Archive for May 24, 2010
Progressive Radio: This Week on The Fallon Forum
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Lynn: Fortunately, this week on The Fallon Forum, we’ll have someone with an intelligent opinion on climate change join us on the show on Thursday. We’re not sure who that intelligent person is yet, but since you’ve set the bar kinda low, I’m not worried about finding her or him.
Ed: Right, and on Monday, Carl Olsen joins us as we tackle the Drug War, which according to a recent Associated Press article, is turning out to be a 40-year, $1 trillion debacle.
Lynn: Tuesday, we’re talking about food and farm policy. Lots of news to report on that front.
Ed: Wednesday, we talk with Hector Avilos about immigration reform and the extent to which the GOP seems willing to go to alienate Latino voters. See his column in The Des Moines Register.
Lynn: Thursday, we talk about climate change. And for this week’s on-air give-away, one of our callers will win a “Nature Bag.” These beautiful handbag bags can be seen (and purchased, of course) at Zumi, 42nd and University in Des Moines. Nature Bag proceeds go to a poverty reduction project in the Khmu/Lao community in southeast Asia. For more information, visit the Nature Bag website.
Ed & Lynn Fallon
Update: Iowa Workers in Labor Dispute With Alcoa Over Health Care
On May 31, 2010, the current master contract agreement between Alcoa and United Steelworkers expires. The union and company are currently negotiating a new contract in Cincinnati, Ohio. The contract covers USW members at Alcoa plants in Indiana, North Carolina, New York, Arkansas, Washington, Tennessee, Texas, and Iowa.
There hasn’t been a labor dispute at Alcoa for many years, but the union has concerns about proposals for health care, a two-tier wage system and changes in scheduling. Obviously, since the negotiations are currently underway, details are sparse. But in the April 29, 2010, issue of USW Local 105’s newsletter, Forerunner, Recording Secretary Jeff Hartford cautions members about the health care proposal touted as “choice” for families. The problem with the proposal, according to Hartford, is that families don’t usually have a choice about when, how, or what our health care needs will be. Accidents happen as well as unforeseen illness, and choosing a watered down plan under the assumption that good health now means reduced health care needs could prove to be costly mistake.
Hartford calls the issue of two-tier health care system a “disaster for morale.” He warns against implementing a system in which new hires are paid at a lowered pay scale and have reduced benefits than current employees. “Imagine working next to a co-worker making less money than you and not earning a pension. Imagine what a team player they will be! Imagine how semi-autonomous they will be. Imagine how someday when the two-tier employees are the majority of the workforce how they will care about past or retired employees.”
The issue of scheduling referred to as “workforce flexibility” by Alcoa, would give management scheduling rights that bypass some current seniority rules. The union points out that this scheduling free-for-all would cause hardship for families that need to plan for childcare, transportation, medical and other needs.
To highlight the difference in pay between what average workers earn and what the CEO of Alcoa earns, USW 105 President Skip McGill offered the following research:
In 2009, Klaus Kleinfeld earned $11,897,153 in total compensation. By comparison, the average worker made $40,690. Klaus Kleinfeld made 292 times the average worker’s pay. Kleinfeld earns an average of $5,719 per hour compared to $19 for the average worker. It would take the average worker 292 years to earn what Kleinfeld earned in 2009.
If no agreement is made prior to the 31st, the company and union could agree to extend the current contract while they continue negotiations. But if things turn sour, the company could lock out the workers or the workers could choose to strike. Stay tuned. For more information, contact USW 105 President Skip McGill: 563-355-1181 or read Forerunners at www.usw105.org
has been active in the labor movement
for ten years, first as a member of AFSCME 3506, when she taught adult
education classes at the City Colleges of Chicago. She moved to the
Quad Cities in 2007 where she worked as political coordinator with the
Quad City Federation of Labor, and as a caseworker for Congressman
Bruce Braley from 2007 – 2009.
Tracy Kurowski writes a labor update every
Monday on Blog for Iowa