Take Action: Don't Let Lame-Duck Congress Scrooge Drivers

Cross posted from Daily Kos

Workers are not safe yet. The Republican-controlled Congress is back for a brief lame-duck session. And they have their sites set on denying delivery drivers overtime pay just before the holidays.

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Let's Work Together for Change

By Mike Mathis, Teamsters Director of Government Affairs.

When Matt and Chris invited us to join the MyDD community, they warned us about you. They said MyDD readers are a smart and cantankerous bunch who wouldn't pull any punches. They told us to be prepared for anything.

Teamsters are old hands at confrontation - taking on bastard employers or anti-union propagandists - but we are novices at online discussions. Nevertheless, we welcomed the opportunity because we recognize that bloggers and unions are natural allies - we share common goals and derive our strength from the power of many.

For us it was an opportunity to introduce ourselves, to educate and to build relationships. You know, it's not just the number of union members that is shrinking. So is the number of labor reporters. Unless there is a big strike, you never hear about unions in your local media. The national press is not much better, with several news organizations recently axing their labor beats.

Perhaps it's because most media owners - large national corporations or hometown power barons - share the same anti-union views as the owners of the Santa Barbara News-Press. I'm not one to believe in media conspiracies, but this is just one example of how management still controls the message. Fortunately for Santa Barbara citizens the reporters fought back.

Many media outlets even refuse to run union ads. Consolidation of the press and of our airwaves further squeezes out organized labor's message.

And it's a message that is rarely taught in schools. Think back to your high school history course, how much did you learn about the Knights of Labor, Eugene V. Debs, the Haymarket Riot, or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory?

If you welcome our message, we welcome your scrutiny.

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For Unions, It's All About the Members

This week's post is by Teamsters Organizing Director Jeff Farmer.

Unions are about members helping members, unlike advocacy groups such as the AARP, or professional organizations like the American Medical Association.

Yes, there are similarities -- such as national lobbying efforts, member publications and affinity credit card offers -- but for unions, these are ancillary, not primary functions.

I've never had someone come up to me when I'm wearing my Nature Conservancy T-shirt and say "Hey, I give to the Nature Conservancy too!" But when I'm traveling and people see my Teamster lapel pin, they will often comment that they are Teamsters too, or that their father was a Teamster or that they belong to some other union. That's because, as Mike said last week, unions are personal.

Our strength comes from our members, not how much money we raise or how many lobbyists we can field. It's about Teamsters standing with Teamsters, whether we're going up against an employer for better pay and working conditions or chipping in to help another member when times are tough.  

But you don't need to hear me preach about solidarity. I'll let our members tell you themselves. The following comments are from real Teamsters in their own words.

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Unions: Mobilizing Voters for Nearly a Century

This week's post is by Mike Mathis, director of government affairs for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

So how exactly did Karl Rove mastermind Republican victories in 2002 and 2004? By stealing a page out of organized labor's playbook.

Rove's 72-Hour Task Force, using professional and volunteer operatives to organize and lead a get-out-the-vote push in the final 72 hours before Election Day, was formed in 2001. Unions have been doing this for most of the past century.

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Labor Built this Country - It's Time to Take it Back

Well this seems like something we could get done next cycle. Jeff Farmer is the director of organizing for the Teamsters. I'm going to thank them preemptively for our new servers, since that's what's going to keep this site running on election day. -Matt

Organized Labor was dealt another damaging blow last week by President Bush's cronies on the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB ruled 3-2, along party lines, that millions of nurses and other workers are "supervisors," and therefore excluded from collective bargaining rights.

The so-called "Kentucky River decision" was pretty much expected from the Big Business shills who sit on the NLRB. Not only will 8 million workers lose their labor law protections, including their right to form unions, but companies will be even more emboldened under the new expansive definition of "supervisor" to reclassify workers in their effort to dismantle organizing drives.

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