Article 43


Monday, July 25, 2005

AFL-CIO Dissidence

Nearly 1,000 union members will meet in Chicago to take part as delegates to the AFL-CIO’s 25th Constitutional Convention July 25-28 2005. The Convention marks the 50th anniversary of the merging of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

From the (now dead) UNITE TO WIN blog:

UNITE-HERE, TEAMSTERS, UFCW and SEIU will not attend the AFL-CIO Convention.

The leaders of those unions and the UFW and Laborers will not run or serve as part of the elected leadership of the AFL-CIO.

Monday, our unions will meet to begin the long process of developing a joint plan for helping millions of workers join our unions and unite their strength with others in their industry.

The world has changed, the economy has changed, our employers have changed, our jobs have changed, and there is no way to have unions stay the same and be successful.


Posted by Elvis on 07/25/05 •
Section General Reading
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Turning Japanese


My mom lives in near poverty - and remembers like it was yesterday - the GREAT DEPRESSION in America--people waiting on soup lines for a meal, others loosing their life savings and homes, families splitting up from the stress, and some committing suicide. 

Lately we talk about her son’s career loss and the US’ political and economic policies that favor moving economic wealth AWAY from the middle class to the rich - and WONDER WHAT MAY HAPPEN to our great society if mass EXPLOITATION of the global labor pool and human rights continues down it’s current path, while MULTINATIONAL corporate interests increasingly control our governments and destinies.

Watching the news, especially LOU DOBBS on CNN, his chilling reports of management of our country, steady erosion of middle class jobs to cheap foreign labor, and my failed job hunt - going on over a year - SQUASHES most hope of getting back on my feet, or having the money to visit or help my mother out - EVER AGAIN.

With the added baggage of AGE BIAS, unemployed middle-aged techies like me MAY FIND staying optimistic about the future ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

Talking with my cousin - a retired truck driver enjoying a healthy union-bargained pension - didn’t bring the comfort one would expect. He said I can live in his basement if I go BANKRUPT and loose the house. As gracious as the offer was, rather than feeling relieved, the only things I felt were hopelessness, failure, envy, and depression.

Then I have some friends that totally disregard feelings by saying things like “Just go bankrupt,” “Sell the house,” “Trust in God,” or “Stop worrying - everything will be OK”.  They mean well, and I guess they don’t know what else to say - but stuff like that is pretty thoughtless and hollow.

What a way to spend the second half of one’s life - stuffed in a basement with the dirty laundry.

Everything isn’t OK, and things may or may not turn out OK.

Loneliness, FEAR, failure, loss of hope, envy, insensitive friends, selfishness, and superficial emotional support - are powerful negative influences on one’s spirit.

In JAPAN, some people see SUICIDE as an honorable way of taking responsibility for lives gone sour.

So does this American.

Posted by Elvis on 07/25/05 •
Section Personal
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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Courage To Change

Tomorrow the 50th anniversary convention of the AFL-CIO opens.

No one disagrees that the AFL-CIO is in trouble. Yesterday I talked about the mileposts on the road we are traveling: fewer wage increases, less health care, fewer secure jobs, fewer pensions, less time for workers with their family.

I think about all the American workers who are traveling on this road, and what our organizers say to them everyday about change.

Organizers sit in their living rooms and ask them to tell their story. Usually, it is a story of hard work with too few rewards. Loyalty to their job and employer repaid with too little dignity and respect.

We say to them that when you are going down a road, and you know that it ends in continued economic insecurity and a lack of value for your hard work—get off of that road and walk in a new direction where there is hope,

Organizers tell them about our unions, and how they can change their life. You know the person is scared, and understand the perils of standing up to their employer, for gaining a voice in their job, life and future. Because today under our failed labor laws, standing up for yourself and co-workers can mean every-day pressure, loss of promotional opportunities, and industrial capital punishment (loss of your job).

We respond to those workers’ legitimate fear, and say take each other’s hands, walk together, let’s get off of this road, because we can create a new road of hope by walking in a different direction. And everyday courageous workers without any guarantees, join hands and begin to create a new road at their job and for their life.

It is that kind of courage that inspires me. American unions are on a road of decline, and we know where it ends. Compared to that lone worker, we risk little when we change, but we owe it to them to do so.

Today America’s union leaders need to join hands, get off of our road to nowhere, and walk together with the confidence that we can make a new road by walking. There is no guarantee where our walk will end, but like the road we ask that worker to take, it is the only road to hope.


Posted by Elvis on 07/24/05 •
Section General Reading
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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Age Discrimination Checklist

AARP has good info about what to do if you feel you have been discriminated against due to age.

Here is their checklist to determine if you have been a victim of age discrimination:

Age Discrimination at Work
Workers should get and keep jobs based on their ability, not age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects people age 40 and over from employment discrimination based on age. The law says that an employer may not fire, refuse to hire, or treat you differently than other employees because of your age.

Have any of these things ever happened to you?

The employer wanted a younger-looking person to do the job so you weren’t hired.

First, your boss wouldn’t let you take some training courses. Then you got a poor job evaluation because you weren’t “flexible” in taking on new assignments.

Money was tight, so your boss fired you in order to keep younger workers who are paid less.

Your employer gave you undeserved poor performance evaluations and then used your “record” of poor performance to justify firing or demoting you.

Your boss turned you down for a promotion. Instead, he hired someone from the outside who was younger because the company says it “needs new blood.”

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you may be a victim of age discrimination.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is your first defense against age discrimination. There has to be a lawful reason - not connected to age - for almost all employment decisions.

Who Is Covered by the ADEA?
The law covers workers and job applicants age 40 and over.

The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees. This includes local and state governments and the federal government. It also includes employment agencies and labor unions.

The ADEA does not apply to independent contractors or elected officials. It does not usually cover police and fire workers, certain federal employees in air traffic control or law enforcement, or certain highly paid executives. While persons in these positions could be retired on a mandatory basis, they cannot be denied a promotion or training base on age.

There are exceptions to the ADEA when age is a necessary part of a job. For example, an employer can hire a young person to play the role of a 12-year-old in a play.
Most states have anti-age discrimination laws that apply to employers with fewer than 20 employees.

What does the ADEA forbid?

Job ads or recruitment materials cannot mention age or say that a certain age is preferred.

Programs cannot set age limits for their trainees.

Age can not be a factor in making any decisions about workers. This includes decisions about hiring, pay, promotions, or layoffs.

Employers cannot take action against workers who file a charge of age discrimination or who participate in any ADEA process.

With a few exceptions, employers cannot force employees to retire at a certain age.

Employers may offer voluntary early retirement without violating the ADEA. However, these offers often require employees to give up their right to make a claim under the ADEA. That requirement may be legal, but only if it follows strict rules. Get expert advice before you sign anything.

What to Do
If you feel you’ve been discriminated against on the job, talk to your employer to see if you can resolve the matter.

If you can’t resolve the matter, you have the right to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is the federal agency in charge of enforcing the ADEA.

There are very strict periods for filing a charge. The EEOC can help you only if you keep to all the time requirements. Usually, you must file your charge within 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination. It is best to act as soon as you suspect discrimination.

Call the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000 or go to to find out where the closest EEOC field office is. They can transfer you to that office. Get details on exactly what you have to do to file a charge.

You can file your charge in person, by mail, or by phone. Your EEOC field office will tell you if you should also file a charge with your state anti-discrimination agency.

It is up to you to gather all the documents that support your charge. The EEOC, or a private lawyer, can tell you what to provide.

If you can, it is best to file in person. In any case, get a date or time-stamped receipt for everything that you submit.

If you file a charge with the EEOC:

The EEOC notifies the company that a charge of discrimination has been filed against them.

The EEOC makes the decision to investigate the charge immediately or to proceed with a fact-finding process.

During the fact-finding process, EEOC asks both parties for supporting documentation about the alleged discrimination.

In the meantime, the EEOC attempts to resolve the problem between the employee and the employer through mediation. It uses a neutral third person to assist you and your employer settle a charge of discrimination. Mediation is voluntary and confidential. You do not lose any rights when you agree to try mediation.

If no agreement is reached in the fact-finding process, the EEOC will decide whether to investigate the case further, to consider it for legal action, or to close the case.

Employees Can Go to Court

Most charges filed with the EEOC are investigated and dismissed. Very few proceed to a court case. However, if the EEOC does not resolve your charge, it is your right to sue on your own. The time limits for this are also very strict. Typically, you have 90 days from receiving notice that the EEOC has terminated its proceedings.

Litigation takes a great deal of commitment, time, and money. It can take an emotional and personal toll on you and your family. Before you decide to file a lawsuit or not, discuss these concerns with your lawyer and your family.

Do Your Research before Acting
AARP Foundation Litigation may be able to represent older workers who need legal help with age discrimination. A main requirement is that the problem affects both you and many other older people. In this way, AARP can have a large impact on problems affecting older workers.

The National Employment Lawyers Association is a nonprofit, professional membership organization of 3,000 lawyers. They represent employees in employment matters.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has information for employees on federal laws that prohibit job discrimination. They also show how to use mediation and how to file a complaint.

Credit: Displaced Techies

Posted by Elvis on 07/20/05 •
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Monday, July 18, 2005

Cash Balance Pension Plans Revisited

Once again, Congress is working to legalize cash balance plan conversions.

It is VERY EASY to sign the petition below.  Click on the link.  It takes 20

Boehner has sponsored an extremely egregious bill in the house, HR 2830. Members of the Senate Finance committee are now working to introduce similar legislation in the Senate. The Senate version has one additional insult; it is currently RETROACTIVE!!!

This is outrageous, and needs to be stopped…

My friend, Janice Winston, one of the retirees pictured in the article on pension theft in the last AARP bulletin, has just sponsored an on-line petition at:

We’ve checked out the site to ensure it fully protects privacy, but also provides us with a list of names we can take to Washington.  One problem with the survey site is that it does NOT ask you for your address. Because people in Washington listen hardest to their own constituents, please either put your state and congressional district in the comment field, or print off the petition after you have signed it and send a copy to your Representative and Senators with a note saying they should NOT legalize cash balance plans - they need to be increasing the protections on
pensions, NOT reducing or elminating them!

Janet Krueger
Rochester, MN

01 A Stop to Cash Balance Plans


I, Janice Winston, the author of this petition do hereby ask that all Americans who are concerned about the status of pension plans in the America electronically sign this petition to stop Congress from passing language in HR2830 relating to Cash Balance Plans.

We the undersigned, who cannot leave our homes to visit your offices in person, need protection against the corporate lobbyists who roam the halls of Congress preying on our inability to protect ourselves and your willingness to go along with the lobbyists’ sinister plans to deny us our hard earned pension benefit.

It is simply immoral that companies can make promises that lure employees to spend a career working for a specific pension benefit, only to be told near the end of their career that the company is taking advantage of loopholes in the laws to escape pension obligations.

It is without conscience or consequence that corporations are significantly reducing pensions over 50% or canceling pension benefits employees worked many years to earn.

Employees and their families expect Congress to protect the reasonable retirement expectations of older workers.

. Congress must NOT support broken promises by corporations

. Congress must protect employees and remember that workers are the constituents, not big business

. Congress must understand that retirement certainty must be maintained

. Congress must understand that Cash Balance Plans are harmful to older workers

. Congress must protect early retirement subsidies

. Congress must protect employees from the predatory practices of Cash Balance Plan “wearaway” and “conversion”.


We, the undersigned, are asking Congress NOT to pass any pension legislation that supports pension wearaway, age discriminatory practices, or pension conversions that harm older workers.

We, the undersigned, are asking Congress to reject all language relating to Cash Balance Plans in HR2830 and stop passage of any legislation that specifically relates to Cash Balance Plans until all possible protections are included for older workers.

We, the undersigned, are asking Congress to appoint an independent Advocate to protect and ensure the rights of employees and retirees.


The Undersigned

Pension Partisan “Cash balance pensions suck”
Credit: pension_watchdog

Posted by Elvis on 07/18/05 •
Section Pension Ripoff
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