This is Not Your Father’s Labor Movement

As Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler reported at the last Executive Council meeting in Orlando, the AFL-CIO has undertaken an aggressive outreach program to young workers both in the labor movement, and outside, among activists and workers who have been devastated by the economic downturn. Young workers are the future of the labor movement; that is why we are hosting the first-ever national summit of, and for, young workers called “Next Up” on June 10-13, 2010 in Washington, D.C. The “Next Up” young workers summit is an opportunity for our emerging leaders to share their thoughts and ideas about how the labor movement can attract and empower young workers. Participants will collaborate with their peers during a weekend of plenary sessions, breakout gatherings and work groups that will focus on mobilizing and capacity building; the 2010 Elections; the jobs campaign; coalition building; and the skills that are needed to implement the long-term young worker program in their communities. We invite you to send your emerging leaders between the ages of 18-35 to take part in this exciting endeavor. The summit will be held at the Washington Hilton on 1919 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Space is limited, and we want to ensure that we have a diverse group of participants and that every organization is represented. Therefore, please begin registering your delegates on April 22, 2010. We will accept registration on a first come, first served basis until Monday, May 3, 2010 at www.aflcio.org/NextUp . Once your registration is complete, you may reserve your hotel rooms online at www.aflcio.org/NextUp/hotel . The group rate is $159 plus tax. After the May 3 deadline, we...

AP-GfK Poll: Americans say US cars top Asian autos

By ALAN FRAM WASHINGTON – After a long romance with foreign rivals, America’s love affair with the automobile is returning to its roots with a revived affection for U.S.-made cars. Slightly more Americans now say the United States makes better-quality vehicles than Asia does, with 38 percent saying U.S. cars are best and 33 percent preferring autos made by Asian companies, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll. The survey suggests those numbers are largely fueled by a plunge in Toyota’s reputation and an upsurge in Ford’s. The poll was conducted in March, as Toyota was being roiled by nightmarish publicity over its recall of more than 8 million vehicles around the globe and allegations that it responded sluggishly to safety concerns. Though the U.S. advantage is modest, it marks a significant turnabout for American automakers battered by recession and relentless competition from foreign manufacturers. When the same question was asked in a December 2006 AP-AOL poll, 46 percent said Asian countries made superior cars, while just 29 percent preferred American vehicles, reflecting a perception of U.S. automotive inferiority that began taking hold about three decades ago. “Toyota’s problems are not to be minimized here,” David Williams, dean of the business administration school at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., said in explaining the attitude shift. In both AP polls, Japan – home to brands like Toyota, Honda and Nissan – was by far the dominant Asian nation volunteered as producing the best cars. European autos – which include BMW, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen – were called top quality by 15 percent last month, about the same as the 17...

How a Republican Accounting Trick Is Destroying Unions, Pensions, and Public Institutions

By Bob Samuels President, University Council – AFT Posted: April 8, 2010 09:50 AM on the Huffington Post In 2004, Republicans in Congress helped to pass a new accounting requirement that threatens to destroy public institutions, pensions, and unions. Here is how it works. Each public institution now has to put on its financial books the total liability for its pension and retiree health care plans. At first glance, this seems like a prudent law, but it was designed to undermine pensions by making them appear to be generating huge deficits. To understand this problem, we can look at the University of California, which has its own retirement plans. Due to the 2004 accounting change (GASB 45), the UC system has been forced to declare on its books a multi-billion dollar retiree health care liability; however, the university is not actually spending these billions. For instance, in 2009, it declared a $1.5 billion retiree health care liability, but it only used $240 million to cover this account. Moreover, the university has now accumulated over $14 billion in its total retiree health care liability, and so when it tries to balance its books, it shows a huge deficit. In response to this expanding liability, the system has called to reduce benefits and increase the contributions that employees make to their own plans. It is important to stress that the UC is not spending billions on retiree health care each year; rather, it being forced to predict how much it would need to cover all present and future retirees. However, since the huge accounting liability works to produce a fiscal deficit,...

Pin It on Pinterest