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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.

As a long-time activist and advocate for worker rights and immigrant justice in California, I know this from direct experience. Back in 1994, the passage of Prop 187 by nearly 60% of the electorate was a crushing defeat for our movement. Much like SB1070, Prop 187 required agents to profile our communities and serve as immigration officers. In fact, it even required public schools to investigate immigration status, and to turn away children whose parents lacked proper paperwork. The overall intention was to deny all public benefits to undocumented immigrants - a population which even today constitutes 10 percent of the California workforce.

The outrage generated by these policies spurred unprecedented organizing. We built broad coalitions of faith, labor, immigrant, education, civil rights, worker centers, youth and business groups to push back on every front that we could. We waged a battle in the courts, in the state house, in the press and in the streets. We elected candidates who supported our positions, and tossed out those who did not.

By 1999, Prop 187 was effectively dead, but its long-term impact is better measured by where we are today. While many still face the threat of deportation, California now leads the nation in policies to protect the rights of immigrants broadly, and immigrant workers in particular. Our coalitions have pushed the enactment of laws that ensure all California immigrants have access to in-state tuition rates, driver's licenses, and state health benefits. We have passed strong laws to prevent retaliation against workers based on their immigration status and to stop abuse by foreign labor contractors. And we have begun to build a firewall between immigration enforcement and law enforcement by asserting that police forces in California will focus on ensuring the public's safety and no longer cooperate with federal requests to detain immigrants without warrants.

So even as we mark a deeply anti-immigrant chapter in Arizona's history, I cannot help but feel hopeful about what lies ahead there too. Looking at the breadth and the energy of the growing progressive movement for change that is out in the streets of Phoenix today, I believe it is only a matter of time before they are setting the agenda for the state and reshaping the politics around core ideals of inclusion, rights and justice. Already, we see the tide turning. The anti-immigrant laws that the legislature put forward the year after SB1070 were smacked down as the state experienced the negative impact of its over-reach. The notorious Sheriff Arpaio has been forced by the very people he targeted to end his community and workplace raids. As his trial unfolds this week, it looks like the people of Arizona may finally see him held accountable for his blatant disregard for the law. These victories are strong testimony of the courageous, creative and powerful movement being led by those directly impacted by the criminalization and racist deportation of immigrants in Arizona.

Nationally, as we confront increasingly hostile attacks on immigrant working families and the ever evolving criminalization of people of color being waged by those seeking to dismantle and delay the much-needed relief provided by President Obama's recent executive actions, we should take a page from the playbooks of organizers in California in the '90's and in Arizona today.

Now is the time to build our strength by broadening our coalitions, clarifying our terms, asserting our values, taking bold actions and holding our public officials at all levels accountable.

It is in the face of adversity that we learn who our friends really are and what we ourselves are made of. The resilience and interconnected vision of the grassroots movement assembled in Arizona today signals that a brighter future is coming, but we can't wait for it - we have to build it ourselves. We must bring everyone out of the shadows and honor every worker's work despite immigration status if we ever hope to raise wages for all workers. We have to stand up, together, and 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.

 

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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.

 

Read more >>>

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."

 

Read more >>>

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.

 

Read more >>>

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.

 

Read more >>>

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.
 

Read more >>>

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.
   

 

Read more >>>

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.

 

 

Read more >>>

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.

 

Read more >>>

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.

 

Read more >>>

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.

 

 

Read more >>>

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.
 

Read more >>>

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.

 

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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

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 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.

 

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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.

 

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 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.”

 

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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.)

 

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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.

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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 

Read more >>>

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.

Read more >>>

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
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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.”
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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.
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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?

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky releases a new web video featuring Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) on why #AlisonCares. Rep. Yarmuth is voting for Alison because “she wants to create an economy that works for everybody.”


Following this week’s launch, Rep. Yarmuth is the latest Kentuckian to share why #AlisonCares. The Grimes campaign encourages all Kentuckians who want a better, brighter future for the Commonwealth to share their story by submitting letters to the editor, sharing photos and videos online and using the hashtag #AlisonCares on Facebook and Twitter.


 

By RONNIE ELLIS

CNHI

U.S. Senate candidate Alison Grimes got a boost from a social justice group Thursday as she tries to turn her campaign message to economic issues.

Grimes, who is challenging five-term Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell, was a featured speaker at a stop here by Nuns on the Bus, a network of Catholic nuns who advocate for justice and peace and encourage voter participation.

With the sounds of the Youngbloods’ “Get Together” playing in the background, speakers invoked the words of the U.S. Constitution’s preamble, saying it’s time for “We the people” to increase the minimum wage, an issue supported by Grimes and opposed by McConnell, and end the influence of big money in modern politics.

 

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky releases a new web video, “Rich McConnell,” spotlighting Mitch McConnell’s insatiable pursuit of the billionaires and millionaires who bankroll his campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X7vPU8ge3w.

Rather than work for the people of Kentucky, McConnell banks more money from lobbyists and Wall Street than any other elected official, and spends time courting the Koch Brothers, Donald Trump, Karl Rove and Mitt Romney. It’s no wonder that Mitch only manages to attend seven percent of his Senate committee meetings on issues important for Kentucky.

 

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Mitch McConnell visited Northern Kentucky with his same tired excuses and no plans for the future. Appearing at the Kentucky Enquirer editorial board meeting this morning, McConnell reminded area residents of his abject failure on the issues important to them.

Mitch McConnell said it himself: he has no plans for the Brent Spence Bridge, no ideas to combat the heroin epidemic and he’s still giving the same stale excuses for his failed leadership that Northern Kentuckians have been hearing for the past decades.

@Joe_Gerth: .@Team_Mitch making his final pitch. "I'm powerful. Elect me," sums it up. [10/2/14]
FACT: Last week, Mitch McConnell stopped in Northern Kentucky to admit he has no credible plan to address the region’s most pressing issues:

 

By FRANK BOYETT

The Henderson Gleaner 

HENDERSON, KY - “We are where we are today with campaign finance thanks to Mitch McConnell,” according to the U.S. senator’s Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes who was drawing clear-cut lines Wednesday between herself and the Senate minority leader.

“This, again, is a distinction and a difference between Mitch McConnell and myself,” she said, calling McConnell “the father of Citizens United,” the U.S. Supreme Court case that opened the floodgates of corporate and union money to political campaigns. “I think our democracy is too important to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.”

The Kentucky U.S. Senate race is one of the most closely watched contests on the national scene, and is shaping up to be the most expensive Senate race in the country’s history. But Grimes said it will be the common citizen who is going to bring change to Washington, D.C., “instead of the millionaires and billionaires” she said McConnell represents.

 

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky releases a new 30-second television ad entitled “President Clinton.” The statewide ad highlights President Bill Clinton’s strong support for Alison Lundergan Grimes and their shared commitment to standing up for the middle class.


President Clinton carried the state twice and has deep roots across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He strongly endorsed Alison’s jobs plan to create good-paying jobs earlier this year, and the two have a solid friendship.

“I am honored to have President Clinton’s continued support in this race,” Alison Lundergan Grimes said Wednesday. “This campaign is about the possibilities of tomorrow and building Kentucky not just for our generation, but for future generations.”

Following President Clinton’s two record crowd-drawing visits to Kentucky, the new ad marks the President’s first advertisement for a Senate campaign in the 2014 cycle. 

By JOE BRENNAN

Kentucky Labor Institute
The following are notes taken at an organizational meeting of FLOC now organizing a drive for representation among KY agricultural tobacco workers 90% undocumented, 10% guest workers.

Union origin began with tomato field workers in Ohio and Campbell Soup - identifying farms that sold directly to Campbell, the "supply chain search" was an initial problem Efforts were directed at suppliers not packers ending in an 8 year strike when C was convinced to bring farm owners to negotiate together as one body with FLOC, and raise pay levels to prevailing wage. C. fortified contract by agreeing to supplement agreement with its own health ins.

FLOC extended coverage to other tomato companies and the pickle industry covering the crossover of field workers. The Keystone Group chaired by Dr. Dunlap, Dept. of Labor, and two reps. each from workers and owners entered into negotiations. An Accretion Clause, the equivalent of the card check, was included to cover the rest of the workers. Since 1935, agriculture workers have been excluded from the Labor Relations Act.

 

By BILL LONDRIGAN

President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Please join us as we welcome the “Nuns on the Bus” tour for economic justice and voter empowerment, which will be rolling through Kentucky Oct. 1 and 2. Check out the schedule below.

We need you to attend the Nuns on the Bus “Town Hall for the 100%” TONIGHT (Oct. 1) AT 7:00 p.m. at the Hotel Louisville – Please join members of the community and trade unionists as we highlight the economic problems facing working folks and why it is so important to vote on Nov. 4th!

Also, TOMORROW, we need you to help us welcome Nuns on the Bus to Lexington for three important events: 1) Labor Roundtable with your State Fed President and others at 10:00 a.m.; 2) Minimum Wage and Voter Registration Rally at NOON at the Courthouse Square with Alison Lundergan Grimes and your State Fed President ; 3) After the rally please plan to help us “welcome” Mitt Romney as the millionaires and billionaires gather in Lexington to raise more money for millionaire Mitch!

 

By ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES

Louisville Courier-Journal op-ed 

When Mitch McConnell speaks to the Koch brothers and the other billionaires who bankroll his campaign, he pledges to them what he will NOT do. He will not permit votes, or even debate, on raising the minimum wage. He will not permit votes, or even debate, on extending unemployment insurance. He will not permit votes, or even debate, on easing student loan debt.

I prefer to tell Kentuckians what I WILL do.

I will fight for you every day that I am in the United States Senate. I will put benefits for Kentucky ahead of partisan gain. And I will hit the ground running on Day One.

I pledge that I will tackle these six issues as soon as I take office:

 

A tentative agreement that would have allowed a single employee to operate a train on the BNSF Railway has been voted down by the membership of SMART union GO-001.

Of those eligible to vote, nearly 70 percent cast a ballot. And of those voting, 623 were in favor while 3,056 were opposed or roughly 5-to-1 voting against the contract.

“The trainmen on the BNSF have spoken  loud and clear”, according to J.P. Wright, co-chair of Railroad Workers United (RWU). “They have
demonstrated to the big rail corporations that train crews cannot be bribed and fooled by a smoke and  mirrors contract. They are not willing to sell out their safety and that of the communities they run their trains through to subsidize corporate profits.”

 

By AMELIA HOLLIDAY

Hazard Herald

LOUISVILLE—The incumbent to the U.S. Senate seat for the Commonwealth in this year’s general election may have taken issue with the construction of a coal processing plant while he was seated as Jefferson County Judge-Executive—well before his pro-coal stance had become such a concrete part of his political career.

The Courier-Journal reported in July 1984 that Louisiana Dock, a subsidiary of American Commercial Lines, and Convenient Energy were in the planning stages of building a coal-crushing plant and converting an old dock into a coal dock on the Louisville riverfront. The plant would receive coal from barges at the dock and would crush and dry it to sell to small industries that were at the time using oil or natural gas.

According to documents from the Louisville Metro Archives, then Jefferson County Judge-Executive Mitch McConnell received notice for the proposed construction in May, and responded.

 

By JAMES HOHMANN
Politico

Alison Lundergan Grimes’ internal polling continues to show her keeping pace with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, leading by 2 points in the latest survey, conducted for her campaign through this weekend by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman.


Grimes is ahead, 42 percent to 40 percent, with 3 percent backing a Libertarian and 16 percent still undecided. She leads among independents by 9 points, 38 percent to 29 percent, and among self-identified moderates by 22 points, 49 percent to 27 percent.

Mellman’s memo to the campaign was obtained by POLITICO from a Democratic source.

 

LOUISVILLE – After getting caught behind closed doors telling his billionaire backers that he would not allow a vote on raising the minimum wage, Mitch McConnell is unmistakably trying to backpedal at home. Which McConnell will Kentuckians believe?

McConnell in June to the Koch Brothers: “McConnell himself seems quite proud of this legislative record, at least in front of an audience comprised of wealthy donors … ‘And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage.’” [The Nation, 8/26/14]

McConnell on Friday when pushed by Kentucky reporters: “‘Yes,’ McConnell said,” when asked if “he’d allow votes on such things as the minimum wage” if he became Senate Majority Leader. [CNHI, 9/26/14]

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky launches #AlisonCares, a campaign initiative that will continue the campaign’s overwhelming online engagement with grassroots supporters across the Commonwealth.

Kentucky community leaders and supporters of all political affiliations will share their story and highlight why Alison Cares about Kentucky. To kick things off, Andrew Grimes – Alison’s husband and best friend who knows her better than anyone – is detailing why #AlisonCares:


The Grimes campaign encourages all Kentuckians who want a better, brighter future for the Commonwealth to share their story by submitting letters to the editor, sharing photos and videos online and using the hashtag #AlisonCares on Facebook and Twitter.

   LOUISVILLE – This past week, Mitch McConnell writhed through yet another horrific week, as he continued to dodge debates, fundraised with millionaires and billionaires and reminded Kentuckians just how far removed from reality he is.
   SNAPSHOT – MITCH’S DISASTROUS WEEK:
Runs From Yet Another Debate
Reveals He Has No Plans For Northern Kentucky
Remains Under Fire For Skipping Work
Hits National Fundraising Circuit, Receives “Speaker” Endorsement From Donald Trump
Attacks Members Of His Own Caucus For Bipartisanship
Refuses To Answer Questions About Working Against Kentucky Coal Miners

   

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan wanted more volunteers to staff phone banks, go door-to-door and pass out leaflets on behalf of union-endorsed candidates.
   So he sent out an “All hands on deck!” email to a number of labor activists statewide.
When Louisville labor troubadour and composer J.P. Wright got the cyber message, he grabbed his guitar and wrote a song, actually he came up with some new words to the old union classic, "Which Side Are You On?" He titled his version, “United We Stand and Divide We Fall, ‘All hands on deck!’ Is the union's battle call!”
   "It's sort of an old folk tradition," said David Nickell, a sociology professor at West Kentucky Community College in Paducah and a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360. "Keep the melody and update the words." You can hear Wright's song at https://soundcloud.com/john-paul-wright/which-side-are-you-on.

LOUISVILLE – According to new reports, Alison Lundergan Grimes is under attack from billionaires across the country.

It’s no wonder why the ultra-rich are pumping an obscene amount of money into Mitch McConnell’s campaign. As Mitch protects the interests of the billionaires bankrolling his campaign, Alison’s top priority is growing the middle class and improving the lives of hardworking Kentuckians across the Commonwealth.

Alison has laid out a clear agenda on the issues that matter most to Kentucky families:

Raising the minimum wage
Championing equal pay for equal work
Ending tax loopholes that ship Kentucky jobs overseas
Fighting to reduce Kentucky students’ loan debt

The contrast in this race couldn't be clearer. Washington is broken – 30 years is long enough.

By DAVE JOHNSON

Campaign for America's Future

Politicians need to know that the public “gets it.” So-called “trade” deals that were sold with a promise to increase jobs and prosperity have instead sent jobs out of the country and forced wages down. People get it.

Ask people what they think of NAFTA and you’ll learn that people get it. “NAFTA” is a catch-all phrase for these deals, like opening up trade with China in 2000, the recent Korea deal and the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). All of these deals were and are designed to give the owners of giant corporations more power over the ability of We the People to demand fair pay, safe and reasonable working conditions and a clean environment.

People absolutely hate “NAFTA-style” trade deals. People are voting based on this — when given the chance. For example, the Senate Majority PAC is running an ad targeting Mitch McConnell for his support of “free trade” agreements that send jobs out of the country and force down the wages of the jobs that are still here.


 

By LANA BELLAMY

The Independent

If there is an issue in this year’s U.S. Senate race that can resonate with northeastern Kentuckians it is legislative efforts to combat the state’s illegal drug use, which seems to have reached near epidemic proportions in recent years.

On Wednesday, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes called The Independent to discuss how her ambitious new drug policy plan could make a difference in the thousands of lives affected by drug abuse in Kentucky on a daily basis.

Her three-pronged plan to combine prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts covers everything from federal funding for local programs to creating jobs that could lead to economic prosperity, which she said has a hand in preventing drug abuse.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   I don’t know if two big photos hanging on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office wall reflect cynicism or no sense of the ironic.
   Maybe it’s both.
   Anyway, a staffer for Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who wants McConnell’s job, emailed a press release the other day that caught my attention more for what it showed than what it said.
   

By DAVE JAMIESON

The Huffington Post 

WASHINGTON -- The campaign of Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has ripped her opponent, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for siding with the coal industry over miners on issues of mine safety. But now the Grimes camp is extending that attack to McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, the former secretary of labor under George W. Bush.

In a statement to HuffPost, Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said that Chao's tenure as head of the Labor Department, which includes the Mine Safety and Health Administration, was a disaster for miners.

"It’s horrific that rates of black lung disease have skyrocketed back to levels of the early 1970s as Mitch McConnell raked in campaign contributions from coal operators and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao gutted standards at the Mine Safety and Health Administration," Norton said. "McConnell’s blatant disregard for miner safety and health is reprehensible and clearly shows that he’s more interested in serving the billionaires and millionaires bankrolling his campaign than our hardworking coal families."

A spokeswoman for McConnell's campaign didn't respond to requests for comment, and an email sent to Chao through her website on Tuesday went unreturned.

 

LOUISVILLE – Here they go again.

One thing is clear: Mitch McConnell’s desperation reeks through his dark money Super PACs’ latest “bizarre” and “hypocritical” attacks. The latest television spot from McConnell’s Karl Rove-front group, Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, shows just how frantic Mitch is as he resorts to attacking members of his own caucus by “criticizing Alison Lundergan Grimes for supporting the bipartisan immigration reform plan passed by the U.S. Senate last year.”

In a new web ad out today, the Grimes campaign highlights that McConnell will say anything to get a self-promotion:


 

 LOUISVILLE – Today, the Grimes campaign is proud to launch “Kentucky Women for Alison,” a campaign initiative aimed at mobilizing women and highlighting Alison’s strong leadership on issues important to Kentucky women and their families. Governor Martha Layne Collins, a Kentucky governor known for creating jobs, will serve as the official chair of “Kentucky Women for Alison.”

“I’m so proud to be a part of the launch of ‘Kentucky Women for Alison,’” Governor Collins said today. “That’s because Alison is the candidate in this race who will stand up for women – just as she has as Secretary of State. She understands that women of all ages, races, and regions still face barriers – and that we need a voice in Washington.”

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Democrat Jesse Wright of Mayfield says bringing back industry to the second house district is his top priority.
   A right to work law is the way to do just that, says his opponent, Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfield.
   Wrong, says Wright. “One of the most damaging consequences of right to work is that it lowers wages. We need good paying jobs.”

By KENDALL BREITMAN

Politico

If you live in Kentucky or New Hampshire, that next phone call could be from Donald Trump.

Trump told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” on Monday he might be making house calls this election cycle for Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and former Sen. Scott Brown, who’s running in New Hampshire.

“I have a lot of people that want to run for office or who are running for office … and it’s not even the money that they want, they want robocalls,” Trump said. “That’s the new thing, you do a robo.”

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Team Mitch is tooting the dog whistle again.
   This time, Sen. McConnell is letting a fan club borrow it. The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a group linked to Karl Rove, has put out a TV ad claiming that President Obama and Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who wants McConnell’s job, aim to give “amnesty” to “illegal immigrants.”
   By tooting “amnesty” together with “illegal immigrants,” the KOC ad crafters knew a lot of Kentucky white folks would think Mexicans, not the 50,000 undocumented Irish and other white Europeans in the country.

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

   The GOP is working desperately to deny the right to vote to citizens it doesn’t like. You know, poor people, black people, Hispanic people, old people, female people, especially people it believes are inclined to vote for Democrats.
   Republican politicians have hatched a multitude of schemes in states across the country to accomplish this gambit, passing laws demanding specific voter identification at polling places, eliminating early voting days and purging voters from registration rolls.
   The right-wingers on the U.S. Supreme Court last year gave Republicans a hand in this effort by striking down key protections in the Voting Rights Act. Joining them this month were three Republican judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a rush-job, five-paragraph order issued just hours after the trio heard testimony, the GOP panel overruled a lower court’s 70-page decision and allowed Wisconsin to demand voter ID of 300,000 residents who don’t currently have it for an election that is less than 7 weeks away.

By Joseph Brennan, D.S.W., M.Div.
Kentucky Labor Institute

   The following is a series of quotes related to the minimum wage and economic inequality which were gathered for a presentation for a local group of decision makers.
   Jason Bailey, Director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, "Increasing the Minimum Wage in Kentucky" (2-3-14): Those who would benefit are primarily adults (particularly women), full time workers that rely on the income to make ends meet, not teenagers
- 88% are at least 20 years old
- 51% are at least 30 years old
- more are over 55 years old (11.7%) than are teenagers (11.3%)
- 54% work full time (at least 35 hours)
- average affected worker earns 55% of family income: averaged affected
parent earns 64%.
- if the minimum wage had kept up with growth in productivity, it would be
$18.30/hour.
- the share of Kentucky workers making wages below the poverty line for a family of four grew from 26% to 33% between 2001 and 2012.
- 46% of Kentucky's fast food workers are paid so poorly that they are
eligible for public assistance programs.
Increasing KY's Minimum Wage Would Help 1 in 4 Workers Make Ends Meet
basis of these studies, it seems likely that the increase in the minimum wage of nearly 25% (from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour) will have little or no effect on the number of jobs." (p.313).
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Union-endorsed State Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah, has a message for right to work Republicans.
   “In the six years I was on the Paducah City Commission and in the two years I’ve been in the legislature, I have directly supported incentives that have created and or retained over 2,000 jobs for Paducah and McCracken County. Not a single company cited a right to work law as a factor in their decision where to locate.”
   Watkins, a political science professor at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, is running for a second term. His Republican challenger, Randy Bridges, supports a right to work law, which would enable employees at a unionized workplace to enjoy union won wages and benefits without supporting the union by paying dues or service fees.

By DERRICK GRAHAM

Op-ed in The State Journal

Providing our children with the best education and opportunities early in life is more than just an investment in the future — it is an obligation.

Kentucky suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States. Our economy is struggling, and has been for a long time. Tough times make for tough choices, and too many working parents are simply unable to provide their children the opportunities they need and deserve. We cannot give up. Investing in our children and ensuring that they have access to a world-class education is key to revitalizing our economy.

Early investments in children are not only critical to strengthening our children’s future, but also the future of the Commonwealth. Many studies show that the attention and education children receive in their early years is pivotal to helping them unlock their full potential later on in life. Early childhood education sets children on the road to success early, so that they can learn, grow and become productive members of society down the road.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   A platoon of union volunteers fanned out across the Bluegrass State from Paducah to Covington Saturday, knocking on doors and passing out fliers in support of labor-endorsed candidates.
   “Special shout out to SEIU32BJ-NCFO and UFCW Local 227 for walking in Paducah for Gerald Watkins,” said Arte Blanco, Kentucky State AFL-CIO’s Labor 2014 coordinator. “Robert, Joe, Kevin and Luz spoke with some good voters about Gerald Watkins and Alison Lundergan Grimes.”
   Watkins, a Paducah Democrat, is seeking a second term in the state house of representatives. Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, is the Democrat who wants Sen. Mitch McConnell’s job.
  

By RUSS CASSADY

Appalachian News-Express 

Citing an upcoming bus tour as the reason, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell told the News-Express this week that he would not participate in a debate to which his opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, had agreed.

Grimes announced late Tuesday that she was agreeable to appearing in a late October debate with McConnell proposed by the News-Express, making her the first to, according to News-Express Publisher Jeff Vanderbeck, “formally commit to all the parameters previously discussed to bring a calm and sober debate to Pikeville.

However, just hours after Grimes’ announcement, Vanderbeck was informed by McConnell’s staff that the senator would not appear at the debate, which was set to be held at the University of Pikeville.

 

By KEVIN WILLIS

WKU Public Radio

The Kentucky AFL-CIO is launching a mail campaign against Senator Mitch McConnell that the group says is part of a “massive political mobilization” that will also include knocking on doors, worksite fliers, and phone banking.

The labor group is coming to the aid of McConnell’s Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The state AFL-CIO says it will distribute over 70,000 mailers in the coming days attacking Sen. McConnell, saying the Louisville Republican has “been in Washington too long, and he’s lost his way.” The labor group blasts the incumbent for voting against bills that would increase the minimum wage and black lung benefits for miners.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   House Speaker Greg Stumbo will join state senator and former governor Julian Carroll in firing up the crowd at Paducah’s Oct. 11 “Battleground Kentucky: Stand up and Fight Back in the 2014 War on Labor” rally.
   “Who better than Speaker Stumbo to warn us what will happen to organized labor if the Republicans take the house?” asked Sanderson, a retired UA international representative.
   The Republicans control the state senate. They have made passage of a right to work law a top priority should they win the house.

By BRAD BOWMAN

The State Journal

Words like “fair wage,” “forgotten veterans” and “support for working-class families” were repeated often during a Ditch Mitch Rally at the Capitol on Thursday, hosted by the Kentucky American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Former 6th Congressional District House of Representatives Democratic primary candidate Geoff Young, retired veterans, and Bill Londrigan, Kentucky president of the AFL-CIO, spoke to about 20 attendees who shouted “ditch Mitch” during talking points Thursday.

Derek Pugh, a campaign consultant from the People For The American Way (an advocacy group founded by television producer Norman Lear), spoke and said one of the group’s biggest concerns was money.

 

LOUISVILLE – Mitch McConnell has revealed his true loyalties yet again: he has a specific agenda for millionaires and billionaires, and offers nothing for the hardworking people of Kentucky.

McConnell’s Two Agendas:
ONE FOR BILLIONAIRES: “We’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals."

In a bombshell secret recording of an exclusive Koch Brothers retreat, Mitch McConnell promised the millionaires and billionaires bankrolling his campaign that they can count on him to do their bidding if they help him win re-election this November. On issues like raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and helping Kentuckians afford college, McConnell promised his party’s rich backers that he stands with them, no matter the cost to Kentuckians and this nation.


ANOTHER FOR KENTUCKIANS: “I’m not going to lay out what the agenda is going to be, if in fact we become the majority.”

 

By JASON EASLEY
PoliticusUSA

   ….It is an understatement to say that McConnell has been dodging a debate with Grimes. The McConnell camp clearly doesn’t want to debate the younger and more energetic Grimes. They are desperate not to put their candidate in a position where he has to share the stage with Alison Lundergan Grimes.
   The visual of Grimes and McConnell side by side could be enough to sway a close election to the Democrat. The McConnell folks remember how John McCain stacked up when he shared the stage with Barack Obama. McConnell would look even worse trying to debate Grimes.
   The McConnell strategy is centered around an extremely negative campaign that is focused on dragging Grimes down into the mud. They have no interest in any debates. McConnell is hoping to win reelection by carpet bombing Kentucky with negative ads about Alison Grimes. 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Here’s hoping the good people of Scotland – my ancestral homeland – will vote with their noggins and not their guts today and stay in the United Kingdom.
   I understand the romance and the allure of William Wallace, Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the skirl of the pipes, the Highlands, heather and history.
   I’m crazy about all that myself.

By GABE LaMONICA

CNN

Now it's about family. A new heartbreaker television ad from the Democratic candidate looking to wrest Mitch McConnell from his perch atop the Republican Party in the Senate makes Medicare a gut issue.

The ad describes the struggle of Alison Lundergan Grimes' grandmother after her husband's stroke.

"My husband was a strong person, but the stroke just took everything away," says Grimes' grandmother, Elise Case, in the ad.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) released the following statement on Alison Lundergan Grimes’ strong commitment to coal country:

I know Alison’s commitment to coal and more importantly her commitment to coal miners. I know Alison will stand with me to pass legislation that protects the pensions that coal miners have earned and deserved.

Alison has the courage to stand up to those in her party who try to deny that coal will be a vital part of our energy for decades to come, and I know that Alison will fight against the War on Coal right beside me in Washington.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Mitch McConnell is up with another intentionally misleading and brazenly hypocritical attack on Alison Lundergan Grimes and coal. It is Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao who have personally profited from the decimation of the coal industry:

HEADLINE: Mitch McConnell's Wife Sits On The Board Of A Group Working To Kill The Coal Industry [Yahoo News, 8/8/14]

Elaine Chao Sits On The Board Of An Organization “With The Expressed Goal Of Killing The Coal Industry.” “McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, sits on the board of directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has plunged $50 million into the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal initiative, an advocacy effort with the expressed goal of killing the coal industry.” [Yahoo News, 8/8/14]

 

LOUISVILLE – Late yesterday, after months of discussion and meeting in-person to discuss debate terms, Mitch McConnell snubbed coal country and rejected a serious debate in Pikeville.

Publisher of the Appalachian News-Express Jeff Vanderbeck affirms that all of McConnell’s parameters were met.

FROM WHAS-TV'S REPORT:

The publisher of the Appalachian News-Express, Jeff Vanderbeck, told WHAS11 that he had been in talks with both campaigns for months and believed they had reached a consensus.

“Grimes basically accepted everything they had required," Vanderbeck said. "The parameters McConnell set out have been met."

Contrary to one of McConnell's original debate conditions he listed in May, the debate would have been held before a live audience and included questions from a moderator (Vanderbeck).

"The coal region is big in this race," Vanderbeck said. "It’s about time the people of this region are being recognized as an economic engine for Kentucky."

 

By GLENN KESSLER

Washington Post


Video of President Obama: “We want to be sure we have got a pathway to citizenship.”

Voiceover: “Alison Grimes, proud supporter of Obama’s amnesty plan…”

Video of Grimes: “We need an immigration bill…giving a pathway to citizenship to so many millions.”

Voiceover: “Their plan? Citizenship for millions who broke the law. Illegal immigrants would become eligible for taxpayer-funded benefits. Food stamps, unemployment, even Medicare. Obama and Grimes: Two liberals for amnesty, too liberal for us.”

–text of a new ad sponsored by the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of articles about Kentucky union heroes that we will post from time to time. Some of the heroes are well-known and others unsung. But they all embody ‘Solidarity,” that old union byword.
   Ermon Harp left her native western Kentucky looking for work, not a place in American labor history.
   She found both in Detroit, where she worked in a factory and joined one of the first-sit down strikes. The year was 1937. “They called us Communists -- and just about everything else you could think of,” said Harp. “But it didn't bother me a particle. We were the United Auto Workers, and we felt like we were doing right.”
   She felt that way until she died at age 97 in 1992.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, the Grimes campaign is thrilled to announce that Alison Lundergan Grimes has formally accepted an invitation to attend the Appalachian News-Express’ U.S. Senate Debate at the University of Pikeville.

Secretary Grimes has accepted the following proposed dates. It is the Grimes campaign’s hope that Sen. Mitch McConnell will join Alison on either evening:
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
In addition to the joint KET appearance on October 13, Kentuckians deserve to have multiple opportunities to hear both candidates’ viewpoints and the real differences in their visions for the Commonwealth’s future. We remain hopeful that Mitch McConnell’s team will come back to the table to find dates that work for debate offers in West Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Louisville and Lexington.

Alison looks forward to the debate this fall and appreciates the University of Pikeville hosting this important event in the heart of coal country.

 LOUISVILLE – In the latest ad from the Karl Rove-front group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, Mitch McConnell’s allies continue to spread "intentionally misleading" attacks regarding Alison Lundergan Grimes’ stance on immigration.

Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton released the following statement:

“Mitch McConnell voted against immigration reform that would have helped Kentucky farmers and secured our border by putting thousands more agents on the border. Alison opposes President Obama in any attempt to alter our immigration system by executive order and believes Congress needs to do its job and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

The millions crossing our border illegally is a major, systemic problem that extends from the border to our backyards in Kentucky. This cannot be solved through a band-aid, piecemeal approach. Rather, we must deal with the problem in a way that is advantageous to our economic future.

In the U.S. Senate, Alison Lundergan Grimes has made clear that she will work with Republicans and Democrats to:
Oppose President Obama in any attempt to alter immigration by executive order
Champion immigration reform that is tough and fair
Pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a tough, earned pathway to citizenship:
Learn English
Pay taxes
Have jobs
No criminal history
Mitch McConnell voted against comprehensive immigration reform supported by Republicans and Democrats that would have helped our farmers and helped secure our border by putting thousands more agents on the border. McConnell’s piecemeal approach will fail to pass, fail to solve the problem and is bad for Kentucky.

Today’s desperate attack is just another example of how far removed Mitch McConnell is from reality and how out of touch he is with Kentuckians. As our next U.S. Senator, Alison will be an independent problem-solver who will reach across the aisle to create jobs and always do what’s best for the Commonwealth.


BACKGROUND:

Politifact: Characterizing Comprehensive Immigration Reform As An Obama Plan Is “A Distortion Of Reality.” In May 2014, Politifact wrote, “But it’s a tough sell to pin the bill entirely to those two Democratic leaders, and by calling it a ‘liberal’ plan, Cantor conveniently leaves out that it had sizeable Republican backing. For starters, the bill is largely the product of the so-called ‘Gang of Eight,’ a group of four Democratic and four Republican senators who spent months working on the legislation before successfully ushering it through the upper chamber. Obama’s efforts were mostly behind the scenes. Perhaps the most significant addition to the Gang of Eight was Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who joined Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and added a critical conservative and Latino voice to the debate. Someone on the left could just as easily call it the Rubio-Graham plan. It's far more accurate to label it a bipartisan proposal…That’s not to say it’s not a contentious or politically charged piece of legislation. But characterizing it Reid and Obama's liberal bill is a distortion of reality.” [Politifact, 5/28/14]

Politifact: Calling Immigration Reform “Amnesty” Is “Intentionally Misleading.” In May 2014, Politifact wrote, “In recent campaign literature, Cantor said the Senate immigration bill is ‘liberal’ and the ‘Obama-Reid plan to give illegal immigrants amnesty.’ Reasonable people might consider this amnesty, but it’s a much more rigorous path to citizenship than Cantor lets on in his flier. It’s certainly not a ‘give’ away. Further, the plan had significant support from both sides of the aisle, both inside the Senate and from outside organizations. The bipartisan Gang of Eight is credited with putting together the package, not Obama and Reid. Weighing all of that, we think Cantor is intentionally misleading Virginia voters on this issue. We rate his claim Mostly False.” [Politifact, 5/28/14]

Calling Comprehensive Immigration Reform “Amnesty” Has Been Called “Inaccurate” By Independent Fact Checkers. In 2013, Factcheck.org wrote, “We have no doubt that the term amnesty will continue to be used liberally throughout the coming immigration debate. We note that, as always, we take no position on any legislation, but the term — as applied to the Senate plan — is inaccurate.” [Factcheck.org, 1/30/13]

Factcheck.org: Describing Comprehensive Immigration As “Amnesty” Only “Misleads.” In 2013, Factcheck.org wrote, “Use of the term ‘amnesty’ predictably arises in nearly every immigration policy debate, but as we have noted when it has been used in the past, it is an emotion-laden term that misleads many to believe that plans call for immediate, permanent legal status for illegal immigrants, when in fact they do not. Neither does the latest Senate ‘Gang of Eight’ plan.” [Factcheck.org, 1/30/13]

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky campaign manager Jonathan Hurst released the following statement on Mitch McConnell’s latest desperate lie:

“In a sign of weakness, Mitch McConnell’s campaign scurried to respond directly to our latest strong ad underscoring just how worried Mitch McConnell is seven weeks from Election Day. This dishonest attack shows how little respect McConnell has for the voters of Kentucky. He’s throwing the entire kitchen sink at our campaign in one shallow ad, desperately hoping that Kentuckians will forget Alison is independent and has always put Kentucky first on coal, guns and the over burdensome EPA regulations. Her record and positions are clear. Mitch McConnell can’t run an honest campaign against Alison, and is now stooping to attack the straw man opponent he wish he had.”

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky spokeswoman Charly Norton issued the following statement on Mitch McConnell's vote against equal pay legislation:

“In the U.S. Senate, Alison Lundergan Grimes will champion equal pay for equal work because ending workplace discrimination and eliminating the wage gap will make Kentucky families stronger. Mitch McConnell has voted to deny enforcing equal pay for equal work for women time and time again. Kentucky families deserve a senator who recognizes that women making 76 cents for every dollar is simply unacceptable.”


 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   “Super PAC.”
   You’re thinking Charles and David Koch, those union-busting billionaire brothers, right?
   Wrong. Think low budget. Think grassroots. Think tiny Melber.
The little Graves County community is headquarters for Bluegrass Rural – http://bluegrass-rural.com – a new 527committee headed by a pair of Kentucky women and a guy from Massachusetts. None of them are millionaires, or even close to it.
   “Our mission is focused on voter education in rural Kentucky, specifically exposing Mitch McConnell’s record,” said treasurer Jeanie Embry of Paducah, up the road from Melber.
 

LOUISVILLE – Yesterday, President Clinton lambasted Mitch McConnell for selling Kentuckians out to the Koch brothers.


The President chided McConnell for admitting to a room full of millionaires and billionaires at a secret Koch brothers gathering that the “worst day” of his political life was when President George W. Bush signed bipartisan legislation that increased transparency for campaign contributions.

As Mitch McConnell and the Koch brothers try to buy Kentucky’s Senate seat, the people of Kentucky deserve a Senator who puts them first – not one more concerned with a self-promotion.


 

By JAMES CARROLL

The Courier-Journal 

WASHINGTON - Former President Bill Clinton just made an ad for Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Well, not really, but it sure sounded like the kind of attack that would make Democratic ad copy against Grimes' opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is seeking election to a sixth term.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Do a majority of Kentuckians really support a right to work law?
   In a recent Bluegrass Poll, 55 percent of respondents answered “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?”
   I’m not challenging the integrity or the motives of whoever wrote the question. But it was woefully incomplete and thus misleading.

 LOUISVILLE – Twenty years ago today, President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law – a piece of bipartisan, commonsense legislation providing much-needed resources for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes.

A staggering one in six women will suffer domestic abuse in her lifetime, but the Violence Against Women Act empowered victims to speak up and changed the way the nation deals with domestic abuse.

Despite the undeniably positive impact of VAWA, Mitch McConnell has repeatedly voted against it. What’s worse, he intentionally tried to mislead Kentuckians on his abysmal record of opposition to VAWA, releasing an ad touting his support for the bill that garnered a “mostly false” rating from Politifact.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   “Do you repudiate Richard Fink’s remarks at the Koch retreat this summer?” a reporter asked Mitch McConnell the other day.
   His chattiness was caught on tape at the now famous Father’s Day fund-raising conclave hosted by Charles and David Koch. But when the scribe aimed a mike at McConnell, mum was the word from the senate majority leader-wannabe.
   McConnell had heaped high praise on the Koch sibs. He promised the billionaire Republican donors present that hogs would fly before a GOP senate under his reign would hike the minimum wage. Fink, a Koch political guru, compared any such pay boost to fascism.

 LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison Lundergan Grimes released the below statement following Mitch McConnell blocking a constitutional amendment to rein in unlimited campaign spending:

“At this critical time for our country's future, Sen. McConnell remains more concerned about the whims of millionaires and billionaires than Kentuckians struggling to make ends meet. My opponent shamefully admits that the 'worst day' of his political life was not the VA scandal or the Great Recession that saw 118,000 Kentuckians lose their jobs, but rather when Congress decided to limit the money his wealthy friends could give him for reelection. As Mitch McConnell and the Koch brothers try to buy Kentucky's Senate seat, the people of Kentucky deserve a Senator who puts them first – not one more concerned with a self-promotion and his own quest for personal power.”

September 10th, Frankfort –Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan responds to Courier-Journal article “Ky. House GOP takes cue from Ala. Handshake”

“I made a statement last week telling you that I thought the Kentucky Republican Leadership’s Handshake with Kentucky could not be any worse. I stand corrected. Today it was reported by the Courier- Journal that the Kentucky Republican Leadership “borrowed” heavily from the Alabama Republicans to draft their plan. Let that sink in for a moment. They presented Kentuckians with old failed promises that will only benefit the rich and powerful. If Kentucky were Alabama or Texas, it would be all right for Kentuckian Republicans to borrow political solutions, some verbatim, from those states. However, Kentucky is not Alabama or Texas. Kentucky faces a unique set of challenges that require Kentuckian solutions. We need for our politicians to be capable of generating new ideas that address the specific conditions we face in the boundaries of our state. We don't need outside solutions; we are capable of making our own! We also need political representatives who are able to produce original ideas, not just cut and paste the ideas others and claim they are solutions for Kentucky. Remember what our teachers called this form of “original” work? We need hard working representatives who are willing to closely study the economic and political challenges that Kentuckians face. The importation of ideas from outside of our state will only increase the exporting our jobs and futures outside the state by Kentucky’s Republican Leadership.” 

By ALEX JAFFE

The Hill  

A prominent Kentucky businessman contributed $10,200 to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign four days after the Republican leader appointed him to a government commission tasked with tackling hunger.

The timing of the donation is sure to draw scrutiny, as McConnell previously faced questions about a similar donation from a Delta Airlines CEO that shortly followed a breakfast the donor shared with McConnell in the exclusive Senate Dining Room.?

On April 11, McConnell appointed Spencer Coates, the president of grocery conglomerate Houchens Industries, to the newly created National Commission on Hunger, a nonpartisan committee meant to craft recommendations to tackle hunger and streamline existing food aid programs.

Four days later, Coates contributed $10,200 to McConnell’s joint fundraising committee with the Republican Party of Kentucky, according to his most recent Federal Election Commission filings.?

 

LOUISVILLE – Earlier today, Alison for Kentucky hosted a press conference call for reporters to hear from Mark Mellman of The Mellman Group on his new poll, which shows Alison Lundergan Grimes ahead of Mitch McConnell, 43-42.

 

Nate Silver rated The Mellman Group the most accurate campaign pollster in the country. 

From Mark Mellman:

“Alison’s positive job ratings as Secretary of State are actually higher than McConnell’s as U.S. Senator – six points higher.”

 

By JAMES  HOHMAN

Politico 

The Kentucky Senate race remains very much in play, according to a new internal poll conducted for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign.

Grimes leads Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 43 percent to 42 percent, in the survey conducted by pollster Mark Mellman and obtained by POLITICO.

The live-caller survey of 800 likely voters, in the field Thursday throughSunday, used a registration-based sample and included landlines and cellphones. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.

 

 LOUISVILLE – Tonight, Mitch McConnell is hosting a Washington fundraiser for businessman and notorious outsourcer, David Perdue. As a candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia, Perdue has been on the hot seat for a business career in which he “closed down factory lines in America and outsourced production overseas.”

Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton issued the following statement:

“Mitch McConnell’s record of protecting tax breaks for corporations that ship good-paying Kentucky jobs overseas will be on stark display this evening in Washington. Instead of fighting to save 600 Kentucky jobs being shipped to Honduras, McConnell is doling out financial aid to a man who led an effort to ship American jobs overseas. Clearly, he would rather rub shoulders with outsourcing champions than the hardworking people of the Commonwealth.”

 LOUISVILLE – After running from scandal after scandal over the August recess, Mitch McConnell is now back in Washington siding with the millionaires and billionaires attempting to buy his sixth term.

If Mitch McConnell had been listening to Kentuckians while he was home instead of trying to deceive them for political gain, he would have heard them demand he get his priorities in order.

HOPKINSVILLE – Yesterday, Alison visited West Kentucky to launch “Veterans and Military Families for Alison,” a campaign initiative to mobilize veterans and families across Kentucky. On Monday, Alison met with veterans and military families to discuss their experiences as well as her comprehensive plan to get Washington working again for Kentucky.

“VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES FOR ALISON” HIGHLIGHTS:


Kentucky New Era: Young, Old Come Out for Grimes in Hoptown

Two likely voters in November — a 17-year-old who turns 18 a month before the election and a local woman whose 101st birthday is just weeks away — came out Monday in support of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ bid to unseat U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

I

 LOUISVILLE – New information raises new questions of why Mitch McConnell paid Jesse Benton’s former deputy Dimitri Kesari – a central figure in the federal criminal investigation – over $70,000 to the same P.O. Box that funneled bribe money in Benton’s past campaign.

Additionally, the McConnell campaign’s explanation of the work Kesari did matches the project description used to cover up potentially illegal activity in Iowa.
McConnell senior advisor Josh Holmes claims Kesari’s firm was “contracted to consult and work on a specific field project involving … voter history research.”

And the Paul campaign stated bribery payment to the shared P.O. Box was for “voter file lists.”

McConnell campaign said payments to Kesari’s P.O. Box were for “voter history research.” Kentuckians deserve an explanation as to why Mitch McConnell is funneling money for what appears to be the same type of “project” through the same post office box used in the federal bribery scandal.
 

HOPKINSVILLE – Today, the Grimes campaign is proud to launch “Veterans and Military Families for Alison,” a campaign initiative to mobilize veterans and families across Kentucky.

In a new web video released Monday, Roger Frazier of Muhlenberg County and Chase Williams of Marshall County detail the stark contrast in this race on issues important to Kentucky’s veterans and military families.

Just as she has throughout her career, Alison Lundergan Grimes will make Kentucky’s veterans and active duty service members a top priority in the U.S. Senate. Alison led the way as among the first to call for General Shinseki’s resignation, standing up to her own party on behalf of the Commonwealth’s veterans.

 

By Sam Youngman
Lexington Herald-Leader

As U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell returns to Washington after the August recess, a union working overtime to deny

McConnell a sixth term is trying to bring some heat to him back home in Kentucky.

The AFL-CIO will unveil a new ad, part of its “Koch sisters” campaign, in the Lexington market beginning Monday just as McConnell and the rest of the Senate return for an abbreviated session in which Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to introduce a measure that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

 

By JOSEPH BRENNAN, D.S.W., M.Div.
Kentucky Labor Institute

   There are two aspects to one's understand the minimum wage: one emotional or personal, the other cognitive or economic. Both aspects are related to the acceptance or rejection of income/wealth inequality.
   Social psychologists have experimented with a rigged game of Monopoly, one in which one player is deliberately given the advantage over the other. Two dice means larger moves, more money collected at Pass Go, more potential to buy up properties. Soon the advantaged player assumes an attitude of privilege and entitlement. She/he is rewarded because of their capabilities, the designated loser is to blame for his/her defects and will be a loser for the entire game.
   Such is a model for the one percent versus the ninety- nine percent. A fixed mentality is set and there is little to change this. The low wage earner will always be a low wage earner because of lack of skills, initiative to change, or lack of motivation. Socially it will be nigh impossible to convince the advantaged for the need to change a game that has been rigged in his/her favor.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Not surprisingly, union members booed and heckled a Republican candidate for the state legislature when he touted a right to work law at the annual Labor Day picnic in Paducah, Ky.
   Emcee Larry Sanderson said the guy inspired him – “to organize an old-time revival of a union meeting. If what he said doesn’t fire us up, I don’t know what else would.”
   A 68-year-old retired UA international representative, Sanderson has rented the city’s Carson Park horse race track grandstands for an Oct. 11 rally. “We’re going to call it ‘Battleground Kentucky: Stand Up and Fight Back against the 2014 War on Labor,’” he said.

'Follow the money,’ say ads funded by big-money groups
Washington Post // Glenn Kessler

“Follow the money” is perhaps the most-cited phrase from the Watergate affair, though the source called Deep Throat never actually said that to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. Instead, it was a line written by screenwriter William Goldman for his Oscar-winning screenplay of “All the President’s Men” (1976), based on the book by Woodward and co-author Carl Bernstein.

In the movie, Deep Throat urges Woodward to “follow the money” in order to unravel campaign malfeasance by the Nixon administration. But in a bizarre development, the phrase has now been adopted by Super PACs and 501(c)(4)s, campaign groups which can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and others — to attack candidates who are the beneficiary of largess from other Super PACs and 501(c)(4)s. (Note: Super PACs must disclose their donors while 501(c)(4)s do not.)

Here are two examples.

 

By DAVID NIR
Daily Kos

   CNN and ORC International finally released their long-teased poll of Kentucky's Senate race, finding GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell up 50-46 on Democrat Alison Grimes. Rather notably, this is the first and only time McConnell's hit 50 percent in a public poll—ever. There's a good reason, too: CNN didn't bother to include Libertarian David Patterson in their questionnaire.
   That's a fairly bizarre choice, given that Libertarians in general have been polling unusually well this cycle, and given that recent SurveyUSA and PPP polls have given Paterson 5 and 7 percent of the vote, respectively. Yes, Republicans are trying to knock Patterson off the ballot, but while Libertarians aren't particularly good at actually winning any elections, they usually are quite adept at securing ballot access for themselves.
   And yes, Patterson is likely to wind up with a smaller share of the vote than he's getting now in other polls, but he can certainly have an impact on the race nevertheless, especially since he's liable to scoop up some anti-McConnell protest voters who would never pull the lever for a Democrat.

 

LOUISVILLE – Last week, Mitch McConnell was under fire for secret comments at a shadowy Koch brothers’ conference before millionaires and billionaires. The tape revealed McConnell’s willingness to sacrifice the interests of Kentuckians in pursuit of his own personal agenda.

BEFORE BILLIONAIRES (AUDIO): “And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage.”
The McConnell campaign did not dispute the audio and played it off as just another “stump speech.” But just yesterday, when pressed by a local Louisville reporter, Mitch McConnell changed his tune.

IN KENTUCKY (VIDEO): “There are circumstances under which, when you have a better economy, raising the minimum wage might make sense.”
Mitch McConnell is trying to have it both ways on the minimum wage, deceiving Kentucky voters in the process. After voting against increasing Kentuckians’ wages 17 times, it comes as no surprise that McConnell is running from his comments.

Kentuckians cannot trust Mitch McConnell and his support for the Koch brothers’ agenda – 30 years is long enough.

By ELIZABETH JENSEN
   The American worker today is being squeezed between two very powerful forces: corporations that want to minimize worker bargaining power and wages, and Tea Party activists who want safety-net programs to be eliminated.
   These two forces are cutting the very things that organized labor has worked so hard to provide for the American worker — the belief and reality that if you commit to working hard every day, you can provide a better life for your family than your parents were able to provide you.
   Mobility in the United States is at its lowest level in generations — and this is no accident. When John F. Kennedy spoke to the AFL-CIO in 1963 he spoke of the principles and programs which have made our country strong: raising the minimum wage, committing to social security, providing benefits to children of jobless workers and many more.

New National TV Ad: https://www.youtube.com/user/KochSisters

(Washington, DC, September 4, 2014) – Every antagonist needs a protagonist.

You’ve heard of the multi-billion dollar political colossus known as the Koch Brothers. No matter where you live in America, their corporate cash has flooded your airwaves, shown up on your doorstep or influenced your life in some fashion. But while their money dominates the American political and legislative spectrum, their values and ideals do not.

Today, the AFL-CIO is introducing “The Koch Sisters” to the American electorate – a national project featuring two women, Karen and Joyce, who share the same last name, but not the same values as the Koch Brothers. The Koch Sisters will bring the issues most Americans care about – from fair wages to protecting Social Security – to the forefront of the political debate.

 

 LOUISVILLE – Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton resigned late last week under a cloud of suspicion for his ties to an ongoing federal investigation into public corruption. The relationship between McConnell and the man he entrusted to run his reelection campaign raises serious questions for the Senator.

Senator McConnell:

1. When did you know that Benton was potentially tied to the federal criminal investigation of a bribery scandal?

2. What did Benton tell you his involvement was in paying off the former state senator in Iowa? Is Benton the subject of a federal investigation?

3. Are you certain none of your endorsers have been paid off to join your team?

 

By BILL ESTEP
Lexington Herald- Leader

   SOMERSET — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday declined to discuss the resignation of his former campaign manager, Jesse Benton, who quit last week as questions swirled about his role in a federal bribery case in Iowa.
   McConnell and his campaign had reportedly avoided questions about the issue over the weekend, but stopped to talk with reporters Tuesday afternoon following a speech to the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.
   He responded to several questions, criticizing President Barack Obama and pushing for Republican control of the Senate, which would likely put McConnell in charge. However, he did not respond directly when asked what Benton had told him about the situation in Iowa and whether he was confident Benton had done nothing wrong.

Lexington Herald-Leader editorial

There are billionaires and then there are billionaires.

Some, like Warren Buffett and Nick Hanauer, warn that historically high levels of income inequality are stifling economic growth. They recognize that capitalism needs lots of consumers who can afford to buy what's being produced. They see that the super-rich are better off with a smaller share of a fast-growing economy than a larger share of a slow-growing or stagnant economy.

Then, there are billionaires like Charles and David Koch. Driven by ideology and narrow self-interest, they seek to depress wages, push even more wealth to the top and limit government's ability to protect workers, public health and the environment.

 

September 2nd, Frankfort –Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan responded to the Kentucky Republican House Leaders’ "Handshake with Kentucky" agenda:

“I have been in politics a long time but this beats all. Kentucky Republican House Leaders are asking for voters' support to decrease wages, lower median household income, increased poverty, and undermine workplace safety, the true aims of the misnamed "Right to Work" legislation. The Handshake Platform is not a legislative agenda but a Bad Faith deal for Kentucky and a boondoggle for corporate interests looking to take advantage of hard working Kentuckians. The cynical Republican Leadership want to decrease our employment rights while they support the outsourcing of American shipbuilding jobs to China. The handshake platform is anti-growth!

Some states have been so-called “right to work” states for 67-years, and have yet to demonstrate any benefits for right to work legislation. The evidence is clear that right to work is neither a job creator or would improve the lives of working families in Kentucky. Right to work states suffer from lower incomes, education levels, social well-being and so many other key measures. Since 1947, certain Republicans have been selling right to work as a panacea for economic distress; it is not. Kentucky Republican House Leaders are not offering new policy solutions to create jobs and improve the state economy; they are dusting off old failed promises that benefit the rich and powerful. The voters of Kentucky need to refuse the bad faith handshake and the ruined economy that goes with it!”

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Republican Randy Bridges, who is running for the Kentucky House of Representatives, told the crowd in Paducah that his father, a retired plumbing contractor, spurned unions and “paid his guys top wage.
   “They made a good living and he’s made a good living and I’m proud of what he’s done and I thank you, Dad.”
   Bridges also touted a right to work law and urged his listeners not to believe “the propaganda that some of these high [paid]…union leaders are telling you to keep their…pay up. Don’t let the rank and file hear that, folks.”

 Friend,

As we spend time with our families today, we also have an opportunity to reflect on the profound contributions of labor to our national life. 

The determined, principled efforts of organized labor achieved the five-day work week, an end to child labor, fair wage-and-hour practices, health care and retirement benefits. These accomplishments, and many more, built stronger families and laid the foundation for the greatest expansion of the middle class in history.

But today our middle class is under siege. Unemployment in Kentucky is 7.4 percent, well above the national rate of 6.2 percent, which itself is much too high. Wages, adjusted for inflation, have fallen.

 

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO
Special to the Courier-Journal

   On Monday, when we gather to celebrate the 132nd Labor Day, please take a moment to reflect on the contributions and importance of America's trade union movement. Remember that the fundamental rights enjoyed by all workers such as health and safety laws and regulations, Social Security benefits, wage and hour protections, child labor laws, pensions, health care and so much more were achieved only through the organized efforts of the working men and women of the American labor movement.
   I have heard and read many predictions about the future of the American labor movement.
   Many prognosticators advance the belief that the labor movement is comparable to the dinosaurs and will eventually face extinction from having lost its relevance and economic and political power in our hyper-capitalist economy.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   So How can you help your union get better coverage in small-town media?
   First, try getting to know the newspaper, TV and radio reporters. Introduce yourself by calling them up or sending them an email with your photo. It’s a good idea to put a face with an email. Better yet, drop by for a visit.
   The anti-union newspaper publisher or station owner may think we have horns. But reporters cover the stories. Show them we don’t.

 


By HOWARD FINEMAN
Huffington Post

   WASHINGTON -- The five words a senator least likes to hear are not “you have lost the election.” They are “the federal investigation is ongoing.”
   Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky might have a reason to be concerned that the second sentence could lead to him hearing the first.
   On Wednesday, a federal investigation in Iowa forced a state senator there to plead guilty to obstruction of justice charges stemming from $73,000 in bribes he admitted taking from Rep. Ron Paul's campaign in 2012.

 

By JOSEPH W. BRENNAN, D.S.W., M.Div.
Kentucky Labor Institute

Much is said today about the quality of life. Victor Frankel found meaning in life even in a Nazi prison camp. Millions continue to survive despite starvation, war, and violence. But isn't life more than mere survival, more than a temporal passage until death? Life's value comes from our commitment to improve the human condition for ourselves, and for others.

The Minimum Wage and Social Security are not just social programs, they are a moral commitment to preserve "The Right to Life". Conceived by America's first woman Cabinet Secretary Frances Perkins, both programs envisioned the preservation of the dignity of life during all its phases, to ensure "The Right to Life", from the indignities of poverty, sickness, starvation, and an unseemly death.

Today, some deride such programs subsidies for the indolent. They maintain that strong individualism, personal initiative, and financial planning would eliminate such dependency on government. Why should anyone subsidize those hands seeking a stipend? Aren't there churches, organizations, and family members to assume these responsibilities? 

 

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

“Why is the media so anti-union?” Many are the times this old reporter-turned-history-teacher could retire if he had a dime for every time he’s heard a union brother or sister ask that question out of deep frustration.

They mostly mean Fox News and local newspapers and radio and TV stations.
There’s not much to say about Fox except that it’s blatantly biased. It’s the Republican Party’s propaganda ministry.

“Fair and balanced” is the network’s motto, but I’ll believe that when hogs fly and kids don’t shoot hoops in my native Kentucky any more. Nah – I won’t believe it even then.
 

By THOMAS E. PEREZ

Special to the Louisville Courier-Journal

It used to be that you could support a family on a minimum wage salary. Today, a minimum wage worker has to make a choice every day: Buy a gallon of milk for the kids, or buy a gallon of gas to get to work.

The current national minimum wage, frozen at $7.25 per hour since 2009, simply hasn’t kept up with inflation. As a matter of fact, its purchasing power has declined by one-third since the 1960s, and it’s worth less today than it was in 1981. Bus fare has certainly gone up since 1981. Same with the price of a dozen eggs, or a week of child care. Landlords aren’t sending out rent decreases. And yet the value of the minimum wage is eroding.

It’s time to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, which would make a difference in the lives of 28 million people, including 497,500 Kentucky residents.

 

Frankfort –Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan made the following statement in response to news that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton resigned: “Mitch’s campaign is in shambles. The McConnell campaign is self-destructing from within.

"McConnell's gambit to appeal to tea partiers by hiring Jesse Benton, Ron Paul's former campaign manager, was a serious error. Knowledge of Benton's potential legal and ethical breaches were well known and McConnell's hiring of Benton reveals a serious lack of due diligence. Benton's involvement in illegal campaign activities in Iowa is just the tip of the iceberg for McConnell's campaign. McConnell owes the voters of Kentucky an explanation for hiring Benton and paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars while knowing about his tainted past."

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “Faith,” to paraphrase the Good Book, “can move mountains.”
   So can just one union member like Chris Ormes.
   President of United Steelworkers Local 1241 in Bardstown, Ormes challenged a "right to work" speaker on less than friendly union-friendly turf and won.
   Ormes’s story is worth retelling this election season because the "right to work" (for less) crowd is pouring tons of money into the coffers of state house and senate candidates who want to make Kentucky another  "right to work" state.

By JOSEPH GERTH
The Courier-Journal

   A crowd of about 70 people showed up outside Mitch McConnell's office on West Broadway Thursday to protest the U.S. Senate minority leader and call for voters to toss him out of office.
   The protest was planned by the West Louisville Urban Coalition and Moveon.org as a way to show displeasure about McConnell, who faces a tough challenge in November's election against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
   "This is just to highlight that Mitch McConnell has not worked for the state," said Janice Rucker, who helped organize the event.
   

By JOAN McCARTER

Daily Kos 

The audio tape release of Mitch McConnell cozying up to the Kochs is raising some eyebrows back home in Kentucky. Particularly that part where he tells the billionaires gathered at the Koch retreat that the "the worst day of my political life" was when the campaign spending limits in McCain-Feingold passed. So the Courier-Journal decided to take a look at the financial relationship between McConnell and the Kochs.

My research finds $40,800 in contributions from the Koch family and PAC to     McConnell's re-election campaign. But the PAC of Koch Industries has also given $25,000 this election cycle to McConnell's own PAC, Bluegrass Committee.

 

By U.S REP. JOHN YARMUTH, D-LOUISVILLE
From Leo Weekly

   When I was considering my initial run for Congress in early 2006, one of my first priorities was a meeting with local organized labor leaders. At that point I wasn’t seeking their endorsement (That would come later.); rather, I wanted to know whether their priorities were the same as mine, namely to work to create an economy that benefits every American and not just a few.
   During our long meeting, it became clear to me that while they were certainly interested in a legislative agenda specific to unions, they were far more interested in a broader economic agenda that would help reverse decades of setbacks for the American middle class.
   Indeed, it is not stretching to argue that the stagnation in earnings growth for the vast majority of American workers corresponds almost exactly with the drop in the percentage of the workforce represented by unions. Following World War II, unions once represented about a third of all workers in the private sector; today they can claim membership of less than 7 percent. Controlling for all other factors, union members earn between 10 and 30 percent more than non-union workers doing the same job.
So I was greatly encouraged by my conversation with those union leaders, because I had long felt that without a strong, vibrant organized labor movement, the middle class would have no voice in public policy debates.
   

By BILL LONDRIGAN

President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Remember the last government shutdown? The one that led to delays in Social Security benefits for Kentucky seniors, layoffs at the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training and that held up benefits for veterans in Kentucky? That government shutdown harmed tens of thousands of Kentuckians.

Sen. Mitch McConnell was a key player in the last shutdown that hurt working families in Kentucky—and, last week, he hinted that he might push for another one if he doesn’t get his way in Congress after the November elections. Can you believe that? Another government shutdown?!

Watch our video calling out Sen. McConnell for his shutdown-style talk, then share it with your friends.

 

LOUISVILLE – Yesterday, a secret audio recording surfaced of Mitch McConnell selling out hardworking Kentuckians and siding with millionaire and billionaire donors. At a closed-door conference hosted by the shadowy Koch brothers, McConnell shamefully assured the crowd that if they help give him a self-promotion, they could count on him to stand in the way of proposals that help Kentucky families.

As expected, McConnell was far from eager to face the press at a public event later in the day. Mitch darted from Kentucky reporters in an attempt to run away from just how out-of-touch he is with the Commonwealth.

LOUISVILLE – Yesterday, leaked secret audio revealed Mitch McConnell’s willingness to sacrifice the interests of Kentuckians’ in pursuit of his own agenda – pandering to wealthy donors to boost his own national party.

In McConnell’s own words:

“And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage—cost the country 500,000 new jobs; extending unemployment—that’s a great message for retirees; the student loan package the other day; that’s going to make things worse. These people believe in all the wrong things.”

The McConnell campaign did not dispute the audio and played it off as just another “stump speech.” It seems denying relief to students, minimum wage workers, and unemployed Kentuckians while pocketing donations from millionaires and billionaires is just another average day for Mitch McConnell.

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO

   On behalf of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board, affiliates and members please accept our best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Labor Day 2014! Don’t forget to attend a union-sponsored Labor Day event in Louisville, Lexington, Catlettsburg, Cincinnati or Paducah. This is your day to celebrate with your fellow workers and families and to remind the wealthy elite and their political puppets like Mitch McConnell that workers built America and we are ready to stand up and fight back against those intent on robbing us of our proud working class heritage and our pivotal role in building our economy and protecting our democracy!
   I have heard and read many predictions about the future of the American labor movement. Many prognosticators advance the belief that the labor movement is comparable to the dinosaurs and will eventually face extinction from having lost its relevance and economic and political power in our hyper-capitalist economy. Others believe that when workers become so desperate, demeaned and exploited and no longer fear the consequences of employer reprisals and illegal terminations they will channel their anxiety into creating the next wave of mass union organizing.
Like a pendulum which swings from one side to the other with economic and political power split between the wealthy few and struggling masses, these opposing viewpoints frame current discussions about the status of the American labor movement. Yet it is easy to see which way the pendulum has swung during the past forty-plus years - in the direction of the few to the detriment of the many. The facts are indisputable. The richest few have accumulated the greatest concentrations of wealth in history. While accumulating this unprecedented wealth they have denied workers an equitable share of the wealth they helped create.

 

By JOSEPH GERTH

The Louisville Courier-Journal

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a conference of rich, politically active conservatives in June that he wouldn’t allow votes on the minimum wage and extending unemployment if he becomes majority leader, according to a leaked audio recording.

In the audio recording, which appeared on the website of The Nation, he also said that passage of the McCain-Feingold Act to limit political contributions was “the worst day of my political life.”

McConnell’s campaign didn’t deny the recording was accurate and, in fact, said it shows that he is “committed to fighting President Obama’s liberal, anti-coal agenda.”

The event was organized by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who donate heavily to conservative and tea party causes.

 

   LOUISVILLE – Today, Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton released the following statement on the new secret recording obtained by The Nation, revealing the lengths Mitch McConnell will go to please his deep-pocketed donors:
   Shockingly, Mitch McConnell will do and say anything it takes to secure his grip on personal power, including promising to hurt Kentuckians to benefit billionaires. Kentuckians who are struggling with unemployment, low wages and the soaring costs of higher education are the furthest thing from McConnell’s mind. For the past 30 years, Kentuckians have questioned Mitch McConnell’s priorities, and now we have the hard evidence that his allegiances lie with his millionaire and billionaire donors at the expense of hardworking Kentuckians.”

By JOSH ISRAEL
Think Progress

   At a Koch Brothers-hosted secret strategy conference of right-wing millionaire and billionaire political activists in June, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised that if his party wins control of the United States Senate this November, the Senate will not waste time on things like increasing the minimum wage for people making only about $15,000 annually. Instead, audio of his remarks obtained by The Nation reveals, his Senate will focus on repealing Wall Street reforms, environmental protections, and affordable healthcare.
   McConnell spoke at an annual event hosted by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort in Dana Point, CA. The conference, titled “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” reportedly attracted hundreds of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and aimed to raise $500 million toward making McConnell the Senate majority leader next year and another $500 million to defeat a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
  

   LOUISVILLE – According to a new secret recording obtained by The Nation, Mitch McConnell revealed his true quest for power. In the secretive closed-door meeting with wealthy special interest backers, he outlined how he plans to hurt Kentucky families and pander to millionaires and billionaires. On issues like raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and helping Kentuckians with college affordability, McConnell promised his party’s rich backers that he stands with them, no matter the cost to Kentuckians and this nation.
   

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   I often think about the old Knights of Labor on Labor Day. Okay, I’m a retired history teacher who still packs a union card.
   The Knights “tried to teach the American wage-earner that he was a wage-earner first and a bricklayer, carpenter, miner, shoemaker, after; that he was a wage-earner first and a Catholic, Protestant, Jew, white, black, Democrat, Republican, after,” historian Norman Ware wrote.
   The Knights stressed that whatever else divided working people, work itself was what we all have in common. Work is, by far, the most important factor in our lives. Thus, workers should unite as members of the working class, the Knights urged.
   

Please join the West Louisville Urban Coalition, Moveon.Org, organized labor and allies and supporters for a “Ditch Mitch" rally  Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) in front the Federal Building, Sixth and Broadway.

“Join us to let the public and voters know what Mitch has been doing for them since 1985 – nothing! Let’s tell the voters that Mitch has voted against seniors, veterans, children, workers, unions and the poor and it is time for him to be replaced on November 4th!,” said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president.

For additional information please contact Janice Rucker, West Louisville Urban Coalition, at 510-364-4914.

By ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES
For the Huffington Post

Today on Women's Equality Day, we commemorate the passage of women's right to vote -- celebrating how far we have come, but also recognizing the work that remains.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was among those who paved the way for women in government as our nation's first female Secretary of State, and I am proud to accept her endorsement for my U.S. Senate candidacy on this important day.

Secretary Albright broke glass ceilings, both as Secretary of State and as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Clinton administration. Secretary Albright's got grit. In a career field dominated by men, she overcame many hurdles to succeed -- not just professionally, but also as a mother to two girls. I'm elated and humbled to have her in my corner.

 

LOUISVILLE – As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – one of the United States’ most distinguished foreign policy leaders and the first woman to serve as Secretary of State – has formally endorsed Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign for U.S. Senate.

“Alison is one of the brightest young leaders in America, and I am proud to stand with Alison in her campaign. Her detailed plan to build the middle class will make our country stronger at home and abroad,” Secretary Albright said Tuesday. “We need more leaders who will go to Washington and put the American people before partisan politics. I know that Alison will be one of those leaders.”

“I am honored to earn Secretary Albright’s support in this race and appreciate her wise counsel on the many issues that our country faces,” Alison said. “Secretary Albright and I share a vision for creating jobs for hardworking Americans, strengthening the middle class and maintaining American leadership in the world.”

LOUISVILLE – As Mitch McConnell promises to shut down the government again, Kentuckians remember all too well the staggering impact of McConnell’s reckless 2013 shutdown.

McConnell’s government shutdown:
Prevented Kentucky small businesses from opening their doors 
Delayed financial support for Kentucky’ small businessesStopped support for small businesses to grow and sell their products abroad

Small businesses help create jobs and foster economic growth in communities across the Commonwealth. And yet, Kentucky’s senior senator stands in the way in an attempt to score cheap political points.

Kentucky deserves better – 30 years is long enough.


 

   LOUISVILLE – Today, Alison for Kentucky releases a new web ad highlighting Mitch McConnell’s promise to shut down the government if re-elected.
   Last year’s reckless government shutdown cost Kentuckians $127 million and the country $24 billion. McConnell ignores the devastating impact his shutdown had on        Kentucky families, and instead attempts to rewrite history, taking credit for ending something he enabled.
   Mitch McConnell’s message is clear: six more years of Mitch McConnell means six more years of brinkmanship and partisan games in gridlocked Washington, DC.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “Today is not about me,” insisted veteran union leader Jeff Wiggins after he was presented the 2014 W.C. Young Award. “It’s about doing the right thing for working people.”
   Wiggins is the 21st recipient of the annual award, the highest honor the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council bestows.
    W.C. Young was a national labor and civil rights leader from Paducah.
   “This is about you; all of you are my brothers and sisters,” said Wiggins, 53, of Reidland. He is president of the council, president of United Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City and a member of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board.
   Added Wiggins: “It’s about all of us working together to do the right thing for working people, about making sure people having a decent wage, about people being able to retire with dignity, and it’s about our kids growing up and having decent paying jobs so they can raise families.”

 

USW Next Generation: Making History, Making Progress
The last day of the United Steelworkers of America 2014 constitutional convention concluded with high energy as delegates overwhelmingly approving Resolution No. 4, which encourages all local unions to build Next Gen committees, calls on young and new workers to become active in all parts of the union and says that our union will help fight against predatory student debt that is drowning our members, their families and many other Canadians and Americans.

The resolution lays out a path forward for the Next Generation program and can be read on the convention Website. Also Thursday, the union’s first-ever Next Generation district coordinators were recognized with a standing ovation as USW celebrated the progress it’s made in formalizing the program over the past three years.
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Sen. Mitch McConnell knows he probably won’t get a lot of union votes on Nov. 4.
   Oh, he’ll keep trying to grab as many as he can by pandering to so-called “social issues” like guns. Neal Knox, a former NRA head, once bragged that the gun issue “is the one thing that will spin the blue-collar union member away from his union." (See “The Right Wing Attack on the American Labor Movement” by Joanne Ricca, who is retired from the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO: http://www.d.umn.edu/)
   The NRA, which is cozy with anti-union groups like the National Right to Work Committee, has endorsed McConnell. (The NRTWC is in the senator’s corner, too.)

 

LOUISVILLE – This week, Kentuckians were reminded of something they’ve known for years: Mitch McConnell cares more about himself than the hardworking families he is supposed to represent.

Below are McConnell’s five unbelievable excuses for skipping work:

1. His national party “takes precedence” over Kentuckians.

McConnell told Politico that as Senate Majority Leader, he would have no qualms about shutting down the government if it meant gaining a political advantage. Adding insult to injury, McConnell then admitted his "duties as Minority Leader take precedence" over Kentucky farmers.

2. He’s too busy selling Senate Dining Room access to high-dollar donor “friends.”

As National Journal reported this week, “only one week after Sen. Mitch McConnell took the CEO of Delta Air Lines to breakfast in the exclusive Senate Dining Room last month, the airline executive and his wife wrote $10,000 worth of checks to help fund McConnell's political operation.”

When asked, McConnell claimed that the donor was a “friend” – but evidently it didn’t cross Mitch’s mind to use the relationship to help Kentuckians.

 

   Labor historian Toni Gilpin will be in Louisville on Sept. 16 to speak on the city’s historic Farm Equipment Workers Local 236, which has been called “a groundbreaking Louisville union dedicated to the anti-racist struggle.”
   Gilpin, who earned a Ph.D. from Yale University, will give two talks, each titled “'Louisville's ‘Most Perfect Union:’ An Examination of United Farm Equipment Workers Local 236 at International Harvester.”
   The first talk is at 1 p.m. in Room 300 of the Bingham Humanities Building on the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus. The second talk will be at 6 p.m. in the National Association of Letter Carriers union hall, 4815 Poplar Level Road, which is also the meeting place for the Louisville Central Labor Council.

By GENE NETTLES
Hickman, Ky.

A major change occurred in Kentucky just a few years ago. For 350 years the population had been rural, the change came when city and environs populations out numbered others. Often we long for a return to simpler times, times when neighbors were neighborly and all were alike in eking a living from farming. Forgotten are the callouses, sweat and blisters. Farm folks knew animals quite well, even the smallest tyke knew the difference between a donkey and a jack. Girls knew from experience that an old jack was likely to bite or kick them. They little understood the vendetta the jack showed in singling them out. Times change but old jacks, such as the one we send to Washington,continue to bite and kick females. Just ask Ms. Ashley.

 

By SHANE GOLDMACHER
The National Journal

   Only one week after Sen. Mitch McConnell took the CEO of Delta Air Lines to breakfast in the exclusive Senate Dining Room last month, the airline executive and his wife wrote $10,000 worth of checks to help fund McConnell's political operation.
   The donations, which were reported to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, made Rick and Susan Anderson the largest contributors to McConnell's Bluegrass Committee in July. Delta Air Lines' PAC contributed another $2,500 within days of the breakfast.
   The proximity between the meal on Capitol Hill and the date of the donations provides a window into how modern Washington works. It's a place where incumbent lawmakers, especially those who—like McConnell—face a serious reelection fight, are relentlessly courting contributors at all hours to fund multimillion-dollar political campaigns.

   Veteran Kentucky labor Jeff Wiggins will receive the 2014 W.C. Young Award Saturday at the annual presentation dinner in Paducah.
   “I hope to see you Aug. 23 as we celebrate and honor labor’s own W.C. Young, a labor and civil rights icon from West Kentucky,” said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president. “Congratulations to Jeff Wiggins on this great recognition.”
   The program begins at 3 p.m. at the United Steelworkers Local 550 hall, 2525 Cairo Road. A donation of $10 per person is suggested.

 

From the USW

Adjunct professors at Point Park University and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA., recognized they shared common interests and common workplace challenges when their employers tried to reduce their wages and hours.

The United Steelworkers were there to provide the needed support to assist them in forming a union. Without the strength of an established union, their employers would have taken advantage of the workers.

In Toronto, Canada, a group of taxi cab drivers were struggling to make a living wage working seven days a week. The system was so terribly broken and the workers were being inhumanley exploited. The drivers realized they needed the support of a powerful union to partner with and that is why they chose the United Steelworkers.
 

From the USW

The Rev. William J. Barber II ignited the United Steelworkers on the first day of their recent convention, urging some 5,000 delegates and guests to forget about geographic, racial, age, gender or other lines and come together to build an all-inclusive movement to “save the soul of this democracy.”

Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, has already started the movement, known as the Moral Monday Movement, uniting people of faith, students, workers, unions and others.

 

By ADAM BEAM and BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates had a hard time talking about farming without slinging mud.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes took turns attacking each other in a cramped board room of the Kentucky Farm Bureau on Wednesday in the candidates' first joint question-and-answer session of the contentious campaign.

Grimes set the tone early by attacking McConnell in her opening statement for his prolonged absences from the Senate Agriculture Committee. By not showing up, Grimes said, McConnell diluted his influence, which led to his inability to stop the lapse in the federal farm bill last year that provided crop insurance for Kentucky farmers.

 

LOUISVILLE – Today, Mitch McConnell’s performance at the Kentucky Farm Bureau forum fell flat. Here are Senator McConnell’s top three gaffes from this afternoon’s candidate forum:

McConnell said he doesn't have time to show up at committee meetings because he's busy looking after national party priorities instead of Kentuckians. McConnell said, "Harry actually resigned from all of his committees because you don’t have time...Because you don't have time to do justice to committee work if you’re one of the party leaders, you’re involved in other issues, honestly, much more consequential issues than being there for particular hearings on a subject that may or may not be relevant to what’s going on."
 

LOUISVILLE – At this afternoon’s Kentucky Farm Bureau candidate forum, Alison Lundergan Grimes held Mitch McConnell accountable for his failed record and proved that she is the only U.S. Senate candidate who will fight for Kentucky agriculture.

For at least three years, Mitch McConnell has not even shown up to work for our farm families, skipping committee meetings for DC photo ops and high dollar fundraisers. The contrast in this race could not be starker. Unlike McConnell who plays hooky on the taxpayers’ dime, Alison Lundergan Grimes believes the Senator for the Future needs to show up to work every day. Mitch McConnell’s Era of the Big Earmark is over.

 LOUISVILLE – As both Kentucky Senate candidates head to the Kentucky Farm Bureau candidates forum today, Mitch McConnell is under fire for skipping Senate Agriculture Committee hearings “to make time” for “issues far removed from Kentucky’s farmers.”

Today, the Grimes campaign releases a new web ad and the following statement from campaign manager Jonathan Hurst on Mitch McConnell’s inexcusable absence from the Agriculture Committee:

 

By ALEXANDRA JAFFE
The Hill

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has touted his work for Kentucky farmers on the campaign trail, but back in Washington has a trend of skipping out on Senate Agriculture Committee hearings for events unrelated to his home state.

He’s already been hit by Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes for missing every Agriculture Committee hearing since 2009. However, it’s not uncommon for lawmakers to miss the occasional hearing — particularly members of leadership, who have varied demands that take them away from their committee duties.

But a review of committee hearings and McConnell’s public schedule reveals many times when he’s missed hearings, he’s still managed to make time for media appearances or meetings on issues far removed from Kentucky’s farmers.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360

   Retired Paducah Fire Chief Leon Dodge, 91, doesn’t think he ever rode in a fire truck in the city’s Labor Day parade.
   He won’t this year either. His mount will be a convertible out front.
   Dodge, who spent almost 38 years in the fire department – his last 17 as chief – is grand marshal for the 39th annual end-of-summer holiday procession. “It’s quite an honor,” he said.

 

By ERIKA EICHELBERGER
Mother Jones

   Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not say if he will stop blocking a major spending bill in the Senate that contains funding to help identify and prosecute rapists—or whether he would support a separate bill to break the log jam.
   As I reported last week, since June, Senate Republicans have held up a $180 billion appropriations bill that would fund several federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Justice. Part of the funding allotted for the DoJ is supposed to go toward a $41 million grant to help states and localities go after rapists by funding jurisdictions to process backlogs of rape kits, the samples of DNA evidence that are taken after a sexual assault and used to identify assailants. There are over 100,000 untested kits waiting to be processed at crime labs and police departments around the country, partly because states and localities don’t have enough money to test them. The kits can go untested for decades, allowing countless rapists off the hook.
   The sweeping spending bill has hit a wall in the Senate because McConnell and other Senate Republicans want Dems to let them add several unrelated amendments to the legislation. The amendment McConnell introduced would make it harder for the EPA to enact new rules on coal-fired power plants. Democrats have complained that GOPers are abusing the amendments process to hold up a bill they don’t like. "Regardless of the outcome of the amendment votes…Republicans have indicated that they are not willing to support the underlying bill," a Senate staffer told me last week.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Timing is everything in politics, for better or worse.
The National Rifle Association is sending a mailer into Kentucky portraying Mitch McConnell as the savior of the Second Amendment against President Barack Obama and – wait for it – Michael Bloomberg, the millionaire anti-coal guy on whose foundation board the senator’s spouse sits.
   Bloomberg is also for tougher gun control laws.
   Okay, it’s Bloomberg Philanthropies’ anti-coal stand that has put Chao in the news because her husband says coal is the love of his political life.

 

 “We rate the claim Mostly False.”

PolitiFact: Mitch McConnell ad says he supported 'stronger' Violence Against Women Act than Barack Obama

Sen. Mitch McConnell enlisted the help of his wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, to push back against claims from Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes that the Kentucky Republican is anti-women.

"Have you ever noticed how some liberals feel entitled to speak on behalf of all women? As if every woman agrees with Barack Obama," Chao says in an ad released Aug. 5, 2014.

A narrator adds: "Mitch McConnell co-sponsored the original Violence Against Women Act – he’s always supported its purpose. Mitch voted for even stronger protections than Obama’s agenda will allow."

We took a look at Grimes’ ad in a separate fact-check. We said the claim that McConnell voted "two times against the Violence against Women Act" was Half True, given McConnell’s history of voting in favor of the law at times.

But what about McConnell’s response that he "voted for even stronger protections" than the Violence Against Women Act that President Barack Obama signed?

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Birds of a feather, right?
So does that make Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell’s spouse, a closet you-know-what?
   A Liberal?
   Those of us who pack union cards remember the senator’s significant other as the conservative, anti-labor secretary of labor under conservative, anti-labor President George W. Bush.
   Well, now it’s all over the news that Chao is on the board of directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity that agreed to chip in a cool $50 million to the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign. The campaign’s objective is to end the country’s reliance on “dirty coal, plant-by-plant, community-by-community, state-by-state.”

   A Labor 2014 Political Action meeting is set for 10 a.m. (EDT) Monday at the UAW Local 862 hall, 3000 Fern Valley Rd., in Louisville. "Please make every effort to attend this important meeting to discuss our labor political action program and what we will need to make it a success," said Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president. "Please let me know if you have any questions."

By LANA BELLAMY

Ashland Independent