Daily Archives: September 26, 2011

15 Colombian Labor Leaders Murdered Since April, 2011 U.S.-Columbia Labor Action Plan.

Fifteen union leaders have been murdered since the Labor Action Plan between the United States andColombia went into effect in April 2011, said the largest U.S-based trade union federation in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) urged Obama to not send the Colombia-U.S. free trade agreement to Congress for approval until the Colombian government addresses human rights violations against unionists in their country.

The Labor Action Plan is a requisite for the approval of the FTA, which forces the Colombian government to address violence against unionists. The plan has been a source of controversy as critics argue that it does not require results and actual improvement.

“Despite the Labor Action Plan that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos agreed to in April, violent suppression of workers, as well as land rights, indigenous, and Afro-Colombian activists continues unabated,” said AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka in the letter to Obama.

“Twenty-two union leaders have been killed so far this year in Colombia, including 15 since the Labor Action Plan went into effect. While the new government may have good intentions, unfortunately, on the ground, Colombian working families are neither safer nor more able to exercise basic rights. Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place in the world to be a union member,” Trumka explained.

In addition to the 22 union leaders murdered, all of which Trumka argues have gone unsolved, the AFL-CIO also pointed out that six Catholic priests have been murdered in Colombia in 2011.

The union president asserted that passing the FTA will “undercut our leverage to encourage Colombia to follow up its promises and intentions with effective actions.”

Both President Santos and President Obama have expressed confidence that the U.S.-Colombia FTA will pass by the end of 2011.


HR Challenge: Workers Complain About Amazon Wharehouse Jobs.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Elmer Goris spent a year working in Amazon.com‘s warehouse in Pennsylvania’s LeHigh Valley, where books, CDs and various other products are packed and shipped to customers who order from the world’s largest online retailer.

The 34-year-old Allentown resident, who has worked in warehouses for more than 10 years, said he quit in July because he was frustrated with the unbearable working conditions and mandatory overtime.

During the summer heat wave, he got lightheaded, he said, and his legs cramped, symptoms he never experienced in previous warehouse jobs. Goris said he also saw a co-worker pass out at the water fountain and paramedics bringing people out of the warehouse in wheelchairs and on stretchers.

“I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse,” Goris said.

His complaints are not unique, and you can read the rest by Spencer Soper at The Morning Call in The Seattle Times here.

More “Shovel Ready” Jobs Off To China.

Dear Mr. President.

As it turns out our “shovel ready jobs” were ready in China.  Perhaps we could focus a little less energy on whether or not Boeing can legally build the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina, and ensure that this $470 billion dollar jobs bill provides work for the American worker.

  • In New York there is a $400 million renovation project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.
  • In California, there is a $7.2 billion project to rebuild the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.
  • In Alaska, there is a proposal for a $190 million bridge project.
  • At the National Mall in Washington a thirty- foot statue, the centerpiece of a $120 million four-acre memorial to Dr. King, was constructed in China.

At the Alexander Hamilton Bridge in New York, China Construction America, a subsidiary of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation is running the project.  While U.S. workers are employed, the high-end jobs such as engineering and design is all Chinese….as is the profits.

In Alaska, we will spend tens of millions on foreign materials for the Tanana River Bridge and will build most of the bridge in China prior to final assembly in Alaska.

The law requires that major infrastructure projects have American companies receive preferential treatment under Buy America, but firms opt out when there is a major cost differential. In the Alaska decision makers maintain the cost differential favors the Chinese.

California flatly rejected federal funding for the Bay Bridge in order to go with a Chinese company that came in with the lowest bid. That cost us 3,000 jobs.   Seems California could use all the jobs it could get right about now.  I would say that America workers in New York and Alaska would have wanted those jobs as well.

Please ensure that the work associated with the redevelopment of our infrastructure is being performed by those people who are contributing the funding….the American Workers.

Thank you.

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