Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fayetteville Gets Green Job Training Center

Fulfilling Mayor Lioneld Jordan's dream of a Green Jobs Training Center in Fayetteville, Governor Mike Beebe announced on Thursday a $1.3 million grant for the program to be conducted by NorthWest Arkansas Community College. The facility is scheduled to be opened this summer.

Pictured above at the announcement in Little Rock are Rick Mayes (NWACC Director of Building Sciences), Stephen Smith (President, Northwest Arkansas Labor Council), Alderman Sarah Lewis, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Dr. Becky Paneitz (President, NWACC), State Representative Lindsley Smith, Steve Clark (President, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce), and Professor Panneer Selvam (UA College of Engineering).

Mayor Lioneld Jordan, NWA Labor Council President Stephen Smith, and Representative Lindsley Smith are members of AFSCME Local 965.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

UPTE-CWA Gains Tentative Contract at UC After 2-Year Fight

It took two years of tough bargaining, but University Professional and Technical Employees/CWA Local 9119 won a tentative agreement last week covering 9,000 researchers and technicians at the University of California.

The five-year agreement provides for pay increases of 14.5 percent over the contract term, plus a $1,000 lump sum payment to be paid this July.

The tentative settlement will be sent to members for a ratification vote.

"Local 9119 achieved this settlement during the worst economy in the history of California. I'm proud of the bargaining committee, the local leadership and everything they have done to protect members," said CWA District 9 Vice President Jim Weitkamp.

Progress in bargaining was delayed by university officials who refused to fairly address workers' concerns about their pay and retirement security.

Union members kept up a constant mobilization campaign, lobbied the state legislature, and gained public and community support through a media campaign.

In other improvements, the contract sets up a $1.7 million equity pool to help address pay inequities for workers in some job titles. The university will contribute 4 percent into the workers' pension plan this year, and has agreed to match or exceed additional one percent contributions by employees in 2011 and 2012.

The contract also limits increases in workers' health benefits and parking fees.

"This is a great agreement, especially considering the terrible state of California's economy," said UPTE-CWA Local 9119 President Jelger Kalmijn. "We won good raises and placed real limits on how much the university can charge for health care and other benefits. We will continue to fight for workers at UC, especially in the area of job security," he added.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UA Students: Experience What It's Like to be Part of the Labor Movement

As one of the fastest growing unions in the United States , AFSCME is constantly in search of skilled, motivated and passionate activists who are interested in a career in the labor movement. Through the AFSCME/UNCF Union Scholars Program, you can join us in the effort to support public service employees who are organizing unions.

Are You Eligible?

If you meet the following eligibility requirements, the AFSCME/UNCF Union Scholars Program wants you to consider applying for this cutting-edge program that will not only help countless working men and women but you as well. This program will open annually on October 1. You must:

  • be a second-semester sophomore or junior during the application and interview process;
  • major in Ethnic Studies, Women’s Studies, Labor Studies, American Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, Economics, or Public Policy;
  • have at least a 2.5 grade point average;
  • be a college student of color, including: African American, Hispanic American, Asian Pacific Islander American and American Indian/Alaskan Native;
  • demonstrate interest in working for social and economic justice through the labor movement.
  • have a driver’s license

What are the Union Scholar benefits?

If you are selected, AFSCME will award you a 10-week summer field placement, during which you participate in a union organizing campaign in one of several locations across the United States .

You will receive:

  • a stipend of up to $4,000;
  • on-site housing at your location;
  • a week-long orientation and training;
  • an academic scholarship of up to $5,000 for the school year, based on successful performance.

To Apply

Find the application online or call toll free: 1-866-671-7237. To be eligible, you must meet all eligibility requirements as identified above. Make sure that you are eligible before you attempt to complete the online application. The annual deadline for this program is February 28.

Jobs for America Now

The Jobs for America Now coalition assembled leaders from across Arkansas for a press conference in Little Rock to release the report, "Putting Arkansas Back to Work: How Investment in Public Services will Save Jobs and Grow the Economy." Together, they called upon Arkansas' congressional delegation to support pending job-creation legislation under debate in Washington D.C. The need for more jobs is critical in Arkansas, just as across the country.

According to this report, economists predict that without federal assistance to state and local governments with these budget shortfalls, 900,000 Americans could lose their jobs in fiscal year 2011, and three million will lose their jobs by 2012. Like dozens of other states across the country, Arkansas faces a budget shortfall thanks to the recession's under-anticipated longevity and depth. Unless Congress acts, Arkansans will suffer dire consequences.

On the steps of the State Capitol, Alan Hughes, AFL-CIO, Justin Nickels, AFSCME, Robin Roark, public school teacher, Rev. Steve Copley, Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice, Candice Smith, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and Willie Holmes, Working America gathered to voice their concerns.

According to Robin Roark, public school teacher, "My name is Robin Roark and I'm the son of a Vietnam veteran, and the husband of a women in the service industry and the father of a public school child, and I'm also a public school teacher. I am pleased to join the call for a robust jobs bill, from our Senators and from our good folks in Congress. One that can help the state of Arkansas weather the current budget storm, and more importantly give back to our neighbors the sense of honor and decency that comes from earning a paycheck."