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October 23, 2019

On This Day in 1989
An explosion and fire demolished the Phillips Petroleum refinery in Pasadena, Texas killing 23 and injuring 314. The initial blast registered 3.5 on the Richter scale, and the fire took 10 hours to bring under control.
- Voices of Labor

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Local and National News

Sick? Hurt? Talk to a doctor anytime. It's free!
Oct. 22, 2019 Members participating in the Teamsters Local 355 Health and Welfare Fund have 24/7/365 access to a doctor through Teladoc, our virtual care solution provider that connects you to the healthcare you need, quickly, conveniently and securely. Talk to a doctor anytime, anywhere you happen to be and receive quality care via phone or online video at ZERO cost to you. Learn how to set up your account today here.

Miners, Teamsters demand Senate fix multi-employer pensions
Oct. 22, 2019 Retirees from several unions joined Democratic senators on Capitol Hill Oct. 16 to demand that the Senate act on a bill to prevent endangered multi-employer pension plans from going bankrupt. “We need you, Congress, to stop kicking the can down the road,” said retired Teamster Mike Walden of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Multiemployer funds covering about 1.3 million workers and retirees have either already slashed benefits or are in danger of insolvency. The House passed a bill in July that would have… cleveland.com

Stewards honor VP Emeritus Erv Williams, Joyce Johnson at biannual banquet
Oct. 15, 2019 Vice President Emeritus Ervin Williams was honored at this year’s steward banquet by the Local 355 Executive Board and Shop Stewards for his many years of leadership and service to Local Union members. President Denis Taylor presented him with an appreciation plaque. Williams, a 37-year Teamster, was vice president of Local 355 from 1999 until December 2015, when he retired to his home in Chesapeake, Virginia. Veteran shop steward Joyce Williams retired last week, concluding a 44-year career with Mountaire Farms. President Taylor presented Johnson with a Certificate of Appreciation for her commitment and service to members. Among the invited guests were surviving members of Business Agent Jim Deene’s family, wife Debbie, daughter Brandi Marie and son, Edward Wetherbee, Jr. Deene passed away suddenly in May. Sponsored by Local 355 and held every other year, the Shop Steward Banquet was held Saturday, Oct. 12th at the American Legion Hall, Kent Island, Md. View photos here.

Older news items are available at 355 News.

Elsewhere in the News
Number of Workers on Strike Highest Since 1980s
Oct. 23, 2019 | COLLECTIVE ACTION | With unemployment rates at record lows, the number of people who have gone on strike in the U.S. has soared. The number of striking workers ballooned to nearly 500,000 in 2018, up from about 25,000 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the largest number of people who have walked out on work since the mid-1980s. As employment numbers have rapidly risen over the 10-year expansion, wages have struggled to keep up. And as the labor market tightens, workers are becoming more confident about striking for better salaries and benefits…CNBC
This Looks Like the Start of a Great Time for Unions
Oct. 22, 2019 | OPINION | The tight labor market in the U.S. is leading to a shift in the balance of power between labor and capital, giving more leverage to workers. This manifests itself in a variety of ways. For instance, workers are less reluctant to leave their jobs in search of better pay or working conditions. This is showing up in the rate of workers quitting their jobs at the highest level since 2001. It also gives unions the confidence to go on strike in hopes of getting a better deal, as we've seen with the United Auto Workers in its negotiations with General Motors Co. In this environment, the rationale for joining a union hasn't looked this good in a very long time… Bloomberg
In A Strong Economy, Why Are So Many Workers on Strike?
Oct. 21, 2019 | ECONOMY | At first glance, it may seem like a paradox: Even as the economy rides a 10-year winning streak, tens of thousands of workers across the country, from General Motors employees to teachers in Chicago, are striking to win better wages and benefits. But, according to those on strike, the strong growth is precisely the point. Autoworkers, teachers and other workers accepted austerity when the economy was in a free fall, expecting to share in the gains once the recovery took hold. In recent years, however, many of those workers have come to believe that they fell for a sucker’s bet, as they watched their employers grow flush while their own incomes barely budged … New York Times
Report: Trump’s NLRB Has ’Systematically’ Damaged Workers’ Rights
Oct. 17, 2019 | NRLB | President Donald Trump's National Labor Relations Board has catered to the requests of a prominent business lobbying group and "systematically" eroded workers' rights, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute released Wednesday. The report says that the labor board, which is supposed to protect the interests of workers, has "elevated corporate interests above those of working men and women and have routinely betrayed the statute they are responsible for administering and enforcing." Trump has depicted himself as a champion of blue-collar workers. He regularly touts the monthly jobs report and the unemployment rate, which is currently at a half-century low. He promoted his 2017 bill to overhaul the tax code as a victory for workers, though an April report from the Center for Public Integrity noted corporations benefitted far more than workers did. But the president has pushed policies that critics say contradict his claims of supporting worker right, including rebukes for efforts to cut the power of unions… Newsweek
UAW Reaches Tentative Agreement With GM, Touts ‘Major Gains’
Oct. 16, 2019 | STRIKES | The United Auto Workers has reached a proposed tentative agreement with General Motors Co. that represents "major gains," the UAW said in a news release Wednesday morning. About 200 local union leaders representing GM employees are expected to convene Thursday in Detroit for a national council meeting to vote on whether to send the tentative agreement to the UAW membership and when to end the strike. The agreement is expected to include at least $9 billion in new investment, ratification bonuses of more than $8,000 each, uncapped profit-sharing payouts and base-wage increases or lump-sum bonuses of more than 2% in each year of the proposed contract. The agreement also is expected to confirm the wind-down of three plants identified last November for closure, the people said. Those plants include Lordstown Assembly in northeast Ohio, Baltimore Operations in Maryland…  Detroit News
Candidates Grow Bolder on Labor, and Not Just Sanders
Oct. 16, 2019 | VOTE2020 | When Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2016, his campaign was strikingly pro-labor. He proposed a $15-an-hour minimum wage, which was much further than most mainstream Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, were willing to go. He denounced a trans-Pacific trade deal that was anathema to many unions. He endorsed an organizing method, known as card check, that would allow workers to unionize without holding a secret-ballot election. Yet by the standards of the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination, the Bernie Sanders of four years ago was something of a piker. At least half the candidates who will appear in next week’s presidential debate — including Mr. Sanders — have labor platforms that are more ambitious than his 2016 version… New York Times
Mack Truck Workers Strike in Maryland, Two Other States
Oct. 14, 2019 | STRIKES | Thousands of Mack Truck workers were on strike Sunday at plants in three states, the first such walkout in decades. United Automobile Workers union members walked out of plants in Baltimore; Hagerstown; Middletown, Pennsylvania, and Jacksonville, Florida, the union said. In all, the company said the strike involves about 3,500 employees "One of the biggest issues for us is the job security," Walter Smith, president of the local representing Pennsylvania workers, told WCAU-TV. "I've been here for 42 years at Mack Trucks, love working at Mack Trucks. But we need to have our job security."… Baltimore Sun
 
 
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