Clean energy = good jobs

Why shouldn’t workers’ pension funds be invested in projects that link production of clean energy products with good paying union factory jobs? Speaking Feb. 26 at a conference of the Apollo Alliance, AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel Damon Silver said there is about $400 billion in union-sponsored pension funds that could be linked to this initiative. Including the money union members have in company-run plans brings the total to approximately $5 trillion.

The Apollo Alliance, which includes dozens of international unions and state and local labor federations as well as environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, was in Washington, D.C., to lobby for support of its 10-year, $30 billion plan to build hundreds of factories and create “clean energy” products.

The Alliance calculates that the projects would create 34 million jobs in a decade.

Safety ruling due

A federal appeals court has ordered the Bush Labor Department to explain — within a month and in less than 30 pages — why after eight years it has still not come up with a rule to make employers buy the protective clothing and equipment their workers need.

The court’s Feb. 16 ruling resulted from a suit filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union and the AFL-CIO.

“By OSHA’s own estimates, 400,000 workers have been injured and 50 have died due to the absence of this rule,” said the UFCW in a statement.

Union rights for TSA?

Which is more dangerous in the eyes of George Bush — terrorists or organized workers? Apparently it’s the workers, because, national security or no, Bush has vowed to veto an entire anti-terrorism bill because it contains a provision that would grant collective bargaining rights to the 43,000 airport screeners in the Transportation Security Administration. The bill was drawn up to put into effect many of the recommendations of the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission.

American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage said that, without union protection, TSA workers “are subject to workplace discrimination, retaliation, unscheduled overtime and fear of speaking out on issues of security.” The Senate voted 51-46 on March 6 to uphold the screeners’ right to bargain.

‘Slave labor’ in Colorado fields

The United Farm Workers union is urging Americans to contact Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to protest what it calls modern day slavery in that state.

The UFW says that Colorado has set up a program to put prisoners to work in the state’s farms for 60 cents a day.

After the state Legislature passed what it called the nation’s toughest laws against “illegal” immigrants last summer, farmers have encountered a severe labor shortage.

The UFW urges supporters to tell Ritter that the solution to the nation’s immigration crisis is not prison labor.

U.S. forces raid Iraq union offices

The International Federation of Journalists has condemned as “outrageous” the armed raid carried out by U.S. troops on the Baghdad office of the Iraqi Society of Journalists.

According to the IFJ, the troops ransacked the office Feb. 19, arrested security guards and confiscated 10 computers and 15 small electric generators which had been purchased for families of slain journalists.

“We stand by our Iraqi colleagues and will do everything we can to ensure those responsible for this outrage are punished,” said Aidan White, IFJ’s general secretary.

Later the same week U.S. and Iraqi forces raided the head office of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers, the GFIW reported. The same force repeated the attack on Feb. 25, destroying furniture and confiscating a computer. The GFIW appealed for messages of support from trade unions around the world. Messages can be sent to these addresses: abdullahmuhsin @ iraqitradeunions.org, adnalsaffar @ yahoo.com.

This Week in Labor is compiled by Roberta Wood (rwood @ pww.org)

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