|ONLINE VERSION||NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2001|
|NEWS IN BRIEF|
|Grand Lodge Dues Increase Effective
January 1, 2002
Based upon the annual statement published by the National Railway Labor Conference, it has been determined that the average straight-time hourly rate-of-pay for maintenance of way employees during 2000 was $17.94. In accordance with Article XX, Section 3, of the Grand Lodge Constitution and Bylaws, one and two tenths (1.2) of this amount added to the current Grand Lodge dues equals $21.54, which rounded to the nearest 25 cents, results in Grand Lodge dues being increased to $21.50 per month effective January 1, 2002.
Railroad Retirement Legislation
As this JOURNAL went to print, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers reported that the Railroad Retirement Coalition had received confirmation from a member of Senator Tom Daschle’s staff that the Railroad Retirement bill would be brought to the Senate floor sometime within the next 10 days, possibly on November 27. The BLE reported that the bill "will not be titled S. 697, but it is expected that it will be brought to the Senate floor as a stand-alone bill."
(Since the JOURNAL went to print, the Senate passed the legislation 90-9 and the House passed it 369-33. It is expected that President Bush will sign the legislation this month, see Railroad Retirement Bill Ready for President's Signature.)
Sweating the Sweatshops
International worker, religious and civil rights leaders launched a global anti-sweatshop coalition August 7 in New York City. The coalition includes UNITE; the National Labor Committee; the AFL-CIO; United Students Against Sweatshops; the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF); the National Federation of Free Trade Workers; and workers from Canada, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Mexico, Nicaragua, Thailand and the United States. The coalition plans to protest at major retail outlets throughout the back-to-school and holiday seasons. "Despite years of public pressure against sweatshops, today’s global retailers are greedier than ever, and more workers around the world are toiling in sweatshops to make their goods." UNITE President Bruce Raynor told the crowd. ITGLWF Secretary General Neil Kearney said, "What sets this campaign apart from previous anti-sweatshop efforts is the level of international coordination and cooperation it has engendered." After the rally, Raynor and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka led a march through the fashionable SoHo district to protest the selling of clothes made in sweatshops. More information about the global fight against sweatshops can be found at www.behindthelabel.org and on page 4 of this Journal.
This Winning Season
California’s 800,000 farm workers are having their most successful political season in more than 25 years. On August 7, Governor Gray Davis (D) signed a bill that stiffens fines for agricultural employers who break state labor laws and required growers to verify their labor contractors are licensed. Davis signed another bill last week that expands farm workers’ ability to collect damages for nonpayment of wages, untimely pay, wrongful termination and denial of lunch and rest breaks. And in July, the state legislature approved an additional $2 million to help enforce labor laws in agriculture and other industries.
Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez and union leaders from Brazil, Canada and Mexico joined about 5,000 farm workers and their supporters for a march and rally in Yakima, Washington, August 5. The marchers sent a message that the crisis in the apple fields, will not be solved until the farm workers are organized. The rally preceded an August 8, U.S. Department of Labor hearing about dangerous working conditions, wage and hour violations and workplace discrimination in the state’s apple industry. The hearing, conducted by the department’s National Administrative Office, was the result of complaints filed by several Mexican unions charging that the growers’ actions violated the labor side agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
175 Years: America on Track!
The city of Baltimore, Maryland and the B&O Railroad Museum are proud to host a national celebration of people, technology, culture and the American experience. The planned celebration is estimated to draw more than two million people over the 16-month period. On February 27, 2002, the celebratory event begins with programs highlighting the past, present and future of American railroading. The festivities will end with the blockbuster event, The Fair of the Iron Horse 175, from June 27 through July 6, 2003. Each day this festival and show will feature a parade of historic locomotives from the Tom Thumb to the great motive powers of today. During the show they will be moving along the first mile and a half of mainline railroad right of way in the United States. The B&O Railroad Museum is located at 901 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21223, telephone number 410-752-2490 and fax 410-752-2499.
Labor’s Contributions Etched in Stone
Next Spring, workers will break ground for a monument honoring Detroit labor along Jefferson Avenue in a grove near the city’s Hart Plaza.
The structure will be built by the Michigan Labor Legacy Project to honor "all the men and women who farmed the land, logged the forests, built the ships, rolled the cigars, walked the girders, served the meals, put the world on wheels and built the weapons that won World War II," the Project has announced.
Design of the structure will be selected from among three submissions by local artists. Some 60 designs were originally submitted.
The monument was the idea of Michael Kerwin, a 77-year-old United Auto Workers’ retiree.
Steve Bieda, a former aide to U.S. Rep. David Bonior is coordinating the fund raising for the project which is estimated to cost $980,000.
"Labor is an extremely important part of local history and national history. There is no monument to labor in the premier labor city in the United States," he notes.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
In Grand Rapids, the Labor Heritage Society of West Michigan reports that the Communications Workers of America and CWA Local 4034 have come forward to provide twin $15,000 grants to jump-start a project to commemorate the 1911 strike by 4,000 furniture workers. The strike transformed the city’s government and culture, and unified various ethnic communities in Grand Rapids. The workers rose up against the 10-hour day and abusive child labor practices.
The site for the statue — directly across from the Gerald Ford Museum—was the actual location where workers gathered to receive strike benefits. It was dedicated on Labor Day 2000, but construction has been delayed by funding problems.
Doug Traff, a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in Galesburg, Illinois, had a more personal tribute in mind when he started work on a monument that graces the entrance to the Galesburg Railroad Museum. Traff collaborated with the museum to find an obelisk that honors the memory of railroad workers killed on the job.
Traff was inspired by the death of his parents (his father was also an engineer) along with the memory of two other engineers killed when their train struck a gasoline truck.
At the downtown intersection of 5th and Main St. in Springfield, Oregon, an art and labor coalition dedicated a mural commemorating the life and work of labor activist Jesse Bostelle. Bostelle, who died of cancer in 1998, was associated with labor education in the area. Designed by Eugene, Oregon, artist Allison McNair, the project was completed with help from a group of local teenagers. The project was coordinated in partnership with Service Employees Local 503.
Reprinted from Label Letter September/October 2001.