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Kendall Square Cinema employees join union
kendall.jpgAfter only three months of organizing at the Kendall Square Cinema, the Landmark Theatre chain's biggest theatre, employees voted 17 to one to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local 791 on July 30.

“Kendall Square cinema is now 100% union,” yelled a cinema employee as movie-goers left the theatre, “wall to wall union!”

The vote comes as a result of recent management changes, lack of full-time status even for employees who average over 35 hours per week, small and sporadic raises, and a starting wage of $7.25 that hasn't changed since 2002, according to employee and organizer Lauren Ryder.
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31 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Media
Nurses Demand Safe Staffing Ratios During Statehouse Hearings
ma nurses pic.jpgBOSTON -- Hundreds of nurses and health care activists from across New England rallied at the statehouse July 14 to demand legislators pass state legislation mandating safe nurse-to-patient ratios.

The one-day action sponsored by The Massachusetts Nurses Association union was a continuation of mass state-wide actions in an effort to pass House Bill 2663 “An Act Ensuring Patient Safety,” (www.massnurses.org).

Similar to California state mandated nurse-to-patient ratio legislation won by the California Nurses Association, the MNA supported bill would mandate safe staffing levels based on specific hospital location and specialties. In intensive care the bill calls for one nurse to two patients while in medical and surgical units the nurse-to-patient ratio would be 1-to-4.
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18 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Social Welfare
Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
pic2.jpgOn July 16, 2005, a picket line of workers took over the entrance of Proman Manufacturing Company to protest unfair labor practices by this 61-year-old sportswear manufacturing company in Chinatown. Its owner, Joseph Proman, recently confirmed the company will be closing by the end of July and laying-off all of its 40-plus Chinese and Latino workers without severance pay.

Alice Leung, community organizer for the Chinese Progressive Association Workers Center (CPAWC), said that Mr. Proman did not give any formal notice to its workers who learned the company is moving to China from one of their supervisors. Since then, CPAWC and the American Friends Service Committee have helped Proman Co. workers organize themselves to defend their labor rights and be treated with dignity.
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18 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Globalization : Human Rights : Labor : Organizing
Anti-Corporate Campaigners Call on TIAA-CREF to Dump Wal-Mart and Coke Stock as Unethical Investments
TIAA-CREF picket 1.JPGOn Monday, July 11, 2005, a dozen people gathered for half-an-hour starting at noon outside TIAA-CREF’s offices in Boston’s financial district. They were protesting and passing out informational fliers as part of the lead up to next week’s TIAA-CREF annual shareholders meeting, where members of the Make TIAA-CREF Ethical Coalition will press TIAA-CREF, one of the country’s largest pension funds, to divest from Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and other corporations that do not do business ethically. Wal-Mart is well known for its exploitive labor practices, while Coke is guilty of a number of socially irresponsible practices, ranging from marketing junk food to children in the US to complicity with death squads in Colombia.
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11 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : International : Labor : Social Welfare
Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
melida 1.gifOn June 22, Rhode Island governor Donald Carcieri vetoed the Family Childcare Providers Business Opportunity Act of 2005. The act would have allowed the state's 1,300 licensed and hundreds of other unlicensed home-based day care providers, members of the union SEIU 1199, to bargain collectively with the state for wages and benefits.

As wages fall behind inflation for most workers, and welfare payments are eliminated, the home based day care workers have become essential for working parents in Rhode Island. The day care fees are subsidized for thirteen thousand parents by the state, although these subsidies are being cut to pay for tax cuts for the richest Rhode Islanders. But the day care workers are poorly compensated for their central role in the state's economy. The Day Care Justice Co-Op, an organization of day care workers that preceeded the union drive, found that after deducting for the cost of childrens' toys, books, food, safety equipment, and sometimes assistants, the day care workers, mostly black and latina women, ended up with a wage of only $2.76 per hour, less than the legal minimum wage.
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28 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Gender : Labor : Race : Social Welfare
Opinion: America's Corporate Benedict Arnolds
BENDICT.jpg“That’s un-American” is the cry heard whenever the unwritten code of American values is breached, Compassion, fairness and equal opportunity are hallmarks, and although you might not be able to recite chapter and verse of the code, you know when it is broken.

On this the 204th anniversary of the death of Benedict Arnold, one of America’s most famous traitors, it’s time to consider whether some of America’s largest corporations that pay little or no federal taxes, have indeed become traitors.

Large corporations are in full retreat from paying their fair share of taxes. In 2003, corporations paid just 7% of the cost of the US government, according to a study by Citizens for Tax Justice.

It wasn’t always this way. At the end of the Second World War, a time when paying taxes was viewed as a patriotic duty, corporations paid half the cost of the federal government. Even as recently as the 1970s, corporate taxes accounted for 20% of federal treasury receipts.
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16 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Politics : Social Welfare
Opposition Mounts to "NAFTA Superhighway" I-69
I-69Logo.gifThe U.S. government is currently poised to roll out a new strip of asphalt all the way from Loredo, Texas up to Port Huron, Michigan. Interstate 69, if completed, will stretch over 2000 miles, through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan.

The main purpose of this interstate is to provide a channel for trading goods between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. It would act as a piece of the life-support system for the North American Free Trade Agreement (or NAFTA) and, if enacted, the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Some are calling it the “NAFTA Superhighway”.
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13 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : Human Rights : Labor
Holyoke struggles to keep wastewater as a public utility
kelda.jpgKelda may sell Aquarion, US profits fall 21% in 2004.
Holyoke deal falls on even shakier ground.

The UK Independent reports “Kelda mulls the sell-off of its not so profitable US subsidiary” as Aquarion reports a 21% fall in profits in 2004. Residents and DPW workers in Holyoke, Massachusetts, facing a 20-year, $176 million contract with Aquarion Services Company, should be worried. The main selling points of the contract have been the purported savings to ratepayers and the sweetheart deal promised to the current workers, which maintains existing pay and benefits. Workers will already lose civil service protection in the Aquarion deal, and what more will they lose if Aquarion is sold? Can Aquarion really save the city millions if under the gun to show a profit to Kelda shareholders?
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31 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Labor : Social Welfare
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