Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Independents Reports on Democrats standing up to "Bobby" Jindal's partisan Gamesmanship

State Senator Eric LaFleur has decided to stand up for the thousands of Louisiana Citizens who through no fault of their own have found themselves unemployed here in the state by filing a bill to over-rule Bobby Jinda's partisan attach on the Recovery bill that would ultimately turn down almost $100 million dollars to those who need it most.

Good for you Seantor LaFleur - here is a bit of their story - more at the link above:
State Rep. Eric LaFleur of Ville Platte (who’s said to be jockeying for a U.S. attorney appointment with the Obama administration) fired off a letter to his legislative colleagues yesterday asking for a joint resolution to override Gov. Bobby Jindal’s rejection of a portion of federal stimulus funds. He’s now getting push-back from both Jindal and state Rep. Joel Robideaux, Independent of Lafayette.

Jindal has turned down $98 million in federal funds dedicated to an expansion of unemployment benefits. The gov contends these funds require permanent changes to state unemployment law that will continue to cost the state long after short term federal dollars
run out. In his letter, LaFleur contends that by rejecting these funds, La. taxpayers won’t be getting the full benefit of the stimulus plan, which they are helping to fund. He writes:

“If we reject these funds, Louisiana taxpayers will be paying to subsidize and support unemployment compensation in states such as California, where Gov. Schwarzenegger has already signaled his intention to accept the funds. While we may have different opinions on programs funded in the stimulus package, I think that we can all agree we want Louisiana tax dollars to remain in Louisiana, working for Louisianians and Louisiana’s economy.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

LeftBlog: War on Working Families

Last week on KPEL we had a caller call in to ask me my opinion on the Employee Free Choice Act – though the caller referred to it as a Check Card System. My response was that I am a huge supporter and vocal advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act and for several reasons.
  1. First let’s look at the FACTS surrounding the matter of the EFCA –
    The Labor Unions have all signed on as supporters of the EFCA – this is CONTRARY to what you are hearing on the Cable TV Ads that Republican and Business interest groups are telling you. The Labor Unions SUPPORT this bill and there are many reasons for that support.

  2. The Republicans and Business interests groups would have you believe that this is going to get rid of the SECRET BALLOT in the work place – this is NOT TRUE. Nowhere in this bill does it take away the right to a secret ballot.

Now, let’s look at some FACTS and FIGURES:

  • 75% of Employers hire consultants or union-busters to help them fight union organizing drives.
  • 78% of Employers force employees to attend one-on-one meetings with their own supervisors against the union.

  • 51% of Companies threaten to close the plant if the union wins the election; yet only 1% actually does close their business due to a union vote.

  • 73% of Americans say that laws protecting the freedom to join unions are important

I think now is an appropriate time to point out that for more than the past decade wages have remained FLAT – wages are staying the same yet Productivity is going through the roof. This means American Workers are working harder and getting more done – yet their wages are completely flat.

During this very same time CEO and top management pay has shot through the roof. In a 2004 study by Kevin Murphy and Jan Zabonjnik they report that in 1970 the average CEO salary and bonus packages were typically about $700k per year or 25 times that of the average production worker. Fast forward to 2000 CEO pay had jumped to $2.2 Million on average or 90 times that of the average production employee once you include stock options, and other benefits you are jumping to nearly 500 times the average worker salary.

Put this another way – the ratio of Average CEO pay to the average pay of a production worker was 431 to 1 in 2004 which is up from 301 to 1 in 2003 according to Executive Excess. During the past 15 years we have seen a sizable increase in corporate profitability.

Boil it down – CEO Pay has risen by 298% through 2005 from 1990 and in that same timeframe corporate profits have risen by 106.7% and the average worker pay has only risen by 4.3% which is not even keeping up with inflation.

I am in NO WAY advocating that we should limit CEO pay that should be up to the shareholders and their boards – but what I am saying is that the working men and women of this country are getting the shaft and it is time we act. We act by allowing them to collectively bargain for their rights and pay.

Were it not for Labor Unions we never would have had a 40 hour work week, we never would have had “over-time”, Family Medical Leave Act, we never would have had job safety standards to keep employees safe… and the list continues.

In my estimation for over 20 years we have seen a constant erosion of the rights of the working men and women of this great country and we have seen a huge rise in the power of the corporate elite. I think you have to look no further than the recent debates over the US Automobile industry and their problems. Republican after Republican lined up to talk with anyone that would listen to blame all the faults of the US Automobile industry on their line workers! They also joined a chorus demanding that the employees take pay cuts – meanwhile the corporate executives continue to fly in their corporate jets, and spend lavishly. The simple truth here is that it takes two people to enter into a contract and Management signed on to these labor contracts along with the workers – they all agreed in good faith. And in the case of the workers – they agreed for their futures. We are talking about their differed compensation via their benefits packages including their pensions. How can a 70 year old who spent 30 years “on the line” working hard with the promise that they would have benefits and a solid pension be forced to give that up or accept LESS than what they agreed to… they honored their “DEAL” they put in their 30 years, did a good job and while they were getting a pay check – PART of that pay check was the promise of their pension and benefits to continue.

Over these past 20 years we have seen a HUGE re-distribution of wealth – from the working class up to the super rich. Employers have fought tooth and nail to prevent labor unions from entering their shops, and this doesn’t have to be a win lose situation. The fact of the matter is the union employee wants their company to succeed, they want them to be successful – they just want to be treated fairly. Unions also help the employers – oftentimes they self police - dealing with poor performing employees, dealing with training issues and helping find solutions to disputes. While it may cost the employers a bit more, the benefits are long lasting.

Union employees…
• Are more productive
• Are better trained
• Are more responsible (lower number of sick days)
• Tend to STAY LONGER in their job – Less Job-Hopping

The Employee Free Choice Act simply gives workers, not their employers, the choice in how they choose to form unions: either after a majority of workers sign a card in support of the union or through a secret ballot election. And that is the key – THE WORKERS could choose. CEO’s and the Chamber of Commerce oppose this simply because it will give workers a better chance at organizing and forming a union.

You cannot escape the fact that the Republicans and Business interests are completely lying about this bill. This bill in no way prevents a secret ballot, and they know this. Perhaps that is why they have hired a P.R. firm to spearhead their campaign. They hired Rick Berman a professional muckraker who has made a career of attacking organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the tobacco and alcohol industries.

We must realize that the middle class is an endangered species. More and more of the good paying jobs are leaving this country and being replaced by service industry jobs which are notoriously lower paying jobs without an organized workforce. More often than not these jobs do not offer any meaningful benefits packages such as health insurance – whose lack thereof is the number one cause for bankruptcy in this country.

For additional reporting on this matter check out Rachel Maddow’s show from Monday of this week here:

And more from Rachel from Tuesday Night...

David Vitter Flips out at Airport

Raw Story is reporting that David Vitter flipped out at an airport in DC...
The Republican senator who found himself on a DC madam's client list is drawing new attention over "impulse control."

After missing a flight last Thursday from Washington to New Orleans,
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter opened an armed security door and went off on a United Airlines employee, according to a report filed Wednesday by (paid-restricted) Roll Call.

The door sounded a security alarm.

Vitter had arrived at the gate for a flight from Dulles Airport, only to find that the door had been closed twenty minutes prior to departure.

After setting off the security alarm, the Louisiana senator proceeded to dress down an airline employee who told him entering the restricted area was forbidden. He invoked his standing as a senator, delivering a "do-you-know-who-I-am" tirade, the paper said.

The airline worker then announced he was going to summon security.

"Vitter, according to the witness, remained defiant, yelling that the employee could call the police if he wanted to and their supervisors, who, presumably, might be more impressed with his SenatorĂ¢€™s pin," the paper's Heard on the Hill column noted. "But after talking a huffy big game, Vitter apparently thought better of pushing the confrontation any further. When the gate attendant left to find a security guard, Vitter turned tail and simply fled the scene."