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Mitsubishi workers ratify new four-year agreement


A majority of the members of UAW Local 2488 in Normal, Ill. have voted in favor of ratifying a new four-year contract with Mitsubishi Motors North America.

"The bargaining team delivered an agreement that will protect jobs and provide four years of stability for our members and their communities," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"Job security and the viability of the Mitsubishi plant in Normal remained a priority during these talks," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, director of the union's Transnational Department. "This contract addresses those needs and creates opportunities for our members and Mitsubishi to move forward in these uncertain economic times for the auto industry and the nation."

The new agreement expires Aug. 30, 2012 and covers 1,264 UAW members at Mitsubishi.


UAW says rescue package was needed; implementation must protect taxpayers and homeowners


DETROIT -- UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today that the action taken by Congress to stabilize the nation's finances was an "unfortunate necessity," and cautioned that the rescue package must be implemented to provide maximum protection to taxpayers and homeowners.

"Eight years of deregulation and lax oversight by the Bush administration has resulted in a financial fire that had to be put out," said Gettelfinger. "The action taken by Congress today is an important step to restore confidence in our financial markets and liquidity to our credit markets.

"Credit is essential to the functioning of our economy -- especially for working families. Consumers need credit to purchase automobiles and homes. Students need credit to pay for college. Companies large and small need credit to maintain and grow their businesses, and to increase job opportunities."

When President Bush first proposed the rescue package, the UAW demanded it be renegotiated to include: full transparency; public equity in the companies that participate so taxpayers can be repaid by companies that succeed; a cap on executive compensation; and real mortgage relief for homeowners, to help working families avoid foreclosure. In addition to these four principles, the UAW pressed Congress to enact an economic stimulus package to create jobs and to extend unemployment insurance to laid-off workers.

"The stabilization bill that passed the House today includes all of the principles we sought," said Gettelfinger, "but we are disappointed that opposition from President Bush and Republicans in Congress made it impossible to make these pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer provisions even stronger.

"It's also unfortunate," said Gettelfinger, "that Senate Republicans blocked a job-creating economic stimulus package and an extension of unemployment insurance. Congress must return to these proposals soon, because there is no long-term solution to our nation's current economic crisis that does not include putting more money in the hands of workers and consumers."

The final bill leaves tremendous discretion to the secretary of the treasury, including when and how much equity to demand from participating companies and how many homeowners will be helped to avoid foreclosure.

"The next treasury secretary will have enormous power to determine whether this plan provides real help to working Americans, or whether it will primarily help large financial institutions," said Gettelfinger.

"Since it is the action -- and inaction -- of President Bush and his appointees that caused the current credit freeze, it's hard to have much confidence that a similar set of players with a similar 'let the markets rule' philosophy will provide the economic direction our country needs.

"Barack Obama, by contrast, has offered steady leadership throughout this crisis, and has laid out a detailed plan to cut taxes on the middle class and to secure the good-paying jobs that are the foundation of long-term economic growth.

"Members of our union will be hard at work during the next month to elect Barack Obama, because we are confident that his administration will stabilize our nation's finances and grow our economy in a way that will benefit working families and Main Street America."


Foxwoods dealers win bargaining order from labor board


NORWICH, Conn. -- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered management at Foxwoods Resort and Casino to bargain with the dealers and assistant floor supervisors represented by the UAW.

The board, in a Sept. 30 decision, ordered Foxwoods to recognize the union as the lawful bargaining representative of poker and table games dealers and assistant floor supervisors, and to bargain upon request with the union.

"We are gratified, but not surprised by the board's action," said Denise Gladue, a 14-year Foxwoods dealer and assistant floor supervisor. "We are calling on Foxwoods management to accept this result and meet with us to bargain a fair union contract."

The Foxwoods dealers won their union in a Nov. 24, 2007 election by an overwhelming majority. The UAW requested to bargain with management in July immediately after certification of the union by the NLRB. Foxwoods refused to bargain, and the regional director of the NLRB charged Foxwoods with unfair labor practices and sought the bargaining order.

"Over the last year, Foxwoods workers have grown stronger in their determination to win collective bargaining rights," said Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A, where Foxwoods is located. "Foxwoods management should respect the decision by a majority of the workers, respect the labor board's order, and come to the bargaining table."

Foxwoods management announced on Oct. 1 that over the next 17 days it plans to lay off 700 employees.

"We recognize that times are tough all over," said Steve Peloso, a 16-year Foxwoods dealer. "We want a secure future and so does the company; we think we can get there if we work together."

The UAW, one of the nation's most diverse labor unions, represents 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.



Advanced technology vehicle manufacturing program approved by Congress will boost jobs for American workers


DETROIT -- The advanced technology vehicle manufacturing program approved today by Congress will help to ensure vehicles of the future are produced in the United States, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today.

"It's a huge victory for our members, for U.S. manufacturing companies and for American consumers," said Gettelfinger. "This is a smart investment that will speed the introduction of more fuel-efficient vehicles and also create tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs."

The UAW has championed the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATMVIP) as a Marshall Plan to reinvest in the U.S. auto industry since 2004 when a University of Michigan study showed that support for building more fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S. would create tens of thousands of jobs and largely pay for itself.

The energy bill passed by Congress in 2007, with bipartisan support, authorized $25 billion in low-interest loans for manufacturers that build advanced technology vehicles and their key components in the United States. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives appropriated funds for the program; the Senate followed suit today.

Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin and U.S. Rep. John Dingell played a key leadership role in moving the legislation through Congress, said Gettelfinger, with strong support from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Obama's strong record of support for American manufacturing, said Gettelfinger, is a sharp contrast with the dismal performance of the Bush administration. Bush's Department of Energy said on Friday that it might take up to 18 months to put regulations in place before loans are available to automakers and parts suppliers.

"There is absolutely no reason to delay this vital program, and it shows why America needs a change in direction," said Gettelfinger. "This administration knows how to move fast when it wants to; it's a disgrace that they can' be bothered to take decisive action to help American workers and American companies."


Joint statement from the UAW and Mitsubishi Motors North America


The UAW and Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) announced today that negotiators representing UAW Local 2488 and the company have reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Neither the UAW nor MMNA will have further comment on the proposed agreement pending a ratification vote by UAW Mitsubishi workers.

Pressure mounting to enforce labor rights for university workers


Online petition calls on Congress to join Obama, Clinton and Schumer in backing collective bargaining rights for academic student employees

Academic student employees, who carry out a significant share of teaching and research responsibilities on university campuses, announced today an online petition drive to back legislation which will grant full collective bargaining rights for academic workers at private sector colleges and universities.

The petition, which is online at calls for member of Congress to join in sponsoring the Teaching and Research Collective Bargaining Rights Act, sponsored by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

Major legislative leaders are co-sponsors of the bill, including Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, both New York Democrats.

"This is a great opportunity to build support for real change that will benefit tens of thousands of teaching assistants, research assistants, and other academic workers on hundreds of college and university campuses," said Rana Jaleel, a teaching assistant at New York University. "In uncertain economic times, a union contract is an important protection for workers and their families -- including academic workers."

In January 2002 teaching and research assistants at NYU, who are members of UAW Local 2110, became the first-ever academic student employees at a private U.S. university to negotiate a signed collective bargaining agreement. The NYU contract included significant pay raises, employer-paid health care, increases in stipends for child care and other benefits.

In a narrow, partisan 3-2 decision in 2004, [Brown University, 342 NLRB 483 (2004)] however, Bush appointees to the National Labor Relations Board called into question the collective bargaining rights of private sector academic student employees, and NYU administrators refused to negotiate a new agreement.

Following the Brown decision, organizing campaigns on several college campuses were halted, and thousands of ballots cast by academic student employees at Columbia, Brown, Tufts and other schools were impounded and never counted.

In July the International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations which includes business, labor and government representatives, issued a report finding that the 2004 NLRB Brown decision violates international labor standards of freedom of association.

"The ILO decision and the legislative remedy it calls for are crucial steps in the struggle for true equality of opportunity and real academic freedom at private universities in this country," said Ariana Paulson of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO), the organizing representing academic student employees at Yale University. "Graduate employees at Yale, along with our colleagues in the academic labor movement, have been fighting for this for nearly 20 years and we're tremendously excited to see the momentum building around this bill."

"The NLRB got it wrong in the Brown decision, and we're going to make it right," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office, and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department. "Academic student employees make a significant contribution to higher education, and they have every right to a voice in the decisions that affect their lives."

The Teaching and Research Collective Bargaining Rights Act is supported by a wide range of unions with members currently working in higher education, including the UAW, the American Federation of Teachers, UNITE-HERE, the Communication Workers of America and the American Association of University Professors, as well as the AFL-CIO.

More than 30,000 UAW members work as teaching assistants, research assistants, tutors, readers, graders and post-doctoral researchers on campuses across the United States, including the California State University, the University of California, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Washington.



Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan workers overwhelmingly ratify agreement


DETROIT -- UAW members at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan have voted 76 percent to 24 percent in favor of a new contract.

The 1,399 to 509 vote in favor of the three-year agreement took place Sept. 9-13.

The contract, which covers 2,700 UAW-represented Blue Cross workers, includes 3 percent wage increases each year of the contract, an additional 3 percent automatic progression increase in each year for workers who are below their maximum pay grade, expanded tuition benefits, decreased prescription copays and increases in retirement benefits. UAW members also will receive a $2,500 ratification bonus.

"The bargaining team was able to protect not only the excellent benefits of members but maintain health insurance for current and future retirees," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"This agreement improves wages and benefits and it addresses the job security needs of our members," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the Technical, Office and Professional Servicing Department. "Our members at Blue Cross will be able to realize economic improvements that are necessary to live in this time of rising prices and economic uncertainty."

The contract covers Michigan members of UAW Locals 2256 (Lansing), 1781 (Southfield), 2500 (Detroit) and 2145 (Grand Rapids).

The new agreement expires Aug. 31, 2011.

UAW members file unfair labor practice charges against temporary management at Tropicana


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Members of the UAW bargaining team at Tropicana have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the temporary management of the casino, charging a failure to bargain in good faith.

"We won our representation election by 80 percent to 20 percent," said Al Welenc, a UAW bargaining team member. "That's a strong mandate for a strong contract -- but Judge Stein has said flat out that he won't reach an agreement with us."

Former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein was appointed by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission as conservator of the Tropicana casino in December 2007, when the previous management lost its operating license.

In January 2008 Judge Stein told UAW representatives that he would engage in bargaining but would not reach an agreement because he would not bind a prospective purchaser. Since then he has engaged in surface bargaining during negotiations, has refused to bargain over disciplinary issues and has unilaterally changed terms and conditions of employment.

"Even if he's only running the casino for a limited time, Judge Stein of all people should understand he has an obligation to follow the law," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and western New York. "Federal labor law is very clear: If you come to the table and state up front you have no intent to reach an agreement, that's bargaining in bad faith -- and that's illegal."

"Our goal is to reach a fair agreement at Tropicana, and our bargaining team is prepared to make this process work," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional Department. "Casino workers expect and deserve that whoever is managing the casino will recognize our rights and comply with the law."

Full- and part-time dealers, dual rate workers and simulcast workers at Tropicana voted to become part of the UAW on Aug. 25, 2007. In all, six groups of workers at four Atlantic City casinos voted in favor of UAW representation in 2007, in addition to workers at Casino Aztar in Evansville, Ind., and Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Conn.

On June 21 thousands of casino workers, UAW members, trade unionists, political and religious leaders, as well as community supporters marched in Atlantic City to support the UAW campaign for fair contracts.

The UAW is one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions with more than one million active and retired members, including more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.




Trump Plaza workers call for immediate negotiations following NLRB ruling


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Casino workers at Trump Plaza called today for immediate negotiations for a first labor agreement, following a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling which found the company has committed unfair labor practices by refusing to bargain.

"We won our election and we've won every hearing and every ruling before the National Labor Relations Board," said Vinnie Steele, a dealer at Trump Plaza. "It's disgraceful that Trump Plaza management thinks they can continue to ignore the law."

"Stalling by the casino won't work because we're going to stand up for our rights and win a first contract," said Mike Caplis, a Trump Plaza dealer. "If management at Trump won't follow our labor laws, how can we trust them to obey all the other laws that a casino is supposed to follow?"

Workers at Trump Plaza voted by an overwhelming 68 percent majority in favor of UAW representation in March 2007. In May 2008, after rejecting a number of company objections to the election, the NRLB certified the UAW as the union elected by a majority of Trump Casino workers.

Trump has refused to bargain, and on Aug. 29 the NLRB issued a new ruling ordering the company to bargain with the representatives elected by casino workers, and to stop "interfering, restraining or coercing" workers who exercise their rights to join a union and bargain collectively.

Trump Plaza will also be required to post a notice stating that it has violated federal labor law.

"The labor board has it right, and Trump is all wrong," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey. "Casino workers are going to win this fight because they have a strong majority in the workplace and strong support in the community."

"Trump Plaza's behavior is shameful, and its efforts to evade the law will not succeed," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs organizing for the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Department. "Casino workers won a clear and clean election victory -- and they're going to win fair treatment and a fair labor agreement."

Thousands of casino workers, UAW members, trade unionists, political leaders and community supporters marched in Atlantic City on June 21 in support of the UAW campaign for fair contracts.

Since March 2007 casino dealers, slot technicians, keno and simulcast workers have organized and won six union representation elections at four major Atlantic City casinos: Caesars, Trump Plaza, Bally's and Tropicana. Casino workers, who are members of UAW/AC Dealers, have also successfully lobbied for the first-ever comprehensive smoking ban in a casino community, and have joined with their co-workers to advocate for workers' rights on the casino floor.

The UAW, one of the nation's most diverse labor unions, represents more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.



UAW members at Mitsubishi Motors reject contract proposal


Ready to continue talks

Members of UAW Local 2488 in Normal, Ill., today voted unanimously to reject a contract offer from Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. The 1,250 UAW-represented Mitsubishi workers are to report to work as regularly scheduled while union negotiators remain ready to bargain.

"The membership and its leadership have come to these negotiations with the hope of helping the company grow its business in the Bloomington-Normal area and they remain committed to obtaining a contract that is fair and equitable for all the stakeholders involved," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

The previous contract between the union and the company expired Aug. 28. Negotiations began July 14 and both parties agreed to a Sept. 5 deadline extension. The company presented its latest offer to UAW negotiators at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 6.

"In 2006 UAW members made concessions worth millions of dollars to improve Mitsubishi's bottom line," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's Transnational Department. "So it's extremely disappointing that this latest proposal asks these loyal workers for the kind of drastic cuts that would have a devastating impact on their lives and on the communities in which they live."

"Throughout these negotiations the UAW bargaining team has worked tirelessly to address the needs of UAW members and the company," said UAW Region 4 Director Dennis Williams. "Our members will continue to build the high quality Mitsubishi vehicles they always have as further bargaining sessions are schedule."