iMail for Thursday June 29, 2006

Vote Online for America’s Worst Boss

The votes are in for the first installment of Working America’s My Bad Boss Contest. The competition included bosses who denied workers time off to attend funerals, and one who made workers write training manuals for their overseas replacements.

Of the 15,000 votes cast for this week’s Bad Boss winner—nearly 1,526 voters cast their ballots in favor of “Wounded Healer,” a Michigan health care worker who described trying to help a war veteran brought to a hospital emergency room seeking psychiatric treatment.

Wounded Healer tried to get authorization for the patient to be admitted to a hospital, but the boss refused. The hospital then charged $5,000 to the veteran’s credit card and then discharged him. A short time later, he committed suicide.

Wounded Healer took the rest of the day off using personal time, however, her boss complained to her supervisor, saying “I don’t know why she had to take the day off. People commit suicide every day.”

Each weekly contest winner receives a special prize and will be entered as finalists for the grand prize: a one-week vacation getaway and $1,000 toward air fare, compliments of Union Privilege. This week’s prize is a “Take This Job and Shove It” CD by Johnny Paycheck. If you have (or used to have) a bad boss and want to enter the contest, here’s how.

Norquist Tied to Abramoff Scandal

A Senate investigation into Jack Abramoff’s illegal lobbying activities has tagged Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) as a front group for possibly illegal transfers of funds between Abramoff clients and lobbying groups seeking political favors. A longtime GOP activist, Norquist once vowed “to crush labor as a political entity” and ultimately “break the unions.”

The Senate investigation found Abramoff used Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform to funnel money from Abramoff’s clients to lobbying organizations who could benefit Abramoff’s clients.

One Abramoff client, the Choctaw Indian tribe, which operated casinos in Mississippi, donated more than $1.15 million in 1999 to Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). ATR then skimmed off a fee and passed the rest of the money to former Christian Coalition Director Ralph Reed, who was working to defeat lotteries and casinos that would have competed with Abramoff’s tribal gambling clients.

“One of the most disturbing elements of this whole sordid story is the blatant misuse of charities in a scheme to peddle political influence,” said IRS Commissioner Mark Everson earlier this year.

“It’s not a tax-exempt activity to act as a bag man for Jack Abramoff,” Marcus Owens, a tax lawyer and former IRS official told the Washington Post. Reed, Norquist and Ridenour have denied any wrongdoing.

EPI Study Examines Sky High CEO Pay

CEO’s in the U.S. earned an astounding 262 times the pay of the average worker in 2005, the second-highest level in 40 years, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

In 2005, CEO’s earned an average of $10,982,000, compared to just $41,861 for the average worker. Forty years ago, CEO’s earned only 24 times that of the average worker. That ratio grew to 35 in 1978, 71 in 1989 and 143 in 2002. CEO’s today earn more in one day than the average worker earns in a year, according to EPI.

Machinists in Canada Ratify Contract with Electrolux

Members of Local 1148 in L’Assomption, Quebec ratified a new three-year contract with Electrolux Canada Corporation. The 1,100 members at Electrolux, who manufacture refrigerators and electric ranges, ratified the agreement by a 64 per cent margin.

The new agreement calls for a one-time wage increase of $600 in the first year, 2 percent in the second year and 2.2 percent in the third year. The agreement also includes pension improvements and an early retirement bonus of $600 per year of service for members age 61 with at least 15 years of service.

Other improvements include contract language governing vacations, grievances, sub contracting, shift time banking and health and safety issues.

District 9 Organizes in Illinois

District 9 in Bridgeton, MO recently brought 29 new members into the IAM with successful organizing efforts at multiple locations in Southwestern Illinois.

Our new members work at Green Lincoln Mercury Mazda in Springfield, IL, Green Chevrolet in Jacksonville, IL, Steve Schmitt-Brubaker Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Litchfield, IL, Steve Schmitt-Brubaker GM in Litchfield, IL, and T Square Logistics Services Corp. at Scott Air Force Base near Belleville, IL.

District 9 Directing Business Representative Roger Poole praised organizers Scott Stackle and Mike Musgrove for their dedication to bringing a voice in the workplace for these men and women. “Organizing is a top priority at District 9 and our team will do what it takes to bring better wages, benefits and working conditions to our new members,” said Poole.

“IAM District 9 continues to maintain a tradition of excellence in organizing,” said Midwest Territory GVP James E. Brown, who thanked the District 9 staff . “We sincerely appreciate their continued efforts and hard work.”

‘Felix’ Frosted Over Flag Flap

The election year debate over a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag is backfiring on one GOP senator hoping to use the emotional issue to win reelection.

Republican Sen. George Felix Allen (R-VA) found himself on the defensive after slamming challenger James Webb for failure to support the controversial proposal.

Within hours, Webb struck back, calling Allen’s news release a “weak-kneed attack by cowards” and made a point of repeatedly referring to the senator as “Felix,” a middle name Allen reportedly detests. “While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen’s Jr.’ generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada,” said Webb’s campaign in a statement. “People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield.”

Allen, who worked summers at ranches in the Southwest while Webb served in Vietnam, claimed he was not attacking Webb’s patriotism.

Ortis Elected to Mayor’s Advisory Board

Pembroke Pines, FL mayor and long time IAM activist Frank Ortis has been elected to the United States Conference of Mayor’s (USMC) Advisory Board at the conference’s 74th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“In addition to his work as Mayor of Pembroke Pines, Frank is also the IAM retiree coordinator for the State of Florida,” said Community Services/Retirees Director Maria Cordone. “His career and contributions since retirement continue to be every bit as impressive as his career as an IAM representative before retirement.”