Connecticut Republican Tom Foley
Tom Foley has already tried to blame Connecticut workers
for the closure of a factory they worked in, as part of a political attack on Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy. Now, the Republican gubernatorial candidate is attacking workers at a Pennsylvania factory he owned: It's okay that he busted a union and ultimately made $40 million off the sale of T.B. Woods, he says, because the workers "union led them down a very risky and dangerous path." That path? According to Foley, the risky and dangerous thing was asking for a 50 cent an hour pay increase, but maybe the real danger
was in underestimating Tom Foley's determination to break a union on the way to a $40 million payday for himself:
Four years into [Foley's] tenure, unionized workers at the manufacturing company refused his labor agreement and voted to strike – which they did, for 24 hours a day, for two and a half years.
"Because of Tom Foley … people were destroyed - and it's because Tom Foley wanted to profit," said Julie Kushner, the director of United Auto Workers Region 9, who held a press conference in Higganum Thursday along with other union leaders to call attention to the strike. According to news reports at the time, Foley received nearly $40 million as the largest shareholder when the company was sold in 2007.
"People don't do that in a haphazard way," Kushner said, referring to the length of the strike.
The strike was not resolved through labor negotiations; rather, Foley began hiring replacement employees who were not, as the striking workers were, demanding a 50-cent increase in hourly wages.
In the 1990s, Tom Foley was a rich guy who came in, bought a company, fought to keep the workers' wages low, and hired scabs to break their union. He profited handsomely. Now, Tom Foley is a rich guy who wants to be governor of Connecticut, so he can try to roll back advances for workers passed under Malloy, like paid sick leave and an increased minimum wage. Different decade, pretty much the same story.
Video of Foley's comments and more of the week's labor and education news below the fold.
- David Mobert looks at the 22-year fight to organize American Airlines workers.
- Why did it take CalPERS so long to dump its lousy hedge funds? And why are states like New Jersey and Rhode Island still all in on the hedge fund strategy for their public pensions? And why are some Democrats acting like Rhode Island treasurer and gubernatorial nominee Gina Raimondo is a genius for going all in on this terrible strategy?
- Workers at fracked wells exposed to benzene, CDC warns amid mounting evidence of shale jobs' dangers:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released preliminary results from its workplace hazard evaluations at unconventional oil and gas wells – and they show that workers can be exposed to high levels of benzene during fracking flowback.
A striking 15 of 17 samples were over workplace limits set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
- The Rolling Jubilee may only be able to forgive a teeny tiny percentage of student debt, but I challenge you not to get verklempt reading about someone finding out their debt is gone. And it has a very direct labor connection:
The weekly calls from debt collectors will stop. And, she says, she will soon be able to continue her job search without worrying that a hiring manager will see a ding on her credit report.
- Bartender writes open letter to the hedge funder who grabbed her ass. Hedge funder denies grabbing her ass, but makes clear he is in fact an ass (who probably grabbed hers).
- Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, has won a MacArthur "genius" grant. Pretty fantastic.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has been particularly passionate about fighting racism, and speaking to the Missouri AFL-CIO, he addressed the killing of Michael Brown:
Now, some people might ask me why our labor movement should be involved in all that has happened since the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. And I want to answer that question directly. How can we not be involved?
Union members’ lives have been profoundly damaged in ways that cannot be fixed. Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother who works in a grocery store, is our sister, an AFL-CIO union member, and Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown, is a union member, too, and he is our brother. Our brother killed our sister’s son and we do not have to wait for the judgment of prosecutors or courts to tell us how terrible this is.
So I say again, how can we not be involved? This tragedy and all the complexities of race and racism are a big part of our very big family as they always have been. A union is like a home. And in any home, good and bad things happen. We have to deal with all of them, honestly.
- Sens. Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander aren't the only congressional Republicans railing against the National Labor Relations Board. Speaker John Boehner delivered a warning about the agency's evil to the International Franchise Association.
- And here's a great example of why Republicans hate the NLRB so much:
The National Labor Relations Board ruled against the CNN cable television network on Monday in an 11-year-old labor dispute, ordering the network to rehire or compensate about 300 former workers.
The NLRB agreed with a November 2008 ruling by one of its administrative judges that CNN improperly replaced a unionized subcontractor, Team Video Services (TVS), with in-house non-union staffers, claiming "anti-union" bias.
- Nice! There's a proposal in Seattle to have a city office dedicated to labor law enforcement. So workers would be more likely to actually get their $15 minimum wage and paid sick days.
- My father (and a co-author) wrote a thing! 'Flexible' schedules aren't flexible at all. Let's end the always-on-call work day:
A nursing assistant who lives in a trailer told us that she skips vacation and works extra “so I know I have the oil for the coming winter”. Though she and her coworkers get six days a year of paid sick leave, she told us that they’re penalized each time they use one and that, if anyone were to call in sick four times in three months, she thinks she would be fired.
- Do you own anything manufactured in Indonesia? (Probably.) Take a quick look at this picture.
- You'd think Chicago would have learned its lesson about privatization:
Nearly half of the principals in the district responded to a survey by the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association and said that ever since the school district awarded $340 million in two custodial management contracts in February to private concerns, their schools have been filthy, according to Catalyst Chicago. Principals reported serious problems with rodents, roaches and other bugs, filthy floors, overflowing garbage bins, filthy toilets, missing supplies such as toilet paper and soap, and broken furniture — issues they said they didn’t have before. Now, many said, they spend a lot of time trying to clean their buildings.
The three-year contracts were awarded to Aramark ($260 million) and Sodexmagic ($80 million) to clean Chicago’s schools.
In the first formal evaluation of the troubled iPads-for-all project in Los Angeles schools, only one teacher out of 245 classrooms visited was using the costly online curriculum. The reason, according to the report, was related to the program's ambition, size and speed. [...]
Well, it sounds like it was disruptive, anyway.
Among the issues cited at several schools: high school math curriculum wasn't provided, efforts to log in and access curriculum were unsuccessful and at least one school said it preferred the district's own reading program. Four out of five high schools reported that they rarely used the tablets.
- The school board in Palm Beach County, Florida, passed a resolution calling for a testing overhaul.