Monthly Archives: January 2012

Mike Rowe on the skills gap, and American jobs

Mike RoweMike Rowe addresses U.S. Congress

Of course, he cleaned up a bit for his appearance before the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, but don’t hold that against him. He got their attention, and his message about skilled workers and the struggle to fill hundreds of thousands of trades, utilities, transportation, and manufacturing positions is well worth sharing.

Mike Rowe's Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation May 11, 2011“In general, people are surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage…

…we talk about creating millions of shovel-ready jobs for a society that doesn’t really encourage people to pick up a shovel.”
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Busting so-called “Right-to-Work” Myths

You’ve heard of ALEC, right?

The acronym stands for “American Legislative Exchange Council,” an industry-sponsored group dedicated to promoting CEO-friendly changes to laws — that lobbies elected officials. They’re promoting a tempting-sounding change to Minnesota’s constitution, and Minnesota’s Republicans are ignoring the founding father’s warnings about the “tyranny of the majority” as they flex their new-found muscle at the state house.

factory workers

American workers won the right to bargain collectively; it's like big business using the Chamber of Commerce and ALEC.

Contrary to the talking-points being spread by the Center of the American Experiment, evidence shows that adding new government regulations in the form of so-called “Right to Work” laws actually hurts economic growth and development.

It’s a job killer!  Read the rest of this entry

Right to Work Out

Constitutional Amendment: Should MN become a “Right to Work Out” state?

Right to work out?What is a “Right-to-work-out” law?

A “Right to work out” law would prevent health clubs from forcing people to pay dues or membership fees to use the equipment, services, and facilities. Such laws would require gyms and health clubs to admit everybody, whether or not he or she pays a cent.

In other words, “right to work out” laws would allow everybody to get all the benefits of health club membership absolutely free! How cool is that?

Without a “Right-to-work-out” law, can I be forced to join a health club?

No. Membership is voluntary, like joining a union. Incidentally, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that no collective bargaining agreement can require anyone to join a union, either.

Look, you already have a “Right to work out,” Read the rest of this entry

Cheat sheet: MN Caucuses demystified

Seven (7) easy steps, including prep:GOP logo

Participation is the key to the success of democracy.  Caucusing is a little more time-consuming than plain old primaries (usually) but you probably won’t need more than a couple hours, or even less.

Here’s an explanation of the Minnesota Caucus process, in 7 easy steps, with two sample resolutions you can offer to help steer your party to be more “labor friendly.”  That’s what caucuses allow, the chance to influence the party’s platform – for either major party the process is pretty much the same, but if you want to caucus with the Greens party or the Independence party their procedures may vary.
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Unanimous Senate Approves Klobuchar’s “St. Croix River Crossing Authorization Act”

Stillwater Lift BridgeSenate passes Amy Klobuchar’s Stillwater bridge bill unanimously.

Of course, it’s not a done deal, especially with the lingering opposition from Representatives McCollum & Ellison, but think about that word “unanimous.” When was the last time anything passed either house of Congress without a single dissenting vote?

Senator Klobuchar’s success winning not just bi-partisan support but a unanimous vote to move the “St. Croix River Crossing Authorization Act” forward signals two key facts:
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Prevailing Wage rollbacks actually undermine outcomes

Hard Facts:

  • Comparing school construction costs before and after Michigan’s suspension of its prevailing wage law revealed no difference in costs.
  • National analysis of data on school construction costs reveals that prevailing wage laws do not have a statistically significant impact on cost.
  • In Pennsylvania, when prevailing wage levels were lowered substantially in rural areas during the second half of the 1990s (a period of declining unemployment and rising prices), school construction costs went up more in areas where prevailing wage levels fell the most.

The gap between “in theory” and what actually happens:

The authors of a recent survey (linked below) discovered that opponents of “Prevailing Wage” are often ignoring real-world cases and research – so opponents are perpetuating the myth that prevailing wage laws raise costs by using flawed “hypothetical” situations, assuming nothing else changes when wages and benefits on projects are slashed sharply.

But the study, as detailed in a press release late last year, makes it clear that assuming nothing else changes is – well – just a bad, unfounded assumption.
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Obama Administration’s Decision to Deny the Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

International Union of Operating Engineers

For Immediate Release
January 18, 2012 

 Contact:   Jay Lederer (202) 778-2626 


Statement by

International Union of Operating Engineers General President James T. Callahan


Obama Administration’s Decision to Deny

the Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of State to withhold approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is a blow to America’s construction workers.  As the sector hardest hit by the recession and one that still grapples with an unemployment rate of 16%, this project could have been a lifeline to thousands of unemployed Operating Engineers.

The IUOE is deeply disappointed in the Administration’s decision.  We will continue to work with our partners in labor and the industry to bring vital energy projects online and to create the kind of high-paying, skilled jobs that are so vital to our economy, our members and their families.


The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) represents more than 400,000 members in 123 local unions across the U.S. and Canada, including operating engineers who work as heavy equipment operators, mechanics, surveyors in the construction industry; stationary engineers in building and industrial maintenance; nurses and other health care workers; and public employees.


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