Economic crisis goes on


This video from the USA is called (LABOR BEAT) Workers’ Republic: Scenes From a Successful Factory Occupation. See also here.

The economic crisis goes on.

USA: White House pledges auto loans after bill stalls in Senate.

UAW refusal to accept immediate wage cuts scuppers bail-out: here.

US pro labour movement; music: here.

National interests dominate at EU summit in Brussels: here.

Nearly 1 billion of world’s people face chronic hunger: here.

Global Life Expectancy Recedes in Africa: here.

Thousands of jobs threatened in Swedish auto industry: here.

4 thoughts on “Economic crisis goes on

  1. LABOR AT HOME [USA]

    Many Draw Inspiration From Chicago Workers’ Sit-In
    “Thank you for showing us all how to fight back!” wrote one person. Another opined: “Here’s to change, from the bottom up.”
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-worker-sit-in9-2008dec09,0,7863346.story

    The Meaning of the Republic Victory
    THE FULL implications of the workers’ breakthrough victory at Republic Windows & Doors are still unclear, but a few lessons can already be drawn.
    http://socialistworker.org/2008/12/12/meaning-of-the-republic-victory

    $73 an Hour?
    Big Three workers aren’t making anything close to $73 an hour.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/business/economy/10leonhardt.html?hp

    Bait and Switch on the Employee Free Choice Act?
    [A]lready, some labor supporters of the president-elect fear he may be backing away from a key campaign promise to workers threatened by recession.
    http://counterpunch.org/early12082008.html

    One Million Layoffs a Month?
    [T]he rising cost of corporate debt is now flashing a red warning signal that far worse is to come over the next few months and job losses are heading for levels last seen in the 1930s Great Depression.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/dec/07/recession-job-losses

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  2. Posted by: “Richard Frager” science@zzz.com richardfrager
    Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:36 am (PST)

    Chicago Workers Reach Deal, End Sit-In – Employees Laid Off From Factory Will Get 8 Weeks’ Salary, Accrued Vacation Pay, And 2 Months’ Health Care

    Jubilant workers, cheering and chanting “Yes We Can,” celebrated outside a Chicago factory after approving a $1.75 million agreement to end their six-day sit-in, which had become a nationwide symbol of the plight of labor. Republic Windows & Doors, union leaders and Bank of America reached the deal Wednesday evening. Workers carrying sleeping bags left the North Side factory within hours.

    About 200 of 240 laid-off workers began their sit-in last week after Republic gave them just three days’ notice the plant was closing. They vowed to stay at the factory until they received assurances they would get the severance, accrued vacation pay, and other benefits due them under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which covers employees who lose their jobs in a plant closing or other mass layoff. Each former Republic employee will get eight weeks’ salary, all accrued vacation pay and two months’ paid health care, said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who helped broker the deal. He said it works out to about $7,000 apiece.

    “We lost the jobs but we got something,” said Lalo Munoz, who worked at the plant for 24 years. Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, said $1.75 million will go into an escrow account for the workers, $1.35 million of which came from Bank of America in the form of a loan to Republic. “Although we are a lender with no obligation to pay Republic’s employees or make additional loans to Republic, we agreed to extend an additional loan to be used exclusively to pay its employees,” David Rudis, the bank’s Illinois president, said in a statement.

    New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. pledged $400,000 to use strictly for the protesting employees, Gutierrez said. The workers are “very, very satisfied” with the agreement, said Mark Meinster of the United Electrical Workers union, which represents the employees. “Hopefully this is an example for workers across the country that when things like this happen, you can step up, you can speak out, and you can win,” he said.

    The sit-in came to embody mounting anger over the government’s willingness to bail out deep-pocketed corporations but not average people, notes one labor organizer. “There’s a simplicity and straightforwardness to this particular case that anybody can wrap their head around,” James Thindwa, executive director for Jobs With Justice in Chicago, told WBBM. Lawmakers earlier criticized Bank of America for cutting off funds to the plant after it exhausted its credit line even though the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank itself received $25 billion from the government’s financial bailout package.

    The bank was given that money so it could provide credit to companies like Republic that employ workers, Meinster said. “We’re hopeful the banks got that message,” he said. “My sense is it’s going to take a lot more.”

    Around 100 supporters of the workers gathered Wednesday in downtown Chicago where negotiators were meeting, some beating drums and others chanting: “They got bailed out. We got sold out.” “This money is not, under any circumstance, to be used for corporate bonuses, luxury cars or any other perk for the owners of the plant,” Gutierrez said in a statement. Republic officials did not return messages on Wednesday from The Associated Press. Messages left seeking further details from JPMorgan Chase were also not returned. Rudis said Republic is “unable to operate profitably.” Over the past two years, the factory lost $10 million while borrowing the maximum amount possible under its agreement with Bank of America, the company said.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/12/10/national/main4661818.shtml

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  3. Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion (Update2)

    By Mark Pittman

    Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

    Bloomberg filed suit Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs, most created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. The institution confirmed that a records search found 231 pages of documents pertaining to some of the requests.

    “If they told us what they held, we would know the potential losses that the government may take and that’s what they don’t want us to know,” said Carlos Mendez, a senior managing director at New York-based ICP Capital LLC, which oversees $22 billion in assets.

    The Fed stepped into a rescue role that was the original purpose of the Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The central bank loans don’t have the oversight safeguards that Congress imposed upon the TARP.

    Total Fed lending exceeded $2 trillion for the first time Nov. 6. It rose by 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since Sept. 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren’t rated AAA.

    ‘Been Bamboozled’

    Congress is demanding more transparency from the Fed and Treasury on bailout, most recently during Dec. 10 hearings by the House Financial Services committee when Representative David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, said Americans had “been bamboozled.”

    Bloomberg News, a unit of New York-based Bloomberg LP, on May 21 asked the Fed to provide data on collateral posted from April 4 to May 20. The central bank said on June 19 that it needed until July 3 to search documents and determine whether it would make them public. Bloomberg didn’t receive a formal response that would let it file an appeal within the legal time limit.

    On Oct. 25, Bloomberg filed another request, expanding the range of when the collateral was posted. It filed suit Nov. 7.

    In response to Bloomberg’s request, the Fed said the U.S. is facing “an unprecedented crisis” in which “loss in confidence in and between financial institutions can occur with lightning speed and devastating effects.”

    Data Provider

    The Fed supplied copies of three e-mails in response to a request that it disclose the identities of those supplying data on collateral as well as their contracts.

    While the senders and recipients of the messages were revealed, the contents were erased except for two phrases identifying a vendor as “IDC.” One of the e-mails’ subject lines refers to “Interactive Data — Auction Rate Security Advisory May 1, 2008.”

    Brian Willinsky, a spokesman for Bedford, Massachusetts- based Interactive Data Corp., a seller of fixed-income securities information, declined to comment.

    “Notwithstanding calls for enhanced transparency, the Board must protect against the substantial, multiple harms that might result from disclosure,” Jennifer J. Johnson, the secretary for the Fed’s Board of Governors, said in a letter e-mailed to Bloomberg News.

    ‘Dangerous Step’

    “In its considered judgment and in view of current circumstances, it would be a dangerous step to release this otherwise confidential information,” she wrote.

    New York-based Citigroup Inc., which is shrinking its global workforce of 352,000 through asset sales and job cuts, is among the nine biggest banks receiving $125 billion in capital from the TARP since it was signed into law Oct. 3. More than 170 regional lenders are seeking an additional $74 billion.

    Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would meet congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system.

    The Freedom of Information Act obliges federal agencies to make government documents available to the press and public. The Bloomberg lawsuit, filed in New York, doesn’t seek money damages.

    ‘Right to Know’

    “There has to be something they can tell the public because we have a right to know what they are doing,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

    “It would really be a shame if we have to find this out 10 years from now after some really nasty class-action suit and our financial system has completely collapsed,” she said.

    The Fed’s five-page response to Bloomberg may be “unprecedented” because the board usually doesn’t go into such detail about its position, said Lee Levine, a partner at Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz LLP in Washington.

    “This is uncharted territory,” said Levine during an interview from his New York office. “The Freedom of Information Act wasn’t built to anticipate this situation and that’s evident from the way the Fed tried to shoehorn their argument into the trade-secrets exemption.”

    The Fed lent cash and government bonds to banks that handed over collateral including stocks and subprime and structured securities such as collateralized debt obligations, according to the Fed Web site.

    Borrowers include the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Citigroup and New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co., the country’s biggest bank by assets.

    Banks oppose any release of information because that might signal weakness and spur short-selling or a run by depositors, Scott Talbott, senior vice president of government affairs for the Financial Services Roundtable, a Washington trade group, said in an interview last month.

    ‘Complete Truth’

    “Americans don’t want to get blindsided anymore,” Mendez said in an interview. “They don’t want it sugarcoated or whitewashed. They want the complete truth. The truth is we can’t take all the pain right now.”

    The Bloomberg lawsuit said the collateral lists “are central to understanding and assessing the government’s response to the most cataclysmic financial crisis in America since the Great Depression.”

    In response, the Fed argued that the trade-secret exemption could be expanded to include potential harm to any of the central bank’s customers, said Bruce Johnson, a lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Seattle. That expansion is not contained in the freedom-of-information law, Johnson said.

    “I understand where they are coming from bureaucratically, but that means it’s all the more necessary for taxpayers to know what exactly is going on because of all the money that is being hurled at the banking system,” Johnson said.

    The Bloomberg lawsuit is Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 08-CV-9595, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

    Last Updated: December 12, 2008 17:12 EST

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=apx7XNLnZZlc&refer=home

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  4. Republic Workers Won By Flexing Muscle
    “We knew keeping the windows in the warehouse was a bargaining chip.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/us/13factory.html?ref=us

    After 15 Years, North Carolina Plant Unionizes
    “People wanted fair treatment. We fought so long to get this, and it finally happened.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/us/13smithfield.html?hp

    Government Bailout Hits $8.5 Trillion
    That sum represents almost 60 percent of the nation’s estimated gross domestic product.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2008/11/26/MNVN14C8QR.DTL

    Hypocrisy in Demands For Autoworker Givebacks
    “They never ask about banker salaries. . . . They never asked they give money back.”
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-fi-gopunions13-2008dec13,0,4584253.story

    Ron Carey, Who Led Teamsters Reforms, Dies at 72
    In 1997, in the biggest strike in more than a decade, he led a 15-day walkout against U.P.S., generating huge public support for the union. When the Teamsters emerged victorious, many union leaders hailed Mr. Carey as having turned around labor’s sagging fortunes.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/us/13carey.html?ref=us

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