Tag Archives: Montana AFL-CIO

Labor Union Boycotts Work Comp Event in Capitol

The Montana AFL-CIO boycotted an event yesterday hosted by the Montana State Fund, an event billed as one “honoring workers and the 1915 Worker’s Compensation Act.”

A press release from Al Ekblad, the union’s chief, described the State Fund as having “an active role in attacking workers, not honoring them.”  Ekblad accused the State Fund of cutting benefits, taking away rights of injured workers to pick their own doctor, and working behind the scenes to deprive firefighters of presumptive illness coverage.  Word on the street is that the State Fund had hoped that the popular Lt. Gov. Angela McLean would attend the event, but McLean, a strong supporter of working families, did not attend.

The State Fund is a public entity but is run like a massive for-profit corporation. Though it is charged under Montana law of providing a public option for businesses who seek affordable workers compensation insurance, it often follows what appears to be a predominantly profit-oriented motive, and does this by limiting payouts to injured workers to the extent it can.  In other words, it operates like a private insurance company.

Ekblad accused the Fund of diverting profits to exorbitant salaries and benefits of its executives, some of which approach half a million bucks a year.  Some of these are well known among Helenans, who have of course seen the giant and beautiful new building that the MSF built for itself a few years ago, which looks like something that might have been designed by Frank Gehry or some other world class architect.  Meanwhile many state agencies  budgets have been cut the extent that they are housed in crumbling buildings with mid-century wiring and rotting carpet in order to minimize the cuts the legislature made to services for those they serve.

In recent months the State Fund has shown questionable judgment.  They ran an ad campaign with the slogan “Work Heals,” designed to get injured workers back on the job ASAP and thus help keep the State Fund’s coffers nice and full.  But the ad campaign was pulled when it was pointed out that it resembled the Nazi campaign to promote the benefits of Auschwitz (“Work Sets You Free”), and besides that, was just insulting to laborers.  Then early this year (speaking of Nazi-like rhetoric), just before the legislature convened the State Fund announced that it had chosen Matt Rosendale’s (R-Drone Shooter) campaign manager to be its new director of government relations, thus revealing where its sympathies lie.

You can read more in the Great Falls Tribune here. 

ATP Sends Mailers Impersonating Unions to Attack Union-Endorsed Candidates

The American Traditions Partnership has run afoul of the law again.  They’ve sent mailers impersonating unions– using the unions’ logos–to attack local candidates that the unions have actually endorsed.

Yesterday, the Teamsters Local 190 sent a cease and desist letter to ATP saying the must immediately stop using the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen logo, among others.

As KBZK Bozeman reports, one of the races these mailers have appeared in is Livingston’s House District 62, where TEA Party Rep. Dan Skattum is running against democratic challenger Reilly Neill. AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Al Ekblad said of the ATP mailers, which can be seen on the KBZK website:

“Most of what of what they have done has been vile, malicious, but in this case, it’s illegal, it infringes on federal copyright laws, it is challenged under the trademark laws.”

You can read the Teamsters cease and desist letter [PDF] here.  Other unions have also sent cease and desist letters.

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that ATP bank records showed anti-union groups were among ATP’s largest funders.

Rick Hill: Women Should Be Paid Less Because We Aren’t “Career Ready”

H/T Montana AFL-CIO

In the most recent gubernatorial debate in Billings, Rick Hill blamed women for the fact that we get paid less than men for doing the same exact job.  He said we just need more training because we are not “career ready,”  and that he doesn’t believe a policy change to fix the problem is needed.

On average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns–which adds up to $431,000 less for each of us over our lifetimes.  That’s a wage gap that exists regardless of personal choices like education or occupation.

Even when you factor in that women are more likely to leave the workforce when they have children or work in positions that allow flexibility to care for kids over wages, studies have found no other way to explain at least some of the gap than discrimination. As the Washington Post reports:

When such circumstances are factored in — along with race and other demographic data — about 40 percent of the gender wage gap is still unaccounted for, says Ariane Hegewisch of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), citing a 2007 study by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn.

That means that women earn 91 cents for every dollar, as compared to men, due to factors that have nothing to do with life choices — a difference that many researchers identify as discrimination.

As the Montana AFL-CIO points out on their Facebook page, this wage gap has real life consequences. Women make up nearly half the workforce.  When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their whole families.

Steve Bullock on the other hand is fighting against the War on Women.  Bullock and Walsh are strong believers in equal pay for equal work and that there should be laws and policies put into place to protect working women and all Montanans from discriminatory practices.  That’s why Steve Bullock is the labor endorsed candidate and Rick Hill is supported by slugs like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Not Wisconsin: Schweitzer Electrifies Union Rally at Montana Capitol

A few months ago, the Montana Tea Party organized a rally on the steps of the Montana Capitol, for “patriots” to “take back America.”  Organizers encouraged people to bring their guns with them.  The rally drew about 20 or so angry men and women (minus some teeth) and one or two rifles.  And that was it.  Little has been seen or heard of the Montana Tea Party since.

Last Friday, working folks from around Montana tried their hand at a Capitol rally (without guns). They drew about 1500 people. It was a festive and positive day, and a stark comparison to the theater that has played out in Midwestern states where union bashing is lately all the rage.   In Helena, there was folk music and constant chanting of the mantra “courage, not cuts.”  The crowd comprised firefighters, police, teachers, health-care workers, home-care workers, state workers, and others who make very a modest living (a starting teacher makes about $17K in rural Montana) but do important work for society.

Schweitzer Electrifies Union Rally at Montana Capitol VIDEO KXLH

To the delight of the crowd, Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is a rancher by trade, did a Charlton Heston imitation, lifting not a gun over his head but a “VETO” cattle-branding iron, which he promised to use for branding “stinking, bad bills” like the current budget that the GOP legislature is trying to send to his desk, which attempts to balance the budget on the backs of the working class. KXLH has the raw video of the speech.

In his short speech, Schweitzer told the crowd that the difference between Montana on the one hand, and Wisconsin and Ohio and Indiana on the other, is that “those states don’t have Governors that appreciate a partnership.”

That’s for sure.   Republican Governors Christie (NJ), Daniels (IN), Kasich (OH) and Walker (WI)–who at night have been having recurring wet dreams about running in a GOP presidential primary–saw an opportunity to get some cheap political mileage by getting citizens as angry as possible against public employees.  In essence, these spineless four governors were drawn to public opinion polls which showed that a certain sector of voters was amenable to being incited with angry rhetoric, and that society in general is concerned about spending.

So these guys painted by the numbers. They trashed public workers, engaged in artificial standoffs, bashed anyone who is in a labor union, and then downloaded videos of themselves to Youtube and hit the FOXNews scene to try cement their reputation as conservative national heroes.

Schweitzer, who is the most popular Democrat in America even though he’s governor of one of the country’s more Republican states, does not seem to be getting hurt politically by standing up for public workers as he did at the rally.  He was correct when he said that these other guys don’t understand or value the concept of a partnership. Leadership is about creating something that society can be proud off, not tearing people down.

And it looks like justice has been served lately, with Christie and Walker having seen their job approval numbers spiral down into the toilet. Kasich and Daniels are hopefully not far behind.