"more pro-labor news than a year of the L.A. Times"


L.A. Labor News * Editor: Jim Smith * Sept. 12, 1995 * #9



* Sweeney-Donahue debate.

* Health care workers mobilize.

* Frontier strikers win big in court.

* TEAM Act - Grave threat to labor.

* Labor radio on the air.

* Labor day march.

* World Wide Web.

* Detroit scabs from L.A.



Copyright 1995 L.A. Labor News. To reach L.A. Labor News:

FAX: 310/399-7352 * Voice: 310/399-8685

E-mail: LALabor@aol.com

Postal: P.O. Box 644, Venice, CA 90294

Sept. 12, 1995 * #9




Newly elected AFL-CIO President Tom Donahue and challenger John Sweeney squared off, August 24, in front of 400 California labor leaders, of whom only a few were eligible voters.

Neither candidate landed heavy blows although Sweeney was clearly the crowd favorite. All reporters polled in an informal survey after the debate called it a draw.

The candidates both claimed victory. A New Voice press release proclaimed "Sweeney rouses debate crowd with straight talk on change."

The contrary was true, said the AFL-CIO president's release, "Donahue shines in AFL-CIO presidential debate. Before pro-Sweeney audience, he bests rival in first match-up."

Both candidates stressed their commitment to organizing, diversity and a strong stand against union-busting.

Sweeney attacked Donahue's program as an imitation of his own and dubbed it, "change-lite."

Sweeney stressed his own experience, saying, "I know what's it like to impose a trusteeship on one of the biggest and most prestigious unions."

Donahue responded that he was "John Sweeney's hand-picked candidate." Until last May, Sweeney and other insurgents had been urging Donahue to replace Lane Kirkland.

It was announced at the debate that the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council had voted to endorse the Sweeney, Rich Trumka, Linda Chavez-Thompson slate.

The United Farm Workers endorsed Sweeney's team, Sept. 4."As a personal and trusted friend of our founder, Cesar Chavez, he (Sweeney) was at our side in many critical times when Cesar and the UFW needed his help," said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez.




Some 700 members of the California Nurses Association from throughout the state joined with 300 other health care workers from the U.S. and Canada, Aug. 18-19, for an international health care unity conference.

The conference was followed on August 20 by a health care march across Golden Gate Bridge which attracted 10,000, according to CNN.

The San Francisco conference and march brought together three of the nation's most progressive and active unions, CNA, SEIU Local 250 and 1199 of New York.

The conference explored the negative impact of managed care and HMOs on jobs and quality health care. Speakers included Rev. Jesse Jackson; Dennis Rivera, president of 1199, the largest health care union in the country; Ralph Nader, Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU Local 250, the nation's second largest health care union, Rose Ann DeMoro and Kit Costello, executive director and president of CNA, respectively, and leaders of Canadian unions.

Participants from Southern California included SEIU Local 660, AFSCME/UNAC and CNA nurses.

The conference celebrated the first anniversary of the founding of the North American Health Care Workers' Network which includes approximately 60 Canadian, AFL-CIO and independent U.S. unions.

Speakers expressed alarm at the rapid merger process of private health care corporations and the dismantling of public health care. The top ten health care executives pulled down $2.4 billion in total compensation last year, more than the total amount spent in AIDS research.


Ralph Nader made a strong pitch at the international health care unity conference in favor of a new single-payer initiative in 1996. He said that the initiative should be promoted again and again until it passes. "Single-payer is medicare for everyone, only better," said Nader. He promised to actively campaign in California if an initiative is on the ballot.

Single-payer, also called the Canadian model, replaces insurance companies with government guaranteed payments to doctors and hospitals and provides universal coverage. It also allows consumers to choose their primary care providers.

CNA's Rose Ann DeMoro noted that it was the sense of the conference that a single-payer initiative be promoted for 1996.

In 1994, Proposition 186 gathered about 26 per cent of the vote against a strong campaign by the insurance companies. A successful initiative in 1996 would need all out support from health care unions, many of whom are strapped financially because of expenses in fighting hospital closings and layoffs.


Both the Los Angeles Times and the Long Beach Press-Telegram have run multi-part articles on HMOs and managed care in recent days.

Both point to a lack of knowledge by consumers about recent changes from fee for service medicine to managed care.

Neither series mentions unions or acknowledges their crucial role in shaping the future of health care delivery.

Educating consumers and patients about their stake in health care reform will be an important part of a winning strategy by labor for a single-payer initiative.




After four years on the picket lines, Las Vegas HERE members at the Frontier Hotel and Casino had their day in court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals (9th Circuit) ruled against the hotel in a suit worth millions in back pay and pension contributions.

The 9th Circuit said the hotel illegally terminated the union pension plan and illegally implemented new work rules in 1990.

The decision enforces an NLRB order requiring the Frontier to reinstitute the pension plan and make retroactive payments. The hotel is ordered to bargain in good faith with the union and cease and desist from further labor law violations.

The Court said the Frontier's appeal of the NLRB decision was "frivolous" and imposed a sanction of double costs and attorneys fees against both the hotel and its former lawyer, Joel Keiler.

Culinary Local 226 spokespersons blamed the strike on Keiler, saying he misled the hotel's owners, the Elardi family.

Strikers are now hopeful of returning to work soon, "when the Elardi's are ready to meet us half way."


TEAM ACT &endash;


Still fresh from a 100-day campaign to pass their Contract with America, House Republicans are now taking aim at organized labor.

The "TEAM Act," HR 743, introduced by Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-Wis.) may be the gravest threat to labor since company-dominated unions were outlawed during the Roosevelt administration. The bill would amend Section 8(a)(2) of the labor code to allow employers to discuss and resolve work place problems with company-appointed employee committees.

Gunderson, and a host of Republican co-sponsors, claim that the legislation simply intends to legalize employee involvement teams and thereby make U.S. companies more competitive in the world marketplace. The National Labor Relation Board has ruled &endash; most recently in the Electromation decision &endash; that employee committees are unlawful if they address issues reserved for collective bargaining.

In fact, the TEAM Act could create a Trojan Horse which unscrupulous employers would be able to use to defeat union organizing drives. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) has made it illegal during the past 60 years for employers to discuss and change wages, hours or working conditions except with a bona-fide independent labor organization.

If the TEAM Act becomes law, an employer who learns of a union organizing drive could quickly appoint a pro-management committee and through it redress any grievances that might have led workers to consider unionizing. The TEAM Act would prohibit an employer from negotiating a written contract with its committee, but this too, might be considered an advantage by many employers.

In a unionized workplace, representation by the union is subject to a decertification election, at least once every three years, if at least 30 per cent of the employees sign a petition asking for the election. Usually this decertification "window" passes without notice. However, the TEAM Act would enable a union-busting employer to promise to create a "cooperative" labor-management committee and then grant concessions to it that the union had not been able to achieve. The employer's hand-picked committee would be standing by to call the decertification election and campaign to convince workers that the union is no longer needed.

How serious is this threat to labor? It's supported by the Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate. Bill Goodling, chair of the Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee (the former House labor committee), is a co-sponsor of the TEAM Act and Senate Labor Committee Chair Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kans.) has introduced an identical bill, S. 295. The TEAM Act is strongly supported by the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, organizations that historically have not been sympathetic to unions.

Supporters of the TEAM Act, like Harris Fawell (R-IL), repeated the Republican line that the bill is aimed at increasing productivity not hurting unions. "To slam the lid on the growth of employee participation programs is to stifle the role of workers in a company's day-to-day operations, and to restrain our nation's future competitiveness," says Fawell.

Through Vice President Al Gore and Labor Secretary Robert Reich, President Clinton has assured labor leaders that he will veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. However, the TEAM Act draws its inspiration, says Gunderson, from the recently released report of Clinton's Dunlop Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations. That blue-ribbon panel had been expected to bring forth proposals for modifying labor law that would be favorable to unions. Instead, its number one recommendation was that Congress "clarify" Section 8(a)(2), the anti-company union provision of the NLRA.

The Dunlop Commission also recommended that new legislation prohibit committees in unionized work places from discussing collective bargaining issues without the express consent of the union. Since both Clinton and Reich favor enhanced productivity and cooperation in the work place, an amendment giving some protections to unions where they currently exist might prevent a presidential veto.

However, the impact of even an amended TEAM Act on labor's prospects of organizing any of the 89 percent of the private sector work force that is non-union could be catastrophic.

The bill could come to the House floor at any time. Labor needs to mobilize now in every Congressional district in order to defeat the TEAM Act.




Southern California's only weekly radio show, devoted to the problems and organizations of working people, will debut at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 6, on radio station KPFK, 90.7 FM.

Working L.A.'s first 30-minute show will examine the assault of Los Angeles County's health care system from the point of view of the affected workers and patients. Regular host, Henry Walton, will discuss the impending closing of health care facilities with Gil Cedillo, leader of the county workers' union; and Dr. Mark Weigenberg, Chief of Pediatrics at the H. Claude Hudson Clinic.

Following shows will focus on horrifying working conditions in L.A.'s garment district, massive layoffs of L.A. airport food service workers, struggles of workers in harbor area, organizing immigrant workers, the John Sweeney-Tom Donahue contest for AFL-CIO president, health and safety dangers in the workplace, Asian-American organizing efforts, cross-border cooperation between U.S. and Mexican workers and other international topics including labor in Russia and repression against Nigerian oil workers.

"KPFK has been extremely cooperative in bringing Working L.A. to the air. The station's strong signal means that union activists and unorganized workers throughout Southern California will be able to listen and respond," says Henry Walton. In addition to being the regular host for the show, Walton is political director for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 660 and a long-time activist in the National Rainbow Coalition.

Working L.A. follows in the tradition of KPFK's "Labor Scene" founded by the late Sam Kushner and later hosted by Lou Siegel and Phil Ansell. The new show will benefit from being backed by a wide variety of organizations and individuals, including David Bacon, labor journalist; Slobodan Dimitrov, labor photographer; John Gibson, Carpenter's union; Sandy Goldfarb and Elizabeth Panetta, UCLA Labor Center; Pete Goodman, a retired merchant seaman who is also the show's coordinator; Cyrus Noveen, KPFK; Neal Sacharow, media consultant; Jim Smith, L.A. Labor News; and Walton.

Please call Working L.A.'s voice mail number, 213/960-4322 for more information or to be put on a mailing or e-mail list.




The largest L.A.-area labor day parade in years was held Sept. 4 in Wilmington.

Reinforced by 2,000 independent truckers who are being organized by CWA, 4,000 unionists from about 40 unions boisterously marched through the streets of this working class harbor community.

They were joined by two marching bands, a drill team, numerous truck cabs driven by Teamsters and independent truckers and an antique car club.

At the end of the mile-long march, the crowd munched on hot dogs and cheered speakers who echoed the day's theme, "Economic Justice for All."

Keynote speaker Gil Cedillo, General Manger of SEIU Local 660, the county workers union, told the rally at Banning Park that his local will not give up the fight against health care cuts. "Health care is a human right. It is not negotiable with L.A. County, Pete Wilson or Newt Gingrich," proclaimed Cedillo.

Other speakers included Ray Cordova and Tony Bixler of CWA Local 9400; Dave Campbell, OCAW Local 675; Ramon Ponce de Leon, ILWU Local 13; Paul Nielson, Masters, Mates and Pilots; Ben Rodriguez, Drywallers' union; and Day Higuchi, United Teachers of Los Angeles. The rally was chaired by the ILWU's Luisa Gratz.

The annual march, sponsored by the L.A. - Long Beach Harbor Labor Coalition, is the only one in California. Veteran marchers said this year's was the most spirited they had seen in years.

Meanwhile, a Labor Day breakfast at L.A.'s Trade Tech College heard from John Sweeney and Tom Donahue and Thai garment workers who had been imprisoned by their employer.



Readers with Internet access can tune in to New Voice leaders John Sweeney, Rich Trumka and Linda Chavez-Thompson at the following web address: <http://www.seiu.org/newvoice/>.



The Tom Donahue/Barbara Easterling campaign is on the following web address: <http://www.igc.apc.org/cwatx/solidarity>.



Miss a copy of L.A. Labor News? Now you can download back issues at your convenience through this World Wide Web address: <http://www.igc.apc.org/labornet/pubs.html>.




At least two managers at Knight-Ridder's Long Beach Press-Telegram are voluntarily working in Detroit to defeat a two-month long newspaper strike.

The pair, a design supervisor and a circulation manager, accepted double salaries and an all expense paid trip to Detroit at the request of Knight-Ridder, one of two media monopolies battling the unions.

Strikers are battling union-busting demands from the government sanctioned monopoly, called a joint operating agreement. The lead corporation is the anti-union Gannett Corporation which owns approximately 90 newspapers including "newspaper-lite" USA Today.

Knight-Ridder, which is about 40 percent unionized nationwide, is apparently following the Gannett lead in making unacceptable and non-negotiable demands of its unions.

Knight-Ridder owns about 35 newspapers including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, San Jose Mercury-News, the Press-Telegram and the Detroit Free Press. Gannett owns the Detroit News. The newspapers won Justice Department approval to merger their operations several years ago after all the unions gave up their opposition after threats of major job losses.

In the L.A. area, Gannett also owns the San Bernardino Sun and the Palm Springs Desert Sun.




Religious leaders will rally with county workers at the Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St., 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Workers will insist that state and federal funding to preserve the county health system be used to maintain public health services, not "sweeten the pot" for private bidders who hope to operate public facilities. Workers will also demand that any private contract that Supervisors approve on Sept. 19 protect workplace stability, job security and workers' rights.

The Rev. James Lawson and other members of the clergy will participate.



The San Diego/Imperial Counties Central Labor Council is sponsoring a public hearing presented by Labor Party Advocates at the Machinists' Hall, 5150 Kearny Mesa Rd., San Diego from 9:30 - Noon, Saturday, Sept. 30.

The hearing is endorsed by a host of unions including AFSCME, APALA, UAW, CWA, CNA, LCLAA, SEIU and UPTE. Featured speakers include Joe Francis, Secretary-Treasurer of the labor council. For more information, contact Ali Hebshi at 619/268-7047.



Union organizations are participating in a food and clothing drive for Thai garment workers who were imprisoned by their employer.. Freedom has come for the 72 workers &endash; of whom 67 are women &endash; without back pay.

The L.A. County Federation of Labor and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) are appealing for food, clothing, personal toiletries, donations and gift certificates for supermarkets or department stores.

The drop off point for donations is the L.A. County Fed, 2130 W. 9th St., L.A. For more information call the Fed at 213/381-3611 or Myung Soo Seuck of the AFL-CIO Region 6 at 213/387-1974. The drive ends Sept. 29.


Copyright 1995 L.A. Labor News. To reach L.A. Labor News:

FAX: 310/399-7352 * Voice: 310/399-8685

E-mail: LALabor@aol.com

Postal: P.O. Box 644, Venice, CA 90294

Sept 12, 1995 * #9