The New Republicans Hate Even the Thought of Labor

Maine: Labor Mural Is Moved to Undisclosed Location

A mural depicting Maine’s labor history was removed from the lobby of the state’s Department of Labor and stored at an undisclosed location over the weekend by directive of Gov. Paul LePage. Mr. LePage, a Republican elected in 2010, says the mural favors labor interests at the expense of business interests. Last week, he ordered that the mural be taken down and that Labor Department conference rooms named for labor leaders be renamed for mountains, counties or something else perceived as neutral. Robert Shetterly, president of the Union of Maine Visual Artists, called it “an exceptionally cowardly act” to move it over the weekend when no one would notice.

Right to Work for less defeated in Indiana

Monday, March 28, 2011

IN Dems returning today as heroes

Teamsters rally for workers’ rights in Indiana on March 10.
After 36 days in exile, Indiana’s Democratic state representatives are coming back. Republican lawmakers agreed to abandon much of their anti-worker agenda. Right-to-work is dead in the Hoosier State, at least for now.

The Democrats, you’ll recall, left to prevent a quorum so the Republican-dominated Legislature couldn’t pass a host of anti-worker legislation.

According to Talking Points Memo, the deal looks like this (at least in part):

• Labor: Republicans have agreed to scrap the controversial right-to-work law that led the Democrats to shut things down back on Feb. 22.
  Republicans have also pledged not to pass a law making the state’s existing ban on collective bargaining for state workers, created by (Gov. Mitch) Daniels executive order, permanent.

• Education: Daniels’ signature policy agenda for this legislative session was a proposal to create a state-funded private school voucher system for low- and middle-income families.
  That plan will be curtailed considerably in the deal with House Republicans.
We understand the deal isn’t perfect, but according to the head of the Democratic caucus, Rep. Patrick Bauer,

We’ve protected working people from a march to the minimum wage. We’ve protected collective bargaining rights for Hoosier workers and teachers.
   We’ve softened the blow to public schools and prevented a bill for private takeover of public schools. This timeout gave millions of Hoosiers a real voice in their state government.
The Indiana AFL-CIO tells us:

Today, these representatives are returning to Indianapolis to bring the fight to the General Assembly. Hundreds of working men and women will be gathering outside the Indiana Statehouse to thank these elected officials for their courageous stand for Indiana’s working families.

Why We Still Need Collective Bargaining Today

How safe do you think it would be working at UPS today without Union oversight? If we don’t fight to save Unions today from attacks by big money, will our children be safe tomorrow? Do we care???
Read on…….

There’s a misguided move to end collective bargaining rights for unions for all the wrong reasons.   Those supporters who want to end collective bargaining see it as a cost saving measure. Those clamoring to end collective bargaining rights are looking to return to the past glory days without collective bargaining. Well, the past was not so glorified for many workers in the US.

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the New York City Triangle Fire where on March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers died after a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Company. The mostly girls and young women, who were killed, were locked in the factory to prevent them from taking breaks.   Many perished through the fire or jumped to their deaths from the 8th and 9th floors. At that time, there was no union or collective bargaining to protect their rights or require basic work place safety for the workers.

After the fire, the New York legislature passed laws requiring automatic sprinklers, unlocked doors during working hours, doors that swing outward, to name a few. Just like today’s dissenters of collective bargaining, the same rhetoric was heard 100 years ago. Sprinklers were called “cumbersome and costly”. Others warned the new laws would drive business out of the city and state of New York.   Does this sound familiar?

Everything always boils down to cost cutting over safety and saving lives.   If today’s House Republicans and Wisconsin Republicans were alive in 1911, they would call these basic fire safety measures “job killers”.   Big business and special interest groups have always fought against rights for the working people, as too costly. Corporate interests argued against basic minimum wages, child labor laws, minimum work day hours and overtime pay, all at the cost to working people. Over the years, unions through collective bargaining have fought for the rights and safety for working Americans.

If we allow collective bargaining rights to be stripped, we will return to the days of yester year when workers were not safe. By way of recent example today, the National Traffic Air Traffic Controllers Association has long requested that air traffic controllers not work alone on night shifts. Ever since 2006, the union has argued for 2 person late night shifts. And just this week, one lone air traffic controller at Regan National Airport in Washington, DC admits falling asleep, resulting in 2 planes attempting to land without his assistance. Paul Rinaldi, the head of the union representing air traffic controllers, has long argued against single person late night shifts. The cost to hire 2 air traffic controllers to work on night shifts far outweighs the costs to lives perished in an airplane crash, as the one occurred in 2006 in Kentucky due to a lone traffic controller, at the helm.

There’s an old saying that says sometimes you need to learn the hard way. When it comes to lives and basic safety, I’d rather not learn the hard way. I’d rather continue with unions and their collective bargaining efforts fighting for safety. Unions are not perfect. But, the risk of loss of lives without them is too much to bear.   Safety has a price. But, lives are priceless.

Debbie Hines

10 FAQ’s

The followCan they do that?ing are some of the more frequently asked questions of the stewards with some general recommendations how to deal with the situation. As always consult your steward before taking any action to be sure of your rights.


  1.     Can the company discipline me without a steward present, if no steward is available? The answer is a flat no. The company must provide a steward in any discussion with a union member if the possibility of discipline even remotely exists. Even if timeliness is an issue, the company cannot bring discipline without the presence of a steward.
  2.     What does automatic protest mean on warning letters? Automatic protest means that the union and the company have agreed to place the warning letter under protest, and unless the issue comes up again, the letter will be withdrawn in 90 days, (unless some other time frame is agreed to). If the same issue comes up again, the union and the company have agreed to hear the warning letter issue before any more severe discipline can be implemented. I have expressed my displeasure with Automatic Protest in the past, but that is the system we live under today.
  3.     What is the attendance policy for the company? My assumption is that the policy is consistent throughout the company, but here in the Rocky Mountain area you are allowed three attendance discrepancies in a running thirteen week period before you can be issued any discipline. The company must review each and every discrepancy in a timely manner with the steward present.
  4.     Does the company have the right to dictate my appearance? The appearance issue has come up many times over the years. The company has the right to set appearance standards, and you have an obligation to abide by them. The only exceptions are if you are being singled out for a different standard than the other drivers, or the standard is discriminatory.
  5.     Is it ever O.K. for Supervisors to do Union Work? Basically the answer is no. The only real situation is when management exhausts all possible hourly means to make service then the Supervisors can do the work. The problem arises when they get lazy and just resort to the Sups. as the first remedy. My recommendation is if you see them work, file, then sort it out later.
  6.     Is it true I can be paid Double Time for excessive 9.5 hour days? Being paid Double Time for excessive 9.5 hour days is true, sort of.  You must inform the company of your desire to have your hours reduced, and give them the opportunity to correct the problem. If they don’t, you file under Article 12 Section 1. The first grievance will be resolved as “the company agrees to abide by Article 12 Section 1”. If you continue to be dispatched with excessive OT you will file again, and usually after the grievance goes through the entire process, you may be awarded double time. 
  7.     I don’t like something the Union is doing, how do I make a change? Well most of you would first seek out the steward. If the steward does not satisfy you, don’t be afraid to go straight to the Business Agent at your Local union. If you still feel the need to go up the ladder, contact the Principle officer for your Local Union. Usually you will get results somewhere along this line. You still can go straight to the International Union, but that process is an article all of it’s own.
  8.     I am being singled out for more severe discipline/harassment than the drivers around me. What do I do? Of course your first line of defense is your steward. Do not let management badger you without your steward present. Be very clear you want representation. That in itself is your most powerful tool, as the company will be much more careful what they say to you with the steward present. When all else fails resort to the grievance procedure.
  9.     I have a good reason to be off work, but my manager is telling me no. What do I do? If you have a legitimate reason you need to be gone, and you’ve informed the company, and they are telling you no, then you need to take your lumps under the attendance policy above. If it’s a legitimate reason, (illness, doctor, dentist, family issue) simply call an hour or more before your start time. Of course you must fall within the 3 in a 13 week discrepancy or you may still be subject to discipline. It’s simple. The company needs you at work everyday. Try to be there, but in all of our lives things come up. You need to take care of things outside of the company as well.
  10.     My steward is not taking care of my issues. What do I do? My first question to you is “are you simply expecting the steward to know you are having an issue, or have you taken the time to seek them out and let them know of your problem.” The steward can’t possibly know every driver’s problems in a big center. You must seek them out and verbalize your troubles to them. You can always go up the ladder to the business agent, but my bet is that if you simply communicate with the steward you will get results
These are simple answers to some complicated questions. Your union is in place to help you be treated fairly and to see to it that you are provided with a decent, safe, workplace. Educate yourself to your rights, and you will have a good career with the company. *

UPS Spanked for Unsafe Trucks

The Watertown Daily Times reports:

A state attorney general’s office investigation into United Parcel Service’s delivery fleet, which was prompted by complaints from a mechanic at the UPS Watertown facility, has resulted in a $1.3 million settlement with the package deliverer.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the settlement Tuesday, saying in a prepared statement that the agreement resolves allegations that UPS knowingly permitted trucks in serious disrepair to be driven by employees throughout the state.

“UPS knowingly endangered not only the lives of their own employees, but the lives of the driving public,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “By keeping these rotting and decaying trucks on the roadways, UPS was an accident waiting to happen and this office has zero tolerance for anyone who knowingly poses a serious and significant risk to New Yorkers.”

The investigation found that UPS was inspecting and passing its own trucks despite their poor condition, according to Mr. Schneiderman. In addition to the monetary penalty, UPS has agreed to have an independent inspector conduct state inspections of its vehicles for the next five years.

Read the rest of the story here about UPS knowingly using old trucks with “cracked and rotted frames”.

Why I Do Denverbrown

I started Denverbrown back in 2003 (with a little help from my friends). . I was frustrated that I had no voice at UPS, even though I was an active steward. I wanted to rage against the machine. The following two paragraphs used to appear on my “contact me” page. 

         I’m publishing this website because I feel a need to speak up. I believe that the disparity of power between the common man and the corporation is growing larger everyday. The laborer is no longer respected as a key element in society. The middle class is struggling to hold on as the captains of industry ship our father’s good paying jobs overseas to be performed at low wages with no benefits. Part time jobs and contract labor are becoming the norm as blue collar careers disappear. The working man today is no longer seen as an added value to a business, but as an expensive burden. We are thought of as the problem, not the solution.

        The labor movement is a sleeping giant. Like a thoroughbred horse, American labor is far bigger and more powerful than its corporate masters. We accept with passive silence the constraints put upon us. We run when they say run and we accept ever diminishing rations as our reward. In the end, we are discarded. Our power to change the system lies in our unity. The horse could rule the master if it only realized its strength and applied it. I know my little website isn’t going to change the world. But if one more person stands up and says ‘I’ve had enough’, I will consider it a success. Because one person can affect two and two can affect four and pretty soon the horse is on its feet. And when the labor movement begins to act in unison like the powerful animal that it is, there will be a new race.

It will be a great day.

Wisconsin Gold

This story is pure gold.
Republican state Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) is one of eight senators being targeted for recall by Wisconsin residents. As it turns out, Hopper is being targeted for recall by more than just his constituents.

PoliticusUSA brings us the story:

Protestors went to Hopper’s home in Fond du Lac with their recall petition. They were greeted by Hopper’s maid who was “more than pleased to sign the petition.”
Protestors were also met by Hopper’s wife, who explained Hopper no longer lived at that address.

It turns out Hopper, who promotes family values, is living in Madison with his 25-year-old mistress—a lobbyist for Persuasion Partners, Inc., a right-wing lobbying firm.

Data compiled by Swing State Project, shows Hopper extremely vulnerable for recall.

The Daily Kos reports:

He won reelection in 2008 by the scantest of margins (0.2%, or 163 votes out of more than 83,000 cast) in a district that broke by 4 points for Obama.
His vote totals look even weaker when you consider that his Republican predecessor had run unopposed in SD 18 in 2004 and won with over 98% of the vote, and that the district had flipped from a +15R in Bush’s reelection in 2004 to a +4D for Obama in 2008 (SSP again).

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

UPS driver information