Friday, March 31, 2006

USA TODAY, March 31, 2006, Friday

Copyright 2006 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

March 31, 2006 Friday


HEADLINE: Delphi, UAW hit dangerous impasse over pay cuts;
Strike could be disastrous for auto-parts maker, GM

BYLINE: Sharon Silke Carty

DETROIT -- Auto-parts supplier Delphi and its largest union, the United Auto Workers, early today appeared to be stalemated over proposed pay cuts that Delphi says it needs to make itself competitive again and emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Delphi has said that if a settlement weren't negotiated by Thursday, it would file a motion today in bankruptcy court to void its labor contracts. That sets up a contentious battle with its unions, which have promised to strike. A strike could have ominous implications for ailing automaker General Motors, which relies on Delphi for parts. A work stoppage could shut down GM plants in 48 hours for lack of parts.
Paul Krell, a spokesman for the UAW, said talks are ongoing. But the union is already preparing for Delphi to go ahead with its filing. UAW Vice President Richard Shoemaker sent a note to local union leaders Wednesday saying he expects Delphi to make the filing at 9:30 a.m. ET today. A Delphi spokesman did not return a call for comment.
Earlier in the week, Delphi sent union leaders a proposal that would cut workers' salaries 39%. The unions flatly rejected it.
A strike is not necessarily imminent. A court hearing on the matter won't happen until early May, and the judge could give both sides more time to work out an agreement. "Bankruptcy courts do not like to impose harsh reductions in labor agreements," said Jay Waks, chair of the employment and labor group at law firm Kaye Scholer. "Huge changes imposed by the court never work well."
Anthony Sabino, a professor at St. John's University Peter J. Tobin College of Business, said Delphi and the unions are playing a perilous game that guarantees no winners if the unions strike.
"That's a very dangerous thing for everybody involved," Sabino said. "Unequivocally, it is in no one's best interest for there to be a strike. For Delphi, it means a complete loss of income. ... For the unions, there may not be a Delphi for them to come back to."
Still, the union is gearing up. It would take less than a week to complete a strike-authorization vote, which the UAW needs before it can exercise that option. The union has $880 million in its strike fund, which it would use to pay striking workers $200 a week, and to pay for their health care.
Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy said in a recent research note that a strike could have "a devastating impact" on GM, other makers and other suppliers. Delphi's big customers also include Ford Motor and DaimlerChrysler.
"GM, specifically, would bleed enormous amounts of cash," Murphy said, estimating that the first 60 days of a strike would cost GM up to $8 billion.
Disruptions could ruin GM's planned rollout of high-profit pickups and an array of other models this year that it hopes will make it profitable. GM lost $10.6 billion last year. A 1998 strike lasting 47 days cost GM $1.6 billion. "An equivalent strike today would be significantly more expensive," Murphy said.

WBEN Radio (Buffalo, N.Y), March 31, 2006, Friday

Delphi Likely To Ask Judge To Toss Out Unions
Friday, March 31, 2006 06:30 AM - The AP & WBEN

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - In a move that would send shudders through an ailing U.S. auto industry, Delphi Corp. was expected to ask a federal judge to cancel its union contracts today following months of trying to reach an agreement with General Motors Corp. and its unions to lower workers' wages. Delphi, the largest U.S. auto supplier, had set a deadline of Thursday to reach an agreement to lower wages for 34,000 U.S. hourly workers, including almost 4,000 of them at company's Thermal Systems plant in Lockport on Upper Mountain Road
The Detroit News says the Lockport plant is one that will be likely to survive plant closings, after workers eventually take wage cuts.
In a message on its Web site, the UAW said Delphi would file motions to void its contracts this morning. Delphi wouldn't comment on that posting, but others suggest it is the next step without any true sense of finality.
"Nothing wil happen except them asking to throw out the contract," Cornell labor professor Art Wheaton tells WBEN. "That doesn't meant they will throw out the contract, they're asking a judge to think about it and they can use the next 6 or 8 weeks to continue negotiating until the judge acts." .
Delphi spokesman Lindsey Williams said Delphi was still in talks with GM and it's unions and hadn't set a deadline for those talks to end.
Analyst George Magliano with Global Insights tells WBEN Friday's move is not an automatic strike trigger, even if it does enrage the rank and file.
"I don't think the union wants (a strike), I don't think the UAW wants it, and GM is willing to work with them both," Magliano says.
On three other occasions, Delphi has delayed filing motions to cancel its contracts to continue negotiating with GM and its unions. The company has the option of delaying again.
Delphi insists wage cuts are a necessary part of its restructuring. The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in October, says it was saddled with uncompetitive labor agreements when it spun off from GM in 1999. Delphi says it is now paying workers $75 an hour in wages and benefits.
But the UAW, which represents most of Delphi's hourly workers, reacted angrily this week to Delphi's latest proposal, which calls for lowering workers' wages from $27 an hour to $16.50 an hour in 2007. Local union leaders have said the UAW won't take the deal to its members for a required vote.
GM's cooperation in a settlement also is key, since Delphi would depend on GM, its former parent and largest customer, to supplement its wage offer and pay for one-time, $50,000 bonuses to union members. If GM doesn't agree to supplement workers' pay, there would be no bonuses, and wages would fall to $12.50 an hour, according to the UAW.
GM spokesman Jerry Dubrowski said there was no settlement as of Thursday afternoon, but he confirmed all three parties were still in negotiations.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Ithaca Journal (New York), March 29, 2006, Wednesday

The Ithaca Journal
March 29, 2006

Local colleges await word on funding increases

Educators and advocates are applauding state lawmakers' recent decisions on higher education funding, but local institutions are waiting to see what it all means for them.
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate agreed to spend $269 million more on higher education in the next fiscal year than Gov. George Pataki had proposed. Lawmakers also called for $700 million above what the governor included in his budget for capital improvements on state and city college campuses.
A breakdown of those projects has not been finalized and Pataki has yet to sign on to the deal, but there stands a good chance that Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College would each benefit, according to lawmakers and school officials.
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-125 Dist., said Tuesday that it appears that a $2 million request for a faculty wing at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations will make it onto the list of capital projects.“I hope we can get more. I'm pushing for more for Cornell,” Lifton said. She is also advocating for support for a dairy center, construction on Martha Van Rensselaer Hall and other projects, she said.
Officials at TC3 have asked the state for $2.4 million in aid for master plan construction, but college officials on Tuesday were unsure of whether their request would be included in lawmakers' capital package.
“I certainly hope it's going to be there,” Lifton said.
Based on separate state agreement for private institutions, Ithaca College could qualify for around $2.28 million in capital matching grants, college spokesman David Maley said.
Two building projects on IC's drawing board are an athletics and event center, and a new building for the School of Business, for which there will be a groundbreaking in the next few months. Fundraising for that project is ongoing.
“So those are two building projects that are the furthest along,” Maley said. “We'll consider again when this comes to fruition, what would work best for our needs and matches the eligibility requirements.”
At TC3, it's too soon to say how basic operating aid will affect tuition, said college spokesman Bruce Ryan. The State University of New York had asked for an additional $250 per student to bring the state's share of community college funding to about one-third, but Pataki proposed a $100 increase. The Assembly and Senate met them halfway, proposing $175, which would put total funding at $2,525 a student.
For TC3, that would bring in about $560,000 in additional state revenue, but that number is only an estimate because it depends on future enrollment figure, Ryan said. For now, TC3 officials are crafting a number of possible budget and tuition scenarios for 2006-07, he said.
“We're feeling good, that it's a good budget year,” Ryan said.
On Monday, state lawmakers rejected a proposed tuition hike at four-year SUNY and City University of New York campuses. Students at Cornell's four state-supported colleges would not see a change, though, because Cornell sets its tuition independently of the SUNY system, said Stephen Johnson, university vice president of government and community relations.
At the most, that proposal would alter some of Cornell's cash flow, Johnson said.
“It's nothing to crow about,” he said.
On Tuesday, lawmakers moved on to discuss two remaining big-ticket items, tax cuts and aid to local school districts. The start of the new fiscal year — and their deadline to pass a budget — is Saturday.
Gannett News Service and staff reporter Anne Ju contributed to this report.Contact:

PR Newswire US, March 28, 2006, Tuesday

Copyright 2006 PR Newswire Association LLC.
All Rights Reserved.
PR Newswire US

March 28, 2006 Tuesday 7:31 PM GMT

HEADLINE: Corporate Communication Leaders to Address The Conference Board in New York April 25-26


NEW YORK, March 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The Internet, mergers and acquisitions, and a highly competitive and growing business landscape have changed the structures of many businesses. How companies are facing these new realities will be examined at The Conference Board 2006 Leadership in Corporate Communication Conference. This meeting will be held April 25-26 at the Marriott East Side Hotel in New York.
The opening address, "Overcoming Communication Obstacles in the Marketplace," will be delivered by Doug Lennick, author of Moral Intelligence: Enhancing Business Performance and Leadership Success, and Managing Partner, Lennick Aberman Group.
An interactive panel discussion on "Increasing the Value and ROI of Communication" will feature: Judy Derango Wicks, Vice President, Corporate Communications, CheckFree Services Corporation; Chris Deri, Senior Vice President, Edelman Public Relations; Victor Han, Vice President, External Communications, Altria Corporate Services, Inc.; and Mark Nowlan, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, PR Newswire.
"Communicating Leadership in the C-Suite: New Challenges and Opportunities" will be examined by Mike Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Communications Officer, ConAgra Foods, Inc. and Jeff Baum, Vice President, Global Communications, EDS.
"Driving Organizational Change Through Research and Evaluation" will feature Diane M. Gayeski, Chief Executive Officer, Gayeski Analytics; Thomas P. Golden, Associate Director, Employment and Disability Institute, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University; and Angela Vargo, Measurement Guru, Southwest Airlines.
Concurrent sessions featuring executives of companies such as Bank of America and Xerox Corporation will include:
* Strategic Communication Planning: Embracing New Opportunities for
Improved Results.
* Crisis Communication and Management: Improving Your Responsiveness and
* Employee Communication Planning and Execution: Going Beyond the
* Corporate Reputation: Moving from Concept to Reality.
* Intranet Communication: Giving Employees What They Want and Need.
* Media Relations: Increasing Media Exposure and Reach.

Members of the press are invited to attend this meeting without charge, but must pre-register. To pre-register, please call (212) 339-0231, or email . A full copy of the program is available on The Conference Board's website - .
CONTACT: Frank Tortorici, +1-212-339-0231, for The Conference Board
Web site:
SOURCE The Conference Board

Herald News (Passaic County, NJ), March 27, 2006, Monday

Copyright 2006 North Jersey Media Group Inc.,
All Rights Reserved
Herald News (Passaic County, NJ)

March 27, 2006 Monday
All Editions


HEADLINE: Working poor, middle class falling faster into the gap

BYLINE: By ANDREA GURWITT, Herald News, North Jersey Media Group

Over the past two decades, New Jersey's poor have been getting richer. Unfortunately for them, they haven't been getting richer at the same breakneck speed as the state's rich have been getting richer.
Between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, the annual income of the bottom 20 percent of workers grew by 24 percent, from $16,397 to $20,391, according to the Association for Children of New Jersey and New Jersey Policy Perspective, a non-profit, nonpartisan research organization. Meanwhile, the yearly income of the top 20 percent of earners shot up nearly 79 percent, from $85,802 to $153,362.
The two organizations presented the state data they culled from a nationwide report on income disparity issued a couple months ago by the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, two Washington, D.C.-based think tanks.
The contrast grows even starker when comparing the bottom 20 percent to the top 5 percent of the state's residents, who earned nearly 132 percent, or $152,949, more than 20 years before, making their average annual income $268,889.
This gives New Jersey the dubious distinction of coming in first among states with the largest income gap between the top and bottom earners, according to the Washington, D.C. report, "Pulling Apart: A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends."
Yet the income leap for those at the bottom is still not enough to allow many working families to make ends meet. Last year, a Passaic family made up of two parents, a preschooler and a school-age child would need a combined income of $46,412 to meet basic needs without having to turn to public or private assistance, according to the Poverty Research Institute of the Legal Services of New Jersey. The same family living in Bergen County would need to earn $52,557.
And yet, in 2003, nearly 5 percent or 88,804 of the state's families with at least one working parent earned less than the federal poverty level, according to the Poverty Research Institute.
Those in the middle didn't fare so well, either, according to EPI's report. The state ranks 9th for the greatest increase in income inequality between the top and middle from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.
The report's authors used Census Bureau data for their calculations.
Nationwide, the income gap between the top and bottom 5 percent widened in 39 states in the past 20 years, the report said. In 38 states, the incomes of high earners grew faster than those of low-earners.
The report's authors attribute the growing wage disparity to long bouts of unemployment, globalization, the decline of manufacturing jobs, more low-wage service jobs, fewer and weaker unions and the fact that the minimum wage buys less now than it did 30 years ago.
To that list, said Lawrence Kahn, professor of labor economics and collective bargaining at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, add increased imports (which negate the need for manufacturing the same goods here) and computerization and mechanization (which replaces jobs).
"The middle is shrinking. Not drastically, but it's shrinking in that the jobs in the middle are a smaller share" of the job spectrum, Kahn said.
Now, two tiers of jobs are being created, according to Kahn. Low-wage retail jobs are blossoming, but so are high-tech, high-paying jobs. This polarizes the labor market, which then reinforces barriers to upward mobility.
"The bottom has been moving so far away from the middle that the American Dream is just moving out of reach for so many people," said Eileen Appelbaum, an economist and director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. "They're stuck in jobs that have no career ladders attached to them."
"We should want to live in a place where the differences aren't so great because, in the long run, the stability of a society depends on everybody having an opportunity and everyone having a slice of the pie," said Jon Shure, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective.
A growing chasm between the haves and the have-lesses "means that you start to look like a European country in the 19th century when paths of opportunity are simply closed off to some people," Shure said.
"I don't think this data matters at all," said Gregg Edwards, president of the Center for Policy Research in New Jersey, a free-market think tank in Hunterdon County. "What matters is everyone's income is growing, which the data showed."
The top 5 and 20 percent in the income bracket rely on investments and earnings, he said, which is why their incomes have increased at a higher rate than the bottom 5 and 20 percent. But when markets are bad, their incomes drop, Edwards said.
But when those at the bottom of the economic scale earn just a bit more, while those at the top earn a lot more, it has a "horrible effect on the fabric of American society," Appelbaum said. "We end up blaming people for things they can't help."
For example, Appelbaum said, those earning the least often have the fewest benefits no health insurance, no paid sick days, no paid personal days, few paid vacation days and no pension and the fewest options. Their old car breaks down, they can't get to work and the wind up getting fired; or their kids are not well-educated because they had to stay home frequently to take care of younger siblings because child care was unaffordable.
"Today you need a much more expensive bundle of goods than you did 20 years ago, just to stand still," Appelbaum said.
Reach Andrea Gurwitt at (973) 569-7159 or

Buffalo News (New York), March 26, 2006, Sunday

Copyright 2006 The Buffalo News
Buffalo News (New York)

March 26, 2006 Sunday


HEADLINE: Buyout plan puts GM on a path to shape up

BYLINE: By David Robinson

For decades, the U.S. auto industry was a pillar of the American economy.
These days, that pillar is crumbling, eroded by years of uninspiring cars and trucks, costly labor agreements and competition from more nimble -- and non-union -- competitors from overseas.
Never was that more apparent than last week, when General Motors Corp., buckling under more than $10 billion in losses last year, unveiled a plan to offer buyouts to all of its 113,000 unionized workers in the United States in a bid, possibly costing as much as $5 billion, to speed up its plan to slash its work force by 30 percent -- or more.
At the same time, bankrupt auto parts maker Delphi Corp. offered $35,000 buyouts to 13,000 of its 24,000 union members, while another 5,000 will get the chance to transfer back to GM, in an effort to pare its work force.
It was a rock-solid acknowledgment by GM that its days of dominating the U.S. auto industry are over and that it has to slim down in a hurry if it hopes to compete effectively against fast-rising challengers, like Toyota Motor Corp.
"The climate has changed dramatically," says Arthur Wheaton, an industry education specialist at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations in Buffalo. "As your market share declines, you spread your fixed costs out over fewer and fewer vehicles."
The buyouts are an acknowledgment that its plans to cut 30,000 jobs, largely through attrition, won't go fast enough, prompting the auto maker to offer incentives to nudge its workers out the door sooner.
For the United Auto Workers union, it showed that the labor group is willing to grant concessions to help GM and Delphi survive, even if it means a continuation of the long-term decline in its ranks. Ford Motor Co. also is offering buyouts as part of its push to slash 30,000 jobs by 2012.
What it means for the Buffalo Niagara region and the jobs at GM's Town of Tonawanda Engine Plant and at Delphi's Lockport factory isn't clear, but it likely will mean, at best, a continuation of the gradual decline in employment there.
"These are good-paying jobs that would be hard to replace," says John Slenker, the regional economist for the state Labor Department in Buffalo.
"Do they take a buyout and leave Western New York? In that case, it's a big hole," says George Palumbo, a Canisius College economist. "There are jobs in other parts of the country. Some people might say give me $70,000 and I'll go south and work for $20 an hour."
"Or do they take a buyout and start a new business? In that case, it's an investment in the community," he says.
On the bright side, the engine plant's high productivity would seem to bode well for it maintaining much of its 2,500-person work force. But there's much less certainty surrounding Delphi's Lockport plant, where the company seeks deep wage cuts and may ask a bankruptcy court judge to void its labor contracts on Friday.
Wheaton thinks Delphi will seek to overturn the contracts, even if the talks are progressing, just to increase its leverage over the UAW. The talks can continue for at least another month before the judge takes any action on the request.
"It just forces another deadline on the union," he says.
The stakes in those talks are still high. Voiding the contracts would almost certainly trigger a strike that could open the door for Delphi to hire cheaper replacement workers. Or it could push the company to move production outside the United States. A prolonged strike could cripple GM and force it to file for bankruptcy, under which GM could follow Delphi's model and use the court proceedings to pry its own wage concessions from the union.
"That's why a lot of people are saying to take the money and run," Wheaton says. "They don't know what will happen in the future."


Buffalo News (New York), March 26, 2006, Sunday

Copyright 2006 The Buffalo News
Buffalo News (New York)

March 26, 2006 Sunday


HEADLINE: Business calendar

The Business Calendar runs each Sunday in the Business section. Notices of meetings, seminars and workshops of interest to the area business community should be sent to the Business News Desk of The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240, by the preceding Thursday or faxed to 849-4587.

>Professional groups
The Pennsylvania New York Border Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, professional development meeting, 5:30 p.m., Marvin House, 2 W. Fifth St., Jamestown. Program: "The Human Resource Performance Scorecard," presented by Ken Moore, Ken Moore and Associates. Cost: $15 members; $20 nonmembers. Reservations, call Leah Porsley, 484-0590 or visit:
Business groups
Professional Partner Program, Williamsville/Amherst Chapter, business development meeting for health and wellness, business support and personal services professionals, 7:30-8:30 a.m., Cafe Aroma, 5229 Main St., Williamsville. Call Mike Elkan, 799-0371 or e-mail:
SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Co. will host an Nutrition Health Fair, 8-10:30 a.m.,Buffalo Customer Center, next to J.C. Penney, Walden Galleria, Cheektowaga.
The Greater South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, member networking meeting, 4-5 p.m., Chamber office, 2019 Seneca St. Information, call David Fildes or Elizabeth O'Brien, 824-9942.
The Transportation Club of Buffalo, annual dinner, 6 p.m., Samuel's Grande Manor, 8750 Main St., Williamsville. Program: Presentation of student scholarships and Member of the Year awards. Cost: $75 members; $65 retired members. Reservations, call 446-0502.
U.B. Toastmasters, 6 p.m., University at Buffalo North Campus, 250 Student Union, Amherst. Call Renee Brennan, 882-1041 or e-mail:
>Seminars and classes
Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations Labor Programs -- Buffalo, Women and Work -- Strategies for Leadership and Progress forum, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Temple Beth Zion, Rabbi Fink Auditorium, Room C, 805 Delaware Ave. Tickets, $20. Information, call 852-4191, ext. 104 or e-mail:

Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York), March 26, 2006, Sunday


Copyright 2006 Star-Gazette (Elmira, NY)
All Rights Reserved
Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York)

March 26, 2006 Sunday


HEADLINE: Obituaries

Monica Daly Age 77, of Seattle, WA, the wife of William T. Nailen, died Thursday, March 23, at her home surrounded by her family. Born in Elmira, NY, she was the daughter of Robert E. and Beatrice Macdonald Daly. She attended St. Patrick's School and was a 1946 graduate of the Elmira Free Academy. In the 1950s, she worked for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and for the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She was a former resident of Horseheads and Forest Hills, NY; Granada Hills, Northridge and Palo Alto, CA; and Trumbull, CT. She was a homemaker, a gardener, a weaver and a staunch opponent of the Bush administration. In addition to her husband of 51 years, she is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Michael C. Nailen and Tilman C. Smith of Seattle; three daughters and two sons-in-law, Laura A. Nailen of Bridgeport, CT, Margaret E. Nailen and Erik Feltstrom of Mountlake Terrace, WA, and Sara N. and Brett A. Matschke of Trumbull, CT; four grandchildren, Brady and Langston Nailen and Nailen and Peter Matschke; two sisters and a brother-in-law, Margaret Schornstheimer of Elmira, NY, and Mary and William Richards of Doylestown, PA; a brother and two sisters-in-law, Robert E. and Victoria Daly of Palmyra, NY, and Clara Daly of Horseheads, NY; many nieces and nephews; and a longtime dear friend, Barbara Mnookin of Prairie Village, KA. She was predeceased by a brother, Joseph Daly; and a sister, Loretta Daly Hughes.

Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York), March 25, 2006, Saturday

Copyright 2006 Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, NY)
All Rights Reserved
Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York)

March 25, 2006 Saturday 1 Edition


HEADLINE: Report awaited in student's death



The family of a Binghamton University student who died suddenly over spring break may establish a scholarship in his memory, BU officials said Friday.
Corey Mattison, 18, was found dead March 14 at his home in New Hartford, near Utica. The New Hartford Police Department, which investigated the case, said the death wasn't suspicious and is awaiting toxicology reports from the coroner's office, Sgt. Michael Inserra said.
Oneida County Coroner Mark Bentz didn't return phone calls seeking comment on the cause of Mattison's death.
BU had not received information about the cause of Mattison's death, said Ryan Yarosh, a spokesman for the university.
Rodger Summers, BU's vice president for student affairs, said he and other BU faculty attended Mattison's funeral and calling hours March 18. Mattison's family plans a memorial service on campus in May, Summers said.
Calls to the Mattisons' New Hartford home were not immediately returned.
"We were very shocked to hear of Corey Mattison's untimely passing," Summers said in a statement. "Corey's death is a tragic loss to our campus community, and I would urge his friends to visit the University's Counseling Center should they feel the need to talk."
Mattison had just learned he had been accepted into Cornell University and wanted to enter the university's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said Brad Hart, a junior at BU and a friend of Mattison's.
"He was a good kid," Hart said. "It's been really hard for everybody to have to deal with."
Hart, a transfer student, said he met Mattison during the first day of classes during the fall 2005 semester. The two lived in the same on-campus residence hall.
"He would always spend every moment of the day doing something productive," Hart said. "That's the biggest lesson I could ever learn from him."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 (Radio Free Buffalo) News Talk AM1270, March 25, 2006, Saturday

Western New York Media Network
Radio Free Buffalo, News Talk AM1270

March 25, 2006
Women & Work - The Einach Report Podcast - 03/25/06
Filed under: The Show — Christopher Byrd @ 9:36am

Ruth Meyerowitz who’s an Associate Professor in the Department of AmericanStudies and Director of Undergraduate Studies, UB. Susan Davis who’s aProfessor of Economics at Buffalo State College. And, Francine Moccio who’s Director of Cornell’s Labor Programs on Women and Work joined usfrom her location in NYC to discuss “Women and Work”.

USA TODAY, March 28, 2006, Tuesday

USA TODAY, March 28, 2006 (print ed., and on-line)

Carmakers craft big, creative buyout offers to shed workers
By Sharon Silke Carty, USA TODAY

SALINE, Mich. --For seven years, Wachauna Johnson has been making lemonade out of the crummy job market she faced after graduating from college in 1999.
Failing to find work using her public relations degree, she landed a job on the line at a plant owned by auto supplier Visteon, pulling down a steady salary, overtime, gold-plated health care benefits and the promise of a pension.
Now, she's walking away with a buyout package that many would envy: up to four years of college tuition — which Johnson will use to get a graduate degree in nursing — plus half her salary and all her health care benefits while she's in school and possibly a couple hundred dollars a year for books.
"With this program being offered to us, I can finally move on," says Johnson, who never intended to work on the line until retirement.
The buyout was offered by Automotive Components Holdings, a shell company responsible for selling off plants that Ford Motor took over as part of a restructuring agreement with Visteon. Ford owned Visteon until spinning it off in 2000.
It takes a lot of cash to persuade an autoworker to leave his or her job. The jobs, hard to come by in an industry that's shrinking, might be monotonous and hard on the body, but the workers who have them know they've got something special: benefits and job security unparalleled in the rest of the country.
Detroit's automakers and many of their suppliers are willing to throw cash at workers in an attempt to right themselves financially. The companies, facing falling sales and high labor costs, must be creative and generous in trimming their workforces because by contract, their union workers are ensured almost complete job security.
Last week, General Motors said it will offer all its United Auto Workers-represented laborers the chance to get a check and run. The payout ranges from $35,000 to retire with full benefits to $140,000 to sever all ties with the automaker, giving up health care and pension. (Your Money: Consider all factors before deciding to accept buyout)
Although the offer is available to 113,000 GM workers, the company knows everyone won't jump at the deal. The automaker has said it wants to trim 30,000 jobs by 2008, so it is likely expecting only one in three workers to take a buyout.
In Detroit, where generations of families have made solid, middle-class livings working on the line, autoworkers worry about what they're giving up when they agree to walk away from jobs. They earn about $57,000 on average for jobs requiring little more than a high school education and a clean criminal record. They get health benefits unmatched by any other industry, paying next to nothing for medical bills. Unionized workers get paid even if they're not working.
Like many autoworkers, Johnson, 32, is a second-generation line worker; both her parents are blue-collar workers for GM. When she couldn't find a job using her education, she knew the auto plant would be a safe fallback. Many of her co-workers, also children of autoworkers, felt the same way. "People generally see what kind of life you have growing up," Johnson says. "Even if you do get a college degree, you get in at the plant because you know at least you can provide a good life for your family."
But it's not just job security that will keep many autoworkers clinging to their jobs. Jay Waks, chair of law firm Kaye Scholer's employment and labor law practice, says years of tension between the union and the companies have bred a distrust that leaves many workers doubting how bad off the automakers really are.
"Take a reasonably intelligent worker who has been schooled in the idea that his employer is always out to take advantage of him, (and) he may not believe the company is really in jeopardy," Waks says. "He may think the company is trying to squeeze as much profit out of him as possible. ... There's a natural inclination not to take seriously a threat of financial need.
"When you add in all those factors ... you have a workforce that is reluctant to leave unless you dangle a lot of money in front of them to buy them out."
Pension worries remain
Beyond that, many workers eligible for early retirement have legitimate fears that even if they agree to leave the troubled companies, their sacrifice won't be enough for the companies to stave off bankruptcy, leaving a big, bleak question mark over the future of their pensions.
"I think we are deserving of every penny we can get out of them when it comes to our pension for what we had to endure for 30 years," says Doug Hanscom, a GM employee in Baltimore who has been drawing a paycheck since last May even though the company has no work for him.
As GM and Ford have lost market share in the USA to foreign competitors, they have found themselves in the middle of a massive consolidation. Last year, the auto industry announced it would eliminate 110,000 jobs, according to outplacement experts Challenger Gray & Christmas, and has shed 591,000 since 2000.
But to lose those workers and cut production capacity, the companies have been forced to sweeten the buyout pot, especially to get younger workers not eligible for early retirement to leave.
The innovative college tuition plan, unheard of by many industry watchers, is seen as a way to let workers control their destinies in an uncertain job market. But a promise of a college degree might not be enough to persuade them to take the plunge, especially in Michigan, where the unemployment rate was 6.2% in January, well above the national average of 4.7%.
"It's unclear if it's a route to a better job or to a more educated unemployment," says Harley Shaiken, a labor expert and professor at University of California, Berkeley.
Still, Shaiken says autoworkers should consider finding ways to retrain themselves with skills they can use in growing industries. "These are very grim times," he says. "We are in the midst of a major structural shift in manufacturing in general and the auto industry in particular. The number of good-paying, middle-class jobs that have been the bulk of manufacturing is likely going to be less in the future."
"The world is not the same as it used to be," says John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm. "Companies pay for skills in an era where brains are more important than brawn, and the forces of automation, globalization, deregulation and competition have changed what this kind of work is worth in the world."
Legacy felt
The domestic auto industry was growing and gaining strength in the years following World War II, when collectively bargained wages and benefits helped develop a burgeoning middle class. Now, the weight of those legacy costs for retirees is threatening the industry. Pension and health care costs are often cited as the largest drags on domestic auto companies' earnings.
The hefty buyout packages being offered in the auto industry are "the very last vestige of the social contract that was worked out with the very best companies in America and their workers," Challenger says. He says he hasn't heard of another company offering to pay college tuition as a buyout.
Severance packages in other industries pale in comparison with what the auto industry is offering workers to leave. Challenger says the average rank-and-file worker tends to get one week's pay for every year of service with a company, while middle managers and professional workers usually get one to two weeks. An autoworker with a $60,000 annual salary would be getting 81 weeks of severance if he or she took a $100,000 payout.
But the big buyouts can pay off for automakers. On average, active union members cost automakers $130,000 a year, whether they are working or not, according to the Center for Automotive Research. That cost drops to $50,000 a year when someone retires early or takes a buyout, and once that retiree is old enough to move onto Medicare and Social Security, the cost drops to $20,000 annually.
To persuade workers to take the educational buyout, Automotive Components Holdings held a college fair earlier this month to show them what kinds of schools they could attend if they take the offer.
The room was crowded with college and training school representatives, but few workers attended. At one plant where the package was offered earlier, only 12% of workers who took a buyout opted for the tuition plan.
Denise Hawkins, 50, who's been working on the line for 30 years, was collecting material from Eastern Michigan University. She might go back to school at some point, maybe when she retires, but not now. "I have a daughter in school, and I need to make sure I can help her out," Hawkins says.
Johnson, who is picking up some undergraduate classes at Wayne County Community College and will work toward her nursing degree at a local university, says there weren't many people attending the informational meeting explaining the tuition program, either. The mother of kids ages 5 and 2 says she chose her major because the need for nurses is growing.
Johnson says her husband is happy she's leaving the line. He has long wished she was doing a job that used her mind, she says.
"Some people are content to stay here the rest of their lives," Johnson says. "I'm not. I need more out of life."

WBEN Radio (Buffalo, N.Y), March 28, 2006, Tuesday

Delphi To UAW: Trade Wage Cuts For Cash
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
05:52 AM - WBEN Newsroom

Listen at--

Jeff Gilber, auto industry reporter
Exclusive WBEN Windows Media Audio Buffalo, NY (WBEN/AP) -
Paul Siejak, President of UAW local 686 is in Detroit Tuesday to review plans that could offer Lockport's Delphi Workers huge wage cuts, with some up-front payments to ease the way for workers.
The plan is being submitted to the United Auto Workers, as Delphi tries to avert massive layoffs and plant shutdowns while it works through bankruptcy with exisiting labor contracts.
The company employs 4,000 in Lockport, and is one of the region's largest employers.
The offer includes bonusses of $50,000 per worker, to be paid for by General Motors, according to Bloomberg.
If GM balks, wage cuts would be even steeper than the $10-an- hour proposal currently on the table as an opening gambit.
"I'd be amazed if they signed on to it at this time. I'd be amazed if the UAW said that's enough," says Art Wheaton, with Cornell's Buffalo outreach office of the NYS Industrial and Labor Relations school.
" I don't anticipate anyybody signing off on this current agreement, taking this tiered reduction to go down,"
Wheaton tells WBEN.
As part of it's bankruptcy discussions, Delphi has said it could ask the court to void all union contracts this coming Friday if a wage cut deal that can help the company stay afloat is not met.
" I think they will go ahead and Delphi will ask to throw out the current contract," Wheaton says."
And then betwen now and early May when they hear that motion, they will continue negotiating.
"Buffalo's Early News spoke with auto industry reporter Jeff Gilbert, with WWJ radio in Detroit--to hear that interview, click on the audio link above.

National Public Radio
Morning Edition, March 24, 2006 ·

How will General Motors and Delphi workers fare under a new agreement to offer them early retirement packages? The companies announced the plan, negotiated with the United Auto Workers union and covering 100,000 employees, earlier this week.

[Includes interview with Harry Katz, Dean of the ILR School]

Copyright 2006 National Public Radio (R)
All Rights Reserved
National Public Radio (NPR)

No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or part without prior written permissions. For further information, please contact NPR's Permissions Coordinator at (202) 513-2000.

SHOW: Morning Edition 1100-1200 PM

March 24, 2006 Friday

HEADLINE: Questions Surround GM Buyout Offer



And General Motors, plus its former subsidiary Delphi, have announced a deal to offer more than a hundred thousand of their U.S. autoworkers incentives to retire early or leave early.
NPR's Jack Speer reports there are a lot of questions involving the buyout.
JACK SPEER reporting:
Let's start with the fact that almost all sides agree the deal announced this week between GM, Delphi, and the United Autoworkers Union, represents an important milestone. However...
Mr. HARRY KATZ (Dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University): What happens in the long run to Delphi and GM and the UAW is still very much up in the air.
SPEER: Harry Katz is dean of the school of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell. He says the GM-initiated buyout program will help Delphi in the near-term.
The company has more breathing room in the sense that it can now further shrink its workforce. It doesn't solve the fundamental economic challenges facing the company.
SPEER: And the list of challenges facing Delphi is pretty daunting. Delphi is in bankruptcy, and if there's no deal with its unions on wage and benefit concessions, the CEO of the company, Steve Miller, has threatened to ask the court to void the current labor agreement. The UAW counters it will strike if that happens.
Sean McAlinden is chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research. He doesn't necessarily expect a walkout, though he says things could get ugly; especially for those who can't, or won't, take advantage of the incentive offers.
Mr. SEAN MCALINDEN (Chief Economist at the Center for Automotive Research): We really only saw a list of carrots, you know, the good things in the buyout. And really there's another side of the deal, and that's for the workers that stay behind at Delphi, you know, the 8,000 or so that weren't offered this deal, what wages and benefits will they be working at a few months from now?
SPEER: From Delphi's current level of wage and benefits of around $65 dollars an hour, Miller has said he needs to reduce that by as much as 60% if the company is to remain competitive. Though given GM's willingness to help Delphi, Miller may decide this is not the time to force the issue.
Again, Sean McAlinden.
Mr. MCALINDEN: GM's offering to basically retire or transfer 18,000 of its most expensive production workers. They've opened their checkbook to solve his competitive problems. They've also held off on his prices this year. There's no reason why Mr. Miller would try to cause any trouble.
SPEER: And why is GM being so generous? After all, Delphi is an independent company.
Because Delphi is still GM's number one parts supplier, and a strike at Delphi would be a disaster for GM.
George Magliano is an analyst at Global Insight.
Mr. GEORGE MAGLIANO (Director of Automotive Research, Global Insight): The possibility of the strike now at the end of the month is very low. I mean, this is going to go on here for a couple of years at least, and especially going towards the renegotiation of the union contracts next year. I mean, something else can happen, but it really diffuses a big bomb right now.
SPEER: By the time the UAW contract expires next year, it's expected both the automaker and its former parts subsidiary, Delphi, will have shrunk to a size more in line with their share of the auto market.
Jack Speer, NPR News

Buffalo News (New York), March 24, 2006, Friday

Copyright 2006 The Buffalo News
Buffalo News (New York)

March 24, 2006 Friday


HEADLINE: Incentives lessen Delphi strike threat;
Move could help firm cut costs, experts say


The retirement incentive plans offered Wednesday to eligible General Motors and Delphi workers have reduced the threat of a strike by the United Auto Workers at Delphi Corp., several industry observers said Thursday.
Although the buyout offers do not address the deep wage cuts Delphi is seeking from its workers, analysts say the plan is a sign of progress in the talks that could generate labor-cost savings for Delphi. If enough savings are attained, Delphi might ask for less-drastic wage cuts, they say.
"I don't think GM would make this big, sweeping agreement with the UAW with the feeling it could all fall apart," said George Magliano, an automotive industry researcher with Global Insight.
By encouraging enough high-wage Delphi workers to take buyouts or transfer to GM, Delphi might be able to propose a smaller wage cut to its workers, and ultimately avert a strike, observers say.
On Wednesday, General Motors, Delphi and the United Auto Workers announced plans designed to encourage tens of thousands of hourly workers at GM and Delphi to retire. Some older Delphi workers will be able to transfer to GM.
Delphi has said it needs a new labor agreement by March 30, or else it will ask a bankruptcy court judge the following day to throw out its labor contracts. Delphi reiterated that point after the buyout plans were announced. However, Delphi has twice delayed asking a judge to void its contracts.
UAW has threatened a strike at Delphi if its contract is thrown out. The threat hits home locally since Delphi has a Thermal and Interior division plant in Lockport with 3,800 workers, about 3,000 of them represented by the UAW.
Industry watchers say a strike would be crippling to GM's production of cars and trucks, since the automaker relies so heavily on Delphi as a supplier. GM employs about 2,500 people at its engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda.
Arthur Wheaton, an industry education specialist at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations in Buffalo, said he believes the buyout plans defuse a strike threat because "it shows the union and management are talking together productively."
"A lot of people would say that this is the easiest part of the negotiations," Wheaton said.
David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan, said he viewed the buyout plans as a sign of "huge progress" in the three-way talks aimed at reducing Delphi's costs.
"Nobody wants a strike," he said. "I think this sort of neutralizes the idea."
"This was a big step," Cole added. "They had to do this to make the other stuff possible."
William Ganley, a professor of economics and finance at Buffalo State College, said it remains to be seen how the buyout offers are received by UAW members at Delphi. "I think this takes some of the pressure off for a strike," he said.
The March 30 deadline has not gone away. Wheaton predicted that even if the talks progress but fail to reach a final agreement by that date, Delphi will file to void its union contracts March 31. For Delphi, that step would increase the company's leverage in the negotiations and give an added sense of urgency to the negotiations, Wheaton said.
Because the bankruptcy court would take more than a month to review the petition to void the contracts and hold a court hearing on the request, Wheaton said Delphi and the union could keep talking throughout April and into May to try to reach an agreement.
Delphi could not void the union contracts and unilaterally reduce wages without the approval of the bankruptcy court, and that likely would not occur until sometime in May, at the earliest, Wheaton said.
"It's a good sign, but I do not think it will stop their petition to eliminate the contracts," Wheaton said.
Not everyone agrees the possibility of a strike has been reduced. Gregg Shotwell of Soldiers of Solidarity, a dissident group of UAW members, said he believes the walkout threat remains despite the buyout plan "because it leaves so much unresolved."
Shotwell, a Delphi hourly employee in Michigan, calls the buyout plans a "buy-off," and said in an e-mail that the plans "promote an every man for himself response, rather than solidarity."
Some observers say the buyout and transfer offers presented to Delphi workers could reduce Delphi's labor costs and influence the amount of wage reductions the company seeks. Still unknown is how many Delphi workers will accept the buyouts or offers to transfer to GM.
GM has presented buyout offers to 110,000 of its hourly workers. The automaker might end up needing to hire workers at some plants to fill vacancies, said David Healy of Burnham Securities.
That could benefit Delphi, since GM might fill slots with high-cost Delphi workers who transfer, and clear out Delphi's "jobs bank," where workers are assigned with nearly full pay after an extended layoff.
Buyouts of Delphi workers would also help improve Delphi's long-range finances, Healy said. "The direct buyout of Delphi workers means Delphi will have a lot less $65-an-hour employees to ruin their profit-loss statements," he said.
That would ease some of Delphi's employment costs, he said. And if Delphi needs employees to fill vacancies, it could hire them at a cheaper rate than the UAW previously agreed to for new hires, Healy said.
News staff reporter David Robinson contributed to this report.

The New York Sun, March 24, 2006, Friday

Copyright 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC
All Rights Reserved
The New York Sun

March 24, 2006 Friday


HEADLINE: MTA Wins Victory Over the Union In Its Bid for Binding Arbitration

BYLINE: By BRADLEY HOPE, Special to the Sun

In a victory for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a state board ruled yesterday that its contract dispute with Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union must be settled by binding arbitration.
The Public Employee Relations Board's 11-page decision said the two sides had shown they were nowhere near being on the same page more than two months after a preliminary contract agreement was voted down by the union's membership by a margin of seven votes.
"The bargaining history of the parties, the relationship between the parties, the number and nature of the issues in dispute, the number of negotiation or mediation sessions the parties have participated in, and the number and nature of terms on which they cur rently agree, all suggest that these parties, at this particular point in time, cannot successfully negotiate a new agreement," the board's chairman, Michael Cuevas, and another member, John Mitchell, wrote in their ruling.
The board also said the union's recent announcement that it will conduct a second vote on the contract proposal was not grounds to stop the arbitration process, though it did say the union could go ahead with the revote and see if the MTA would accept it.
"There is nothing preventing the parties from proceeding on parallel tracks," the board wrote in the decision.
The MTA in the last two weeks has been adamant in saying that the old contract deal was taken off the table when the union membership voted it down in January.
The TWU's executive board argued that the MTA had never officially rescinded the contract, which was hammered out by mediators in the form of a "Memorandum of Understanding" at the end of the three-day strike in December that crippled the city. The union last Thursday voted to send back the contract to the members for a second vote, which should be completed before the executive board's next meeting in mid-April.
The board followed the recommendation of a top state mediator, Richard Curreri, who after a failed final attempt at mediation on March 14 said he thought arbitration was the only way for the two sides to reach a contract. Mr. Curreri also said a better scenario would be for the two sides to work out a deal themselves.
The board said in the decision that 70% of impasses between employers and employees are solved by mediation. Their decision reflects their analysis that a voluntary agreement between the MTA and TWU is not probable, but it doesn't rule out a future agreement being reached without input by the arbitration panel.
The union was quick to say it would go ahead with the revote despite yesterday's decision.
"Today's PERB ruling serves neither transit workers nor the riding public," the union's president, Roger Toussaint, said in a statement."Even PERB's own mediator agrees that binding arbitration is the wrong way to settle this dispute. We will continue with our plans to resubmit this contract to our members. It is far past time to put this trying time behind New Yorkers, it is too bad the MTA disagrees."
A spokesman for the MTA,Tom Kelly, said the decision "speaks for itself." He refused to comment about the prospect of a revote.
New Yorkers shouldn't breathe a sigh of relief just yet - a contract could be many months away, according to a professor of public labor law at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Lee Adler.
Each side now has about two weeks to pick a member for the public arbitration panel that will write the binding contract. If they can't mutually agree on a third member, the Public Employee Relations Board will put forward a list of names that will be winnowed down by the two sides. The last one on the list becomes the third member.Then begins the lengthy process of analyzing each proposal for a contract.

A recent binding arbitration case for the Policeman Benevolent Association lasted more than seven months, Mr. Adler said.
"It would not surprise me, especially given the challenges, that we're not going to have any resolution until the late fall or later," he said.
The board acknowledged the possible delay in the decision, but added that the end result is a guaranteed binding contract.
Another possible point of contention is what issues the arbitration board is allowed to consider. For example, the board may not accept the content of the side agreement to the contract in December that pledged about $130 million in pension money to 20,000 of the 33,700 transit workers, Mr. Adler said.
The preliminary contract agreement reached in December after the illegal strike included wage increases of 3%, 4%, and 3.5% over the next three years. The MTA dropped its demand that the retirement age be pushed to 62 from 55, but the union conceded to pay a percentage of health care premiums, which is unprecedented among the city's publicsector unions.
Under binding arbitration, the contract will again be started from scratch.

Newsday (New York) (Nassau and Suffolk Edition), March 24, 2006, Friday

Copyright 2006 Newsday, Inc.
Newsday (New York)

March 24, 2006 Friday


HEADLINE: Transit workers are fighting for us all;
Union struggle is about the top issues for most Americans: health insurance and a secure future

BYLINE: BY GENE CARROLL. Gene Carroll is the director of the Union Leadership Program at Cornell University, New York State School of Industrial & Labor Relations, in New York City.

Back in December, when those 34,000 pesky bus and subway workers who belong to Transport Workers Union Local 100 in New York City walked off the job, the news media and local government traffic managers from Riverhead to Richmond Hill did their level best to help minimize the hassle.
Another illegal strike is unlikely this year - although the union and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are having trouble getting together on an agreement - but if it comes to that, we'll all be given plenty of notice about how our commute will be affected.
I like people doing their jobs. In December, it was the news media keeping us informed with newspaper headlines and top-of-the-hour stories on the radio and the Web as the traffic impresarios struggled to keep the cars dancing on the Long Island Expressway from stepping on each others' toes.
But I've been thinking, too, about the job the union of transit workers has been doing. Not the good work the members of the union as MTA employees do each day, safely moving millions to work and school and home again on the country's largest public transport system. I'm talking about the job of being a union. Although Local 100 has its problems - it rejected the MTA's contract offer in January by only seven votes and remains troubled by factionalism - I see the transit workers carrying out the historic mission of a labor union. Looking closer, I see them acting as a countervailing power in the struggle for economic and social justice - not just to protect the interests of their dues-paying members but to sound the alarm that the general interest of the vast majority of all New Yorkers, and the vast majority of Americans, is at stake.
The health insurance you and I count on to protect our family is at risk as never before. Costs are skyrocketing and working families, businesses and local governments are feeling the pinch. Fewer employers are offering health insurance. About one-third of personal bankruptcy, now at record levels, results from medical bills that can't be paid, even for people with health insurance. And never before have pension plans in the private sector been in such dire shape. Businesses are switching to 401(k) plans to shed costs - and a social responsibility they traditionally shouldered. The result is less security for average workers.
Although the public-sector retirement system in New York remains relatively stable, it will not remain immune from attack by those who want to expand a "you own your own" health and retirement system - a system designed to fatten the coffers of insurance companies, investors and banks.
The struggle of the transit workers is really about the most important domestic issue facing American society: how to maintain jobs that provide a wage to live on and raise a family, and how to provide a decent and secure health insurance and retirement plan. Why would nearly 34,000 workers conduct an illegal strike knowing full well the severe legal and financial penalties that can be imposed on each worker?
There are a number of ways to answer this question. In Harlem, there's a 50 percent unemployment rate among black males. A large number of transit workers are black men, and they know, as most transit workers do, that their union is all that stands between them and sinking to the poverty level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members have about a 30 percent wage advantage over nonunion workers. Transit workers generally, whatever their gender or skin color, live paycheck to paycheck. They're not rich, but they know their union job is the best anti-poverty plan.
In America, there seems to be an ethos that any exercise of working-class power is a corruption of the natural order, as if fighting to protect social values such as fairness, equality, safety and security is less important than the dog-eat-dog values of the marketplace. Transit workers have taken significant risks because they do not accept the notion that working people in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world should just surrender to the increasing anxiety we all feel about health care and retirement security.
Their union also plays a strong role fighting for a national health plan for all Americans, consciously connecting their particular fight to preserve what is human and sacred in their lives to the same things we all care about and need: our families, our health, a secure future.
Unlike all too many of us, they join and fight as an independent social force made up of members who are aware, informed, militant and motivated. They're doing their job.
Ever hear of the American dream? Well, it just doesn't fall from the sky. As the old labor song says, "You've got to work for it, fight for it, day and night for it, and every generation's got to win it again."


Wednesday, March 22, 2006 (Alabama), March 20, 2006, Monday

The Ivy League Goes Online
Content provided by
by Paul D. Rosevear

With online learning becoming an increasingly integral method for how schools deliver education to its students (many of whom earn entire degrees without ever stepping foot into a classroom), will it eventually be possible to earn an Ivy League degree without ever gracing the hallowed halls?

Considered to be the most prestigious learning institutions the country has to offer - with long standing history and traditions- it's easy to see why there is plenty of resistance among the Ivy League community when it comes to a comparatively new learning model. "It's always been controversial," explains Drimmer, who has advised schools like Cornell and Stanford on eLearning. "Most of the schools I've been associated with have a small group of enthusiasts, and a lot of skepticism. Not to mention these schools have very powerful alumni. How would a Harvard alum' feel sitting next to somebody who is getting the same degree [from behind a computer]. They are fearful of cheapening the degree."

However, despite the healthy dose of skepticism from traditionalist scholars, there are plenty of signs that online learning is slowly becoming integrated into the educational elite, specifically through executive and professional education offerings. "You'll always have people who are excited by [online learning] and people who are cautious," explains Ann Armstrong, executive director of Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation at Teachers College, a school within Columbia University. "The biggest concern surrounds being able to deliver the quality we are known for traditionally in the classroom over the Web." Teachers College started off by offering a few online courses, and now offers three online certificates that are New York-state approved. Columbia's Teacher's College is also in the process of creating its first fully online master's degree.

Armstrong says her interest in spearheading online learning initiatives comes from a somewhat personal perspective. "Having been a student at Columbia, I can say that I've experienced both on-campus and online coursework," she says. "If I had to pick the top five courses of my entire experience, two of them were online. I know that with the right instructor and set-up, learning online can be just as fulfilling, if not more so."

Though skepticism may abound among some academes and long-time professors, it seems like today's student voices are loud, clear, and technologically-savvy. "Since 2001 we've interacted with more than 8,000 students, delivered 24,000 unique courses, and serviced learners from 132 countries," says Chris Proulx, president and CEO of eCornell, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cornell University. Though at the moment, the school does not provide coursework for credit, its training programs interact with Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, School of Hotel Administration, and Johnson Graduate School of Management. "Our focus is on professional and executive education. We service individuals who are interested in career advancement certificates - we train the Fortune 1000."

With that many students, though, and a reach that is essentially global, traditionalists may wonder if greater accessibility waters down Cornell's prestigious name. "A lot of organizations that train their employees through our coursework really value the ability to integrate a Cornell executive education experience into their training initiative," says Proulx. "They get a high level of service from us, just like they have come to expect from an Ivy League university. And just because there is a greater reach, doesn't mean your admission standards change. You're looking for a certain quality of student who is going to interact in your program."

Likewise, the Harvard University Extension School offers 75 online courses available for undergraduate or graduate credit by offering videotaped lectures online, along with other course materials. While there are currently no fully online degree programs offered at Harvard, at the school's 2005 commencement, President Lawrence Summers emphasized the importance of embracing the marriage of education and technology. "Information technology offers the potential to multiply manifold the number of students and scholars with access to Harvard's unique intellectual resources," he said, encouraging the schools to "think creatively and boldly about how they can extend the reach of their excellence through technology in the years ahead."

Only time will tell what the future relationship between online learning and the Ivies will entail, but according to Len Evenchik, director of distance learning at Harvard Extension School, continued growth is inevitable. "I see online learning growing steadily at Ivy League institutions over the next decade."

The Miami Herald (Florida), March 22, 2006, Wednesday

Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 22, 2006
Nova enters janitor pay controversy

The UM janitors' dispute spreads as Unicco employees who clean Nova Southeastern University say they deserve a raise just like UM workers received last week.


The University of Miami may not have intended that setting a new wage policy for its contract workers, including striking Unicco Service Co. janitors, would spark debate at other workplaces about what those janitors should be paid.
But as soon as the decision was announced last week, calls from janitors all over South Florida started coming into the Service Employees International Union's Local 11 office, union organizers say.
Now workers at Nova Southeastern University, who are also employed by the contractor Unicco, say they also deserve a raise. They plan to take their case to the Fort Lauderdale-based school's administration this week.
UM has maintained it was a neutral party in the dispute between the workers and Unicco over wages, benefits and the right to form a union. Workers began a partial strike three weeks ago, and it is ongoing. But President Donna Shalala said Thursday the school was neutral only about the union's organizing efforts, and she announced pay increases of at least 25 percent for contract workers including food service, janitorial and landscaping employees. Workers who started at minimum wage, $6.40 an hour, will now make at least $8, and in some cases, as much as $9.30. Affordable healthcare will also be available, she said.
''Even before the university changed its position, workers were starting to realize this could happen,'' said SEIU spokesman Renee Asher.
Plantation United Methodist's Rev. Tim Smiley said the fact UM became such a proactive player in the labor dispute was very important.
''I certainly hope the administration at Nova Southeastern would choose to be proactive in the same way,'' said Smiley. Nova workers have been meeting at his church to discuss what to do, he said. ''What I want to do is support the workers in having a voice,'' he added.
Unicco employs 260 workers at Nova. The company's other contracts in South Florida are at Dadeland Mall and Shops at Sunset Place, spokesman Doug Bailey said, as well as Miami International Airport. MIA workers are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Bailey said that wages are determined by individual contracts with Unicco's clients.
''We're not going to raise our wages willy-nilly unless other contractors also do so,'' he said. ``If our clients want to amend the contract, that's a different story.''
Florida International University does not use Unicco, but has three other contractors who employ about 133 janitors at the university, according to spokesman Jose Parra, who said he believed those workers did not have health insurance. FIU also has 15 janitors who are considered state employees.
Asher said that the union organizing staff have fanned out to Nova and FIU over the past few weeks, in the beginning stages of an SEIU Justice for Janitors campaign.
The union's signature Justice for Janitors campaigns have brought thousands of cleaning workers into the labor movement through wide-scale organizing efforts. Late last year in Houston, the union was able to bring in about 5,000 workers from several companies all at once.
''Do you organize overnight? No,'' Asher said. ``How does this get done? Probably something like Houston.''
Cornell University professor Richard Hurd said this follows the pattern unions take when organizing on college campuses: generate publicity and put pressure on major institutions, in hopes that others will soon follow.
But it's one thing to be successful at UM and another to translate that to Nova and to private companies, he said.
Major universities, especially one headed by Shalala, former secretary of Health and Human Services, are more likely to be sensitive to public pressure, he said.
''They've picked the university with leadership sensitive to these values,'' said Hurd, an industrial relations and labor professor. ``The question is, can that be translated into Nova Southeastern? That would be interesting to see.''

The Weekly Standard, March 27, 2006, Monday

Copyright 2006 The Weekly Standard
The Weekly Standard

March 27, 2006 Monday


HEADLINE: Union Dues and Don'ts;
Financial disclosure is a wonderful thing.

BYLINE: Joseph Lindsley, The Weekly Standard

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, the Department of Labor is seriously enforcing its financial reporting requirements of unions and disclosing the results online. As a result, union members--and the public at large--now have the means to examine union finances in extraordinary detail and to learn about the outside activities and potential conflicts of interest of union officials. The purpose of this newfound transparency is to promote fiscal integrity and union democracy.
Previously, the department's record of enforcing its reporting requirements was dismal. As recently as 2002, 43 percent of unions were either tardy in submitting their LM-2 forms or never turned them in at all, even though some sort of reporting had been required since 1959. By contrast, the IRS nonfiling rate was a mere 1.5 percent, and after the Federal Elections Commission introduced civil financial penalties for noncompliance (also in 2002), compliance improved from 82 percent to 85 percent.
Labor long suffered from what a senior department official called a "classic big government problem": Union financial disclosure involved a good deal of paperwork, most of it providing information so vague it was useless--which left little incentive to go after nonfilers. In an effort to encourage greater union transparency, Congress during the Clinton administration mandated that the completed LM-2 forms be available online. It was left to George W. Bush's secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, however, to actually enforce this--and to require more detail into the bargain. The new, more elaborate reports are now available and searchable online as soon as a union files electronically.
Some might ask why government should require this level of transparency of labor unions, the champions of America's working men and women. In response, Chao's department sees itself as the labor equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although a number of unions have, after some hesitation about privacy concerns, welcomed the increased scrutiny, the "absolutists," as a Labor Department official terms them, have cried foul. When Labor announced the new requirements in 2003, the AFL-CIO, in a 218-page document, projected that compliance could cost its affiliated national and local unions an average of $1,239,482 for international and national unions and $217,509 for local unions. In reality, according to its own LM-2, the AFL-CIO's national headquarters spent just $54,150 in 2005 on software needed to compile the necessary data--though it spent another $121,367 litigating against having to do so.
A few days spent perusing the spreadsheets of the 20 percent of unions that have already submitted their LM-2s for fiscal year 2005 showed that many unions have reported their affairs in detail--down to the $97,888 made by the enterprising Retiree Chapter Local 455 of the UAW in bingo income. Other numbers may raise eyebrows. Gerald B. Ellis, for example, made $116,703 in 2004 as a business manager at Local 627 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, a member of the AFL-CIO. Local 627 also buys $86,400 worth of legal services from the one-man law firm Gerald B. Ellis, Inc., nicely padding its business manager's income.
And how about the lavish destination meetings enjoyed by the AFL-CIO's executive council: As the private watchdog organization the Center for Union Facts reported recently after it followed the super-union's executive council to its retreat in California, the 46 members of the council stayed at the pricey Hotel del Coronado (check the Labor Department's website next year for dollar amounts) at a time when the Carpenters' Union was picketing that very hotel--hypocrisy one might expect of a politician (say, Nancy Pelosi, who won't allow workers at her Napa Valley hotel to unionize), but surely not of labor bosses, right?
Or consider Linda Chavez-Thompson, an AFL-CIO executive who also serves as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In explaining potential conflicts of interest on union disclosure reports, she writes, "I eat very little at the various receptions, events and meetings I attend, certainly far less than $25 worth of food or drink at any particular event." She further explains that the DNC spent "no more than" $10,000 on her attendance at events such as the DNC Hispanic Caucus--while noting further that the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education's voluntary fund donates $15,000 to the DNC.
The National Education Association, which refused an interview request "at this time," has its share of fun as well. The teachers' union disclosure report states that $59,646 was spent at a Charlotte, N.C., store called Morris Costumes. (This sum was divided between two categories: "overhead" and "union administration.") NEA leaders do more than party; they also campaign for politicians. They report $24 million spent on political activities in 2005.
Naturally, much of this political money goes to Democrats. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gives 99 percent of its $8,527,370 in political funds to Democrats. Surely the union has some Republican and Independent union members, which may be why the Service Employees International Union and several other major unions have broken away from the AFL-CIO to form the Change to Win coalition. Some speculate that this coalition might become more popular if members are privy to their unions' detailed records.
Now they can peruse the Labor Department's website and learn, for instance, that the AFL-CIO gave $55,000 to the peacenik group Pax Christi; $152,250 to the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, which takes positions on policy issues ranging from Iraq to judicial nominations; $150,000 to the liberal Economic Policy Institute for "general support for economic research"; $113,400 to Pride at Work, an advocacy group "for LGBT workers and families"; and $360,466 for the printing of John Kerry fliers. The AFL-CIO is involved in education as well: It awarded $120,000 to Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations and $6,703,927 to its own George Meaney Center for Labor Studies, a degree-awarding institution in suburban Washington.
Unofficially assisting in the Labor Department's effort is the Center for Union Facts's user-friendly, chart-filled website, which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about union corruption. Visitors to the site can learn about the 322 racketeering indictments against organized labor in 2005; the 13,815 discrimination complaints filed since 2000; and the 65 percent of the "decertification" elections held in 2004 in which employees dissociated their workplace from a union.
Opponents of the new efforts at opening the hallowed halls of organized labor to scrutiny say it is unfair to go after labor union excesses when many corporations overpay their top executives and enjoy lavish expense accounts. Be that as it may, the new requirements are designed, as the senior Labor Department official said, "to empower union members themselves and to hold their officers accountable. . . . Increased transparency will make union members more informed consumers." It's the American way. As James Madison wrote, "If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." The new external controls on unions are intended to protect them from men who are not angels.
Joseph Lindsley is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

PR Newswire US, March 20, 2006, Monday

Copyright 2006 PR Newswire Association LLC.
All Rights Reserved.
PR Newswire US

March 20, 2006 Monday 8:00 PM GMT

HEADLINE: HR Leaders to Address The Conference Board Senior Human Resources Executive Conference April 6-7 in New York


NEW YORK, March 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Human resources management amid global competition and the increase of knowledge workers will be addressed at The Conference Board 2006 Senior Human Resources Executive Conference: Strategic Workforce Management and Growth -- Aligning People, HR and Business Strategy. This meeting will be held April 6-7 at The Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York.
This meeting is sponsored by Towers Perrin HR Services and is presented with assistance from EDS Excellerate HRO.
The April 6 Keynote Address, "The Critical HR Function: Leadership Development, Succession Planning and Talent Management," will be delivered by Rose Patten, Senior Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Office of Strategic Management, BMO Financial Group.
The April 7 Keynote Address, "Aligning HR with Business Strategy in a Dynamic Corporation," will be delivered by Sue Oliver, Senior Vice President, People, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
The opening session, "The High Performance Organization," will feature Kevin Cox, Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Quality, American Express Company, and Don Lowman, Managing Director, Towers Perrin.
An executive roundtable on "The HR Challenge" will be moderated by Samuel B. Bacharach, McKelvey-Grant Professor, Director, Institute for Workplace Studies, Cornell ILR. Also participating: Steve Kerr, Managing Director, Chief Learning Officer, Goldman Sachs & Co.; Richard D. Sibbernsen, Vice President, Human Resources, BellSouth Corporation; Jeffrey Chambers, Vice President, Human Resources, SAS Institute.
"Managing a Global Workforce: What It Will Take" will be addressed by Julie Gebauer, Managing Director, Towers Perrin.
"HR and Business Strategy Alignment: Insights on Recruiting" will be examined by Patricia Bradford, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources, Unisys Corporation.
"Recruiting and Retention: Strategies and Insights for Today's Workforce" will feature Jack MacPhail, Managing Director -- Americas, Leadership Development Solutions, Korn/Ferry International.
"Achieving Strategic Integrated Outsourcing" will be addressed by Kathryn Kelly, Vice President of Strategy and Growth, Excellerate HRO.
"How HR Delivers Value: Shaping Our Future" will include Max Caldwell, Practice Leader, Towers Perrin, and Kevin Marvel, Director E-HR, ITT Industries.
The closing session, "2020 Vision: Preparing for the Next Decade," will be moderated by Scott A. Snell, Professor of Human Resource Studies and Director of Executive Education, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University. It will feature Kate DeCamp, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Cisco Systems, Inc, and Randy Ross, Vice President, Talent Systems, Best Buy Co., Inc.
Concurrent sessions featuring executives of Towers Perrin, Excellerate HRO, Korn/Ferry International, Goldman Sachs & Co., BellSouth Corporation, and Best Buy Co., Inc. will include:
* C-Level Suites: Board Relations, Corporate Governance and Executive
* Managing Talent During a Merger or Acquisition
* Achieving Maximum Benefits from Outsourcing
* Leadership Development
* Strategic Workforce Management
* Managing Benefits as a Business
* Recruiting and Retention
* Succession Planning

Members of the press are invited to attend this meeting without charge, but must pre-register. To pre-register, please call (212) 339-0231, or email . A full copy of the program is available on The Conference Board's website -- .
CONTACT: Frank Tortorici of The Conference Board, +1-212-339-0231
Web site:
SOURCE The Conference Board

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Ithaca Journal (New York), March 13, 2006, Monday

The Ithaca Journal, March 13, 2006, Monday

Shaw Law Firm welcomes Cornell graduate Colosi

Shaw Law Firm recently hired Christopher B. Colosi as an associate attorney.
Colosi graduated from Syracuse University, College of Law in 2005 and was the 2004-2005 recipient of the Alfred Wohl Scholarship. He earned his bachelor of science degree at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in 1993.

Colosi's previous work experience was in the field of alternative dispute resolution, negotiation and conflict resolution with an emphasis on labor and employment relations in the Washington, D.C. area and New York. His new role as associate, in addition to these areas, will involve many areas of law, including not-for-profit organizations, civil litigation, fraternal and Greek services, real estate, creditor's rights and estate matters. Shaw Law Firm also announces that Kimberly M. Fezza has been promoted to senior paralegal and director of Greek Life Services. Fezza has been with the firm for five years as a criminal and real estate paralegal and assistant to the Greek Life Division. She works closely with the communities of Cornell, Syracuse and Colgate universities on a variety of topics, including corporate structure and revisions, contract negotiations, historic preservation, liability audits, criminal defense/judicial administration, real property assessment and university relations. Fezza holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and economics.

New York Teacher State Edition, March 2, 2006, Thursday

New York Teacher State Edition
March 2, 2006, Thursday

Briefs: A Cingular company
March 2, 2006
In an age of corporate union-busting, Cingular Wireless is a maverick: It has relatively warm relations with unions, The New York Times reports.
While its competitors have argued that an organized labor force would hobble their ability to cut costs and make changes to compete in a high-tech industry, Cingular, with a nearly fully unionized labor force, has grown into the nation's largest wireless carrier.
"The fact Cingular does well even in the face of unionization helps rebut the argument that unions aren't viable in a technologically sophisticated and dynamic industry," said Harry C. Katz, dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.
The union partnership "provides us a competitive advantage," said Lew Walker, a Cingular vice president.
About 225,000 people, including managers, work in the wireless industry; about 39,000 of them belong to a union — nearly all of them at Cingular.
Union organizing hotel workers
If you're staying at a Hilton hotel this year, brace yourself for noisy demonstrations out front.
UNITE HERE, representing hotel workers, kicked off a national campaign in February aimed at signing up tens of thousands of employees of Hilton Hotels Corp. and Starwood Hotel & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which owns the Sheraton, Westin and four other chains, reported Business Week online.
Union leaders have lined up some big names to publicize the cause, including actor Danny Glover, the son of two union activists, and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, whose father worked in a mill.
"We're challenging our industry to make service jobs middle class," says John W. Wilhelm, president of UNITE HERE's hospitality division.
SEIU targets janitors
The Service Employees International Union hopes to organize 15,000 janitors nationwide in 2006, and the University of Miami has become an early battleground, The Washington Times reports. Union leaders are counting on support from students and community leaders to organize about 480 campus janitors and gain a foothold with the estimated 20,000 janitors in the metro area.
The Miami campaign follows the union's November victory in Houston , where 5,300 janitors agreed to join SEIU.
Character ed conference
A regional conference on character education is scheduled for March 17-18 on the Troy campus of Sage Colleges.
It is titled "Promising practices: Making a difference for building character, academic excellence fulfilling lives." For details, see, or call (518) 244-2336.

The Miami Herald (Florida), March 14, 2006, Tuesday

Copyright 2006 The Miami Herald
The Miami Herald (Florida)

Distributed by Knight/Ridder Tribune News Service

March 14, 2006 Tuesday


HEADLINE: UM strike lands at MIA: UM workers take their strike to Miami International Airport today as their labor dispute enters its third week. At the heart of the issue is a fight over

BYLINE: Niala Boodhoo, The Miami Herald

Mar. 14--University of Miami janitors plan to expand their strike to Miami International Airport today, after plans for a meeting between the groups involved in the labor dispute broke down.
The contract workers are to set up a picket line at the airport this morning, where other janitors also employed by Unicco Service Co. are expected to show solidarity with university workers and not cross the line.
As the strike enters its third week, all sides appear to be digging in.
In a letter to Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, who had offered to broker the meeting, the university reiterated its view that it was not involved.
"This is a matter to be settled between Unicco Service Co., their employees and the Service Employees International Union," UM said in the letter. A school committee is expected to file a report on the pay and benefits for all contract workers to President Donna Shalala next week, the letter said.
Company spokesman Doug Bailey said Unicco officials had been waiting for the meeting, but then heard it was canceled. "I'm not sure why," he said.
Now that the meetings are off, picket lines will be set up at the airport early this morning and continue throughout the day, said Jill Hurst, deputy director of the property services division for the union.
At the heart of the strike is not only the issue of pay and lack of benefits but also the method the Service Employees' International Union wants to use to organize the workers. The process, often called a card check, requires a majority of the workers to sign pledge cards saying they support the union.
The union says the card-check election is key to improving working conditions. "Fundamentally, we're trying to improve the healthcare and wages for the worker at the University of Miami," Hurst said.
Unicco opposes that method, saying the union could intimidate workers into signing pledge cards. It says it welcomes the more traditional secret-ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board.
The fight over the unionization process has reached Washington. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., are co-sponsoring a law that says a union would be recognized once 50 percent of the workers signed petitions or pledge cards in favor of it. There is another opposing bill, introduced by Rep. Charles Norwood, a Georgia Republican, which seeks to eliminate the card check process entirely.
The current NLRB election system has so many checks, balances and rights to appeal that it is clearly "in the management's advantage," said Richard Hurd, a Cornell University Labor Studies professor. With the card check process, although there may be "some fears that it is in the union's advantage, it's not as much as the company has in the NLRB process."
James Canavan, Unicco's vice president for labor relations, said an NLRB-run election is still the way to go. "Many of our workers have come to us and said they don't want a union," he said.
Inda Aguilar, who has worked for Unicco for six years, says she is not on strike because that isn't the right way to solve problems.
"Yes, I've got the same complaints," said Aguilar, who makes $6.50 an hour cleaning buildings a the university and gets one week of vacation. But "what would happen if everybody went on strike?" she asked.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Miami Herald Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail

Morning Star, March 11, 2006, Saturday

Copyright 2006 People's Press Printing Society Ltd
All Rights Reserved
Morning Star

March 11, 2006 Saturday

HEADLINE: Feature - Wired;
James Eagle celebrates International Women's Day

BYLINE: James Eagle

Women on the Web
This week saw the 95th celebration of International Women's Day, an event which, far from being a cosy festival of womanhood, has frequently been marked by blood and revolt.
The first Women's Day was held in the US in 1909 at the behest of the Socialist Party of America, but it wasn't until two years later that the Socialist International organised the first international event.
That came as a result of two International Conferences of Socialist Women, in 1907 and 1910, Alexandra Kollontai's accounts of which can be found at (
The story of the woman who proposed it, Clara Zetkin, is available from the People's Weekly World (
Less than a week after the first International Women's Day, the appalling conditions faced by working-class women were thrown into shocking relief by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, in which 146 garment workers in sweatshop conditions burned or jumped to their deaths.
Cornell University ( has an in-depth account of events, including historical context, details of modern-day US sweatshops and an array of horrific photographs and eyewitness testimonies.

In a report that brings September 11 to mind, a United Press reporter on the scene wrote: "Down came the bodies in a shower, burning, smoking, flaming bodies, with disheveled hair trailing upward. They had fought each other to die by jumping instead of by fire."
The fire eventually led to huge advances in workplace rights and safety, but, just a few years later, a mass mobilisation of women against war would turn the world upside down, providing one of the flashpoints for the Russian Revolution (" >
And today? The UN, which has found itself under fire for "paying lip service to gender equality," has proceedings from its commission on the status of women at
Amnesty International exposes the scandal of domestic violence worldwide (, while CounterCurrents ( has an excellent roundup of some of the key issues facing women across the globe, from female foeticide in India to the West's booming porn industry.
Wired Favourites
The Empire that was Russia
Lone genius Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii travelled Tsarist Russia with a remarkable camera of his own invention - one which could, years ahead of its time, take colour photographs. The results are a stunning vision of a world on the brink of disappearing.
Snowshow Films
A collection of documentaries "for social and economic justice," ranging from Palestine to the School of the Americas.