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Thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan fired the nation’s air traffic controllers after they walked out on strike, signaling an escalation in the war on workers and the middle class that is still being waged three decades later.
On Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., Georgetown University associate history professor Joseph McCartin will discuss his new book on the PATCO strike, Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America.
McCartin will be joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Kenneth Moffett, who headed up the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service during the strike, as well as several former PATCO members.
The event is free and gets under way at 2:30 p.m. EST. Copies of Collision Course will be available for sale and a book signing will follow the event.
There are some very good comments, at this site, on this article.
For most people, an extended stay aboard a luxury cruise liner sounds like a dream vacation.
But Valeska Paris says she was held against her will aboard the Scientology cruise ship "Freewinds" for more than a decade. During her stay on the vessel, she alleges, she was forced into hard labor and never allowed to leave the ship without an escort.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC News) Lateline program, Paris claims that Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige sent her to the ship when she was 18 in order to prevent her family from pulling her out of the organization.
"I was basically hauled in and told that my mum had attacked the church and that I needed to disconnect from her because she was suppressive," she said. "He decided the ship, and I found out two hours before my plane left, I was woken up in the morning and I was sent to the ship for 'two weeks.' "
Paris was born into a Scientology family, but her mother quit the group after her husband committed suicide, blaming Scientology for coercing him out of a self-made personal fortune of more than a million dollars.
By Howard Mintz firstname.lastname@example.org
For at least eight years, Santana Alvarado worked as a dishwasher and cook at a Chili's Restaurant in Concord, typically showing up for the job each day around 7 a.m.
But, based on his sworn testimony in an ongoing legal battle, Alvarado had trouble getting his bosses to even give him a break to eat. And when he and his co-workers did manage time off the clock to grab a meal, he recalled, "we were forced to eat in a storage room."
Now, Alvarado is one of five lead plaintiffs in a major legal showdown over employee meal and rest breaks that has reached the California Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the court is set to consider where to draw the line in defining employer obligations to ensure workers actually take breaks required under state law.
The case involves a potential statewide class action against Brinker International, which operates a chain of restaurants that includes such popular eating spots as Chili's and Maggiano's Little Italy, both with restaurants in San Jose's Santana Row. The lawsuit, which could cover tens of thousands of Brinker waiters, waitresses, bartenders, cooks and others, has been unfolding for eight years, claiming the chain's restaurants regularly failed to assure employees got their breaks and thus violated California labor laws.
Thirty Southern California car wash workers have become the first in the business to sign a union contract -- and organizers are hoping more will follow suit.
The CLEAN Carwash Campaign announced on Tuesday that employees at the Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica signed a two-year agreement that will improve work conditions in an industry with a history of labor violations. It is the first contract won by CLEAN, which stands for the Community Labor Environmental Action Network.
"We're really excited to finally have a union car wash in L.A. County where people can go and get their cars washed with a clean conscience," Chloe Osmer, acting director of the CLEAN campaign, told In These Times.
According to the contract, which the AFL-CIO helped secure, workers at Bonus Car Wash will see a 2 percent wage increase. In addition to health and safety measures, the contract prohibits the employer from firing workers without just cause or discharging those who voice safety hazard concerns. There is also a grievance and arbitration procedure to settle disputes.
"We are looking forward to a partnership with the United Steelworkers that will make our business stronger and improve the opportunities and job satisfaction for all of our employees," Mike Watson, general manager of Bonus Car Wash, said in a statement.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — American drone strikes in southern Yemen have killed nine al-Qaida-linked militants, including the media chief for the group's Yemeni branch and the son of a prominent U.S.-born cleric slain in a similar attack last month, government officials and tribal elders said Saturday.
In the capital, meanwhile, forces loyal to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh opened fire on protesters, killing at least 12 and wounding nearly 300, according to medical officials and witnesses. In a northern district of Sanaa, fighting between Saleh's forces and anti-regime tribesmen and renegade troops killed four supporters of a tribal leader and two civilians. At least 13 people also were wounded, including six civilians.
The airstrikes late Friday in the southeastern province of Shabwa pointed to Washington's growing use of drones to target al-Qaida militants in Yemen. The missile attacks appear to be part of a determined effort to stamp out the threat from the group, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. officials have said is the terror network's most active and most dangerous branch.
The Yemeni Defense Ministry identified the slain media chief as Egyptian-born Ibrahim al-Bana. Tribal elders in the area also said the dead included Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, the 21-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim preacher and savvy Internet operator who became a powerful al-Qaida recruiting tool in the West. He, along with another propagandist, Pakistani-American Samir Khan, were killed in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone attack.
Yemen's al-Qaida branch has claimed responsibility for dispatching the would-be suicide bomber who failed to blow up a Detroit-bound flight in December 2009 with explosives sewn into his underwear.
The tribal elders, who spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals, said four other members of the al-Awlaki clan and another local militant were also killed in the same drone attack. There was no immediate confirmation of the younger al-Awlaki's death from Yemeni authorities.
By Associated Press, Published: October 10
FRESNO, Calif. — California has a new law that will allow state regulators to automatically certify union elections by farmworkers if they determine growers used threats or intimidation toward workers in the election process.
The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown late Sunday, is part of a compromise after union efforts to change the fundamental way farmworkers organize failed earlier this year.
The United Farm Workers of America, whose membership has dwindled in recent years, says the new law will keep growers more accountable but doesn’t solve the issue of intimidation.
“It’s not what we want, not what we feel we really need to benefit a large number of farmworkers,” said Arturo Rodriguez, UFW president. “But it’s an improvement over what we had before. Clearly the current system was not working. It offered an incentive for the growers to violate the law, because they had no reason to obey it.”
Farmworkers previously called for majority sign-up elections, also known as card-check balloting, that would have allowed workers to vote by signing petitions away from the fields. Farmers and agricultural organizations vehemently opposed the moved due to possible election violations by union organizers.
During his first stint as governor, Brown in 1975 signed the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which gave workers the right to hold secret ballot elections. However, he vetoed the card-check bill in June.
Gov. Jerry Brown has outlawed the open carrying of unloaded handguns in California, signing a bill late Sunday night that makes the practice that had been popular with some gun rights advocates a misdemeanor in the state.
The bill, AB144 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge (Los Angeles County), will take effect Jan. 1 and was backed by law enforcement officials throughout the state who said the practice created a public safety issue.
"We view the open carrying of unloaded handguns as a threat to the safety of the communities we police and the safety of our officers," said David L. Maggard, Jr., president of the California Police Chiefs Association.
The ban does not apply to law enforcement, people authorized to carry loaded weapons in public or to people selling unloaded weapons at gun shows, among other exemptions.
Violations of the law will carry a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in county jail.
In addition, Brown signed into law a bill that will require that the information from purchasers of long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, be retained by the state Department of Justice in the same way information about handgun purchasers is retained.
Currently, the information of people who buy long guns is destroyed.
In a message accompanying the signed bill, AB809 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, Brown wrote, "Since the state already retains handgun purchaser information, I see no reason why the state should not also retain information pertaining to the sale of long guns."
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...
Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"
Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944)
Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.
But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.
To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.
It' a long read, but worth your time.
Here's the naked truth: San Francisco will once again be the butt of national ridicule -- or a beacon of freedom of expression -- depending on your point of view. The latest issue? Public nudity.
Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation today that would require nudists to cover their seat if they take a seat in public and to cover up when they're in a restaurant.
The issue, he said, isn't a moral one about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of public nudity - "That's a different debate for a different day," he said.
"What this does do," he added, "is require that people show some basic courtesy and decency toward their fellow citizens when they are naked."
Wiener represents the Castro, a favorite gathering spot for a hard-core group of nudists who hang out in the plaza near Market and Castro streets and aren't shy about walking around the neighborhood. They are unabashed in their brazenness, setting off a robust debate.
City officials have, for the most part, kept hands off the naked guys, not wanting to offend those who embrace an anything-goes culture of tolerance that has made San Francisco famous. Some nearby business owners and residents, including parents with young kids, have said enough is enough, and have called on officials to crack down on the nudists.
Wiener's proposal would make it illegal for nudists to sit on public seating without placing a towel or similar barrier between their body and the seat, or to go into restaurants au natural.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...
LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) — Officials in the rural Virginia city where Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson are buried voted late Thursday to prohibit the flying of the Confederate flag on city-owned poles.
After a lively 2 1/2-hour public hearing, the Lexington City Council voted 4-1 to allow only U.S., Virginia and city flags to be flown. Personal displays of the Confederate flag are not affected. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose members showed up in force after leading a rally that turned a downtown park into a sea of Confederate flags, vowed to challenge the ordinance in court.
Some speakers during the meeting said the ordinance was an affront to the men who fought in the Civil War in defense of the South. One speaker stayed silent during his allotted three minutes, in memory of the Civil War dead.
But many speakers complained that the flag was an offensive, divisive symbol of the South's history of slavery and shouldn't be endorsed by the city of 7,000 people.
"The Confederate flag is not something we want to see flying from our public property," said city resident Marquita Dunn, who is black. "The flag is offensive to us."
Most residents who spoke, both blacks and whites, opposed the ordinance. But H.K. Edgerton, the former president of the NAACP chapter in Asheville, N.C., said he supported flying the Confederate flag because he wanted to honor black Confederate soldiers. Edgerton, who is black, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with images of those black soldiers.
"What you're going to do in banning the Southern cross is wrong. May God bless Dixie," he said, amid some gasps from the audience.
Before the rally, ordinance opponents rallied in the city park, then marched to the hearing under a parade of Confederate flags.
"I am a firm believer in the freedom to express our individual rights, which include flying the flag that we decide to fly," said Philip Way, a Civil War re-enactor dressed in a Confederate wool uniform despite the summer temperatures. "That's freedom to me."
by Mike Hall, Aug 24, 2011
Workers deserve a “fair, clear system for protecting their rights and making themselves heard in union elections,” four top Democratic lawmakers said in a letter to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) strongly supporting the board’s proposed changes in the way elections to form unions are conducted.
Noting that the current election procedures are “outdated and contain unnecessary delays…that run anywhere from three and a half years to 13 years,” the lawmakers say:
The longer an election is delayed, the more likely it is that workers will face harassment and unlawful retaliation for exercising their rights….In today’s workplace one in five workers who exercise the right to organize is illegally fired. In that environment, workers stop trying to organize, leading to a country where tens of millions of Americans who want a union do not have one.
The four are Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee; Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Education and Workforce Committee; and Rep. Robert Andrews D-N.J.), ranking member of the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee.
They wrote that along with ensuring workers’ rights, the proposed changes also “maintain employers’ rights while providing greater certainty and lower litigation costs for employers, workers and the government.”
The current systems delays and red tape encourage labor unrest and erode the rights of employers and employees alike. The new rules will help heal that broken system, bringing greater peace and greater fairness to the American workplace.
Yesterday, the AFL-CIO submitted more than 21,000 comments about the proposed changes from the nation’s workers who overwhelming support the new election rules.
This will definitely help in winning elections in the work place.
By Thomas Peele and Daniel Willis
Contra Costa Times
A hospital administrator in Alameda County, a deputy police chief in San Francisco and a physician in Santa Clara County grossed more than $500,000 each in pay last year — the top three 2009 salaries in a database containing 200,000 public employees now available online.
Nancy Farber, chief administrator of Fremont's (population 200,000) Washington Hospital, earned $847,811.36; Charles J. Keohane, grossed $516,118.49, in his final year as a San Francisco deputy police chief, including $352,000 in cashed-in vacation and compensatory time; and Dr. Jana Dolnikova of Santa Clara County's Valley Medical Center, grossed $507,748.60
By Cynthia Gorney
Because the wedding was illegal and a secret, except to the invited guests, and because marriage rites in Rajasthan are often conducted late at night, it was well into the afternoon before the three girl brides in this dry farm settlement in the north of India began to prepare themselves for their sacred vows. They squatted side by side on the dirt, a crowd of village women holding sari cloth around them as a makeshift curtain, and poured soapy water from a metal pan over their heads. Two of the brides, the sisters Radha and Gora, were 15 and 13, old enough to understand what was happening. The third, their niece Rajani, was 5. She wore a pink T-shirt with a butterfly design on the shoulder. A grown-up helped her pull it off to bathe.
The grooms were en route from their own village, many miles away. No one could afford an elephant or the lavishly saddled horses that would have been ceremonially correct for the grooms' entrance to the wedding, so they were coming by car and were expected to arrive high-spirited and drunk. The only local person to have met the grooms was the father of the two oldest girls, a slender gray-haired farmer with a straight back and a drooping mustache. This farmer, whom I will call Mr. M, was both proud and wary as he surveyed guests funneling up the rocky path toward the bright silks draped over poles for shade; he knew that if a nonbribable police officer found out what was under way, the wedding might be interrupted mid-ceremony, bringing criminal arrests and lingering shame to his family.
It's a long read.
As a father myself of four girls, I had a hard time with my anger at the parents (father) of those child brides. Just sickning.
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
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The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
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