Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   What do China’s communist rulers and some top Tennessee Republican politicians have in common?
   They don’t want free trade unions.
   German-based Volkswagen operates factories all over the world. They include plants in in China and in Chattanooga, Tenn., where workers recently rejected the United Auto Workers in a close and controversial vote that the union is appealing.
   In a recent post, Jim Pence, who runs the Hillbilly Report blog in Kentucky, points out that VW’s Chinese and American plants are the only ones where employees don’t have a works council – an arrangement where the union and management work together equally on issues of mutual concern -- and an independent union.

By JEFF WIGGINS
President, Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council.

   Sen. Mitch McConnell, you aren’t fooling anyone.
   You still want us to believe that you are responsible for the cancer screenings and compensation program for workers at the U.S. Enrichment Corp.’s Paducah gaseous diffusion plant and other nuclear facilities.
   But we know that the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., was the lead sponsor of the Energy Employees Occupational Compensation Program Act of 2000, which benefits nuclear workers who have suffered from cancer and other serious illnesses related to radiation exposure.
   We know that the legislation passed the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support and that President Bill Clinton and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, both Democrats, backed the bill.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Wesley Bolin, a 25-year-old college student from Murray, knows it usually takes a ton of money, name recognition and some political experience to win a seat in congress.
   The candidate confesses he lacks all three.
   Plus, Bolin is running as an unabashed liberal in the First Congressional District, where more than a few voters cast ballots based on what some wags call the “Four Gs – God, guns, gays and government.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Bill Londrigan is president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO. He spoke at the 42nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day motorcade and rally in Louisville on Jan. 20.
   Good afternoon and greetings from the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board, members and affiliates.
   It is an honor for me to be one of the Grand Marshals for this 42nd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Motorcade and Rally.
   I am happy to join the other Grand Marshals including Bishop Micheal L. Priester, and my union brothers Lawrence Winburn, Sr., Laborers’ Local 576 and Jonathan Dooley, Amalgamated Transit Union 1447, both of whom serve on the Executive Board of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   The Mitch McConnell-Matt Bevin food fight for the Kentucky GOP senate nomination reminds me of Macbeth’s famous soliloquy:
   “Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,/And then is heard no more. It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing.”
   In other words, Macbeth, henpecked to homicide by his spouse and facing his deserved doom, has concluded that life is mostly meaningless, like the role of a second-rate actor in a third-rate play. With apologies to The Bard, it’s not a stretch to substitute “the McConnell-Bevin food fight” for “life,” especially the “sound and fury/Signifying nothing” part.


By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “Why is the media so anti-union?” “How can our local get better coverage in our hometown media?” “What’s the history of my union and of our union movement?”
   If you pack a union card in the Bluegrass State and have ever sought answers to any of those questions, the Kentucky Labor Institute has some answers.
Headquartered in Louisville, the KLI was founded in 2010 on just one principle: assisting Kentucky unions. But we’re an ecumenical bunch; we’re glad to help unions anywhere.
   The KLI is an organization of college professors, active and retired – not an egghead in the bunch – and union and social justice activists from all across our state – from Mayfield to Morehead to be exact.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   Sen. Mitch McConnell emailed special Yuletide greetings to the faithful – his version of “’Twas the Night before Christmas.”
   “‘Twas the night before Christmas, four years ago. Liberals wanted Obamacare, but Kentucky said no,” the senator recited.
    More versifying followed, including: “Obama wondered: Who's my Kentucky candidate for these times? And guess who it goes to? Alison Lundergan Grimes.”
   The captain of Team Mitch fudged the facts.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

It looks like Sen. Rand Paul, serial plagiarizer, is at it again, or maybe now he’s just making stuff up.

“Did you know that Right to Work states have created jobs at a rate three times greater than Kentucky over the past decade?” the Kentucky Republican recently wrote in a letter touting a right to work for less law for the Bluegrass State.

It’s hard to tell if Paul fudged the facts on his own or if he’s cribbing again. He didn’t cite any sources.

“It’s amazing how Rand Paul and other right to work for less supporters continually use the false claim that right to work for less states gain jobs upon passage of a right to work for less law,” says Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan.

 


By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Recording secretary, Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council
   At least the media is consistent.
   UAW-made engines have powered Jimmie Johnson’s Chevy to six NASCAR Sprint Cup driving championships. That fact has never grabbed headlines or made the TV news.
   No matter, I hopped up from my chair in front of the TV and cheered when “Six Pack” clinched the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday night.
   I’m a 63-year-old union card-carrying Chevy man. Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
Recording Secretary, Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council

   We Presbyterians don’t do “amens.” We’re the “frozen chosen.”
   But I’ll “amen” AFL-CIO policy director Damon Silvers’ recent warning on the Salon website: “The labor movement is going to fight to the death to stop cuts to Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. Not ‘unreasonable cuts.’ Not ‘cuts without tax increases.’ Cuts period. We’re against all of them, we will fight them ferociously, and we will give no cover to any Democrat who supports them.”
 

 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
Recording Secretary, Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council

   On Veterans Day, I thought about a conversation I had with Cecil Roberts, president of the Mine Workers (UMWA), when he was in Paducah, Ky., for Labor Day.
   Roberts, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, says it’s time for unions to take back two big issues the labor haters have hijacked from our movement: “The Bible and patriotism.”
   He wants to know, “At what point in time did the Bible start belonging to the Republicans and the business folks? At what point in time did patriotism?” Read more >>>

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
Recording Secretary, Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council

   Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) just got a “Defender of Freedom” award from the National Rifle Association.
   No doubt the Senate minority leader figures the “attaboy” from the gun group, plus an all but certain NRA endorsement, might help him con some gun-owning union members into voting for him next November.
   Naturally, he hopes union men and women who enjoy hunting and shooting sports won’t find out how tight NRA bigwigs are with the union-haters who run the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC), a group that has been waging unholy war against us for years.
 

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By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
The son of a Steelworker is leading a Murray, Ky., State University student protest against the choice of Sen. Mitch McConnell as the school’s commencement speaker.
“We aren’t quibbling with the university’s right to invite Sen. McConnell,” said Devin Griggs, 22. “We just question why he was invited.”
Graduation ceremonies will be May 11.
Griggs, from Benton, Ky., is the son of Cliff Griggs, a member of United Steelworkers Local 9447.
 

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

The jury is still out over who secretly taped Coach McConnell and Team Mitch plotting to make political hay off Ashley Judd by letting Kentucky voters in on her depression, thoughts of suicide and religious views.

Allegedly, it was liberal Democrats at Progress Kentucky.

On the clandestine recording, made in February, the Bluegrass State’s senior senator and some of his campaign staffers discuss ways of derailing a Judd candidacy.

As it turned out, a preemptive strike wasn’t necessary. The Hollywood star-liberal activist decided not to come home to Kentucky and run against the senate minority leader in 2014.

 

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

In just about any small town that has lost a big factory, you'll hear it was the union's fault.

I live in Mayfield, Ky., population about 10,000. A big Continental General Tire plant was our factory. It’s been gone for a half dozen years.

Some local merchants, hurting for customers, are still blaming the "greedy union," United Steelworkers of America Local 665, for the plant’s demise.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   The Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council has endorsed a United Mine Workers of America-sponsored resolution declaring that “as community members and leaders, we believe that Peabody, Arch and Patriot Coal should not be using the bankruptcy process to shed themselves of providing health care and pension obligations to coal miners who put their lives and health at risk every day working for Peabody, Arch and Patriot Coal.”
   The endorsement was unanimous. "This is not just the UMWA's fight," said Jeff Wiggins, president of the council and Steelworkers Local 9447. "What's happening to the miners could happen to all of us. Companies all over the country are going after our pensions. We're all in the same boat."
   UMWA members, active and retired, plus their families and friends have been holding large protest rallies in St. Louis and Charleston, W.Va.
The next rallies are set for April 16 and 29 in St. Louis, where Peabody is headquartered and where the company is pleading its case in federal bankruptcy court.
 

From TheNews.org, the official website of the Murray State News 

By DEVIN GRIGGS

As millions of Missourians went to work Wednesday morning, their representatives met in the state house for a hearing. The hearing concerned the possibility of making Missouri the nation’s 25th right-to-work state, following the footsteps of moves made by the legislatures of Indiana and Michigan last year.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) likewise introduced a bill Monday that would turn the entire U.S. into a right-to-work state.

Just what is a right-to-work law, and what happens when a state adopts one? Well it might sound like a right-to-work law would be a good thing – of course as a good Rooseveltian liberal I am kind of partial to the idea that everyone should have the right to a job. But that’s not what right-to-work is all about.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Showing solidarity with our union brothers and sisters is a great way for us to ring in the New Year, says Jim Key, vice president at large of Steelworkers Local 550 in Paducah, Ky.

Key, also his local's legislative and political chairman, is asking union members and union supporters nationwide to take a minute to put their John Hancock on a White House cyber-petition against corporations that file for bankruptcy “to circumvent their liabilities for workers' pensions and post-retirement health care benefits.”

The link to the petition is http://wh.gov/Reqy.

By SEYMOUR SLAVIN, Director Kentucky Labor Institute

New data has shown that while a majority of jobs eliminated during the downturn were in what we describe as the middle range of wages, the great majority of jobs added as the economy improves were low paying jobs reported Katherine Rampell in the business section of the New York Times on Friday, August 31, 2012.This was documented in a study done by the National Employment Law Project.

The study by Annette Bernhardt examined 366 occupations followed by the Labor Department. Bernhardt separated them into three equal groups by wages, with each representing a third of American employment in 2008.

The middle third consisted of jobs like construction, manufacturing and information. These jobs paid median hourly wages of $13.84 to $21.13. Over 60 % of these jobs were lost during the recession. When the middle third jobs returned, they represented only 22% of total employment growth.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360
   The manager at the Southside Walmart in Paducah, Ky., might have figured he’d quashed the protest at his store.
   After all, he made James Vetato and three other OUR Walmart picketers leave from near the front door.
   The quartet retreated, but to regroup at the entrance road to the busy shopping center the Walmart store anchors.
   They redeployed under a big blue and white Walmart sign and held up hand-lettered placards reading, “ON STRIKE FOR THE FREEDOM TO SPEAK OUT,” “RESPECT ASSOCIATES DON’T SILENCE ASSOCIATES,” “ULP [unfair labor practice] STRIKE” and “WALMART STOP BULLYING ASSOCIATES WHO SPEAK OUT.”
  Read more >>>

By DEVIN GRIGGS
   If you haven’t seen The Manchurian Candidate (the original 1962 film, although Mitt Romney’s Republican Party is closer to the corporate stooge portrayed in the 2004 variation than the communist-in-conservative clothing from the original), the plot is pretty basic: a politician is enticed via brainwashing to become the unwitting aid of a conspiracy against the United States, all the while rising to the presidency. While there is not likely a literal conspiracy against the United States by the men and women of Wall Street, if the shoe fits, Mitt Romney will certainly wear it with pride.
   Consider the background of Mitt Romney. Born into wealth, Romney has lived much of his life as a trust-fund baby. Romney’s father, George Romney, was a Republican presidential candidate half a century ago, losing out to Richard Nixon after going against the Republican position on the Vietnam War; Romney served under Nixon as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a consistent advocate on behalf of the poor and minority groups (this eventually lead to conflicts between Nixon and him and caused Romney to leave the administration in 1973). Unlike his father, who advocated public service, Mitt Romney has never been much into the idea of noblesse oblige. While George Romney spent his entire private sector career creating jobs in the automotive industry and advocated on behalf of the less fortunate while Governor of Michigan and HUD Secretary, his son spent his private sector career destroying the jobs of South Carolina steelworkers to give investors in Bain Capital a little more on their dividend checks; the younger Romney’s public sector career has been limited to taking a new position on an issue based on the time of day.
 

By JOHN HENNEN
   First, some good news. Kentucky Public Radio-Frankfort reported on May 18 that four Democratic Kentucky legislators (Sens. Ray Jones, KY 31; Denise Harper Angel, KY 35; Tim Shaughnessy, KY 19; and Kathy Stein, KY 13) had broken with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative network of national and state legislators associated with the attacks against public sector unions in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Florida, and other states.
     Now, some bad news. Nearly forty additional Kentucky lawgivers from both parties are still associated with ALEC, including Representative Mike Harmon (R-54) and Senator Tom Buford (R-22), identified by ALEC as Kentucky state chairmen. And, according to a Louisville Courant blog post Kentucky Senate leader David Williams was chosen ALEC’s “Legislator of the Year” for 2011.
   The four Democratic Kentuckians’ exodus followed soon after several of ALEC’s major corporate sponsors, including Coca Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, and MacDonald’s, severed ties with the group. The scurrying away was prompted by public exposure of ALEC’s role in drafting the legislative templates for such controversial measures as Florida’s (and several other states’) “Stand Your Ground” law, which effectively condones homicide in the name of individual liberty, and in drafting a wave of anti-democratic voter identification laws, which civil rights activists claim are attempts to deny voting rights to the poor and minorities. Some of ALEC’s corporate donors, responding to the blowback against the “Stand Your Ground” killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida by a gun-toting neighborhood vigilante, decided that promoting the shooting of young black people in hoodies and denying their families access to the ballot was probably not good for business.
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   I thought of Pogo, Jim Pence, Jay Gould and Jack London when I read that almost four in ten Wisconsin union households voted to help sustain Scott Walker, the Dairy State's union- busting Republican governor.
   Citing exit polls, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online reported that in the recall election, Walker "won 37% of union households in 2010 and 38% in 2012 — about the number that polls show represents the percentage of voters in union households that are Republican."
   "We have met the enemy and he is us," famously said Pogo, the wise little cartoon swamp possum.
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360 
   Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, was on the money when he said Mitt Romney will “tell a bunch more whoppers about unions” (and President Obama).
   Romney fibbed anew when he claimed Obama "denies an American company the right to build a factory in the American state of its choice."
   The claim is vintage Romney obfuscation, apparently based on the dispute -- settled last year -- between the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace     Workers and Chicago-headquartered Boeing over the aircraft manufacturer's new non-union plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state where most business owners and most politicians – even some Democrats – are less than union-friendly.
   For years, Boeing was based in Seattle, where the company was founded in 1916. The union said -- and the National Labor Relations Board agreed -- that Boeing broke federal labor law by building the factory in South Carolina in retaliation against union members for exercising their federally-guaranteed right to strike.
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   At least Mitt Romney is consistent about unions.
   He keeps on fibbing about them.
   Recently, the presumptive Republican president nominee promised to “stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing.”
Federal law prohibits involuntary political contributions from union members.
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Mitt Romney told another whopper about unions the other night.

“We will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing,” he said.

Involuntary political contributions from union members are illegal.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Bluegrass State Mineworker Joe Holland risked – and almost lost – his life for his country in Vietnam.
So he wants fellow vets to send a message to Ted Nugent.
   “Put a lid on it,” says Holland, the Owensboro, Ky.-based AFL-CIO Southern field representative.
   Holland has packed a United Mine Workers of America union card for most of his 62 years. He’s voting for President Obama again.
   Nugent, the draft-evading, right-wing Republican has-been rocker, is for Mitt Romney.
   Nugent, who relishes the macho handle “Motor City Madman,” was in full cry at the recent National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis.
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

I'm a big fan of Hardball host Chris Matthews and his frequent guest, David Corn of Mother Jones magazine.

But these guys need to do their homework on Rick Santorum. On a recent show, they talked like Romney’s anti-union and Santorum's not.

“I don’t think he’s known as anti-labor, though, at all,” Matthews said of Santorum. “No, no, Rick Santorum is not,” Corn added.

Come on guys, check it out. Santorum is as anti-labor as Romney is.

By JOHN T. CUMBLER
   Indiana’s proposed “Right to Work” Ac t is not just anti-union, it is anti-democratic. Under the law if a majority of workers in a plant vote for a union, those who opposed the union would not have to contribute dues to the union. Indiana Republicans are touting the law as giving individuals freedom not to have to join a union and thus leading to more jobs in Indiana. The connection between not joining a union and more jobs in Indiana is not spelled out, but is understood by most people. The “Right to Work” law will discourage unionization and thus companies looking for cheap labor, few or no benefits, and few worker-rights associated with non-unionized workers will flood into the state-providing lots of low wage- low benefit jobs.
   There is more to this story. I know people who objected to the War in Iraq by refusing to pay their income tax that went towards the war. I did not join this protest because I believe that even if a war was wrong, in a democracy, one has a responsibility to contribute taxes to policies supported by the majority. One certainly has a right to protest those policies and to vote and protest against them, but I do not think one gets to pick and choose which policies the majority support that you actually fund. “Right to Work” Laws support a world where one gets to avoid paying for what the majority voted.
 

By DEVIN GRIGGS
   After a brief stint mismanaging the nation’s budget for the George W. Bush administration, the soft spoken Mitch Daniels was elected governor of Indiana in 2004. His presidential hopes dashed by a “kinder, gentler” approach to hot-button social issues, Daniels has now joined the ranks of scab governors Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Jan Brewer, among other anti-worker scab state chief executives scattered around the country, by signing into law legislation that made Indiana the 23rd “right-to-work’ state.”
   ‘Right-to-work’ sounds good on paper when we have 8.6 percent unemployment nationally and nine percent unemployment in the Hoosier state, but “right-to-work” laws don’t give anybody the right to a job. “Right-to-work” really is the right-to-work-for-less. Under the Taft-Hartley Act, passed in 1947 by a scab Congress over the veto of President Truman, a state may pass a “right-to-work” law exempting workers from having to pay union dues if they work in a union shop, effectively outlawing the notion of a union shop in the first place. If you live in one of the 23 states that have right to work for less statutes, you can thus work side by side with union members without being a member of that union or paying union dues while still benefiting from the wages and benefits that union negotiates with your employer. To add insult to injury, these laws also require unions to represent all workers in the plant beyond the bargaining table when it comes to disciplinary and other issues, allowing non-union workers and your employer alike to have their cake and eat it too.
  

By DEVIN GRIGGS
   The not so decisive victory of Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s Iowa caucus has a lot of people talking about the guy he almost lost to, a certain former Senator from Pennsylvania named Rick Santorum. Whether or not Santorum has the ability to capitalize on his strong showing in Iowa going forward in the Republican presidential primaries is something I’ll leave to the pundits and the Republican rank-and-file, but there is something to be said about the candidate himself going into the general election, whether or not Santorum is the Republican nominee or not.
   Although universally pinned as the "anti-birth control, anti-abortion, and anti-gay marriage" candidate representing the Republican Party’s hard-right, none of those monikers really help explain why Santorum did so well in Iowa. What does is the continued emphasis that Santorum has put on rebuilding the United States’ declining manufacturing base, which, although it has shown some signs of life over the past few months, is still in a state of relative decline compared to where it was when Santorum entered the House of Representatives in 1991. Santorum talks a good game about manufacturing and this probably helped him in a state that has a relatively strong manufacturing sector and, like the rest of the country, a working class majority concerned with the erosion of American manufacturing and fears concerning China’s rise as an industrial power.
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
“I believe in the American worker,” says Rick Santorum, the new anti-Romney in the food fight for the GOP presidential nomination.

A hero of social conservatives, Santorum claims he’s a blue collar sort of guy, too. The ex-senator and congressman from Pennsylvania promises he can make factories boom again.

Santorum says he has a plan that “frees business from the constraints of burdensome regulations and taxes that do nothing but hold back the American spirit of innovation."

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Liberal hearts beat with joy when one of these gaffe-a-minute Republican presidential candidates flubs up again.

Rick Perry popped his cowboy boot in his mouth anew the other night.

The uber-conservative Texas governor is for building (doubtless non-union as much as possible)that oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. “Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” he vowed.

Liberals jumped all over Perry. “Does he not know that Canada is a sovereign country?” MSNBC’s Ed Schultz crowed.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   GOP leaders in the Republican-majority Indiana General Assembly say passing a right to work law is their top priority in the 2012 session.
   Unions call “right to work” the “right to work for less.”
   “Right to work is a cancerous ideology,” longtime Hoosier labor leader Russ Stilwell warned the recent 29th biennial convention of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO in Louisville.
 

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   If humor is the best medicine, delegates to the Kentucky State AFL-CIO’s 29th biennial convention in Louisville went home cured of whatever might have ailed them.
   Greg Stumbo and Robert H. Baker Sr. seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.
   Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, is speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives. Baker, a native of Hazard, is international executive vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
   Stumbo led off, joshing about the time President Barack Obama and former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were asked to name “the most important invention in the history of humanity.”
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Two union presidents, the AFL-CIO’s Southern Region director, the mayor of Louisville and several local and state officials and state legislators were among featured speakers at the Kentucky State AFL-CIO’s 29th Biennial Convention in Louisville.
   About 160 delegates convened in the Falls City Dec. 12-15. They represented local unions and central labor councils from across the Bluegrass State.
   “Unions have been under attack from corporate America and its political allies for 40 years,” said State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan. “But we’re still here and we’re still fighting.”
   Delegates unanimously re-elected Londrigan and the federation’s three other constitutional officers: Vice President Ken Koch, Secretary-Treasurer Larry Jaggers and Recording Secretary Wanda Mitchell-Smith.
 

By JOSEPH W. BRENNAN, D.S.W., M. Div.
   As a member of the Kentucky Labor Institute I am often asked what is the purpose of unions today. Haven’t they outlived their purpose? They were fine in their day, but that was then, this is now. All they do is give large payoffs to fat cats who control them, and the little guy in this day and age gets nothing. The only time when you hear about them is when they are trying to get more benefits for themselves. They are not really concerned about the plight of the working person, or the greater good of society. And after all why do professionals need a union, they should be able to handle all their needs by themselves?
   For most of my life I was not a member of a union. I managed either non-profit organizations, or for many years I ran my own counseling service. My health insurance, paid as a single provider was exorbitant. Pre-existing health conditions eventually eliminated my eligibility. I noticed that professionals with many years in private practice were abandoning their offices for agencies that offered union negotiated benefits. For a time, I was a union representative, but it never dawned on me how I had been benefiting from union activity all these years.
 

By JOSEPH BRENNAN, D. S. W., M. Div.
   Today, many governors prefer to blame the elderly and their retirement plans as the cause for their state’s financial difficulties. Pensions are described as expensive giveaways, as burdens for the younger tax payers. Yet without these plans the elderly would not only be thrust into poverty, but forced to rely on friends, family, or churches for their basic sustenance. Without such programs as Medicare, millions of middle class citizens would feel obligated to provide the daily prescription and medical expenses for elderly and frail family members. It is all too easy to envision elderly community members as merely burdens on the wider society, but then to whom would they turn in these days of prolonged life expectancy, were it not for governmental programs?
   This lesson was recently brought to mind by Gary Harbin, the Executive Secretary of the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System. Mr. Harbin recalls that in Kentucky, in the 1930’s, teachers’ salaries were low, there were no retirement benefits, social security was denied to these public servants, and teachers had but one recourse – die with the chalk in your hand. He recalls that in those days teachers faithfully served the community for forty, fifty, or even sixty years of service, until they were either physically or mentally unable to perform their teaching duties.
   One questions the wisdom of those who these days would want this state and this nation to return to those “good old days.” In the midst of those oppressive economic times, the last things that today’s conservative social economists would have suggested was government intervention, but that is what happened, and it has a lasting positive impact even to this day.
 

By DEVIN GRIGGS
   EDITOR’S NOTE: Devin Griggs is a junior at Murray State University, where he is secretary of the College Democrats. He is he son of Cliff Griggs, a member of USW Local 9447-5)
   There’s a specter haunting the presidential horse race…the specter of Ron Paul. With his barrage of attacks on social services and the Occupy movement as “people scared to death they won’t get their handouts,” it is surprising that Paul garners more support from so-called progressives than in his own party. For an astute observer of ‘Nixonland’ (Rick Perlstein’s name for our post-1970s political climate), however, it shouldn’t be -- and the reasons why go way back to the 1970s.
   Simply put, the Democratic Party of 2011 is a radically different organization than the same party that nominated Hubert Humphrey for President in 1968. Whereas the Democrats that met in Chicago to nominate Humphrey were a working class party of organized labor, the Democrats that met in Denver three years ago to nominate Barack Obama can hardly be described in the same terms. The broad-based, mass party of the New Deal shrank to a shell of its former self by 2008 into little more than a coalition of upper middle class professionals, identity politics and single issue groups, and the very poor. Herein lies Paul’s appeal among the Democrats of 2008 -- the nonmaterial issues that he emphasizes (his outspoken opposition to the War in Afganistan or the War on Drugs) are right up the alley of the upper middle class professionals that form the bulk of the new Democratic Party.
  

By SY SLAVIN
Director, Kentucky Labor Institute
   As reported in The New York Times on Tuesday, November 22, 2011, CEO’s have invented an interesting device for increasing their already swollen bonuses and salaries. They do this through the simple trick of buying back the stock of their companies and laying off workers. Corporations are awash in billions of dollars of cash, and instead of using that cash to invest in new research, new technology, plant expansion and new product development; they use the cash for stock buy back.
   Here is how it works. CEOs have profit targets they are supposed to meet as incentives for bonus and salary increases. Thus, even if the company profits are skimpy, the technique of buying back stock increases the average value of individual stock and results in a total increase of valuation of the company. 
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Double-divorced draft evader Newt Gingrich tossed a big chunk of red meat to Christian conservatives at the “Thanksgiving Family Forum” GOP presidential candidate debate in Iowa the other night.

The former House speaker has become the leading anti-Romney candidate in the polls. Feeling feisty among friends, he dissed the Occupy Wall Street movement, claiming it shows “how the left has collapsed as a moral system.” The anti-union Gingrich followed up with a sound bite old Spiro Agnew would have loved, admonishing the protestors to “go get a job right after you take a bath.”

Interestingly, more than a few Occupy Wall Street protestors say Christian morality motivates them, too, notably Jesus' denunciations of greed. He considered greed immoral and said so in no uncertain terms. Christ's running the moneychangers out of the temple in Jerusalem is one of the most famous episodes in the New Testament.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Nov. 3, the Louisville Courier-Journal, Kentucky’s largest newspaper, published this letter in support of the Musicians’ Union, which represents members of the Louisville Orchestra. Kentucky Labor Institute members and others have distributed leaflets at an orchestra performance and have shown other solidarity with the musicians. Those passing out leaflets included Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO , and Kay Tillow, executive director of the Nurses Professional Organization. Both are KLI board members. Others passing out leaflets included representatives of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, Machinists Local 681, Louisville Professional Firefighters Local 345, UAW Local 862 and Teamsters Local 89. In addition, Brian O'Neill, secretary treasurer of Firefighters Local 345 came with his wife, Carmen, and their three children. The O'Neills rescheduled one of their children's piano lesson in order to be there, according to Tillow.
   I am writing on behalf of the Kentucky Labor Institute and as someone who was co-director of the Cleveland Summer Arts festival, which brought the world renowned Cleveland Symphony to the parks and neighborhoods of the city of Cleveland, I have some knowledge of the issues related to symphony orchestras.
   The Kentucky Labor Institute is a think tank supported by unions throughout Kentucky and our board consists of union leaders and academics throughout the state.
   The current Louisville Orchestra Board, instead of regarding negotiations with members of the Musicians’ Union as a joint problem solving effort, has decided to deal with the orchestra members by threats and intimidation. They have resorted to union-busting tactics which have long confronted trade unions in other venues of negotiation.
   The Louisville Orchestra belongs to the community and the region. The Orchestra Board is merely a trustee for the community, and has no mandate to ignore the long established bargaining mechanism which involves contractual arrangements with the Musicians’ Union. The orchestra is one of the most valuable resources in the community. Therefore, broader elements of the community including unions need to be brought into negotiations to find a reasonable solution. Greater involvement of city, state and federal government including foundations represent potential sources of funding, as well as private philanthropy.
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Newt Gingrich, the new Republican anti-Romney, hates it when Occupy Wall Street protestors talk about the 99 percent of us versus the rich one percent of them.

Says the former House speaker: “I think this idea of 99 percent and 1 percent is grotesque European socialist class warfare baloney.”

Gingrich is a millionaire. He votes his class interests. But he brays “class warfare” when we working stiffs vote our class interests.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   What's a birthday party without a cake?
   Make that a unique International Brotherhood of Teamsters cake baked for the first anniversary of the Kentucky Labor Institute.
   "This was actually my second Teamsters cake," said Christy DeWeese, wife of KLI member James DeWeese, a steward with Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville. "He'd been bragging at the union hall about how good my cakes were, so I baked one with the Teamsters logo for the local and then baked another one for the KLI.”
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Tuesday’s election was more proof – as if proof were needed – that politics is “the damnedest in Kentucky.”

On Nov. 2, 2010, the Bluegrass State elected union-busting, tea party Republican Rand Paul to the U.S. Senate. Paul called his victory “a tea party tidal wave.”

There was barely a tea party trickle Tuesday. Gov. Steve Beshear, the union-endorsed Democrat, earned a second term in a landslide over Republican David Williams, who would have been Kentucky's version of Scott Walker, Wisconsin's union-busting governor. All but one other Democrat won, to boot.

By SY SLAVIN, Ph.D.
Director, Kentucky Labor Institute
   The whole furor over corporate tax cuts as a policy in stimulating business investments and thus creating jobs has been proven false. Like a Potemkin village, it is purely an imaginary cardboard likeness, but has nothing to do with reality.    Republicans and their Tea Party cohorts – the anti -tax zealots may shout their convoluted rhetoric, but it is empty wind.
   We now have one of the most definitive and comprehensive studies of the impact on tax reductions on business investment and job creation that has ever been completed.
   This study, done by Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers and a research associate at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, is entitled, “Having Their Cake and Eating It Too – Business, Profits, Taxes and Investments in Canada 1961 Through 1010.”

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Jeff Wiggins' goal is not just to beat David Williams tomorrow.
   “I want to beat him so badly that when he goes back to the state senate, the Republicans will vote him out as president," says Wiggins, who is also president of Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City.
   Polls point to a Democratic blowout, from Gov. Steve Beshear down. Beshear and his running mate, Jerry Abramason, earned the Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsement.

 

By JEFF WIGGINS
Area Council president and Steelworkers Local 9447 president 
   Polls show our candidate, Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, way ahead of his Republican challenger, State Senate President David Williams. Election day is close but we cannot take anything for granted.
   Williams plays gutter politics. He is notorious for attacking his opponents with half-truths and outright lies. He has waged one of the dirtiest-ever campaigns for governor. 
   Our choice could hardly be clearer. David Williams would be Kentucky’s version of Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s billionaire-bankrolled, union-busting Republican governor. Williams said he is a big admirer of Walker. Williams even invited Walker to Kentucky to campaign for him.
  

 

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Some lefty bloggers in the Bluegrass State have been pretty tough on Gov. Steve Beshear.
   I understand. I’m a union-card carrying Hubert Humphrey Democrat. Beshear is not nearly as liberal as I’d like, especially on some of the so-called social issues.
   Even so, my eye is on the prize. I'm voting for Beshear again and so is my union buddy, Jeff Wiggins.
   "The alternative would be Kentucky’s version of Scott Walker,” said Jeff, who is president of our Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council.
Wiggins meant state senate president David Williams, the Republican candidate for governor. Williams is a big-time fan of Walker, Wisconsin’s tea party-tilting, union-busting governor.
 

By KAY TILLOW
Kentucky Labor Institute
On Thursday, October 13, 2011, union supporters and Occupy Louisville protesters gathered in Jefferson Square Park for a joint rally. This park at 6th and Jefferson is the location for the Louisville version of Occupy Wall Street where hundreds have gathered daily.

The unions were there to support Occupy Louisville and also to push for an ordinance to stop anti-union forces in the Metro Council from impeding collective bargaining through misuse of economic impact requests. The ordinance the union supporters backed was scheduled for a vote later that evening.

Bryan O’Neill, Secretary Treasurer of Local 345, Louisville Professional Firefighters, spoke. “Over 10 million jobs in our economy have been shed,” he said. “Corporate profits since 2008 are up 44% while we lose jobs, we lose homes. Bonuses since the financial bailout of 2008 are over 30 billion dollars. Where does that leave us? Are those taxes coming back in to pay for the infrastructure? No.” The audience repeated the “no.”
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Most college students head for home or maybe take a mini-vacation on fall break.
Andrew Pilgrim, a junior at Murray State University, drove almost 1,000 miles, straight through, to the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City.

“It took me about sixteen and half hours and I was exhausted when I got there,” he said. “But I wanted to see in person what was going on.”

Back on campus, Pilgrim was a featured speaker at a recent Occupy Wall Street “teach-in” sponsored by Murray Students for Progress. Pilgrim, who is from Murray, belongs to the group.

 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Jeff Wiggins says David Williams is making his job a lot easier.
   “He just keeps on proving the point that I’m trying to get across to our members,” said Wiggins, president of Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City, Ky. “David Williams hates us.”
   Williams is the Republican candidate for Kentucky governor. He hopes to unseat Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, on Nov. 8.
   Polls show Beshear, who earned the Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsement, way ahead of Williams, the state senate president – more than 28 points in a recent survey.
 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Imagine you are running for governor of Kentucky.
   Your prickly-pear-cactus personality and meaner-than-a-junkyard dog politics have landed you at least two dozen points behind in the polls with election day less than two months away.
   Wouldn't you want to at least pretend to flip the kindler-gentler switch?
   Not Republican David Williams – he is welcoming help from another uber-right-wing Republican, an out-of-stater who, like Williams, is about as popular as a wet dog at a wedding.
 

 

By MARK DONHAM
   I saw Sen. Mitch McConnell on TV dismissing President Barack Obama's jobs plan - saying that nothing he has done has worked. McConnell is getting hard to take - his demeanor is awful and he's just so disagreeable. Well, actually he has been hard to take all along, but he's getting exceptionally so lately. He has been against everything that Obama has been for. In fact, it's his opposition in the senate that kept many of the things that Obama had wanted to do the first two years of his term from getting done. A few analogies that I have thought of include sitting in a boat punching holes in it and then complaining because you are sinking; or pouring sand in the gas tank of a car and then complaining cause it won't go; or putting something on the railroad tracks and complaining because the train got derailed. You get the picture. 
  

By SY SLAVIN, Ph.D.
Director, Kentucky Labor Institute
   There must be something in the DNA of Republicans so that they instinctively oppose legislative policies aimed at benefiting, maintaining and improving life for the vast majority of the American people. During the 1930’s Republicans fiercely opposed Roosevelt’s attempt to enact Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and other progressive measures.
   There are still a few of us around who have experienced Roosevelt speaking to a crowd. Roosevelt would specifically indicate that Republicans in Congress were adamant in attempting to block his progressive reforms by saying, “And you know who they are.” Before he could utter another word, the crowd would say in a resounding and unified chorus, “MARTIN, BARTON AND FISH!”
 

By MARK DONHAM
   Editor’s Note: Mark Donham lives in southern Illinois and writes a blog called Rural Thoughts -- www.ruralthoughts.net. He is a good neighbor and a good friend of unions.
   Today is "Labor Day" in the U.S. This is one of the major holidays in the U.S. Even though it doesn't close down as many businesses as Christmas, or Thanksgiving, the business world of the U.S. pretty much shuts down on Labor Day. Also, Labor Day also roughly symbolizes the end of the warm season for that year. The actual end of summer is still a couple weeks away, but Labor Day represents the beginning of school seasons, (although most now start ahead of that) the beginning of a new TV season, the end of the summer vacation season, and the beginning of preparation for winter. 
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   David Williams, the Republican candidate for governor of Kentucky, says he wants to make the Bluegrass State “the best state in the nation in which to create jobs.” 
   What Kentuckian wouldn’t want us to be number one in job creation? 
   Of course, the devil is in the details. Williams, the state senate president, wants to bring Scott Walker-style, bare-knucks union-busting to Kentucky. 
   Walker, Wisconsin’s tea party-tilting, billionaire-bankrolled, uber-conservative governor, is one of Williams’ heroes.

By DEVIN GRIGGS
Editor’s note: Devin Griggs is a junior at Murray State University and secretary of the College Democrats. His is the son of Cliff Griggs, a member of United Steelworkers Local 9447-5.
   Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry recently compared his party’s drive for deregulation and tax cuts to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, noting, “America must be about freedom.”
   I dare say that Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the modern civil rights movement and a strong supporter of unions, would likely agree with the aforementioned quote, but would find the Texas governor’s comparison laughable. Indeed, the promise of America has always been the promise of freedom -- but the “freedom” that Perry advocates is “freedom” for only a select, wealthy few.
   Perry’s quote gives leverage to the idea that America has not always lived up to that promise. But judging by his record, Perry is referencing an episode in American history when big business was not allowed to monopolize our politics. However, implying that we haven’t always lived up to our promise is correct -- but not for reasons that he’d suggest. For the past four decades, America’s promise has been one not of equal opportunity for all, but a nationwide “get rich quick” scheme that has allowed a few Americans, free from government intervention, to get vastly richer while most of us have steadily fallen behind.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Wisconsin GOP chair Brad Courtney is trying his darnedest to put lipstick on a pig.
   The Dairy State senate recall elections resulted in "a united Republican majority,” he said in a statement. 
   Never mind that the GOP edge has slipped to 17-16. Forget that one Republican senator sided with the Democrats and voted against GOP Gov. Scott Walker's public employee union-busting bill. 
   "The state Senate as now constituted would NOT have approved Walker's extreme, divisive assault on the middle class and working people,” said Wisconsin Democratic party chair Mike Tate, also in a statement.

By SY SLAVIN, Ph.D.
Director
Kentucky Labor Institute
    Republicans like the proverbial leopards never change their spots. In 1935 they tried to kill Social Security – today using the same vile tactics; they are trying to do the same.
   Arthur J. Altmeyer, one of the architects of the Social Security Act in his definitive book, The Formative Years of Social Security (published by the University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Milwaukee and London, 1968 pp, 37-38.), records the desultory tactics Republicans used in 1935 to prevent the enactment of the Social Security Act.
Here is one example of how they operated: Republican Congressman John Taber on April 19, 1935, assailing the Social Security Act, on the floor of Congress said, “Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought here so insidiously designed to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers and prevent any possibility of employers providing work for people.”

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Representatives of the Kentucky Labor Institute are expected to be at Labor Day programs in Louisville and Paducah.
   Louisville’s celebration features a picnic, music and other activities at the city’s zoo. Paducah festivities include a parade down Broadway, plus barbecue, political speaking and bands at the riverfront. Both programs attract large crowds of workers and their families.
   The KLI is a Louisville-based, non-profit corporation founded to educate working people and the public about the history of workers’ movements, to assess the current conditions of workers in Kentucky and to offer recommendations for improving those conditions.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan is happy to see union-endorsed Gov. Steve Beshear up two dozen points over Senate President David Williams, his challenger, in a current bellwether poll.
   “But anything can happen between now and election day,” he warns. “We can expect a whole lot of money coming into the state to undermine our candidate.”
    Adds Londrigan, a member of the Elevator Constructors union, “You can never rest until it’s over. If you do, you give the other side a chance to catch up. We are going to work as hard as we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   It was great to see Leo Gerard, the Steelworkers’ international president, tee off on a tea party honcho on The Ed Show. 
   Gerard turned out to be a close encounter of the worst kind for Judson Phillips, Tea Party Nation founder. Phillips is a reactionary who has suggested bringing back property requirements for voting. He dissed the Methodist Church, to which he once belonged, as “the first Church of Karl Marx." 
   Oh yeah, Phillips also hates unions and loves to play poodle for plutocrats like the Koch siblings.

By SY SLAVIN, Ph.D.
Kentucky Labor Institute Director
   Germany, with a 6% unemployment rate, relatively low by economic measures both in Europe and USA has found that strengthening unions is an important way for reducing unemployment. It is also and important policy for reducing economic inequality.
   The New York Times on June 8, reporting on the German economy stated, “Germany, with its 6% unemployment rate against the US 14 % unemployment rate,” enacted policies based on strengthening and building unions as a way of increasing consumer spending through higher wages paid to union workers. Thus this policy reduces unemployment by increasing workers purchasing power. In addition, German policies encouraging union building and negotiation power found that it was able to reduce economic inequality. Proof of this is the fact that the top 1% of German households earns 11% of all income, virtually unchanged since 1970. However, in the US the top 1% makes more than 20% of all income, up from 9% in 1970. It should be noted that Germany has the tightest market regulation of banks in Europe.
   Germany does not have a smaller deficit than the US, because it spends less; it has a smaller deficit, because its tax policies take a heavier toll from huge corporations. Thus, this reduces the total amount of governmental deficits that it carries. Unlike the US, the German government believes that fairness demands that its huge corporations pay a heavier share of taxes which increases their general government revenue stream. It is the obverse of US tax policies as illustrated by the Bush tax cuts.
US corporations are awash in the largest amount of cash ever recorded in US history, and these corporations added by their Republican allies and advocates still refuse to pay their fair share of taxes. If corporate taxes were increased our deficits would melt faster.
   Thus, keeping unions strong reduces unemployment, because higher wages which unions secure, increase purchasing power and in turn accelerate the need for more workers in manufacturing and service jobs. Busting unions increases unemployment and precipitates recessions. Emulating Germany’s economic policy is a sound way to go.

By BILL LONDRIGAN
Kentucky State AFL-CIO president
   Sarah E. Bond’s recent Op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Erasing the Face of History” <http://act.aflcio.org/salsa/track.jsp?v=2&c=5JLLp1TMNB9nHZPlzFrQ%2F7IIi7FZDhMR> ” describes the recent ruling of a Cairo court which “ordered that images of the ousted Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, and his wife, Suzanne, as well as their names, be removed from all ‘public squares, streets, libraries and other public institutions around the country.’” Professor Bond traces the practice of erasing vestiges of public figures through antiquity to draw lessons from the ancients. She notes that ancient Egyptian rulers employed this practice in a number of noteworthy instances as did the Romans. According to Professor Bond, the Romans referred to the “destruction of images by government decree” as “damnatio memoriae” – to damn the memory of the person, ruler or deity.
   The ruling by the Egyptian court described by Professor Bond bears a striking similarity to Maine Governor Paul LePage’s decree <http://act.aflcio.org/salsa/track.jsp?v=2&c=3KICJ2qECzc%2B2c4QbDimCLIIi7FZDhMR> ordering the removal of a 36-foot wide, 11-panel mural by Maine artist Judy Taylor <http://act.aflcio.org/salsa/track.jsp?v=2&c=IAdRPeWiPba63h94m7UXPbIIi7FZDhMR> , depicting images of working men and women, significant events in Maine labor history, important strikes, Maine native and first women Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins and even Rosie the Riveter from the Maine Labor Department building. Much like the Egyptian court, Governor LePage’s decree represents the culmination of decades of groundwork by a growing movement. But unlike Egypt, where efforts to erase the memory of Mubarak emerged from a popular uprising, efforts to erase the American labor movement from the public consciousness – damnatio memoriae laboris tractus – is the work of billion dollar corporations and wealthy elites.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   The ancient Greeks considered "hubris" -- excessive pride -- a big-time sin. The Good Book warns us that "pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
   Jim Pence, who runs the Hillbilly Report blog in Kentucky, says U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., doesn't really live where he says he does and might be guilty of voter fraud. Check out: http://www.hillbillyreport.org/diary/2976/congressman-ed-whitfield-rky-a-scandal-waiting-for-the-media-to-pick-it-up.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   I suspect many union halls are still abuzz over Richard Trumka’s speech to the National Press Club. 
   After scorching Republicans for bashing workers’ rights with a “wrecking ball,” the AFL-CIO president 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.” 
   No group worked harder than unions to elect President Obama and help Democrats win majorities in the House and Senate.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360
   Ron Spann, 65, was a rookie steward with the Boilermakers, barely in his 20s, when he met W.C. Young. 
   “It was at his office in the Carpenters’ Hall at Seventh and Washington. He said to me ‘Son, just always be truthful with everybody and you’ll be all right.’ I always tried to live by that advice.” 
   Spann has earned the 2011 W.C. Young Award, the highest honor the Paducah-based Western Kentucky Area Council bestows. Given annually, it is named for the late W.C. Young, a national labor and civil rights leader from Paducah. Young received the first award in 1994. 
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   I spied a woman in a "Rand Paul for U.S. Senate" tee-shirt rolling a cartload of groceries out of a western Kentucky Wal Mart the other day.
   A lot of Wal Mart shoppers are what the Good Book calls “the least among us.” Yet this shopper supports another one of those millionaire Republican senators. 
   She’s not alone. 
   Based on her other duds, I doubt the woman lives on Easy Street. Paul does.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Time and again, Bluegrass State elections have borne out the last line of “In Kentucky,” Judge James H. Mulligan’s immortal 1902 poem.
   It ends by proclaiming politics “the damnedest in Kentucky.”
   The governor’s election looks like more proof that Mulligan was right. A possibly significant independent is expected to be in the race.
   Gatewood Galbraith, the Harold Stassen of Kentucky politics, will be on the ballot as the third party guy, presuming he collects the 5,000 signatures he needs to qualify as a candidate.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   The late Sen. Jim Eastland was a segregationist Mississippi Democrat none too fond of the Yankee Republican Party of “Lincoln and Liberty.” 
   But if "Big Jim" were around, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’d be a Scott Walker fan, and not just because Wisconsin’s Republican governor hates unions as much as “the Voice of the White South” did. 
   Eastland was into voter suppression. So are Walker and the Republican lawmakers in the Dairy State Assembly and Senate. 
   With the governor’s blessing, Republican lawmakers are ramming home a bill that requires voters to show photo ID at the polls. Of course, the idea is to decrease the Democratic vote.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Back when I was a newspaper reporter, I covered a press conference where Kentucky Sen. Wendell Ford announced his support for some controversial bill.
   I can’t remember the bill. But I recall his analogy: “I’m like the man who jumped off the 20-story building. I’m committed.” 
   Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s union-busting Republican governor, look likes he's out on a ledge ready to jump.

The Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council wanted to create a special tribute to our union brothers and sisters in the Dairy State. A pair of Mayfield High School musicians--both sons of union members--teamed up to produce a unique rendition of "On, Wisconsin!" We hope you enjoy this short video, which also features brief recordings of the great Pete Seeger playing the banjo. Check it out by clicking on the link below in the "Additional Resources" section. It will take you directly to the video on YouTube.

 
By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360 
   “Set a stout heart to a steep hillside” is an old Scottish proverb. 
   It makes this union card-carrying Kentucky teacher of Scots-Irish descent think of Kathy Nickolaus, that Republican county clerk up in the Dairy State. 
   From what I see in the newspapers and on TV news shows, Nickolaus is full of cheese if she thinks she’s weakened the heart of the Wisconsin union movement by boosting her old boss to what looks like victory in the state supreme court race.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   Father Tony Shonis includes the local central labor council on his pastoral rounds wherever the church sends him.
   "I come from a union family. Both of my parents retired with a pension from the union. My father was in the Bakery and Confectionary Workers Union and my mother was in the old ILGWU. From them I learned what the union means to a working family and how civic minded union members are."
   A Pennsylvania native, Shonis is associate pastor at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Henderson, Ky., an old Ohio River town in the western end of the Bluegrass State. The Tri-County Labor Council meets in Henderson. 
   
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

The Wisconsin Supreme Court election looks like a blast from Kentucky’s past.

Old-time Bluegrass State pols were pros at making chicken salad out of chicken-you-know-what when elections went the wrong way.

“Fraudulent activity did not end with the buying of votes,” wrote Lowell H. Harrison and James C. Klotter in A New History of Kentucky. The authors added that official ballot counting was delayed so returns could be “fixed.”

“As one county judge noted, it was standard practice to call party headquarters to see if the election was tight ‘and ask them how many they need,’” the historians explained. “In close races, each party held back local totals as long as possible in order to counter suspicious late results favorable to the other party.”

By DEVIN GRIGGS
   In states that do elect their Supreme Court justices (Kentucky being one of those states), those races don’t usually get a lot of attention. A big exception to that is what happened on Tuesday in Wisconsin, where JoAnne Kloppenburg, a political novice that’s never before held elective office, defeated Governor Scott “Union Buster” Walker’s mentor and current Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, David Prosser.   Barring the state mandated recount turning in Prosser’s favor (which is highly unlikely), Kloppenburg has done the impossible in dethroning a Supreme Court justice in Wisconsin, a feat that has only been done two other times since the Wisconsin Supreme Court came into being in 1852.
   How did she do it? One word says it all: labor. While the Kloppenburg campaign was outspent by Prosser’s campaign to the tune of a million dollars, labor’s superior organizing skills and better ground game, get out the vote effort got people to the polls and helped topple Scott Walker’s yes-man on the Supreme Court. Wisconsin voters made the Supreme Court race into a referendum on their anti-middle class Governor, who now can’t even face the facts--that his anti-worker agenda has swung the Supreme Court from a conservative to a progressive majority and will now likely block the implementation of his egregious anti-worker law. 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360 
   How can you help your union get better coverage in the 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. 
   Let them know that we do what they do: work for a boss. Let them know that we want what they want – a good living for ourselves and for our families.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360
   MURRAY, Ky. -- Jeff Wiggins brought a message for Kentucky Republicans who want to push anti-union bills in the Bluegrass State.
   "We know what the Republicans are doing to us in other states. We don't want Wisconsin here in Kentucky. We don't want Ohio and Indiana here in Kentucky. We like our people making $5,000 a year more than people make in right to work states."
Wiggins, a Steelworker and president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, was a featured speaker at the "We Are One -- National Day of Action and Solidarity" program at Murray State University April 4.
   Sponsored by Students for Progress and the College Democrats, the gathering attracted about 50 students, faculty, union members and others to the student center.

By MATT HALL
   There’s some union-busting going on right now. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, might I turn your attention to Wisconsin. There, the Republican governor and the Republican-controlled state legislature, in the name of balancing budgets, are trying to strip the public employees’ union(representing teachers, university graduate assistants, clerical workers, etc.)of their collective-bargaining rights, bar union dues from being used in political campaigns, and effectively decertify the union by forcing yearly votes to keep it organized. This is on top of making cuts to wages, and forcing individual workers to pay more for healthcare and pensions. The union has said it would be happy to give-up all the latter things, but not the collective bargaining and the other rights. That, though, isn’t good enough. The Republicans of Wisconsin don’t just want the bread, they want the roses too.

By SEYMOUR SLAVIN, Ph.D.
Kentucky Labor Institute Interim Director
   A reactionary so called public policy institute, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, supported by the Koch Brothers and Sam Walton’s - Wal-Mart Foundation is interested in reviving the dark days of McCarthyism – The House of Un-American Activities Committee and the senate Internal Security Committee, all focused on silencing dissent.
   These were the demagogic tactics used during those abysmal days to frighten, intimidate and cause many professors to loose their jobs at universities.
   Now, in a new twist to resurrect that period, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy joined at the hip with the Republican Party has requested under the Freedom of Information Act, the records from professors at the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State University. In addition, along side the Republican Party, it has filed a records request from a prominent Wisconsin University professor, William Cronon. Cronon, currently President of the American Historical Society, criticized the Republican Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to enact legislation to destroy unions. He did this in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

The union-haters in the modern GOP are giving the late Sen. Joe McCarthy a run for his money in the demagoguery department.

History records that McCarthy, a reactionary Wisconsin Republican, pandered to widespread public fear of communism in the 1950s and orchestrated a second Red Scare. (The first one was after World War I.)

McCarthy ended up on the trash heap of history, ultimately censured by the senate and disavowed by many of his fellow Republicans.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360
   MURRAY, Ky. -- The Murray State University Students for Progress and the College Democrats chapter are co-sponsoring a "We Are One -- National Day of Action and Solidarity" program on campus April 4. 
   The gathering will be one of hundreds of “We Are One" observances nationwide on the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis. The civil rights leader had gone to Memphis to support striking city sanitation workers who belonged to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. 
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360 
  
The Owensboro Area Central Labor Council has endorsed HR 676, the national single-payer bill which Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., reintroduced in the new Congress. 
   “We support this and I have encouraged the support to protect our members, their families, and all Americans,” said Donna Haynes, council president. “If we don’t offer affordable, adequate health care to all Americans, we will become worse off than the third world countries.” 
   Haynes is vice president of IBEW Power Industry Local 1701. She works at Big Rivers Electric in Hawesville. 
    The Owensboro council represents AFL-CIO affiliated unions in Daviess, Hancock, Ohio and McLean counties in western Kentucky. The council approved HR 676 at its March meeting.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT LOCAL 1360
   AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka thinks Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker merits a “Mobilizer of the Year award.”
   "In your lifetime, have you ever seen this much solidarity? Have you ever seen this much excitement, this much activism?” a happy Trumka recently asked the group Campaign for America’s Future.
   He said unions can “thank” Walker for firing up organized labor nationwide. Unions are pumped in Kentucky, where I live.
   But here’s the real meat of Trumka’s message: “As progressives it’s our job – each and every one of us, our job -- to transform the outrage and to make this moment a movement.”

By IRA GRUPPER
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ira Grupper is the author of “Labor Paens,” a column that appears in FORsooth, the monthly newspaper of the Louisville, Ky., chapter of Fellowship of Reconciliation,
www.louisville-for.org. This is his column in the April issue. 
  
There were twenty of us from here in Louisville, Kentucky, active and retired union sisters and brothers from the Communication Workers of America (CWA), United Auto Workers (UAW), and Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM). We drove in two vans to Indianapolis, Indiana, to support the thousands and thousands of Indiana workers massed in the Indiana legislature building. 
   In Indiana, as in Wisconsin and Ohio, the Republican-dominated legislature and a reactionary Republican governor are hell bent on destroying municipal collective bargaining rights, and focused on rolling back union gains won thru many decades of struggle. 
   We met up with two Louisville union brothers from the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW). Both of them were standing before a massive crowd, a throng that completely filled the main floor of the atrium, and all the floors above. One strummed his guitar and both belted out union songs to a jubilant audience.

By BILL LONDRIGAN
President, Kentucky State AFL-CIO
   The mass labor rally held on the steps of the Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis March 10 brought back memories of March 7, 2006 when thousands of Kentucky trade unionists and supporters descended on the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort to protest the very policies now on the front burner in Indianapolis: right-to-work-for-less, repeal of prevailing wage and dismantling of public employee union representation rights. Yes brothers and sisters it was like déjà vu!
   Workers, unions and their supporters were out in force in Indiana showing the same determination, energy and militancy exhibited by the Kentucky labor movement just a few short years ago when workers across Kentucky STOOD UP and FOUGHT BACK against the forces of anti-unionism sweeping the Commonwealth.
   My message to our fellow trade unionists in Indiana was to take note of what organized labor did in Kentucky in response to the attacks by an anti-union governor – throw them out in the next election! That is what occurred in Kentucky because the union movement organized and mobilized around candidates that pledged their opposition to right-to-work-for-less, repeal of prevailing wage and support for public sector union representation. As a result of the attacks on organized labor in Kentucky, the labor movement helped defeat the first Republican to become governor in over 30 years.

From PERRspectives.com
   Republicans have seen the future and it's in Mississippi.
   On the same day Wisconsin Republicans turned to unprecedented and possibly illegal maneuvers to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights, the Michigan legislature blessed emergency powers for Governor Rick Snyder to terminate municipal contracts across the state. And while Idaho joined Tennessee in seeking to curb teachers' unions, in Ohio SB5 is moving full steam ahead. Meanwhile, back in Washington, GOP Senators introduced a national "right-to-work" bill designed to make today's draconian red state restrictions on union organizing the law of the land tomorrow.
   Sadly, the numbers show that incomes, working conditions, educational performance and health care are worst where union protections are weakest and Republicans poll best. And by almost any measure of social dysfunction, it is Mississippi - the most conservative state in the nation - where the GOP race to the bottom leads. 
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT 1360
   Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker apparently thinks he’s home free with his union-busting bill.
   Phil Neuenfeldt begs to differ. He’s president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.
   Says Neuenfeldt: “We recognize that this is just one piece of a broader political fight vs. Scott Walker and his extreme agenda -- a fight that we are winning."
   My guess is Walker thinks time will make him the winner.
   The governor is not subject to Wisconsin’s recall law until at least January, 2012. Recall drives against some of Walker’s Republican senators can’t bear fruit for weeks. Court challenges to the senators’ shenanigans will take time, too.

   This statement was released March 10 by the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers (USW) on actions taken by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican Senators.
   In a clear violation of Wisconsin’s open meeting law, Wisconsin conservative senators voted without a quorum to strip the state’s public sector workers – teachers, nurses, and librarians – of collective bargaining rights that the people of Wisconsin granted them a half century ago.
   United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard said this attack on the rights of Wisconsin’s public sector workers is an attack on all working people. “Although Wisconsin law requires a quorum when Senators vote to spend the people’s money, these conservatives exploited a loophole to vote without a quorum on legislation to steal workers’ rights. This is not democracy,” Gerard said.

   EDITOR’S NOTE: Ira Grupper of Louisville represented the Kentucky Labor Institute at the Emergency Labor Meeting.  This is a report from the ELM's Continuations Committee. 
   Ninety-six union leaders and activists from 26 states and from a broad cross-section of the labor movement gathered at the Laborers Local 310 Hall in Cleveland on March 4-5, 2011, in response to an invitation sent out in January urging them to "explore together what we can do to mount a more militant and robust fight-back campaign to defend the interests of working people."
   Three weeks prior to the Emergency Labor Meeting (ELM), unionists and community and student activists in Wisconsin unleashed a resistance movement against Governor Scott Walker's union-busting and concessionary attacks that in a short time has breathed new life into the labor movement. The sustained occupation of the State Capitol and the sustained mobilizations in the streets -- including 7,000 people who marched on March 3 "Against All Concessions for Workers" at the initiative of National Nurses United and 50,000 people who rallied on March 5 -- have galvanized working people across the country.
   Participants in the ELM took full note of the new situation and of the grave dangers to the U.S. labor movement and to workers' and democratic rights posed by Governor Walker's attacks. They pledged to make the fight against union-busting and the budget cuts/concessions in Wisconsin the centerpiece of an emergency action plan centered on two national days of action called by the labor movement:

By RUSSELL KING
Russ' Filtered News

   We’re used to politicians stretching the truth, but the level of deception and dishonesty Wisconsin’s governor has exhibited in the battle over his union-busting budget repair bill (even the name is a falsehood) sinks to astounding new lows. What follows are the 20 lies I’ve identified in a quick review of the record. If you find or recall others, please let me know. We’ll keep updating.
   Walker: His bill is about fixing a budget crisis.
   The truth: Even Fox News’ Shepherd Smith couldn’t swallow that one, declaring that it’s all about politics and union busting, and “to pretend that this is about a fiscal crisis in the state of Wisconsin is malarkey.”
   Walker: says he campaigned on his budget repair plan, including curtailing collective bargaining. “We introduced a measure last week, a measure I ran on during the campaign, a measure I talked about in November during the transition, a measure I talked about in December when we fought off the employee contracts, an idea I talked about in the inauguration, an idea I talked about in the state of the state. If anyone doesn’t know what’s coming, they’ve been asleep for the past two years.”

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360 
   Have you heard the one about the CEO, the tea partier and the union guy? 
   They’re at a table with a dozen cookies piled on a plate. The CEO grabs eleven cookies, turns to the tea partier and whispers in his ear, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants part of your cookie." 
   Here's the rest of the story: After the tea party guy falls all over himself thanking the CEO for the one cookie left, the CEO pays for him to take a bus to to the Wisconsin state capital to whoop it up for Republican Scott Walker's union-busting bill. 

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360 
   “If you never voted before, I bet you will now,” State Rep. Tamara Grigsby, a Milwaukee Democrat, recently told thousands of union members and other protestors inside the Wisconsin capitol. 
   Her aim was to help fire up the crowd against Gov. Scott Walker’s bare-knucks union-busting bill.
   Grigsby’s comments apply to every union member in every state who has been AWOL on election days. My guess is a lot of them will do more than vote. I suspect they'll be passing out leaflets, sticking signs in their yards, phone banking, knocking on doors and volunteering for union-endorsed candidates in a ton of other ways as well.

By BILL LONDRIGAN
Kentucky State AFL-CIO President
Published in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Feb. 28, 2011 
   In states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, public employees are suddenly the target of right-wingers intent upon starving state budgets to rationalize busting their public sector unions. Attacks on public employees and their unions are nothing new. For decades public employees have been scapegoats for right-wing government haters who falsely claim that public sector workers earn considerably more than their private sector counterparts.
   The present attack on public employee unions must be considered in the context of the four-decade war being waged by corporate America against the American labor movement. During this period corporations and their political pawns have systematically attacked unions in each economic sector having significant union density and political and economic power. In the late 1960s large corporations, working in concert, decided the time was right to wage a serious, well-organized and well-financed war on the American labor movement. The era of cooperation, conciliation and collective bargaining of the 1940s, 1950s and part of the 1960s was tossed on the proverbial ash heap of history.

By SY SLAVIN, Ph.D.
Kentucky Labor Institute Interim Director
   While the country has been swamped with raging snowstorms, the biggest snow jobs have come from corporations, Republican governors and legislators, Chambers of Commerce and their puppets. This chorus of union busters has been joined by the corporate think tanks, the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute and spewed from Fox News. The reasons behind these attacks on public sector workers and their unions can be seen in the differential in salaries between unionized public workers, who can earn $47,000 as a result of union efforts compared to public sector non-union workers who earn $37, 284.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
   The newly-formed Kentucky Labor Institute has sent letters to three Wisconsin public employee unions expressing its “outrage over Governor [Scott] Walker’s bill which is clearly designed to weaken public worker unions and unions in the private sector as well.”
   The KLI is a non-profit corporation based in Louisville. It was founded “to educate workers and the public about the history of working people’s movements, to assess the current conditions of workers in Kentucky and to offer recommendations for improving those conditions,” according to the letters, which were written on behalf of the board by Buddy Cutler, a Louisville attorney and board member.

   By BERRY CRAIG
   AFT Local 1360

   Scott Walker reminds me of old Lord North. Okay, I’m a history teacher.
   North was the Revolutionary War-era British prime minister who wanted to bust the American colonies. Walker is the Wisconsin governor who wants to bust public employee unions in the Dairy State.
   North was an uber-conservative. So is Walker.
North’s strategy was divide-and-conquer. I suspect Walker’s is, too.
It backfired on North. It may boomerang on Walker. 
  

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360 
   Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan says Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s headline-grabbing holy war against public employee unions in Wisconsin “is part of a well-orchestrated and well-financed plan of attack on the very existence of the labor movement.”
   GOP governors and lawmakers are out to bust public unions in other states, too, Londrigan adds. 
   He suspects the GOP will broaden its anti-union campaign to include Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, faces a tough reelection battle. Beshear won in 2007 with strong labor backing.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

   “Why is the media so anti-union?”
   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.
   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.

“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, The Hillbilly Report, www.hillbillyreport.com.

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
The old Knights of Labor “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 meant that whatever else divided them, workers had work itself in common. Work was, by far, the most important factor in their lives. Thus, workers should unite as members of the working class, the Knights urged.

Ever wondered what a full repeal of health care reform would cost Kentucky?
                                                From Page One Kentucky
     ....Here are some of the critical protections Kentuckians would lose if Republicans repeal health reform:
     -- 16,800 young adults would lose their insurance coverage through their parents’ health plans, sometimes just after they finish school and as they are looking for a job. Families across Kentucky would lose the peace of mind the Affordable Care Act provides by making sure that young adults can stay on their parents plan to age 26 if they do not have coverage of their own.
     -- More than 2.2 million residents of Kentucky with private insurance coverage would suddenly find themselves vulnerable again to having lifetime limits placed on how much insurance companies will spend on their health care.
    

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360 
     What is right is almost always practical too. So it is with union opposition to so-called right to work laws, which some Republican lawmakers and governors apparently plan to push hard in several state legislatures next year.
     Supporters of right to work laws make two basic arguments:
     -- They bring "democracy" to the workplace by giving workers a choice of whether or not to join a union.
     -- They create "good paying jobs" in communities.
     Both arguments are false. Right to work laws are not democratic. They don't boost economies either. Unions are democratic and economy boosters.

By JOHN HENNEN
     Over 30 years ago, the corporate and political right wing in this country began to mobilize through direct mail and lavishly funded think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation to deprive American workers of any control over their conditions of employment.

The Paducah-based Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, represents more than 3,000 members of 14 unions in the Bluegrass State's 13 westernmost counties. The area council seeks to improve the lives of working families and to bring economic and social justice to the workplace, our region, our state and our nation.

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