In another show of support for unions and America’s working families, President Obama reemphasized the importance of giving workers the right to organize. During a town hall meeting in southern California last week, Obama said giving workers fair pay and “the opportunity to organize themselves” is, quite simply, the right thing to do.
“Sometimes, you know, the business press says that’s anti-business,” Obama told the crowd. “And whenever I hear that, I’m always reminded of what Henry Ford said when he first started building the Model T. He was paying his workers really well. And somebody asked him, they said, why are you paying your workers so well? He said, well, if I don’t pay them well, they won’t be able to buy a car… Think about that.”
The president said not only do unions benefit workers and their families, but the entire country as a whole. “All I’m trying to do is restore some balance to our economy so that middle class families who are working hard… They’re not on welfare. They’re going to their jobs everyday. They’re doing the right thing by their kids. They should be able to save, buy a home, go on a vacation once in a while, you know. They should be able to save for retirement, send their kids to college. That’s not too much to ask for. That’s the American dream,” added Obama.
The president has already indicated he will sign a bill currently working its way through Congress, which will make it easier for workers to join a union. The Employee Free Choice Act will allow workers to bargain for better wages, benefits and a secure retirement. The bill strengthens penalties for employers who try to take action against an employee wishing to join a union. It also provides for arbitration if an employer does not bargain in good faith for a first contract.
Click here to send a message to Congress to support the Employee Free Choice Act.
The Federal Times, a magazine that covers federal employees, wants to hear from federal workers about the National Security Personnel System (NSPS). The Department of Defense is going to review the program and comments by workers could help get rid of NSPS once and for all.
The flawed NSPS program was started during the Bush Administration at the Department of Homeland Security and then the Department of Defense. NSPS stripped federal workers of important collective bargaining rights, civil service protections and imposed an unfair pay system. Federal unions fought NSPS in the courts and in Congress. NSPS proved to be so flawed that Congress blocked implementation of most of it for workers covered by collective bargaining agreements.
“Federal workers can comment on NSPS to let the public know just how misguided this whole program is,” said IAM Government Employees Department Director Frank Carelli. “The Bush Administration treated federal workers like they were the enemy, and if there was ever a case for change, NSPS is it.”
Click here for information on the Federal Times Survey
The Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) requires union officers, representatives, and employees (except clerical and custodial employees) to report financial interests, payments, or economic benefits received from employers or businesses with which their union engages or may engage in collective bargaining or as a customer. The Department of Labor has just announced that Form LM-30 reports for calendar year 2008 may be filed using the old Form LM-30, instead of the new form issued as part of a Bush Administration rulemaking that remains subject to legal challenge. In addition, DOL has extended the deadline for filing 2008 LM-30 forms from March 31, 2009 to May 31, 2009. If you have general questions regarding the LM-30 reporting requirement, please contact the IAM Legal Department.
The Department of Labor has a special website for information about the new program that helps laid-off workers pay for their health care coverage that is offered through COBRA. COBRA is a federal law that allows most laid-off workers to continue their health plan coverage at group rates.
President Obama’s economic stimulus bill includes a 65 percent premium subsidy to help eligible workers keep their health care coverage under COBRA. Workers who have been laid off since September 1, 2008, are eligible for the 65 percent subsidy. Premiums would be discounted by this amount and the worker would be required to pay the remaining 35 percent to maintain their health care coverage.