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240 crabs and a friend [Mar. 20th, 2008|02:51 pm]
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"Steven Spera, Sr.

Of New Castle, DE, age 51, formerly of Westville, NJ died on March 16, 2008, at Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Mr. Spera was born in Camden, NJ and served in the U.S. Army. He retired from The Boiler Makers Union Local 13 in 2002 and was a member of the St. Anthony's Club of New Castle."

Rest of the obit hereCollapse )
From the Wilmington News-Journal
Steve retired from the boilermakers, all right.  In the summer of 2001 he was working with a crew fixing the catwalks around big chemical tanks at an oil refinery in Delaware City.  The refinery, owned by a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell and the Saudi kingdom's Aramco, hadn't bothered to maintain its tanks for years, because it didn't want to bear the cost of shutting down production.  The refinery owner didn't tell the contractor doing the catwalk repair that its own inspectors had repeatedly recommended that a 415,000 gallon sulfuric acid tank be taken out of service because it was corroded and ridden with holes.

There's no telling whether the vapors from the sulfuric acid in tank 393 were ignited by a spark from the welding or an impact between catwalk and tank, but ignite they did.  The result was a fireball that engulfed a neighborhood of the 8 square mile refinery, the rupture of tank 393 and another tank, and the discharge of 99,000 gallons of acid over the containment wall and into the Delaware River.  The EPA  later estimated that 2,400 fish were killed along with 240 crabs and fined the company ten million dollars.

What about the work crew?  Steve heard a noise and shouted "run!"  He and four other guys made it off the catwalk and over the wall.  Jeffrey Davis, a 50 year old father of five, did not.  The steel shanks of his boots and his belt buckle were found during the cleanup.  His body was dissolved by the acid.

AftermathSteve and the other workers, as well as two truck drivers waiting for loads, suffered extensive chemical burns.  Inhaling hot acid fumes isn't something I recommend for anyone.  From that day forward Steve did not draw a single breath without pain.

In addition to the EPA investigation, the refinery owner was prosecuted for the homicide of Jeff Davis and assault upon 6 of the injured workers.    The company pleaded "no contest."  Imagine, if you will, being accused of killing a man and saying "OK, no contest."  The company was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and assault and given the maximum penalty - a fine of $11,500 for killing Jeff Davis and $5,750 for assault of each injured worker.

The EPA fine works out to $3,787.88 for each fish and crab killed by the acid discharge.  Almost exactly one-third of the homicide fine.  Our governments think a man's life is only worth three fish or crabs.  That isn't good news.

My friend Steve Spera was an honest, honorable, hard-working guy.  I lost touch with him in the last years of his life, after putting on his boots, grabbing his helmet and going to work every morning was replaced by the listless days of the disabled and the alcohol and drugs that were his natural response to pain.  Though he  died in his sleep seven years after his health was sacrificed to corporate profit, his wife said that the man she loved died on the day of the fireball.

I have lost a friend.  It didn't have to happen.  I'm angry and sad.

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Library of Congress Professional Guild, AFSCME Local 2910, needs your help [Feb. 16th, 2007|09:41 am]
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Library of Congress' Office of Workforce Management, is trying to put union representatives on enforced annual leave or Leave Without Pay until they provide confidential information about Guild representational activities.

Personally, I can't help but wonder how much of this is related to the asbestos exposure complaint issue.

Read the entire message
The Library of Congress Professional Guild's website
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Some Good News. [Sep. 19th, 2006|06:07 pm]
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This comes from the Communication Workers of America.

AT&T Agrees to Return Contracted Tech Support Work

September 15, 2006

CWA reached a new agreement with AT&T to return Internet/DSL support work to the CWA bargaining unit, which potentially could create 2,000 new union jobs. This work currently is being contracted out both within the United States and overseas.

Beginning next year, more than 800 new jobs will come under CWA representation, with more to be returned to the U.S. from foreign call centers starting sometime later in the year.

"Reversing the flow of work from contractors back to our bargaining units is a terrific achievement," said CWA Executive Vice President Jeff Rechenbach. "We're also pleased that the wages and benefits we've negotiated, in addition to being superior to those in the industry, will provide a base for CWA to build career opportunities for even more workers," he said.

CWA and AT&T negotiated the wage rate, benefits and job duties for the new position of Tier 1 customer assistant as part of the 2005 National Internet Contract. That contract expires July 21, 2007

The agreement does not change any of the work performed by CWA-represented customer service representatives under the core contract. Job duties under the new customer assistant title include first tier customer care services — related to customer registration, e-mail creation, DSL line signal testing, modem/filter assistance and e-mail, browser and modem troubleshooting.
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Happy Labor Day [Sep. 4th, 2006|03:00 am]
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[mood |sicksocioeconomic Catholicism]

Some years from now, in an economic refugee relocation “Enterprise Zone,” your kids will ask you, “What did you do in the Class War, Daddy?”

The trick of class war is not to let the victims know they’re under attack. That’s how, little by little, the owners of the planet take away what little we have.

This week, Dupont, the chemical giant, slashed employee pension benefits by two-thirds. Furthermore, new Dupont workers won’t get a guaranteed pension at all — and no health care after retirement. It’s part of Dupont’s new “Die Young” program, I hear. Dupont is not in financial straits. Rather, the slash attack on its workers’ pensions was aimed at adding a crucial three cents a share to company earnings, from $3.11 per share to $3.14.

So Happy Labor Day.

And this week, the government made it official: For the first time since the Labor Department began measuring how the American pie is sliced, those in the top fifth of the wealth scale are now gobbling up over half (50.4%) of our nation’s annual income.

So Happy Labor Day.

We don’t even get to lick the plates. While 15.9% of us don’t have health insurance (a record, Mr. President!), even those of us who have it, don’t have it: we’re spending 36% more per family out of pocket on medical costs since the new regime took power in Washington. If you’ve actually tried to collect from your insurance company, you know what I mean.


So Happy Labor Day.

But if you think I have nothing nice to say about George W. Bush, let me report that the USA now has more millionaires than ever — 7.4 million! And over the past decade, the number of billionaires has more than tripled, 341 of them!

If that doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing out, this should: You, Mr. Median, are earning, after inflation, a little less than you earned when Richard Nixon reigned. Median household income — and most of us are “median” — is down. Way down.

Since the Bush Putsch in 2000, median income has fallen 5.9%.

Mr. Bush and friends are offering us an “ownership” society. But he didn’t mention who already owns it. The richest fifth of America owns 83% of all shares in the stock market. But that’s a bit misleading because most of that, 53% of all the stock, is owned by just one percent of American households.

And what does the Wealthy One Percent want? Answer: more wealth. Where will they get it? As with a tube of toothpaste, they’re squeezing it from the bottom. Median paychecks have gone down by 5.9% during the current regime, but Americans in the bottom fifth have seen their incomes sliced by 20%.

At the other end, CEO pay at the Fortune 500 has bloated by 51% during the first four years of the Bush regime to an average of $8.1 million per annum.

So who’s winning? It’s a crude indicator, but let’s take a peek at the Class War body count.

When Reagan took power in 1980, the One Percent possessed 33% of America’s wealth as measured by capital income. By 2006, the One Percent has swallowed over half of all America’s assets, from sea to shining sea. One hundred fifty million Americans altogether own less than 3% of all private assets.

Yes, American middle-class house values are up, but we’re blowing that gain to stay alive. Edward Wolff, the New York University expert on income, explained to me that, “The middle class is mortgaging itself to death.” As a result of mortgaging our new equity, 60% of all households have seen a decline in net worth.

Is America getting poorer? No, just its people, We the Median. In fact, we are producing an astonishing amount of new wealth in the USA. We are a lean, mean production machine. Output per worker in BushAmerica zoomed by 15% over four years through 2004. Problem is, although worker productivity keeps rising, the producers are getting less and less of it.

The gap between what we produce and what we get is widening like an alligator’s jaw. The more you work, the less you get. It used to be that as the economic pie got bigger, everyone’s slice got bigger too. No more.

The One Percent have swallowed your share before you can get your fork in.


The loot Dupont sucked from its employees’ retirement funds will be put to good use. It will more than cover the cost of the company directors’ decision to hike the pension set aside for CEO Charles Holliday to $2.1 million a year. And that’s fair, I suppose: Holliday’s a winning general in the class war. And shouldn’t the winners of war get the spoils?

Of course, there are killjoys who cling to that Calvinist-Marxist belief that a system forever fattening the richest cannot continue without end. Professor Michael Zweig, Director of the State University of New York’s Center for Study of Working Class Life, put it in culinary terms: “Today’s pig is tomorrow’s bacon.”

[Greg Palast]
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(no subject) [Aug. 15th, 2006|04:12 pm]
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Hello. I am considering applying for a researcher position with SEIU in Detroit.
Is there anyone here who is a researcher? Pros/cons?
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Hooking the kids: social movement or marketing ploy? [Aug. 4th, 2006|09:54 pm]
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So I've been thinking this over, and now i'm at the point where i look for external input.

SEIU and the youth: What generation are you?Collapse )

Aside from the inevitable overthinking of issues...Any other SEIU people who may've been in atlanta?
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We can't compromise [Aug. 2nd, 2006|12:20 pm]
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Sorry if anything similar has already been mentioned in this community.. X-posted

Call your senators and urge them to support the filibuster against H.R. 5970

Democrats have been pushing to raise the minimum wage, but Republicans have tacked on an addition to the bill that will lower estate taxes for the very rich, which will in turn be paid for by the government and thus cut money out of healthcare and other programs. If the very wealthy receive more tax breaks the poor will not truly benefit from the minimum wage increase and the gap between the haves and have-nots will only become wider. Please don't let the interests of the wealthy come before the welfare of the working class.


This week, we have to stop Republican leaders from ramming a bill through the Senate that holds a minimum wage increase hostage to more massive tax breaks for the very rich. In a repulsive political maneuver long after midnight Saturday morning, the House linked a $2-an-hour increase in the minimum wage to tax breaks for multimillion dollar estates that will cost the U.S. Treasury some $750 billion—forcing cuts in food and health care assistance for low-wage workers, as well as unemployment help.

Call your senators now, toll free, at
Please click here to let us know you called.

Political observers call this one of the most cynical legislative maneuvers they’ve seen in years. Republican House leaders were so desperate to cut the estate tax for a small number of very rich families—and so afraid of facing constituents who are demanding a minimum wage hike—they abandoned all shame on this one. Now the Senate must act.

Right now, please take a moment to call your senators. Tell them: Reject the House’s cynical attempt to hold a minimum wage increase hostage to slashing estate taxes for the rich. Support the filibuster against H.R. 5970.

Call your senators now, toll free, at
Please click here to let us know you called.

Increasing the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 would give some 6.6 million low-wage workers a much-needed $1,200 a year raise and would not cost taxpayers a dime. In contrast, the estate tax cut would exempt estates as large as $7 million—permanently—from the tax and lower taxes for even wealthier estates. The payoff? An average $1.4 million windfall for each of roughly 8,200 rich estates. And a $750 billion tab for taxpayers.

It gets worse! House Republican leaders poisoned the minimum wage portion of the measure by slipping in a vindictive provision that would actually lower pay for tipped employees and prohibits states from fully restoring their wage protections.

Don’t let the Senate accept this disgusting political ploy by House Republicans. Call your senators now and tell them to support the filibuster against H.R. 5970.

Call your senators now, toll free, at
Click here to let us know you called.

Thank you for taking action for America’s working families.

In solidarity,

Working Families e-Activist Network, AFL-CIO

P.S. We need to make the senators’ phones ring off the hook. Once you have called your senators, please forward this e-mail to others who are as outraged as you are by the House Republicans’ shameless political ploy. Urge them to call their senators, too.
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Continuing Anti-Sweatshop Resistance [Jul. 31st, 2006|11:48 pm]
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JOIN anti_sweatshops
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(no subject) [Jul. 27th, 2006|06:21 am]
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"UNITE!" has changed to "UNITE HERE," so you might want to update the interests, and add the "Change to Win Coalition" as well.
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I NEED YOUR HELP PLEASE!!!!! [Apr. 2nd, 2006|11:03 pm]
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I'm sorry to spam you guys on my first entry, but I have a school assignment due tomorrow in which I need to know someone to interview that's in a union. I would need right now your first and last name, your union name, and your local number. Later I would need to interview. I'm so sorry to bother you all, but this is really important for school and I totally forgot til tonight, and I thought this would be a good place to look. Thanks for anyone's help!!!
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