy.


When the middle class loses its spending power, economies will suffer. And, let's put to bed this false notion that rich people create jobs-- nothing could be further from the truth. The demand for good and services, aided by consumers with purchase power grows the economy. Just because wealthy corporations sit on billions of profits doesn't mean they are in the job creation business-- far from it.  They are only motivated by profit and could care less about the national employment rate. 


With this finding, it may be a bit harder for Romney to base his campaign on the idea that Obama wrecked the economy. Of course, he can avoid going on the attack and focus on who would be better at fixing it, although this approach is likely to bring up how well he did as governor of Massachusetts, which was 47th in the country in job creation during his tenure.

HOUSE GOP STANDING IN THE WAY OF PROGRESS: PASS THE DAMN TRANSPORTATION BILL MAP-21 S.1813

Monday, June 11, 2012

CSEA ACTIVISTS ATTEND WNY REGION 6 SPRING CONFERENCE IN ROCHESTER

CSEA WNY Region 6 Officers were sworn-in on June 9 by Statewide
Treasurer Joe McMullen at the Rochester Plaza Hotel. photo: Bess Watts

Rochester, N.Y.-- Hundreds of CSEA activists were in Rochester June 8-11, 2012, for the union's annual Spring Workshop at the Rochester Plaza Hotel. Workshop presentations focused on Personal Injury Insurance issues and Understanding Social Media.

CSEA also hosted an installation dinner June 9 honoring the newly elected WNY Region 6 Officers. Newly elected CBTU International President and NYS AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Terry Melvin served as master of ceremonies.

CSEA Statewide Treasurer Joe McMullen administered the oath of office to Flo Tripi, region president (Local 828); Kathy Button, executive vice president (Local 436); 1st vice president Joan Bender (Local 815); 2nd vice president Bob Pyjas (Local 815); 3rd vice president Tim Finnigan (Local 608); Secretary, Debbie Sherk (Local 837); and Treasurer Mark Dotterweich (Local 832).

CSEA also said goodbye to longtime union activist Rose Conti. Rose is the local president for Chautauqua County Local 690 Unit 6300. Her last day will be July 18, ending a 33-year career as a public employee - 29 of those as a county worker.

CSEA's Western Region covers 14 Western New York counties, serving thousands of workers in 78 locals and 220 units, in state government, local government, school districts, libraries, public authorities, and the private sector. The region has approximately 45,000 members.

-Ove Overmyer

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A TIMELY MESSAGE FROM RICHARD TRUMKA



A year and a half ago, Gov. Scott Walker and his friends in the Senate forced through an extremist anti-worker agenda that divided the state.
Last night, Wisconsin took back its Senate. While Gov. Walker remains in office after being only the third governor in American history subjected to the humiliation of a recall, his divisive agenda has been stopped cold.

Though Walker was shielded with a flood of secret corporate cash, Wisconsin made its voice heard.
 While we came closer to recalling Walker than many expected, we ended up coming just short.

The work we did together was about much more than just this one election.

We laid the groundwork for a powerful movement to push back against Walker-style anti-working family policies everywhere. The energy and momentum in Wisconsin have inspired working people from all walks of life to stand together in solidarity in unprecedented ways.

We cannot stop now. Click here to sign our solidarity pledge to commit to building on the momentum working people created in Wisconsin and beyond to protect good jobs, working families and workplace rights. 

Wisconsin is a small piece of a broader global movement of people pushing back on the corporate-driven policies that have favored the super-rich at the expense of good jobs, education and the health of our communities.

And we are winning. We’ve seen it in Tunisia, Yemen and other countries where the Arab Spring has taken hold; in Greece and France, where voters rejected the failed, Draconian policies of austerity; and here in the United States, where members of the Occupy movement continue to shine a much-needed light on Wall Street greed and ballooning economic inequality.

Working people are making history every day through their courage and resolve to work together for a better world. For you, it may have begun with Wisconsin, but it should not stop there.

Click here to sign our pledge of solidarity to say you will continue to stand with other working people to protect good jobs, working families and workplace rights.

Thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do for working families.

In Solidarity,

Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

Monday, June 4, 2012

CSEA MONROE COUNTY LOCAL 828: WHERE WE'VE BEEN

CSEA LEADERS AND ACTIVISTS ATTEND SPRING WORKSHOP IN BUFFALO

Buffalo City Hall
Photo: Ove Overmyer

Buffalo, N.Y. -- Hundreds of CSEA activists were in Buffalo this past weekend for the union's annual Spring Workshop at the Buffalo Convention Center. In accordance with this year's workshop theme, Stand Up for Your Rights, programs centered on increasing members' leadership skills to allow them to make the union stronger and better equipped to fight back against ongoing attacks on workers.

Bess Watts, president of CSEA Local 828, said the weekend workshops were timely and necessary. She said, “Like never before, middle-class working families are getting attacked by corporate CEO’s, mainstream media and certain politicians. We need to find strategies and execute a game plan to protect our rights, and that’s exactly what we discussed at the Spring Workshop.”

CSEA also presented its annual Mission Achievement Awards. The 2012 recipients are Taconic DDSO Local President Deborah Downey, state division; Nassau County Municipal Employees Local City of Long Beach Unit President John Mooney, local government division; and Niagara Falls Head Start Local President Tina Thomasine, private sector division.