Posts Tagged ‘workers’

KIEM is Channel 3 in Eureka area.

Here’s a link to the February 8, 2013  6:00pm story on the Fair Wage Act  http://kiem-tv.com/node/4758 

Take the poll about the Eureka Fair Wage Act!  http://kiem-tv.com/node/4756 .

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A People’s Initiative for a
$12.00 An Hour Minimum Wage for Large Employers

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Capitalism relies upon the existence of houseless and homeless people so that there is always a willing work force. People saying “I don’t wanna be in THAT situation” will do ANY work, go to war, anything.

Because workers have all the power, being that they can shut all this shit down, stop running the machine, stop fighting the wars… capitalism requires they be separated systematically from houseless people (which includes many veterans).

Perhaps one of the most powerful alliances would be working class housed people and houseless and homeless people. Powerful and Resourceful.

So, the system has a huge interest in making sure there are houseless people and that working housed people despise houseless people, to keep the system running. Keep that willing work and war force, and make sure the real powers don’t team up together.

Verbena, May 17 2011

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Companies can block customers’ class-action lawsuits, Supreme Court rules

Justices rule in a Southern California case that firms can force customers to arbitrate their complaints individually. The ruling is seen as a major victory for corporations

By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times April 28, 2011

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to class-action lawsuits that involve small claims affecting thousands or even millions of people by ruling that corporations may use arbitration clauses to block dissatisfied consumers or disgruntled employees from joining together.

In a 5-4 decision, the justices said Wednesday the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925, originally aimed at disputes over maritime and rail shipments, trumps state laws and court rulings in California and about half the states that limit arbitration clauses deemed to be “unfair” to consumers.

The ruling was “the biggest ever” on class actions, said Vanderbilt University law professor Brian Fitzpatrick, an expert on such litigation.

“It gives companies a green light to exempt themselves from all class actions from their customers or from their employees,” Fitzpatrick said. “Companies can basically escape from the civil justice system. And why wouldn’t a company take advantage of that?”

It has become routine now that when someone opens a bank account, subscribes to a cable TV service, buys a cellphone, a computer or a new car or makes a purchase online, he or she agrees to let disputes go to arbitration.

Many employers include the same kind of fine print for new hires, blocking class-action suits for employees with discrimination or wage complaints.

These arbitration clauses typically require individuals to bring claims on their own, not as a group.

Nonetheless, the California Supreme Court in 2005 said companies should not be allowed to “deliberately cheat large numbers of consumer out of small amounts of money” by shielding themselves from being sued.

But on Wednesday, the court’s conservative majority overruled those state judges and said arbitration clauses must be enforced even if they may be unfair.

Justice Antonin Scalia said companies like the “streamlined” arbitration proceedings because they are faster and cheaper.

Deepak Gupta, the Public Citizen lawyer who represented a California couple who sued over what was purported to be a free cellphone but cost about $30.22, agreed that the ruling in their case would have a broad effect.

It allows companies to use “the fine print of take-it-or-leave it contracts” as a “shield against corporate accountability,” he said.

Not all products or services come with arbitration clauses, but many do, he said. Some products, such as appliances, come with a box that includes fine-print contracts and an arbitration clause. These have been upheld as binding, even if the consumer did not sign the agreement, legal experts said.

Several business lawyers said class-action claims rarely work to the benefit of consumers anyway.

“I think this decision will help consumers, not hurt them,” said Alan Kaplinsky, a Philadelphia lawyer for the American Bankers Assn. “The only people who do well in the class-action suits are the lawyers. The attorneys get millions in fees, and the consumers get a worthless coupon. For them, it’s better to go through arbitration.”

Still pending before the court is a major dispute over class-action suits involving job discrimination.

Lawyers for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have asked the justices to throw out a sex-discrimination claim brought on behalf of 1.5 million current and past female employees. Though the Wal-Mart case has attracted far more attention, Wednesday’s ruling on arbitration contracts could have a greater effect in blocking future class-actions suits on behalf of employees.

The decision is in line with a series of pro-arbitration rulings from the high court since the 1980s. They are all based on an obscure 1925 law that speaks of “maritime transactions.” It was passed to protect shippers and dealers who exchanged goods across the country. It said that if they agreed to arbitrate disputes, those deals would have to be enforced.

But in recent years, the court’s conservative majority has wielded that law to knock down objections to unfair arbitration clauses involving consumers.

Vincent and Liza Concepcion, who live in the San Diego area, were charged $30.22 in sales tax for what was promoted as a free cellphone. They tried to join a class-action suit against AT&T Mobility, but the company said the they would have to go to arbitration as individuals. Their cellphone contract prohibited class-action claims, the company said.

Judges in California — both federal and state — agreed with the Concepcions and ruled that the company could not enforce its ban on class-action claims. The Supreme Court reversed that decision in AT&T Mobility vs. Concepcion.

“Arbitration is poorly suited to the higher stakes of class litigation,” Scalia said. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The dissenters said a practical ban on class actions would be unfair to cheated consumers.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the California courts have wisely insisted on permitting class-action claims. Otherwise, he said, it would allow a company to “insulate” itself “from liability for its own frauds” by denying consumers a practical remedy.

Breyer added that a ban on class actions would prevent lawyers from representing clients for small claims.

“What rational lawyer would have signed on to represent the Concepcions in litigation for the possibility of fees stemming from a $30.22 claim,” he wrote. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined his dissent.

The court itself divided along partisan lines. All five Republican appointees formed the majority, while the four Democratic appointees dissented.



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by Nick Jiles

The neo-liberalization of global markets that succeeded in codifying Western financial institutions as the guardians of Westphalian global hegemony in the 20th century has set its sights on a new target. Unlike previous victims rich in natural resources and wanton of development, its current target is a member country of the aforementioned Western fraternity, Spain. Spain, which boasts one of the largest economies in the EU, has garnered increased international attention since the housing bubble burst and its economy began spiraling downward as unemployment climbed and deficit spending increased. Not surprisingly, the loudest clamor for solutions to the crisis is the Western media’s proposal, which calls for the destruction of the socialist measures currently allotted the Spanish workforce and reforms that empower Spanish companies and undermine the stability of the working class.

Spain’s economic disaster was the progeny of a number of factors, none of which have been granted sufficient attention in the Western media. A housing bubble spurred by the same type of speculative financial practices that eventually led to the collapse of the US economy, married with low domestic productivity growth (an increasingly shared characteristic by Western countries that export manufacturing/industrial jobs to the developing world) has resulted in the present melancholy state of Spanish finances. Also of note are a number of socio-economic factors unique to Spain, such as the amount of education required to obtain stable employment and the “garbage contracts” or black-market activities/employment that result from employers unwilling to abide by the country’s strict labor laws. Western media focus has instead been on a “government unwilling to apply radical surgery,” as stated in a May article of The Economist and a solution that would directly attack the socialist safeguards that grant Spanish workers arguably the most favorable working conditions in the world.

In coalition with the financial sector and Western economists are IMF predictions on future Spanish economic growth and the riotous reaction to recent austerity measures imposed upon fellow EU member Greece. Spain’s financial sector, namely its cajas (saving banks), are salivating at the thought of financial reforms that would help alleviate their unfortunate “exposure” to housing and construction loans. In addition, Western proposals have almost solely focused on public pension and labor reforms, even having the audacity to convey sympathy for Spanish banks, the benefactors of a recent $132 billion rescue fund from the public. More rational approaches to the country’s economic troubles should include an adjustment of the country’s employment tax, a factor that does represent a considerable hurdle in a limited job market, an examination of the manner in which Spanish banks concentrated such an extensive amount of capital in a single industry and a more thorough monitoring of employers which break the country’s labor laws.

The restructuring of the Spanish economy, drawn in accordance with an agenda that slashes social benefits, eviscerates trade unions and engenders corporation looms on the horizon. A recent article in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo outlined the government’s freshly drafted legislation for labor reform which states that “independent government commissions would be created in order to negotiate salary cuts between workers and employers” in instances in which companies can prove that they are experiencing “financial difficulties.” Historically, we need look no further than 20th century Latin America and Eastern Europe to revisit the devastating effects that neo-liberal economic reforms had on the working class in every country on which they were imposed.

The most recent developments in Spain are indicative of the neo-liberal doom that is destined any country with any semblance of a social agenda that falls upon unfortunate economic circumstances. Serious and prolonged civil resistance, on a much grander scale than that which was recently displayed in Greece, is necessary should the Spanish working class seek to save itself from the dark future of neo-liberal economic reform. As pressure from Western financial institutions mounts and the neo-liberal offensive emerges Zapatero and the Spanish government will be faced with the decision of abandoning its working class and submitting to the economic reforms which have proved to benefit only the privileged fraternity of the countries in which they have been implemented or to resist, stand behind its working class and address the financial practices that lead them to this crucial point in history.

Nick Jiles is an organizer with CUHW (California United Home Care Workers) and can be reached at: nicholasj@cuhw.org

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