FREE SPEECH ZONE | Voter Redemption

A parable tells of a room in which “a zillionaire, a Tea Party person and a union member” confront a plate of 12 cookies: “The zillionaire takes 11 of the cookies, and says to the other two, ‘That guy is trying to steal your cookie.’ ” Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Many Americans fell for the demonization of public workers by Republicans and turned on their neighbors while the wealthy laughed all the way to the bank with all the “cookies.” Wise up folks: In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 80 percent held just 12.8 percent. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Singing “This Land is Your Land” at the Minnesota State Capitol

It was cold, but my heart was warm after the the rally on Saturday, February 26 in support of our Union friends in Wisconsin. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Public unions must remain

In his LA Times op-ed of February 22, (Public unions must go), Jonah Goldberg offers a menu of myths, fictions and right wing talking points to flat out promote the elimination of public employee unions. He starts by offering a history of how and why these unions began, and his conclusion is “it was rankly political”.  No, it was rankly an American right! Simply because one elects to follow a career path in the public sector does not refuse him/her the right of virtually every other American in the private sector– the right to organize for better wages, working conditions and bargaining. Most Americans agree; a USA Today poll shows 61% believe public employees have the right to union collective bargaining. To extend this, we must ask, who are these people that serve us as teachers, firefighters, police officers, judges, nurses, and administrators of our local, state and Federal government? Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Public employee unions

The union steward for The Newspaper Guild walked smugly to my desk on my first day at the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With a condescending tone he told me how to cheat on my expense account, what to do to get overtime for not working, and that I dressed too well for the union guys. I made a personal vow to do everything I could to change this company and for the next almost 18 years I did. I never gave in to union pressures to be a mediocre worker or to act against my values. I rose rapidly in the management ranks-9 promotions in 16 years-and battled the Newspaper Guild, Teamsters, and other unions every step of the way. Continue Reading

Why I joined the picket line

I’ve never been a member of a union. In fact, I was raised in an anti-union family. My father-in-law broke a union picket line as a management-level worker before I was married. My lens was always from the management side of the labor equation.

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Government union members rally as Pawlenty touts layoffs

February 17 – Members of AFSCME Council 5 plan to rally at the Capitol today in support of a state government budget solution that won’t mean the kind of painful layoffs Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s supplemental budget plan proposes for state and local government workers. 
The union, which represents city, school, county, state and some private sector workers, says its top priority is a budget solution that includes raising revenue by taxing the wealthy and corporations. That approach was explicitly ruled out in Pawlenty’s budget proposal, which actually seeks to cut corporate tax rates, while reducing state aid to cities and counties by $250 million,  cutting $181 million from state agencies, and cutting $47 million from higher educaiton to help balance a $1.2 billion deficit in the budget cycle that ends next June. Both those cuts would likely lead to layoffs of government employees across the state, a probability Pawlenty’s budget commissioner Tom Hanson acknowledged during legislative testimony on Tuesday. The union hopes to pack 1,100 members into the Capitol Rotunda at 12:30 p.m. today. The rally is one part of the group’s Day On The Hill, which concludes with a reception at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront in St. Continue Reading

Biden to visit New Flyer plant, a ‘green jobs’ – and union – success story

Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the New Flyer Bus Co. on Thursday will showcase how the U.S. economy can be revitalized with new, “green” technologies. But it also can be an opportunity to highlight another of the Obama administration’s priorities – the Employee Free Choice Act. Biden will convene the second meeting of the “Middle Class Task Force” at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at New Flyer – one of those rare companies that is doing well in today’s dismal economy. In 2008, the company hired more than 90 people at its St. Continue Reading

Starbucks union-busting complaints brewing

About a dozen former and current Starbucks workers gathered outside the coffee chain’s outlet at the intersection of Nicollet and Franklin avenues on Thursday morning, circling on the sidewalk in the single-digit temperatures and carrying placards that read “Justice for Baristas” and “Starbucks Workers Union.”
“Starbucks Union here to stay,” they chanted. “These lattes are union-made.”
The event coincided with the filing of 11 labor violation charges against the company with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Among the accusations against the ubiquitous coffee retailer: Employees were illegally fired or punished for engaging in union activities; store managers wrongly prohibited discussions of organizing efforts at work; and pro-union workers were spied on by management. “Starbucks has flagrantly violated the National Labor Relations Act on countless occasions,” said Aaron Kocher, an employee at the Nicollet Avenue shop. As a media event it was admittedly something of a failure. Continue Reading

“I really like my job…I really want to be union”

They work 60-70 hours a week. They say they are paid a monthly salary that averages out to about $10 an hour because there is no overtime pay. They receive no benefits. That means no health insurance, and no vacation, and only one paid holiday per year – Thanksgiving. They are the drivers who work for Vincent Trucking, and its alter-ego, Metro Trucking. Continue Reading

New Minneapolis policy promotes worker rights

Every year the City of Minneapolis awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts for services and now a newly-adopted policy means that more of those contracts could be performed by union labor. The Minneapolis City Council voted 12-0 Aug. 31 to adopt a “labor peace” policy that will apply to all contracts for services in excess of $250,000 when a determination has been made that the city has a “proprietary interest” in the contract. “This is a significant resolution adopted by the City Council,” said Bill McCarthy, president of the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council, who negotiated for more than a year with City Council members and staff to craft the labor peace proposal. “If the city finds they have proprietary interest, they will require labor peace, or in other words, card-check.” Continue Reading