Richard Trumka

Dick Meister: Labor's big day

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED/TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Now that the election dust has settled, it's clear that organized labor was a big winner locally, statewide and nationally.

In San Francisco, more than half the winning candidates for local office had labor backing, as did all local candidates for state office and all but two of the winning city propositions.

Labor did as well statewide, with voters soundly rejecting State Prop 32 that would have greatly diminished unions' political strength.  Defeating the proposition was by far labor's most important election goal. Read more »

Dick Meister: Fair Trade: Not With Columbia

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.net, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

By all accounts, Colombia is one of the world's worst abusers of workers and their unions. Yet President Obama has just signed a Free Trade Agreement with Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The agreement, set to go into effect May 15, will align the United States with a nation in which working people have very few of the basic labor rights long granted U.S. workers. Read more »

Meister: The obvious solution to our social security problem

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Guaranteeing America's working people a decent retirement has become increasingly difficult with the decline of traditional pension plans and the glaring inadequacy of the 401 (k) savings accounts that have replaced them.

So what to do? The answer is obvious to the AFL-CIO, and should be to everyone else: Increase Social Security benefits. Read more »

Dick Meister: Apple's unethical innovation

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 300 of his columns.

Apple's position as a worldwide leader in technological innovation has brought huge rewards to those who run the company or own stock in it, and has raised co-founder Steve Jobs to demigod status. But the men and women who manufacture Apple's highly profitable products are not doing well – and the AFL-CIO wants very much for that to change.

"When it comes to technology," notes AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, " Apple has revolutionized its industry and set a standard other companies aspire to meet . It is now the biggest publicly traded company in the world, worth a whopping $465 billion."

But, adds Trumka, "Apple's record-breaking success comes at a back-breaking price." Read more »

Dick Meister: Sit down, punk!

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

I spotted a forgotten hero at the memorial service for SF labor leader Walter Johnson the other day, a true but largely unacknowledged hero of the anti-Vietnam War movement – Art Carter, former head of the AFL-CIO's Contra Costa Labor Council.

The AFL-CIO, you might recall, was a major and outspoken supporter of that damned war which was waged as a key part of the Cold War against the Soviet Union.  The AFL-CIO held tenaciously to its unqualified support of the war, whether it was being waged by a long-time labor ally, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, or by his anti-labor Republican successor, Richard Nixon.

It was in 1969, at the AFL-CIO's national convention in Atlantic City, that Carter, a 28-year-old delegate, dared stand up to oppose a resolution unconditionally supporting the Vietnam War and the Vietnam policies of then-President Nixon, which delegates had loudly cheered when a guest speaker, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, had spelled them out. The measure was presented by hawkish AFL-CIO President George Meany and ultimately opposed by only six of the 700 delegates – including, of course, Art Carter. Read more »