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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
NSTAR Workers (Still) On Strike!!!
DSC00529.jpgCompany decries union ‘scare tactics,’ Solidarity strong among electrical workers despite heavy handed union busting efforts

The first week of Utility Workers Union of America local 369’s strike against NSTAR has been fraught with drama, mainly stemming from the deregulated Eastern Massachusetts electrical service provider’s blatant and ominous strong arm tactics. Since Monday, May 18 at 12:01 when their contract expired and 1,900 of NSTAR's 3,000 workers represented by the union walked off the job, NSTAR has consistently maintained that Union officials are lying about the reasons the union went on strike. And the same day the strike began Local 369 was informed that the workers’ health insurance had been cancelled.

UPDATE, 6/1/05: 87% of the 1,900 striking NStar Utility Workers Local 369 members last night voted to ratify a new contract. The contract came after a hard fought fifteen day strike that saw an outpouring of solidarity from labor and community supporters.
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23 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Organizing
Graduate student-workers at UMass-Amherst win tentative contract agreement
018_08A.JPGAfter 14 months of battle, the Graduate Employee Organization, UAW Local 2322 reached a tentative contract agreement with the administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst May 10. A ratification vote is scheduled for May 19-20.

A heartening and powerful labor-community-student alliance won this stage of the struggle.

“The incredible turn out at the March 31 rally and march, the complete shutdown of the university on April 21 because of the undergraduate boycott and GEO walkout, the teach-ins, grade-ins, carol singing and bombarding of Chancellor Lombardi, and many other contract campaign events have all paid off, and allowed us to reach a tentative agreement with the university today over the terms of a new contract,” declared GEO in an email to its approximately 2, 400 members May 10.
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15 May 2005 Modified: 16 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Education : Labor
Living in the Shadows: Undocumented Children Strive to Succeed
P905daughter.jpgAs an immigrant, Araceli has a hard time feeling like she belongs. She fled social unrest in Guatemala with her family when she was only five years old, speaks English better than Spanish, but has been forced to live in the fringes of society because she is considered illegal. “I’ve been here for sixteen years. I consider myself an American,” she said.

The first time she found out about her status was when she tried to apply for college and was told the benefit of a higher education did not apply to her. One year after graduating from high school with a 3.5 GPA and unable to work legally in this country, she feels uneasy about her future. “Put your self in my shoes. I want an education and a career,” she said.
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09 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Education : Globalization : Human Rights : Labor
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