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EDITOR'S NOTE: To read the story with links, click here.

By PATRICK HUGHES

It's not often that the Chair of a State Democratic Party says anything even remotely nice about the opposing Party. But this week Jeb Bush became the latest Republican presidential nominee to release his taxes -- and that's an example that Matt Bevin should follow as he stubbornly continues to hide his own.

When Bush and even Donald Trump made their finances available, they highlighted the values of transparency and accountability, two characteristics that have often been found lacking in Bevin by Republicans, Democrats and the press.

For instance, when Sen. Mitch McConnell ran against Bevin, his campaign didn't mince words: they labeled Bevin an "East Coast Con Man" and a "Pathological liar." More recently, Republicans have called Bevin a "selfish, angry, antagonistic" politician who is only "running to satisfy his ego."

 

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 If you haven't see the video of self-styled "pension expert" Matt Bevin failing to answer a simple question about Kentucky's pension system, watch this new web video we're releasing highlighting the latest addition to Bevin's long reel of cringe-worthy answers.

And remember this key point: this video shows that Bevin is hiding his plan for Kentucky's budget, just like he's hiding his tax returns, his failure to pay his taxes, his controversial companies, and his hypocritical business interests.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: To read the story with links, click here.

By ALICE OLLSTEIN

This week, the Supreme Court agreed to take a case that could spell doom for public sector unions, with the potential to make the entire country so-called “right-to-work” territory.

If that effort fails, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has vowed to make every state a “right-to-work” state if elected president. Out of all the Republican candidates running for president, a growing roster that now tops a dozen, Walker has focused the most on his record fighting unions — a record he says prepares him to confront enemy combatants like ISIS if elected president.

But while Walker may be the loudest and proudest union buster in the 2016 race, his fellow candidates are also striving to prove their anti-labor bona fides.

 

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By RYAN CUMMINGS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local union members have voted to accept the terms of a new four-year contract at the GE Appliance Park and, after a national vote, the new contract has been officially ratified.

After three weeks of negotiations in New York, GE and union reps voted unanimously on a new proposed contract, which IUE-CWA Local 761 President Dana Crittendon discussed the proposal Sunday with employees in Louisville.

"My message to everyone was, you know, this meeting here, we want to educate you, what's in this contract here and for you to decide, you know, what's best for you and your family," Crittendon said Sunday.

 

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By PHILIP M. BAILEY
Louisville Courier-Journal

Louisville workers can expect a pay raise starting July 1 after a Jefferson County Circuit judge on Monday upheld an ordinance raising the city's minimum wage to $9 an hour over the next three years.

Packaging Unlimited, the Kentucky Restaurant Association and the Kentucky Retail Federation filed the civil suit against the law this year, arguing the Metro Council and Mayor Greg Fischer did not have the legal authority to raise the wage for workers. The group of businesses argued the ordinance was in conflict with the state's minimum wage law, which is set at $7.25 an hour.

In a four-page ruling, Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman said state law establishes a floor for wages that does not expressly authorize or forbid a local government from raising workers' pay rates.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Louisville labor attorney Buddy Cutler for sending this article to us.

By BETH MACY JUNE 25, 2015

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. — A woman came up to the book-­signing table at an event at my local library Monday night. She did not have a copy of the newly released paperback of “Factory Man,” my book about what happened when 300,000 American furniture­making jobs were offshored to Asia.

But she waited a half-­hour in the signing line anyway, to introduce herself and to tell me she was one of the more than 550 people laid off in 2001 when Furniture Brands International closed its Lane Furniture plant in this former mill town.

She couldn’t afford the $17 book, she whispered, because she was doing housecleaning and other off-­the-­books, part­ time work. (I offered to give her one, but her gainfully employed sister­-in-­law ended up buying her a copy before I could get to the box of books I keep in my car, for just such occasions.)

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

“Add Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin's name to the list of Republicans who have received campaign donations from a white supremacist referenced in the manifesto of the man who allegedly shot and killed nine people last week in Charleston, S.C.,” the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Sam Youngman recently wrote.

Bevin’s benefactor is Earl Holt III, president of the St. Louis-based Council of Conservative Citizens.

Holt’s group “is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

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By LINDSEY BEVER

One night in November 2003, a man named Earl Holt reportedly typed his own name into an Internet search engine and got back a blog post calling him a white supremacist.

At the time, Holt was a high-ranking member in the Council of Conservative Citizens, deemed a “supremacist group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which claims it was the “reincarnation” of the White Citizens’ Councils that fought desegregation during the civil rights movement. Holt also wrote for the group’s racially charged tabloid, Citizens Informer, and co-hosted a radio talk show with the group’s founder, Gordon Baum.

Still, he reportedly disagreed with the blogger’s claim and, according to the blogger, sent an e-mail in response.

 

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By SAM YOUNGMAN

Add Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin's name to the list of Republicans who have received campaign donations from a white supremacist referenced in the manifesto of the man who allegedly shot and killed nine people last week in Charleston, S.C.

Politico first reported Tuesday that Bevin received a $500 contribution from Earl Holt, president of the Council of Conservative Citizens, in December 2013, when Bevin was challenging U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary.

Bevin won the GOP nomination for Kentucky governor this spring after losing badly to McConnell last year. He faces Democratic nominee Jack Conway in the November general election.

Bevin, who is white, heads a ticket with lieutenant governor candidate Jenean Hampton, who is black. Bevin has nine children, four of whom are adopted and black.

Bevin's campaign manager, Ben Hartman, said Tuesday that Bevin and Hampton will each donate $500 to a scholarship fund for minority students.

"Matt received over 38,000 individual contributions during his race for the U.S. Senate," Hartman said in a statement. "While Matt's Senate campaign ended over a year ago and both the account and committee are now closed, Matt and Jenean will each be making a $500 contribution to the Warren County NAACP scholarship fund."

Holt has contributed to dozens of Republicans, most of whom spent Monday racing to donate the money to charitable causes.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential candidate, was among that group, receiving $1,750 for his political action committee.

Paul's staff said Monday that the senator was donating the money to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to assist families of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting victims.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/06/23/3913958_report-white-supremacist-donated.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

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By WILLIAM RIVERS PITT, Truthout

This week, legislation to give President Obama fast-track trade agreement authority (TPA) will take its star turn in the GOP-controlled Senate. The cloture vote is said to be taking place on Tuesday, and if the 60-vote threshold is reached, the final vote on the bill will happen the same day, or on Wednesday.

More importantly, however, is the following vote, scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday, on "Trade Adjustment Assistance," (TAA), also known as the "We sent your job to a Pacific Rim sweatshop in a country with no labor laws where people work for $2 a day during 18-hour shifts making the clothes you used to be able to afford before we laid you off, so here's ten dollars so you can take in a movie and get your mind off things, but no popcorn for you" bill.

In other words, TAA is a bill to provide "assistance" for all the people who are absolutely going to lose their jobs if the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) passes ... and the passage of that trade bill is what all this TPA and TAA mishigas has been about.

 

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By SAM YOUNGMAN
Lexington Herald-Leader

Kentucky Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin voted for a presidential candidate in 2004 who defended the Confederate flag, enjoyed the support of a racist group and was later labeled an "active white supremacist."

Bevin, who on Tuesday called for removal of the Jefferson Davis statue from the state Capitol rotunda, told National Review in a 2013 interview that instead of voting for incumbent George W. Bush or Democrat John Kerry, he opted to vote for Constitution Party candidate Mike Peroutka.

"I have a 'Peroutka for President' T-shirt from 2004 in my drawer," Bevin told the conservative publication.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

In spite of a monumental effort by labor, civil rights, human rights, environmental rights, religious and other like-minded groups, organizations and individuals the U.S. Senate voted yesterday on the Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2146, which passed on a vote of 60 aye votes, 38 nay and 2 not voting.

This vote gives the President so-called “fast track” authority to approve trade agreements for the next six years, leaving Congress with only the ability to vote up or down on future trade deals without amendments or debate, including the pending secretly negotiated Transpacific Partnership (TPP).

The effort to stop further corporate control of the global economy was long and difficult and will continue onward as workers, unions and all of our allies continue to reveal and mobilize around the disastrous trade deals that are planned and negotiated by corporate lawyers and CEOs in secret meetings where the interests of human beings and the global environment are subsumed by uncontrolled greed.
 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

The way they twist themselves, the folks at Protect My Check ought to start a pretzel factory.

PMC is the Florida-based anti-union group that is helping push county “right to work ordinances” in Kentucky.

PMC claims the measures are legal under the state’s home rule law. The group claims it favors “state sovereignty.”

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

As we recently witnessed in our United States Senate race, ordinary voices were silenced by the spending of corporations. And now a Florida-based corporation wants to bring this same evil to Kentucky’s campaign finance laws. The Kentucky AFL-CIO believes that business corporations should be limited in their political influence and continue their role as commercial institutions. Corporations are not people!

Protect My Check, the Florida-based corporation that led the assault on Kentucky’s unions and workers with illegal right-to-work ordinances is now trying to undermine Kentucky’s campaign finance laws. They want to hand even more political and economic power to large corporations by urging the federal court to lift restrictions on the corporations that currently prevent them from directly contributing to elected state officials.

In a blatant display of cynicism and Orwellian double-speak these outside entities, funded by billionaire right-wing plutocrats, call their effort ‘protect my check’ when their entire purpose is to undermine the hard-earned paychecks of Kentuckians with their right-to-work county ordinance ploy. Now they have the audacity to use the same moniker in their plan to give corporations virtually unlimited ability to buy politicians and political power in order to destroy labor unions, decrease wages and amass even greater wealth at the public’s expense.

 

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By THEO KEITH

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Republican candidate for Kentucky governor Matt Bevin has been late to pay property taxes on land he owns in other states at least 10 times since 2002, documents indicate.

Local officials in Greenwood, Maine and Leesville, Louisiana provided the documents at the request of WAVE 3 News. Combined, they show Bevin paid more than $1,100 in interest and penalties to settle property tax bills.

Bevin disputed the numbers but did not provide an explanation for what the Maine and Louisiana officials provided.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Unions seldom make the news except during strikes, which the media commonly calls “labor disputes.”

The implication, even if unintentional, is that strikes are the union’s fault.

At the same time, a lot of conservative newspaper editorial writers, pundits, and radio and TV talking heads slam unions flat-out. Often, they claim unions are greedy and selfish and care little or nothing about their communities.

 

 

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By JACK BRAMMER

FRANKFORT — A Florida-based group is challenging in court a Kentucky law that bans corporations from making political contributions to candidates and parties.

The group, Protect My Check, is a corporation dedicated to pushing legislation that allows people to work for unionized employers without joining a union.

It is being represented by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative, libertarian-leaning public policy and public-interest law organization based in Phoenix. The Goldwater Institute filed suit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Frankfort against the state Registry of Election Finance, which oversees campaign finance law in Kentucky.

 

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To see the original article with photos click here.

By DAN KAUFMAN

In his first day of work in three months, Randy Bryce asked his foreman for the next day off. He wanted to go to the Capitol in Madison, Wis., and testify against a proposed law. Bryce, a member of Milwaukee Ironworkers Local 8, was unloading truckloads of steel beams to build a warehouse near Kenosha, and he needed the job. He has an 8-year-old son, his debts were piling up and a 10-hour shift paid more than $300. But the legislation, which Republicans were rushing through the State Senate, angered him enough to sacrifice the hours. Supporters called it a “right to work” bill, because it prohibited unions from requiring employees to pay dues. But to Bryce, that appealing name hid the true purpose of the bill, which was to destroy unions.

The next morning, Bryce, who is 50 and has close-­cropped black hair and a horseshoe mustache, woke up at 5:30, got dressed in his usual jeans, hoodie and Local 8 varsity jacket with an I-beam and an American flag stitched on the back and drove 90 miles to Madison in his gray Mustang. Despite the February chill, crowds had begun to gather in the square outside the Capitol. The scene was reminiscent of a similar one that played out four years earlier, in 2011, when thousands of people occupied the Capitol’s rotunda for more than two weeks to protest Act 10, a law that demolished collective-­bargaining rights for nearly all public employees. The protests in Madison were the first significant resistance to the ascendant Tea Party and helped set the stage for Occupy Wall Street. For Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, it was the moment that started his conservative ascent. “The Republican Party has a demonstrated, genuine hero and potential star in its ranks, and he is the governor of Wisconsin,” Rush Limbaugh said last year. The unions, Democrats and other perceived enemies, he continued, had “thrown everything they’ve got at Scott Walker, and he has beat them back without one syllable of complaint, without one ounce of whining. All he has done is win.” Walker is expected to announce in the next few weeks that he is entering the 2016 presidential race.

It is particularly bitter for Walker’s opponents that his rise has taken place in Wisconsin, a blue state with a long history of labor activism; it was the first state in the nation to grant collective-­bargaining rights to public employees, in 1959. Walker, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has won three races for governor, one a recall effort, and each time he took more than a third of the votes from union households. He was able to do this by making “labor” seem like someone else — even to union members — and pitting one faction against another. Four years ago, in a private exchange captured by a documentary filmmaker, he revealed his successful strategy to a billionaire supporter who asked him if Wisconsin would ever become a right-to-work state. Walker responded enthusiastically, explaining that Act 10 was just the beginning of a larger effort. “The first step is, we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public-­employee unions,” he said, “because you use divide-­and-­conquer.”
 

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John Paul Wright of Louisville, co-chair of Railroad Workers United, sent us this exchange of letters. 

A Letter from a railroader to a railroader

Mr. Wright:

First off how the heck are ya? I have been wanting to introduce myself to you for a while and thought I would use a story and a question to do just that. I am an engineer for Uncle Pete’s line and have been really paying attention to everything going on around me on the job for quite a while. Specifically the divide in behaviors and attitudes as concerns management and crew. I have noticed that anyone who is a pay grade above TE&Y, MOW, Signal or Mechanical seems to think that they have the right to be as degrading, confrontational or demeaning towards the men and women doing the heavy lifting out here as they want, with apparently zero accountability for their very rude attitudes and actions.
 

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By RON KAMINKOW

The news media have been full of speculation about what caused an Amtrak train to derail east of Philadelphia on May 12, killing at least eight people and injuring hundreds.

Train #188, operated by lone engineer Brandon Bostian, entered a curve with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, at over 100.

Was this excessive speed the result of fatigue, inattentiveness, a projectile that hit the train (and possibly the engineer), or some other factor? The investigation may eventually pinpoint the cause—or we may never know.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan is urging Kentuckians who pack union cards to call Bluegrass State members of Congress today and urge them to vote no on TPP, TAA and fast-track authority.

Nationwide, organized labor has been waging “a two-year fight to expose the secret and destructive not-so-free-trade agreement known as TPP and stopping passage of TAA and fast-track,” Londrigan said.

“The effort has been monumental and the results will be equally monumental for workers and families around the globe. So don’t let up. Keep making calls and keep the pressure on!”

The toll free number to call is 1-888-966-9839.
 

 

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 FRANKFORT, Ky.— Following Matt Bevin’s refusal to release his tax returns and news of his “possible ethics violation,” today the Kentucky Democratic Party is launching a new online clock tracking the amount of time Bevin is refusing to disclose this important information to Kentucky residents.

When asked by Cn2, Bevin said he sees no value “whatsoever” in releasing his tax returns -- breaking with Kentucky’s long, bipartisan tradition of disclosure by gubernatorial nominees — and claimed he had released “plenty of financial information.” The Associated Press then reported that Bevin failed to disclose his positions with controversial, out-of-state corporations on required state documents, a “possible ethics violation.”

“Kentucky residents need to know what else Matt Bevin is hiding,” said David Bergstein of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “It’s bad enough that Bevin is breaking Kentucky’s bipartisan tradition of disclosure by gubernatorial nominees — but his ‘possible ethics violation’ for failing to disclose his controversial out-of-state corporations underscores why Bevin must come clean with Kentucky voters. The clock is ticking, and each minute that passes is another reminder why Republicans called Bevin an “East Coast Con Man” who cannot be trusted and is only looking out for himself.

 

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO Committee On Political Education (COPE) has added Rick Nelson’s name to its list of endorsed candidates.

Nelson, a state representative from Middlesboro, bested four other candidates for the Democratic nomination for state treasurer.

The COPE committee voted “no recommendation” for the primary because Nelson and other candidates had enjoyed union support in other races. “No recommendation” means unions are free to support candidates of their choice.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: To see the article with graphics and links click here.

By NOAM SCHEIBER

WASHINGTON — Depleted by decades of diminishing reach and struggling to respond to recent anti-union laws, the labor movement has nonetheless found a way to assert itself politically by wreaking havoc on President Obama’s trade agenda, a top priority of his final years in office.

On Friday, stiff labor opposition helped derail a measure necessary to clear a path for an up-or-down vote on a sweeping trade deal that the White House is negotiating with 11 other nations bordering the Pacific Ocean.

“Labor worked on this long and hard,” Representative Gregory Meeks, a Queens Democrat sympathetic to the emerging deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.), said on the eve of the vote. “If labor was neutral on this issue, and members were allowed to just make a decision on their own, this bill would not have a problem in passing.”

 

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By TOM ROBERTS

WASHINGTON -- It’s easy to make the country’s most powerful labor leader go almost schoolkid giddy. Just say, “Pope Francis.”

Richard Trumka breaks into a smile that would light up a mine shaft. “Just talking about him makes my heart swell up,” says the president of the AFL-CIO, whose office overlooks the White House. “It makes me feel good because it’s like hope. He’s given people hope who have been without hope for so long.”

The alliance between labor and religion, particularly the Catholic church, is nothing new. From the promulgation of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891 to Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, popes have written and spoken in uncompromising terms when making the case for the rights of workers to organize, to advance and protect their own interests, to be justly compensated, and to have humane and safe working conditions.

 

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By MICHAEL McAULIFFE and LINDA BARRON-LOPEZ

WASHINGTON -- Democrats rebelled against President Barack Obama's ambitious trade agenda Friday, spurning his last-second personal appeal and blocking a measure in the House that would have granted him the power to fast-track sweeping, secretive international agreements through Congress.

The Democrats' revolt focused on a provision that they would normally back -- something called Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA, which would pay to help retrain workers whose jobs get shipped overseas by trade deals -- knowing that killing it would bring fast-track down with it.\

But weeks of telephone calls from the White House, countless meetings, negotiations, public feuds and a last-minute trip to Capitol Hill from the president himself did nothing to sway Democrats and the GOP's conservative wing against Obama's trade agenda. In an especially stinging rebuke, Obama lost the key vote, 302 to 126, despite his personal lobbying just hours before.

 

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By KENNY DOUGLASS and JONATHAN McEMBER

HAWESVILLE, KY (WFIE) -The lockout between Century Aluminum and its union members is over.

United Steel Workers Local 9423 members voted in favor of a new contract and will return to work on Monday.

Union leaders say members voted 68% in favor of a tentative agreement with Century Aluminum.

It's a five year-deal with a 2.5% raise the first year and 2.75% raise every year for the remaining years.

 

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 FRANKFORT, Kentucky — Republican nominee for governor Matt Bevin did not disclose his positions with two companies on his financial disclosure statement, a possible violation of state ethics laws.

Bevin is the president of Bevin Bros. Manufacturing in Connecticut and has a position with Academic Merit in Maine, according to records filed with the Secretary of State's offices in those two states. He did not report either on his state disclosure.

Bevin did disclose his position as sole owner of Integrity Holdings, the company that owns Bevin Bros. and Academic Merit. Bevin's campaign manager, Ben Hartman, said that fulfilled his disclosure requirements.

Executive Branch Ethics Commission interim executive director Kathryn Gabhart said she believes the commission would find Bevin should disclose all of his positions with every business.

Bevin has often spoken publicly of his association with the companies.

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Following Matt Bevin’s refusal to release his tax returns, Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Hughes issued the following statement:

“Matt Bevin’s refusal to release his tax returns is a deeply troubling breach of the public’s trust, and breaks with Kentucky’s long, bipartisan tradition of disclosure from gubernatorial candidates. Bevin’s cavalier disregard for transparency raises several deeply disturbing questions, most importantly: what exactly is Bevin hiding? Kentuckians need to know this information in order to make an informed decision about the gubernatorial candidates, which is why we are calling on Bevin to follow the lead of past Republican gubernatorial nominees and disclose his tax returns.”

BACKGROUND:

When Asked If He Would Release His Tax Returns As A Gubernatorial Candidate, Matt Bevin Refused. "’No,' said Bevin, who last year held interests worth either more than $10,000 or at least 5 percent in seven businesses specializing in products such as LED lights, candy and medical devices according to his financial disclosure form filed with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. 'Why? Why would I?' When Pure Politics told Bevin others, such as Gov. Steve Beshear, released such records as candidates, he said he sees no value ‘whatsoever' in publicizing his tax returns as a gubernatorial hopeful.” [CN2, 6/10/15]

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 The arguments against raising the minimum wage — at the local, state or national level — weaken each time another major employer takes the step voluntarily.

A big blow fell Monday when Gov. Steve Beshear signed an order to raise the wages of about 800 executive branch employees July 1. The minimum will rise from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

"Any reasonable review of unbiased research shows that raising the wage is a smart business decision," Beshear said.

 

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Video: When asked if he would release his tax returns, Bevin snapped, “Why? Why would I?”

"When Pure Politics told Bevin others, such as Gov. Steve Beshear, released such records as candidates, he said he sees no value 'whatsoever' in publicizing his tax returns as a gubernatorial hopeful."

Bevin: "I think people who want to be titillated by and distracted by things that have nothing whatsoever to do with building a better economy, they’re going to always want to talk about chickens or other peoples’ tax returns or whatever."

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By ANNA BAUMANN
Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

Despite misleading explanations from “right-to-work” (RTW) advocates, the point of such laws is straightforward: weaken workers’ ability to band together through unions for better job conditions and pay. The law does so by creating “free riders” who benefit from union representation but don’t pay toward the associated costs, leaving unions with less money to negotiate better contracts and represent workers in grievances against employers.

(See here for more on what RTW does and does not do. For instance, it does not grow jobs.)

In order to play down the financial toll of covering free riders, RTW advocates have claimed unions in Kentucky spend very little of their resources on the “representational activities” that benefit non-paying workers as well as dues-paying members. For example, the Heritage Foundation cites anecdotal evidence that the United Auto Workers Local 2164 in Bowling Green spent two percent of its budget on representational activities in 2013. But a search on the United States Department of Labor website shows that figure is on the low end. On the high end, representational activities accounted for a full half of the Boilermakers’ budget in Elizabethtown, AFL-CIO Lodge 40. For all 65 Kentucky unions that submitted form LM-2s in 2013 which detail disbursements, the average expenditure was 23 percent. Whether a union spends two, 23 or 50 percent, it’s disingenuous for those representing business interests to suggest the costs are inconsequential to a union’s bottom line.

 

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Ronald McDonald and Matt Bevin Disagree

FRANKFORT, KY — On the Terry Meiners show last night, Matt Bevin once again refused to endorse an increase in Kentucky's minimum wage, citing McDonalds to defend his position. The problem with Bevin's story: McDonalds has announced they are raising their minimum wage.

Previously, Bevin stated Kentucky does not need higher paying jobs and that he is "absolutely, adamantly" opposed to raising the minimum wage.

"Matt Bevin is proving why Republicans labelled him an 'East Coast Con Man' and a 'Pathological Liar,' because even Ronald McDonald disagrees with Bevin's refusal to endorse a minimum wage increase for Kentucky's hardworking families," said David Bergstein of the Kentucky Democratic Party. "While 'Bailout Bevin' enriched himself with a $100,000 taxpayer funded handout, he's against ideas that would put more money in the pockets of Kentucky's middle class."

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UPDATE FROM BILL LONDRIGAN, KENTUCKY STATE AFL-CIO PRESIDENT: Below is a Bowling Green Daily News article featuring the attorney general’s finding that Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken violated the state open records act by improperly withholding specific information requested by the Kentucky State AFL-CIO in our continuing effort to expose the origin, funders and accomplices who conspired to secretly introduce the Warren County RTW ordinance in coordination with out-of-state as well as in-state organizations and individuals. In every county where RTW ordinances have been considered or passed, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, through legal counsel, has made open records requests of county judge/executives, magistrates and county attorneys. These requests have most often been complied with, and other times additional requests have been necessary to obtain the requested records. In fact, numerous open records requests have produced a large volume of records which include e-mails, correspondence, meeting minutes, etc., which conclusively demonstrate a high degree of coordination among the counties spearheaded by Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanon with a big assist from Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken. Our open records request of the Warren County attorney, the official responsible for drafting and distributing the legal opinion which concluded that RTW ordinances were legal and the Warren County ordinance itself was legal, is the first and only instance in which an appeal to the attorney general was necessary. We will continue seeking the records which we have requested so that the true nature and depth of the influence of outside organizations and individuals and the role of certain elected officials in promoting illegal RTW ordinances is revealed for all to see. In solidarity, Bill.

By KATIE BRANDENBURG kbrandenburg@bgdailynews.com

An attorney general’s decision issued last week found that Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken violated the state Open Records Act in her response to an open records request from the Kentucky AFL-CIO.

The decision followed a request from attorney David O’Brien Suetholz on behalf of the state AFL-CIO for records related to Warren County’s passage of a local right-to-work ordinance.

Both sides said the open records issue could end up in circuit court.

 

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By JACK BRAMMER
Lexington Herald-Leader

Gov. Steve Beshear is raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for hundreds of the lowest-paid workers in Kentucky's executive branch.

Beshear, who will leave office in December, ceremonially signed an executive order Monday afternoon at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington to raise the pay of nearly 800 state workers starting July 1. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Tipped employees — such as those who work in state park restaurants — will see their wages more than doubled to $4.90 per hour.

 

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SHOT: "Gov. Steve Beshear has signed an executive order raising the pay for every state employee […] Ben Hartman, a spokesman for Republican candidate Matt Bevin, promised in a phone call Monday evening to provide Bevin's position on the issue. As of 9:30 p.m., he hadn't followed up.” [WAVE3, 6/8/15]

CHASER: Matt Bevin: I am “Absolutely, Adamantly Opposed to the Idea of Government Raising Minimum Wage.” [Woodford County GOP Meeting, 4/15/15]

From David Bergstein of the Kentucky Democratic Party: “It’s no surprise that Matt Bevin is ducking reporters — because his ‘adamant’ opposition to increasing the minimum wage is totally out of touch with Kentucky’s values. ‘Bailout Bevin’ had no trouble enriching himself with a $100,000 taxpayer funded handout, but once again he’s against an idea that will put more money in the pockets of Kentucky’s hardworking families.”

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By J. WESTON PHIPPIN
National Journal

As the country added 280,000 jobs in May, unemployment remained unchanged this month, though it was down almost a full point since last year. Overall, black workers had seen consecutive months of falling unemployment, dropping to 9.6 percent last month, the lowest since the recovery. But May ruined that with a 10.2 showing for the group (compared to 4.1 for Asians, 4.7 for whites, and 6.7 for Latinos (6.7).

It's not all bad news though. Marc Bayard, director of the Black Worker Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies, has lately found reason to feel optimistic: unions. "Black workers are at a very, very fragile and critical place right now," Bayard said. "And the labor movement is at a fragile and critical moment, too."


It may seem outlandish to believe that unions could save anyone these days. They've reached an all-time low in membership. Today, about one-in-ten people are card-carriers, down from the heyday of the 1950s, when membership stood at around 35 percent. The Midwest, the former union bastion, has turned on them--especially in Wisconsin where Governor Scott Walker has just about declared war on unions.

 

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By MARIANNE LEVINE
Politico

The Obama administration is on the verge of possibly doubling the salary levels that would require employers to pay overtime in the most ambitious government intervention on wages in a decade. And it doesn’t need Congress’s permission.
As early as this week, the Labor Department could propose a rule that would raise the current overtime threshold — $23,660 – to as much as $52,000, extending time and a half overtime pay to millions of American workers. The rule has already come under fire from business and Republican opponents who say it will kill jobs and force employers to cut hours for salaried employees.

“The minimum wage they can’t do,” said Bill Samuel, director of legislative affairs for the AFL-CIO. “This is probably the most significant step they can take to raise wages for millions of workers.”

Congressional Republicans are gearing up for a major battle against raising the overtime threshold. The House Education and the Workforce subcommittee will devote much of a scheduled June 10 hearing on federal wage and hour standards to the overtime rule, even if it isn’t yet released. Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, said the rule—sight unseen—“seems engineered to make it as unappealing as possible to be an employer creating jobs in this country.”

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By RICHARD KALHLENBERG

Teacher tenure rights, first established more than a century ago, are under unprecedented attack. Tenure—which was enacted to protect students’ education and those who provide it—is under assault from coast to coast, in state legislatures, in state courtrooms, and in the media.In June 2014, in the case of Vergara v. California, a state court judge struck down teacher tenure and seniority laws as a violation of the state’s constitution.* Former CNN and NBC journalist Campbell Brown has championed a copycat case, Wright v. New York, challenging the Empire State’s tenure law (which was consolidated with another New York case challenging tenure, Davids v. New York). Similar cases are reportedly in the works in several other states.1

Meanwhile, with incentives from the federal Race to the Top program, 18 states have recently weakened tenure laws, and Florida and North Carolina sought to eliminate tenure entirely.2 According to the Education Commission of the States, in order to give greater weight to so-called performance metrics, 10 states prohibited using tenure or seniority as a primary factor in layoff decisions in 2014, up from five in 2012.3

Leading media outlets have joined in the drumbeat against tenure. A 2010 Newsweek cover story suggested that “the key to saving American education” is: “We must fire bad teachers.”4 In 2014, the cover of Time magazine showed a judge’s mallet crushing an apple. The headline, referencing the Vergara case, read, “Rotten Apples: It’s Nearly Impossible to Fire a Bad Teacher; Some Tech Millionaires May Have Found a Way to Change That.”5

 

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By KEVIN MURPHY

KANSAS CITY, Mo. June 4 (Reuters) - Calling the legislation harmful to the middle class, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill on Thursday that would stop workers from being required to join unions or pay dues.

Legislative supporters of the bill said they would override Nixon's veto, which was expected, but that would require a two-thirds majority vote. Final votes for the bill in the state House and Senate fell short of that margin last month.

The veto session is in September.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Trade Unionists, Friends and Supporters: I am proud to announce that the 31st Biennial Convention of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO will take place on October 18 through October 20, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Hotel, 830 Phillips Lane, Louisville, KY 40209-1387.

Registration will commence on Sunday, October 18th and the convention will convene on Monday, October 19th and re-convene on Tuesday, October 20th.

You may call the Crowne Plaza at 1-888-233-9527 to reserve rooms under the Kentucky State AFL-CIO room block for $119.00.

 

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 Now that Matt Bevin is the Republican nominee he’d love to sweep his past under the rug, but you can bet that that the troubling facts about Bevin raised by Sen. McConnell and Bevin’s recent primary opponents aren’t going away anytime soon. So in honor of Throwback Thursday, here are 5 facts about Bevin that he still has to answer for as the gubernatorial general election gets underway:

1. Matt Bevin didn’t tell the truth about attending MIT. Bevin initially claimed that he attended MIT, until news reports revealed that was not true. Bevin still hasn’t explained why he listed MIT on his LinkedIn page or why he changed it after being confronted by reporters. Republican Superpacs have slammed Bevin for misleading Kentuckians about his resume.

2. Matt Bevin mislead Kentuckians about his support for cockfighting. Bevin initially earned widespread condemnation for his support of cockfighting during his campaign against Sen. McConnell. Bevin attempted to reverse his position — until video emerged of Bevin at a pro-cockfighting rally defending the practice. In response, Republican Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for Sen. McConnell’s campaign, slammed Bevin for misleading Kentuckians, stating: "Twenty years from now, we will all remember the time when the East Coast con-man thought so little of Kentuckians that he pathologically lied to us about absolutely everything until an undercover camera caught him red-handed at a cockfighting rally.”

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Trade Unionists, Friends and Supporters:

1) I invite you to click on the link below and listen to the podcast of the Joe Elliott Radio Show 970 AM - 06/03/15 with Governor Steve Beshear. At 6:55 through 9:50 hear Governor Beshear talk about Right to Work. I think you will agree that Governor Beshear does a great job of discussing RTW and why Kentucky can do without it! Between 9:50 and 11:30 he discusses Kentucky’s automobile industry as well and presents some great facts and figures on how Kentucky ranks.


http://970amtheanswer.com/pages/podcasts

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360


Come on, Kentucky Democratic Party.

Cut poor Matt Bevin some slack with your online petition against cockfighting and the GOP gubernatorial hopeful.

Bevin came out for legalized cockfighting when he ran for the senate against Mitch McConnell last year.

But “the East Coast Con Man,” Team Mitch’s nickname for Bevin, hasn’t thus far endorsed those two other blood-soaked Kentucky frontier favorites: goose pulling and gouging.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: To read the story with illustrations, links and charts, click here.

By SHANE FERRO

It's time for a big push for labor to organize.

We are at an economic crossroads. The economy is finally humming along, but we're seeing increasingly terrible working conditions, at both the high and low ends of the income ladder.

The economic problem of this generation in the United States is income inequality. The rich continue to get richer, and the rest of America wonders when, if ever, a raise is coming. The CEO-to-average-worker pay ratio in 2013 was 331:1. For every dollar the average employee made, a CEO made $331. Back in 1983, the ratio was less than 50:1. (At Wal-Mart in 2013, the ratio was over 1000:1.)

 

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FRANKFORT, KY — Today the Kentucky Democratic Party is launching a new online petition urging Kentuckians to sign their name to take a stand against cockfighting and Matt Bevin’s deceitful, self-serving political agenda.

Bevin initially earned widespread condemnation for his support of cockfighting during his campaign against Sen. McConnell. In response to criticism, Bevin attempted to reverse his position — until video emerged of Bevin at a pro-cockfighting rally defending the barbaric practice. In response, Republican Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for Sen. McConnell’s campaign, slammed Bevin for misleading Kentuckians, stating: "Twenty years from now, we will all remember the time when the East Coast con-man thought so little of Kentuckians that he pathologically lied to us about absolutely everything until an undercover camera caught him red-handed at a cockfighting rally.”

"The only thing worse than defending cockfighting is trying to mislead Kentuckians about it, and Matt Bevin has done both,” said David Bergstein of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “We are urging Kentuckians to take a stand against this barbaric sport and send Bevin a message that his deceitful, self-interested political agenda is badly out of step with Kentucky’s values.”

 

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By JASON BAILEY

This country's large and growing trade deficit is a big, but often unrecognized, reason we lack the jobs we need.

A trade deficit occurs when a country buys more from other countries than it sells abroad. After decades of relatively balanced trade, the U.S. trade deficit began growing in the late 1990s and now has swelled to $500 billion a year.

A major cause of the trade deficit is the elevated value of the U.S. dollar compared to other currencies.

 

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Every Call Counts

Join in the June 3 National Call-In Day and Help STOP Fast Track!

Last week, the Senate voted 62-37 to pass Fast Track. The fight now moves to the real battleground in the U.S. House of Representatives. Currently they don’t have the votes to pass Fast Track. We need to keep it that way as the pressure builds. You have been working your Representatives for months with calls, letters, petitions, meetings and action. It all has come down to the next few weeks – and we are ready to end Fast Track now!

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan thinks he’s maybe spotted a trend in the media and among the mega-rich.

“Journalists and pundits might just be re-thinking the war on workers and unions,” he suggested. “Another aspect of this trend is the mea culpas emanating from elements of the ‘one percent.’”

Bill cited Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. In a recent column, posted on our website, the scribe praised unions and said he had rejoined the Communications Workers of America.

 

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By DANA MILBANK
The Washington Post

I am proud to be a card-carrying member of Local 32035 of the Communications Workers of America.

It was not always thus. The Post is an open shop, and I dropped my membership several years ago when the union was encouraging readers to cancel their subscriptions to protest some management action. I didn’t see much sense in paying dues to accelerate the destruction of the newspaper business.

I don’t expect to gain much personally from rejoining the union faithful, because I’m in the top decile of American wage earners who have prospered in recent years. I signed up because income inequality, after years of worsening, has reached a crisis — and the decline in union membership is partly to blame. Rejoining the labor movement is my small, symbolic protest.

 

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By FALLON GLICK

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Hundreds of General Electric union workers chanted in unison Saturday afternoon.

“What do we want? Fair contracts! When do we want it? Now!”

While wearing red T-shirts that said “Our Labor Built GE” many workers carried signs high in the air as they marched. Workers say the rally was a chance to show solidarity and unity ahead of national negotiations for a new labor contract.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: We received the following from J.P. Wright of Louisville, co-chair of Railroad Workers United.  

Greetings Labor fighters!

This is the spirit of Joe Hill ...

I was in Chicago and met a wonderful man from Kentucky!!
He sang a wonderful song about the right to work fight that y'all are fighting... It starts at about 21 minutes into the video!

And ...
Y'all keep fighting for the union! I am not dead... Remember me!
Joe Hill

 

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EDITOR:

Thank you for the excellent article on the lock out at Century Aluminum. I hope that we can find some way to express our solidarity with these workers who have been treated with such inhumanity.

I spoke with Larry Jaggers and asked what we could do to help. He gave me this address for expressions of solidarity and contributions:

USW 9423 LOCKOUT& DEFENSE FUND
P.O.BOX 448
LEWISPORT KY 42351

 

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EDITOR:

It seriously kills me how the Republican governor candidates drone on and on about how bad Kentucky's economy is. The facts speak otherwise. Even the Paducah Sun has articles about how good things have rebounded. Low unemployment, exports are up and a lot of expansions from Murray to DHL in Northern Ky. Conway just needs to repeat the headlines and to keep a Democrat in office.

Jimmie Johnson
Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184

 

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 FRANKFORT, Ky. — In recognition of Matt Bevin’s appearance at tonight’s Republican State Lincoln Day Dinner, the Kentucky Democratic Party is releasing a "Draw Your Own Bevin Portrait" guide for attendees.

The 1 page guide, which is below and attached, includes instructions, a portrait frame, and quotes from Kentucky Republicans about Bevin to serve as inspiration. Copies of the guide will also be sent to the event organizers. It’s available online here.

“Here’s what Republicans actually think about Matt ‘Bevinocchio’ Bevin: he’s an ‘East Coast Con Man,' a ‘Pathological Liar,’ and his 'falsehoods right off the bat aren't doing the party any favors,’said Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Hughes. "Since the speakers tonight probably won't be sharing their real feelings about Bevin, the guide along with BevinSelfPortrait.com will let attendees know what Republicans really think about Bevin's self-interested political agenda that is so badly out of touch with Kentucky's values." 

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By GAIL HARDY

Congratulations to General Motors UAW Corvette Plant in Bowling Green, KY, for their announcement of the 439 million dollar expansion of the Corvette Plant located in Warren County.

How ironic this is, the Fiscal Court in Warren County was the first to pass an ordinance for Right to Work, with proponents saying that no jobs would come to a county that is non right to work.

The Corvette plant has been a union shop since it opened in 1981. In spite of the county’s illegal “Right to Work ordinance, the Corvette Plant continues to function as a union shop and demonstrates a fine example of good things that can be accomplished when the union and management work together as partners.
 

 

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Frankfort, Ky. — Today the Kentucky Democratic Party launched a new website: www.BevinSelfPortrait.com.

The site features statements from Kentucky Republicans explaining why they believe Matt “Bevinocchio” Bevin is wrong for Kentucky — including the statement from Sen. McConnell’s top aide Josh Holmes that Bevin’s “only agenda would be the commissioning of his portrait.” Individuals can also use the site to share the statements from Kentucky Republicans about Bevin on social media.

“We agree with top Kentucky Republicans who have said that Matt Bevin is a ‘pathological liar,’ an ‘east coast con man,’ and a ‘selfish, angry’ politician who is only ‘running to satisfy his ego,’” said Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Hughes. “This site will be a valuable resource for Kentucky voters to learn what Kentucky Republicans really think about Matt Bevinoccio, and why so many of them believe that Bevin’s self-interested agenda and record of deceit is wrong for Kentucky.”

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

One of the state’s top “right to work” flacks apparently thinks the union-busters might lose when they get their day in court.

Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president, points to comments from Bluegrass Institute Director Jim Waters in a recent story from the pro-RTW Bowling Green Daily News. Click here to read the story, which is posted on our website.

“The article is about our federal lawsuit opposing county RTW ordinances and the fact that oral arguments have been scheduled for August 4th,” Londrigan explained.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

“Games People Play.”

Make that “Games Politicians Play.”

“Mudsling Mitch” and “Bailout Bevin” were supposed to break bread together at the Elizabethtown Rotary Club Tuesday.

Bevin bailed. He told the AP he had a "scheduling conflict," the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

 

 

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By SAM YOUNGMAN
Lexington Herald-Leader

ELIZABETHTOWN — Kentucky Republicans will have to wait a while longer to see U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and presumptive GOP gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin on the same stage.

McConnell and Bevin were both scheduled to attend the Rotary Club luncheon here Tuesday, but Bevin backed out, telling The Associated Press that he had a "scheduling conflict."

And Saturday's statewide Lincoln Day Dinner in Lexington was supposed to be a public show of unity for the party, but McConnell told reporters that he won't attend because of a rare Sunday session in the U.S. Senate that he scheduled to address the expiring Patriot Act.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

With the passing of the primaries we must quickly swing into action with our 2015 Political Action program and get focused on electing labor-endorsed candidates in November. To begin this effort we have scheduled a Statewide Political Action meeting for tomorrow, May 28th at 10 a.m. (EDT) at the IBEW Local 369 hall, 4315 Preston Highway, Louisville, KY 40213.

In order to win in November we MUST have the full participation of every union with members and jurisdiction in Kentucky. Anything less and we risk losing the governor’s office and we put our chances of holding a majority of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2016 in great jeopardy. Make no mistake about it, all eyes are on Kentucky this election cycle as the race for Governor is considered the ONLY competitive Governor’s race of the three that are in contention.

We are heavily engaged in the process of raising funds for two of our key partners in our political program and our success in 2014: Kentucky Family Values and Working America. During the meeting on May 28th we will hear from each of these partners about their plans and budgets for 2015. Just as we did in the 2014 cycle we MUST raise a significant portion of the budgets for both Kentucky Family Values and Working America here in Kentucky in order to show the necessary in-state support for these efforts in order to attract the large dollars needed to fully fund the budgets of these essential programs. Several unions have already made significant contributions, but much more is needed. Remember, Kentucky Family Values and Working America are independent expenditures and can receive unions monies from PACs, General Funds, etc.

 

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By JOE SONKA
Insider Louisville

Matt Bevin’s thin 83-vote victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary for governor appears likely to withstand an upcoming recanvass of the votes, but his effort to mend fences with Republicans still upset by his refusal to endorse Sen. Mitch McConnell last year has raised eyebrows.

Speaking before a group of Republicans in Lexington on Wednesday, Bevin was asked how he would win back the support of those who remained upset that he did not support McConnell in the general election after his blowout loss that May. Bevin took issue with the premise of the question, blaming the media for creating that perception, which “is entirely untrue.”

“I literally know of no other elected official in this state who went to more events between May and November in support of candidates and support of Mitch McConnell and other down ticket races than I did,” said Bevin. “I knocked on doors, I made phone calls, I wrote checks myself, and I physically attended fundraiser after fundraiser.”

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

One of the conservative, anti-union panelists at the recent “right to work” forum in Bowling Green claimed “unions could be described as the ‘bank of the Democratic Party,’ because almost all the causes and candidates that labor organizations support are liberal,” according to The Bowling Green Daily News.

Lots of organizations give money to political office seekers who support them. So naturally, unions contribute to pro-union candidates.

But unions don’t look for the party label first. They look for the union label. These days, Democrats are a whole lot more likely be sporting that label than Republicans are.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

To hear some local politicians and business leaders tell it, a slew of companies has expressed interest in coming to Bowling Green and its environs since the county fiscal court approved a “right-to-work” ordinance last December.

General Motors has just announced it will plunk down $439 million to expand Bowling Green’s biggest unionized business: the giant factory where members of United Auto Workers Local 2164 build Chevy Corvettes.

The upgrades will include a 450,000-square-foot paint shop. The facility will be nearly half the size of the plant, according to a press release from Gov. Steve Beshear’s office.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The National Review is one of the country’s most widely-read conservative magazines. This article was published online on Feb. 7, 2014. 

By BETSY WOODRUFF

A post on Kentucky Senate candidate Matt Bevin’s Facebook page last September shows the candidate sitting in a sunny room with a group of people, with the caption reading: “Enjoying time with the John Birch Society in Union, Ky.” One comment reads, “that’s quite a gathering of Birchers.”

Bevin is challenging Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, which takes place May 20.

The John Birch Society has quite a reputation: Its founder believed President Dwight Eisenhower was controlled by Communists, as was half or more of the U.S. government in the early 1960s. The group’s reputation for paranoia and conspiracy theories led to its being shunned by mainstream conservatives. National Review’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr., led the efforts to excommunicate the group from the conservative movement.

 

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By LESLIE SALZILLO
Daily Kos Labor

Ouch. Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner, watched his anti-union bill called, 'Right-To-Work,' die a swift, cruel death in the House… with zero votes. Natasha Korecki with Chicago Sun Times reports the tally was 0 yes votes, 72 no votes, and 37 voting present - "offering a blistering rebuke" to Rauner’s agenda.

A handful of Republicans went for a walk during the vote, not publicly falling on one side or another.

Isn't that nice. How healthy it would be for them, and us, if Republicans would take more walks during voting sessions.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Not much has been heard from proponents of county RTW ordinances of late. But they certainly have not quit stirring the pot and spreading their BS about RTW. The article below from the Bowling Green Daily News describes a “panel” discussion by RTW proponents this past Monday evening at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. I invite you to read the article and glimpse the weakness of their effort indicated by the pitifully small turnout for their event which amounted to about twenty folks, including a few who opposed RTW. There appears to have been almost as many “panelists” as attendees. If not for the BG Daily News this event would have likely received no media coverage at all. It is interesting to read such reporting to see how clearly and without hesitation RTW promoters lie about RTW:

1) Mr. Patterson of the so-called Center For Worker Freedom, an anti-union front group allied with Grover Norquist’s Americans For Tax Reform, makes the often repeated lie that unions force members to make contributions to political candidates they oppose and with union contributions going exclusively to Democrat candidates. While promoting such lies Mr. Patterson knows very well that unions can only receive political contributions from members who VOLUNTARILY agree to do so and sign a form attesting to their desire to have whatever amount they choose contributed to a segregated political fund. Mr. Paterson also neglects to mention that we have supported Republican candidates who agree with workers on issues important to them and their families and have not been the bank for the Democrat Party of Kentucky.

 

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J.P. Wright, co-chair of Railroad Workers United, was recently on "CNN Tonight with Don Lemon" talking about the Amtrak passenger train derailment near Philadelphia. Wright, a locomotive engineer from Louisville, gave his perspective on the crash that left eight passengers dead and 200 injured. Wright appeared with CNN safety analyst David Soucie. Click here to see the video. Read more >>>

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

In the rancorous and unpredictable Republican gubernatorial primary election, the difference between candidates James Comer and Matt Bevin remains around 100 votes in favor of Bevin, with a re-canvass scheduled before the results are certified.

The feud between the Republican candidates for governor will be hard to heal and may impact their efforts in the general election. But with the outcome still uncertain for Comer and Bevin, one thing is certain: either one is a loser for Kentucky’s hard working men and women.

We have witnessed the positions taken by Comer during his tenure in the General Assembly where he steadfastly supported RTW, PW repeal and all manner of anti-worker legislation. His recent pronouncements on the campaign trail of his support for RTW makes it clear where he will stand if elected.
 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Right now -- will all precincts reporting in the Republican primary election--Louisville business owner Matt Bevin leads Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville by 83 votes out of 214,187 cast.

Comer wants a re-canvass. That means election officials will double check their math.

 

 

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 20, 2015) – On the first day of the general election, today the Conway-Overly for Kentucky campaign released a new web video highlighting Attorney General Jack Conway’s top priority as Governor: creating good-paying jobs for Kentuckians.

The web video features news footage from Attorney General Conway’s speech yesterday at the "Kentucky Families First" press conference, where he talked about his plans to grow the economy and move Kentucky forward.

“My top priority will be jobs, jobs, and more good-paying jobs for hardworking Kentuckians across the Commonwealth,” Attorney General Conway said at the event yesterday. Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

When newspapers report political poll results, a lot of readers focus on the percentages.

This old reporter likes to read the comments from some of the people who were polled. They can flesh out the numbers.

A Lexington Herald-Leader story about the last Bluegrass Poll before today’s primary quoted a guy who said he believes Republicans would bring jobs to Kentucky, “but they'll be low-paying jobs.”
 

 

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By JAMES McNAIR
Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

When a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former World Bank president and a former assistant secretary of the interior are appointed to a company’s board of directors on the same day, people who invest in the stock market tend to notice. (Read story with links here: http://kycir.org/2015/05/19/did-kentucky-congressman-give-an-assist-to-wife-failing-tech-company/)

The company was LaserLock Technologies, a Washington, D.C.-based firm offering a variety of anti-counterfeiting solutions. Its stock had been trading for a measly dime a share when, on Jan. 23, 2013, it announced the arrival of its marquee directors. Heading the six-person list was retired Marine General Peter Pace, a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George W. Bush. Paul Wolfowitz, a former World Bank president and former deputy secretary of defense under Bush, also joined the board.

Then there was Connie Harriman-Whitfield. A lawyer, lobbyist, former assistant interior secretary and former U.S. Export-Import Bank director, Harriman has one more card in her deck. Her husband is Ed Whitfield, a 20-year Republican Congressman from Kentucky’s First District.

 

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By Jason Bailey
Executive director, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, www.kypolicy.org

When the U. S. Senate blocked giving the president fast-track negotiating authority for a new trade deal last week, it took a stand for a fairer approach to trade that’s especially important to workers in manufacturing-heavy states like Kentucky.

The country’s large and growing trade deficit is a big, but often unrecognized, reason we lack the jobs we need. A trade deficit occurs when a country buys more from other countries than it sells abroad. After decades of relatively balanced trade, the U. S. trade deficit began growing in the late 1990s and now has swelled to $500 billion a year.

A major cause of the trade deficit is the elevated value of the U. S. dollar compared to other currencies. But the high value of the dollar isn’t the result of market forces; it’s inflated in part because of what’s called currency manipulation. That’s when the central banks of more than 20 countries, including China and Japan, buy up dollar-denominated financial assets in order to artificially suppress the value of their countries’ currencies, making their exports relatively cheaper and U. S. goods more expensive.

 

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By KATIE BRANDENBURG
Bowling Green Daily News

Oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging a local right-to-work law are set to be heard by a U.S. District Court Judge in August.

Hardin County approved a right-to-work ordinance in January, and soon after, a lawsuit was filed against Hardin County officials asking that the ordinance be declared invalid.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include six local union chapters as well as the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, the International Chemical Workers Union Council of the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

I’m going to miss the Matt Bevin-Hal Heiner-James Comer food fight.

It's been as much fun to watch as the immortal cafeteria scene in “Animal House,” still one of my favorite movies.

It’s hard to say which candidate most reminds me of spud-spitting Bluto Blutarsky. Come to think of it, Matt, Hal and Comer are more like country clubby Omegas Greg, Chip and Niedermeyer.

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

I hope turnout in Tuesday’s primary will be better than Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes predicted.

She forecasted 10 percent, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. But I suspect Grimes would be happy if the turnout is higher.

Almost all of the fireworks are on the GOP side, notably in the governor’s race, where the three frontrunners for the nomination – all far-right-wing, pro-“right-to-work” union-busters -- have been pummeling each other for weeks.


 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: We thank Jeff Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and president of Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City, for sharing this report with us. 

By ELLYN FORTINO
Progress Illinois

A new study by two local labor and economic experts examines the potential economic impact of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed right-to-work zones, if they were adopted in half of the state's counties. According to the report, local right-to-work regulations would likely weaken the Illinois economy, as they would "encourage free-riding, lower worker earnings, and reduce state and local tax revenues."

As Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner presses Illinois cities to pass resolutions in support of his proposed right-to-work zones that limit union power, a new report shows enacting such local regulations would negatively impact the state's economy and workers.

Frank Manzo, policy director at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, and Bob Bruno, professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, co-authored the report.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Gilded Age steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick is long gone.

But his old union-busting tactic in is play at the Century Aluminum plant in Hawesville.

Frick loved the lockout.
 

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BY SAM YOUNGMAN AND WILL WRIGHT
Lexington Herald-Leader

Attorney General Jack Conway will almost certainly win the Democratic nomination in next week's primary election, and he sits in a strong position for the fall campaign against whoever emerges as the Republicans' nominee, according to a new Bluegrass Poll.

But the poll also reveals that many conservative Democrats harbor doubts about Conway, giving Republicans plenty of room to attack in coming months.

Among 707 Democrats who are likely to vote next week, Conway crushes perennial candidate Geoff Young of Lexington 68 percent to 13 percent. Nineteen percent remain undecided. The survey of Democrats has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

 

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - With one week to go and the race turning tense, a new Bluegrass Poll found no clear favorite in the battle for the Republican nomination to battle likely-Democratic nominee Jack Conway in the Kentucky governor’s race.

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and former Louisville councilman Hal Heiner are effectively even among likely-Republican voters, according to the poll conducted for WKYT-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and WHAS-TV.

Fireworks erupted last week and the race turned divisive after abuse allegations involving Comer surfaced and questions were raised about whether Heiner's campaign was involved in them becoming public. The Bluegrass Poll was conducted as Comer went on the defense after his former college girlfriend went public with the allegations.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
Kentucky State AFL-CIO president

As the May 19th Primaries for Governor/Lt. Gov. and the other Constitutional Offices approaches, things have heated up, particularly for the Republicans. With the passing of the Primaries we must quickly swing into action with our 2015 Political Action program and get focused on electing labor-endorsed candidates in November.

To begin this effort we have scheduled a Statewide Political Action meeting for Thursday, May 28th at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern) at IBEW Local 369, 4315 Preston Highway, Louisville, KY 40213.

In order to win in November we MUST have the full participation of every union with members and jurisdiction in Kentucky. Anything less and we risk losing the Governor’s office and we put our chances of holding a majority of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2016 in great jeopardy. Make no mistake about it, all eyes are on Kentucky this election cycle as the race for Governor is considered the ONLY competitive Governor’s race of the three that are in contention.

 

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REUTERS

NEW YORK: Unionized workers at Century Aluminum's Hawesville, Kentucky, smelter will vote on Monday on a revised labor deal after management agreed to postpone a lockout of staff that was due to start this week, the company said.

The United Steelworkers union have agreed to changes made to the last offer and a vote is scheduled for Monday, Century, which is controlled by Glencore, said in a statement at the weekend.

The lockout will now begin at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), it said..

 

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The Kentucky Labor Institute will sponsor a May 18 forum in Louisville to explore ways to defeat the “anti-union forces focusing their efforts on making Kentucky the next ‘right to work’ for nothing state.”

The forum is set for 7:30 p.m. in the law office of Buddy Cutler, 800 Republic Building, 429 West Muhammad Ali Blvd. The KLI asks that attendees RSVP by email to cdrucker@twc.com.

The forum is designed to unite union leaders, progressive political figures and KLI members. “Participants will develop interventions and an action plan for addressing” the anti-union challenges to organized labor in the state.

 

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By ANNA BAUMANN
Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

Kentuckians deserve credible information as they consider right-to-work laws — information that is free from unchecked ideology, misleading messaging and bad math. Here is what the experience of other states shows when appropriate, responsible methods of analysis are used:

-- These laws do not grow jobs — not in manufacturing, not in other sectors.

-- Workers make less, according to one thorough study, $1,500 less per year. And that's for all workers, not just those in unions.

-- Workers are less likely to have employer-provided benefits.

 

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By MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS
Media Matters for America

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is siding with four teachers in California who are suing their unions, claiming "coercion" and "political extortion" because "critical benefits" are being withheld from non-member employees who don't pay for them, but failed to mention the challenge is seeking to overturn decades-old precedent.

In April, four teachers filed suit against the California Teachers' Association and several other teachers' unions, arguing that their denial of certain benefits to non-members was unconstitutional, despite Supreme Court precedent to the contrary. The teachers had refused to join their representative unions because they disagree with the groups' "political activity," which is funded by members who pay full membership dues. While even non-members are required to pay some dues to the union -- a reduced share known as "agency" or "fair share fees" -- that money cannot be used for political activities.

In a May 4 editorial, the Journal sided with the suing teachers, calling their lawsuit an opportunity "to end the political extortion" by unions, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of agency fees. The editorial took special exception to the fact that non-members aren't covered by a disability insurance program that provides paid maternity leave, claiming that it is unfair for teachers to have to "ante up to receive substantial employment benefits":

 

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By JOSEPH GERTH
The Louisville Courier-Journal

Another former roommate of Marilyn Thomas has come forward, saying she once had to threaten to call the police on gubernatorial candidate James Comer during an argument in the two women's off-campus apartment.

In the one-paragraph letter sent to The Courier-Journal, Jennifer Osborne didn't allege any physical confrontations but said she witnessed mental and emotional abuse by Comer.

"On one occasion, there was a heated argument between Marilyn Thomas and Jamie Comer and I had to threaten to call the police in order to get him to leave our apartment," Osborne said in the letter.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The British Trades Union Congress is similar to the American AFL-CIO. 

In a statement issued Friday, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“We have to hope that David Cameron’s pledge to govern as a one nation Prime Minister will be his first major U-turn - for his campaign and manifesto was anything but.

“His main political tactic was to talk up nationalism and deny the legitimacy of Scottish voters. And his programme for government is as divisive as they come.
 

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 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville has severed ties with an organization that was the subject of a protest by students recently.

According to a statement from the University, the school has opted not to renew a licensing contract with Jansport – among other companies – due to “several business factors including workers' rights practices, financials and product design.”

The licenses will expire at the end of June, at which point the school says it will not be renewed.

 

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By MIKE HALL

Fast Track is “a blank check for yet another ‘free trade’ deal, with the same inadequate safeguards as previous failed deals,” write AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs and Ralph Gomory, a New York University research professor and president emeritus of the Alfred P. Sloan Institute, in a recent Hufffington Post column.

 

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By THEODORE SCHLEIFER

Washington (CNN) -- In Kentucky politics, there's virtually nothing worse than comparing your opponent to the Duke power forward whose last-minute shot denied the Wildcats a spot in the 1992 NCAA Final Four.

But that's how bad things have gotten in the Bluegrass State, where Republicans are sparring for the party's nomination for governor.

"You're the Christian Laettner of Kentucky politics," Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told Hal Heiner in a highly anticipated sports-radio debate this week.

 

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LOUISVILLE - WHAS11 News has gained permission to publish a letter from Marilyn Thomas, the woman who accused Kentucky Gubernatorial candidate James Comer of physical abuse, to Courier-Journal political reporter Joe Gerth in response to the scrutiny stemming from her accusations.

The letter also clarifies some circumstances surrounding the alleged physical abuse.

James Comer has since openly denied the allegations.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

We may never know if GOP gubernatorial hopeful James Comer really beat up a woman he dated in college or went with her to an abortion clinic, as she charges.

Comer, the state agriculture commissioner, hotly denies the allegations.

If Comer, who hails from Tompkinsville, loses the May 19 primary, the story will almost certainly vanish. Comer’s threatened lawsuit against the Courier-Journal for publishing the woman's allegations probably will disappear, too.

 

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A MESSAGE FROM BILL LONDRIGAN, KENTUCKY STATE AFL-CIO PRESIDENT: Trade Unionists, Friends and Supporters: This Saturday, May 9th is the Annual Letter Carriers (NALC) Food Drive when Letter Carriers collect food from postal customers at their doors for distribution to local food banks. Over the years the NALC Food Drive has collected over a billion pounds of food for those in need! Your help making this year’s Food Drive a success is needed! You can inform your members, friends and neighbors about the Food Drive and urge them to leave food out this Saturday to be collected by their Letter Carrier and you can volunteer and get others to volunteer to help NALC members and supporters unload and sort food collected. Below is a list of several of the locations where folks can volunteer. You can also check with your local NALC representative for other locations. The list below is not inclusive of all of the possible locations to volunteer. Volunteers can arrive around 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. when Letter Carriers will be returning from their routes.  

Louisville:

PRP/Valley Station, 6121 Greenwood Road, 40258 at the intersection of Greenwood Road and Waller Lane

Shively Station, 3131 Crums Lane, 40216 at the intersection of Crums Lane and Poppy Avenue

Iroquois Station, 4772 Allmond Avenue, between Strawberry Land and E. Woodlawn Avenue

Lexington:

Liberty Road Station, 2041 Creative Drive, 40505, intersection of Creative Drive and Liberty Road

Brentwood Station, 1045 Brentwood Court, #110, 40511, Intersection of Nandino Blvd and Trotwood Drive

Bluegrass Station, 3525 Lansdowne Drive, 40517

Gardenside Station, 1729 Alexandria Drive, 40504

By SHELDON S. SHAFER
Louisville Courier-Journal

Louisville-area letter carriers and the Feeding America hunger-relief organization are joining in the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive Saturday.

The event, sponsored annually by the National Association of Letter Carriers, is the largest single-day food drive in the country. The event helps to support local food banks and the one in six Americans who struggle with hunger.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and local Postal Service letter carriers will promote the event with a news conference at 2 p.m. Wednesday on the steps of Metro Hall at Sixth and Jefferson streets.

 

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By AARON BLAKE
The Washington Post


There are exactly two weeks until primary day in the Kentucky governor's race -- which makes headlines like this one pretty damning.

The report, from the Louisville Courier-Journal, is based on a four-page letter sent to the paper by a woman who says she dated one-time GOP frontrunner and state Agriculture Commission James Comer while the two were students at Western Kentucky University. The woman, Marilyn Thomas, says Comer hit her and became particularly angry one time when she used his name on a form at an abortion clinic.

Aspects of the story were confirmed by Thomas's college roommate, who said Thomas never said Comer abused her but would come home with suspicious injuries. The roommate also told the Courier-Journal that she recalls Comer taking Thomas to get an abortion -- which even without the abuse allegations would be highly problematic in a GOP primary in Kentucky.

 

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By Luc Cohen
Reuters

NEW YORK, May 5 (Reuters) - Unionized workers at Century Aluminum's Hawesville, Kentucky smelter voted to reject the company's proposed labor agreement on Monday, taking one of the biggest U.S. aluminum plants closer to industrial action.

The news followed a vote at the plant on Monday after Century, which is controlled by Glencore, tabled its "last, best and final proposal" last week.

On Friday, the company issued a notice warning that if United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9423 members did not approve the final offer, it would lock out union-represented employees starting May 11.

 

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By ELIZABETH DREW
Democracy and Justice: Collected Writings, edited by Desiree Ramos Reiner, Jim Lyons, Erik Opsal, Mikayla Terrell, and Lena Glaser, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School, 152 pp., available at www.brennancenter.org
The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown, by Richard L. Hasen Yale University Press, 239 pp., $30.00

While people are wasting their time speculating about who will win the presidency more than a year from now—Can Hillary beat Jeb? Can anybody beat Hillary? Is the GOP nominee going to be Jeb or Walker?—growing dangers to a democratic election, ones that could decide the outcome, are being essentially overlooked. The three dangers are voting restrictions, redistricting, and loose rules on large amounts of money being spent to influence voters. In recent years, we’ve been moving further and further away from a truly democratic election system.

The considerable outrage in 2012 over the systematic effort in Republican-dominated states to prevent blacks, Hispanics, students, and the elderly from being able to vote—mainly aimed at limiting the votes of blacks and Hispanics—might have been expected to lead to a serious effort to fix the voting system. But quite the reverse occurred. In fact, in some of the major races in 2014, according to the highly respected Brennan Center for Justice, the difference in the number of votes between the victor and the loser closely mirrored the estimated number of people who had been deprived of the right to vote. And in the North Carolina Senate race, the number of people prevented from voting exceeded the margin between the loser and the winner.

 

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A MESSAGE FROM BILL LONDRIGAN, president, Kentucky State AFL-CIO: Trade Unionists, Friends and Supporters: Below is another anti-RTW Op-Ed by House Speaker Greg Stumbo published in the May 4th Lexington Herald-Leader. Due to the efforts of pro-RTW forces that have pushed so hard to make Kentucky RTW the people of Kentucky are becoming much more informed about RTW and discovering that RTW really means a pay cut and much more for ALL of Kentucky’s hard working men and women. Help spread this message by submitting your own op-ed or forwarding other anti-RTW articles to your local newspaper, blogs, websites and social media and help us inform the public why RTW is bad for Kentucky. In Solidarity, Bill
PS: Lt. Gov. candidate Chris McDaniel was recently quoted claiming that companies avoid Kentucky 35% of the time because we are not a RTW state. Add that to Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President David Adkisson who claims it is 25% and Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanon who claims it is 50%. But Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken takes the prize for the biggest RTW whopper when she claimed during a Heritage Foundation webcast that 75% of companies avoid Kentucky. They can’t even get together on their RTW lies! Don’t be surprised when some other pro-RTW fool says its 100%! (Citations for each of these claims are available on request. Email me at blondrigan@kyaflcio.org.)

BY GREG STUMBO

Over the last four months, there has unfortunately been a renewed effort to breathe life into a proposal that most economists declared dead long ago. Supporters call it "right to work"; the rest of us, with the facts on our side, call it "right to work for less."

Those backing the concept claim it will cure everything but the common cold. Not embracing it, they say, has cost Kentucky countless jobs and limited worker choice.

They're wrong on both counts.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Steelworker Jeff Wiggins didn’t just vote for Barack Obama both times the president ran.

He wore out shoe leather campaigning for him in 2008 and 2012.

But Wiggins, the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL CIO Area Council president, is less than happy with Obama and other Democrats who are pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

The spring flood of 2011 made Jimmy Morphew a devoted fan of Attorney Gen. Jack Conway, the Democrat who is all but certain to win his party’s May 19 gubernatorial primary election.

“He filed suit, and they blew the levee,” said Morphew, a retired trustee of Paducah Ironworkers Local 782. “He didn’t forget us.”

Morphew was one of many residents of western Kentucky and Southern Illinois whose homes or businesses were threatened by high water from the rain-swollen Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
 

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By E.J. DIONNE
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The violence that has engulfed Baltimore is visible and heartbreaking evidence of a city that has been under siege for decades.

The obvious flashpoints involve race and policing. But since at least the 1970s, the economy’s invisible hand has also been diligently stripping tens of thousands of blue-collar jobs from what was once a bustling workshop where steel, cars and planes were made. Baltimore has tried to do its best in a post-industrial economy, but when work disappears, the results can be catastrophic.

Urban riots call forth an avalanche of glibness. Tragedies allow us to ride our hobby horses and to repackage the same arguments we were advancing before the first stone was thrown and the first fire set. So I will stipulate that the violence in Baltimore has multiple causes, beginning with the troubling death of Freddie Gray and a nationwide backlash against police treatment of young African-American men.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Sen. Sanders has voted the union position 98 percent of the time since he has been in the Senate, according to the AFL-CIO's Legislative Scorecard.

By JONATHAN COHN

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who calls himself a socialist, is running for president.

Don’t be afraid.

Sanders announced his candidacy on Thursday, via email to his supporters. He will seek the Democratic nomination, even though he won his Senate seat as an independent. That means he will be challenging Hillary Clinton and that also means he is unlikely to win. She has more money and name recognition. She’s extremely popular with the party’s voters. She’s sufficiently liberal on enough issues to satisfy many of the activists who would seem to be Sanders’ natural base of support.

 

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By JUSTIN STANLEY

In capitalist society, people have very little recourse when they're treated badly at work. Bad bosses can and frequently do mistreat, abuse, and fire workers just because they feel like it.

When workers can no longer tolerate it or get fired, they find themselves scrambling to keep their families' heads above water.

May 1 is celebrated as International Workers' Day in most other countries. This holiday reminds us workers need mechanisms to fight back.

 

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By ERIC OSTERMEIER
University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Jack Conway is poised to post the best showing by a Kentucky Democratic candidate in a contested gubernatorial primary in state history

This is the second in a series of reports on gubernatorial primaries in 2015. The first report focused on the Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary.

The narrative of the 2015 Kentucky gubernatorial race thus far has been one of contrast - between the competitive three-way, four-candidate race on the Republican side of the ballot and the relative ease with which Attorney General Jack Conway will likely coast to his party's nomination in a few weeks against a relatively unknown opponent.

Conway will face retired engineer Geoff Young who did not launch his candidacy until mid-November.

 

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By CHUCK STINNETT
Evansville Courier & Press

HENDERSON, Ky. - The shadows of two dozen men and women grew long on the lawn at Central Park as the names were read.

"Jerry Anders. Truck driver."

A few yards away, Timmy Middleton sounded a hand bell: "Ding."

 

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From the Kentucky Democratic Party

Key Point: "GOP gubernatorial hopeful Hal Heiner the 'Frankfort Outsider' ran another ad titled 'Kentucky Job Creator,' where he claims to have attracted and kept 4,000 jobs in Kentucky, but that could be a stretch."

See also: Lexington Herald-Leader: "Capstone Realty has fewer than five employees."

 

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A May Day Solidarity Rally is set for Friday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (eastern daylight time) at Churchill Downs, 700 Central Ave, Louisville.

Join human rights, labor and social justice organizations from across Louisville. Bring your friends, bring your issues, bring your signs to Oaks Day at Churchill Downs (Central Avenue entrance) at 10 a.m. We will honor the dignity of International Worker's Day and show our support for one another's struggles.

 

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By TERRY STAHL

Every time that I turn on the TV, “Rant” Paul is “ranting and raving” about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi He said that she should not be allowed to run for U.S. president, saying instead that she ought to be impeached.

His charges against Hillary are off the wall. Even Republicans investigated Hillary and Benghazi. They found no systemic failure. The House Intelligence Committee found there “was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
Kentucky State AFL-CIO president

Trade Unionists, Friends and Supporters: Today, April 28th is Workers Memorial Day around the globe. April 28th is the day that is set aside for us to commemorate those that have been killed and injured on the job and a day for us to re-commit to preventing death and injury on the job.

Below is an e-mail written by Brother Roy Pullam of Henderson, KY, a retired school teacher and staunch supporter or workers and organized labor. Read what Roy has written as he shares the true meaning of Workers Memorial Day.

Tuesday, the 28th of April, the Tri-County Labor Council will sponsor a worker's memorial in Central Park. I have had friends and neighbors killed at work, and I know the hardship that have befallen families as a results of the worker's death. Some had good insurance; others lived hand to mouth due to the lack of insurance and the company's inability to help the family. However, nothing quite matches the hardship on the children as their loss comes during the early years of their lives. How do you measure a parent not being there for a big game, a graduation or a marriage? It isn't the same when someone teaches them other than the father or mother how to catch a ball, how to ride a bike or how to drive a car.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

A century ago this Workers Memorial Day, millions of men, women and children toiled long hours at low pay in jobs that threatened their lives and limbs.

Many of them were immigrants who came to these shores seeking a better life for themselves and for their families.

“They don't suffer,” George F. Baer said of coal miners who migrated from eastern Europe. “Why, hell, half of them don't even speak English."
 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The primary is May 19 and the general election is Nov. 3.

Jack Conway, Governor
Sannie Overly,
Lt. Governor

Andy Beshear,
Attorney General
Alison Lundergan Grimes,
Secretary of State
Adam Edelen,
State Auditor
Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, Commissioner of Agriculture
Janet Stumbo, Supreme Court Justice

COPE issued a “no recommendation” in the State Treasurer’s race due to the presence of several candidates that we have supported, pending the outcome of the primary election. Unions are free to endorse in this race as they wish.
 

 

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If today’s Republican party had controlled Congress in 1970, there wouldn’t be an Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Berry Craig told a crowd of about 20 people at the Paducah Workers Memorial Day observance Saturday.

The city’s Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council sponsored the program.

“This year marks OHSA’s 45th anniversary,” added Craig, an AFT retiree who is the council’s recording secretary. “If it were up to the Republicans, there wouldn’t be a 46th.”

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Unions call “right to work” the “right to work for less,” meaning less pay and benefits.

But RTW also means less safety on the job, as Alex Bradshaw, a Louisville labor and social justice activist; and Richard Becker, an organizer for SEIU/NCFO, documented in a Leo Weekly article which is posted on the Kentucky State AFL-CIO website.

The authors write: “Professor Rolland Zullo of the University of Michigan points to the ominous consequences of passing RTW laws, which make resources for worker safety scarce. Zullo states that ‘RTW laws result in the underfunding of union safety training… [and] accident prevention activities.’ Further, Zullo’s research — which pulls from both the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics — concludes that ‘the rate of occupational fatalities is 34 percent higher in RTW states.’ One possible reason for decreased worker safety in RTW states, Zullo writes, is that an ‘objective of organized labor is to protect worker safety and health.’”
 

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From DAVID BERGSTEIN, Kentucky Democratic Party

“Tempers flared” and the candidates “grew irritable with one another” as the Republican primary slugfest in the KY governors race continues to escalate.

The Republican-on-Republican attacks are coming fast and furious, so to help you keep track here’s a quick recap of 10 insults and accusations that the candidates have hurled at each other this past week:

 

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By LEE SAUNDERS

You can tell it’s springtime. The extremist right-wing politicians who don’t normally give working families the time of day have fallen madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with us – with talking about us, that is.

Turn on the TV, listen to the radio or read the paper, and you’ll hear variations on the same theme: Ordinary folks are suffering. The middle class is shrinking. We’re having trouble sending our kids to college and paying our bills, to say nothing of our inability to save for retirement.

All of this is true, but coming from the very people who caused this middle-class meltdown, the words are meaningless. And when you try to go beyond their empty platitudes, all you hear is crickets.

 

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By TEFERE GEBRE
AFL-CIO executive vice president

This week marks the five year anniversary of Arizona's notorious SB-1070 law, which codified a set of anti-immigrant regulations designed to promote self-deportation of local residents or "attrition through enforcement" in the explicit language of the bill. Among the most disturbing aspects of the law is the provision that mandates racial profiling by requiring law enforcement agents to determine the immigration status of community members who they "suspect may be undocumented."

Those requirements are still in effect today.

Much has and should be written about the corrosive impact of such punitive and bigoted laws on the fabric of our communities, our economy, and our democracy. But we must focus today on the unintended consequences of these viscous attacks: they catalyzed the creation of the progressive infrastructure to fight back.

 

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By REBECCA PEEK, Cards Students United Against Sweatshops

Trade Unionists, Friends and Supporters: As you know, the hottest issue in D.C. right now is the push to STOP PASSAGE of FAST TRACK Legislation for the Transpacific Partnership – TPP. This agreement is another in a long line of not-so-free-trade agreements that have shipped millions of our jobs overseas and have completely failed to live up to the promises made by proponents for both American workers and foreign workers and countries.

It is critical that we make the connection between not-so-free-trade agreements like TPP that have resulted in huge increases in global poverty, income inequality, worsening human rights conditions and the unrelenting attacks on the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. It is critical that we make the connection between not-so-free-trade agreements and incidents of deplorable, dangerous and deadly conditions which workers are forced to endure around the globe. There is perhaps no clearer example than the disaster at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh which claimed the lives of 1100 workers when the building they were working collapsed while they labored making garments for the American and European markets for American and European multi-national corporations. Since this horrendous event very little compensation has been paid to the families of the victims and the survivors.

An effort that brings the issue not-so-free-trade agreements into focus has been those of the United Students Against Sweatshops which have effectively worked to get American universities which purchase and license huge quantities of overseas made garments promoting their athletic teams to sign onto agreements that insure that foreign garment manufacturers are operating in safe conditions and respect workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.

 

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By GREG STUMBO

Over the last four months, there has unfortunately been a renewed effort to breathe life into a proposal that most economists declared dead long ago. Supporters call it “right to work.” The rest of us, with the facts on our side, call it “right to work for less.”

Those backing the concept claim it will cure everything but the common cold. Not embracing it, they say, has cost Kentucky countless jobs and limited worker choice.

They’re wrong on both counts.

 

Read more >>>

From the National Law Review

In a quiet move that did not seem to generate much coverage, on April 16, 2015, the NLRB invited interested parties to file briefs about whether it should permit unions to charge “fair share” fees to nonmembers despite right to work laws. Critics have already argued the NLRB’s move may be a reaction to the number of additional states who have passed right to work laws in recent years – now half of all states have right to work laws.

In a recent case, the ALJ found the union violated Section 8(b)(1)(A) by maintaining and implementing a “Fair Share Policy” requiring nonmember bargaining-unit employees to pay a grievance-processing fee. But before addressing the issue presented, the full Board asked for briefs on the issue of whether it should “reconsider its rule that, in the absence of a valid union-security clause, a union may not charge nonmembers a fee for processing grievances?” It acknowledged the current rule prohibiting unions from doing so has been in place since 1976.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Jack Conway and Sannie Overly  are the Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsed candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 22, 2015) – The Conway-Overly Campaign for Kentucky Governor and Lieutenant Governor today reported it raised $872,347 during the first quarter of 2015, bringing its fundraising total to $2,197,257 since the start of the campaign last year.

“Sannie Overly and I are grateful for the overwhelming support that Kentuckians across the state have shown us from the very beginning of this campaign,” Attorney General Conway said. “It’s another sign that folks are excited about our message of truly putting Kentucky families first. Kentuckians understand that our campaign is about building a better future for our Commonwealth – one that includes good-paying jobs, the best-trained workers, an investment in education at every level, and the right environment for Kentucky businesses to grow. The unwavering support Sannie and I are receiving will allow us to start the general election in the strongest position possible, ensure that every Kentuckian knows our plan to move this state forward, and secure a victory in November.”

For a non-incumbent gubernatorial campaign, the fundraising total of more than $2.19 million has broken records. And to date, Conway-Overly for Kentucky has received more than 4,000 contributions supporting Jack and Sannie’s commitment to putting people over politics – another sign of Jack and Sannie’s broad support and that their message is resonating with Kentuckians.

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By Lawrence E. Dubé
Bloomberg BNA

April 21 - The National Labor Relations Board April 17 urged a federal district court in Kentucky to invalidate a county ordinance that prohibits the use of union-security provisions in collective bargaining agreements and regulates other practices that are either permitted or prohibited by federal law.

Hardin County's Ordinance 300 is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, the board argued in a proposed amicus brief it submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The court is considering a lawsuit the United Auto Workers and other unions filed in January to challenge the ordinance.

The brief contended that while Section 14(b) of the NLRA allows states or territories to prohibit union-security agreements, it does not authorize counties or political subdivisions to adopt similar measures, which the board said are preempted by federal labor law.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Attorney Gen. Jack Conway is the Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for governor. 

FRANKFORT, KY -- One month out from Kentucky's Republican gubernatorial primary, the Kentucky Democratic Party today released a new web video, "Slugfest."

The video uses news footage and the Republican candidates' own statements to highlight how the GOP primary has turned into a brutal, intra-party fight that is exposing the flaws in each candidate and will leave their ultimate nominee deeply wounded.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH "SLUGFEST"

 

 

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 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 21, 2015) – Attorney General Jack Conway and Rep. Sannie Overly today announced the endorsement of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) for the Conway-Overly for Kentucky ticket in the 2015 Kentucky governor’s race.

“Sannie and I are proud to have the support of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades,” Attorney General Conway said. “Our campaign is laser-focused on the issues that matter to Kentucky working families, like creating good-paying jobs, attracting new businesses to our state and building an environment of economic opportunity in our Commonwealth. As Kentucky’s next Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Sannie and I will always keep the interests of our working families at heart as we fight for fair wages in Kentucky and continue standing up to the special interest groups that threaten them.”

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades represents men and women in the United States and Canada who work in the Finishing Trades – Commercial and Industrial Painting, Drywall Finishing, Glazing and Glasswork, Floor Covering Installation and Sign and Display. Originally named the Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators of America, the union was first formed in 1887.
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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Two union-busters are touting their mid-March poll that purports to prove most Kentuckians are pro-“right to work.”

Of the poll's 600 respondents, “39 percent didn't even know what a right-to-work law is,” the duo wrote in a recent Lexington Herald-Leader op-ed column. “But when educated on what a right-to-work law means, ‘no one can be required to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment,’ 59 percent agree.”

The poll was from Americans for Prosperity Kentucky, the Bluegrass State branch of Charles and David Koch's propaganda ministry.

 

 

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FRANKFORT, Ky. - The Bluegrass has become a battleground state over right-to-work legislation with a handful of counties passing local laws and all four Republican candidates for governor supporting the idea.

But, a new economic analysis questions whether right-to-work legislation delivers on its promise of economic growth.

The idea is to stop requiring workers who aren't union members, but are still covered by a union, to pay dues. A report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy finds a lack of job growth and lower wages in right-to-work states. Bill Londrigan is president of the AFL-CIO in Kentucky.

 

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By Matt L. Barron
Bluegrass Rural
www.bluegrass-rural.com

Mention the name Andy Barr and most folks come back with “he’s a nice guy.” True the sophomore congressman does not beat his wife or abuse his pets, but his voting record is not all that nice. Unless you’re a one-percenter.

The first thing to know about Barr is that he sits on the Committee on Financial Services. Back in the day, this panel was called the Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs. That was decades ago when Congress actually regulated Wall Street. Today, Wall Street regulates Congress.

Barr copped this plum assignment because he narrowly defeated a Democrat in 2012, after his district, KY-6, was redrawn to make it more Dem friendly after the 2010 census. When Speaker Boehner is worried about the re-election prospects of Republicans from marginal or swing districts, he puts them on Financial Services where they can raise gobs and gobs of campaign cash as freshmen, to help fend off challenges after their first term.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

The union-busters must have figured Grayson County for a slam dunk on a “right to work” ordinance.

After all, the county and Leitchfield, its seat, are pretty deeply GOP Red. The judge-executive is a Republican. So are all six county magistrates. Sen. Mitch McConnell carried the county in a blowout last November.

But the other day, a proposed RTW ordinance couldn’t even muster a vote at the fiscal court meeting.

 

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

At today’s meeting of the Grayson County Fiscal Court the illegal RTW ordinance was brought up for a first reading. When the measure was introduced the chair called for a second to the motion to pass the ordinance on the first reading – IT FAILED TO RECEIVE A SECOND FROM ANY OF THE SIX MAGISTRATES AND DIED!

I would like to thank all those who attended including members from the IUOE, IBEW, BLE, UMWA, IBB, IUE/CWA, LIUNA and others. Many union members from Grayson and the surrounding counties spoke against the ordinance with only the usual economic development mouthpiece and head of the local chamber of commerce and one or two business people speaking in favor.

A special thanks to Anna Baumann of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy who spoke about her research findings (e-mailed to you previously) which found NO verifiable connection between job creation and RTW laws.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
Kentucky State AFL-CIO president

As you know, each year organized labor and our allies commemorate the lives of workers killed on the job during the previous year on Workers Memorial Day, April 28.

Workers Memorial Day is now observed around the world and helps to keep focus on the need for continuously improving safety and health at the workplace. This year in Kentucky there are currently three Workers Memorial Day events scheduled. You and your family and friends are invited to participate in these events as a sign of our commitment to safety on the job so that everyone worker returns home each day.

 

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By MARIA CARLA SANCHEZ

I have a news tidbit for Beltway journalists: Latinos are not all the same. Crazy, I know, but I swear it's true. We actually are not Barbies, easily fitting into one another's costumes or convertibles or dream houses. We don't necessarily mix and match, like an ethnic version of Garanimals. We're all different. And for the love of God, this particular Latina is getting mighty tired of being mistaken for Latinos I Am Not. Case in point: Marco Rubio. Dear Mainstream Media: I am Latina, and I will never vote for Marco Rubio.

He announced his presidency yesterday, and since then, I have heard repeatedly, across the media spectrum, that He Will Appeal to Me as a Latino. I expect to hear this mantra for many days, weeks, and months to come; it's clearly a narrative that many Beltway types have committed to memory. Well... certainly, I understand why non-Latino journalists might be confused on this issue. As I walk down the streets of my hometown, I - like all other Latinos - just love and adore every Latino I meet. We experience an instant spiritual and cultural connection with each other, constantly, all 50.5 million of us counted in the 2010 census! I guess we're clannish that way, or tribal, or however you'd like to imagine it. Pluck any Latino out of his or her neighborhood, and I will immediately greet that person: "!Familia! ¡Amigo! ¡Compadre! I give my vote to YOU!" I won't even have to think - why would any politician wish me to do that - but rather, just stroll into the voting booth seventeen months from now, look for the Spanish surname on my ballot, and click. ¡Mi voto es tu voto, hermano! ¡Claro que sí!

Such bull----.

 

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By PETER SCHMIDT

Being represented by a union appears to pay big financial dividends for full-time instructors at community colleges, a new study concludes.

Depending on the size, location, and public-financing sources of their institution, unionized full-time instructors earn from about 5 to 50 percent more in pay and benefits than do their nonunionized peers at similar community colleges, says a paper summarizing the study’s results.

"The differences are stunning," says Stephen G. Katsinas, a professor of higher education at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa who is one of the study’s three co-authors.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Our economic policy partners at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy have published a brief report detailing the research and conclusions about the false premise of job creation from RTW laws.

KCEP does an excellent job distilling the available credible evidence into a readable and concise report. Please click on the link below to view the entire report and share this information with your e-mail lists, websites and social media. Feel free to distribute to your elected representatives who might not know enough about the real facts about RTW.

Our thanks to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, especially Anna Baumann the author of the report and Jason Bailey, Director of KCEP!

http://kypolicy.org/dash/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/What-the-Research-Says-about-RTW-Laws-Employment-and-Wages.pdf

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

It looks like the wheels have come off the scab-built “right to work” clown car.

The union-busters predicted 30 counties would pass RTW ordinances by the end of January, according to Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president.

Only a dozen of the Bluegrass State’s 120 counties are in the RTW column. That’s 10 percent.  In baseball, 12 for 120 is a couldn’t-hit-water-if-you-were-falling-out-of-a-boat batting average of .100. 
 



 

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By LEO W. GERARD
USW International President

This is no plea for pity for corporate kingpins like Walmart and McDonald’s inundated by workers’ demands for living wages.

Raises would, of course, cost these billion-dollar corporations something. More costly, though, is the price paid by minimum-wage workers who have not received a raise in six years. Even more dear is what these workers have paid for their campaign to get raises. Managers have harassed, threatened and fired them.

Despite all that, low-wage workers will return to picket lines and demonstrations Wednesday in a National Day of Action in the fight for $15 an hour. The date is 4 – 15. These are workers who live paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay their bills, and certainly unable to cope with an emergency. They know the risk they’re taking by participating in strikes for pay hikes. They’ve seen bosses punish co-workers for demonstrating for raises. To lose a job, even one that pays poverty wages, during a time of high unemployment is terrifying. Still, thousands will participate Wednesday. That is valor.

 

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By JOHN J. DUNPHY
Contributing Columnist

“Imagine America without any unions, “ Jaron Lewis Berlin suggested in his essay “The Importance of Unions.” Our nation would be “an America without a 40-hour-work-week, an America without a minimum wage, an America without appropriate safety standards, women workers’ rights or weekends off,” he wrote. Unfortunately for our nation, a clique of reactionary millionaires and billionaires indeed want an America without unions, no matter how adversely it will affect the non-wealthy.

Those of us who love the United States and want to see it flourish were astounded when Michigan, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers union, became a right to work state in 2013 because of the machinations of its Republican governor and legislature. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and his Republican cronies in 2011 deprived public sector workers from engaging in collective bargaining in that state. Walker this year took it up a notch by making Wisconsin a right to work state, a law applauded by wealthy reactionaries across America because it seriously weakens unions.

America needs more unions and stronger unions. As Berlin observed, “Big businesses aren’t concerned with the rights of individual workers; they are concerned about their profits.” Unions stand up for their members and help to level the playing field in an America that is increasingly dominated by powerful corporations. “Every year, thousands of families in the U.S. can rely upon their respective unions to lobby on their behalf and guarantee the continued protection of their salaries and benefits,” Vanessa Berrera wrote in ”Student Perspective: The Importance of Unions in the 21st Century.” Berrera knows firsthand what unions can do for members and their families. She’s the Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 scholarship recipient. “For as long as I can remember,” she remarked, “the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union has been present in my life, providing my family with numerous benefits, privileges, and educational opportunities.”

 

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BY ALEX BRADSHAW, RICHARD BECKER

Exposing the Racist Legacy and Corporate America’s Agenda
The specter of so-called right-to-work laws, much to the dismay of working families, is sweeping the nation. The story of right-to-work pits Democrats against Republicans, management against workers and, historically, white supremacists against socialists.

The term right-to-work (RTW) refers to a type of law that allows workers in a unionized facility to opt out of paying union dues, even as they enjoy all of the benefits that unionization brings. These are dues the worker agreed to pay as a condition of employment in most cases — and as a condition of forming their union through majority vote.

RTW has recently re-emerged as a hot political issue, both nationwide and here in the Commonwealth. However, two key elements are frequently left out of the conversation about this controversial law. The first is the fact that the RTW campaign has racist, divide-and-conquer origins initially pushed by far-right business interests and candid white supremacists. The second is the fact that the proponents of RTW today are part of the exclusionary lineage of the American right, determined to divide the working-class in one way or another.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Democrat Jack Conway is the Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for governor.

From the Kentucky Democratic Party

FRANKFORT, KY — “Divisive. “Turned Negative.” “Major Controversy.” That’s what they’re saying about Kentucky’s GOP gubernatorial primary — which has now officially turned into an intra-party slugfest after yesterday’s debate. With weeks to go, this divisive and expensive fight between the Republicans is undoubtedly just getting started.

See for yourself:

 

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By HAROLD MEYERSON
Washington Post

One hundred and fifty years ago today, after Union infantry effectively encircled the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee sent a note to Ulysses S. Grant proposing a meeting to discuss terms of surrender. With that, the Civil War began to end.

And at some point in the future, it may yet.

The emancipation of the slaves that accompanied the North’s victory ushered in, as Abraham Lincoln had hoped, a new birth of freedom, but the old order also managed to adapt itself to the new circumstances. The subjugation of and violence against African Americans continued apace, particularly after U.S. Army troops withdrew from the South at the end of Reconstruction. Black voting was suppressed. The Southern labor system retained, in altered form, its most distinctive characteristic: unfree labor. As Douglas A. Blackmon has demonstrated in his Pulitzer Prize-winning study “Slavery by Another Name,” numerous corporations — many of them headquartered in the North — relied heavily on the labor of thousands of black prisoners, many serving long sentences for minor crimes or no crimes at all.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

We just got the following from David Bergstein, the Kentucky Democratic Party's communications director.

He has posed a quintet of queries that makes me wish I were packing a reporter’s notebook again. Here’s hoping the assembled newspaper scribes and TV newshounds will pop at least some of the questions.

Reporters —

 

 

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By BILL SCHNEIDER

What are the chances that Sen. Rand Paul will get elected President next year? Look at it this way: Sen. Paul's is running for re-election to the Senate at the same time he is running for President. That doesn't show a lot of confidence in his presidential prospects.

Paul is more of a curiosity than a contender. He's trying to maintain his libertarian creds and at the same time reassure conservatives that he really is one of them. His explicit objective is to change the Republican Party so that it can be competitive in the New America. Paul's goal is to bring in more minorities, more young people and more poor people. "Those of us who have enjoyed the American dream must break down the wall that separates us from the other America,' Paul said on Tuesday. The problem is, conservatives have spent a lot of time building that wall.

Nominations are controlled by partisans, and you're not likely to win their favor by telling them what's wrong with their party. John McCain tried to do that when he first ran for the Republican nomination in 2000. It didn't work.

 

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By JEANNE CUMMINGS
Bloomberg

Unions may be weaker, smaller and more embattled, but they remain crucial players in Democratic politics. When wealthy Republicans began pouring millions into super PACs in 2010, unions worked to shield Democratic candidates from the onslaught, becoming their biggest source of super-PAC donations.

What is that loyalty worth? With President Barack Obama and Congress negotiating fast-track legislation on international trade, union leaders are about to find out.

 

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From the Sandusky Courier online

Striking union workers at Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Catlettsburg, Kentucky refinery will return to work this week after a new labor contract was approved Friday, according to Bloomberg Business News.

The Catlettsburg workers, members of the United Steelworkers union, have been on strike for more than two months.

Workers at four other U.S. sites will remain on strike, including those at Marathon’s Galveston Bay refinery in Texas City, Texas, and BP’s refinery in Oregon, Ohio.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: In January, nine unions challenged the Hardin County "right to work" ordinance in federal court in Louisville. The suit could be applied to other county RTW ordinances.

BY OLIVIA SANDBOTHE
AFSCME Blog

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is already notorious for pushing a corporate agenda in state capitols all over the country. The secretive Washington, DC, group is not satisfied with promoting union-busting legislation at the state level, however. Now, ALEC is setting its sights on local governments.

Kentucky is the testing grounds for ALEC’s new local strategy. Earlier this year, the Kentucky state Legislature defeated a right-to-work bill following an outpouring of public opposition. But the corporate insiders at ALEC aren’t going to let a little thing like the will of the people get in their way. Instead, they’re trying to push the right-to-work scam at a county level.

For the record, this is illegal. Under the Taft-Hartley Law, passed over President Truman’s veto in 1947, only states are authorized to pass these kinds of laws. Kentucky’s highest court said as much in a 1965 ruling, and Kentucky’s Attorney General Jack Conway recently warned counties that local right-to-work ordinances won’t hold up in court.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Bluegrass Rural says ratings from a variety of organizations, including business associations, don’t bode well for Rand Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator who is expected to toss his hat in the ring for president tomorrow.

Paul, a first-term Bowling Green Republican, “is getting flunking grades” across the board, according to the Graves County-based, tax exempt advocacy group “whose mission is focused on voter education in rural Kentucky.”

Here are Paul’s scores, as reported by Bluegrass Rural:

 

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By DAVID MERCER
The Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Since he took office, Gov. Bruce Rauner has said repeatedly he wants to let Illinois voters decide whether to set up their own local right-to-work zones, areas where union membership and dues would be voluntary.

The Republican also has circulated a memo through the Illinois Municipal League encouraging towns to give the idea consideration, which at least two communities outside of Chicago — Oswego and East Dundee — have discussed in the last week.

Rauner has pitched the right-to-work zones as part of a plan to build up the state's economy, an angle union leaders say is misleading. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has said the zones would violate federal labor laws, as right-to-work can only be enacted on a statewide basis like in Wisconsin and Indiana, as well as state laws.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Brent Yessin just reminded me of David Stockman.

Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s budget director, famously ‘fessed up in a 1981 Atlantic Monthly story that Reaganomics was essentially trickle-down economics.

Trickle-down economics caused the Great Depression. Reaganomics caused the country’s deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Yessin is a Kentucky-born, Florida-based lawyer who is helping push county “right to work” ordinances in his home state. Supporters of the ordinances vehemently deny their aim is to destroy unions.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: We received the following from Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president: "When pro-RTW forces and politicians continuously claim that RTW is not anti-union, the record of their secretly-paid union-busting mouthpiece, Mr. Yessin, exposes that claim as a bold faced lie! Circulate this link to anyone that would benefit from this information and those that try to hide behind the fallacy that RTW is not purposely designed to undermine labor unions, our public image, union solidarity, financial resources and ability to negotiate good wages and benefits."

By JOSH EIDELSON
Bloomberg Politics

Last year, the Democrats who control the Kentucky House of Representatives killed a Republican proposal that would have made it illegal for unions to charge workers at private companies mandatory fees—in other words, to run union shops. One of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Jim DeCesare, assumed his option was to try again in the next General Assembly session. Then, at an October fundraiser for Senator Rand Paul in Bowling Green, DeCesare heard about a Tampa lawyer named Brent Yessin. He argues that counties and cities have the right to make labor policy, too. “Obviously,” DeCesare says, “we were extremely interested.”

In 1965, Kentucky’s highest court ruled that the town of Shelbyville couldn’t outlaw union shop contracts because the 1935 National Labor Relations Act preempts local labor laws. In 1990 a similar law passed by a New Mexico city was overturned by a federal district court for much the same reason. Letting local governments diverge on labor policy, says University of Toledo law professor Joseph Slater, “would certainly be a change in the way the law has always been interpreted.”

Yessin, who’s represented companies in more than 200 conflicts with unions, says those interpretations have been wrong all along. In his view, the NLRA—which was intended to standardize labor laws across the country—doesn’t block states from letting local officials regulate some union activities. Even if it did, he argues, Congress doesn’t have the power to take that authority away from cities and counties. “States never lost the ability to pass their own regulatory schemes regarding forced union dues,” he says. “It’s not up to Congress to tell them how to utilize it.”

 

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By TAYLOR KUYKENDALL and HIRA FAWAD
SNL

Data analyzed by SNL Energy suggests that underground coal mines in Appalachia that have unionized are not only safer but also more productive.

By combining the past two years of health and safety data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and union status data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, SNL Energy found that unionized underground mines in Central and Northern Appalachia produced about 94,091 tons of coal for every injury reported in 2013, compared to 71,110 tons at nonunion mines. In 2014, the gap was narrower at 79,001 tons at union operations, compared to 76,087 tons per injury at nonunion operations.

SNL Energy's analysis looked at all active underground coal mines in Central Appalachia and Northern Appalachia, comprising 16 union and 241 nonunion mines in 2014, and 18 union and 308 nonunion mines in 2013. All underground production methods were included in the analysis.

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

“The labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature, spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aptly observed.

No doubt he would add “LGBTQ-hater” and “LBGTQ-baiter” if he were alive today.

In Indiana, one of our northern neighbors, right-wing, union-busting Republican Gov. Mike Pence evidently is still happy he signed the “right to work” law his equally right-wing, union-busting, GOP-majority legislature passed in 2012.
 

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By MIKE HALL
AFL-CIO

The Indiana legislature passed and Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a bill last week that critics, from human and civil rights groups to corporate CEOs to professional athletes, say opens the door to legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) people.

In a statement, Indiana State AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies said the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) “condones discrimination against our own citizens.”

Throughout its long history, organized labor has always fought for education, fair wages, safe workplaces and equality. That is why, on behalf of the 300,000 working Hoosiers and the more than 800 local unions affiliated with the Indiana AFL-CIO, we call on the Indiana General Assembly to repeal the discriminatory RFRA or pass the ‘Fairness for All Hoosiers Act’ immediately.

 

 

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Louisville Courier-Journal editorial

Gubernatorial hopeful James Comer started out on the right track when he decided to address health care this week, citing Kentucky’s decades-long history of poverty, child abuse, death and disease.

Then he went off the rails.

The solution offered by Mr. Comer, one of four Republicans vying for the GOP nomination? Strip health care coverage from many of the more than 500,000 Kentuckians who obtained it through the Affordable Care Act.

 

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By ROBERT REICH
The Huffington Post

Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they're lazy. As Speaker John Boehner has said, the poor have a notion that "I really don't have to work. I don't really want to do this. I think I'd rather just sit around."

In reality, a large and growing share of the nation's poor work full time -- sometimes sixty or more hours a week -- yet still don't earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

It's also commonly believed, especially among Republicans, that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others.

 

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By PETER BAKER
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — In his latest confrontation with Congress, President Obama on Tuesday blocked Republican efforts to overturn new union-friendly federal regulations issued by his administration.

Mr. Obama rejected a resolution passed by both houses of Congress that would have reversed rules to speed up and streamline union elections, the equivalent of a veto. Republicans referred to it as the “ambush election” rule and argued that it would be unfair to businesses.

The showdown over the labor rules represented a new front in the larger battle between Mr. Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress over the scope of his executive power. With the two sides at loggerheads over most legislation, they have been fighting instead over how far Mr. Obama can and should go in using his authority as president to advance his agenda.

 

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By BRENT SNAVELY
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — The UAW eclipsed 400,000 members for the first time since 2008, drawing new members and dues last year from the resurgent automotive industry, suppliers in the South and higher education employees.

It was the fifth straight year the union saw a membership gain, reporting more than 12,000 new members last year and 403,000 members total, according to an annual report filed in March with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The union now represents more than 10,000 workers in the gaming industry and 25,000 higher education workers.

 

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From NBC NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Maria Dominguez told a roomful of union members Tuesday it was the kind of work they were about to embark on - preparing immigrants for deportation relief - that set her on her way to using her teaching credentials.

Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, but living in the U.S. since she was 9, she got deportation relief in 2012 and now uses her master's degree in bilingual education to teach at Rodriguez Elementary in southeast Austin.

"I benefited from DACA," said Dominguez, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that shielded hundreds of thousands of immigrants from deportation.

 

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By TOM EBLEN
Lexington Herald-Leader

A few thoughts on Kentucky issues in the news:

The minimum wage has a big impact on low-wage workers, many of whom must rely on public assistance to make ends meet, as well as the overall economy, which is driven largely by consumer spending.

The $7.25 federal minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009. Its value adjusted for inflation has lost more than 25 percent since its peak in 1968.

 

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By Seth A. Richardson
Springfield, Ill., State Journal-Register

Fulton, Kentucky, used to be known as the Banana Capital of the World.

More than two-thirds of all the Chiquita bananas sold in the country went through the small town on the trip from New Orleans to Chicago. It provided a great amount of industry jobs for the town of less than 3,000.

But hard times fell on the town, and soon the jobs dried up. Fulton County had the highest unemployment rate in Kentucky in 2014, and 63 percent of its residents live below the poverty line.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

We’re losing a friend in the attorney general’s office.

We hope to elevate that friend, Jack Conway, to the governor’s office, thereby replacing Steve Beshear, another departing friend.

At the same time, we can put a new friend in Conway’s vacated office. He is Andy Beshear, the son of the guy Conway wants to succeed.

Like Conway, Andy and Steve Beshear are Democrats who earned the Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsement.

 

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By BILL FINN
State Director, Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council

The 2015 Kentucky General Assembly adjourned for the year at 3:30 a.m. on March 26. A few pieces of legislation affected the Building Trades became Law. More importantly, no destructive Legislation that would have been harmful to our union members became Law. Attacks in numerous states across the country have seen battles on right-to-work, prevailing wage and other detrimental Legislation affecting the Building Trades.

Kentucky was no different with the Republican-controlled Senate making its highest priority item in Kentucky, Senate Bill -1, The Kentucky Right-To-Work Act. The hard work by Local unions leading up to the November, 2014, elections paid off. By educating and keeping our members informed of the issues and candidates, we were able to beat back the attacks on organized labor by keeping a Democratic majority in the Kentucky House. The war on workers will continue but we must continue the fight for our wages, benefits and working conditions by electing candidates that value the skilled Building Trades members throughout Kentucky. Electing Attorney General Jack Conway as our next Governor is now Job Number One.

Below is a summary of the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly.

 

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By CRISTINA MARCOS
The Hill

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday that it has opened an investigation into Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) regarding allegations that he improperly used his office to help his wife lobby Congress on behalf of the Humane Society.

House rules forbid lawmakers' spouses from lobbying their congressional offices.

Whitfield's wife, Constance, is a registered lobbyist for the Humane Society Legislative Fund. The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent entity which reviews potential misconduct and refers cases to the House Ethics Committee, alleged last year that Constance advocated for a number of bills that her husband sponsored or co-sponsored regarding animal welfare.

 

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Tuesday's C-J editorial, Political potholes, is a perfect example of how what was once the Republican Party can now best be described as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers. Their inappropriately-named Americans for Prosperity “has launched a last-minute radio advertising blitz designed to further erode roads and jobs in Kentucky”.

Charles and David Koch are also the driving force behind Protect My Check, the Florida-based organization pushing local “right-to-work” ordinances in Kentucky. And, as with their attempts at “whipping Kentuckians into a frenzy about a supposed gas tax hike”, the poisonous RTW proposals rely solely upon anecdotal fairy tales in which non-existent owners claim businesses won't locate where there are no such laws.

In several Republican-dominated fiscal courts across the Commonwealth, a virtual mountain of factual evidence has been totally ignored in favor of following the mandates laid down by the Kochs and passing the ordinances.

 

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If you've driven a car anywhere in Kentucky lately, you've likely encountered bone-jarring, car-rattling potholes that seem to be spreading rapidly across roads and highways.

Don't count on Americans for Prosperity to help fill them in.

Instead, the national organization backed by the billionaire Koch Brothers has launched a last-minute radio advertising blitz designed to further erode roads and jobs in Kentucky.

 

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By JOE ARNOLD
WHAS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Hal Heiner has an 14 point lead over James Comer in a poll of Kentucky's governor's race released Thursday by a Republican political consulting and polling firm not associated with any of the campaigns.

By JOE ARNOLD
WHAS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Hal Heiner has an 14 point lead over James Comer in a poll of Kentucky's governor's race released Thursday by a Republican political consulting and polling firm not associated with any of the campaigns.

Heiner, a former Louisville Metro Councilman, leads Comer, Kentucky's Agriculture Commissioner, 33 percent to 19 percent in the Triumph Campaigns poll, a Mississippi-based company.

Investment manager Matt Bevin is next with 12 percent support and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott is a distant fourth with four percent support in the poll.

 

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 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 26, 2015) – Attorney General Jack Conway and Rep. Sannie Overly today announced the endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) for the Conway-Overly for Kentucky ticket in the 2015 Kentucky governor’s race.

“Sannie and I are honored to have the endorsement of the UMWA as we travel the Commonwealth sharing our message of commitment to Kentucky’s working families,” Attorney General Conway said. “Coal puts food on the table and helps send kids to college. It lights our homes and keeps electricity rates low. As Kentucky's Attorney General, I've sued the EPA for overreach, stood up for our coal industry and worked to protect miners. As Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Sannie and I will always fight to protect Kentucky’s coal economy and the interests of our coal miners. We will aggressively market Kentucky’s competitive, low energy costs to bring good-paying jobs to the Commonwealth, and we will always place people over politics in every decision we make.”

Membership of the United Mine Workers of America includes coal miners, clean coal technicians, health care workers, truck drivers, manufacturing workers and public employees. Established in 1890, the UMWA provides workers with a voice on the job, serving as an advocate for safe workplaces, good wages and benefits, and fair representation in workplaces. Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Let’s be honest, not all Democrats are in our corner. Make that “Democrats.”

About half of the county officials who have voted for those union-busting county “right to work” ordinances call themselves Democrats.

A better handle for them would be “DINOS” – Democrats in name only.

 

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We thank our friend Holly Erwin of Graves County for sending us this link. 

https://www.upworthy.com/a-lawyer-shows-up-at-a-right-to-work-hearing-and-cue-the-laughter?c=upw1&u=9a3418a99be58e018591207663b2755827eca91a

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By DALE HANSEN
Detroit News

Speaker of the House John Boehner's website says, "Helping to build a stronger, healthier economy for all Americans is priority number one for House Republicans." Boehner also is one of a small but growing number of Republicans who admit that income inequality is a huge obstacle to reaching this goal. Unfortunately, Boehner has failed to offer any solutions to this problem beyond the standard "blame Obama" rhetoric.

Luckily for Republicans like Boehner, the party's policy from decades ago offers a simple solution to the U.S. income inequality problem. In extolling the virtues of former President Eisenhower's first term in office, the GOP platform stated, "The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration." In fact, labor unions were so integral to America's success that President Eisenhower said, "Labor is the United States. The men and women, who with their minds, their hearts and hands, create the wealth that is shared in this country -- they are America."

Despite the Republicans' change of heart, the value of unions to the success of the U.S. economy remains the same today. A report from the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development finds that that income inequality costs the U.S. economy 6 to 7 percentage points of growth during the first 10 years of this century. Considering that studies have found a direct correlation between the number of people in labor unions and the distribution of wealth, it becomes clear that if the Republicans' goal is to build a stronger, healthier economy for all Americans, then continuing to add obstacles to organizing is the wrong approach.

 

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By JEFF SPROSS
The Week

On Thursday, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) re-introduced legislation to torpedo "micro unions," the latest labor movement to terrify business management, right-wingers, and capitalists in general.

They aren't actually anything new, just a variation on long-standing labor-organizing practices that have come back into prominence. "Micro union" is a recently coined term of art for bargaining units that encompass one category of workers at a business — the cosmetics workers at a Macy's, for example — instead of the more traditional model of organizing all the workers for the business into one single bargaining unit.

In 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided a group of certified nursing assistants at a nursing home constituted an appropriate bargaining unit in themselves, in a decision called Specialty Healthcare. In 2013, that decision got the stamp of approval from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 2014, the NLRB applied its logic to the aforementioned Macy's cosmetics workers.

 

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The Associated Press

METROPOLIS, ILL. -- A tentative settlement has been reached in a nearly eight-month labor dispute that has affected a Honeywell nuclear fuel production facility in southern Illinois.

Federal mediators said Saturday the tentative agreement between Honeywell's Metropolis Works and the United Steelworkers Local 7-669 could end a work stoppage that began in August.

Allison Beck is the acting director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which called the parties back to the bargaining table on Wednesday.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Johnson is a member of St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro. Electronic copies of The Rank and File Catholic are available by email from Linda S. Payne, publisher, at lspayne@gmail.com. 

By TODD JOHNSON
Sprinkler Fitters LU 669

As both a Catholic and union organizer, I am asked frequently to explain what Right to Work is. Its name certainly sounds positive. As Americans, most of us feel our right to work is somehow intertwined into our inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, don’t let the name deceive you! I feel reasonably sure that a smooth talking politician trying to sneak this policy under the radar of his or her constituents came up with the name for this piece of legislation.

People often rely on misconceptions and misunderstandings to form an opinion on organized union labor. In reality, unions are just like any business or organization. To accomplish their goals, unions require loyalty and agreement between members to work for a common goal, and they also require money.

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Sometimes, news release writers have to try to make chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what.

It goes with the job if you’re in PR.

Anyway, a scribe for Florida-based Protect My Check, one of those anti-union groups pushing county “right to work” ordinances in Kentucky, dutifully diced the pecans, grapes and celery and slathered on the mayo in a recent release. But RTW is still chicken you-know-what.
 

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Hopkinsville is not exactly union territory.

But at a fund-raiser in the Christian County seat, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, forthrightly fielded a question about “right to work” from supporter Gail Hardy, a retired Cadiz teacher who still packs a Kentucky Education Association card.

“After his speech, he asked if anyone had any questions,” Hardy said. “I brought up right to work. He expounded on it and said it is not legal for counties to do. He talked about how it lowers salaries and is bad for all workers and for our state.”

 

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By KEN RECHTIN

Family Feud is a game show that most people know and understand. It's been around for a long time. Everyone knows the phrase made famous by the first host, Richard Dawson: "Survey Says!"

My disclaimer:

My surveys are not scientific. There is not a ‘margin of error’. It is just the collective response and comments of my readership. Nothing more!

Let’s see what “Survey Says” about three previous columns!

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Three county judge-executives have written Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan saying they oppose county “right-to-work” ordinances.

“I see the right-to-work legislation as a means to undermine labor unions and lower wages,” wrote Democrat Robert W. Carter of Greenup County.

“Henderson County rejects all efforts to pass a right-to-work ordinance,” wrote Democrat Donald Hugh McCormick. “The right-to-work ordinance undermines labor unions with the intent to lower the wages of hard working Kentuckians.”

 

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
Kentucky State AFL-CIO president

Fellow Trade Unionists: Here is a brief update on RTW ordinances from the last few days:

Oldham County: On Tuesday, by a vote of 7-2, the all-Republican Oldham County Fiscal Court voted to table the RTW ordinance pending outcome of our federal lawsuit. I would like thank all of those who attended the meeting. We had a great showing of support from union members and supporters during this fiscal court hearing, and I know our presence made a good impression. I would like to add that the Oldham County Fiscal Court provided us with the fairest opportunity to make our case and refute the claims of RTW proponents of any county that we have visited. They were hospitable and engaged with several magistrates following up with phone calls and questions. They are to be commended for their openness and willingness to engage in debate and consider our side of the argument. Oldham County Attorney John Larson is also to be commended for his adherence to the law and willingness to speak out about his opinion that RTW ordinances are illegal from both the state and federal perspectives. This experience demonstrates that when given a fair opportunity to present our position it has an impact on the views of county officials.

 

 

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By DON WEBER
Cn/2 Pure Politics

ERLANGER — The pros and cons of right-to-work took center stage at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues breakfast on Tuesday morning.

With more counties in Kentucky voting by local ordinance to end closed-shops and allow workers the right to not be part of the union the issue is primed to take off or be stopped short by the courts.

Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, says that right-to-work proponents fail to come up with any solid statistics to back the belief that right-to-work will bring more jobs to the state. Londrigan said not having right-to-work will result in losing jobs to other states as well as the inability to lure businesses to the commonwealth.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

The union-busters would have us believe that a “right to work” tide is sweeping the country.

A trickle is more like it. But you wouldn't know that from the media.

Wisconsin recently was all over the news for becoming the the 25th right to work state.

But in a USA Today opinion piece, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka pointed out what the media hasn't made much of: state legislatures in New Hampshire, West Virginia, New Mexico, Maine and Montana turning thumbs down on RTW. 
 

 

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By RICHARD TRUMKA

America is demanding a raising wages economy, but that idea is under assault because of a corporate funded plan being pushed by some politicians to take America in the opposite direction with right-to-work.

A few politically ambitious governors have signed right-to-work laws lately, but it's an idea that frequently loses in state houses across the country. In the past few weeks alone, it has been rejected in New Hampshire, West Virginia. New Mexico and Maine. In Montana, no one but the sponsor of a right-to-work bill would testify for it. It failed there, too.

The data tell us people in right-to-work states earn 12% less and have worse healthcare and retirement benefits than workers in other states. Simply put, right-to-work is wrong.

 

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By JEFF DONOHUE
Special to the Courier-Journal

As an annual subject matter that’s chewed every election cycle, right-to-work legislation is and has been a tired argument from the day of its conception. It’s a corporate agenda that always intends to set the bar low for workers and working families concerning wages, safety, benefits and equality in the workplace. With the disparity of wealth in our country at historical levels, it is an agenda that isn’t the right thing for Kentucky or America.

The individuals that pursue the so-called RTW agenda are betting that the general public won’t take the time to educate themselves as to the relevant facts. So far, they are right.

As a Kentucky lawmaker, I’m counting on you to take the time to truly become informed on this extremely important subject matter. Having done that, you will realize that RTW legislation is not an economic engine to push success, but a deterrent.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Boone County has passed a RTW ordinance and adjoining Kenton County has tabled a similar measure. 

By KIRSTEN CLARK
The Courier-Journal

Despite support for a local "right-to-work" ordinance proposal, Oldham County magistrates voted to table the measure during Tuesday's fiscal court meeting, at the request of the court's Economic Development Committee.

The decision to table the bill, which was approved by a 7-2 vote, was met by applause from a nearly full house of union supporters and those opposing the right-to-work measure. Magistrates Steve Greenwell and J.D. Sparks opposed the motion.

Judge-Executive David Voegele said the court would wait until the legality of a similar ordinance — which would prohibit mandatory union involvement as a condition of employment — in Hardin County is decided in U.S. District Court before revisiting the issue.

 

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Globalization and technology have gutted the labor movement, and part-time work is sabotaging solidarity. Is there a new way to challenge the politics of inequality?

By KIM PHILLIPS-FEIN
The Atlantic

On a gusty April morning in 1914, a gun battle broke out between Colorado National Guardsmen and a group of striking coal miners. The strikers had been living in tents in a field after being evicted from their company-owned homes in town. Several miners (including a 12-year-old boy) were shot to death, and when the canvas shelters caught on fire, 11 children and two women were killed by the smoke. Nor did the guardsmen, buttressed by private security guards, remain unscathed: four were killed over the course of the day, and more in the week that followed.

The Ludlow Massacre, as it became known, was but one skirmish in a protracted, often violent conflict that raged throughout the United States during the early years of the 20th century. A radical social change was at stake: Would the miners, meat-packers, silk workers, garment makers, and steelworkers of the newly industrial nation be able to join labor unions in order to bargain over the terms of their work—their wages, their hours, the safety of their jobs? One contemporary journalist described the tent colonies as “the outward sign of civil war.”

The labor movement helped create the confidence in mobility that we associate with being middle-class.

 

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By DAVE JAMIESON
The Huffington Post

More than two dozen low-wage McDonald's workers filed health and safety complaints against the fast-food chain on Monday, alleging that understaffing and time pressures in stores have led to burns, falls and other injuries, according to the worker group representing them.

The 28 complaints, involving stores in 18 cities, were filed with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the relevant state agencies tasked with ensuring safe workplaces. The workers submitted them with the support of Fight for $15, the union-backed labor coalition that's been agitating for a $15 minimum wage and union recognition in the industry. OSHA confirmed to The Huffington Post that it received the federal complaints Monday.

One Chicago worker, Brittney Berry, alleged that she was so harried one day she slipped and caught her arm on the grill, leading her to be hospitalized and suffer nerve damage. She said she was advised by managers to treat the burn with a condiment.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Fellow Trade Unionists: Our team of union representatives has been very active over the past weeks and has visited and had conversations with numerous county judge/executives, magistrates and county attorneys.

These conversations have been extremely fruitful as county after county has assured our folks they are not interested in moving a RTW ordinance in their counties. We will be compiling a complete list of those counties in the coming days and share that information with you. Suffice it to say that the RTW proponents are running out of easy targets for their illegal ordinance. They are still attempting to get the support of counties they felt they had a good shot to bring on board and they are finding that it is not as easy as they thought.

While most of the publicity has focused on the number of counties that have introduced and/or passed RTW ordinances, we will soon be going public with the results of our efforts. The publicity garnered by the RTW proponents is a result of the fact that their activities have been in the public eye because the media has been reporting on what has taken place during the various county fiscal court meetings. Our work has been going on behind the scenes but will soon be made public and I am quite sure that the media and general public will be surprised at the number of counties that are rejecting the work of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, Warren County Judge/Executive Mike Buchanon and a host of others. 

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By JOHN J. DUNPHY
The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.

“Right to work” is misleadingly named because it has absolutely nothing to do with the right to hold down a paying job. It does, however, have everything to do with impoverishing unions by depleting their treasuries. Unions in “right to work” states must represent all workers who are employed at a particular business whether or not they’re dues-paying union members. In other words, dues-paying members must subsidize the free-loaders. Union supporters such as myself often refer to “right to work” as “right to be a jerk.”

Weak unions mean low wages and unsafe working conditions. According to the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), “right to work” laws give “the upper hand to ‘low-road’ companies” that offer poor pay, meager benefits and dangerous working conditions. LIUNA notes that employees in “right to work” states earn about $5,300 a year less than their counterparts in non-right to work states. Workplace deaths are 36% higher in “right to work” states. LIUNA also emphasizes that unionized blacks earn 30 percent more each week than blacks who don’t belong to unions. The fact that union membership contributes to racial equality explains why support for “right to work” legislation originated among Southern racists.

For decades most “right to work” states could be found in the South, which remains the most anti-union region of the United States. The driving force behind Southern hostility to organized labor was Texas-born Vance Muse, a fanatical reactionary who also spearheaded campaigns against the eight-hour day and the abolition of child labor. Muse particularly detested the CIO because it aggressively strove to organize black workers. A diehard segregationist, Muse saw unions and the promise they held for achieving racial equality as nothing less than a communist threat to the Southern way of life. He hated Eleanor Roosevelt for reaching out to black Americans and told the Houston Post in 1944 that Eleanor Clubs, which had black memberships and were named in honor of the First Lady, wanted to “organize Negro maids, cooks and nurses in order to have a Communist informer in every Southern home.”

 

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BY BETH MUSGRAVE
Lexington Herald-Leader

The Urban County Council will begin discussions Tuesday on a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Lexington to $10.10 an hour over the next three years.

If approved, more than 31,000 people could see the first increase in pay this July.

Of the 31,300 people currently making less than $10.10 an hour, 61 percent are between the ages of 20 and 34, according to data provided by the Kentucky Center on Economic Policy, a Berea nonprofit that backs raising the minimum wage. The majority — 57 percent — are women.

 

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By LESLIE SALZILLO
Daily Kos

Rush Limbaugh's radio parent, iHeart Media (formerly Clear Channel) continues to see more setbacks and losses. At the end of February, the mega media company reported a quarterly loss of $309 million. They continue their quarterly/yearly losing streaks, adding to their outstanding debt of over $20 billion.

Recently, iHeart CEO Bob Pittman announced the company is closing its San Antonio headquarters. Pittman may never admit the company's financial problems have anything to do Rush Limbaugh, even though Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, and a Sponsor Boycott Petition which contains 125,000 signatures, confirm social media campaigns are working. It should be noted iHeart/Clear Channel picked up quite a bit of their debt via Bain 'Mitt Romney' Capitol deal.

Limbaugh has had his share of protestors. Media Matters has been documenting Limbaugh's lies, racism, sexism and LGBT-hate for over a decade. But this protest, which began three years ago, is larger and much more concentrated than ever before. It began after Limbaugh called an unknown student a 'slut,' on air, for three days. Sandra Fluke (now better known because of the incident) was advocating for insurance-covered birth control pills (also to be used for medicinal purposes).

 

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The Wisconsin governor is working tirelessly to disempower labor unions, but he's just following the GOP playbook

By THOM HARTMANN, ALTERNET

From the Gilded Age to the Great Depression to today, the economic agenda of conservatives has been easily summarized in two words: “cheap labor.”

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Republican efforts to make as many states as possible “right-to-work” states—more accurately described as right-to-work-for-less states.

During his 2014 reelection campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denied that right-to-work-for-less was going to be part of his potential upcoming term. As an issue that could cost him votes he needed for reelection, when asked about possible right-to-work-for-less legislation in Wisconsin he said, “I’m making it clear in this campaign, as I’ll make it clear in the next [legislative] session, that that’s not something that’s part of my agenda.” Walker continued, “My point is I’m not pushing for it. I’m not supporting it in this session.”
 

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Unions say ordinance is unconstitutional; county has until April 3 to respond

By GINA CLEAR
The News-Enterprise

A summary motion in a lawsuit opposing a right-to-work ordinance passed earlier this year by Hardin Fiscal Court was filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

The motion, filed by Buddy Cutler of Priddy, Cutler, Naake & Meade on behalf of nine unions, detailed the unions’ position the National Labors Relations Act preempts any state or local governments.

“The motion cites cases relevant to Supreme courts, both U.S. and state,” he said. “I described in our motion why the Hardin County ordinance is unconstitutional and feel the judge will hold the ordinance to be invalid.”

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Fleming County evidently isn't ready to hop on the “right-to-work” bandwagon.

Judge-Executive Larry Foxworthy, a Republican, recently told the fiscal court he wants “to wait until the right-to-work law is sorted out in the court system before it is discussed any further in Fleming County,” the Maysville Ledger Independent reported.

"We know that a few counties have chosen to enact this, but it is currently being challenged," the paper quoted Foxworthy. "Until the courts decide on this matter, I don't think we should do anything about it."

 

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By JOSEPH GERTH
The Louisville Courier-Journal

Hal Heiner leads the Republican field for governor in 2015 and Attorney General Jack Conway appears to have the Democratic nomination in hand, according to the latest Bluegrass Poll.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal, WHAS, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT, also found that Conway maintains narrow leads over top Republican candidates in hypothetical matchups in this fall's general election.

The poll tested the attitudes of 1,917 registered voters. The main portion of the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. The poll was broken into smaller samples to test respondents' views in Democratic and Republican primaries.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story ran in Saturday’s paper.

By DAVID GUTMAN
The Charleston, W.Va., Gazette

What are you doing for breakfast on Tuesday? Here are some options:

You could have cereal at home. You could go to Tudor’s, where a sausage biscuit costs $1.79. Or, you could go to the Courtyard Marriott, on Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston, where Go West Virginia, a secretive conservative group that helps Republican political candidates, is holding a fundraising breakfast, menu unknown.

The cost to attend the breakfast is $100,000 per person.

 

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By DAVID NIR
Daily Kos

Rand Paul has been trying all sorts of shenanigans to find a way to run for both president and Senate simultaneously, and it looks like he's finally managed to become a cake-eater. Paul succeeded in cajoling a state GOP committee into green-lighting his plan for the party to hold a March caucus instead of its traditional May primary; that would allow him to run in both races without running afoul of Kentucky laws that prohibit candidates from appearing on the same ballot twice.

But Rand can't start snarfing down the red velvet just yet. For one thing, the fully state party has to approve this change, and that won't happen until August. Even if that's just a formality, there's a much more important issue at stake: If Paul does somehow emerge with the GOP presidential nomination, it's appears that Republicans would not be able to replace him on the Senate ballot. That could very well mean giving Democrats a crazy automatic pickup in a state that's quite hostile to the part on a federal level. Even Paul himself admitted he doesn't have an answer to this problem, so maybe there will be no yummy dessert for him after all.

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While much of the Internet this week was focused on escaped llamas, figuring out what color a dress is or mourning the loss of SAG-AFTRA member and Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy, we can forget that legislation is still being pushed that would make the lives of working families worse. Whether it is the "right to work" policies pushed by the allies of Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), who likes to compare workers to terrorists, and in other states like New Mexico and West Virginia, or the ongoing negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) using the Fast Track process, we need to stay alert. Read more >>>

By DAVE JAMIESON
Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Speaking to the leading labor union for firefighters on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden hammered the GOP for pursuing budget cuts and trying to restrict collective bargaining rights, telling the crowd that Republicans are "willing to sacrifice your needs on the altar of ideology."

"They act as if you are the problem, as if you caused the recession," Biden told the firefighters. "It's a remarkable worldview some of these folks have. ... We have to change the dismissive contempt that's taken hold in this new outfit."

Biden's speech was part of a two-day, bipartisan parade of politicians -- many of them harboring presidential ambitions -- who spoke to the International Association of Fire Fighters in the nation's capital. The labor union represents 300,000 firefighters and paramedics around the country, with the membership split almost evenly along partisan lines.

 

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By IGOR BOBIC
Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday night blasted as "inexcusable" Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) decision to sign a "right-to-work" bill into law.

"It’s no coincidence that the rise of the middle class in America coincided in large part with the rise of unions -– workers who organized together for higher wages, better working conditions, and the benefits and protections that most workers take for granted today," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "So it’s inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there’s been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government."

The president added that he was "deeply disappointed" with the law because it would "weaken, rather than strengthen" Wisconsin's labor force.

 

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Jim Pence, who runs the feisty Hillbilly Report blog, sent us this new graphic featuring Kentucky’s senior senator and his sidekick from the Buckeye State. Jim is retired but still packs a union card. Thanks for thinking of us, Jim, and keep ‘em coming. Read more >>>

By KIRSTEN CLARK
The Louisville Courier-Journal

With several neighboring counties considering local laws prohibiting mandatory union involvement as a condition of employment and Indiana, a "right-to-work" state right across the river, it could be just a matter of time until Louisville is nearly surrounded by "right-to-work" communities.

But there has been little discussion about the possibility of passing a similar measure in Jefferson County, largely because finding enough support on the Metro Council, which has a 17-9 Democratic majority, would be a "very tall, uphill battle," said Stephen Haag, spokesman for the council's Republican caucus.

The topic came up briefly during the council's minimum wage discussions in December. Republican members were concerned a minimum wage increase in Louisville would drive job creators to neighboring counties, Haag said.

 

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By MARK GRUENBERG
People’s World

ATLANTA - Union leaders and organizers who were at the recent winter meeting of the AFL-CIO's executive council in Atlanta said that the labor movement has not only not given up on what has often been considered the "anti-union" South, but that ways are being found to successfully organize in the region.

People who follow the labor movement remember Norma Rae, whose iconic struggle to organize a union at J.P. Stevens in the 1970's in Roanoke, N.C. was the stuff of a major Hollywood movie. The South is different today, however, with the demise of that textile industry and its replacement by new ones that are rapid growing, among them aerospace and auto.

What hasn't changed is the uphill battle that union organizers face in the South today, which is the fastest-growing region in the nation.

 

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BY SAM YOUNGMAN
Lexington Herald-Leade
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BOWLING GREEN — It looks increasingly like Kentucky Republicans will have a presidential caucus next year, when it seems just as likely that a Kentucky Republican will be running for president.

While most of the state was focused on the Kentucky Wildcats' quest for a perfect season Saturday, about 50 members of the Republican Party of Kentucky's executive committee met behind closed doors for about two hours, listening to Paul and his staff make their case for a presidential caucus.

In the days and weeks since Paul formally asked the committee to approve a caucus, which would help Paul clear at least some hurdles to running for both his U.S. Senate seat and the presidency next year, a number of Republicans expressed concern about moving to a caucus, raising questions about costs and participation.

 

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 LOUISVILLE – Attorney General Jack Conway and Rep. Sannie Overly today received the endorsement of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA).

“Sannie and I are honored to have the support of the Kentucky Education Association,” Attorney General Conway said. “Each day, teachers shape our future generations and prepare our children for lifelong learning. I am proud to have KEA’s endorsement as we share our plan to increase access to early childhood education in Kentucky.”

The Kentucky Education Association is the state’s largest professional association, with membership of more than 42,000 public school teachers and classified public school employees, retirees and pre-service teachers. Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work,’” Martin Luther King Jr. warned. “It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”
   Not coincidentally, all 11 ex-Confederate states are right to work states. In the South, right to work has deep racist roots, according to Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, a labor historian and author at Loyola University in Chicago.
   The goal of Dixie’s RTW proponents was to help uphold the region’s white supremacist system of Jim Crow segregation, race discrimination and voter suppression, “thereby preserving the agricultural elite’s political and economic power,” she wrote in “Counter-Organizing the Sunbelt: Right-to-Work Campaigns and Anti-Union Conservatism, 1943-1958,” her 2009 Pacific Historical Review article. Read more >>>

The business-friendly right imports a third-world development strategy

By ANDREW ELROD
For Al Jazeera America

On Dec. 19, six officials in Warren County, Kentucky, passed an innovative but contentious law: a local right-to-work ordinance. The law prohibits unions from requiring representation fees from workers covered by union contracts, an exemption previously granted only by state governments. By Jan. 13, four other Kentucky counties passed similar laws — the legality of which was immediately challenged by nine labor unions in federal court.

On Jan. 27, the idea grew legs in Illinois, where newly elected Gov. Bruce Rauner debuted a similar plan for his state, supporting “employee empowerment zones” or local right-to-work zones.

“I’m not advocating Illinois’ becoming a right-to-work state,” he said, “but I do advocate [for] local governments being allowed to decide whether they’re right-to-work zones.”

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

As you know, the USW has been on strike at refineries around the nation.

Among other issues the USW is striking to insure that work in this inherently dangerous industry is done safely to protect both the members of the USW and the communities where refineries are located. The entire labor movement stands with our brothers and sisters of the USW in their quest for fair collective bargaining agreements and safety on the job.

Below is a link to a poll being conducted by the Houston Business Journal regarding the USW strike and I would ask that you take a moment and respond to the poll and show your support for the striking USW members.

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By EGBERTO WILLIES
Daily Kos

Emily's List President Stephanie Schriock eviscerated Republican politicians for their bad deeds.

“Make no mistake,” Stephanie Schriock said. “This is your father’s Republican Party. This is the exact same trans-vaginal ultrasound, all white-guy committee chair, aspirin between your knees Republican Party we have been fighting for thirty years. Shame on them. They are trying to fool women. And shame on us if we let them get away with it. They don’t support women. They don’t trust women. They don’t respect women so don’t tell me that there is no war on women. And don’t bother asking for a truce. We didn’t start this fight but mark my words. We are going to win it.

"But if we don’t show up for this battle in 2016, we will pay the price for a generation to come. Just imagine what a Republican president and a Republican Congress would do. Actually, you don’t have to imagine. Just look at what Republican governors and Republican legislatures have already done. They will raise taxes on middle-class families and cut funding for public schools to fund more tax breaks for the wealthy. And we know they will do it because they’ve already done it in Kansas. And they will strip away basic bargaining rights that help working men and women secure fair treatment in the workplace. And we know they’ll do it because they’ve already done that in Wisconsin. And they will mandate that a woman seeking an abortion undergo an invasive ultrasound against her will. And we know they’ll do it because they’ve already done it in Texas and in North Carolina.

 

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By SY SLAVIN, Ph.D.
Emeritus Director, Kentucky Labor Institute

   The 50th anniversary of the Selma March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge needs special attention and commemoration by trade unions. The struggle against racism and for full equality and justice for Afro-Americans and union efforts for economic justice are indivisible.
   We need to remember that Martin Luther King was assassinated defending the rights of unionized sanitation workers.
   Important labor leaders like Cleveland Robinson of Local 65 of the United Retail and Wholesale Union Workers as well as Walter Reuther, President of the United Auto Workers participated in the march. Rank and file union members were also part of the march.
    Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Union-busters in Kentucky and Wisconsin are traveling different paths to push “right to work.”
   In the Bluegrass State, they’re backing county RTW ordinances while claiming their sole aim is promoting local economic development, not union-busting.
   In the Dairy State, where the GOP-majority legislature just approved a RTW law, the union-busters are hawking RTW with old-fashioned labor-baiting. Read more >>>

By DAVE JAMIESON
The Huffington Post

Following a heated, all-night debate between lawmakers in Madison, the Wisconsin state assembly passed right-to-work legislation on Friday morning, sending the controversial bill to the desk of Gov. Scott Walker (R).

Once Walker signs the anti-union bill, as he has promised to do, Wisconsin will become the 25th right-to-work state in the country, further weakening an already-diminished labor movement in the state.

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO called the legislation "reckless."

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: We thank Scotty Pulliam for sending us this article which he says "is irrefutable evidence that RTW has absolutely no effect when it comes to where businesses locate." Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois are not "right to work" states.  For the full article with tables, click here.

The 2014 Governors Cups recognize the top performing states for capital investment attraction in a season that lasts all year.

By MARK AREND
mark.arend@siteselection.com

Last year’s inclusion of a Governor’s Cup for total projects per capita in Site Selection’s annual recognition of new plant announcements doubled the already keen interest in this annual facilities race. Kentucky’s Gov. Steve Beshear claims that trophy for 2014 activity with 258 qualifying projects. Kansas made the Top Ten list on the per capita side, placing fourth with 109 projects, and South Dakota finished fifth with just 27 projects. Ohio and Louisiana placed second and third, respectively, completing the top five per capita winners.

Texas claims another Governor’s Cup for 2014 total project activity with a 689-project finish, up from its 657-project, first place finish last year. The Lone Star State’s new governor, Greg Abbott, is well aware of his state’s history with the Governor’s Cup under the leadership of his predecessor, Rick Perry, and he intends to keep Texas atop the total projects ranking. Ohio and Illinois repeat their second and third place finishes this year, with 582 and 394 projects respectively — both totals are increases over 2013 project totals. North Carolina (313) and Georgia (311) round out the top five. Per capita winner Kentucky places sixth by the total projects measure.

 

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By PAUL L. WHALEN
Special to the Northern Kentucky Tribune

Kentucky’s Republican politicians in Frankfort and in our county courthouses in Northern Kentucky are distracted, along with others who are ignoring or disregarding that Kentucky is at the forefront of job creation.

This week the Commonwealth was recognized for job creation by a national publication of an organization for site selection professionals. Tri-Ed on its web page says NKY is the least-costly location to do business out of the 27 largest metro areas in the U.S., according to KPMG’s 2012 Competitive Alternatives.

Yet the reason given for supporting Right To Work (RTW) legislation by Tri-Ed’s Dan Tobertge and now Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore is that business does not locate in areas where there RTW is not the law. Kentucky’s national recognition for site selection negates this position. Tobergte, Moore and other Republicans, ignoring the facts and their own web pages, give no specific examples or even a number of times a business specifically did not choose NKY due to not having RTW.

 

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By STUART MORRISON
Special to the Cincinnati Enquirer

Next week Kenton County commissioners intend to vote on a countywide ban on private-sector "agency shop" agreements between unions and employers. Those are labor agreements that require persons who work in organized shops to contribute to the cost of representing them in collective bargaining and contract enforcement. Such clauses are almost uniformly demanded by union members, who resent having to subsidize the representation of employees who choose not to be members.

Kentucky, of course, is not a so-called "right to work" or "free rider" state and recently state Attorney General Jack Conway issued a comprehensive opinion based on precedent in the Kentucky courts making clear that counties and municipalities did not have a right under federal or state law to exempt themselves from the state policy permitting agency shops. That being the case, when I heard about the new law being considered by the commissioners I made inquiry as to whether our own county lawyers had developed an opinion conflicting the chief legal officer of the state, or whether they had retained a local lawyer to examine the issue.

Judge-executive Kris Knochelmann agreed to discuss the issue and informed me that no county lawyer had developed a competing analysis and that the commissioners had not sought out the views of any local practitioners with expertise in the area. When I asked him what alternative analysis the commissioners had relied on to be sure their proposal was legal he told me it came from out of state. When I asked him whether the analysis was generated by ALEC (the Koch-funded American Legislative Council) or other similar anti-union groups he declined to answer.

 

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By JONAS PERSSON
The Center for Media and Democracy

The testimony at yesterday's hearing on the Wisconsin "right to work" bill was dramatic.

"Imagine leaving the [Capitol] today, ready to get some food when a cab pulls up. Two guys grab you, throw you into the back of the cab. The driver announces that the cab is on its way to Green Bay. You protest. But the other passengers don't let you out. They pull over in Green Bay, the car stops, they untie you and demand $300."

This, says Greg Mourad, VP of the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC), is the way that unions in Wisconsin organize, and why the bill should be passed.

 

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Republican Steve West of Millersburg defeated state AFL-CIO endorsed Democrat Kelly Caudill of Maysville in Tuesday’s special election for the 27th senate district seat.

West will fill out the unexpired term of Walter “Doc” Blevins, who resigned to take over as Rowan County judge-executive.

Voter turnout reportedly was less than 15 percent across the district, which includes Bourbon, Mason, Fleming, Lewis, Nicholas, Harrison, Rowan and Robertson.

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By ELIZABETH TANDY SHERMER
Assistant Professor of History
Loyola University Chicago

The Republicans in the Kentucky Senate and elsewhere really need to stop defending the counties considering local “right-to-work” ordinances.

Those ordinances really don’t stand much of a chance.

And it isn’t just that House Democrats are flatly against them or that AFL-CIO leaders have called in experts to emphasize the “right to work” can’t really guarantee outside investment, no matter what business owners and Republicans claim. That’s all true. But Kentucky won’t have right-to-work counties any time soon because courts across the country have continually ruled that federal law only allows states to pass these restrictions.

 

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By JORDAIN CARNEY
The Hill

The Senate will vote Wednesday on a GOP-backed motion that would undo a controversial National Labor Relations Board rule that makes it easier for workers to hold union elections.

Republicans are using the Congressional Review Act that allows lawmakers to undo regulation through a motion of disapproval, which needs a majority vote in both chambers. The motion can't be filibustered or amended, which will help it bypass Democratic opposition.

If the bill gets to his desk, however, the White House says President Obama will veto it.

 

 

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By WILLIAM SPRIGGS
Chief economist, AFL-CIO; professor of economics, Howard University

Mark Twain famously noted, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." The current efforts to roll back the ability of working people to counterbalance the corporate domination of American politics is firmly rooted in the initial corporate opposition to the Wagner Act of 1935 that finally assured American workers the right to organize and bargain for wages and working conditions. Among those early efforts to reduce the strength of unions was an effort led by Vance Muse.

Muse, a Texas oil man, didn't like unions and he really didn't like the shape the union movement was taking in the 1930s. Large industrial unions like the United Auto Workers and the United Steelworkers were growing with white and black workers. Turns out Muse represented the old-line plutocrats' views on economics and race. His view of this new-found economic "brotherhood" was: "From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call 'brother' or lose their jobs."

In 1946, his extremism led to an expose by journalist Stetson Kennedy. He reported in Southern Exposure that Mrs. Muse drove home the couples' views on race when she addressed "Eleanor Clubs." Rumors had circulated throughout the South of Eleanor Clubs -- supposed organizations of black domestic servants seeking better wages and working conditions, named after Eleanor Roosevelt for her leadership on race and worker justice. The clubs never existed -- they were just figments of racist imaginations like Mrs. Muse's. She said:

 

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From IAM iMail

Members of IAM Local 219 voted on Monday to ratify a new contract with defense contractor Allsource Global Management (AGM), a Lockheed Martin subcontractor, at the Bluegrass Station Army Depot near Lexington, KY. The new contract restores nearly all of the proposed cutbacks that triggered the October 1, 2014 strike and forced members onto picket lines for five months.

Among the issues initially rejected by members were pay cuts of more than 30 percent, sweeping changes to grievance/arbitration process and job classifications, elimination of long-standing seniority protections and basic due process provisions in the existing agreement with attempts to silence their voice in the workplace.

“The members of Local 219 can return to their jobs with heads held high and dignity intact,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin. “Their cause resonated with IAM members across the country, who contributed substantial financial and moral support to sustain members throughout the five-month ordeal. It is a credit to these members and this union that this contract was achieved despite such significant and sustained opposition. I extend my deepest thanks to the members of Local 219, their families, the staff of District 711 and the steady leadership of Grand Lodge Representative Tony Blevins for helping to bring this dispute to a successful conclusion.”

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By Bill Londrigan
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

The Oldham County Fiscal Court will allow public comment on its illegal right to work ordinance at its meeting tomorrow, March 3, at 2 p.m. at the fiscal court building, 100 West Jefferson Street, LaGrange.

The fiscal court had a first reading on the ordinance and has scheduled the second reading and vote for March 17 at 2 p.m.

This is an opportunity for union members and retirees, particularly those that reside in Oldham County, to address the members of the fiscal court and give our opposing views.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Blevins, a Democrat, resigned in December to become Rowan County judge-executive. Caudill is a Maysville attorney. West is a farmer and lawyer from Millersburg.

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

The special election to fill the unexpired term of former District 27 state Sen. Walter “Doc” Blevins is set for tomorrow.

Our labor-endorsed candidate, Kelly Caudill (D), is being challenged by Steve West (R). The district encompasses Bourbon, Fleming, Harrison, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Robertson and Rowan Counties.

As you know, special elections typically have low voter turnout, so it is extremely important for each union with membership in Senate District 27 to make sure they get their members to the polls.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360


“The Union Edge: Labor’s Talk Radio,” a Pittsburgh-based, nationally-syndicated program, can be heard live Mondays through Fridays from noon to 1 p.m., Eastern Time, on WNDA-AM 1570 and WLRS-AM 1600.

“If you are tired of the same old right-wing B.S. on the airwaves, this is the radio show for you,” said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president. “We talk about workers, unions and our communities from the perspective of workers and unions – not corporations and their paid-for hacks.”

Londrigan thanked UFCW Local 227 for its “generous grant of support for the daily program.”

 

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By MEGHAN ROSS
Associate editor, Pharmacy Times

Fed up with alleged unpaid overtime and missed rest periods, a Walmart pharmacist is fighting back against the retail giant with a class action suit.

Afrouz Nikmanesh, who worked at Walmart from 2003 to 2014, claimed that the corporation violated California labor laws by not paying him and other pharmacists for the time they spent in class studying for and taking the American Pharmacists Association’s Immunization Training programs, according to Lawyers and Settlements.

Nikmanesh said the training was “directly related” to pharmacists’ duties, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit would represent all United States pharmacists who worked at a Walmart pharmacy within the last 4 years.

 

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By LEO W. GERARD
International President, United Steelworkers of America

To Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, America's labor union members are the same as murderous, beheading, caged-prisoner-immolating ISIS terrorists. Exactly the same.

That's what he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week. The governor said that because he destroyed public sector labor rights in Wisconsin after 100,000 union supporters protested in Madison he could defeat ISIS as President of the United States.

That sums up all the GOP hate and vitriol against labor union members in recent years. It would appear that Republicans can't discern the difference between suicide bombers and working men and women who band together to collectively bargain for better wages and safer conditions. Republicans, it seems, can't see that a foreign extremist group that kidnaps 276 schoolgirls is not the same as an American labor organization seeking to improve the lives of families and communities. This GOP blindness explains the relentless campaign by GOP leaders to renege on contractual obligations to workers, squash labor rights and slash the pay and benefits of union members.

 

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By BRENDAN FISHER
Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) made headlines…after Wisconsin Republicans introduced a virtually word-for-word copy of the ALEC “model” Right to Work Act, following on the heels of Michigan and other states that have taken up the ALEC-inspired anti-union measures in recent years.

But ALEC and its allies have also been pushing a new and unprecedented approach to defunding unions on a city-by-city basis through an ALEC offshoot, the American City County Exchange (ACCE). Since ACCE’s most recent meeting in December, so-called right to work laws on the local level have been enacted in several Kentucky counties, and discussed in other states such as Illinois and Ohio.

The ultimate goal, according to speakers at the ACCE conference within the corporate-funded ALEC conference, is to defund labor unions, which are one of the few counterweights to corporate political influence.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: To see the full article, including sources and footnotes, click here.

From THE AFL-CIO

Extremist groups, right-wing politicians and their corporate backers want to weaken the power of workers and their unions through "right to work" laws. Their efforts are a partisan political ploy that undermines the basic rights of workers. By making unions weaker, these laws lower wages and living standards for all workers in the state. In fact, workers in states with these laws earn an average of $5,971 less a year than workers in other states. Because of the higher wages, working families in states without these laws also benefit from healthier tax bases that improve their quality of life.

States with Right to Work Laws Have:

Lower Wages and Incomes
-- The average worker in states with right to work laws makes $5,971 (12.2 percent) less annually than workers in states without right to when all other factors are removed than workers in other states.

-- Median household income in states with these laws is $6,568 (11.8 percent) less than in other states ($49,220 vs. $55,788).

-- In states with right to work laws, 25.9 percent of jobs are in low-wage occupations, compared with 18.0 percent of jobs in other states.

Lower Rates of Health Insurance Coverage
 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: To see the full article, including charts, tables, sources and footnotes, click here. Many of the points the authors make about New Mexico apply to Kentucky, where a number of counties have adopted “right to work” ordinances despite a court challenge by unions and an official opinion from Attorney Gen. Jack Conway that such ordinances are unconstitutional. Also, the authors cite evidence from Kentucky to help buttress their arguments against RTW. 

By GORDON LAFER and ALYSSA DAVIS
Economy Policy Institute

Introduction and executive summary

State legislators are considering whether to make New Mexico a “right-to-work” (RTW) state.

RTW laws have nothing to do with anyone being forced to be a member of a union, or forced to contribute to political causes they do not support; that’s already illegal under federal law. What RTW laws do is make it illegal for an employer and employee organization to negotiate a contract that requires every employee benefiting from the contract to pay his or her fair share of the costs of negotiating and enforcing that contract. In effect, by causing workers’ organizations to be less financially viable, RTW laws aim to restrict the share of employees who are able to represent themselves through collective bargaining, and diminish the ability of unions to negotiate higher wages and benefits for employees.

A range of national evidence shows why RTW would not be positive for New Mexico:

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Rechtin was the Democratic candidate for Campbell County judge-executive last year.  

By KEN RECHTIN
River City News

There were a lot of comments about NIMBY, what we citizens of NKY will accept in our backyards. More discussion will follow in a later column.

Meanwhile, without much prior public discussion and no public education on employment needs in NKY, last week Boone County had a first reading on a new law called “right to work”. Then Tuesday, Kenton County in similar fashion, without prior discussion or public education took the same course. I am sure Campbell County will follow suit as well.

Late last year, it was rumored that the three fiscal courts of NKY were in agreement to uniformly pass such an ordinance, but my expectation was that there would be a good deal of discussion and education on the issue, the need, and the consequences, prior to taking up this legislation.

 

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By JOHN NICHOLS
The Nation

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2016 presidential race.

Scott Walker suddenly remembered how enthusiastic he is about “right to work” laws.

When Walker was running for re-election as governor of Wisconsin in 2014, he was frequently asked if he would sign so-called “right to work” legislation, which is designed to weaken unions and undermine the voices of workers on the job and in public life. Despite his reputation as an anti-labor zealot, Walker dodged the question again and again and again.

 

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By DAVE JAMIESON
Huffington Post

MADISON, Wis. -- Spelling more trouble for organized labor in the U.S., Republican legislators in the Wisconsin state Senate approved a right-to-work bill here on Wednesday, sending the measure to a GOP-controlled Assembly where it's also expected to pass. Republican leaders chose to fast-track the bill in what's known as an extraordinary legislative session, allowing for less debate than usual.

Debate over the bill drew thousands of protesters to the state Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday, reminiscent of the passionate labor demonstrations surrounding Act 10 in 2011. But as with that earlier legislation, which stripped most collective bargaining rights from public-sector employees, vocal opposition from the state's unions wasn't enough to stop the right-to-work bill in its tracks.

Legislators are expected to take up the measure early next week in the state Assembly, where Republicans enjoy a comfortable majority. The office of Gov. Scott Walker (R) has already said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

 

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By DAVE JAMIESON
HUFFINGTON POST

MADISON, Wis. -- The capitol dome here filled quickly Tuesday morning with workers in overalls and hard hats, their jackets signifying proud membership in Wisconsin's blue-collar unions: steelworkers, ironworkers, pipefitters, carpenters, operating engineers. As a Senate committee hearing got underway upstairs -- the first step in the fast-tracking of so-called right-to-work legislation in the state -- the union members crowded the balconies and floor of the rotunda.

The call: "United we stand!"

And the response: "Divided we fall!"

 

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By GAIL HARDY

If we could just educate the general population about the bad things they would get if we were a right to work state, many people would be writing and thanking members of the House Labor and Industry Committee for rejecting the Senate right to work bill.

What a slick name, calling it “right to work.” Most people think it must be a good idea, because everyone needs the right to work.

Instead it is like trickery -- playing a dirty trick on the working class while enabling the business owners and corporations to cut corners, cut salaries, cut benefits and cut worker safety and give the saved income to the owners.

 

 

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Want the latest news about the campaign to halt “right-to-work” in Kentucky?

Check out the Stop Right-to-Work in Kentucky Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stopRTWinKY.

“This page is dedicated to educating voters about why Right-to-Work (For Less) is WRONG for Kentucky by exposing the LIES used to promote it,” the webpage says.

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From Wrong for Everyone

Who’s behind right to work?

Ignoring the facts about “right-to-work,” far-right politicians across the country are promoting these deceptive policies as payback to their Big Business donors. By weakening workers’ ability to have a say about their job, right to work weakens unions’ ability to serve as an advocate for all workers and a check against corporate greed.

Without solid evidence to back their claims, the politicians advancing right-to-work legislation depend on a coordinated network of extremist right-wing groups to provide resources, research, and an echo chamber that pave the way for right to work.

The most well-known of these cash-flush special interest groups include the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Right to Work Committee. Read on to learn more about the groups working overtime to make every state a right-to-work state.

 

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By Cin5456
Daily Kos

Recently I commented on and article about DirectTV dropping Fox News Channel from their lineup. I received a reply telling me that Fox would be back and soon we would all begin to realize how authentic their fair and balanced message really is. I'd heard this BS one time too many. So I decided to correct that impression with the truth. This is how I replied:

Fair and balanced? How long has it been since you watched other sources? They are a propaganda machine of the worst kind. At least CNN and CBS try to report on both sides sometimes, even though they show bias. The Fox Cable News propaganda machine makes its money on vilifying any and all they can characterize as "other."

The scorn Fox pundits heap on the rest of humanity is shameful. Let's see who they don't like. Liberals, and progressives are at the top of the list. Then there are those who are ethnically different, such as African American, Middle Eastern, Slavics, Pacific Islanders, Caribbean Islanders, Eastern Europeans such as Greeks, and Polish, and Ukrainians, and also Asians and other Far Easterners. They recently added French to the list, and Californians are in there too.

 

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By JOHN WOJCIK
People’s World

ATLANTA - The AFL-CIO's Executive Council, at its meeting here today, established a special labor commission on race and social justice that will travel across the nation and engage unions and their members in a broad conversation about the need to put an end to racism.

"Racism and dog whistle politics are being used to keep us all divided, and that division holds back our ability to win wage increases and improve our standard of living," Richard Trumka, the federation's president, declared here Monday.

The announcement of the formation of the commission on race and social justice came during a press conference at which Trumka said that it will be labor's goal to insert the federation's raising wages agenda into the 2016 elections.

Members of the executive council, which consists of the federation's three top officers along with 55 vice presidents representing different unions, are in an upbeat mood here despite the fact that their unions continue to battle Republican attacks on organizing rights in many states.

 

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By LEO W. GERARD
International President, United Steelworkers of America

The federal agency that investigates refinery catastrophes released its final report late last month on the massive fire, volatile vapor release and toxic smoke plume at Chevron’s Richmond, Calif., refinery in 2012 that imperiled 19 workers and sickened 15,000 residents of surrounding communities.

The report says Chevron knew the pipe that ruptured was made of material likely to corrode, that pipes of the same material at Chevron plants had previously failed and caused fires, that Chevron repeatedly rebuffed experts’ recommendations to replace the pipe, and that when the pipe did begin to breach, Chevron disastrously attempted to patch it instead of shutting down the high-pressure, high-temperature hydrocarbon process unit to which it was attached.

For neighborhoods around the refinery, the upshot of all of those decisions by Chevron was a nearly six-hour order for residents to remain indoors as their homes were engulfed in smoke and soot. Approximately 15,000 received medical treatment for breathing difficulty, chest pain, headaches and eye irritation. Twenty were admitted to hospitals. Incredibly, 19 workers caught in a highly flammable vapor cloud all survived with only minor injuries.

 

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By DEVIN GRIGGS
UFCW Local 1546

One of the more frustrating things about being a worker in America is being on the tail-end of a constant back and forth about who it is you are and what role you play in society.

As someone who works in retail, this is particularly galling, especially when one considers the line I’m in, which is as mindless and alienating as one can scarcely imagine. Having little power on the job, day after day, and doing the same, mindless task, day after day, does something to a person - and it never helps when talking heads in the media go on about how people like me and the people that I work with don’t deserve high wages because “we’re all just a bunch of teenagers working for extra cash.” As if.

The chattering classes know that the service sector employs the bulk of the American workforce, and yet somehow they keep this notion in their head that those of us who work in fast food, or retail, or domestic service aren’t really trying to make ends meet, we’re just there for a little extra spending money. As someone who has spent his entire life in the low-wage fast food and retail sector, I could tell you story after story to disprove that absurd falsehood, but I won’t because I think that the chattering classes know what they’re saying is a bunch of garbage.

 

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By MARY BOTTARI
The Center for Media Democracy/ALEC Exposed

Just weeks ago, the Washington Post described Scott Walker as the first "It" candidate of the 2016 presidential races, but after stumbling over "truth," evolution, and whether or not the President is a Christian or loves America, Walker is getting ready to change the topic.

On Friday, Wisconsin GOP leaders announced they would have an "extraordinary session" to ram through union-busting "right to work" legislation. CMD/PRwatch quickly noted that the bill is taken almost word-for-word from the Koch corporate bill mill known as the American Legislative Exchange Council known as "ALEC." (See CMD's side-by side-here.)

Walker's new-found enthusiasm for a decades-old effort to crush the wages of working families reminds us a few things the public needs to know about Scott Kevin Walker.

 

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By RON FORMISANO
Special to the Lexington Herald-Leader

Inequality of income and wealth in the United States has reached historic extremes. Since the 2008 recession the gap between the super-rich and everyone else has increased. The top 1 percent now receive about 95 percent of all pre-tax income, while 99 percent gained only 0.4 percent. Low and stagnant wages contribute to continued middle class shrinkage, while 22 percent of American children live in poverty.

Meanwhile, reactionary billionaires have launched a nationwide campaign to push counties and cities to adopt right-to-work laws that should be called let's-have-more-inequality laws. The bills originated with the American Legislative Exchange Council and its offshoot, the American City Council Exchange.

ALEC — a corporate bill mill for states — includes corporate lobbyists and friendly state legislators. The business guys write "model" bills that the lawmakers introduce. They promote right-wing policies over the public welfare. Major goals are to privatize most public services and turn America into a libertarian utopia.

 

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By DAVE JAMIESON
Huffington Post

It's been more than two decades since Gov. Scott Walker (R) first pushed right-to-work legislation as a state lawmaker in Wisconsin. Now, all these years later, the famously anti-union governor may finally be getting his wish -- whether he likes it or not.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin state Senate is slated to take up a right-to-work bill in what's known as an extraordinary legislative session. With less deliberation than normal, the GOP-controlled chamber could pass the bill this week. The measure would then move on to the state's assembly, also controlled by Republicans, which would presumably take it up in early March.

Barring a fortuitous turn of events for organized labor, the anti-union measure could reach the governor's desk next month.

 

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By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press

Nashville, Tenn. — In an unexpected shot across the bow of his GOP neighbors to the south, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has a simple message on labor and economic development for automakers looking to build new plants: We’re not Tennessee.

The Democrat is touting Kentucky’s neutrality on labor matters as “a positive sales point,” particularly in contrast to the turmoil in Tennessee, where Republicans have pulled out all the stops in what may yet be a losing effort to keep the United Auto Workers from gaining collective bargaining rights at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga. Similar unionization efforts are underway at a Mercedes plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Beshear’s public comments are unusually bold in the secretive, cutthroat world of recruiting big-name employers, such as the foreign automakers lured to the South with fat tax incentives and Republican pitches about anti-unionism as a competitive advantage.

Beshear first made the comments to Automotive News Europe during a recent recruiting trip to Germany, Volkswagen’s home turf, and to Sweden, the base for Chinese-owned Volvo Cars, which is rumored to be considering a new plant in the U.S.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   Marshall County Judge/Executive Chyrill Miller hopes the anti-right to work resolution her fiscal court unanimously approved will help persuade officials in other counties to reject local right to work ordinances.
   The measure was named for her late husband, Judge/Executive Mike Miller, who she succeeded.
   “A lot of judges, commissioners and magistrates don’t really understand what right to work is all about and that’s lower wages and fewer benefits,” Miller said. “It is not about anybody’s right to work.”
  Read more >>>

By JIMMIE JOHNSON
Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184

I don't believe the answer to the Democrats’ voter problem is to lean more conservative.

Our party has to stand up for those we have fought for. The workers, the poor, the middle class and the rainbow of minorities have to be brought back into the election process.

We worked hard in 2014 to get out the vote, but we still lost because 100,000 so-called Democrats voted Republican. We didn't use enough informational tools to change their minds.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Stop the presses!
   A top “right to work” proponent in the Bluegrass State bragged that 10 percent of Kentucky’s counties have either approved a RTW ordinance or have had the first reading on one.
   Since he made his boast, Boone County has had a first reading. That hikes the percentage to 10.8.
  

 

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By RICHARD TRUMKA

Today’s announcement by Walmart that it will raise wages for some associates is a victory for all the brave workers and activists who are standing up to the country’s largest employer and demanding more. It is powerful proof that collective action is the strongest strategy available to make life better for working families.

For years Walmart has kicked and screamed that raising wages was not a feasible business model. Workers everywhere are glad to see Walmart change their view. With one short announcement, Walmart has shown that raising wages is both possible and attainable, and only the start of a long term effort to create family sustaining jobs.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
Kentucky State AFL-CIO president

This morning the Marshall County Fiscal Court unanimously passed our County Judge/Executive Mike Miller Memorial Anti-RTW Resolution!

Special thanks to IAM District Representative Howard “Bubba” Dawes for spearheading this effort and to Mike Miller’s wife and current Marshall County Judge/Executive, Chyrill, for graciously allowing us to honor her late husband who was a true friend of organized labor and hardworking Kentuckians!

The Henry County Fiscal Court was going to consider passing the County Judge/Executive Mike Miller Anti-RTW Resolution at 6 p.m. today. However that vote will be put off until a future date. I will keep you posted. A special thanks to CWA Local 3310 President Nick Hawkins, who is also a Henry County magistrate, for trying to make this happen.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

A seventh Kentucky county has passed a “right-to-work” measure, but the union-busters won’t like this one.

The Marshall County Fiscal Court braved a 7-inch snowfall, 5-degree temperatures and slick streets to meet this morning at the courthouse in Benton and unanimously approve an anti-right-to-work resolution.

The first order of business, the measure strongly condemns “current efforts by out-of-state forces to divide labor and management and county against county with the introduction of county right-to-work ordinances.”

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The Owensboro Building and Construction Trades Council has another ad in the hometown Messenger-Inquirer newspaper challenging a recent pro-“right to work” article written by Madison Silvert, head of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.
   “Do you want Kentucky to become another Mississippi?” asks the ad that appeared in the Feb. 15 paper.
   A “right to work state” since 1960, Mississippi is the poorest state in the country by every economic standard. RTW is not just a law in Mississippi. It is in the state constitution.
    Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   We’ve all heard the lament from a union brother or sister:  “When it comes to unions, there’s not much difference between Republicans and Democrats.”
   I’d invite such skeptics to take a gander at how Kentucky lawmakers voted on “right to work” and the prevailing wage.
   Early in this session of the General Assembly, the GOP-majority state Senate passed a RTW bill and a bill to repeal the prevailing wage on school construction projects. The margin was 24-12 on each measure.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   When supporters of county “right to work” ordinances claim the measures are legal under Kentucky’s home rule bill, they remind me of an earlier subterfuge to get around federal law: Southern Jim Crow segregation and voter suppression laws.
   Federal labor law plainly says only states and territories can pass so-called right to work laws.
   But don’t get me wrong. I’m not for a minute claiming the county RTW proponents are white supremacists in the mold of old-time, race-baiting Southern Democratic politicians. I’m talking similar tactics – making a “states’ rights” argument to cover an end run around federal law.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

On behalf of every union member across Kentucky, let me express our sincere gratitude to the hundreds of union members, union representatives, friends and allies that flocked to the capitol yesterday to deliver a STRONG MESSAGE THAT KENTUCKY’S UNION MOVEMENT IS ALIVE AND WELL and DETERMINED TO RESIST EFFORTS TO TURN BACK THE CLOCK ON KENTUCKY’S WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES!!

The capitol was packed with committed trade unionists and your enthusiasm and determination has made the difference between maintaining enough supportive legislators or having our opponents and detractors take control of the legislature and our livelihoods.

Remember two things: 1, The 2015 Regular Session of the General Assembly is only one-third complete and other bills that impact our unions and members and families may also become real threats and your participation needed to help repel these efforts and, 2, we must get ready and motivated and coordinated for the 2015 Elections in which the governor and the constitutional officers (attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, agriculture commissioner) are on the ballot.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

History really doesn’t repeat itself.

But banking through the U.S. Postal Service, an idea dating to the 1890s, might be on the verge of resurrection.

“The campaign for postal banking could get its next boost next week when the American Postal Workers Union goes into contract negotiations planning to push the idea,” reported Laura Clawson of Daily Kos.

 

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From The Huffington Post

PARIS (AP) — Paris City Council authorized Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Wednesday to sue U.S. broadcaster Fox News for reporting there are "no-go zones" in the French capital where non-Muslims and police fear to venture.

City officials voted to file a lawsuit at a French court for defamation regarding comments on Fox News and a map it broadcast with eight such so-called off-limits areas circled in red. The report came when Paris was on high alert after attacks by Islamic radicals last month.

Fox was widely mocked for that report and for comments describing the English city of Birmingham as "totally Muslim." The broadcaster later apologized for "some regrettable errors."

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

“Hurrah for our last legislature! They have acted nobly in the present crisis,” the Daily Louisville Democrat cheered when in February, 1861, the pro-Union General Assembly courageously refused to put Kentucky in the Confederacy.

Permit this retired community college history teacher who still packs a union card to shout “hurrah!” for the House Labor and Industry Committee for “acting nobly” in another crisis: the GOP’s holy war against organized labor.

Just as a majority of Kentucky lawmakers stood by the Federal Union 154 years ago (my Civil War ancestor was a private who rode with Gen. William T. Sherman through Georgia in the 12th Kentucky Cavalry), Middlesboro Democratic Rep. Rick Nelson’s panel stood by labor unions Thursday morning.

 

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By JOSEPH GERTH
Louisville Courier-Journal

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Supporters of a law that would allow people who don't pay union dues or fees to work in union businesses called on counties across the state to pass local legislation after the so-called "right-to-work" legislation died in a House committee on Thursday.

"Kentucky counties need to move ahead," Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president David Adkisson said during a press conference.

Kentucky is at the forefront of a national effort to pass local laws in the 26 states that haven't approved such statewide legislation -- an effort that has already drawn a federal lawsuit challenging the right of counties to do that.

 

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BY JACK BRAMMER
Lexington Herald-Leader

FRANKFORT — Union workers flooded the state Capitol on Thursday to express their disdain for bills that would allow people to work for unionized employers without joining the union and repeal the prevailing-wage requirement for school construction projects.

They liked what they heard in the House Labor and Industry Committee.

The panel overwhelmingly voted down Senate Bill 1, the so-called right-to-work bill sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and SB 9, the prevailing-wage measure sponsored by Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Campbell County.

The two bills received the same treatment in the committee last year.

 

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 Here is the link to the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/aflcioky?fref=nf. Read more >>>

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

The House Labor and Industry Committee is scheduled to hear SB 1 – Right to Work for less and SB 9 – Repeal Prevailing Wage on School Construction tomorrow (Feb. 12) at 10 a.m. (Eastern Time) in Room 149 in the Capitol Annex.

We are expecting a significant number of union members and supporters to attend and would encourage everybody to arrive early enough to allow time to clear security (remember to bring ID and refrain from carrying any prohibited items that might cause delays entering the Capitol) and get seats in the hearing room.

 

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By Joe Brennan
Director, Kentucky Labor Institute

The Warren County Fiscal Court’s approval of a county "right to work" (for less) ordinance immediately received the support of the county's "leading" citizen – Sen. Rand Paul.

A Louisville Courier-Journal op-ed was written in support of county “right to work” ordinances by Scott Jennings, local celebrity and avid coworker with major Republican candidates: George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, and a former member of Karl Rove's political enterprises. The op- ed stated that a Kentucky law, termed "home rule," would permit the enactment of "right to work" provisions on county levels.

Under the assumption of the "regulation of commerce for the protection and convenience of the public," such local regulatory ordinances would be within the powers of county officials to exercise their rights to "home rule.” At first glance, these procedures appear to be "states’ rights" enacted on the local level. If constitutional, and they are not, what would be the extent of such "home rule?” Would it be the reintroduction of local voter rights regulations, the rebirth of Jim Crow? Only time will tell.

 

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Here is the link to the Stop Right to Work in Kentucky Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stopRTWinKY. 

 

By ROBERT CREAMER
The Huffington Post

Last fall, Illinois GOP candidate Bruce Rauner spent $63.9 million -- $27.3 million of his own money -- to buy the right to occupy the Illinois Governor's mansion.

Now that he's in office his first moves have confirmed that he is the poster boy for the War on the Middle Class.

Rauner is a hybrid of the worst traits of Mitt Romney and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. In fact, you could say he personally embodies the reason why -- even though our economy has grown 77% in the last 35 years -- the wages of ordinary Americans have been stagnant or actually declined.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

We were originally informed that Cumberland County held its Fiscal Court meetings at 5 p.m., Eastern Time, but we have subsequently been informed that today’s meeting, where the court will have a second reading of the illegal RTW ordinance, will take place at 4 p.m., at 600 Courthouse Square in Burkesville, the county seat.

Union members or supporters in the area are encouraged to attend this meeting and speak against the ordinance it if they desire. I will be there as will as representatives from several unions.

While it is unlikely that we can prevent passage, it is still important to have the opportunity to present the opposing view, such as in Butler County last evening where a motion was made to table the first reading of the RTW ordinance. While the motion did not prevail, we raised enough doubt and questions about the ordinance that the opportunity to change some minds prior to the second reading now exists.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Scores of union members are expected to converge on Frankfort Thursday morning when the House Labor and Industry Committee is scheduled to take up Senate bills that would make Kentucky a right to work state and repeal the prevailing wage on school construction projects.
   Chairman Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, is expected to gavel the hearing into session at 10 a.m., Eastern Time, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex.
   For years, Republicans have been pushing for right to work and against the prevailing wage.
  

 

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By ROBERT REICH

My recent column about the growth of on-demand jobs like Uber making life less predictable and secure for workers unleashed a small barrage of criticism from some who contend that workers get what they're worth in the market.

A Forbes Magazine contributor, for example, writes that jobs exist only "when both employer and employee are happy with the deal being made." So if the new jobs are low-paying and irregular, too bad.

Much the same argument was voiced in the late nineteenth century over alleged "freedom of contract." Any deal between employers and workers was assumed to be fine if both sides voluntarily agreed to it.

 

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By SAM LEVINE
The Huffington Post

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) continued his campaign against labor unions on Monday, using executive authority to block public employee unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers.

Rauner told The Chicago Sun-Times that unions violate the First Amendment by using the funds to make contributions to political candidates. More than 6,500 employees in Illinois are required to pay "fair share fees," Rauner told the Chicago Tribune. Non-union workers in Illinois must pay fair share fees in lieu of union dues to cover costs of negotiating a contract that benefits them. Public employee unions in the state are required to represent all workers in a collective bargaining unit, regardless of whether they are members of the labor organization.

“Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers. Government union bargaining and government union political activity are inexorably linked,” Rauner told the Sun-Times. “An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights –- and something that, as governor, I am duty-bound to correct.”

 

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (February 9, 2015) – Governor Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway today hosted a Unity Press Conference to present the unified Kentucky Democratic Party ticket. Fellow Democratic constitutional officers and legislative leaders joined Governor Beshear and Attorney General Conway.

“Jack Conway has proven himself,” said Governor Beshear. “He has stepped up and has put Kentucky first and protected Kentucky’s families and children. He’s going to provide the same kind of leadership over the next four years.”

“Anyone who takes up this solemn responsibility ought to know that there’s a job to do,” said Attorney General Conway. “We’re going to invest in our rural areas. We’re going to invest in agriculture. We’re going to invest in infrastructure. Most importantly we are going to invest in our people because our people are the key to the future of Kentucky.”

 

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Examiner is a conservative, GOP-friendly publication.

By SEAN HIGGINS
The Washington Examiner

A rift has formed between conservative groups opposed to organized labor over how best to pass legislation in Kentucky that would limit the ability of unions to force dues from unwilling workers — commonly called a right-to-work law.

The rift came into public view Wednesday when the president of the National Right to Work Committee said he had been verbally chewed out by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

"I got lectured for 15 minutes by Senator Rand Paul yesterday on this very issue, saying that we had made so many people mad about our position," said NRTW President Mark Mix during an appearance at the conservative Leadership Institute. The comments were in reaction to a question from the audience.

 

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By JOE BRENNAN
Director, Kentucky Labor Institute

Everyone has a right to work but only under conditions that will provide income sufficient enough to provide for oneself and his/her family.

Opponents of right to work legislation do not oppose a worker's right to work, but rather propose standards that will insure the Rights for Workers, all workers, whether participating or not in organized labor, or those conducting self-employed services.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

This Thursday, February 12, at 10 a.m. in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex in Frankfort, the House Labor and Industry Committee will hear SB 1 - Right-to-Work-For-Less and SB 9 - Repeal Prevailing Wage on Educational Facilities.

We are requesting that union members and allies join us in Frankfort this Thursday as the House Labor and Industry Committee once again takes up these two anti-union, anti-worker proposals.

When these same bills were brought before the House Labor and Industry Committee last year during the 2014 regular session, hundreds of union members and supporters swarmed the capitol and literally occupied every seat in the hearing room as well as the overflow rooms which were filled to capacity. It was a great showing and we want to once again send a strong message that union members, their families and supporters that hard-working Kentuckians do not support or want right-to-work-for-less that lowers wages and benefits for all workers and want to keep our prevailing wage law that protects the wages and benefits of Kentucky’s hard-working construction workers.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: We just received this notice from Jay Dennis, Teamster's Local 89. Thanks, brother Dennis

There will be a discussion on a so-called right-to-work ordinance in Butler County Fiscal Court today at 5pm Central Time. According to the Butler County Fiscal Court’s Facebook page, time has been allotted for out-of-state special interest shill Brent Yessing.

We need to send a clear message to Yessin and his billionaire puppet masters that we will not tolerate this attack on the livelihoods of Kentucky families!!!!

Let’s send Yessing back to his luxury lifestyle in southern Florida with his pointed tail tucked between his legs!

 

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By Gov. Ted Strickland, Greg Dotson, Matt Lee-Ashley
Center for American Progress

The U.S. coal industry is in the midst of a painful transition. The number of coal-mining jobs in the United States has fallen steadily in recent years, a trend that has had a profound impact on communities that depend on the coal industry for employment and tax revenue. Policymakers should manage this transition and ensure that coal communities emerge stronger and more resilient to fluctuations in the coal market.

Numerous market forces are driving the challenges facing the U.S. coal industry. Over the course of several decades, mechanization has progressively chipped away at the number of workers needed to mine a ton of coal. More recently, abundant and cheap supplies of cleaner-burning natural gas have outcompeted coal as the preferred fossil fuel for new electricity-generating capacity.

The coal industry in Appalachia—a region that spans portions of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia—faces challenges that are unique to a coal basin in which the richest coal seams have been mined already. It is easier—and therefore cheaper—to extract coal in other U.S. coal basins, such as the Powder River Basin, or PRB, in Montana and Wyoming or the Illinois Basin in Illinois, Indiana, and western Kentucky. This creates a daunting market barrier for Appalachian coal. In addition to facing domestic competition, Appalachian coal producers are losing market share to low-cost imports and are struggling to compete in an oversupplied global export market.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The guy who heads the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce claims a lot of companies are shunning Kentucky because it’s not a right to work state.
   In an op-ed piece published in today's Lexington Herald-Leader, chamber President-CEO Brad Richardson wrote, “Site Selection magazine ranked Kentucky's business climate eighth in the nation.”
   Eight out of 50 states looks pretty good in my book.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following appeared in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer newspaper as a rebuttal to a pro-right to work article written by Madison Silvert, president / CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. See also 'A 'kinder, gentler' right to work guy?' on the website.

The Owensboro Building and Construction Trades Council is composed of 19 affiliate Local Unions representing approximately 10,000 working families in the Greater Owensboro region. As President of the Council, I would like to address certain statements that Madison Silvert recently wrote in an op-ed defending so-called “right-to-work” laws. His article contained several serious mistakes. If Mr. Silvert understood how right-to-work laws actually operate, he should oppose them.

Mr. Silvert wrote that right-to-work laws ensure “union membership will not be required of anyone to work within a Kentucky business or industry that has a union contract.” But it is already unlawful to require union membership in Kentucky. As the Supreme Court wrote in Pattern Makers v. NLRB, “Full union membership thus no longer can be a requirement of employment.”

Right-to-work laws are about money, not membership. In normal states, collective bargaining agreements have “agency-fee” provisions requiring workers to pay for union services like negotiating wages and helping employees wrongly disciplined or terminated. Right-to-work makes it a crime for employers to put those provisions into a contract.
 

 

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By SAM YOUNGMAN
Lexington Herald-Leader

When Attorney General Jack Conway addressed a conference of Kentucky county judge executives and magistrates this week, he tested what is sure to become a well-worn line as his campaign gets legs and starts walking.

"Yeah, I voted for the president," Conway said. "And then I sued him."

As the battle between Republicans gets underway, Conway, who is not facing a serious challenge to becoming the Democratic gubernatorial campaign, is building a campaign, an organization and a defense to the liabilities that come with being a Democrat running for office in increasingly red Kentucky.

 

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By ARIEL ROTHFIELD
WOWK TV, Charleston

Friday marks the three-week mark into this year's regular, 60-day legislative session and West Virginia lawmakers have a lot of things on the fast track.

The Republican-majority is pushing for education reform, legal reform and changes to labor issues.

“We want to reflect the value and the will of the voters. They are frustrated right now and I think they want action from their elected officials,” said Delegate Daryl Cowles, R- Morgan, the House Majority Leader.
 

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By LAURA CLAWSON
Daily Kos

The United Steelworkers have rejected the latest offer from Shell for a contract covering oil refinery workers, saying that this offer contains "minimal movement" from earlier ones. About 4,000 workers are on strike in California, Kentucky, and Texas, affecting nine plants. However, management has brought in scab labor to keep the plants running. [The Kentucky plant is the Marathon refinery at Catlettsburg.]  

A broader strike remains possible and "would threaten to disrupt as much as 64 percent of U.S. fuel output."

According to the union as the strike began:

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “You will find people saying that they are for the so-called right to work law, but they also believe in unions,” Harry Truman said. “This is absurd. It’s like saying you are for motherhood but against children.”
   Madison Silvert is a right to work fan who heads the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. He says nice things about unions, too.
   “Simply put, a good Right to Work Bill will not be a ban on unions,” Silvert recently wrote in the hometown Messenger-Inquirer newspaper. “Unions have historically provided a valuable service to workers across this country, acting as champions for their members and the middle class.”

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The Kentucky State AFL-CIO has endorsed six more candidates in this year’s election.
   They are Andy Beshear for attorney general; Alison Lundergan Grimes, secretary of state; Adam H. Edelen, auditor of public accounts; Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, commissioner of agriculture; Janet L. Stumbo for state Supreme Court justice, District 7; and Kelly Caudill in a special election in state Senate District 27.
   All are running on the Democratic ticket except Stumbo, whose race is non-partisan.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The thermometer had dipped to 25 degrees outside, but Attorney Gen. Jack Conway, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO-endorsed candidate for governor, would have received a warm reception inside the Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council hall Thursday night.
   “We support Jack Conway because he supports us,” said Howard “Bubba” Dawes, COPE director for the Paducah-based central labor council, which represents AFL-CIO affiliated unions in Kentucky’s 13 westernmost counties.
   Everybody who came to the council’s February meeting is a Conway fan.
  

 

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By JEFFREY YOUNG and JONATHAN COHN
The Huffington Post

It’s Obamacare replacement season! Or at least, that’s what congressional Republicans want people to believe.

Nearly five years after the Affordable Care Act became law and two years into its expansion of health coverage to an estimated 10 million uninsured people, GOP lawmakers are renewing their so-far fruitless efforts to develop a health reform plan they can position as a “replacement” for President Barack Obama’s health care law.

It’s no coincidence that this is taking place in the run-up to a June Supreme Court ruling that could blow a giant hole in the Affordable Care Act. A decision against Obamacare would kick millions of people, mainly living in red states, off their health plans -- and leave them looking to the Republican Congress for a solution.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Attorney Gen. Jack Conway told a gathering of county judge-executives in Lexington on Thursday that right to work “is not a local decision,” according to WKYT TV.
   Five counties have passed local right to work ordinances despite an official opinion from Conway that such measures are unconstitutional. Kentucky has 120 counties.
   The attorney general “said rules about unions are to be made at the state level,” the Lexington TV station reported.

 

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By LESLIE SALZILLO
Daily Kos

Looks as though the self-proclaimed 'Mayor Of Real-zville' is more like the Pundit Of Poopy Town. The truth-seekers and truth-spillers, Politifact, rated 27 statements by Republican radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh. The king of Hate Radio got zip, zero, nadda, in the full truth department:

True: 0%
Mostly True: 7%
Half True: 11%
Mostly False: 25%
False: 32%
Pants on Fire: 25%

I concur. While in Facebook's Join The Fight To Flush Rush, I monitored the Rush Limbaugh Show for three months, five days a week, three hours a day. Let's just say I took a few for the team. The man was so full of shit, I had to disinfect my radio after each show. As I continue protesting Limbaugh, I still run across trolls and Dittoheads who say, "If you listened to Rush's show, you wouldn't do what you're doing."
 

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By SHAYLA MENVILLE
The Morehead News

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has confirmed that [it has received] nine objections to the election held to allow employees of Aramark at Morehead State University to join the SEIU union.

The union lost in a 54-32 vote on Jan. 21 and an appeal was filed on Jan. 28.

Robert Smith of SEIU said Monday that the group filed the allegations on behalf of Aramark workers who felt that intimidation and coercion impacted the voting outcome.
 

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“Adam has the experience to develop one of the best gubernatorial campaigns in the history of the Commonwealth. He has a proven record of success, and we know he will be a tremendous asset to our team.” – Attorney General Jack Conway

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (February 5, 2015) – The Conway-Overly for Kentucky campaign today announced it has named Adam Sullivan as its campaign manager.

“Sannie and I are excited to work with Adam to the lead the campaign organization,” said Attorney General Conway. “Adam has the experience to develop one of the best gubernatorial campaigns in the history of the Commonwealth. He has a proven record of success, and we know he will be a tremendous asset to our team.”

Adam Sullivan has been managing and working on campaigns around the country for the last 15 years. He managed Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico’s successful election in 2012, worked for Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana 2014, managed four successful congressional races including now Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and was the western political director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2010. In 2007, he was the statewide field director for a Kentucky gubernatorial campaign.
 

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By JO COMERFORD, MoveOn.org

Republicans in Congress want to work with the Obama administration to fast-track the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP is the largest—and worst—trade deal you’ve never heard of, having been devised in secret by representatives of some of the world’s largest corporations.

It’s so big and has the potential to do so much damage, it’s been likened to “NAFTA on steroids.”
 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

You no longer have to wait for Saturday mornings to tune into live labor news and commentary on your radio in Kentucky.

Clarksville, Ind.-based WNDA 1570 AM and WLRS 1600 AM will be broadcasting "The Union Edge, Labor's Talk Radio" weekdays on both stations from noon to 1 p.m., local time.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter refers to a website posting by Jeff Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, that appeared in several Kentucky newspapers as a letter to the editor or an as op-ed article. Dianna Johnson-Hall saw Wiggins' letter in a Benton paper.

Dear Mr. Wiggins:

My husband and I would like to thank you for your letter to the editor in this week's paper. I will be forwarding it to as many people as possible--posting it on my Facebook page, emailing it to friends, etc.

We are both "Union People" and are completely baffled that folks don't understand the premise of Strength In Numbers! I am infuriated every time I hear "Right To Work" used by anyone, and am first in line to voice my opinion and concerns.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Just because the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council agreed to consider a right to work ordinance doesn’t mean approval is in the offing.
    The council on Tuesday voted 8-5 to refer a RTW ordinance to the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee.
   “But I am convinced that several council members opposed to the so-called right to work voted in favor of sending it to committee because they felt, in the spirit of open-mindedness, it should be given a hearing,” said council member Jake Gibbs, a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360 and a professor at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, where he is also the ombudsman.

 

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By BETH MUSGRAVE
Lexington Herald-Leader

The Urban County Council could begin discussions as early as March on raising the minimum wage in Lexington and on passing an ordinance that would allow people to work in union shops without paying dues.

During a Tuesday work session, the council voted 14-0 to assign the minimum-wage issue to the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee.

Council member Amanda Bledsoe then made a separate motion to send the union legislation — referred to as right-to-work — to the same committee. Several Kentucky counties have recently passed right-to-work laws that, if upheld by the courts, would allow workers covered by a union contract to opt out of paying union dues or fees.

 

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THE SECRETARIAT

The World Federation of Trade Unions representing 90 million workers in 126 countries across the worlds expresses its internationalist solidarity to the workers in US refineries who are on strike struggling for better salary, safety at work and improved collective agreement.

In their first wide-scale strike since 1980, workers have stopped work in many refineries since Monday, February 2nd 2015 as per the call of the United Steelworkers Union on the basis that negotiations between US refiners and union have failed to reach an agreement by Sunday.

The deal would form the baseline for additional talks between companies and local unions, and cover 30,000 workers at 230 refineries, oil terminals, pipelines, and petrochemical plants.

 

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By KATE ZERNIKE, MICHAEL BARBARO
The New York Times

As Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey waited to depart on a trade mission to Israel in 2012, his entourage was delayed by a late arrival: Mr. Christie’s father, who had accidentally headed to the wrong airport.

A commercial flight might have left without him, but in this case, there was no rush. The private plane, on which Mr. Christie had his own bedroom, had been lent by Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and supporter of Israel. At the time, he was opposing legislation then before the governor to legalize online gambling in New Jersey.

Mr. Christie loaded the plane with his wife, three of his four children, his mother-in-law, his father and stepmother, four staff members, his former law partner and a state trooper.

 

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By JEFF NEAL
Commonwealth Journal (Somerset)

Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said he will not seek a second reading of the controversial right to work ordinance — at least not at this time.

“I think the magistrates want to wait and watch to see what happens with some of the other counties who are establishing right to work ordinances,” Kelley said. “It’s not a dead issue, but it’s on the back burner at the moment.”

Pulaski Fiscal Court passed a first reading of the right to work ordinance last month. The law would have prevented labor unions from forcing local workers to join their organizations as a condition of employment. Kelley had predicted that by becoming a right to work county, Pulaski could draw more industry.
 

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From Daily Kos

As Mitt re-re-re-sails into the sunset, enjoy one final reprise of his revised 2012 America the Beautiful lyrics---a reminder of the presidency that will never be, as he takes his car elevator ever-so-slowly down, down, down…

O beautiful for Cayman Isles
For dividends from Bain
And Swiss accounts sealed good and tight
And carried interest gains

America! America!
God shed His wealth on me
And fed my soul with tax loopholes
For me and my trustee.

 

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By Jeff Mason
Reuters

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a $3.99 trillion budget for fiscal year 2016 that sets up a battle with Republicans over programs to boost the middle class that are funded by higher taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.

The budget foresees a $474 billion deficit, which is 2.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. It projects deficits stabilizing at that rate over a 10-year period, senior administration officials said.

Obama's budget fleshes out proposals from his State of the Union address last month and helps highlight Democratic priorities for the last two years of his presidency and the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign.

 

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By LEO W. GERARD
International president, United Steelworkers

The people of Greece rebelled last week against the perverse notion that they should continue to endure biting austerity in a vain attempt to cure a condition that they are not solely responsible for creating.

Sounds familiar, right? It’s like American workers forced to suffer through a recession that they didn’t cause, a recession that was, in fact, a result of banks’ reckless risk-taking.

When bets by big banks worldwide failed spectacularly in 2008, markets imploded and economies collapsed. Bailed-out banks, the wealthiest 1 percent and export-based economies like China and Germany quickly recovered. But workers struggled long-term. Austerity imposed on them was a big part of the reason. Workers were the victims of austerity’s slashed public services, wages and jobs. Those demanding austerity – the 1 percent ­– and those imposing it ­– conservative politicians ­– escaped its bitter effects with shields of cash. Austerity was not for them. It was for those without big bankrolls. That would be bad enough if austerity worked. But, as Greece illustrates horribly, it does not.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: February is Black History Month. This article appeared in The Atlantic in February 2011. It is still timely.
By JOE FASSLER
The Atlantic

While researching at the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta in 1992, Washington University professor Michael Honey found an inconspicuous folder marked "King's Labor Speeches." He opened it, and found a trove of King's addresses to labor unions and workers' rights coalitions—most of which had never been published.

This discovery led to "All Labor Has Dignity": King's Speeches on Labor, a collection edited by Honey and released in January by Beacon Press as part of their "King Legacy" series. The book shows an eerily prescient Dr. King, a clear-eyed visionary who speaks prophetically about the host of issues facing our nation today. In the eloquent, mythic language for which he is famous, King lambastes economic forces growing the gap between rich and poor, the massive tax resources used for war spending while domestic programs languished, and the knee-jerk demonizing of progressive social reform as "communist." He even criticizes the conservative senators—he calls them "Neanderthals"—who abused their filibuster privilege to block meaningful legislative change.

The collection demonstrates that historical considerations of Dr. King's contributions have overlooked his dogged dedication to the organized labor movement, and his fight on behalf of the working poor across racial divides. I spoke with Honey about King's work for workers' rights, the historical context of the speeches, and the relevance of King's conclusions to ongoing 21st-century American labor disputes.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   One of my union brothers could hardly believe that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s bogus “Election Violation Notice” collected a quintet of awards from Campaigns and Elections magazine, including “best direct mail piece for 2014.”
    He said the mailer was a flat lie. Indeed it was. The mailer's purpose was to scare supporters of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell's opponent. It was a deliberate deception designed to make recipients think they were somehow breaking the law. Inside, it listed “fraudulent information” being spread by “the federal candidate” Grimes.
   “Advertising is legalized lying,” H.G. Wells famously observed. That goes double for political advertising.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Remember those boasts by union-busters that right work ordinances would be on the books in 25 percent of Kentucky counties by Jan. 31?
   Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan does.
   “If you recall, when the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, the Bluegrass Institute, ALEC and all the rest began their crusade for illegal county RTW ordinances, they predicted that they would pass in 30 counties.”

 

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By KATIE BRANDENBURG
Bowing Green Daily News

Logan County Fiscal Court approved the first reading of a right-to-work ordinance Tuesday, putting it on track to join a number of other Kentucky counties that have passed similar ordinances.

The ordinance passed unanimously, Logan County Judge-Executive Logan Chick said in a phone interview. A final reading is scheduled for Feb. 24.

 

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By JEFF WIGGINS
President, Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and
USW Local 9447

   “Most of the arguments against right-to-work have little basis in fact,” James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation claimed in a story recently published in several Kentucky newspapers.
   His arguments for right-to-work have no basis in fact.
   In his article, Sherk cited several “myths” about right-to-work and then he purported to provide us with “facts.” His “facts” are myths.
  Read more >>>

Friends of the Feathered

As part of the Union Sportsmen's Alliance's (USA's) Work Boots on the Ground project, New Jersey union members built and painted 52 pheasant and 10 quail transport boxes to support the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, which raises and releases some 50,000 pheasants and 11,000 quail annually across the state. Read the full article>>>

BY JEFF NEAL
Commonwealth Journal (Somerset)

Despite an impassioned presentation from a right to work supporter, it looks like the local measure will be tabled by Pulaski Fiscal Court.

Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said yesterday after a tense meeting of fiscal court that “it looks like the magistrates do not want to move forward.”

 

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By KURT ERICKSON
Decatur Herald & Review Springfield Bureau Chief

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner may be looking to the Bluegrass State for inspiration when it comes to bringing right-to-work laws to Illinois.

In Kentucky, where attempts to put a statewide law on the books have stalled, counties have taken the lead in recent weeks by moving forward with their own anti-union laws.

In all, five counties have approved measures that would ban requiring workers to join a union or refrain from joining a labor organization as a condition of employment.
Supporters say the changes will help lure businesses looking to save money on labor costs.

 

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By SAM STEIN and Paul Blumenthal
Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Reactions from Democrats to news that the billionaire Koch brothers are planning an $889 million blitz for the 2016 election has run the gambit from outright alarm to shoulder shrugs.

Various top party officials interviewed by The Huffington Post said they expected outside groups and campaign committees to further elevate their attacks on the Kochs heading into the next election. Portraying the brothers as political villains was a prominent plank of the 2014 game plan. And though that election ended horribly for the party, there is little sense that Democrats should back off now that Koch entities will play an even larger role in 2016.

“We’re going all out with the research and the communications in the 2016 cycle,” David Brock, founder of American Bridge 21st Century and MediaMatters.org, told The Huffington Post.

 

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By LANCE COMPA
The American Prospect

Labor advocates and scholars often feel like we won’t be taken seriously unless we say how awful things are. The more dire our analysis, the more listeners will nod and say it must be right, with labor insiders so self-critical. But our critical thinking shouldn’t devolve into despair.

Workers won’t join a movement that constantly proclaims it is going down the tubes and is going to disappear in ten years. Legislators won’t pass pro-labor laws because they feel sorry for unions. Workers want to see power, and legislators need to feel power. Unions won’t regain it by complaining.

Get a grip; the labor movement is stronger than it looks.

We can’t deny or minimize problems and challenges. But we often go too far in decrying unions’ fate. Get a grip; the labor movement is stronger than it looks. A lot of good organizing is going on, and most unions are doing an effective job at the bargaining table. Unions are a force in important regions and industrial sectors, still politically potent, and still bringing new groups of workers into their ranks.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Todd Johnson, an organizer with UA Sprinkler Fitters Local 669 in Owensboro, sent us this article from the Detroit Free Press.

By BRIAN DICKERSON
Detroit Free Press

Those who hope to see Michigan sustain its economic recovery should be relieved to hear Gov. Rick Snyder pouring cold water on a GOP proposal to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law.

Right-wing Republicans have had the law in their cross-hairs ever since Snyder signed right-to-work legislation in 2012, and the more conservative team that took over leadership of the GOP legislative caucus on Jan. 1 has made its repeal one of its top priorities.

But Snyder is having none of their union-bashing nonsense, and that bodes well for an economic recovery that boosts middle-class wages, as well as corporate profits.

 

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By STEVE BENEN
The MaddowBlog

When it comes to campaign fundraising, it’s easy for the numbers to start to blur together. One candidate raised several million dollars, but is struggling with cash on hand. Another had a subpar monthly report, but fared well in the quarterly report. There are PACs, super PACs, campaign committees, state parties, and on and on, each furiously trying to fill their coffers – and in a “permanent campaign” environment, it seems to never stop.

I mention this because I understand how easy it is to start tuning out reports on the role of money in elections. Everyone gets it: there’s a lot of money being raised and spent.

But some reports shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly. This piece from Matea Gold, for example, was legitimately jaw-dropping.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The field is set for the May 19 primary with a pair of Democrats and four Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for governor.
   The deadline for filing for the primary passed today at 4 p.m., Frankfort time.
On the Democratic side, Attorney Gen. Jack Conway of Louisville, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO-endorsed candidate, seems a shoo-in against all but unknown Geoff Young of Lexington.
   Conway is running with state Rep. Sannie Overly, the House majority caucus chair.
Young’s first running mate, Cherokee Schill of Nicholasville, withdrew. He replaced her with Jonathan Masters of Hudson. Read more >>>

By JAMES P. HOFFA
General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

For years, big business has pushed for fast-track trade promotion authority so it can get secret trade deals it helps craft like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) enacted. It's had the support of some in Congress. Now congressional leaders want to move on fast track, and soon. That means those standing up for the interests of hardworking Americans must step up their efforts. After all, not everyone is aware of the consequences that a quick up-or-down vote on the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal will bring. It will devastate not only wage earners, but their families as well.

The Teamsters and our fair-trade friends have seen the damage fast track and bad trade deals like the TPP can do. President Obama in his State of the Union speech last week conceded as much. Millions of middle-class jobs nationwide have been lost, and they are not coming back. The theme of the President's State of the Union Speech was right on target -- it is time for all of our elected leaders to do everything within their power to support and expand the nation's middle class. It is for exactly this reason that the President and free trade supporters in Congress need to change their position on fast track.
 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Jim Pence, the union-card carrying retiree who runs the feisty Hillbilly Report blog is as good at crafting graphics as he is at turning phrases.
   He tops his home page with this one-two punch:
   "Never before have so few with so much promised to take away so much from so many and then laugh their asses off as the so many with so little vote for the so few with so much."
   And: "American Politics, a sport for the rich and enslavement for the rest of us."

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   I’m an historian, not a political pro.
   But history suggests that Alison Lundergan Grimes was wise not to run for governor this time.
   The Democrat will seek a second term as secretary of state. Oh, there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip. But Grimes’ chances look very good for May 19 and Nov. 3.
   

 

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By LEO W. GERARD
United Steelworkers International President

Reaganomics, the plot to appease the rich and condemn the rest, got its comeuppance last week in President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

The president asked: “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?”

That’s the trickle down economy he’s talking about. And when he said, “spectacularly well,” that understated the great fortune of the very few. Oxfam, the international federation working to end poverty, reported just before the speech that if nothing changes over the next two years, the top 1 percent will hoard more wealth than that held by the entire remaining 99 percent of humans on earth.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Bill Londrigan couldn’t be happier that Alison Lundergan Grimes tossed her hat in the ring for reelection as secretary of state.
   “We applaud Alison’s decision,” said Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president. “She has done a wonderful job in that office.”
   Grimes announced her candidacy today in Lexington. Afterwards, she traveled to Frankfort and filed. Read more >>>

EDITOR'S NOTE: Grimes just announced she will run for reelection as secretary of state. More to come.

By JOSEPH GERTH
Louisville Courier-Journal

   FRANKFORT, Ky. – Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will end nearly three months of speculation today and announce what she's running for in 2015.
   Grimes, who has said only that she is running for a statewide office, issued a media advisory on Friday saying that she would make her announcement at the Lyric Theater and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington just after noon on Monday.
   Grimes has been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general since she challenged U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell last year.

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By WADARK
Daily Kos

The other night I sat down to watch Jon Stewart and was greeted to one of the most fascinating interviews I've ever seen with former Governor, former Fox News host, and (let's be honest) future former Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee.

I was first reminded of all the times Jon Stewart was accused of pitching softball questions to his political guests, because apparently it’s become standard practice to look to comedians for our cues on journalistic integrity...but that's neither here nor there.

After listening to Huckabee speak for almost ten minutes (the extended interview is even better), I was convinced that the GOP's constant claims that a class war was being waged were right, it was just being waged by THEM.

 

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By HOWARD FINEMAN
Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- It was decades ago, and I forget whom Wendell Ford had come to Louisville, Kentucky, to stump for. But who the Democrat was mattered less -- it always mattered less -- than that Ford was there to speak on his or her behalf.

"Get ready for a stemwinder," my Courier-Journal colleague Ed Ryan told me. Ryan, who could be a tough character, said this as if talking about a beloved if faintly comical uncle.

The memory rushed back to me Thursday when the word spread that Ford, after a long battle with cancer, had succumbed at the age of 90.
 

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By NEWS CORPSE FOR DAILY KOS MEDIA WATCH

Fox News has been proven repeatedly to be a purveyor of disinformation and outright lies presented as facts. Knowledgeable observers long ago ceased to take their reporting seriously. However, it's one thing to be called out for shoddy journalism by experienced media analysts and news professionals. But when a high school class can demolish the highest rated cable "news" network with ease, the folks responsible should reconsider their career choices.

….Last July O'Reilly sent his stalker/producer Jesse Watters to Bennington, Vermont in order to malign the residents of the city and the state as liberal, pot smoking, ski bums. It was a purely vicious exercise in childish insults that had no news value of any kind. But it is the sort of mean-spirited filler that Watters has made his specialty. Watters is also the founder and editor of Fox's community website, Fox Nation, mangling the truth is the primary objective. [Note: don't miss this epic and hilarious take down of Watters by Stephen Colbert]

The students at Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington happened to be studying journalism when they came upon this piece. So they used it as a case study to conduct a "professional integrity audit" based on the ethics codes of the Society of Professional Journalists. What they discovered was that O'Reilly's program violated the ethics codes so many times they lost count.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The ardently anti-union National Right to Work Committee has been cool to the county right to work crusade.
   Now the Washington-based NRTWC has its national and state executive directors scurrying across Kentucky trying to drum up “grassroots support for a state right-to-work law,” according to a recent story in the Bowling Green Daily News.
   The duo is worried that the courts will overturn the county ordinances. Thus, they argue, a state RTW law is the only way to go, the story said.

 

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By KERRY ELEVED
Daily Kos

Republicans are unraveling before our very eyes, fueled by a duel between GOP radicals and their slightly more moderate brethren in the House.
The showdown began with 25 Republican right-wingers refusing to vote for Boehner as House speaker. Then Boehner bowed to the wishes of his most extreme members on the bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which included anti-immigrant measures so extreme that 26 slightly more sane Republicans defected on vote.

And today, Boehner has a swarm of angry pro-life activists blanketing Capitol Hill because he tabled a vote on a bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. GOP leadership pulled the bill after some of its 22 female members voiced concerns over certain provisions of the bill and the timing of the vote.

That's three misfires right out of the gate for the GOP and a sign of times to come. And even though Boehner successfully sent that Homeland Security funding bill to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans are now scrambling to massage it into something reasonable enough to pass the upper chamber, lest the department lose funding at the end of next month. Whatever one might think of the Department of Homeland Security, nothing would be a greater black eye for Republican leadership than failing to fully fund national security efforts in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks in Europe. After all, Republicans have always prided themselves on their unique ability to protect "the homeland."

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Gebre was a featured speaker at the Kentucky State AFL-CIO's 30th biennial convention in Louisville in 2013

WORKERS INDEPENDENT NEWS

As AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre surveys the State Of The Union in America, he sees reason for hope and optimism that movement activists can re-ignite labor’s fire despite constant orchestrated attacks on labor power. Gebre was able to grow the labor movement in conservative, Republican dominated Orange County California and he says labor can begin to grow again in unlikely places like the south. But it means labor will have to build up its organizing and political infrastructure in the south.

Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Union members aren’t the only folks who suggest the GOP’s right to work crusade cost them the state House of Representatives last fall.
   In a recent Louisville Courier-Journal guest column, Bob Heleringer, a former Republican state representative from Jefferson County, said RTW helped dash GOP hopes of flipping the House.
   “The coup de grace may have been Mark It Red's ill-advised decision to inject the volatile Right to Work issue into nearly every district where it was running the show,” he wrote.

 

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By RONNIE ELLIS CNHI News Service
   Proponents see a rising tide of support for so-called right-to-work legislation in Kentucky, but recent efforts to bypass the General Assembly by enacting county-level ordinances has encountered a couple of stumbling blocks.
   It is not yet clear whether a decision to “put off” consideration of such an ordinance in Barren County or the filing of a suit by labor groups challenging a Hardin County ordinance represent the ebb – or only a lull – in that tide.
   At least six counties have passed local ordinances, most encouraged by a Florida group calling itself Protect My Paycheck that is headed by Kentucky native and Florida labor lawyer Brent Yessen. The counties and Yessen contend a “home rule” law passed by the Kentucky legislature decades ago provides authority for the local ordinances. Read more >>>

By BILL LONDRIGAN, president, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Fellow Trade Unionists: Several of our sisters and brothers need our support and prayers and I ask that you think about each of these as you go about your day:

Sister Augusta Thomas, AFGE National Vice President and Executive Board Member of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, was released from the hospital after ten days of chemotherapy and she is back at home in Louisville. She is continuing to get chemotherapy as an outpatient. I spoke with her several times recently and she assured me that she was doing well and felt pretty good. Augusta is an amazing women and great trade unionist and let’s all pray to have her back with us working for those that need a voice.

 

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By ED MAZZA
The Huffington Post

Don't mess with Paris.

Fox News is learning the hard way that insults to the City of Light will not go unchallenged.

The network has already been threatened with a lawsuit over allegedly "prejudiced" coverage of the city. And now, it's facing something that might be even worse: French taunting.
 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The county right to work crusade might be running out of gas.
   “It was the stated intention of the proponents of illegal county RTW ordinances to get 30 counties to pass it in short order,” said an email from Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president, to union activists. “Recent statements in the press by these folks now refer to twenty counties they think they have a sure thing.”
   Kentucky has 120 counties. So far, only Warren, Simpson, Fulton, Todd and Hardin counties have passed RTW ordinances. A few other counties have approved ordinances on first reading or are considering them.
   

 

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By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

The state AFL-CIO endorsed Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway for governor Tuesday, adding to Conway’s apparent momentum and perhaps helping to clear the Democratic primary field.

It’s a bit unusual to endorse during a primary and even before the filing deadline has passed, said AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan. But the labor group isn’t the first Democratic group or name to get out in front on the 2015 Democratic Primary.

Several prominent Democrats, including former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford, Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville have endorsed Conway as well as several individual unions and locals.

 

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   This retired community college history professor who still packs a union card is glad that the Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsed Attorney Gen. Jack Conway for governor.
   I voted for Conway, a Democrat, when he got elected attorney general in 2007, ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and won a second term as AG in 2011.
   Conway keeps on proving he is in labor’s corner.

 

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By JAMES BRUGGERS
Louisville Courier-Journal

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway on Tuesday delivered a blow to Metropolitan Sewer District management, providing an opinion that there's no legal reason why the agency's board could not agree to a contract provision requested by one of its unions.

Conway also plans to issue a clarification that asserts that MSD can agree to a binding arbitration clause in any contract it has with union workers, said his spokesman, Daniel Kemp.

Both are victories for a Laborers International Union Local 576, which represents about 150 workers who maintain sewer lines and drainage in the community, and have been at odds with management for more than two years.

The opinion came as more than 75 representatives and supporters of several unions in the Louisville area demonstrated outside MSD headquarters downtown.

 

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By DAVE JAMIESON
The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- With the U.S. job market on more solid footing, President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address Tuesday night to advance a philosophy he’s increasingly embraced over the past year -- that the federal government can and should raise baseline standards inside the American workplace.

Whether it was paid leave, the minimum wage or gender pay equity, the president made his case to a skeptical, Republican-controlled Congress that Washington needs to establish rules governing how the economy works for everyday people, particularly when wages are stagnating despite broader job gains.

“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?” Obama said. “We need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. We need to do more than just do no harm.”

 

By IAN MILLHISER
Think Progress

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is an odd place to seek counsel on the Constitution. As a Senate candidate in 2010, Paul told a Louisville editorial board that he opposed the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters, claiming that the right of “private ownership” should trump the right to be free from racist discrimination. Opposing a core protection for racial minorities, according to Paul, is “the hard part about believing in freedom.” He later suggested that civil rights laws targeting private businesses may exceed Congress’s power under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause — a view the Supreme Court unanimously rejected in 1964.

Yet the Heritage Foundation, one of the backbones of the conservative movement in Washington, DC, invited Paul to speak at length on the Constitution and the role of the judiciary [last]...week. If the audience was upset that voters sometimes elect leaders who disagree with the Heritage Foundation, they were no doubt enraptured by Paul’s vision for the courts. Senator Paul’s speech was a repudiation of democracy, and he called for the Supreme Court to assume a dominant role in setting American policy that it abandoned three generations ago. Under Paul’s vision, the minimum wage is forbidden and union busting is constitutionally protected. The New Deal is an illegitimate expansion of federal power, and more recent efforts to ensure that no one dies because they cannot afford health care are an abomination.

“I’m a judicial activist,” Paul proudly proclaimed.

 

Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The Kentucky State AFL-CIO today endorsed Attorney Gen. Jack Conway for governor.
   “Jack is truly committed to helping Kentucky’s hard working men and women improve their living standards and working conditions and he understands the struggles that workers face in this difficult economy,” said a statement from Bill Londrigan, state AFL-CIO president.
   “As Attorney General Jack has demonstrated his willingness to stand up for working Kentuckians when they are victimized by unscrupulous employers, predatory lenders and scam artists. Our members and affiliates who live and work in every county across Kentucky thank Jack for his solid support and willingness to take on those that want to turn back the clock on Kentucky’s workers and their families.”
  Read more >>>

From THE HUFFINGTON POST

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers are already signaling they will do what they can to block President Barack Obama's pitch for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.

Obama is making that pitch to a huge television audience in hopes of putting the new Republican Congress in the position of defending top income earners over the middle class.

As Obama continues to signal what he will propose during Tuesday's State of the Union address, senior administration officials said during the weekend that he will call for raising the capital gains rate on top income earners and eliminating a tax break on inheritances. The revenue generated by those changes would fund new tax credits and other cost-saving measures for middle-class taxpayers, officials said.

 

 

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By ADAM BEAM
Associated Press

   LEXINGTON, Ky. – Alison Lundergan Grimes sang "We Shall Overcome." She took selfies with supporters. She led a march of more than 2,500 people on Martin Luther King Jr. Day while arm in arm with 91-year-old Gerogia Davis Powers, Kentucky's first and only female African-American state senator.
   And a photographer for Grimes was there to capture it all.
   Yes, Grimes is running for statewide office in 2015 after a double-digit loss to Republican Mitch McConnell in one of the country's most-watched Senate races. But the Democratic secretary of state would not reveal her plans on Monday — with a little more than a week left before the filing deadline — other than to say she will file for something.
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Last fall, Republican candidates for the state House of Representatives promised to pass a right to work law if the GOP flipped the General Assembly’s lower chamber.
   But even before election day, the Republicans and allied anti-union groups in Kentucky and beyond started working on a plan B: county right to work ordinances.
   Plan B kicked in right after the Democrats held their 54-46 House majority on election day. Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

It is not widely known that the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday – which we are observing today -- began as a union demand in contract negotiations, according to The Nation magazine. While Dr. King was the 20th century’s greatest civil rights leader, he also was a tireless champion of organized labor.

Here are some of Dr. King’s comments on labor unions gleaned from the Daily Kos internet website:

Speaking to the AFL-CIO on Dec. 11, 1961
Less than a century ago the laborer had no rights, little or no respect, and led a life which was socially submerged and barred. [...] American industry organized misery into sweatshops and proclaimed the right of capital to act without restraints and without conscience. The inspiring answer to this intolerable and dehumanizing existence was economic organization through trade unions. The worker became determined not to wait for charitable impulses to grow in his employer. He constructed the means by which fairer sharing of the fruits of his toil had to be given to him or the wheels of industry, which he alone turned, would halt and wealth for no one would be available [...]
 

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By GREG KOCHER
Lexington Herald-Leader

   For at least 50 years, and probably longer, Kentucky has debated whether it should have a law that allows employees represented by a union to opt out of paying union fees.
   Like the ebb and flow of the tide, the "right to work" issue would rise during campaigns for governor or when state lawmakers met in Frankfort, and then quickly subside from public attention.
   All that changed in the last month. Read more >>>

By CHUCK STINNETT, Henderson Gleaner
   HENDERSON, Ky. - Representatives from 16 local trade unions will be on hand Friday for a job fair to assist the 670 coal miners who lost their jobs with the closing of Patriot Coal's Highland and Dodge Hill mines in Union County.
   The unions represent various construction trades as well as the unions at the Century and Aleris aluminum plants in Western Kentucky.
   Hourly workers at the Highland Mine are members of United Mine Workers of America Local 178. Read more >>>

Bardstown Kentucky Standard editorial, Dec. 23, 2014
   If one were to believe its advocates, so-called right-to-work laws are just the panacea for Kentucky’s ailing economy.
   Anytime someone starts claiming a simple fix to a complex issue, it is a good idea to look at some of his or her claims.  
   Right-to-work laws allow workers in a unionized workplace to opt out of joining a union and paying union dues, but in most cases still reap the benefits won through union representation. These laws have been around since the 1940s. Texas was the first in 1943. The majority of states with similar laws enacted them in the 1940s and ’50s, primarily in the South. But with recent victories for advocates — most notably Indiana and Michigan becoming the 23rd and 24th states, respectively, to pass the laws in 2012 — there has been a renewed push by advocacy groups.
    Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Jim Pence is a union-card carrying, unapologetic liberal Democrat who is fed up with “DINOs” -- “Democrats in name only.”
   “I’ve traveled all over the state in the past 10 years and I’ve seen first-hand how phony our Democratic office holders are from the courthouse up,” said Pence, who is retired but runs the feisty, Hardin County-based Hillbilly Report blog – www.hillbillyreport.org.
   Pence points to DINOs in Warren, Simpson, Fulton, Hardin and Todd counties who have joined Republicans in passing county right to work ordinances. But by “courthouse up,” the blogger means all the way to Washington.
     Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Supporters of a bill to make all public places in Kentucky smoke free call the measure a workers’ rights issue.
   “The bottom line is that a comprehensive, smoke-free workplace law is all about workers' rights,” said Amy Barkley, the chair of Smoke-Free Kentucky. She calls HB 145 the “Right to Breathe bill.”
   Smoke-Free Kentucky is sponsoring an advocacy day at the Capitol building in Frankfort from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 11. “All union members are encouraged to attend,” Barkley said. People can sign up at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1_CChvW8Ph4a6dbmm6GGR9OBS9YtjW-6WA-a2scLxZig/viewform. Read more >>>

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
AT LOUISVILLE
 

CIVIL ACTION NO. ______________
(Electronically Filed)

UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE AND AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT
WORKERS OF AMERICA LOCAL 3047

478 S. Mulberry St.
Elizabethtown, KY 42701

INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE AND
AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, CLC

8000 E. Jefferson Ave.
Detroit, MI 48214

 

Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Nine local and international unions filed suit in federal court in Louisville Wednesday to block nearby Hardin County’s newly- enacted right to work ordinance.
   The unions say the measure, which the county fiscal court passed Tuesday, 8-1, violates the National Labor Relations Act.
   Several members of the unions live in Hardin County, which adjoins Jefferson County, whose seat is Louisville. Two of the local unions are headquartered in Elizabethtown, the Hardin County seat, and another in Cecelia, also in Hardin County.

 

Read more >>>

By GABE SCWARTZMAN, The Daily Yonder
Ask the Democratic Party leadership in Floyd County, Kentucky, about their county’s voting record and they’ll tell you: “When the 1972 election results came out, George McGovern had only won the state of Massachusetts and Floyd County, Kentucky.”

Times have changed.

Floyd County, along with virtually every coal-producing county in eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia, and southern West Virginia (the region known as Central Appalachia), now consistently vote for Republicans in federal and state elections. Across Central Appalachia, these midterm elections have brought more Republicans to historically Democratic seats, a 14-year trend.
 

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By SAM YOUNGMAN, Lexington Herald-Leader
   FRANKFORT — There was a traffic jam Monday morning when Attorney General Jack Conway and his massive entourage arrived at Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes' office to file his paperwork to run for governor.
   Lawrence County Attorney Michael Hogan, filing to run for attorney general as a Republican, was the first to arrive, so Conway and his crew waited in the crowded office as Hogan, after being told he needed two Republicans to sign his filing papers, turned to the crowd and asked if there were two Republicans in the room that might sign their names.
   There weren't.

 

Read more >>>

By MOSHE Z. MARVIT, In These Times
   The conservative push for local right-to-work ordinances has been moving quickly recently. Whereas a few months ago, there was a general understanding that the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act only permitted states and territories to pass these laws—which threaten unions’ solvency by allowing workers to receive the benefits of union representation without paying union dues—now five Kentucky counties are on track to pass local laws. And the coalition of conservative organizations promoting these questionable new measures has also morphed, as a new organization with hidden funding sources has formed to finance any possible litigation.
   On Labor Day weekend last year, the conservative Heritage Foundation convened a panel to discuss a newly released paper by two of its scholars to push the idea that cities and counties could pass their own right-to-work laws. Jon Russell, director of the conservative policy organization ALEC’s new American City County Exchange, suggested that model right-to-work laws for localities could be created, and implied that ALEC could take the lead on that front.
   Russell explained that many local leaders don’t feel that they can pass such radical laws “because it requires some heavy lifting when it comes to public policy; because political allies, legal and legislative resources are in short supply.” However, he explained, “this is where the organizations that are represented here today can help step up and help advance right to work on the local level." These organizations were ALEC, Heritage, Americans for Tax Reform and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Read more >>>

By JOHN PERR, Daily Kos
   Four years ago, Republicans led by then-new House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) began taking credit for the economic progress made since the Bush recession began in December 2007. Just 19 days after the GOP had assumed control of the House, Cantor issued a statement declaring, "THERE ARE THE JOBS: Republicans Prevent Massive Tax Increase, Economy Begins to Improve." In February 2012, then-Virginia governor and future convicted felon Bob McDonnell assumed the role of GOP mythmaker, explaining, "Look, I'm glad the economy is starting to recover, but I think it's because of what Republican governors are doing in their states, not because of the president."
    Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   At least Republican lawmakers are consistent.
   They keep wasting time on the taxpayer’s dime at the national, state and local level.
   The GOP-majority Kentucky senate has approved a right to work bill. Churchill Downs will be become a World of Outlaws race track before the Democratic House passes it. Read more >>>

By EMMA DUMAIN, Roll Call

President Barack Obama wants Congress to pass legislation that would give him the authority to negotiate a long-sought trade agreement with nearly a dozen countries in the Pacific region.

The problem is, a growing number of House Democrats don’t want to let him have it.
It could make for a potentially uncomfortable situation in which Democrats, already marginalized by the GOP-controlled Congress, can’t bring themselves to back their president.

It also could create divisions within the caucus itself, with members torn between allegiances to their party and a desire to advance policy they feel will promote a healthier global economy.
 

Read more >>>

From FOR THE WIN, USA Today

Chris Christie is the governor of New Jersey. He is also a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan and a purveyor of lucky orange sweaters. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones credits Christie with part of Dallas’ playoff mojo and flew him to attend the team’s first playoff game and sit in his owner’s suite.

This does not sit well with everyone in New Jersey. The Trentonian followed in NJ.com’s footsteps in their portrayal of the portly governor …

To be completely honest, it’s not a terrible look. The blonde hair suits him and while you might argue Christie is showing off too much skin, it’s nice to break out of those stuffy suits every once in a while. The only issue I see is that terrible typo in “Texas.” There’s only one “s” at the end, and when you include that second “s” it looks like … oh. Clever, Trentonian. Very clever.

 

Read more >>>

By ROB CANNING, WKMS-FM , Murray State University

Paducah’s State Representative Gerald Watkins says although Republicans succeeded in passing right-to-work legislation in the Senate yesterday, it won’t gain much traction in the House.

The legislation allows employees to work for union-negotiated businesses without having to join or pay union dues. Twenty-four states, including Tennessee, have Right-to-Work laws. 

Watkins, a Democrat, says the bill didn’t come up for discussion today, but predicts that it won’t get very far in the Democratically-controlled House.

 

Read more >>>

EDITOR’S NOTE: Scotty Pulliam, who lives in Taylorsville, had submitted this post to the Bowling Green Daily News as a letter to the editor. Editorial Page Editor Steve Gaines declined to print it, telling Pulliam in an email, “Scott, I do apologize but we don't print letters from outside our coverage area.” In another email to Pulliam, Gaines said, “The UAW president in our town has already had a column published in our paper on this topic. So the UAW has had there [sic] voice heard in our paper.” Said Pulliam, author of the "Falls City Views" column on this website,  “I really think it's kind of funny they don't accept letters from outside their coverage area but apparently the fiscal court is taking its orders from a right wing PAC based in Florida. I am unfamiliar with this newspaper… Could it possibly be a right wing paper?” The Daily News endorsed Warren County’s right to work ordinance (Bowling Green is the Warren County seat) and regularly features “Bluegrass Beacon,” a column written by Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Institute, one of the conservative groups pushing the local right to work ordinances. 

By SCOTTY PULLIAM

The Courier-Journal, Business News December 29: "Study by Chamber of Commerce details Kentucky job surge”. Lexington Herald-Leader, January 5 editorial: "Kentucky counties pawns in big political games".

Both of these articles spell out in great detail the results of a report from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce that clearly shows there is absolutely no rationale for adoption of so-called "right to work" legislation anywhere in the commonwealth; especially in the Bowling Green/Warren County area!

Proponents of such laws, of which the C of C is a big one, fraudulently claim that companies won't locate or expand in Kentucky because no such statute exists here. The report, prepared by the chamber's own hand-picked economist and backed by Department of Labor data, demonstrates there is no evidence to support the claim. In fact, Kentucky has easily outperformed those RTW states just across the borders, most notably in the sector that would be most-affected by such a law, manufacturing.

 

Read more >>>

By SPENCER WOODMAN, VICE

In an email sent to county executives across Kentucky, Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon responded to what he called an "unexpectedly overwhelming" number of requests for copies of the ordinance from other Kentucky counties apparently interested in implementing their own right-to-work laws. In all, more than 20 Kentucky counties are listed in Buchanon's email, one of which has already made headlines by moving ahead publicly with its own right-to-work law.

Although most of the counties listed have so far been relatively quiet about whether they plan to go ahead with their own legislation, the Lexington Herald-Ledger [Leader] reported Monday that three additional counties not named in the email are also pushing for their own right-to-work laws.

In the email, Buchanon said that he could not keep track of requests due to the inundation of inquiries about the law, and instructed anyone who mistakenly appeared on the list to "feel free to delete." The email, which appears to have been sent from a non-official email account, was obtained through a records request to Kentucky's Simpson County.

       

Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG, AFT Local 1360

Are these county right to work ordinances more of a ploy to pressure the Democratic House into joining the Republican Senate in passing a state right to work law?

“I’ve been told that is part of their strategy,” said State Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah. “But that is not going to be an effective strategy."

Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, says the House won’t cave on right to work.   

 

 

Read more >>>

By SEBASTIAN KITCHEN, The Louisville Courier-Journal

Mayor Greg Fischer signed the ordinance increasing the mininum wage to $9 an hour in Jefferson County on Friday.

The law increases the wage to $7.75 by July 1, to $8.25 by July 2016 and $9 by July 2017, and ties future increases to the Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index for urban cities in the region. The increase applies to those currently receiving the federal minimum of $7.25 and to tipped workers who receive less.

Fischer agreed to the $9 level after expressing concerns about job loss with an increase to $10.10 an hour, the original proposal by Metro Council Democrats. He said he was concerned about job loss and about businesses in Jefferson County being able to compete with businesses elsewhere that do not have the same wage requirements.

 

Read more >>>

By JAMES MCNAIR , WFPL

Declines in state appropriations and negative financial trends have made American universities rely more on alumni and wealthy benefactors for cash donations. So as the University of Louisville tries to rebound from three straight years of financial deficits and slumping net worth, a proposed $6 million infusion from the Charles Koch Foundation and Papa John’s International CEO John Schnatter would appear to be a very welcome gift.

A university spokesman wouldn’t talk about the gift, but the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has learned that Koch would give $1.5 million, Schnatter $4.5 million. The three parties are said to be negotiating, with Schnatter deferring to Koch on contract terms. Neither the Koch Foundation nor Schnatter would comment on the gift.

But the university’s own record-keepers, in turning down a request for copies of draft contracts, e-mails and other documents, confirmed that a deal is in the works.

 

Read more >>>

By ZACH CARTER, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Progressive unrest over free trade policies is shaping up to be a major issue in the contest for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, if a strongly worded letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to the top Obama administration trade official is any sign.

Sanders has been considering a presidential run for months. Like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another progressive favorite often mentioned as a potential 2016 contender, Sanders has been critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major U.S. pact being negotiated with 11 Pacific nations, which Sanders says will exacerbate income inequality and erode important regulations.

The letter Sanders sent on Monday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman criticizes secrecy standards that Froman's office imposes on the TPP talks.

 

 

Read more >>>

 

 

By SCOTTY PULLIAM 

Dear   (your title and name) ,

There was an article that appeared in the December 30, 2014, Courier-Journal that you  really should read. It is reprinted below exactly as it appeared in the newspaper. The reason I ask you to read it is simple; it totally destroys the primary claim that the Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Republican Party, the National Right to Work Foundation and a number of other right wing political organizations have repeatedly tried to sell you to support enactment of so-called “right to work” (RTW) legislation in Kentucky.

The first two sentences by themselves should be enough to put this issue to rest but the article needs to be read in its entirety to fully appreciate what it accomplishes. Not only does it disprove the argument that businesses won't consider locating or expanding in the Commonwealth because there is no RTW law; it also shows very clearly that manufacturing jobs, those that would seemingly be most affected by such a law, have increased dramatically. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the story is that it is based on a report by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, one of the biggest proponents of the proposed legislation!

 

Read more >>>

Lexington Herald-Leader editorial, Jan. 5

While Louisville became the first city in the South to increase its minimum wage last month, Bowling Green was picking a showcase fight with organized labor.

Warren County, whose seat of government is Bowling Green, became the nation's first local government to enact a so-called right-to-work law.

Neighboring Simpson County and Fulton County on Kentucky's western edge quickly followed suit. Hardin, Todd and Cumberland counties are in the process of enacting right-to-work ordinances.

 

Read more >>>

Share of Households Earning Middle-Class Income

Income inequality became a hot topic of economic conversation in 2014, and publications like The Atlantic have taken notice. In 17 Things We Learned About the Economy in 2014, the authors explore the growth of low-income jobs, stagnant wages for families and shrinking wages for younger workers, the racial and gender wage gap, taxes and the dwindling middle class.

Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG 
AFT Local 1360

Proponents of local right to work ordinances claim polls show most Kentuckians are pro-right to work.

It may be an old cliché, but the only poll that counts is the one on election day. 

Last November 4, right to work lost.

 

Read more >>>

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is based on an email Henderson sent to Bubba Nelms, one of the Fulton County magistrates who voted for the county’s right to work ordinance.     

By KYLE HENDERSON, business manager, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184

Judge-Executive David Gallagher said we needed to be careful with stats. Then he said that 70 percent of developers counted you out if you are not RTW.  This is absolutely absurd.  There is no evidence that supports that statistic.  States with RTW have many other tools in their tool box that are more attractive to potential developers.  Tax codes, a skilled workforce, economical power rates, incentives, and population have much more to do with economic development than RTW does. 

If Tennessee is the boom state as all the RTW supporters in the room stated, then I must ask why their unemployment rate is higher than Kentucky’s.  Mr. Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Institute also quoted a stat about a poll he said showed an 80 percent approval of RTW.  But the approval rating in a poll published in The Paducah Sun had a 55 percent approval rating.

I would also like to point out that when the Republicans made an attempt to take control of the Kentucky House of Representatives in last fall’s election, they made RTW their main focus. That attempt failed miserably. 

 

Read more >>>

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kyle Henderson, business manager of Paducah Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184, alerted us to this article on the website of the National Right to Work Committee, one of the most anti-union groups in the country.  

Kentucky Court: State ‘Political Subdivisions’ Have ‘No Power’ to Bar Forced Union Dues

By Stan Greer On 12/23/2014 2 comments

Since Right to Work supporters made major gains in Congress and state legislatures in this fall’s elections, state elected officials in West Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Montana, Missouri, Delaware, Maine, and other states have responded by promising, or at least suggesting, that they will bring up measures prohibiting forced union dues and fees in their capital cities next year.

One other way elected officials have reacted to intensifying public support for the Right to Work is to try to address the evils of compulsory unionism at the local level.

Since the middle of this month, three Kentucky counties (Warren, Simpson and Fulton) have moved towards adoption of local Right to Work ordinances. And on December 19 one of these counties, Warren, gave final approval to a Right to Work measure in a bi-partisan vote.  (See the link below for more information.)

National Right to Work leaders and members commend local Kentucky officials in the three counties for standing up to United Auto Workers (UAW) and other union bosses who have viciously attacked them.

 

Read more >>>

By DEVIN GRIGGS, UFCW Local 1546

They say that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. This may be a tired and worn out cliché, but it’s one that workers in the United States need to take heed of, because unless we get serious about looking backwards and learning from our forebears, we’re going to end up re-living their struggles in the here and now. One struggle in particular that we should certainly read up on is that of the Haymarket affair of 1886.

The Haymarket affair, as it has been so-called by historians, is astounding in that the issues contained within it are as relevant as ever to the labor movement today as they were then. Police brutality, racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, fighting for union organization, and the growth of the surveillance state were all issues that were just as relevant in 1886 as they are today, no matter how often it is claimed that these issues are new developments. The affair itself took place amidst the struggle for the 8 hour day, that great reform that has today been lost to so many workers, who now toil away for 10 or 12 hours at two jobs because the 1% who becomes rich off of their labor refuses to provide workers with enough hours to make ends meet at one job, forcing longer hours with no overtime pay on a substantive portion of the working class.

Workers in Chicago and all over the country engaged in a rolling wave of strikes in order to force employers to grant them the eight hour day. A few even went as far as to demand an “eight hour day for ten hours’ pay,” a demand that struck fear into the hearts of the greedy 1 percenters of 1886, who were aghast at the thought of having to provide living wages to their employees, much like the Waltons and the fast food bosses of our own day.

 

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EDITOR:

Kentucky's manufacturing, service, and technology sectors have announced projects in 2014 that expect to create 15,000 new jobs. The state's jobless rate has fallen below 6 percent. If Fulton County has a jobless rate of 20 percent, it has nothing to do with RTW. I believe that the Fulton County fiscal court has some soul searching to do if they want to actually find the true reasons they're not recruiting new good jobs. I believe that over time they'll realize that this was a desperate attempt that will prove fruitless, and will put Fulton County even farther behind while the rest of the state continues to prosper.

Andy Whitlock 
USW Local 680 treasurer

Read more >>>

 By SCOTTY PULLIAM

All good things must come to an end. That's a given. Unfortunately, not all bad things come to an end. For instance, the United States is still engaged in a war in Afghanistan, more than 13 years after it began. Just as we were ready to believe American involvement in Iraq was a thing of the past, we find our government  placing young American lives back in harm's way to squelch an Islamic genocide that is largely the result of right wing American foreign policy (as in, you break it, you bought it) practically 12 years ago.

Good or bad, we can all be certain that come midnight on December 31st, 2014 will end and 2015 will begin. At that precise moment we will usher in a new year and in so doing, it is my hope that we will usher in a re-awakening of the American civil rights movement. There are many who feel that the civil rights movement ended when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. Others believe it culminated in the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008. Recent events tell us otherwise.

A bullet, or a hail of bullets directed at an individual, can't end a dream. The elevation of a black man to the nation's highest office can't erase the pain of over 200 years of being relegated to second class citizenship nor can it negate the effects of a justice system that renders verdicts based on skin color and/or ethnicity. The disparate killings by police officers of Michael Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner are firmly entrenched in the public consciousness but public sentiment regarding who is responsible is, at least, divided. And while the circumstances surrounding each of these incidents are different, the results are the same.

 

Read more >>>

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a copy of a letter Jeff Wiggins, president of USW Local 9447 and president of the Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council submitted to the Dec. 29 meeting of the Fulton County Fiscal Court. It could apply to any fiscal court considering a right to work ordinance.             

Dear Members of the Fulton County Fiscal Court:

We hope you will reject on second reading the proposed right to work ordinance for Fulton County. Or, we hope you will at least table a vote in light of the attorney general’s opinion that such local right to work ordinances are unconstitutional. These ordinances will be challenged in court.

Odds are, they will be overturned, despite the opinion of the Warren County attorney. Think about it. Whose opinion has more legal weight—a county  attorney or the state attorney general, who is, outside of the judiciary, the top legal authority in the state?  By the way, this isn’t a Republican versus Democrat issue. The county attorney and the attorney general are Democrats.

Please take a few minutes to read my letter. In it, you find ample proof that you have been misled by organizations outside Kentucky whose sole aim is to destroy labor unions – which, as you know, help build the middle class in Fulton County  and elsewhere in the country.

 

Read more >>>

 By BERRY CRAIG, AFT Local 1360

Congress House is more than the London headquarters of the Trades Union Congress.

The seven-story building is also “a fitting memorial to the heroism and gallantry of trade unionists in the Second World War [that was] erected in the name of the British Trade Union Movement,” according to TUC booklet titled Congress House: A Short History of the British trade union movement.

The Trades Union Congress – TUC for short – calls itself “the voice of Britain at work.”

 

Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG, AFT Local 1360

The Todd County Fiscal Court has approved a local right to work ordinance on first reading, but County Attorney Harold Mac Johns doubts the measure will survive a court challenge.

“I think the state has pre-empted that” (locally enacted right to work ordinances), he told Hopkinsville radio WHOP. “It’s my hope that the county is not forced to expend any general fund resources to defend this.”

Johns also believes the right to work ordinance is more of a political statement, according to the radio station.

 

 

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By JOE BRENNAN, director, Kentucky Labor Institute

The Warren County Fiscal Court recently approved a county "right to work" ordinance. Such action immediately received the support of the county's "leading" citizen - Senator Rand Paul. Notice of such moves were recently projected in a Courier-Journal op ed article written by Scott Jennings, local celebrity and avid coworker with major Republican candidates: George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, and a former member of Karl Rove's political enterprises. The op. ed. stated that according to Kentucky Law actions, termed "home rule" would permit the enactment of "right to work" provisions on local county levels.

Under the assumption of the "regulation of commerce for the protection and convenience of the public," such local regulatory ordinances would be within the powers of county officials to exercise their rights to "home rule.” At first glance these procedures appear to be "States Rights" enacted on the local level. If constitutional, what would be the extent of such "home rule?” Would it be the reintroduction of local voter rights regulations, the rebirth of Jim Crow? Only time will tell.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG, AFT-Local 1360

These legally dubious local right to work ordinances – pushed by Republicans and supported by some Democrats -- remind me of a speech AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made to the National Press Club in 2011.

After lambasting the GOP for smashing workers’ rights with a “wrecking ball,” Trumka put both parties on notice: “It doesn't matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside -- the outcome is the same either way. If leaders aren't blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families' interests, working people will not support them.”

These pro-right to work Democratic county elected officials are not just sidewalk superintendents. They’re up in the crane cab helping the Republicans aim the wrecking ball at Bluegrass State unions.

 

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By DAVE JOHNSON, Campaign for America’s future

As soon as the new Congress is sworn in next year, the fight over Fast Track will begin. Start preparing now.

David Cay Johnston, explains in “Full Speed Ahead On Secretive Trade Deal”: (Note the ‘t’ in his last name. I am David C JohnSON.)

 

Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Most Democrats weren’t always in labor’s corner.
   In the 1880s, both parties were mainly conservative and anti-union. As a result, some workers, including some in Kentucky, joined the brand new Union Labor Party.
   All but forgotten, the ULP was a national organization started in Cincinnati in 1887.  Read more >>>

By DEVIN GRIGGS

No issue has had as big an impact on the fortunes of organized labor in the United States as has racism. From the days of the first workers’ movements in this country, the 1 percenters (be they the slaveholders of the old South, the robber barons of the Gilded Age, our own Waltons, Gateses, or Kochs) have used racism as a means to divide and defeat workers.

It is thus critical that organized labor make the right decision and take the right path in the wake of the new mass movement that has come to the fore concerning police brutality and racist policing. Young people, minorities, and community activists are on the march across the country, seeking justice for the Mike Browns and Eric Garners of this country. Labor must extend its hand and join with those fighting for justice today or face irrelevancy tomorrow.

I have argued with a number of union brothers and sisters on this issue, many of whom are quick to stand up for the police in those situations mentioned. They argue that the police involved were in the right, and throw around terms like ‘thug’ to describe those victims of police brutality. They do so without realizing that they are engaging in the sort of divide and defeat rhetoric used by the bosses undermine our position in the workplace and in our communities. Because that’s exactly what is going on here, make no mistake about it: the 1 percent and the media that they own and control are using this episode as a way to divide workers along racial lines, to engender a kind of racial solidarity between the white worker and the white policeman, rather than allow class solidarity between white workers and workers of color to develop in response to racist police violence.

 

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By SCOTTY PULLIAM

“Republicans failed to capture control of Kentucky's state House of Representatives in November's election...”. So began columnist Scott Jennings' latest attack on labor unions in last Wednesday's Courier-Journal entitled "Right to work movement changing battlefields." It is one of the very few totally factual statements in the entire article.

He states, “Since 1990, most of the states showing the fastest household income growth are right-to-work.” Yet, he offers no proof; just a hackneyed right wing talking point. Here's something you can actually check out for yourself. According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in Kentucky for the one-year period from 2012 to 2013, increased by 2.53 percent. In Indiana, where right to work became law in February of 2012, it decreased by 0.27 percent during the same period.

He goes on to say, “Companies looking to open a new facility often will not consider states that aren't right-to-work...”. Not even close to true. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released last January, Kentucky led the nation in new businesses created. That's numero uno out of 50. Oh, he also failed to mention that Site Selection Magazine ranked Kentucky 10th in the nation for new and expanded industry in 2012 and in the top 15 for five consecutive years. In 2013, this monthly publication ranked Kentucky 4th in the nation for projects per capita! Those are pretty amazing statistics for a state where companies won't consider locating; or it would be amazing if it was true. It's not!

 

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 Brothers and Sisters: The arrangements for Brother Steve Gahafer’s father are as follows:

Visitation: TODAY, Monday, December 22nd – 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. (EST) – Owen Funeral Home, 9318 Taylorsville Road, Louisville, KY 40299.

Funeral: Tuesday, December 23rd at 10:00 a.m. at the funeral home.

  Read more >>>

By BILL LONDRIGAN, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president, special to the Louisville Courier-Journal

In his Dec. 9 column entitled, "Kentucky's right-to-work movement changing battlefields," George W. Bush appointee and Karl Rove protégé Scott Jennings repeats the fabricated arguments and distortions that right-to-work proponents have been spouting for decades and appears to have positioned himself as a field marshal in the war on workers with his revelation and trumpeting of the right-wing's newest "battlefield"— local governments.

The term "right to work" is purposely misleading and designed to mask the true intent of such laws, which are to undermine the effectiveness, credibility, finances, image and solidarity of labor unions in order to diminish workers' bargaining power and keep wages unsustainably low, while corporate profits and CEO salaries reach historic highs.


 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Here’s a right to work quiz. Name the sources of the following quotations:
   1. “In the grand scheme of things in Western Kentucky, right to work is low in significance in hindering job creation.”
   2. “…RTW laws were found to have no statistically significant impact in explaining Kentucky’s lagging economic growth rate.” Read more >>>

By TOM EBLEN, Lexington Herald-Leader

Many politicians and business executives like to complain about the slowness and fragility of the economic recovery. Then they push policies to keep it that way — or make it worse.

What they don't seem to understand is that the best way to improve the economy is to put more money in the pockets of average people who will spend it.

Instead, these politicians and executives oppose raising the minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009 and losing ground to inflation for decades. A low minimum wage keeps wages just above it depressed, too.

 

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By BILL LONDRIGAN, Kentucky State AFL- CIO president

 Brothers and Sisters: I certainly regret having to convey bad news this Christmas season. We have several members of our Union Family that need your thoughts, well-wishes and prayers. With His grace and blessing comfort will come to Brother Steve Gafaher who lost his beloved father and divine healing will come to our dear Sister Augusta Thomas and Brother Bill Clark.

I was informed today that retired USW Local 367 President and current President of the labor-sponsored Arthur Kling Senior Center, Brother Steve Gahafer, suffered the loss of his father. Arrangements will be provided when they become available. Please keep Steve and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Bricklayers’ Local 4, Business Representative Brother Bill Clark is currently in the intensive care unit of Norton Audubon Hospital on Poplar Level Road in Louisville. Bill suffered a severe brain injury and is fighting to recover. I visited Bill yesterday and spoke with his mother who asked for our prayers and told me that he is has always been a fighter – something I already knew from over twenty-five years of friendship.

 

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Laborers' Local 576, LIUNA, is asking people to call Louisville's Mayor Greg Fischer.

Metropolitan Sewer District vice chairman Tom Austin referred to union members at MSD as "animals." Courier-Journal 12/18/14:

http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2014/12/18/union-calls-tom-austin-resignation-msd-board/20588313/
 

 

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By JOHN HENNEN, Kentucky Labor Institute

The food service workers at Aramark, which contracts for food services at Morehead State University, will be voting on Jan. 21 for representation by 32BJ SEIU. Over 70 of the 105 full time workers signed cards and the organizing committee is now gearing up for the next month of meetings, strategy sessions, outreach, rallies, and all the hard work that goes into an election campaign.

As you are not surprised to hear, Aramark has already brought in a consultant for the union busting blitz. All employees have received letters and flyers with the usual half-truths and outright lies common to the corporate assault against workers' daring to speak up for themselves.

The company campaign has had some effect and many workers who signed cards are now scared. The organizing committee is putting together an impressive rapid response and educational structure for the campaign. If they win at Morehead State, this could set off a wave of food service organizing in the city and throughout Eastern Kentucky.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The opinion with footnotes may be viewed on the attorney general's office website

OAG 14-007

December 18, 2014

Subject: Whether a local government may enact a right-to-work ordinance

Requested by: Sen. Robert Stivers
Rep. Jeffery M. Donohue

Written by: Matt James

Syllabus: A local government may not enact a right-to-work ordinance.

Statutes construed: 29 U.S.C. § 164

Opinion of the Attorney General
Sen. Robert Stivers and Rep. Jeffery M. Donohue have separately requested this office issue an opinion regarding whether a local government may enact a “right-to-work” ordinance. We advise that a local government may not enact a right-to-work ordinance.

A right-to-work law forbids “employers from contracting or agreeing to exclude persons from employment because they are or are not members of a labor union.” 51 C.J.S. Labor Relations § 361. Right-to-work laws “outlaw ‘union shops' and ‘agency shops.’” Kentucky State AFL-CIO v. Puckett, 391 S.W.2d 360, 361 (Ky. 1965). Sen. Stivers inquires as to whether a county or consolidated local government may enact a right-to-work ordinance. Rep. Donohue inquires as to the validity of a right-to-work ordinance that has been passed by the Warren County Fiscal Court and scheduled for a final reading on Dec. 19. At issue is whether local governments may enact such right-to-work ordinances.

 

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By LISA AUTRY, WKU Public Radio

Against the advice of Kentucky’s attorney general, Warren County Fiscal Court has passed a local right-to-work law, becoming the first county in the nation to do so.

In a 5-1 vote Friday morning, magistrates gave final approval to a measure that would allow private sector workers to choose whether to join a union and pay dues. The courtroom was packed with union members from all over the state. An overflow crowd stood outside the chambers, many of them holding signs and wearing union garb.

"Right-to-work is right-to-work for less," said Alton Haycraft with the Carpenters Local 175 in Louisville. "It's a right to lose your job and be fired for no reason." Every right-to-work state last year reported a billion dollars or more in lost income taxes due to falling wages."

 

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By STEVE BITTENBENDER

(Reuters) - Louisville, Kentucky officials on Thursday approved an increase to the city's minimum wage, boosting it from the federal rate of $7.25 to $9 an hour by 2017, becoming the 12th city to approve a hike this year.

The increase, which came after a series of contentious debates in the weeks leading up to and even during Thursday's Louisville Metro Council meeting, came down to a party-line vote. All 16 Democrats in attendance supported the measure, while all nine Republicans voted against it.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer had said earlier he would veto the council's original proposal, which would have raised pay to $10.10 an hour over a three-year period. However, Fischer said in a statement released after the vote he was pleased with the amended ordinance.

 

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By LISA AUTRY, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is expected to issue a ruling soon on whether counties can legally pass right-to-work laws. For now, the answer depends on who you ask.

Professor Ariana Levinson teaches labor and employment law at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. She believes local ordinances aren’t allowed under the National Labor Relations Act.

"It has an exemption in the act that allows states to pass right-to-work laws, but that exemption is strictly limited to states," Levinson told WKU Public Radio. "It does not permit local sub-divisions like cities, counties, and municipalities to pass right-to-work laws."

 

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On right to work laws:

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. It is supported by Southern segregationists who are trying to keep us from achieving our civil rights and our right of equal job opportunity. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone...Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote."
--Speaking in 1961

 

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By CHRIS ORMES, president USW Local 1241

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Waters is president of the Bowling Green-based Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, which is among the groups pushing right to work in the state. 

Mr. Waters gave himself away when he called union leaders “labor fat cats.” Everybody in a union – from a shop steward to an international president -- is elected by the membership. Members vote on everything of importance such as contracts, dues rates, how to spend dues, training, mid contract changes, salary of officers/stewards, and more.

In short, unions are among the most democratic institutions in the country.

-- Mr. Waters says “no one coerces me into buying a house, car, boat or membership.” Well, in this country no one is coerced into working where he or she doesn't want to work. This is not North Korea. So, if you don't want to work at a business with a union security agreement, then by all means go work in a non-union business.

 

 

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From PROGRESS MISSOURI

As we reported yesterday, pre-filing began for the 2015 legislative session and was dominated by ALEC-inspired attacks on workers and voting rights. Representative Bill Lant was at the forefront, filing two versions of the so-called "right to work" bill that were word for word matches for ALEC's model bill. Today, Lant admitted to Missouri Digital News that if ALEC's proposal is passed, that wages may drop by "2 to 3 dollars an hour."

Lant isn't the only ALEC champion who has candidly admitted the proposal would cut wages for Missouri workers. Last session, State Senator Ed Emery said "one of the things that will be advocated by the unions is look at all these right to work states, average wages all go down. Sure they go down." Representative Bill Burlison also admitted that Missourians would earn less if ALEC's corporate backers got their way and passed so-called "right to work" in Missouri.

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By  BILL LONDRIGAN, president, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

It’s almost the holidays, so I hate that I’m sending this email to you. But this is important. It seems those who want to turn back the clock on Kentucky’s workers will not let the season get in the way of their attacks. That’s why I am asking you to act now!

Right now, in Bowling Green, politicians are working together with out-of-state CEOs and anti-worker groups funded by billionaires to pass an illegal “right to work” ordinance that will hurt working families across Warren County. They want nothing more than to pass this ordinance, so they can weaken the power of truck drivers, auto workers and other workers to keep their workplaces safe, fight for better pay and stop more jobs from being shipped overseas.

But we can stop it. The Warren County Fiscal Court, which is considering this measure, will hold a final vote on this ordinance tomorrow.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an op-ed column that appeared in the Bowling Green Daily News on Dec. 18.

By ELDON REYNAUD, president UAW Local 2164

In November, Kentuckians sent their elected officials a clear message. They voted against deceptive “right-to-work” policies. Kentuckians believe adopting the failed policies of other states such as Alabama would harm economic development in the state.

The lobbyists and outside interests failed to take note of the vote and are now trying to push these bad policies at the local level in Warren and other counties.
We cannot allow them to circumvent the popular will of Kentuckians.

Because of Kentucky’s history of strong labor and management relationships, Kentucky leads the nation in economic development. Kentucky leads the nation in new business creation, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With 6,686 new businesses opening in the second quarter of 2013, entucky registered a 6.05 percent jump from the previous year – best in the country. We cannot afford to jeopardize our successes with policies that lower wages and kill jobs.
 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Jim Key, vice president-at-large  of USW Local 550 in Paducah, for sending us this.

In November, Kentuckians rejected many candidates who were bankrolled by out-of-state special interests pushing anti-worker laws like the misleading “right to work.” These unfair and divisive laws force unions to spend critical resources bargaining for and representing those who don’t pay their fair share. It’s bad policy that hurts our ability to secure family-supportive wages and benefits.
States with these laws have lower wages and higher poverty. Even the likelihood of being killed on the job is higher. We don’t need this in Kentucky.

Now, the same interests who pushed these laws at the state level are shifting their focus to Kentucky’s counties.

Within the past week and a half, three Kentucky County Fiscal Courts have taken action on ordinances that would make those counties right to work. More are likely to come.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Baseball fans call the winter offseason “the Hot Stove League.”  
   There’s never an offseason in Kentucky politics. As soon as one campaign ends, another begins.
   Sometimes, there’s even overlap. Before Kentuckians went to the polls on Nov. 4, the buzz about the 2015 governor’s race had begun. 
   Never mind that the filing deadline is Jan. 27. Forget that the primary is May 20 and the general election is Nov. 3.
   Anyway, like this year’s state House races, the governor’s race is especially critical for unions. If a Republican wins, odds are Kentucky will be another step closer to a right to work law. Read more >>>

By KENNETH QUINNELL, AFL-CIO NOW

EDITOR'S NOTE: The fiscal court is scheduled to meet tomorrow at 9 a.m. local time to take up final passage of the ordinance. 

In Warren County, Ky., a fiscal court has given preliminary approval to a local "right to work" for less ordinance. The measure is worded as to prevent any worker covered by the National Labor Relations Act from being required to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. Since it is already illegal in the United States to require workers to join unions, the real focus of the measure is to weaken workers in negotiations with employers for decent wages and benefits. Instead of passing illegal ordinances that are a big waste of time and resources for the county, those efforts should be spent in other ways like focusing on raising wages for Warren County residents.

If you're in Kentucky, call the fiscal court today and tell them you oppose the right to work ordinance: 1-855-721-3304.

Here are seven specific ways that this measure would hurt workers in Warren County, most of which would apply to workers in other Kentucky locales (and elsewhere) if the process were repeated elsewhere:

 

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By SEBASTIAN KITCHEN, Louisville Courier-Journal

One sponsor of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in Jefferson County is willing to give Mayor Greg Fischer an opportunity to follow through on his threat of vetoing an increase of that size.

"Let him turn down 61,000 people," said Democrat David James, a sponsor who said he was very disappointed in Fischer's response. "This is an opportunity to inject $90 million in new money into the economy of our city, which produces better jobs with better pay. I don't really see a down side to that."

Metro Council Democrats disagree on how to proceed this week after Fischer announced on Monday he prefers an increase to $8.50 or $8.75 an hour and would veto an increase to $10.10 because of concerns over job loss. Fischer announced his position soon after a council committee approved an increase to $10.10 over three years and sent the proposal to the full council for consideration on Thursday.

 

 

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By JOE SONKA, Insider Louisville  

The board of the Metropolitan Sewer District rejected the final contract offer of its 150 union workers represented by LIUNA Local 576 on Monday, and then followed by stripping their recognition of LIUNA as a collective bargaining unit.

LIUNA representatives were optimistic prior to Monday’s MSD meeting that they had found a compromise to resolve the heated contract dispute that has dragged on for over two years. While the MSD board had stood firmly against LIUNA’s preference for an arbitration process that requires a supermajority of the board to overturn an arbitrator’s ruling on grievances — saying this was illegal under state law — LIUNA’s newest contract offer said that if Attorney General Jack Conway deemed this arrangement to be illegal, it would only require a simple majority.

However, after two and a half hours of deliberation in closed executive session, the MSD board did not approve the contract, believing the legal opinion of their in-house and outside counsel who said such an arbitration process is contrary to state law.

MSD executive director Greg Heitzman told Insider Louisville that LIUNA’s compromise offer was supported by Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration — who appointed both himself and the MSD board members — but he agreed with the board’s decision to reject it.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   William Goebel went down in history as the country’s only governor assassinated   while in office.
   Who shot him in Frankfort on Jan. 30, 1900, is one of Kentucky’s greatest mysteries.
   But Goebel, who died four days later, should be remembered more for his life than for his controversial death, according to Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president.
    Read more >>>

By DEVIN GRIGGS
   It’s hard to deny that the past six years have been rough for the American worker.
   The greatest economic catastrophe since the 1930s struck out of nowhere in 2008, compounding the negative effects of nearly four decades of economic decline and wage stagnation. Millions were tossed out of their homes and onto the streets as Washington moved to bailout the banksters that caused this mess in the first place.
   At the same time, millions turned to an incoming administration to fix the mess that had been wrought. Young people, minorities, women, and all those who had felt the brunt of the right-wing turn in American politics since the 1970s, rallied at the polls in big numbers to reject the kind of big business politics that had brought the nation to the brink. Read more >>>

By ADAM WEINSTEIN, Saintpetersblog

With the loss of Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana’s run-off election last weekend, Southern Democrats have just about gone extinct. For the first time since Reconstruction, no state in the Deep South has a Democrat in the Senate or the governor’s office.

As a Southern liberal, I say: Good. America will be better off without them in the long run.

But every time Democrats hemorrhage numbers in the South — a trend that’s gone on steadily since the Newt revolution of 1994 — we’re treated to the same hand-wringing pageant, in which the Southern center-left’s last political fossils emerge to plead their relevance and bring us ill portents of their demise.

 

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   The country's trade deficit with China has cost the Bluegrass State 41,000 jobs, according to a recently-released Economic Policy Institute study.
   Every state has suffered job losses from the trade imbalance. Kentucky ranks 17th in lost jobs, the study says.
   “This report leaves no doubt, if there ever was any, that the nation's staggering trade deficit with China continues to be the single biggest impediment to a true jobs recovery, especially in regions with heavy concentrations of high-tech manufacturing," said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, in the release. Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Thirty-eight percent of households with at least one union member voted Republican in the congressional elections, according to a CNN poll.
  The survey also showed that 60 percent of union households voted for Democrats and two percent voted for “other” candidates.
   There are at least two ways to crunch the numbers. If you’re the kind of person who sees the glass half full you might think, “If the whole country voted like union households did, Mitch McConnell would still be senate minority leader and Nancy Pelosi would be back in the speaker’s chair.” Read more >>>

By ZACH CARTER and SABRINA SIDDIQUI, The Huffington Post

See the article with links at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/03/mitch-mcconnell-tpp-tea-party_n_6182126.html.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been dreaming about cutting major deals as Senate majority leader for most of his career. Next year, he'll finally get the chance to do it with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the most ambitious free trade agreement since the Clinton era. The only thing standing in his way is his own political party.

President Barack Obama's administration has been negotiating the TPP since the beginning of his presidency. Twelve nations are now involved in the talks, which have major implications for the U.S. economy, public health and foreign policy. But Obama has faced two domestic obstacles to enacting his pact: Democrats in Congress, who worry it will exacerbate income inequality, and a bloc of House Republicans, who are up in arms about the deal's implications for executive power and national sovereignty.

The administration conducts the talks in secret, so the public only knows about terms of the deal through leaked documents. But opposition from conservative hardliners has intensified since GOP gains in the midterm elections, even as McConnell has pledged to cut a deal with Obama on TPP as one of his first orders of business next year.

 

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Hargus Haywood had no idea where he was going when he got orders to move out from Mourmelon, France, on Dec. 18, 1944.
   “They loaded us into open trailer trucks and drove us all night,” said Haywood, a medic in the storied 101st Airborne Division. Enroute, rain turned to snow.
   “It was almost daylight when we reached this town. I still didn’t know where we were, but we started receiving a lot of artillery fire. The next day, the Germans surrounded us.”
    Read more >>>

By JOE BRENNAN, director Kentucky Labor Institute

Millions were spent, and the finally tally lasted all but three minutes. What had happened? It wasn't just Kentucky, it was something that resounded throughout the entire nation. Is America simply becoming more conservative? Will Paul Ryan and Rand Paul become the key figures of the new politics? Will the machinations of wealthy investors from both political parties really control the commitments of the country? We have one right wing faction on the Republican side called Tea Partiers, do we need a similar party faction for the Democratic side? What does it tells us when right wing governors who have directly attacked progressive platforms win their contests despite their most recent histories?

Difficult questions? Yes. Clear answers? No. Kentucky did retain the Democrat's 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Rand Paul says his hat is in the ring for 2016 – for another senate term.
   But Kentucky’s junior senator didn’t rule out a presidential bid.
   Team Rand still hopes their guy can run for the senate and for president at the same time. Yet still on the books – and likely to stay there – is that Kentucky law that says he can’t do that. Read more >>>

By SAMANTHA LACHMAN, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- A Republican state legislator in Wisconsin said Tuesday that he planned to introduce a right-to-work bill. The legislation could be the next episode in the state's ongoing struggle over union worker rights, which triggered massive protests against Gov. Scott Walker (R) three years ago.

State Rep. Chris Kapenga told The Associated Press that he hadn't yet set a date for when he would bring the bill forward in the legislature, but said he believed right-to-work legislation would help the state's economic growth.

Right-to-work laws forbid companies and unions from making contracts that require all workers to pay the union for bargaining on their behalf. Unions are opposed to such laws because they allow workers to benefit from collective bargaining without contributing to it. Many workers inevitably opt out of funding their unions when right-to-work is in place, reducing the power of organized labor.

 

 

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By JOE BRENNAN, Kentucky Labor  Institute director

The Supreme Court decision on the personhood of corporations has left me in a quandary.

How does this happen? Is it a legal construct, a structural formation, an interpersonal dynamic, just what is it? Can I sue it, divorce it, or merge with it? What if a corporation changes its functioning from a for-profit to a non-profit, does its personality change with its personhood? Does equal partners merging result in dual personhoods or in some apparently incestuous relationship? Does the restructuring of the corporation into subdivisions or subsidiary corporations thereby create mini-persons? What do persons do, what do we expect from someone or thing that is a person?

Some persons are concerned that other persons around them be properly fed. No one should go hungry, but should they expect the government to do this, after all, it is not a person? Some persons are concerned about the health and safety of others, but here too there are other corporate persons (insurance companies) who will offer them this service - for a fee. Those retired elderly persons and those who have some kind of disability, should they too benefit primarily from persons - those in their family, churches, or neighbors? Actually some say there are many such persons in the community ready and able to help, without troubling corporate/persons or the government. Again there are schools, where individuals and groups of persons can all work together to educate children and adults. Certainly a corporate/person should not have any role it this, unless they too are corporate/persons who specialize in teaching students. Finally, there are the difficult areas of military and civil defense, roads, bridges, and highways, they too might be handled by individual persons, but some fell that big person/corporations can always to do this best, or can they?

 

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"Never before have so few with so much promised to take away so much from so many and then laugh their asses off as the so many with so little vote for the so few with so much." -- Jim Pence, http://www.hillbillyreport.org/.

By IAN REIFOWITZ, Daily Kos

First, some data. In the recent midterm elections, a study by the Public Religion Research Institute found that white working-class voters—defined as those lacking a college degree, and whose jobs paid an hourly wage—voted for the Republican over the Democrat for Congress by a whopping margin of 61 percent to 26 percent.

Got that? Good. Also, the "vast majority" of recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit—and remember, that credit only goes to people who earn enough money that, without it, they'd be paying income taxes—are white, according to data collected by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Finally, the 2009 Obama stimulus package expanded the Child Tax Credit to make more working class families eligible. We don't have exact data on the racial composition of those who benefited from the expansion, but given that about half of families in poverty are white, we can extrapolate that somewhere around half of beneficiaries are white.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles on European trade unions.
By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Imagine a country where, by law, workers are entitled to serve on the board of directors of the company they work for.
   In that same country, workers also have the legal right to form works councils on the factory floor and have a real say in their jobs.
   That country is Germany, officially the German Federal Republic. Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   State Rep. Rick G. Nelson says union “shoe leather” helped the Democrats hold their 54-46 majority in the state House of Representatives.
   “There were a couple of things unions did,” said Nelson, a Middlesboro Democrat who chairs the House Labor and Industry Committee. “First, you can’t overlook their financial help.
   “These millionaires put a lot of money into helping the anti-worker opposition. So the money we got from unions was important. Read more >>>

By BILL BARROW, Associated Press, from The Huffington Post

ATLANTA (AP) — To rebuild in the conservative South, Democratic leaders say their party must become more aggressive advocates for the middle class in an effort to energize African-Americans and attract whites.

After the Republicans' success in the midterm elections, many say the Democratic Party should openly embrace government as a tool for lifting people out of economic hardship. They are advocating a return to party roots by emphasizing education and public works spending, stronger voting rights laws, tighter bank regulation and labor-friendly policies such as a higher minimum wage.

"It's time to draw a line in the sand and not surrender our brand," said Rickey Cole, the party chairman in Mississippi. He believes that candidates have distanced themselves from the last half-century of Democratic principles.

 

 

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By SARA HAIMOWITZ, Coalition for a Prosperous America

“60 Minutes” ran a report Sunday, “Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure,” describing the seriousness and damage to the economy caused by our country’s crumbling infrastructure.

[Reposted from the Campaign for America's Future blog | Dave Johnson | November 25, 2014]

Here are a few choice quotes, but really you should click through and watch the whole thing (and then come back here):

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in a series of articles examining the relationship between religion and organized labor.

American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.
   “We reaffirm our position that workers have the right to organize by a free and democratic vote of the workers involved. This right of organization carries the responsibility of union leadership to protect the rights of workers, to guarantee each member an equal voice in the operation of its organization and to produce just output labors for income received.” -- American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. Resolution, 1981

Central Conference of American Rabbis
   “Jewish leaders, along with our Catholic and Protestant counterparts, have always supported the labor movement and the rights of employees to form unions for the purpose of engaging in collective bargaining and attaining fairness in the workplace. We believe that the permanent replacement of striking workers upsets the balance of power needed for collective bargaining, destroys the dignity of working people and undermines the democratic values of this nation.” -- Preamble to the Workplace Fairness Resolution Adopted at the 104th Annual Convention, June 1993
 

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By JOE BRENNAN, Kentucky Labor News director

At first this seems like a foolish question. Why of course they do. A true patriot defends our traditions, preaches them, and practices them for all to see. The true patriot exemplifies what has been good and noble in our history and our people. It means truth, fair dealings with all, honesty, justice, the defense of the articles found in our Bill of Rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, etc. etc.. "We hold these truths to be self evident that all persons are equal". No true believer in these words would doubt their validity, although from time to time our Supreme Court might interpret how they are to be understood, and what is or is not protected.

And then come our elections. Self proclaimed "Patriotic Candidates" rise up from nowhere and explain how they will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Our history will demonstrate that there have been many way this has been done in the past. While Washington was in Valley Forge freezing with his fellow soldiers, many of our leading Patriotic leaders were not there with him. There was no Colonel Thomas Jefferson, no General Franklin, a lot of other names were missing from the battle field, and so it is today. While Eisenhower, Kennedy, and George H. Bush saw more than their share of direct military action, other Presidents did not. Franklin Roosevelt was not like his distant cousin Teddy, and yet few would question either's dedication to their country.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Matt Barron and Jeanie Embry of http://bluegrass-rural.com/ for sending us this.  

WHITFIELD PANEL TO HOLD HEARING ON OIL EXPORTS: [First District] Rep. Ed Whitfield's Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing in two weeks on the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, the law that blocked the export of most crude oil exports. It's one of the first congressional forays into exploring lifting the ban, though within the Republican Party there is a rift between the pro- and anti-export camps - the new Senate energy chief, Lisa Murkowski, supports oil exports, but House leadership has remained quiet, and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton is withholding opinion ahead of more hearings on the topic. Energy Information Administration chief Adam Sieminski will testify at the Dec. 11 hearing, with more witnesses TBA.

By BILL LONDRIGAN, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president

Please come out and support Walmart workers on Black Friday and be a part of a nationwide movement that challenges the power of the largest private sector employer in the nation - Walmart.

We all know that our country cannot sustain poverty wages by its largest employer and that justice and fair wages will only come through collective action, organizing and collective bargaining.

So join us on Black Friday to support the movement for all workers struggling on low wages and no benefits. See below for details and go to the website http://www.blackfridayprotests.org/actions?zip for additional information and where other Black Friday protests are happening. Hope to see you there!

 

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By JOE BRENNAN, Kentucky Labor Insitute director 

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Mc Donald's had a reported revenue loss of 30 percent The "cause of the problem" was obvious to the WSJ - blame the unions and the movement to increase the minimum wage. Of course one obvious error is that unfortunately, there have not been any unions currently formed to protect underpaid and overworked Mc D. workers. Then again, the sparse increase in wages in three states could also hardly explain the loss in Mc D.'s revenue. But, this does make a nice front page headline in the WSJ. Truth in publication is not always the hallmark of modern journalism.

A casual examination of the data might reveal other reasons for Mc D.'s losses. In a country that is finally becoming a bit nutrition conscious, ingredients and additives come into question. What about all those rumors of "tasty" pink slime, or the contaminated meat produced for fast food chains in their China restaurants? What about the foreign currency exchange that makes customers pay twice as much for a standard American style Big Mac in some European countries, and half that amount in some Asian nations? What about more market centered issues and newer American food preference for customer dictated ingredients as offered in Chipolte or Five Guys? Then there is the competition with the wider diversity found in other fast food chains offering breakfast meals or salads for lunch. Bottom line, Mc D.'s ought to start looking at its own products, its quality, and yes, consider paying their employees a living wage.

 

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By TIM MURPHY, Mother Jones

Last week, a federal grand jury indicted former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for allegedly conspiring to violate mine safety standards in the run-up to the 2010 explosion that killed 29 workers at the Upper Big Branch Mine. The four-count indictment describes a culture of negligence under Blankenship's watch, in which essential safety measures were ignored as the company sought to squeeze every last cent out of the ground. Blankenship, who left Massey in 2010, pleaded not guilty Thursday.

But the indictment also came as a sobering reminder: In the four years since the disaster, little has been done to make the mining industry safer. Legislation designed to rein in the worst offenders and give regulators teeth was beaten back by big business. Meanwhile, tens of millions of dollars in safety fines have gone uncollected.

"We've taken some actions after the various accidents that have taken place, but unfortunately, Congress can apparently only legislate in this area after someone dies," said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who sponsored mine-safety legislation in the wake of the Upper Big Branch explosion.

 

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By JIM ELLIOTT

Democrats have had big losses across America this past election, and they are once again puzzled and confused because they believe that “people are voting against their own self interests.” Is it possible that Democrats themselves are not very good at understanding the self-interests of others?

The Democrat’s perception of the issue is that Democrats stand for everything that Americans want and need; lower taxes on individuals, universal and inexpensive public education, social programs for the old, poor, and infirm, etc., and that the voters are either uninformed or unappreciative of that fact.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Are the Republicans out of gas on right to work?
   “They may file legislation, as they always do, but I think we have seen the last major push for right to work for quite some time,” said Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
   The Republicans very publicly promised to make Kentucky the 25th right to work state if they wrested control of the General Assembly’s lower chamber from the Democrats on Nov. 4. Read more >>>

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of articles examining the relationship between religion and organized labor.

ENCYCLICAL LETTER, CARITAS IN VERITATE, OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS PRIESTS AND DEACONS, MEN AND WOMEN RELIGIOUS, THE LAY FAITHFUL AND ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL ON INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN CHARITY AND TRUTH

Point 25: “From the social point of view, systems of protection and welfare, already present in many countries in Paul VI's day, are finding it hard and could find it even harder in the future to pursue their goals of true social justice in today's profoundly changed environment. The global market has stimulated first and foremost, on the part of rich countries, a search for areas in which to outsource production at low cost with a view to reducing the prices of many goods, increasing purchasing power and thus accelerating the rate of development in terms of greater availability of consumer goods for the domestic market. Consequently, the market has prompted new forms of competition between States as they seek to attract foreign businesses to set up production centres, by means of a variety of instruments, including favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market. These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State. Systems of social security can lose the capacity to carry out their task, both in emerging countries and in those that were among the earliest to develop, as well as in poor countries. Here budgetary policies, with cuts in social spending often made under pressure from international financial institutions, can leave citizens powerless in the face of old and new risks; such powerlessness is increased by the lack of effective protection on the part of workers' associations. Through the combination of social and economic change, trade union organizations experience greater difficulty in carrying out their task of representing the interests of workers, partly because Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labour unions. Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome. The repeated calls issued within the Church's social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum[60], for the promotion of workers' associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level.”

 

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By LAUREN RABB, CHRISTINE MAI-DUC, Los Angeles Times   

The bus drivers who take Facebook employees to work in the morning and home again at day's end voted to unionize, the Teamsters union announced Wednesday.

The drivers work for Loop Transportation, a San Francisco company that contracts with Facebook, whose headquarters are in Menlo Park. They have complained of long days, split shifts and wages too low for them to buy homes near their jobs.

Eighty-seven drivers will be joining Teamsters Local 853, Bob Strelo, president of the local, told the Los Angeles Times. He said 43 drivers voted in favor of joining the union and 28 voted against it.

 

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By HANNAH HESS, Roll Call  

Rep. Edward Whitfield is facing new allegations he has been using his House seat for family gain and is pushing back against a report that he was using his position to boost his wife’s stock portfolio.

On Nov. 21, 2012, Constance Harriman-Whitfield, the Kentucky Republican’s wife, was elected to the board of LaserLock Technologies, Inc., a security technology company that delivers product and document authentication aimed at combating counterfeiting and fraud in health care and other industries.

Six months after she joined the board, the congressman submitted LaserLock’s testimony to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee convened for a hearing titled, “Securing Our Nation’s Prescription Drug Supply Chain.” LaserLock recommended its technology could be part of the electronic system established under the bill to trace pharmaceuticals through the supply chain.

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of articles examining the relationship between religion and organized labor. 

We Churches of the United States have a message of hope for a fearful time. Just as the churches responded to the harshness of early 20th Century industrialization with a prophetic “Social Creed” in 1908, so in our era of globalization we offer a vision of a society that shares more and consumes less, seeks compassion over suspicion and equality over domination, and finds security in joined hands rather than massed arms. Inspired by Isaiah’s vision of a “peaceable kingdom,” we honor the dignity of every person and the intrinsic value of every creature, and pray and work for the day when none “labor in vain or bear children for calamity” (Isaiah 65:23). We do so as disciples of the One who came “that all may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10), and stand in solidarity with Christians and with all who strive for justice around the globe.
In faith, responding to our Creator, we celebrate the full humanity of each woman, man, and child, all created in the divine image as individuals of infinite worth, by working for:
Full civil, political and economic rights for women and men of all races.
Abolition of forced labor, human trafficking, and the exploitation of children.
Employment for all, at a family-sustaining living wage, with equal pay for comparable work.
The rights of workers to organize, and to share in workplace decisions and productivity growth.
Protection from dangerous working conditions, with time and benefits to enable full family life.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first is a series of articles examining the relationship between religion and organized labor. 

From its start with John Wesley, the Methodist movement has focused particular attention on the concerns of workers. Justice, dignity and equality for workers are an integral part of our social teachings and heritage. For 100 years, we have fought for a living wage in every industry and our Social Principles make clear that we believe people - not profits - should be at the heart of our economic system.

Collective Bargaining

We support the right of all public and private employees and employers to organize for collective bargaining into unions and other groups of their own choosing. Further, we support the right of both parties to protection in so doing and their responsibility to bargain in good faith within the framework of the public interest. In order that the rights of all members of the society may be maintained and promoted, we support innovative bargaining procedures that include representatives of the public interest in negotiation and settlement of labor-management contracts, including some that may lead to forms of judicial resolution of issues. We reject the use of violence by either party during collective bargaining or any labor/management disagreement. We likewise reject the permanent replacement of a worker who engages in a lawful strike.

 

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By RABBI MICHAEL LERNER, Huffington Post

On Sunday afternoon, December 12, 2014, an important national gathering will convene at the University of San Francisco sponsored by the (interfaith and atheist; secular humanist &/or religious welcoming) Network of Spiritual Progressives to consider how to reclaim our country after the takeover by both houses of the U.S. Congress by the political right. We are going to grieve, express our anger, explore our own possible responsibility as liberals and progressives for what has gone wrong, and then move to develop strategy.

You should be there, or help convene a similar gathering wherever you live in the next few months.

And please read this long analysis of what we need to do -- I know it's a pain in the neck to read long statements, particularly in a society of instant gratification where every thing is supposed to be sayable on short little tweets or sound bytes. Still, I promise you that if you take the time to read this from top to bottom you'll have a better idea of how to change America than you've ever gotten from hundreds of shorter articles you've read and speeches you've heard. After you've read it, if you want to be involved with us in building a movement that embodies these ideas and strategy, please join the Network of Spiritual Progressives as a dues paying member at www.spiritualprogressives.org and then lets talk about how to implement these ideas in your context (by emailing the executive director, Cat Zavis).

 

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By THOMAS B. EDSALL, The New York Times

A paradox of American politics is that Republicans take organized labor more seriously than Democrats do.

The right sees unions as a mainstay of the left, a crucial source of cash, campaign manpower and votes.

“Unions are the largest player in American politics and they will be for some time,” Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, declared in March at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Fourteen million Americans have to pay union dues. If they average $500, and that is a low estimate, that’s a $7 billion slush fund for the left.”

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   I’m a 64-year-old, union card-carrying Chevy man, so I cheered and clapped in front of my TV when Kevin Harvick won the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in his red-and-white number 4 Budweiser Impala SS.
   It was a twofer for me. Chevy also snagged the manufacturer’s championship for the 12th time in a row and the 38th time overall.
   Chevy, Ford and Toyota compete in NASCAR races. The UAW represents hourly workers at Chevy and Ford factories. Toyota’s American plants are nonunion. Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG, AFT 1360

If you're a motorhead like me, you're probably exhibiting NASCAR withdrawal symptoms.  

Mine include compulsively surfing the net for anything NASCAR. 

It's silly season, NASCAR's version of baseball's hot stove league. Sunday night, "Happy" Harvick hefted the Sprint Cup in a shower of star-shaped confetti. The green flag won't flutter again until the Daytona 500 in February.  

Anyway, I just ran across a 2013 video that shows how those famous Goodyear Eagle racing tires are made in Akron, Ohio: http://www.wkyc.com/story/sports/2013/10/27/3280051/.

 

 

 

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By JOE SONKA, Insider Louisville

The board of the Metropolitan Sewer District rejected the contract offered by its workers in a special meeting Monday, meaning a possible work stoppage by their 150 employees represented by LIUNA Local 576 may be imminent.

After two hours in a closed session to discuss the workers’ last contract offer, MSD board vice chairman Tom Austin read a prepared statement indicating the board had rejected their offer because they claimed it limited their right to contract out work and that its grievance procedure — allowing a three-fourths vote of the board to overturn an arbitrator’s decision — is illegal.

“A supermajority vote is not allowed under state law KRS 76.050,” said Austin. “Any action of the board is required by simple majority. While we agree with the vast majority of your contract offer, we cannot accept it for the above mentioned reasons.”

Austin added that the board directed MSD executive director Greg Heitzman to deliver their final contract offer to LIUNA on Wednesday, which must be accepted by Dec. 3.

 

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By GEORGE PACKER, The New Yorker

In the two decades between 1968 and 1988, Democratic candidates lost the Presidency five times out of six. This miserable run forced the Party to move closer to the electoral center on issues from welfare and crime to the role and the scope of government in postindustrial America. In 1992, Bill Clinton, calling himself a “New Democrat,” broke the spell and initiated a two-decade period in which Republican candidates for President failed to prevail five times out of six. (The Supreme Court prevented the country from definitively establishing the result of the 2000 election.) President Obama’s reëlection in 2012 devastated Republicans. They reacted, as Democrats had, by asking themselves what went wrong. They wrote earnest opinion pieces, organized soul-searching retreats, formed high-minded study groups, and launched reformist efforts such as the Growth and Opportunity Project, which published a scathing report about the dire state of the Party.

On November 4th, it all seemed to pay off. Political offices around the country, from governorships and state legislatures to Congress, are now decisively red. Even given the Republicans’ advantages in electoral geography and turnout, their sweep should be more chilling to Democrats than the Tea Party triumphs of 2010, because it came in a period of partial economic sunshine, with Republicans statistically less popular than Democrats. The Party that has spent the past six years doing everything in its power to prevent the President from stimulating growth, boosting wages, improving infrastructure, controlling health-care costs, and regulating Wall Street was rewarded with clear majorities in both houses. The only prize left is the big one in 2016.

Republican leaders, determined to prove that they can build as well as destroy, have made a mighty effort not to seem high on victory. “There will be no government shutdowns,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader-elect, promised. Cory Gardner, the Senator-elect from Colorado, warned, “If Republicans don’t prove that we can govern with maturity, that we can govern with competence, we’ll see the same kind of results two years from now, except it will be a wave going back a different direction.” Senator Rand Paul, a potential candidate for the Presidency, said, “You know, I think the gridlock is going to end.” He sounded like a patient trying to talk his way out of rehab.

 

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    (Chattanooga, Tenn.) – Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW, today released the following statement regarding Volkswagen:
   "We appreciate Volkswagen's effort to articulate a policy for how it will engage with UAW Local 42 and its members in Chattanooga. We have questions about this policy, which we'll work through in discussions with management. But this is a step forward in building stronger relations between management and employees.
   "Today, we will begin working with Volkswagen so the company can verify our substantial membership level, which now is in excess of a majority of workers at the plant. When that verification has been completed, we will take advantage of the company's offer to establish regular meetings with Volkswagen Human Resources and the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee. In the first conversations that will occur, we will remind them of the mutually agreed-upon commitments that were made by Volkswagen and the UAW last spring in Germany. Among those commitments: Volkswagen will recognize the UAW as the representative of our members. We believe Volkswagen made this commitment in good faith and we believe the company will honor this commitment. Additionally, we will present the Chattanooga plant management with the September letter of intent in which the influential Volkswagen Global Group Works Council expressed its desire for the Chattanooga plant to be a 'UAW-represented facility.' Read more >>>

Editor:

It has been proven over and over that "the best defense is a good offense".

Having repeated that: I think that the present climate where huge selfish interest groups and many selfish and greedy individuals are scurrying to elicit support for "RIGHT TO WORK FOR LESS LAWS" in all states which are currently "NON RIGHT TO WORK STATES" to "AS THEY SO FALSELY PROCLAIM LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD WITH RESPECT TO RECRUITING INDUSTRY AND PROVIDING JOBS" just might be a golden opportunity to TURN THE TABLES ON THE ENEMIES OF ORGANIZED LABOR" by soliciting their help as follows:

A. We should emphatically proclaim to our enemies that all labor unions, their officers, their representatives and the overwhelming majority of union members would welcome an opportunity to 'INSTANTLY, RESPONSIBLY AND IN A FOOLPROOF MANNER JOIN WITH THEM AND WORK ALONGSIDE THEM TO CORRECT THEIR FALSELY PERCEIVED BARRIER TO THEIR EFFORTS".

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   I asked Dorothy Barkley what she’d say if Sen. Mitch McConnell showed up at her door in Paducah.
   “I’d tell him, ‘Granddaddy was a yellow dog Democrat, and I can see right through what you are doing by using his name,’” the feisty septuagenarian replied.
   Her granddaddy was Alben W. Barkley of Paducah, Harry Truman’s vice president and the only Kentuckian to serve as senate majority leader. But McConnell, who often praises Barkley for his leadership, is almost certain to become the second one when the new GOP-majority senate convenes in a few weeks. Read more >>>

By ROBERT REICH, Salon

This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

The President blames himself for the Democrat’s big losses Election Day. “We have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we’re trying to do and why this is the right direction,” he said Sunday.

In other words, he didn’t sufficiently tout the Administration’s accomplishments.

I respectfully disagree.

 

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By ELIZABETH DREW, The New York Review of Books

 It’s actually not all that stunning for the party out of power to make sizeable gains in the sixth year of a president’s time in office, even after the president has won a smashing reelection victory two years earlier. As of now, the Republicans will have picked up seven to nine Senate seats in the 2014 midterms. But it happened to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, when the Democrats gained thirteen Senate seats, and it happened to Ronald Reagan in 1986, when the Democrats picked up eight seats. In fact the average mid-term loss of Senate seats for the party of a second-term president is nearly six seats. So what was all the commotion about?

There was the widespread surprise over the scale of the Republican sweep, not just in the Senate but also the House, where with 250 seats they have the largest majority since 1929; and in the governorships and state legislatures—where they set an all-time record of control of two-thirds of state legislative bodies. The victories at lower levels of government give them many long-term advantages, including significantly greater opportunities to draw electoral districts and groom future leaders.
But the shock was mainly caused because, purely and simply, the polls were wrong across the board. They overestimated Democratic turnout by almost twice as much as they underestimated it in 2012. (Midterm elections are notoriously hard to poll.) In fact the turnout this year—just 36.6 percent of eligible voters—was the lowest since 1942, when many Americans went off to war. David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report termed it an “epic turnout collapse.” The Democrats’ much-vaunted turnout operation worked extremely well in 2008 and 2012, when there was an appealing, to millions even exciting, candidate at the head of the ticket. An unpopular president cannot work the same magic.

Nor did the Democrats have a persuasive message to sell. They had no message at all. They feared any association with Obama, which included mentioning his achievements, and they worried that any boasting about the improvement in the economy since he took office would make them appear out of touch, since the recovery’s positive effects have done little to improve the situation of much of the middle class. The unwillingness to tout the benefits of the Affordable Care Act despite its clear success was a major missed opportunity: exit polls showed that people listed health care as the second reason they voted for a Democratic candidate.

 

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By KEVIN BANATTE

 In my two years working at a Walmart in Florida, I learned a valuable lesson: The Waltons, who own Walmart, got richer while the workers who helped build their fortune suffered. I saw it every day.

I remember trading stories about not being able to pay bills and what it’s like to have power and lights disconnected at home. There were times I couldn’t even afford food for my lunch break. And I wasn’t the only one.

That’s why Walmart workers across the country stepped up last month to call on Walmart to publicly commit to $15 an hour and a full-time schedule. Workers are taking huge risks—like being arrested or going on strike and holding a sit-in in Los Angeles today—to protest retaliation for speaking out for better wages and hours. They’re tired of living in poverty and being bullied out of talking about it, while employed by a billion-dollar corporation.

 

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By TASINI, Daily Kos

A common myth: the auto industry is dying. The reality: no, it's increasing employment but largely in NON-UNION assembly plants in the South owned by foreign companies like Mercedes and Nissan, and at independent parts suppliers. Let's see if this breaks open some new opportunities.

Via The Wall Street Journal:

The United Auto Workers union expects Volkswagen AG to make an announcement this week that would pave the way for the union’s local bargaining unit in Chattanooga to be recognized at the German auto giant’s U.S. manufacturing plant.
News of the potential announcement was shared in a letter sent to voluntary members of a UAW unit formed this summer after the union failed to officially organize the Tennessee plant. In that letter, provided to The Wall Street Journal, Local 42 President Mike Cantrell said “we await details from the company...our expectation that Volkswagen will recognize Local 42 is based on discussions that took place in Germany last spring, between representatives of the UAW and Volkswagen.”

In February, as many know, the UAW lost the NLRB-sponsored representation election amid widespread interference by right-wing anti-union organizations and individuals, including Sen. Bob Corker. There was much debate, among pro-union advocates, about how the organizing campaign had unfolded--principally, whether the UAW had done enough to contact workers--but what is not debatable is that the anti-union forces illegally interfered in the election and intimidated workers by threatening the loss of jobs.

 

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By PAUL BLUMENTHAL, Huffington Post   

WASHINGTON -- Following the Republican wave that swept away the Democratic Senate majority last week, reporters, advocates and pundits debated the efficacy of the estimated $3.7 billion in political spending shelled out over the past 22 months.

Articles pondered whether all the money spent even mattered. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer's funds were widely deemed wasted, as were the millions spent by Mayday PAC, led by campaign finance reformer Lawrence Lessig. Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce crowed in a blog post, "Out of the 15 primary races, runoffs, and special elections the U.S. Chamber invested in, we were successful in 14." And each outside group's return on investment on Nov. 4 was ranked.

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the leading House proponent of campaign finance reform, thinks much of this coverage missed the mark. While the Election Day results matter, they are only a means to the real end -- the legislation and regulation that does and does not move in the next Congress.

 

 

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By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Republican tidal wave that swept Democrats out of office nationwide didn't solve U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's potential quandary in Kentucky, where the tea party favorite could become entangled in a state election law if he decides to run for president and another Senate term in 2016.

Legislation tweaking the once-obscure law to ensure Paul could appear on Kentucky's ballot running for both offices simultaneously easily passed the GOP-led Kentucky Senate this year. But it died across the Capitol in the House, where Democrats remain in charge.


This fall, Republicans seemingly had their best chance in decades to gain control of the House in a state where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular. Had Republicans consolidated their power in the legislature, it seemed almost certain they would deliver on Paul's request to change the law. But Democrats hung on to their majority, leaving the first-term senator and his supporters looking for other potential options.

 

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By JAIME FULLER, The Washington Post 

 In today's episode of "Never Underestimate the Hidden Beauty of a Government Report," we offer up two new ones from the House Ethics Committee — both of which occupy that wonderful space between C-SPAN and soap opera.

The first deals with Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who is under investigation because of potential connections between his office's business and his wife's. His wife, Connie Harriman-Whitfield, has been a lobbyist with the Humane Society Legislative Fund since 2011. She lobbied on legislation her husband sponsored or co-sponsored — and called Whitfield's office to discuss her work. The Ethics Committee is basically trying to find out if this is an Underwood household-type situation.

Because Harriman-Whitfield works for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, all the legislation she works on — and Whitfield sponsored or co-sponsored — has an amazing name, like the "Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011," the "Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act of 2013" and the "Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act of 2011."

 

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By DAVE JAMIESON, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Republican leaders have warned President Barack Obama that pursuing more executive actions after last week's midterm drubbing would be like playing with fire. But Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said on Monday that unilateral action by the president on economic issues is more necessary than ever.

"The president is in a pivotal position to go assertively with executive orders to create a political balance and an economic balance," Grijalva told reporters on a conference call. "I'm one member that urges them to use that as a balancing tool and a leadership tool in these next two years."

Grijalva and his fellow caucus co-chair, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), are putting their weight behind two proposals in particular: one executive order that would give federal contracting preference to firms that pay a living wage of $15 and provide basic benefits to workers, and another guaranteeing that contractors wouldn't interfere with worker efforts to unionize. Branded as "More Than the Minimum," the proposals are being pushed by Good Jobs Nation, a labor group backed by the Change to Win union federation, and other progressive allies.

 

 

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By Cristina Marcos, The Hill

Reps. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) are under prolonged investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has been reviewing the cases involving both lawmakers and referred them to the House Ethics Committee over the summer. The House Ethics Committee announced Monday it is further extending its review of both cases.

Rush allegedly used campaign funds for the Beloved Community Christian Church in Chicago and accepted contributions in the form of free office rental space, according to the OCE report.

 

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By DAVID TEDROW, Special to the Washington Post

The Obamacare subsidies saved my life. Now, I’m scared the Supreme Court is going to gut them.

In 2010, at 54, I was diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis (end-stage liver disease). It’s debilitating, and a transplant is the only cure.

At that time, I owned a jewelry store with my wife in Pawleys Island, S.C. On weekends we would meet friends, walk on the beach and join in community events. My wife and I would travel regularly to see our daughters and take annual vacations. We enjoyed a rich and full life.

 

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By PAUL ABRAMS, Huffington Post

Unless you found the end of Rocky IV to be a surprise, you do not need your popcorn. There is no drama, no suspense.

You also do not need to be a legal scholar, know anything about the U.S. Constitution, nor reference legislative history or precedents. That is not how to understand the Roberts Court.

It is a sign of the continued delusions of the lamestream media, legal analysts and commentators that they still indulge in debates over precedents, legislative history and the prior opinions of individual justices on the same matter to try to justify and predict how this Court will rule on King v. Burwell, the latest absurd case to reach this Court on appeal.

 

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By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet midterms to men of understanding. Or as I put it on the eve of another Republican Party sweep, politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday.

I’ll talk in a bit about some of the reasons that may have happened. But it’s important, first, to point out that the midterm results are no reason to think better of the Republican position on major issues. I suspect that some pundits will shade their analysis to reflect the new balance of power — for example, by once again pretending that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are good-faith attempts to put America’s fiscal house in order, rather than exercises in deception and double-talk. But Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda.

So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.

 

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By JOAN McCARTER, Daily Kos

Spending on this year's elections is on pace to reach $3.67 billion, from candidates, parties, Super PACs, and the so-called non-profits—like the Koch's Americans for prosperity. That's a record for a midterm, led by outside groups.

The 2014 elections will be remembered as the cycle when outside groups handled much of the mudslinging, which traditionally was the responsibility of candidates and their campaigns. In Kentucky, for instance, a secretly funded group called Kentucky Opportunity Coalition ran 12,000 TV ads—many of which attacked Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, depicting her as an Obama clone. The group's commercials accounted for one out of every seven ads run during that race, according to the Center for Public Integrity. On paper, Kentucky Opportunity Coalition was independent of the candidate it supported, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But the group was run by a former McConnell aide and functioned effectively as an offshoot of McConnell's campaign.

This pattern unfolded across the country, as outside spending ramped up. In all, outside groups pumped $554 million—$301 million from Republican-aligned shops, $225 million from Democratic allies—into 2014 races. And you guessed it: That, too, is a new record for a midterm election.

 

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By THOMAS C. FROHLICH and ALEXANDER E.M. HESS, Huffington Post 

In the wake of mounting protests from labor groups, numerous U.S. localities have approved minimum wage increases, including two of the nation’s largest cities, Seattle and San Francisco. Yet, especially among many of America’s largest employers, the remarkably low wages of most workers are in stark contrast with the compensation of shareholders and executives. And while the average hourly earnings of an American worker was $24.53 as of September, these companies pay most of their workers far less.

Companies that pay employees the least tend to be part of one of three industries: retail, restaurant chains, and grocery stores. According to Arun Ivatury, campaign strategist at the National Employment Law Project, “These industries have embraced a low-wage business model. Their way of doing business is trying to squeeze as much out of their employees as they can, while paying them as little in wages and benefits as possible.” These industries fall into one of two sectors — leisure and hospitality and wholesale and retail trade — that together accounted for almost 70% of all jobs paying the minimum wage or below it, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to Ivatury, one reason wages are so low in these industries is that low pay represents an accepted practice. Ivatury was especially critical of how large-scale, low-wage employers viewed their workers. “You can come up with all kinds of labels like associate, or team partner,” Ivatury said. “It doesn’t change the fact that you’re paying them as little as $7.25 an hour.” Employees at these companies “are basically treated as dispensable.”


 

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By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are planning an extensive review of what went wrong in the 2014 and 2010 elections, hoping to find ways to translate success in presidential campaigns into future midterm contests.

A party committee will conduct a "top-to-bottom assessment" of the Democrats' performance in recent midterm elections and try to determine why they have struggled to turn out its core voters in nonpresidential elections.

"It's apparent that there are increasingly two separate electorates: a midterm electorate and a presidential electorate. We win one and we don't seem to be able to win the other," said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who leads the Democratic National Committee, in an interview Saturday. "That is a fundamental dynamic that we have to change."

 

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Dear Labor Brothers and Sisters,

I just wanted to say a great big thanks to everyone for your support of my candidacy. You endorsed me, worked hard door to door, made phone calls and donated money. I could not have won without Labor support. I am thrilled that you have given me another term in the state House. I will work hard to make you proud.

God Bless You!

Yours in labor, State Representative Gerald Watkins
Paducah, Kentucky District 3
Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “Oh it ain't what you do it's the way that you do it,” Ella Fitzgerald famously crooned.
So it goes with lots of things, including public opinion polls: “It ain’t what you question it’s the way that you question it.”
   In their failed right to work push, the GOP may have been heartened by a Survey USA Bluegrass Poll that had 55 percent of respondents answering “yes” to the question, “Should laws be changed to allow people to work in businesses that have unions without joining the union or paying union dues?”
    Read more >>>

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the so-much-for-journalistic-objectivity-department, Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” declared that Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who went on to lose to Sen. Mitch McConnell, “disqualified herself” by refusing to say who she voted for in the 2008 and 2012 presidential election. Team Mitch used Todd’s comment in a campaign ad.

By GIDEON, Daily Kos

...The NYT ran a review of Chuck Todds' new book about Obama, entitled "The Stranger."

The book -- described as a "stinging indictment" of Obama's presidency - removes any lingering doubt (if there actually is any) about Todd's attitudes. The book apparently is replete with conventional, inside-the-beltway type of complaints that trivialize or ignore the actual merits of any policy.

Here are some snippets from the review:

 

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EDITOR'S NOTE: McConnell will likely be the Senate majority leader.

By IVAN POTTER, publisher, West Kentucky Journal

Somewhere deep within McConnell's Washingtonified subconscious mind, he sees himself as a great leader on the scale of Alben W. Barkley. How sad!

After 30 years of doing nothing, Mitch is now telling Kentucky voters that if they send him back to Washington for one more term, he will invoke the late great Barkley as his personal model for conducting business in the nation's Capitol.

On what planet is that type of thinking even possible? Does Mitch, in this late hour of his re-election bid even care for the facts? Or is he in such a state of denial about his own service to Kentucky and the nation that he must invent a fantasy world to run his campaign?

Maybe, Mitch, you are afraid to confront the real legacy of Barkley.

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   State Rep. Gerald Watkins’ victory lap included a Thursday night pit stop at the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council’s November meeting.
   “I would not have won my race if not for organized labor,” the Paducah Democrat said. “So I will be eternally grateful for the AFL-CIO and all of its affiliates, including the Firefighters.
   “They were my biggest supporters, my biggest base. They were out there first for me. That’s where most of my money came from and most of my shoe leather came from.”
  Read more >>>

By TOM PEREZ, U.S. Secretary of Labor

It’s been almost two years since President Obama first called for an increase in the national minimum wage. He believes more strongly than ever that no one who works full-time should have to raise a family in poverty. He believes that the current rate of $7.25 per hour undermines our basic bargain, failing to reward hard work with a fair wage.

But Congress hasn’t exactly seen it that way. Members have blocked a raise to $10.10, in defiance of strong public support that continues to grow. Bottom line: they’re not keeping up with the views of people around the country. In Tuesday’s election, a higher minimum wage went five-for-five. By convincing margins, voters in Alaska (69 percent), Arkansas (65 percent), Nebraska (59 percent), South Dakota (53 percent) and Illinois (67 percent) said loud and clear that they want to give hardworking people a raise.

Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota (all reliably red states, by the way) will implement changes in their state law, with a total of about 325,000 people set to get a raise. (The Illinois ballot measure was a non-binding resolution urging the state legislature to act).

 

 

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By MATT Z, Daily Kos 

Disclaimer:

I am on the spectrum. This is the first diary I have ever written that is going to be pretty much only political. But I need to let people know ahead of time that I am not trying to start a flame war. Because of my Asperger's anytime I get flamed I take it personally and usually wind up in a deep depression that last days. Please do not flame me for this diary.

But nobody is talking about the real reason we lost the election. And since nobody else is I'm going to have to be the one to do it. I might have a bad few days if I accidentally start a flame war. But since nobody seems to understand WHY we lost the election I have to be the one to point it out, even if I wind up hurt. I usually only write about mental illness, cartoons, and Muppets. Pure politics is out of my wheelhouse a bit. I am only doing so now because I am certain I am right.

Disclaimer out of the way? Good. Below the fold I'll tell you the REAL reason the Dems lost the election. And why both the activists and pundits trying to analyze the results and figure out what they mean are going about it all wrong.

 

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By PAUL ROSENBERG, Salon

In 1964, there were five black members of the House of Representatives — barely over 1 percent — compared to the 11 percent of the population who were black. But the American people were evenly split, 30 to 31 percent, on whether blacks should have more or less influence, with 28 percent saying things were “about right” as they stood. What’s more, those opposed to government social spending programs were three times more likely to say blacks should have less influence compared to those supporting social spending.

Those historical tidbits, from “The Political Beliefs of Americans; a Study of Public Opinion” by Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril, immediately came to mind last week when Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, locked in a tight reelection fight — as always — made a lot of headlines with her comments noting that race had something to do with President Obama’s unpopularity in the state.

“I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” she told NBC News in an interview. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”

 

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By TIM MAREMA and BILL BISHOP, The Daily Yonder

Across the board, city, small town and rural voters made similar shifts from Democrat to Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm elections. Compared to the national elections in 2008 and 2012, metropolitan and nonmetropolitan votes for Republicans grew at about the same rate.

One exception was in Kentucky, where the Democratic Senate candidate who refused to say whether she voted for Obama did far worse among rural voters than the president did there in 2012.

Kentucky’s Allison Lundergan Grimes lost to incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell by about 15 points statewide. Among the state’s rural (noncore) voters, McConnell’s margin of victory was a whopping 34.5 points. Nearly three out of four voters in noncore counties voted for the Republican. (Noncore counties are nonmetro counties that don’t have a city of 10,000 or bigger.)

 

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By GEORGE LAKOFF, Daily Kos  

It is time to shine a light on the strategies used by Democrats, and on the Democratic infrastructure that uses those strategies.

Democratic strategists have been segmenting the electorate and seeking individual self-interest-based issues in each electoral block. The strategists also keep suggesting a move to right. This has left no room for the Democrats to have an overriding authentic moral identity that Americans can recognize.

Those strategists form an infrastructure that all Democrats have come to depend on; not just the candidates, but also the elected officials, Democrats in government, and citizens who either do, or might, find progressive policies morally and practically right. The strategic infrastructure includes PR firms, pollsters, consultants, researchers, trainers, communication specialists, speechwriters, and their funders.

 

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By RON LEGRO, Daily Kos

EDITOR'S NOTE. The Kentucky turnout was 46.37 percent, according to unofficial numbers from Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes's office. 

So what really happened Tuesday? The simple and most telling answer is that not enough happened.

National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" news program today shared some preliminary statistics about Tuesday's midterm elections and the numbers are so startling it's a wonder this isn't front-page news everywhere. Check this out:

In the last presidential election two years ago, 130 million Americans voted. The total population of the country then, including children and everyone else, was around 316 million.

 

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By PHOEBE LOOSINHOUSE, Daily Kos

Putting aside hand wringing, here are some positive things Dems can do before the next election.

Since Dems held both the Presidency and the Senate in the last midterms, we are/were perceived to be the Party in Power. The Democrats were wrong to think that the midterms would not be a referendum on the President or the Party in power.

So, let's just accept that all elections are referendums on the powers in place. People will either vote to reinforce your success or to punish you for your failure. All attempts by the Democratic Party and any individual candidate to distance themselves from the President was doomed to failure in advance. Bill Clinton advised voters to not allow the election to be a referendum - he might as well have shouted at the tide not to come in.

 

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By THE GRACE KELLY, Daily Kos

If you look at Yougov survey of state rankings, then you will see that Minnesota is ranked 18th in scoring on progressive issues. Minnesota was behind Wisconsin and Michigan. Yet Minnesota is doing better in elections. Why? While even Minnesota can improve what we do, I do think that we have significant differences from national trends in campaigning.

Proud to be a Democrat, Proud of Democratic Leadership and Proud of Democratic Policies

When Democrats are proud to be Democrats and proud of Democratic policies, then we win. Minnesota did lose significant house seats in rural house districts where there is less spoken in that strong kind of pride. Minnesota was especially strong on comparing itself favorably to Wisconsin, where Minnesota's choice of Democratic policy and leadership has really helped the Minnesota economy. Duh, Obama is one of our greatest speakers. How did we ever get talked into not using him? On every poll, Democratic policies score higher, why wouldn't one run on winning numbers?

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read Jim Pence’s union-friendly blog at www.hillbillyreport.org. The masthead features twin Pence quotes: Never before have so few with so much promised to take away so much from so many and then laugh their asses off as the so many with so little vote for the so few with so much...American Politics, a sport for the rich and enslavement for the rest of us.
   Some liberal pundits are predicting a Democratic comeback at the polls in two years.
   Longtime Bluegrass State blogger Jim Pence isn’t among them. “I have a feeling 2016 will be much worse with all of the right-wing outside money flowing to the Republicans.”
   The Kentuckian is a septuagenarian who packed a union card for years. He is angry and frustrated.
    Read more >>>

By RYAN GRIM and AMANDA TERKEL, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- When a congressional caucus shrinks, it tends to solidify the politics of the remaining members, as conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans are always the first to get swept away in a wave. As the Democratic caucus numbers in the Senate have gradually shrunk, from a high-water mark of 60 in 2009 to 46 this January, the rump has gotten more progressive.

It hasn't just been by subtraction. The arrival of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) last cycle has given the growing liberal bloc a power base to rally on, muscle that was flexed most prominently in the high-profile rejection of Larry Summers as chairman of the Federal Reserve before he'd even been nominated.

In 2016, as Democrats work to retake the Senate, they have a chance to do it while simultaneously expanding the ranks of their progressive members, given the tilt of the playing field. In Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Iowa, Democrats have the potential to elect progressive senators in seats currently held by Republicans. Much, however, will depend on recruiting, and whether the decision is made to target populist-progressive types in the vein of Warren, or more centrist, corporate-friendly picks such as Virginia's Mark Warner.

 

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   You have to look pretty hard to find something for unions to celebrate after the election.
   But take a gander at the Bluegrass State beyond its much-publicized and hotly contested U.S. Senate race, and you’ll see where anti-union Republicans failed, big time.
   The Kentucky GOP very publicly promised to put the Bluegrass State in the right to work column if they flipped the Democratic-majority state House of Representatives. The Republicans came up short. Read more >>>

By HUNTER, Daily Kos

Tuesday's elections brought both a rout of Democrats and a new standard for just who can be a national Republican these days. That's not good, but let's have a quick look at the new House and Senate conservatives most likely to rise to (unintended) prominence in the next two years. It's time for Meet Your New Craziest Republicans.

Glenn Grothman, WI-06: Any list has to start with new Wisconsin Representative Glenn Grothman. Grothman is a finely tuned gaffe machine, if by "gaffe" we mean "saying the things Republicans are not supposed to say out loud." He is a fervent believer in stopping The Gay Agenda, which he believes exists in our nation's classrooms, but it's the full scope of Grothman's bizarre statements that have led us to predict that he will quickly rise to challenge Texas Republican Louie Gohmert for the title of America's Dumbest Congressman. Does he have the stuff? We'll soon know.

Jody Hice, GA-10: Another beneficiary of a hard-right conservative district, Georgia's Jody Hice can't be considered a gaffe machine. He's just plain mean. A tea party Republican right out of central casting, Hice is a preacher, a conservative radio host, a gun-toter, and the district's replacement for Paul "Evolution and embryology and the big bang theory are lies from the pit of Hell" Broun. Hice's most recent hit has been the assertion that Muslim-Americans are not protected by the First Amendment because Islam is not a true religion; he also is frothingly anti-gay and is for women entering politics only if it is "within the authority of her husband." Look for Hice to be a loudmouth Steve King type; not dumb, but meaner than a bag of rattlesnakes and a whole lot louder.

 

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By DAVID CORN, Mother Jones

As the postelection celebration (for the GOP) and cleanup (for the White House and the Democrats) continues, some political observers of a D bent are trying to push a silver-lining idea: Now that the Republicans fully control Congress, they will have to act more responsibly and demonstrate that they can govern and not just say no to everything.

Isn't it pretty to think so.

There is little evidence to support this lovely notion. The fundamental political dynamic of the Republican Party has not shifted; it's advance has been fueled by its Obama-hating tea party wing. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Cory Gardner of Colorado will be two new GOP stars in the Senate, and they both hail from the far-right region of their party. Their model senator will likely be Ted Cruz of Texas, who on election night refused to endorse the newly reelected Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as Senate majority leader, signaling his intention to lead what might be called the Monkey Wrench Caucus. And in the House, the tea party club—which blocked House Speaker John Boehner's deal-making with the White House and pushed for government shutdowns and a debt ceiling crisis—will likely have a few more members when the new Congress convenes in January. The lesson the House tea partiers will probably draw: Obstruction pays off, big-time.

 

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By ALAN COLMES, Huffington Post

Some of the most extreme right-wing radicals got elected to Congress Tuesday. Let's begin with Glenn Grothman, who won Wisconsin's 6th District. Grothman wants to eliminate weekends, and believes "no people...care about Kwanza, just white left-wingers." He co-sponsored a bill that equated single-parenthood with child abuse. In addition...

He calls Rick Santorum his "soul mate" and labor union activists "slobs." He wants to end not only the minimum wage but weekends and paid sick leave and called for the elimination of municipal water disinfection, calling it "big government."

He opposes abortion for any reason and wants to make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion even to save the life of the mother.

 

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By JEFF SCHWEITZER, Huffington Post

Politicians of all stripes since the dawn of time have perfected the art of feigned regret and false outrage in the face of opposition, while embracing blind indifference to their own failures. Standard fare for the left and right. But the depth, intensity, and institutionalized hypocrisy of the political right has taken our country on a new course; conservatives are writing a new chapter if not a new book on cynicism, deceit and delusion. As we contemplate our world dominated by Republicans controlling the House and Senate, we must therefore consider life in the face of deep hypocrisy.

Mitch McConnell, with a straight face and no apparent appreciation for irony, said that voters should install a Republican majority in the Senate because his party would "be able to bring the current legislative gridlock to a merciful end." This really reaches new heights of absurdity. The Filibuster King, the Guru of Gridlock himself, says that in order to end gridlock we need to elect the people who are responsible for bringing us Olympian records of obstruction. McConnell's Republican army in the Senate has led more filibusters than any previous Congress in our nation's history, attempting to thwart any progress on a gleeful spree of "no." This is the McConnell who made obstruction his publicly announced number one goal when Obama was elected to his first term. But now McConnell wants to say yes, to have you vote for him because he is the one to rid us of the scourge of the gridlock he created. Give him a majority and voila he will make sure gridlock is a distant memory. This means of course that he expects the newly-made minority to simply go along with his agenda; you know, like he went along with the Democrats when they had the majority. Sigh. It is enough to make one's head explode.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Gerald Watkins just might be the House Democrats’ Col. Joshua Chamberlain.
   Union victory in the battle of Gettysburg depended on Chamberlain and his Maine regiment holding the Army of the Potomac’s endangered left flank.
    He held and drove the Rebels back. The Yankees went on to win a great turning point battle of the Civil War.
    Watkins, a union-endorsed Paducah Democrat, anchored his party’s threatened western flank tonight.   He held and the Democrats are still the House majority party.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   It’s still our House.
   The Democrats held their 54-46 majority in the state House of Representatives in today's election, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader
   “Kentuckians chose elected officials who will improve the economy and move us in the right direction,” said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president.
   

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Google uses special graphics to mark special days.
   Today, a spinning, American flag-wrapped ballot box appears on the popular search engine.
   A twirling white box with red dollar signs might be more appropriate. The dollar signs would symbolize the millions of dollars right-wing, union-hating billionaires like the Koch sibs have spent trying to buy the election by lavishing a mountain of cash, especially on Red State, right-wing Republican candidates, including Mitch McConnell, the senior of Kentucky’s two union-busting senators.

Election day is here.

We want to thank all of you that have taken the time to volunteer & to recruit volunteers that have been the backbone of our 2014 Labor Program. Our Labor Program has been the major ground force this election cycle. We need to finish strong today.

We are still walking and calling our voters. Unions are still hitting their worksites. We need to push every vote out before today ends. We are hearing reports across the state that turnout is very high. This should be good news if that holds true.

If you hear of anyone experiencing issues at the polling sites, please contact 866-OUR-VOTE. 

We can still use your help today. Contact us at 502-751-0075.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “If we get our voters out, we win,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), told a group of volunteers preparing to knock on doors for her. “If we don’t, we lose.”
   What’s true in the Granite State is also true in the Bluegrass State and in every other state tomorrow.
   “Only you can prevent Republicans,” said a sticker the Illinois Democratic Party put out in 1980.
   

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Alison Lundergan Grimes apologized for arriving about an hour late for her election eve rally in Paducah.

“I know you had to wait for us to get here,” she told the crowd of about 300 Team Switch partisans who jammed the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184 hall Monday morning.

“It was worth it!” a guy yelled. The candidate grinned and added, “Good things are worth waiting for, like going on to get rid of Mitch McConnell.”

 

By ZACH CARTER and JASON CHERKIS, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Most polls show Alison Lundergan Grimes trailing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky's closely watched Senate race. But a secret weapon for Grimes may be something she struggled to embrace for most of her campaign: Obamacare.

More than 413,000 people in Kentucky have obtained health insurance thanks to Kynect, the state's adaptation of the Affordable Care Act. About 330,000 residents received insurance under the law's Medicaid expansion, while more than 82,000 have purchased insurance through Kynect's insurance exchange. For a lightly populated state like Kentucky, those are numbers with the potential to alter election results on Tuesday.

McConnell defeated Democrat Bruce Lunsford in 2008 by 106,811 votes -- 953,816 to 847,005 according to the Kentucky Board of Elections.

 

 

By JENNIFER BENDERY, Huffington Post

Political activist Ralph Nader is warning Kentuckians against voting for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), unless they're happy being represented in Washington by a corporation pretending to be human.

"If most polls are accurate, a slim majority of the minority of eligible voters actually voting will return Senator Mitch McConnell, a cruel corporation masquerading as a lawmaker, to the U.S. Senate," Nader said in a statement Monday.

"Given his record of serving Wall Street over Main Street, of opposing a restoration of an inflation-ravaged minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckian workers, of taking scores of gifts from tobacco, banking, transportation, mining, insurance, drug and other commercial interests whose greed and over-reaching he has always duly served, the voters who choose McConnell can be properly described, with a few wealthy exceptions, as political masochists."

 

By EGBERTO WILLIES, Daily Kos

If one listens to the news, one would believe that the outcome of the 2014 midterm is a foregone conclusion: Democrats will lose the U.S. Senate and many House seats. The reality is that many times the narrative feeds the reality instead of the other way around.

There are, in fact, many head winds for Democrats. The corporatized media has an intrinsic bias against Democrats and as such minimizes their successes. It is a big story that even with Republican obstruction and intransigence, policies that were put into place in the first two years of the Obama administration remain the catalyst for today’s economic expansion (the government has been practically devoid of substantive policy since the 2010 Republican takeover).

The traditional media never touts the reality. America has climbed out of a huge hole dug by Republican policies—the stock market is at all-time highs, gas prices are at multi-year lows. Unemployment is at a multi-year low, and health care is now affordable for most Americans. Those who could not get health care now can. The student loan burden has been improved (although much more is needed that will be unattainable under GOP rule). Women no longer pay more for health care than men.

By NICHOLAS CONFESSORRE and DEREK WILLIS, The New York Times

A stealthy coterie of difficult-to-trace outside groups is slipping tens of millions of dollars of attacks ads and negative automated telephone calls into the final days of the midterm campaign, helping fuel an unprecedented surge of last-minute spending on Senate races.

Much of the advertising is being timed to ensure that no voter will know who is paying for it until after the election on Tuesday. Some of the groups are “super PACs” that did not exist before Labor Day but have since spent heavily on political advertising, adding to the volatility of close Senate and House races.

Others formed earlier in the year but remained dormant until recently, reporting few or no contributions in recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, only to unleash six- and seven-figure advertising campaigns as Election Day draws near. Yet more spending is coming from nonprofit organizations with bland names that have popped up in recent weeks but appear to have no life beyond being a conduit for the ads.

 

By PAUL HOGARTH, Daily Kos

I grew up in a liberal, city-dwelling, NPR-listening household—and my parents always taught me that while we don’t agree with Republicans, we respect their right to vote.

Because in a democracy, everyone has the right to have their voices heard. We want everybody to vote.

Which is why I find the Republican War on Voting so distressing. They know they can’t win an election fair and square, so they have to rig the system to stay in power.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The Kentucky Industrial Workers of the World will present “Precious Memories,” a new play by Si Kahn and starring Sue Massek as folk musician Sara Ogan Gunning, on Nov. 20 in Louisville.
   The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Chapel of St. Phillip Divine, 230 Woodbine St.
   Gunning was a folk singer and songwriter from the coal country of eastern Kentucky. Her friends and admirers included Woody Guthrie.
   Tickets are $15. More information is available from J.P. Wright at 502-553-0495.
   

By LAUREN WINDSOR, The Nation

Mitch McConnell traveled to a secret meeting of donors connected to the Koch brothers network—and it now appears he didn't disclose the expenses for that trip.

Documents obtained by The Nation, The Undercurrent, and the Center for Media and Democracy from the Orange County Sheriffs Department reveal that Mitch McConnell was scheduled to arrive for the confab at the St. Regis Resort in Dana Point, California on Saturday, June 14. Audio from the conference, which we reported in August, confirms that he gave a speech there the following day.

Yet the hotel expense for that night at the St. Regis does not appear to have been disclosed in McConnell's filings with the FEC nor to Senate Ethics.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

    I’m one of those “liberal national Democrats” that conservative Kentucky Democrats sometimes scorn.
   I know some Kentuckians of my persuasion are less than enthusiastic about Team Switch. They say Alison Lundergan Grimes is merely the anti-McConnell.
   I beg to disagree.
    

LOUISVILLE – Caught up in a firestorm that has engulfed the entire Commonwealth and piqued the interest of the national media over his voter suppression tactics, Mitch McConnell appears ready to “no comment” his way to Election Day – refusing to answer why he would authorize what appears to be a completely illegal and unethical action against Kentuckians.

Here are 5 questions Mitch must answer about the sleazy, illegal voter suppression campaign he and the Kentucky GOP have unleashed on Kentucky voters:

1) Political pundits and the media have said this campaign tactic appears to be an intentional attempt to mislead voters. Do you deny that your mailer is falsely designed to look like an official government document?

 

By MIKE ELK, Politico

All eyes will be on Kentucky Tuesday as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a serious challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. But beneath that marquee matchup lies a fierce battle between labor unions and anti-union groups over whether Kentucky, long a rare pro-union outpost in the anti-union South, becomes a right-to-work state.

Republicans hold a majority in the Kentucky state Senate; the Kentucky House is controlled by Democrats, 54-46. That means Republicans need to pick up only five seats to flip it — a task made easier if McConnell wins and extends coattails down the ballot. Should the Kentucky House go Republican, state Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer has already said that his first priority will be to pass a right-to-work bill.

Kentucky is a state with 194,000 union members, so if it passes right-to-work — shorthand for allowing individuals covered by union contracts not to pay union dues or their equivalent (thereby creating a “free rider” problem financially costly to unions) — that will deal a serious blow to organized labor. Unions have already lost tens of thousands of members in recent years from the passage of right-to-work in Indiana and Michigan. According to partial FEC filings, AFL-CIO super PAC Workers’ Voice has spent $1.08 million on the Kentucky Senate race alone.

 

By JOSEPH GERTH, Louisville Courier-Journal

Alison Lundergan Grimes' U.S. Senate campaign said it has filed suit in Franklin Circuit Court alleging that the Republican Party of Kentucky is trying to suppress voter turnout in Eastern Kentucky, where it sent official-looking mailers that say "Election Violation Notice" on the envelope, and is asking for a criminal investigation into voter intimidation.

"This is clearly a scare tactic, and what they are doing to try to manipulate voters," said Jonathan Hurst, Grimes' campaign manager.

Republican Party of Kentucky spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper dismissed Grimes concerns.

 

By DELANE ADAMS, AFL-CIO Southern Region Field Communications Coordinator

Frankfort, KY – With the opportunity to defeat the U.S. Senate’s top Republican and keep the State House in working family-friendly hands, the Kentucky AFL-CIO has undertaken one of the largest grassroots voter outreach efforts in the nation. Workers are fired up and talking to their fellow union members and to the general public about labor’s endorsed candidates and the important issues at stake in this election. The program, which launched in early August, has made over 200,000 contacts with union members, the general public, and their families.

The AFL-CIO has also sent 200,000 pieces of mail to members in Kentucky since August and an additional 150,000 personalized letters were mailed from union leaders to their members. The pieces highlighted the need for working people to fight back against corporate control of politics, strengthen workers’ rights, support public education, and guarantee paid sick leave. The program also included over 200,000 conversations with members at work, on the phone, and at their homes.

“Working families in Kentucky have suffered from 30 years of Mitch McConnell’s shutdown-style politics which have benefitted the wealthy few at the expense of Kentucky families. Kentuckians are ready for fresh leadership and we need a Senator like Alison Lundergan Grimes who will stand up for her constituents, not millionaires and billionaires like the Koch Brothers,” said Bill Londrigan, President of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO. “We are also working hard to push back against the attempts by out-of-state corporate interests to pressure the Kentucky State House into passing legislation that will decrease wages, lower median household income, increase poverty, and undermine workplace safety. Those are the true aims of the misnamed ‘Right to Work’ bill, and the workers of Kentucky will strongly oppose any effort to bring this deceptive and destructive plan to our state.”

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The Republicans got what they think is better than a sack full of Halloween candy.
   The final Bluegrass Poll showed Sen. Mitch McConnell with a 48-43 lead over Alison Lundergan Grimes, the labor-endorsed Democrat who’s after his job.
   But McConnell’s edge is only .9 percentage points outside the margin of error. And I know you've heard it a million times, but it's true. The only poll that counts is Tuesday.    Meanwhile, “millions of dollars continue to pour into the state from shady PACs that often provide no donor information and only list a post office box,” the Kentucky State AFL-CIO says. “They are running non-stop attacks on Alison Grimes.”
 

WYMT-TV

HAZARD, Ky. - Tonight, an alert for Eastern Kentucky voters. The Perry County Clerk and others called us today concerned about a campaign flyer mailed to folks across the coverage area.

On the outside it reads election violation notice. However, once you open it up, it’s actually an attack ad by the Kentucky Republican party against U.S. Senate Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Perry County Clerk Haven King says you should not worry if you received one of these. “This means nothing; I don't know what people are trying to do. There's nothing fraudulent to my knowledge going on and the people in Perry County if you are registered to vote, you will be able to vote and you will be able to vote at your precinct.”

We reached out to the G.O.P. and McConnell campaigns, neither returned our calls or emails.

If you have questions about your registration to vote you can check that by going Elect.KY.gov and clicking on the voter information center.

LOUISVILLE – In the final days of a dead-heat Kentucky Senate race that threatens to end Mitch McConnell’s 30-year record of failure in Washington, McConnell himself has just been caught engaging in the most despicable tactics imaginable in a democracy—a widespread campaign to intimidate Kentuckians from exercising their Constitutional right to vote.

The Grimes campaign has filed for an immediate injunction to prevent McConnell from engaging in these unprecedented and shameful campaign tactics. We will also be asking both state and federal authorities to investigate what, on its face, appears to be a clear violation of both Kentucky and federal laws.

Designed to look like an official government document, McConnell’s campaign mailer is labeled as an ‘Election Violation Notice’ – a transparent attempt to create the impression that scare and intimidate the recipient into believing they have committed or will commit some type of crime by exercising their right to vote. After creating the impression the voter has or is about to do something wrong, a statute is posted suggesting to recipients they could be fined or face as many as six months in prison.

 

By LUKE BRINKER, Salon

As he seeks to fend off a challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell has taken to accusing Grimes of perpetrating fraud on Kentucky voters, with the Republican authorizing mailers that warn voters they “are at risk of acting on fraudulent information.”

Mailed in envelopes that blare “ELECTION VIOLATION NOTICE” and state “You are at risk of acting on fraudulent information,” the Kentucky Republican Party issued a letter that accuses Grimes of “blatant lies” about McConnell’s advocacy for a local coal plant and his support from “anti-coal activists like Michael Bloomberg.” The letter also takes Grimes to task for her support among “anti-coal and anti-gun” Hollywood celebrities and accuses her of hypocrisy in her call for an increased minimum wage because a restaurant owned by her family pays employees less than the minimum.

“This document serves as a notification to you, as a resident of Kentucky and a registered voter in the aforementioned Commonwealth, of fraudulent information that is being deliberately spread to voters in your area,” the mailer reads.

“This information is provided as a public service,” the letter concludes.

 

 LOUISVILLE – After a full week of taking heat for stonewalling his agenda to privatize Social Security, Mitch McConnell remains on defense on the issue in the final four days of the campaign. And now, McConnell has been caught looking directly to the camera and lying to Kentucky voters about his long-held support for privatizing Social Security.

Both local and national reporters have pointed out McConnell’s refusal to discuss Social Security after a bizarre statement last week in which he boasted of how hard he pushed to pass it in 2005, with some speculating that last minute campaigning by Mitch on such an unpopular issue could ultimately cost McConnell the election.

Again yesterday, Mitch offered up a bald-faced lie on his plans – his worst yet – saying: “Nobody wants to privatize Social Security. It’s such a phony allegation that makes you want to almost gag.”

PHONY? REALLY?!? The only reason anyone is talking about Mitch’s plans to privatize Social Security is because he, himself, brought the issue up last Thursday. And they’re not just talking about it – it’s leading local Kentucky news:


“Mitch McConnell’s agenda to privatize Social Security – a top priority of Mitch and his billionaire donor friends – has now come front and center in the final four days of this neck-and-neck sprint to Election Day,” said Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst. “After a 30-year record of failure in Washington, Mitch McConnell has been reduced to lying directly to the voters of Kentucky about his plans to privatize Social Security in a desperate attempt to hold onto the power that has made him wealthy on the backs of ordinary Kentuckians.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The poll had McConnell ahead 48-43. His lead is only .9 beyond the margin of error. 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky campaign manager Jonathan Hurst issued the following statement on the latest Bluegrass poll:

“Against all odds, this race has been a dead heat for nearly a year and a half and it will be a toss-up until the end. Mitch McConnell's recent attempt to buy the election by dipping into his own pockets for $1.8 million more in attack ads won't fool Kentuckians. They will go to the polls knowing that Alison is the only candidate who is willing to put partisanship aside and put the people of Kentucky first.

 

By MARK BLUMENTHAL and ARIEL EDWARDS-LEVY, Huffington Post

With the most crucial Senate races remaining close, we look at how the polling might be disproved on Election Day. National polls show little consensus on which way the political environment is moving. And campaign robocalls may be on the downturn. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

HOW POLLS COULD ERR - With less than a week remaining before Election Day, HuffPost's poll tracking model continues to report roughly the same forecast for control of the U.S. Senate as it has for the past two weeks: The polling averages show Republicans leading at least nominally in enough states to gain a 53-seat majority. The margins remain close enough, however, that the overall probability of a Republican majority is just 63 percent as of this writing. In other words, polling shows the Senate battle leaning Republican, but there is still a real potential that Democrats could hang on due to late shifts or polling errors. So how could these polling averages be wrong?

Randomness in the closest races - Combining polls, whether in a simple average or in a more complex tracking model, helps reduce the purely random variation inherent in all sample surveys, but doesn't eliminate it completely. That random noise comes not just from the number of interviews completed for each poll but also the myriad of design choices made by pollsters and modelers in combining the polls. RealClear Politics' Sean Trende examined polls back to 1998 in the FiveThirtyEight database and found that when the leader in simple polling averages was ahead by 2 percentage points or less in the final week of the campaign, they won only slightly more often not. As should be obvious, when the win probabilities produced by the HuffPost Pollster model stand near 50 percent, it means there's a close to 50-50 chance that the leader will lose.

 

By JASON CHERKIS and ZACH CARTER, Huffington Post  

WASHINGTON -- With Alison Lundergan Grimes down in almost every poll in a tight race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, her success may hinge on whether she can bring Paducah, a small city more than three hours west of Louisville, into her camp.

Paducah has long been a lynchpin in McConnell's simple but effective "west of Interstate 65" strategy. McConnell, who started his career as a political moderate, has pursued a campaign strategy that depends on winning over the counties west of I-65, the highway that bisects Kentucky from Louisville in the north to the Tennessee border in the south. McCracken County, which covers Paducah, didn't swing McConnell's way when he was first elected to the Senate in 1984. But the county soon fell into McConnell's column and has remained there ever since.

McConnell has relied on a Cold War-era uranium facility for the core of his support. The plant helped put Paducah on the map, and the town's identity has long been tied to it. Paducah called itself "The Atomic City" during the postwar years, and murals celebrating its 1950s heyday still line the town's floodwall along the Ohio River. By the mid-1980s, however, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant had become a relic. As similar facilities were shuttered in other states, McConnell pitched himself as the one man who could work the Senate to keep the plant open.


 

 PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - It has been one of the most talked about endorsements in the U.S. Senate race, especially in our region. The United Mine Workers of America is backing democratic candidate, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

On Wednesday, with less than a week to go until Election Day they held a rally for Grimes in Pikeville.

Members of the union alongside their president, Cecil Roberts, lead a high spirited rally in the heart of coal country.

Roberts told the crowd, "This election is not really about Mitch McConnell or Alison. This election come Tuesday of next week, is about us and what kind of life we choose to have."

 

LOUISVILLE – Last night, another disastrous day on the campaign trail for Mitch McConnell’s fading re-election bid closed with a “rally” that was sparsely attended and widely panned by reporters in attendance as boring and entirely bereft of energy. McConnell spent the evening sitting next to fellow Social Security privatization champion Bobby Jindal, after being peppered earlier in the day with questions and lying about his agenda to privatize Social Security.

Meanwhile, Alison concluded another full day on the campaign trail with a tele-town hall meeting where she spoke to more than 16,000 Kentuckians about her plans to raise the minimum wage, end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, help students earn degrees instead of debt, and fight for equal pay for women in the workplace. Today, thousands are expected at campaign events featuring President Bill Clinton as Alison continues to out-hustle Mitch in the closing days of the race.

The enthusiasm gap between the two campaigns was on full display, and noted by reporter Joe Sonka thusly:

“The difference in energy between the Louisville crowds at last night's Grimes events and this Restore America event... quite vast.”

 

LOUISVILLE – On Thursday Alison for Kentucky is proud to welcome President Bill Clinton back to Kentucky to campaign with Alison Lundergan Grimes in Louisville and Ashland. The events will be free and open to the public.

WHAT: Louisville rally with President Clinton

WHEN: Thursday, October 30 – Doors open at 9:00 AM ET

WHERE: Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N 6th St, Louisville, KY 40202


WHAT: Ashland rally with President Clinton

WHEN: Thursday, October 30 – Gates open at 12:00 PM ET

WHERE: Veteran's Riverfront Park, 15th St and Front St, Ashland, KY 41101

 

By JED LEWISON, Daily Kos 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last Thursday, boasting about having worked with George W. Bush in a failed effort to create private Social Security accounts—and complaining that Democrats refused to help:

“After Bush was re-elected in 2004 he wanted us to try to fix Social Security,” said McConnell. “I spent a year trying to get any Democrat in the Senate — even those most reasonable Democrat of all, Joe Lieberman – to help us.”
When asked if he would try the same thing as Senate Majority Leader, McConnell refused to answer, but he was nonetheless proud of his effort. But now that the election is one week closer and he's faced with attacks about his support for Social Security privatization from his opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes and her Democratic allies, McConnell is denying the whole thing:

"That's just one of the many fictions the Grimes campaign has been spinning. Obviously, preserving and protecting Social Security is the most important thing any of us can do," said McConnell.

 

 LOUISVILLE – As heat continues to build on Mitch McConnell for tone deaf and politically damaging remarks made last week that he had pushed Social Security privatization in 2005 as hard as he could – including subsequent stonewalling and dishonesty when facing follow-up questions – he’s chosen a particularly ironic, ill-advised time to bring Gov. Bobby Jindal to the Commonwealth to campaign for him. Why?

Back in 2005, Jindal was a champion in the U.S. House of the very same privatization scheme that McConnell is being hammered over in the closing days of the election. In fact, Jindal was the original chief co-sponsor of the “Growing Real Ownership for Workers Act of 2005” – the House version of the privatization scheme McConnell pushed so hard in the Senate.

McConnell continues to evade and obfuscate his true agenda, now saying he wants to “preserve and protect” Social Security. The problem for Mitch – and Kentuckians dependent on the program – is that his own words from 2005 show that his definition of “preserving” Social Security is privatizing it. Renewed focus on the issue with privatization champion Bobby Jindal will only reinforce and clarify that position, a stance so unpopular with voters that some have speculated it could ultimately cost McConnell the election.

LOUISVILLE – Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) was to join Alison Lundergan Grimes for a series of events today.

The women of the Senate are rallying behind Alison, and together, they will continue forging the kind of solutions this country needs. Alison looks forward to joining the women of the Senate to fight on behalf of Kentucky.

“Sen. Heitkamp is a legislator who looks for common ground and works with the opposite party to get things done in Congress,” said Alison for Kentucky campaign manager Jonathan Hurst. “As Alison will do in the senate, Sen. Heitkamp champions the issues important to hardworking families, including fighting for a place for coal in America’s energy future. With just days to go in this election, Alison is proud to have the endorsement of an independent, solutions-focused Senator like Heidi Heitkamp.”

 

By IRIN CARMON, MSNBC 

In his hotly contested race to keep his Kentucky Senate seat, Republican Mitch McConnell has found himself in some unusual positions recently. He’s depicted himself, a 30-year veteran of the Senate, as an ordinary guy at the deli counter; he’s moderated his language on the Affordable Care Act; and, perhaps most awkward of all, has cast himself as a champion of women. That message was recently delivered in a television ad by several young women, who claimed McConnell was the real pro-woman candidate, not his Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes.

“McConnell’s staff found four people to appear in the ad who actually believe this?” wrotemsnbc’s Steve Benen, pointing to McConnell’s votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, as well as to undermine contraceptive access.

It’s technically true the McConnell campaign found four people who are young women to express enthusiasm for him in a video. But at least one of them is registered to vote in Pennsylvania, as The New York Times reported last week. That’s not all: msnbc has learned that the same woman, Dallas A. Knierman, 20, has never voted in any election, and has not requested an absentee ballot for this election, according to a Mercer County official whose confirmation was pointed to msnbc by the Grimes campaign.

By STEVE BENEN, MSNBC 

A variety of adjectives come to mind when describing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but “undisciplined” isn’t one of them. It’s why it came as something of a surprise last week when the longtime incumbent, unprompted, reminded voters of his support for George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security out of existence.

Ironically, the Kentucky Republican was looking for an example of his bipartisan outreach, and the first thing that came to mind was his effort to find Democrats willing to replace the Social Security system with private accounts.

Alison Lundergan Grimes and her allies were only too pleased to take advantage – if McConnell wants to spend the final week of the campaign talking about his work trying to kill Social Security, Democrats don’t mind at all. Indeed, the Senate Majority PAC launched this hard-hitting ad in Kentucky late last week.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky releases a new web video featuring Coach Joe B. Hall – title-winning University of Kentucky basketball coach and player – who encourages all Kentuckians to join him in support of Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Hall recognizes what is at stake in this campaign and knows that Alison has a proven record of working for the people of Kentucky. Alison remains the only candidate in this race with the action plan needed to grow Kentucky’s middle class. Coach Hall agrees with Kentuckians in all 120 counties that 30 years of Mitch McConnell is long enough.

To ensure all Kentuckians’ voices are heard on Election Day, information on voting and polling places can be found at www.KentuckyVotes2014.com. 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Talk is cheap. Words to purportedly patriotic tunes can ring hollow too when they are sung by a guy who skipped military service in wartime yet bases his whole show biz persona on very public professions of love for God and country.
   I mean Lee Greenwood. The country music star is famous for crooning “God Bless the U.S.A.” The tune was “voted the most recognizable patriotic song in America,” according to his website.
   The Grammy Award-winning Greenwood, 72, sang his signature song at a free concert on behalf of the Mitch McConnell campaign Tuesday night on a farm near Murray. McConnell stood next to Greenwood as the crooner belted out “God Bless the U.S.A.”

LOUISVILLE – Mitch McConnell can see the writing on the wall. With his struggling campaign and his 30-year record of failure in Washington nearing its end – and with heat turning up on McConnell for stonewalling his agenda to privatize Social Security – Mitch finally answered a question on the issue last night in Bowling Green.

Both local and national reporters have pointed out McConnell’s refusal to discuss Social Security after a bizarre statement last week in which he boasted of how hard he pushed to pass it in 2005, with some speculating that last minute campaigning by Mitch on such an unpopular issue could ultimately cost McConnell the election.

Unfortunately for the voters of Kentucky, Mitch offered up a bald-faced lie, both refusing to reveal his agenda to privatize Social Security, and offering the meaningless statement that: “preserving and protecting Social Security is the most important thing any of us can do.” That's just one of the fictions McConnell is clutching onto in the final six days of this campaign. Indeed, his record suggests that this very answer is an admission that he will aggressively pursue privatization of Social Security if re-elected. In fact in 2005 when he was pushing privatization as hard has he could, McConnell used the exact same phraseology – calling privatization the “way we can strengthen and save Social Security.”

 

By ADAM BEAM, Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren brought her brand of populist politics back to Kentucky on Tuesday to campaign for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes one week before voters go to the polls in one of the country's most closely watched Senate races.

Warren, making her second trip to Kentucky this election season, jumped between full throated attack mode against Republican policies and soft stories of how her janitor father helped her family "make it into a middle class that America's labor unions built."


"There is no better fighter for America's middle class, for America's working people, than Alison Lundergan Grimes," Warren said, citing Grimes' support of raising the minimum wage. "Alison is willing to fight back and better yet, Alison is willing to fight forward."

 

By GREG SARGENT, Washington Post

 The other day, the Dem-aligned Senate Majority PAC made a splash by going up in Kentucky with a very harsh ad hitting Mitch McConnell over his previous support for Social Security privatization. The ad linked that stance to an assertion that McConnell had “rearranged his portfolio” after private calls with a top Treasury Department official, implicitly suggesting McConnell had milked inside connections to bolster his own retirement security while gambling with that of others.

The ad ticked off the McConnell campaign, which circulated a fact check that said it had oversimplified the claims in the original article on which it was based and overlooked the fact that it had alleged no wrongdoing.

The McConnell campaign is trying to get TV stations to stop running the ad. I’ve checked in with Kentucky stations, and most declined to reveal their plans for the spot, though an official at one — Fox affiliate WDRB — told me: “We reinstated the spot, finding the assertions factual.”

 

EDITOR:

Thanks to our brother Jay Dennis of Teamsters Local 89, our firm reviewed our members’ election rights under KRS 118.035. What we found is incredible! KRS 118.035 gives our members to request a minimum of four hours unpaid leave to vote early (absentee) or to vote on election day. The only way our member is protected from reprisal if they request time off to vote is TO VOTE!!! That means for members whose facilities, work sites etc. are outside of the counties where they live, they have the right to request and take not less than four (4) hours off this week TO VOTE! Again, they have to VOTE! For members who live in the county where they work, they can request not less than (4) hours unpaid leave on election day TO VOTE!!!

Attached is our legal memorandum and proposed sign up sheets for both types of employees (those that have to vote on election day and those who can vote early). Hopefully you see the powerful GOTV tool that we see.

Let’s bring this home!!!

In solidarity,
Dave Suetholtz, attorney at law, Louisville

 

By LAURA BARRON LOPEZ
The Hill

EDITOR’S NOTE: Labor Secretary Liz Shuler was also expected to appear at the Madisonville Rally, set for 10 a.m. (CDT) at the Rizpah Temple. Grimes and Roberts will appear Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. (EDT) at the Pikeville University gym.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) is holding two rallies this week to encourage pro-coal voters to come out in support of Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes on Election Day.

The two events will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Madisonville, and Pikeville, Ky., according to the UMWA.

"Alison Grimes doesn't just care about coal, she is the only candidate in this race who cares about coal miners," Cecil Roberts, international president of UMWA, said in a statement.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan says "thanks to allThanks to all those that attended today’s “Put the Middle Class First” Bus Tour event in Louisville and Lexington.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Putting the middle class first is the message being spread by Americans United for Change.

The "Put the Middle Class First" bus tour is making its way through Kentucky to encourage voters on November 4 to vote for Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has campaigned for raising the minimum wage.

The group came to Louisville's Metro Hall on Monday.

Americans United for Change is urging voters to support candidates who are for raising the minimum wage.

The group also says they want to ensure that women receive equal pay.

"This is about equity, it's about fairness, mostly about respect, but it's because it's in everybody's interest to make sure that everyone earns a living wage for honest work and that's what this is all about," said Congressman John Yarmuth.

Congressman Yarmuth says the minimum wage is 30 percent lower than it was four decades ago and that it's time to give middle class families a relief.

Executive Summary: After 30 years in Washington, Mitch McConnell is as out of touch with reality as he is with the people of Kentucky if he expects people to believe his “all is well” narrative. The truth is, the wheels have come off his campaign in the final weeks, as undecided voters break towards Alison and she rallies large, enthusiastic crowds in every corner of the Commonwealth.

Simply put, people who believe their (historically inaccurate) internal pollster’s data showing them leading comfortably don’t write themselves $1.8 million checks in the final days of a campaign. Candidates who are truly connecting with Kentucky voters don’t have to pay people to show up and act enthusiastic at their campaign events. McConnell may insist to the media he remains confident and holds a healthy lead, but his actions are those of a man who sees the writing on the wall as his 30-year record of failure in Washington comes to a close.


Despite The Millions McConnell & His Billionaire Friends Have Thrown Into The Wind, He Can’t Crack 45% in Any Legitimate Poll. That’s a Ceiling of a Losing Candidate. 

 

By ROBERT CREAMER, The Huffington Post

It's lucky for the Republicans that most general elections fall so close to Halloween. That gives them an excuse for their great bi-annual GOP Halloween Masquerade Ball.

This year the Republicans are doing their very best to prevent the voters from remembering who they really are and what they really stand for. They're putting on their "moderate masks" and the costumes of ordinary middle class Americans.

Why do they have to pretend to be something their not? Their problem is that most Americans disagree with their positions on just about every economic and social issue of the day. Voters disagree with Republicans on economic issues like:

 

By STEVE BENEN, MSNBC

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in the midst of the toughest race of his career, still isn’t quite sure how he wants to present himself to voters. On the one hand, the longtime Republican senator is proud to be the nation’s top obstructionist, helping create the most dysfunctional Congress in modern history. On the other hand, McConnell wants the public to see him as the consummate dealmaker.

To help prove the latter point, the GOP incumbent cited an interesting example last week.

Though he hasn’t mentioned it much on the campaign trail over the past year, McConnell specifically touted his effort to push President George W. Bush’s plans to reform Social Security in 2005, which would have set up private accounts for retirees.

“After Bush was re-elected in 2004 he wanted us to try to fix Social Security,” said McConnell. “I spent a year trying to get any Democrat in the Senate – even those most reasonable Democrat of all, Joe Lieberman – to help us.”
We now know, of course, that Democrats weren’t interested in privatizing Social Security. Neither was the American mainstream, which hated the Bush/Cheney idea. But the fact that McConnell brought this up, unprompted, was a clumsy error from a senator who’s usually more disciplined.

 

By SHANNON McMURRAY, special to the Louisville Courier-Journal

In the hit series “The West Wing,” a character mistakenly refers to Kentucky as a right-to-work state. In defense of the show’s writers, you can understand their confusion. Kentucky remains the only state in the South not to pass one of these laws, which shows our political independence and common sense. But Republicans in Frankfort, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and a group of out-of-state, big-moneyed special interests are doing everything in their power to change that.

I strongly oppose right-to-work legislation because I love Kentucky and want a bright future for our children and grandchildren. Right to work is a sham. It is, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a false slogan” which will “rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”

Slogans are catchy. They are designed to get a quick emotional reaction rather than a detailed understanding. That is why I believe some polls show support for these laws. No one opposes the right of Kentuckians to go to work and earn a living. But slogans are also misleading. They do not tell the full story. A majority of Kentuckians also support collective bargaining and higher wages, both of which are under attack as a result of right to work. As people learn more about who is behind right to work and the harm it causes working families, opposition is going to grow substantially.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   I asked Dan O’Malley how the old conservative wedge issues like guns, gay marriage and abortion were playing among working class Kentuckians this election cycle.
   “We’re not hearing that,” said O’Malley, Bluegrass State director for Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO that started in 2003.
   “Working America organizes people who don’t have a union on the job,” O’Malley explained. “This time of year, the organization reaches out to voters.”
   He said jobs and the economy are the issues that Working America is hearing the most about in the Bluegrass State. “Folks here have seen how the Kentucky economy has really taken a hit the past 20 years or so. People want to know what their next U.S. senator is going to do to put Kentucky first and rebuild the middle class.”
   

By SCOTTY PULLIAM

Looking forward to November 4th, there are a few things we need to bear in mind that were pivotal in the June take-down of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. You remember Cantor, right? Second-in-command of Republicans in the House of Representatives; heir apparent to John Boehner for the speaker-ship.

Going into the Republican primary in Virginia, Cantor looked virtually unbeatable. He was up by double digits in the polls over his relatively unknown opponent, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College with tea party ties. When the polls closed and the votes were counted, underdog extraordinaire Dave Brat had reversed the numbers and won going away by a 12-point margin.

So the first thing we want to remember is this: Forget the polls. In the case of Mr. Cantor, his assumption of a big lead gave him a false sense of security which, in turn, led to complacency. Yes, the big lead became a big head and caused a big fall. Conversely, facing an almost certain shellacking, the victorious Brat ignored the polls and pulled out the biggest upset in recent political history. Polls are okay to give you an idea how your candidate is being perceived by the public but they are totally useless if voter turnout doesn't reflect those people surveyed.

The second thing to take away from Cantor's collapse is that no matter how much more money is spent on behalf of one candidate over the other, the one with the most votes wins. Cantor outspent Brat 40-to-1 and still got swamped. Why? Because dollars don't vote; people do. Citizens United gives incumbents an unfair advantage and is a lousy law but it doesn't guarantee victory. More votes does guarantee victory.

By now, it's fairly obvious where I'm going with this. It all boils down to voter turnout. If we get out the vote, we win. It's as simple as that. What's not so simple is getting it done. We have 13 days to call, walk, persuade, plead, cajole, cheer-lead or do whatever else it may take to convince our members and families of the importance of VOTING and voting for our labor-endorsed candidates. We have the numbers to win and less than two weeks to turn those numbers into victory. Let's GET OUT THE VOTE!

LOUISVILLE – Usually it takes a secret recording of Mitch McConnell hanging out with his millionaire and billionaire backers to hear him tell the truth. But in a rare moment of candor before the Louisville Rotary Club late last week, McConnell proudly boasted about how hard he worked to privatize Social Security in 2005.

After the electoral drubbing Republicans took for pushing Social Security privatization and the precarious state of his reeling campaign, it’s hardly surprising that Mitch McConnell refused to elaborate or answer any further questions about Social Security privatization from reporters after the event. As reported by WLEX-18 News:
“McConnell was also asked if he would push for the privatization of Social Security accounts if he became Majority Leader. McConnell said he wasn't going to say what his agenda would be.”

But in addition to his recent bragging, Mitch McConnell’s record shows he would clearly be an advocate for Social Security privatization if he became Majority Leader in 2015. In fact, Social Security has been a recurring element of McConnell’s 30-year record of failure in Washington. Back in the 1990’s, McConnell cast crucial votes in favor of early privatization schemes, and while campaigning for privatization in 2005, called the idea an “extraordinarily good investment” and the “way we can strengthen and save Social Security.”

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “This is the most important election in your lifetime.”
   Politicians say that so often that a lot of voters don’t believe it. After all, elections and politicians come and go.
   But this time the statement is true for those of us who pack union cards in the Bluegrass State.
   If the Republicans flip the state House of Representatives a week from Tuesday, Kentucky will almost certainly become the 25th right to work state.

By ANNA BRAND, MSNBC 

In a new ad from Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, a handful of women from the Bluegrass state stare straight into the camera and blast Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell for his shameful 30-year record on women.

“Shame on you Mitch McConnell,” an African-American woman says, arms crossed.

“You’ve turned your back on our mothers, our daughters, and me,” another woman continues.

More women lambaste the Senate minority leader for voting against the Paycheck Fairness Act and declining to vote for an expanded Violence Against Women Act in 2012: “Instead of enforcing equal pay for equal work, you called it preferential treatment” // “You’ve stood against stronger laws on domestic violence.”

With a recent Bluegrass poll released on October 20 finding the candidates in a dead heat without a gender gap in either direction, both candidates are fighting aggressively over the women vote with the little time left until the midterm election on November 4.

 

By LAWRENCE LEWIS, Daily Kos

Have you had enough? Are you tired of being played? Have you figured out that the members of the major media are not your friends, and that they exist to mesmerize and manipulate so that you can serve their owners' ends? When was the last time a major news story made you feel better? How long did it last? Do the major media ever go 24/7 with something inspiring, or is it easier to suck you in by playing on your fears?

Remember ISIS? It was just weeks ago that a bunch of vicious terrorists videotaped themselves cutting off the heads of a few captured humanitarian Britons and Americans, and suddenly people halfway around the globe were terrorized into thinking it could happen to them. The media hyped it and the Republicans slavered over what they saw as a political opportunity. Then suddenly a man traveling from Liberia became the first person in the United States to become symptomatic with the Ebola virus, and ISIS was forgotten. A pandemic was coming! Break out your HazMat suits! Once again, the media obsessed, the Republicans with despicable cynicism tried to play the political angle, and much of the public was dutifully terrified.

This is what the major media so often do: terrify and terrorize. That's what Republicans always try to do: prey on people's deepest fears. And never mind that no American who wasn't traveling to Iraq or Syria ever was in any danger from ISIS, and never mind that Ebola is so difficult to transmit that not even one person who flew on a transcontinental plane or even lived in a small apartment with the one man in the United States who subsequently died from it ever came down with it. The major media held people enthralled, the Republicans sought to blame it all on President Obama and the Democrats, and in neither case was the general public ever at any risk.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader are Kentucky's two premier newspapers. The C-J, the state's largest paper, has earned 10 Pulitzer Prizes. The H-L, the second largest paper, has earned three Pulitzers.  

The Lexington Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier-Journal have endorsed Alison Lundergan Grimes for the U.S. Senate. The editorials are in today's editions of the two papers.

Lexington Herald-Leader editorial

Elect Grimes to Senate for a better future

As targets of probably the costliest U.S. Senate race ever, Kentuckians should do themselves — and the country — a favor by electing Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

 

LOUISVILLE – Over the last week, Mitch McConnell confirmed to Kentuckians that he’s an out-of-touch DC insider who stands with the billionaires who are trying to buy his way back to Washington for another six years of gridlock and dysfunction.

McConnell sees the writing on the wall, and is starting to crack under the mounting pressure of the impending end to his 30-year career in Washington. He’s hit rock bottom, resorting strictly to deceptions and absurdly false attacks against Alison. This past week:

McConnell’s latest disingenuous ad targeting women was thoroughly discredited, featuring a woman from Pennsylvania and airbrushing over his anti-women record;

McConnell wrote himself a nearly $2 million check to prop up his flailing campaign;

McConnell bizarrely reaffirmed his deeply unpopular plan to privatize Social Security;
Local media continually hounded McConnell for buying “enthusiasm” for campaign events;

McConnell told Kentuckians: elect me to run the Senate and I’ll tell you my agenda after the election.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Reporters are still bird-dogging Sen. Mitch McConnell over a story in The Hill that said his campaign offered to pay volunteers to help boost “an enthusiastic atmosphere” at his campaign rallies.
   The other day, Louisville’s WAVE TV ran a news story featuring McConnell’s response to the continuing controversy. Predictably, the senate majority leader wannabe tried to fluff it all off.
   But what got my attention was how the WAVE story ended:
“McConnell also faced a question…about whether if he became majority leader he would push legislation to offer privatized accounts for Social Security. McConnell said he wasn’t going to say what his agenda would be” [Italics mine].

By TRIP GABRIEL, The New York Times

In the tug-of-war for women’s votes in Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell has released a new ad starring four “young Kentucky women’’ criticizing his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. But one of the women appears to be registered to vote in Pennsylvania, not Kentucky.

That woman, Dallas Knierman, who criticizes Ms. Grimes in the ad because “she wants me to believe that strong women and strong values are incompatible,’’ is registered in Mercer County, Pa., according to both states’ voter databases. On a personal blog, Ms. Knierman says she is student at the University of Louisville “hailing from Pennsyltucky.’’

A spokeswoman for the McConnell campaign, Allison Moore, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

Washington DC – Americans United for Change has hit the road with the national “Put the Middle Class First” bus tour to help drive home the clear choice before voters on November 4 between having a Democratic Congress that works for them or a Tea Party Congress that works for corporate special interests like the Koch brothers. NEXT STOP: Kentucky on Monday, October 27th, 2014, first in Louisville at 10:00 a.m. ET, followed Lexington at 2 p.m. ET. (SEE DETAILS BELOW.)

With the backdrop of the 45’ long ‘fair shot advocate on wheels’, Americans United will be joined by Congressman John Yarmuth, Elisabeth Jensen, Candidate for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district, local state representatives, candidates, paycheck fairness and seniors’ advocates who agree that a strong economy can only be built to last from the middle-out.

 

 LOUISVILLE – As public and internal polling confirm that undecided voters are breaking Alison Lundergan Grimes’s way, there is no question that Kentucky is on track to make history in just 11 days’ time.

The wind is at Alison’s back in the final stretch. This week:
Thousands of Kentuckians joined Alison and President Bill Clinton in Owensboro and Paducah for a series of high-energy jobs rallies;

Alison continued to crisscross the Commonwealth and outmaneuver McConnell on the ground;

Polls show Grimes is on a winning trajectory to defeat Mitch McConnell.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: More photos of the rally can be viewed by clicking on "Photo Albums" on the site's home page.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Former president Bill Clinton, stumping for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Paducah, revealed his version of how Sen. Mitch McConnell is trying to con voters by tying her to President Barack Obama.
   “Now here’s what the real message is,” Clinton told about 1,800 Grimes partisans who jammed the McCracken County High School gym.
   Grinning broadly and standing before a huge American flag reminiscent of the opening scene from the movie Patton, he pretended to be the senate majority leader wannabe: “I know you don’t like the president.

 

GRAYSON – Never mind the people of Kentucky – whose interests Mitch McConnell long ago abandoned during his 30-year career in Washington – does Mitch McConnell even know what’s going on within his own campaign?

After multiple news reports showing that McConnell has been paying “volunteers” to generate “enthusiasm” at bus tour events across Kentucky – in the form of warm bodies to fill his campaign events – the Senator was finally asked why he would need to do such a thing unless he’d truly lost touch with Kentuckians in the communities he was visiting.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was posted on the Forbes website on Dec. 11, 2012. It is still timely, especially in Kentucky where the Republican Party is pushing a right to work law.

By RICK UNGER
One of the enduring myths of legislation designed to bring ‘right-to-work’ laws to the states is the notion that these laws actually have something to do with the right to work.

They decidedly do not.

While—as we will see—the misnomer has nothing whatsoever to do with granting anyone a right to get work or protecting those who have a job from losing it, this “misunderstanding-by-design” has not prevented the Michigan legislature from sending two bills to the desk of Governor Rick Snyder.—legislation that, upon execution, will turn Michigan into the 24th state to adopt right-to-work laws.
Accordingly, this seems an appropriate moment to set the record straight on what these laws are, in actuality, intended to achieve.

Let’s begin by noting that many Americans continue to believe that unionism is based around the concept of the ‘closed shop’ —an agreement between an employer and the union representing the employer’s workers requiring that the employer hire only labor union members or, if nonmembers are employed, they must become a member of the union within a stated period of time or lose their job.

Not true.

 

By STEVE BENEN, MSNBC

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) knows the value of a strong closing message. The incumbent senator is in the midst of the toughest race of his lengthy career – polls show him clinging to a tiny lead over Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) – and with very little time remaining, McConnell wants to sprint to the finish line with his strongest message.

And yet, for some reason, the longtime lawmaker has chosen to emphasize women’s issues in his final pitch.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jeanie Embry of Paducah, our friend at the Bluegrass Rural PAC bluegrass-rural.com sent us this musing.
   The Republican Party is dominated by cheap-labor conservatives. "What's a cheap-labor conservative?" you might ask. Cheap-labor conservatives defy a physical description, but they can be identified. Here's how:
   Cheap labor conservatives:
…oppose a woman’s right to choose. Why? Unwanted children are an economic burden that put poor women over a barrel, forcing them to work cheap.
…encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. Why? Bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognizing their common interests as wage earners.
 

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst released the following statement on the increasingly desperate McConnell campaign's shoddy internal polling:

"We knew the McConnell camp was scared, but the timing of this release -- with public polls showing the wind at our back and undecideds breaking our way, huge grassroots momentum across the entire Commonwealth, and an enormous amount of energy following statewide events with both Clintons -- couldn't be more transparent. Mitch McConnell can sense his 30 years in Washington are dangerously close to an end, and a two-paragraph memo from a pollster with a terrible track record only shows how terrified they've truly become."

 


By DAVID NIR, Daily Kos Elections

KY-Sen: Mitch McConnell did not like that new PPP poll very much-the one showing Democrat Alison Grimes leading him 48-46-so he's fighting back with his own internal from Voter/Consumer Research that has him up 49-42. Of course, that flies in the face of just about every legitimate poll of this heavily polled race, but there's also the fact that, like so many Republican pollsters, VCR is pathetic.

In Hawaii's Senate race last cycle, they found Democrat Mazie Hirono leading Republican Linda Lingle just 47-43 a few weeks before Election Day, and earlier in the race, they even showed Lingle up 5. Hirono won by 25 points. They blew the Democratic primary as well, showing Hirono just 1 point ahead of Ed Case, whom she crushed by 16.

That's not all. They had Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama by 1 in Iowa in September, when everyone but Rasmussen had the president ahead. He went on to win by 6.

 

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

   Frankfort, Ky. -- Just like the Kentucky Derby, this senate race is most anticipated race in the country. This senate horse race is neck and neck going into the final turn and whoever crosses the finish line will be determined by which candidate gets the most voters out on November 4th. It will come down to who has the best ground game. This race is a tossup.
   Our members are having conversations with people all across Kentucky and they are all saying the same thing, 30 years of Mitch McConnell has not worked for working Kentuckians. In the final days of the campaign, we will continue to send out campaign mail pieces and pass out leaflets at worksites all across Kentucky. We will continue to make phone calls and knock on doors because there is only one choice for working Kentuckians, Alison Lundergan Grimes. The voters of Kentucky want fresh, new leadership to represent them. Alison does not have to pay for enthusiasm, it is the real deal.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The new Bluegrass Poll seems to prove Team Switch’s contention that the last Bluegrass Poll wasn’t an “outlier,” pollster-speak for a survey that’s the exception, not the rule.
   Released Monday, the survey had Sen. Mitch McConnell up 43-42 over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. The previous Bluegrass Poll put Grimes out front, 46-44.   Both surveys were well within the margin of error.
   The new poll “confirms yet again that the 15-month campaign plan from which we have never wavered has Alison poised for a narrow but decisive victory on November 4th,” said a Monday statement from Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst.

By ALEXANDRA JAFFE, The Hill

EDITOR’S NOTE: This old newspaper feature writer and columnist can confirm Jaffe’s story. Long ago, I was on assignment at a Fancy Farm picnic when this busload of McConnell supporters rolled up, from Louisville, I think. I asked a passenger, a guy in his late teens or early 20s, why he was for McConnell. He said he wasn’t all that into politics. He said the McConnell campaign paid him to come to Fancy Farm and root for the senator.

 

The Kentucky Republican Party is offering volunteers all-expenses-paid trips to join Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) campaign bus tour and "contribute to an enthusiastic atmosphere" at his events.

In an email sent earlier this month and obtained by The Hill, Taylor Bumgardner, a Kentucky Republican Party regional political director, offers volunteers the opportunity to join McConnell on his tour, which launched Monday. Meals, lodging and transportation are included in the trip.

"Senator McConnell is seeking volunteers to join him on a 3-day campaign bus tour around the state on October 20-22 to show our support for Kentucky coal. You would join local supporters in contributing to an enthusiastic atmosphere at each of his events," she wrote.

 

LOUISVILLE – After repeatedly stonewalling questions about what he knew regarding campaign manager Jesse Benton’s role in a federal bribery-for-endorsement scandal—a scandal that saw Benton resign in disgrace—McConnell insisted “we’re moving on” in an interview on September 2nd. Apparently McConnell and his campaign were not quite done “moving on,” as new FEC records show an additional $5,000 payment to Benton the next day.

Benton was subpoenaed in July, more than a month before his resignation, and evidence shows his deputy Dimitri Kesari made cash payments of which Benton had explicit knowledge regarding negotiations in what federal investigators are calling the “focus of the probe.”

 

Editor:
   What are the odds? On page A10 of today's Courier-Journal, an Associated Press article authored by Adam Beam violated what seems to be a "media ban" on telling the truth about so-called "right to work" laws.
   The headline reads Local governments push minimum wage, right-to-work laws and the article deals with Republicans who apparently can't kill efforts to raise the minimum wage and/or get RTW passed on a federal and statewide basis. So they are introducing bills in municipal governments, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody.
   Heretofore, typically speaking, newspaper articles referring to RTW laws describe them by saying merely that they would "outlaw mandatory membership in a labor union as a condition of employment". Apparently Mr. Beam has dug a little deeper than his peers in researching this particular story. Following a statement regarding Democrats in Louisville attempting to increase the minimum wage locally he writes, "In more conservative areas, Republicans have pushed back by trying to pass local laws that would weaken unions". Laws that would weaken unions! When was the last time you read that in reference to RTW in a mainstream publication? Allow me. NEVER!
   

By SCOTTY PULLIAM
   I saw a campaign commercial for Mitch McConnell the other day that stated, “We can't trust Alison Grimes”. I wondered how many people would actually cast a vote for McConnell based on that slanderous assumption. Well over a hundred million dollars is being spent on this one race alone to saturate the airwaves and the Internet with lies, half-truths and vicious attacks containing very little useful information and apparently that works for a lot of voters. Sadly, it seems many of us don't want to be bothered with doing a little research to find out what is in our best interest.
   For those who actually do want to be well informed, I humbly offer some food for thought. While Alison Lundergan Grimes has a limited political resume, having served about two-thirds of a four-year term as Kentucky Secretary of State, there is quite a bit of readily available information about her in print. Although she has been politically active since early childhood, following her graduation from law school, Mrs. Grimes worked from 2004 to 2011 as an associate in private practice with a Lexington law firm. Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, has a long history in the public eye dating to 1968. And yet, there is much about him that is shrouded in secrecy. And that, my brothers and sisters, is cause for concern.

 

EDITOR:
   For years, State Rep. David Floyd has told the working people of Nelson County that he isn't for right to work for less. But his comments in debates and his actions when the House is in session in Frankfort contradict what he says back home.
   Rep. Floyd told David Avis, a member of our union local, that he has never been for RTW for less and that when he co-sponsored bills to end prevailing wage and make Kentucky a RTW for less State (2013 H.B. 308) he showed "bad judgment" and acted out of "frustration."
   When Dick Heaton ran against him in 2012, Jeremy Goff, another member of our local, asked Floyd his position on RTW for less. In a public debate held in New Haven, Rep. Floyd said he wasn't for RTW for less.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Louisville Courier-Journal, Kentucky’s largest newspaper, said self-promotion was the theme of McConnell’s speech at this year’s Fancy Farm political picnic, the largest event of its kind the state, and maybe the country:

“Mr. McConnell…listed as his top priority…himself.

“‘There’s only one way to begin to go in a different direction,’ he thundered in the closing line to a speech that lasted under six minutes. ‘That’s to change the Senate and make me the leader of the new majority and take America in a different direction.’

“While identifying his personal advancement to Senate majority leader as an overriding goal, Mr. McConnell gave scant attention to the more than 4 million Kentuckians he represents in Washington….So it appears that after five terms and 30 years in the U.S. Senate, for Mr. McConnell, it’s all about me.”

LOUISVILLE – This weekend, Mitch McConnell finally acknowledged what Kentuckians have known all along: that his desire to return to Washington is “obviously…self-serving:”

“I’m hoping — obviously it’s self-serving — but I'm hoping the American people would like to try something different.” – Mitch McConnell [Herald-Leader, 10/19/14]

EDITOR’S NOTE: This essay by Edwin Lyngar that appeared in Salon on July 16, 2014. It as timely as ever as election day draws nigh.
By EDWIN LYNGAR
Salon

   I was a 20-year-old college dropout with no more than $100 in the bank the day my son was born in 1994. I’d been in the Coast Guard just over six months. Joining the service was my solution to a lot of problems, not the least of which was being married to a pregnant, 19-year-old fellow dropout. We were poor, and my overwhelming response to poverty was a profound shame that drove me into the arms of the people least willing to help — conservatives.
    Just before our first baby arrived, my wife and I walked into the social services office near the base where I was stationed in rural North Carolina. “You qualify for WIC and food stamps,” the middle-aged woman said. I don’t know whether she disapproved of us or if all social services workers in the South oozed an understated unpleasantness. We took the Women, Infants, Children vouchers for free peanut butter, cheese and baby formula and got into the food stamp line.
   Looking around, I saw no other young servicemen. Coming from the white working class, I’d always been taught that food stamps were for the “others” — failures, drug addicts or immigrants, maybe — not for real Americans like me. I could not bear the stigma, so we walked out before our number was called.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   "Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their backs on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will have to sit on their blisters." -- Abraham Lincoln.
   About this time four years ago, I was driving past a western Kentucky Walmart and spotted a woman in a “Rand Paul for Senate” tee shirt loading groceries into an old compact car.
   Based on her wheels, I guessed the shopper lives far from Easy Street.
   I saw the same car pulling out of the Walmart the other day. A fresh “Team Mitch” sticker was on the back bumper.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We enjoy hearing from our readers. Tell us what’s on your mind. Make it short, or go long. We want to hear from you.
Dear Editor:
McConnell is trying to play both sides on Ebola of course. According to the talking heads there are no direct flights from that part of the world. All flights go through Europe before passengers come here. So the question to McConnell should be: Do you ban flights from Europe? It's all continuing election bull to change the conversation from the Party of NO!
Jimmie Johnson
Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184
Paducah

 

By CHUCK STINNETT, The Gleaner

HENDERSON, Ky. - The Tri-county Council of Labor expressed its gratitude to United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts in Henderson on Saturday night for fighting for Peabody Coal Co. and Patriot Coal Corp. retirees whose promised lifetime health benefits were threatened.

Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan presented the council’s Platinum Award Community Service Award to Cecil at its 18th annual Awards Banquet.

“It is, it is said, easy to sit up and take notice,” labor council President John Coomes declared. “What is difficult is standing up and taking action. Tonight we are celebrating the fact that someone stood up and took that action. Tonight we are celebrating the leadership, enthusiasm, commitment and sheer hard work of International President of the United Mineworkers of America Cecil Roberts.”

 

By JOSEPH GERTH, Louisville Courier-Journal

Sen. Mitch McConnell is fond of drawing a connection between Alison Lundergan Grimes and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, and suggesting that she will do his bidding for him if she gets to the U.S. Senate.

And while Reid’s Senate Majority PAC has spent nearly $2.4 million on television ads propping up Grimes, it might not be to Reid whom she owes her biggest debt in Washington if she can upset McConnell, the Senate’s minority leader.

 

By LARRY DALE KEELING in the Lexington Herald Leader

FRANKFORT — What a kerfuffle over nothing.

Folks at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee opted not to make another television ad buy (at this time) in support of Alison Lundergan Grimes' bid to oust Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and state and national media went all atwitter about the DSCC writing off her campaign.

Maybe the media pack shouldn't have jumped to a conclusion quite so fast. It appears the DSCC was simply shifting from an "air war" to a "ground war" in its effort to retire McConnell. The day after opting out of another ad buy, it contributed $300,000 to Grimes' "get out the vote" efforts in Kentucky. If the DSCC is writing Grimes' campaign off, it's doing so in a darned expensive manner.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   No sooner did Scotty Pulliam read today’s Louisville Courier -Journal than he dashed off an email to me here in deep western Kentucky.
   “If everything we've written doesn't convince people this is going to happen, perhaps reading it in the C-J will!” suggested Scotty, a former business agent and president of Falls City IBEW Local 369.
    Retired though still a union activist, Scotty meant Tom Loftus’s front page article about how Republicans plan to pass a right to work law and repeal the prevailing wage law on public construction projects if they win a majority in the state House of Representatives Nov. 4.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky begins airing a new 30-second television ad entitled, “Feel Safe.” The ad features a testimonial from Markas Brunson, a son of a domestic violence victim, and highlights Alison’s dedication to protecting victims of domestic violence and her commitment to putting politics aside to get Washington working for Kentucky.


In the Senate, Alison will work across the aisle to raise the minimum wage, enforce equal pay for equal work and protect victims of domestic violence. As Kentucky’s first female U.S. Senator, Alison will continue fighting for women just as she’s done as Secretary of State and as a volunteer lawyer for victims of domestic violence.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Bill Clinton made campaign stops in Paducah the night before election day in 1992 and on Aug. 30, 1996. 

LOUISVILLE – Alison for Kentucky is proud to welcome President Bill Clinton back to Kentucky in support of Alison Lundergan Grimes.

On Tuesday, October 21, President Clinton will join Alison at get-out-the-vote rallies in Owensboro and Paducah. This will be the third time the President has campaigned with Alison in her bid for the U.S. Senate, and follows a hugely successful rally with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Alison this past Wednesday.

“The Clintons’ commitment to Alison’s candidacy is a testament to what a strong, independent leader she will be in the U.S. Senate,” said Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst. “Kentucky is Clinton country, and we are honored to have both Hillary and President Clinton here in the Commonwealth to campaign with Alison in the final days of an election that will significantly impact the future of our state and our nation.”

 

By ANDY KROLL, Mother Jones

Many Ebola experts think that banning travel to the US from West Africa, where an outbreak of the deadly virus has killed thousands of people, would do more harm than good. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree. But Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can't seem to settle on a position. On Wednesday, he stumped both for a ban and for letting the experts decide—a same-day flip-flop.

In an interview with NBC News, McConnell was asked if he thought the US should ban flights from West Africa. "I'd leave that up to the CDC to determine what the techniques ought to be in trying to contain the disease," he said. He added, "I think we ought to listen to what the CDC thinks they need either in terms of financing or certainly they'll decide the procedures for travel and all the rest. I think we need to follow the advice of the experts who know how to fight scourges like this."

But later that same day, McConnell abruptly changed course. Asked by a Kentucky TV station about containing Ebola, McConnell said the US needs to "do everything we can to try to contain the problem where it is." He went on, "I'm not an expert on this, but it strikes me that it would be a good idea to discontinue flights into the United States from that part of the world."

There are currently no direct flights from the Ebola-affected countries to the US, the New York Times' Jonathan Weisman reported Friday.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Scott Pulliam, former business agent and president of Louisville IBEW Local 369, doesn’t mince words about the election.
   “Democrats in Frankfort are our friends. Republicans are our enemies. If Republicans win, union members lose. It's really that simple.”
   If they flip the Democratic-majority House of Representatives on Nov. 4, the Republicans promise to pass a right to work law and repeal the state’s prevailing wage law.

    In their debate the other night, Sen. Mitch McConnell took umbrage at challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes’s suggestion that he’s gotten cashing in on his job.
   A brand-new article in Mother Jones magazine suggests otherwise.
   There may be no Washington lawmaker cozier with K Street than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.),” write Andy Kroll and Katie Rose Quandt. “DC law firms and lobbying shops are stuffed with ex-McConnell staffers and pals. And he uses them well to preserve his power and position.

LOUISVILLE – Yesterday, 4,500 grassroots supporters in Louisville and over 17,000 more via live webcast joined Hillary Rodham Clinton and Alison Lundergan Grimes for an energetic and electrifying rally with less than 3 weeks until Election Day.

To rousing applause, Hillary endorsed Alison’s jobs plan to grow our economy, raise the minimum wage, and enforce equal pay for equal work. She urged the crowd and Kentuckians across the Commonwealth, “to vote for a better future, not the same … to vote for their hopes, not their fears … to vote for their dreams and the dreams of the young people of this great state.”

“Let’s put another crack in that glass ceiling and elect this incredible young woman to the United States Senate,” Hillary said of Alison in closing.

Special from Jonathan Hurst, Grimes for senate campaign manager

 Executive Summary: The 15-month campaign plan we’ve put together and ridden to a statistical tie entering the final 20-day stretch of the election remains in place—and we’re confident Kentucky voters will choose a fresh, independent voice to represent them in Washington over the embodiment of Washington gridlock and dysfunction. Recent process stories and pundit hyperventilating have focused on issues proven to have no impact on the fundamentals of this race – and ignore key factors and data that will determine the actual outcome.

 

A new Public Policy Polling survey of voters in Kentucky finds strong support for increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and that Mitch McConnell- and Republicans more generally- could face backlash for their opposition to the raise.

Key findings from the survey include:

-56% of Kentuckians support increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, compared to only 35% who are opposed. In addition to 70% of Democrats, 62% of independents and even 36% of Republican voters support the increase.

-Mitch McConnell’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage makes voters less likely to support him- and that could make the difference in what’s shaping up to be a very tight race. 39% of voters say McConnell’s stance makes them less likely to vote for him, compared to just 31% who say it makes them more likely to support him. McConnell’s postion has the potential to particularly hurt him with critical independent voters- 48% say it makes them less likely to vote for him, to only 27% who say more likely. Right now the Huffpost Pollster average shows McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes within 4 points of each other, so a position that voters say makes them less likely to vote for McConnell by a 8 point margin could really hurt him.

 

By JAMES R. CARROLL, The Louisville Courier-Journal

WASHINGTON – Late one night earlier this year, Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow was shopping in a grocery store when her cell phone rang.

It was Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate, and she wanted to talk.

"I have her cell phone and e-mail, and she has mine," Stabenow said.

In fact, that's an arrangement most if not all of the Democratic women senators have with Grimes and other Democratic women who are Senate candidates this year.

Call it the most exclusive women's club.

 

 

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The news that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee evidently isn’t going to buy any more TV ads for Alison Lundergan Grimes has sent the celebrity pundits scurrying to their word processors to compose obituaries for Team Switch.
   “Democrats are pulling out of the Kentucky Senate race. Here’s why that’s important,” trumpeted a headline on “The Fix,” Chris Cillizza’s Washington Post column (at least it was the headline on the Internet).
   “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has stopped its TV advertising for the final three weeks in the Kentucky Senate race,” Cillizza wrote. “That decision effectively leaves Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on her own and is rightly read as a sign that national Democrats believe the race is effectively over.”

By ROBERT FARLEY,  FactCheck.org

Sen. Mitch McConnell claims in a TV ad to have “shocking” video evidence from Alison Lundergan Grimes’ “own staff” to prove “Grimes is lying” about her support for coal. He doesn’t.

The ad cites an Oct. 6 article in the Free Beacon about the videos, but the original source is James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas Action Fund. O’Keefe, a conservative activist, surreptitiously videotaped Grimes supporters saying the Democratic candidate doesn’t actually support the coal industry. But none of those featured in the ad is a paid staffer with the Grimes campaign, and all of them are expressing their personal opinions — not revealing campaign strategy.

Genuine support for the coal industry has been a hotly contested issue in the Kentucky Senate race. Both candidates have been outspoken in support of coal, and against Obama administration regulations of it, but both sides have accused the other of simply paying lip service to the issue.

 

By JEANIE EMBRY

Greetings from Western Kentucky.

I'm wearing my Bluegrass Rural hat at this moment and wanted to update you all on what we've been up to with this project.

Bluegrass Rural is a 527 'independent expenditure' committee -- a 'Super' PAC -- w hose mission is focused on voter education in rural Kentucky, and specifically, exposing Mitch McConnell's record to the voters in the rural parts of the state.

Forty-five percent of Kentucky residents are classified as rural, The Bluegrass State is the nation’s ninth most-rural state. Of the 120 counties, 85 are rural.

Rural voters are going to make or break this election for Alison Grimes.

 

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky is proud to announce our campaign has raised nearly $4.9 million for the final 21 day stretch. The campaign has nearly $4.4 million cash on hand – more than any Democrat in a competitive US Senate race.

Our strong grassroots campaign has consistently out-raised Mitch McConnell in three out of the last four quarters, as well as nearly every other campaign in the nation. Despite the record-breaking quarter, the median contribution remains at $25 and we’ve received a total 164,264 contributions less than $50.

“From Day One, this campaign has been about middle class Kentuckians and grassroots supporters from every county across the Commonwealth,” said campaign manager Jonathan Hurst. “We’re thrilled that our grassroots supporters are carrying this campaign forward during the final three weeks of this race, and our momentum has us primed to sprint to the finish line.”

COVINGTON – Today, Alison joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) for a joint press conference in Covington to underscore the urgent need for Kentucky to have a Senator committed to creating jobs, and improving infrastructure and public safety.

Following Alison’s strong performance at the KET debate last night, where she was the only candidate to outline her commitment to critical infrastructure projects, Alison continued speaking about her achievable, bipartisan plan to rebuild the Brent Spence Bridge.

 “We have to have a Senator that has a plan…not one that drives by, waves and says it’s not his problem,” said Alison. “This is a project that matters to Kentucky, to Ohio, to this nation and we have to build coalitions necessary to make sure it becomes a reality.”

CINCINNATI – Today, Alison Lundergan Grimes met with the Kentucky Enquirer editorial board as Kentuckians across the state tuned in via live webcast.

Building on Alison’s strong performance last night at the KET debate, where she was the only candidate to outline her commitment to critical infrastructure projects, Alison laid out her achievable plan for Northern Kentucky which includes rebuilding the Brent Spence Bridge and addressing the growing heroin epidemic.
“I will put partisanship aside” and “will work with anyone that has the best interests of Kentucky at heart,” said Alison during the meeting. “We have to fix the infrastructure here in Kentucky” and “close tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.”

Alison demonstrated her strong understanding of the issues that matter most to Kentuckians as she outlined her commonsense, bipartisan action plan that will create jobs, grow our economy for the middle class, end tax breaks that ship jobs overseas and enforce equal pay for equal work.


 

LEXINGTON – Last night, Alison Lundergan Grimes’ energy and passion dominated the debate – striking a clear contrast with a “testy” and uncomfortable Mitch McConnell, who could only offer more of the same tired, old solutions to problems facing the Commonwealth.

Alison continued to put forward her commonsense, bipartisan action plan that will create jobs, grow our economy, raise the minimum wage, end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and enforce equal pay for equal work.

Forced to answer to Kentuckians, Senator Gridlock couldn’t duck behind the millionaires and billionaires who bankroll his campaign. With Kentuckians watching, McConnell predictably had no explanation for his 17 votes against raising the minimum wage or his belief that equal pay for equal work is “preferential treatment.”
 

 LEXINGTON – In an attempt to distract from his own 30-year record of Washington gridlock, Mitch McConnell continues to present a misleading caricature of Alison Lundergan Grimes. His very first words were an angry and shrill attack on Alison as a "partisan Democrat." Contrary to McConnell’s false, elementary criticisms, Alison will be a strong, independent and effective leader for the Commonwealth. Kentuckians deserve a Senator who will put them first, not one who prides themselves on the problems and dysfunction they create.

LEXINGTON – In last night's debate, Mitch McConnell attempted to obscure his record on improving the working lives of Kentucky women, falsely and deceptively asserting that equal pay is already the law of the land and a reality in our current economy. What he didn’t mention is that he has habitually blocked legislation to end pay discrimination and has even gone as far as to claim that attempts to give women equal pay amount to “preferential treatment.”

 

By LAURA GOLDMAN, Huffington Post  

Recent polls suggest Kentucky Democratic Senatorial Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, a 35-year-old Southern woman with the shoot from the hip style of former Texas Governor Ann Richards, is beating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The key to Grimes' victory over a 30-year incumbent might be her hard and consistent attacks on McConnell's record on women's issues. He has repeatedly voted against both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act despite the fact that women in Kentucky earn 76 cents per dollar a man makes.

According to an LEO Weekly transcription of McConnell's speech at a campaign stop, he claimed that gender pay disparity no longer exists. He argued that "we've come a long way... in pay equity and uh... there are a ton of women CEO's now running major companies." Research from Catalyst shows there are actually only 48 women (5.3 percent) that head a Fortune 1000 company.

McConnell, later in the speech, promulgates the notion that equal pay for equal work is preferential treatment instead of justly deserved equality.

 

By BILL LONDRIGAN, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president

It is my sad duty to inform you of the passing of the wife (Paula Kay Thacker) of National Conference of Firemen & Oilers (NCFO/SEIU) President John Thacker. Please keep John and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. The obituary for Paula Kay Thacker is below. Sincerely, Bill.

 

LEXINGTON – In last night’s debate, Mitch McConnell did what he’s done on coal for his entire career: he neglected the hard working Kentuckians who put their lives on the line to keep the lights on. McConnell saying that, “my job is to look out for Kentucky’s coal miners,” is simply laughable. McConnell’s Senate tenure is defined by a consistently unacceptable record on mine safety.

McConnell has repeatedly voted to gut protections for Kentucky’s mine workers, cutting funding for inspections just after major disasters like those at Sago and Upper Big Branch.

What’s more – even as reports emerge about black lung’s increased danger, McConnell has refused to acknowledge the problem and won’t support legislation to help miners and their families get the health care and benefits they are due and deserve.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   In tonight’s KET debate, Sen. Mitch McConnell bristled at Alison Lundergan Grimes’s intimation that he became a millionaire by cashing in on his job.
   No way, he shot back at the Democrat who wants his job. The senator protested that Grimes knows he and his spouse got rich as "a result of an inheritance that my wife got when her mother passed away." 
   Joe Raese was even more candid four years ago: “I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it. I think that’s a great thing to do.”

 

By JONATHAN HURST, campaign manager

Tonight, Alison Lundergan Grimes and Mitch McConnell meet at KET Studios in Lexington. Alison looks forward to the opportunity to hold Mitch McConnell accountable for his failed 30-year Washington record. It is not surprising that McConnell has repeatedly refused any joint appearances or debates with Alison throughout this race.

Again tonight, Kentucky will see two very different philosophies: Alison, who stands up for the working families of Kentucky, and Mitch McConnell, who stands up for millionaires, billionaires and Washington insiders.

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky releases a new 30-second television ad entitled, “Wendell.” The statewide ad features Senator Wendell Ford’s strong endorsement of Alison Lundergan Grimes and her commitment to working across the aisle to put Kentucky first, just as Ford admirably did throughout his career.

Ford, who understood as a legislator that finding common ground and compromise were signs of strength, not weakness, has been a model for Alison in her career. A welcome departure from Mitch McConnell’s petty partisanship, Alison will be a Ford-style Senator – independent-minded, results-oriented and unquestionably loyal to Kentucky.

 

By MATT L. BARRON, contributor
The Hill

Democrats are playing offense in Georgia and Kentucky in their fight to maintain control of the U.S. Senate and rural voters are critical to wresting both seats away from the GOP column this November.

In the Bluegrass State, Alison Lundergan Grimes has emerged as a good fundraiser and excellent retail campaigner, proving she really is like the "Kentucky Woman" that Neil Diamond sang about, as she tries to deny Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) a sixth term. Grimes needs to pull a huge vote out of the Louisville and Lexington areas as well as college towns like Bowling Green, but keeping McConnell’s vote down in the rural counties is essential if she is to win.

In the state's eastern coalfields, McConnell has used the "war on coal" as a cultural weapon to tie Grimes to the unpopular current occupant of the White House. "Everybody just hates Obama and I don't know what you can do to turn that around. I don't know why, it's like they're brainwashed," says longtime Democratic activist Linwood Hardy of Cadiz, Ky.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another in a series of articles on union heroes in Kentucky, some well-known or others unsung. But they all embody ‘Solidarity,” that old union byword.

   The West Kentucky Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, was organized in 1908, the same year W.B. “Bill” Sanders was born.
   When Sanders died at age 91, he was still the Paducah union group’s executive secretary and possibly the oldest union officer in America. At 90, he was at least the “oldest living Building Trades official in the country,” according to Robert A. Georgine, a past president of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department in Washington.
   Sanders became council executive secretary when he was 72. Before that, he was president for many years.
 

By MATT L. BARRON, contributor
The Hill

Eight years ago, when the Democrats captured the U.S. House and Senate, they did so largely on the backs of strong candidacies of moderates from rural districts and states. The party continued to add seats in the 2008 elections with a respectable vote from the countryside.

But all that progress seems like a distant memory today. With Senate control hinging on the outcome of races in four of the nation's 10 most rural states (West Virginia, Arkansas, South Dakota and Montana), Democrats have allowed what little rural electoral and policy infrastructure they once had to wither away and atrophy.

With the exception of a Native American outreach effort, the national party committees have no rural vote components anymore. When the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced its community outreach chairs in March 2013, labor, LGBT, New Americas, defense and tribal panels were named to accompany the women and Latino councils that were previously appointed. The councils are designed to keep the DCCC connected with various communities supportive of Democrats. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has no rural desk.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan doesn’t care if Alison Lundergan Grimes, the labor-endorsed Democrat who wants Sen. Mitch McConnell’s job, voted for President Barack Obama or not.
   “This election is about Grimes versus McConnell,” Londrigan said. “He is the arch enemy of workers, and we need to be focused on that.”
   Londrigan found agreement aplenty in the mostly union crowd at Saturday’s “Stand Up and Fight Back” labor rally in Paducah.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Team Mitch’s website claims, “As the next majority leader, Senator McConnell will fight to protect Medicare for all Kentucky seniors.”
   I’ll believe that when hogs fly and kids don’t shoot hoops in Kentucky anymore – nah, not even then.
   I’m a 64-year-old union retiree on Social Security. I’ll go on Medicare a little over a month after the election.
   On Nov. 4, I’m voting for Alison Lundergan Grimes for a number of reasons, not the least of which is her pledge to safeguard Social Security and Medicare.
   McConnell’s vow that he’ll protect Medicare reminds me of the proverbial fox who promised to protect the hen house – and smiled, revealing chicken feathers stuck between his teeth.

By BRUCE SCHREINER, The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, KY. — U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is getting help from another Clinton — this time from Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Kentucky Democrat's campaign says the former U.S. secretary of state and potential presidential candidate in 2016 will campaign for Grimes next Wednesday night in Louisville. Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said Friday the event is open to the public, and free tickets will be available at Democratic headquarters in all 120 Kentucky counties.

Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, has made two trips to Kentucky this year to makes pitches for Grimes in Louisville, Lexington and Hazard in eastern Kentucky. Bill Clinton carried Kentucky both times he won the White House in the 1990s.

Grimes is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in one of the nation's mostly closely watched campaigns.

   LOUISVILLE – With less than 25 days left until Election Day, Mitch McConnell spent the week pumping the brakes on his already dithering campaign. McConnell’s ugly week was marked by the latest Bluegrass Poll, showing Alison Lundergan Grimes ahead of the 30-year incumbent and a majority of Kentuckians declaring that it is time for McConnell to go.
   The Senator proceeded to do his campaign no favors when he made a fool of himself by acting “unnecessarily combative” on the largest radio show in Kentucky – earning derision from Kentucky voters and media alike. This disastrous week culminated in a natural response from McConnell: a wailing cry for help from his billionaire buddies to bail him out.
   Kentuckians made clear this week that they are done with Mitch McConnell and his tired Washington ways – 30 years is long enough.

 

By JOE BRENNAN, Kentucky Labor Institute                                                                      

"Cuantos anos tienes? Como doce", was the reply. This child of twelve was sweating with the rest of her family in a Kentucky tobacco field. Yes, we still grow tobacco in Kentucky, burley tobacco, I am told. The harvest size has been reduced, farmers pressured to grow other crops, still there is a market both nationally and internationally for tobacco products. And there is a need for laborers, mostly Latino to harvest the crop. We all know about Cesar Chavez, but has anyone heard about FLOC, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee AFL-CIO? Most likely not. FLOC is just now starting to organize here in Kentucky. In any case, Maria is too young to join.

That doesn't mean that she is too young to work twelve hours in the fields. Child labor is cheaper than even the miserable pay her parents receive. Labor laws seem to have overlooked the hard manual labor performed by her and her parents. The Labor Relations Act of 1935, specifically excluded agricultural and domestic workers, and it still does. The fact that most of the adults working with Maria, some 90 percent, do not have proper immigration papers, only puts her family one phone call away from the Migra, Immigration. Tobacco helped make Kentucky what it is. It also helped poison many of the workers who harvested the then valuable leaves.

 

NEWPORT – Last night, Alison Lundergan Grimes joined several hundred enthusiastic supporters for a rally in Northern Kentucky.

With an excited crowd ready for a Senator who will put Kentucky first, Alison shared her commonsense action plan to create jobs and continued to challenge Mitch McConnell to finally answer to the people of Kentucky.

Yesterday’s spirited event outshined Mitch McConnell’s recent forays into Northern Kentucky during which he reminded area residents of his blatant disregard for the top issues facing the region, including rebuilding the vital Brent Spence Bridge and combating the heroin epidemic.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Mitch McConnell continues to take heat from media, pundits, Big Blue Nation, and Kentuckians across the Commonwealth alike for his “unnecessarily combative” and thoroughly embarrassing interview on Kentucky Sports Radio, the state’s most popular radio show. McConnell may try to dodge questions, feign affinity for UK and refuse debate invitations, but the people of Kentucky demand and deserve better.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:

KSR Host Matt Jones On MSNBC: McConnell “Came On And Punched Me In The Face To Start With.” [MSNBC, 10/8/14]

 McConnell Refuses Yet Another Debate During Disastrous KSR Interview. “McConnell's Democratic challenger Alison Grimes was on the show in September. She agreed to a KSR debate. Here's McConnell's answer to that challenge: The only scheduled debate between the candidates is coming up Monday night on KET.” [WHAS, 10/8/14]

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   It looks like the fickle fellow of football and politics has gone over to Team Switch.
   I mean Old Mo, Momentum.
   It’s like we’re in the fourth quarter of a smash-mouth, slobber-knocking grid grudge match. Alison Lundergan Grimes has quarterbacked her underdog eleven to a slim lead over powerhouse Team Mitch.

By CURTIS ELLIS and HARRY WU
Special to the Cincinnati Enquirer

   Sen. Mitch McConnell is one of the strongest supporters of free trade and closer ties with China. Some say his attitude is a result of his marriage to Elaine Chao. After all, Jiang Zemin, China's former Communist Party boss and dictator, is a close family friend of the senator's wife, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao praised her father for building up China's industry. Jiang Zemin, the hard-liner who took power following the Tienanmen Square massacre, is notorious for his repression of religious minorities and Tibet.
   It would be easy to blame McConnell's wife for his pro-China stance.
   But it would be wrong.
   

By SAHIL KAPUR

Talking Points Memo                                                                                                                

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had an unusually confrontational interview on Wednesday with Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones, who later described him as "needlessly angry" and "the consummate politician."

Early in the interview, McConnell emphasized that he supports sports teams from both the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky, telling Jones that that's "probably not acceptable to you, as an Obama enthusiast." He defended his fandom by pointing out that he'd attended both institutions, Louisville for his undergraduate degree and Kentucky for law school.

At another point, quizzed on the impacts of repealing Obamacare on Kentuckians, where the law has been wildly successful, McConnell interrupted and said, "Yeah, can I finish my answer?"

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “A jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one,” legendary House Speaker Sam Rayburn famously observed.
   Kentucky unions think they have a master carpenter in Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who is after Sen. Mitch McConnell’s job.
   The barn McConnell wants to bash is organized labor, says the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, which endorsed Grimes last year.
   

By ALEXANDRA BOLTON  

The Hill                                                                                                                                                                                     

If Republicans fall short of expectations this fall, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) could face a leadership challenge.

Republican senators say there is much riding on the Nov. 4 elections for McConnell, who is gunning to become majority leader while also attempting to defeat a well-funded Democratic opponent.

 

   Talk about birds of a feather.
   Sen. Mitch McConnell was in Atlanta Monday night hobnobbing with David Perdue, the Georgia Republican senate candidate who says he is “proud” to be an outsourcer.
   The issue of protecting tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas is one of the most important in the Kentucky Senate race, as it represents a sharp contrast between McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who wants his job.
   Alison has been vocal from the outset of the campaign that she would seek to eliminate these loopholes, and work to incentivize businesses to invest and create jobs in Kentucky. McConnell has staunchly protected these loopholes and the businesses that exploit them to relocate their operations and jobs overseas.
   In the past two weeks, McConnell has doubled down on his position. First he held a fundraiser and press conference last week with Mitt Romney, a well-known “pioneer” of outsourcing. And McConnell was in Atlanta to raise money for businessman and candidate for U.S. Senate David Perdue. This is the second fundraiser McConnell has held for Perdue in less than one month.
   

By JOSEPH BRENNAN, D.S.W., M.Div. 
Kentucky Labor Institute 

   Unfortunately, many missed Dr. Toni Gilpin's presentation on Local 236 of the United Farm Equipment Workers. This is my attempt to summarize the presentation for our KLI records, and for the inspiration of union members currently struggling for a just wage and safe working conditions. I realize that these lines may need some corrections and I would appreciate such for the sake of recording a valid history of those events.
   Local 236 no longer exists, nor does the International Harvester Company, nor, in fact, does the building in which production took place. What lives on is the history and memory of one union's example of worker solidarity and dedication to the struggle for dignity and union representation. What was once described as one of the strongest unions in the nation became that because of the strength of the membership, and the willingness to share that strength as one.
   Two of the outstanding leaders of 236 were Jim Wright and Jim Mouser, one white, the other Afro-American. The solidarity between these two men was to exemplify the unity that existed for ten year among union membership. In a city ruled by racial segregation, 236 stood out as a model of what could be achieved, and what was achieved, in the racial brotherhood created by the workers. The relationship that existed between black and white workers earned for them the self designated title of "the most perfect union".
 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR) host Matt Jones blasted Mitch McConnell for going back on his word to do an interview on one of the state’s most popular radio shows.

As McConnell loses ground in the polls, his behavior begs the question: why is Mitch running scared from Kentucky voters and media?

Rather than offer straight answers, Mitch McConnell continues to hide behind his millionaire and billionaire special interest backers. Consider the fact that in the last week alone, McConnell’s campaign has haphazardly gone up with six new ads.

Kentucky deserves better – 30 years of Mitch McConnell is long enough.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Talk about happy October surprises.
   “I’ve heard Mitch McConnell has never trailed in a poll in October,” said a jubilant Democratic Party activist from Paducah when he heard Alison Lundergan Grimes was up 46-44 in the brand new Bluegrass poll.
   The poll followed other recent surveys that showed the captain of Team Mitch pulling ahead. The Bluegrass poll did mirror a couple of Grimes internal polls that had her out front by one or two points.
    

LOUISVILLE – With 28 days until Election Day, the latest Bluegrass Poll confirms that Alison Lundergan Grimes is firmly in the lead.

Kentuckians are telling Mitch McConnell that his 30-year career as a Washington insider who puts himself and his party first is coming to an end. Despite the $40 million worth of negative, nasty and misleading ads McConnell and his billionaire backers have dumped on the airwaves, Kentuckians won’t be bought.

The campaign’s strong and increasingly motivated grassroots supporters continue to amplify Alison’s action plan to create jobs, grow our economy and work across the aisle to solve problems. Kentuckians' overwhelming enthusiasm for electing Alison is reflected in yesterday's Bluegrass Poll results showing her leading McConnell, 46-44.

Furthermore, the new Bluegrass Poll underscores the fact that a majority of Kentuckians believe it is time for McConnell to be replaced:

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Union volunteers broke the century mark Saturday with 105 canvassers trooping door-to-door in neighborhoods across the state.
   “We had a great day,” said Arte Blanco, AFL-CIO Western Region campaigns coordinator. “Zone 2 had 43 folks at 3 staging locations earning them the top spot for all zones.” Zone two is the Henderson-Owensboro-Bowling Green area of western and south-central Kentucky.
   

LOUISVILLE – Political pundits and journalists predict that the hotly contested Kentucky Senate race between Alison Lundergan Grimes and Mitch McConnell will go down to the wire.

On Friday, appearing on MSNBC, The Courier-Journal political reporter Joe Gerth said he anticipated a slugfest over the last month of the election. “It’s going to be a close race no matter what,” Gerth said. “McConnell doesn’t have much of an edge in this state.”


Gerth discussed McConnell’s deep unpopularity in Kentucky, highlighting the 30-year incumbent’s high vulnerability. Gerth also noted that Hillary Clinton will campaign with Alison in Kentucky for a series of events in mid-October. “That could have an impact,” Gerth said.

LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky campaign manager Jonathan Hurst released the following statement on the Bluegrass Poll results showing Alison Lundergan Grimes leading Mitch McConnell, 46-44:

“Today's new Bluegrass Poll reflects the overwhelming grassroots enthusiasm Alison and our campaign see everyday across the Commonwealth. Throughout this campaign, Mitch McConnell has attempted to convince the Washington cocktail circuit and other pundits that this race is not close. However, today, Kentuckians made their voice heard: they are ready for a new Senator who will put the people of Kentucky first -- not one who cares more about his own self-promotion. Last week, our internals from pollster Mark Mellman showed Alison leading Mitch McConnell by the exact same margin, because Kentuckians continue to rally around her forward-looking vision to create jobs.” 

LOUISVILLE – With just 30 days to go until Election Day, Mitch McConnell is struggling to keep the one job he cares about: his own. Over the last week, Mitch McConnell was up to his old, tired tricks: dodging questions about his work to shut down a coal plant, failing to provide plans for Northern Kentucky, chumming around with outsourcing pioneers, and contradicting himself on the minimum wage. It was a lot of hot air from Mitch to reach the same-old conclusion: Mitch McConnell is more interested in a self-promotion than creating good jobs for Kentuckians.

Washington isn’t working and 30 years of Mitch McConnell is long enough.

LEBURN – This weekend, Alison Lundergan Grimes visited six Eastern Kentucky counties and challenged Mitch McConnell to finally answer to the people of Kentucky.

Rather than explain why he has repeatedly voted against commonsense legislation that will help Kentuckians, Mitch McConnell chooses to dodge and duck behind his millionaire and billionaire backers. McConnell hopes to buy his way to a self-promotion, but the people of Kentucky will not be bought.

Alison challenges Mitch to:

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Hear the snickers?
   Turn around. It’s Team Mitch and the Republican Party of Kentucky.
   They laugh behind organized labor’s back every time there’s an election. Why? They always expect to sucker some union members into voting Republican.
   In the presidential election of 2012, for instance, about a third of union members nationwide voted for Mitt Romney, according to AFL-CIO-sponsored election night polling. (Romney, who carried Kentucky big-time, recently was in Lexington helping raise money for Sen. Mitch McConnell, the captain of Team Mitch.)

 MOREHEAD – This evening, Alison Lundergan Grimes challenged Mitch McConnell to stop hiding behind his millionaire and billionaire cronies and finally answer to the people of Kentucky. On issue after issue, McConnell owes Kentuckians answers as to why he chooses Washington gridlock and obstruction over the interests of the Commonwealth’s hardworking families.

Mitch McConnell will clearly say anything to get a self-promotion. That is the only explanation as to why McConnell tells the Koch Brothers and his Wall Street backers one thing – and Kentuckians another.

The people of Kentucky, however, are overwhelmingly sending the message that they will not be bought. Kentuckians are proud to join Alison in her call for Mitch McConnell to provide honest answers to the mounting questions he faces.

 

Editor’s note: Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO-endorsed Democratic U.S. senate candidate, visited the picket line Thursday.
By JANET PATTON
Lexington Herald-Leader

   About 170 workers at Bluegrass Station in Lexington went on strike at midnight Tuesday. By Wednesday, they were walking in picket lines outside the gates of the facility, which provides supplies for Army Special Forces.
   The strike is over unfair labor practices, said Bob Wood, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. He said workers were being asked to take a pay cut of 30 percent to 50 percent.
   The union has yet to see the contact between subcontractor AllSource Global Management and Lockheed Martin that mandates the reclassification of employees to a lower pay grade, Wood said.
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   Attention Walmart shoppers.
   A western Kentucky friend just sent me this email: “Talked to a walmart employee today and they told me in their intro talk they are told if they are approached by anyone from a union, they are to immediately contact a supervisor. If they talk to anyone from a union, their hours are cut and basically they lose their job.”
   Want to know what a right to work Kentucky would be like?