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To Keep Our Jobs, We Must Improve Our Skills

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Reform Movement | September 10, 2012

It is no longer science fiction to believe that industrial robots are now being created and trained to perform any production job that American workers have traditionally done.

Typical applications of industrial robots include welding, painting, pick -and -place (such as packaging, inspecting, and testing), all accomplished with high endurance, speed and precision.

Some robots are programmed to perform specific actions repetitively, without variation and with a high degree of accuracy. These actions are determined by instructing the… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | September 2, 2012

South Africa Drops Murder Charges against Striking Miners

Murder charges against hundreds of striking miners will be dropped, pending further investigation, the country’s top prosecutor announced Sept. 2. The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formally withdrawn in court on their next court appearance.

Lawyers for the miners called last week’s decision to charge them with murder "bizarre in the extreme." and the country’s justice minister called it shocking and confusing. She said the law in question was sound, but that… Continue reading

by Ralph Nader | August 30, 2012 | Common Dreams
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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book – and first novel – is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

"Why should I listen to anything Harry Kelber says?" exclaimed a visibly indignant Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

Maybe because Kelber, 98 years young, has been honestly fighting for labor rights as a worker, union organizer, pamphleteer, author, professor and overall hairshirt of the moribund organized labor movement for 78 years –… Continue reading

Why Shouldn’t We Know How Our Dues-Money Is Spent?

By Harry Kelber | THE AMERICAN LABOR REFORM MOVEMENT | August 28, 2012

Despite repeated requests, the AFL-CIO has refused to supply union members with even a single report about how our dues-money is being spent.

Why can’t we get this information? Our officials won’t bother to answer. And they’ve been getting away with keeping us in the dark about the AFL-CIO’s financial assets and investments for years.

Some time ago, the I.A.M. printed a document that showed the AFL-CIO had sunk more than $40 million to keep the National Labor… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor August 25, 2012

Foreign Firms Face Labor Shortage

While foreign investments are flowing into to Myanmar, creating more opportunities for locals, businesses are facing shortages of skilled workers. After political changes occurred in the country between 2011 and 2012, the international community has taken more interest in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country.

With more businesses setting up here, the demand for skilled workers has also increased. "Scarcity of human resource is a hurdle to foreign investments. There are not enough skilled engineers, geologists, and architects in the country." said Mr. Evelin Petkov,… Continue reading

Why You Can’t Contact the Executive Council

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Reform Movement | August 24, 2012

It’s a long-standing fact that AFL-CIO’s top leaders don’t want you to bother them with suggestions or complaints. The standard answer you will get to your questions is silence -a disheartening silence.

These bureaucrats figure there’s nothing you can do about permanently shutting you up from any news they don’t want you to hear. Who can you complain to? Not the AFL-CIO Executive Council. There’s no way of reaching the 49 Council members. They have no chairman to whom you… Continue reading

Unions Are Being Pressed to Make Concessions

By Harry Kelber | The Labor Reform Movement | August 22, 2012

Unions are still looking in vain for an AFL-CIO battle plan to confront the Republican-rightwing attacks that are compelling many of them to make deep concessions in wages, benefits and working conditions to avoid massive layoffs.

The recent Caterpillar-Machinists contract, with its six-year freeze on wages and pensions, plus a $1,000 boost in employee healthcare premiums, should have sounded alarm bells at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. But it did not. And we’ll explain why.

Except for resistance from a few… Continue reading

A Six-Year Freeze on Wages, Pensions–and More Strikers Accept Doubling of Healthcare Premiums

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Reform Movement | August 20, 2012

Caterpillar and the International Association of Machinists announced on August 15 that they had reached a tentative six-year agreement that could end a 15-week strike at the company’s hydraulic parts plant in Joliet, Illinois. The agreement contains a six-year freeze on wages and pensions, among other concessions that Caterpillar wanted, including a $1,000 extra increase per employee to the healthcare fund.

Caterpillar’s hard-fisted demands were not driven because of financial "bottom line" insecurity. On… Continue reading

G.O.P.’s Election Gamble Is to Cut Government Spending

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Reform Movement | August 17, 2012

Harry Kelber

Herry Kelber

The Romney-Ryan election strategy is not hard to comprehend: It is to cripple Medicare and Medicaid by various means, including privatization; and to eliminate or shrink programs and services that the public , especially the poor and the sick, depend on for survival.

This may appeal to the wealthy and true-blue conservatives, but what worker would be attracted to vote Republican after listening to the Romney-Paul agenda? You’d be surprised.

Nevertheless, the Republicans can trap voter support… Continue reading

Check Out the ALF-CIO’s Constitution. I Did and Look What I Found!

By Harry Kelber | Labor Reform Movement | August 15, 2012

Harry Kelber

Herry Kelber

If you want to know why union members have no rights whatever in the affairs of the AFL-CIO, get yourself a copy of the AFL-CIO’s Constitution. If you don’t have a copy, write for one to the Federation’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Turn to "Article IV: Convention," whose Section 4, stripped of legalese language, states: "Each national union or international union shall be entitled to the number of delegates and convention votes as the number… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | World of Labor | August 11, 2012

Italy Wrestles with Rewriting Its Stifling Labor Laws

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is tackling the issue of labor law reform head on. A challenge in a country beset by corruption, stifling bureaucracy and a lumbering judicial system, whose rulings often lean to keeping people in their jobs for life. After a caustic battle with Italy’s powerful unions, Monti pushed through measures meant to help the economy by providing business with incentives to hire–in part by making it easier to shrink work forces in times of economic distress.

The… Continue reading

Union members weren’t told the extent of the financial problem

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Reform Movement | August 10, 2010

Faced with diminishing membership and declining revenue, the AFL-CIO is selling the site of its accredited institution of higher learning, the National Labor College, on prime acres, ripe for development in Silver Springs, Md. The campus was purchased by the AFL-CI0 about 40 years ago.

The NLC has for years served as a training center for many unions (I taught several classes of Laborers’ leaders there), and I noted it provided good overnight accommodations. But as it… Continue reading

Defeat of Romney Is a Major Objective

By Harry Kelber | America’s Labor Reform Movement | August 8, 2012

The AFL-CIO is planning to take a political gamble, spending as much as $60 million in the hope that, if President Obama is re-elected for a second term, he will be able to deliver the labor "goodies" he promised but failed to deliver in his first term.

To stiffen Obama’s loyalty to organized labor, the AFL-CIO and its 43-member Executive Council gave him a royal welcome at their meeting on Oct. 1, interrupting the pro-union statements in his speech with prolonged… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | August 5, 2012

Italy’s Beaches Are Empty as Umbrella Men Strike

Italian beaches were denied of their usual August crowds on Friday as beach clubs staged a short strike, the latest in an emotive conflict over right of access to the Mediterranean country’s sun-soaked coast. The strike, organized by the beachworkers’ union during the peak season, to protest against the government’s plan that would see the right to operate patches of seafront decided by auction from 2016.

Although it is state property, access to much of the Italian coast has long… Continue reading

Italy’s Beaches Are Empty as Umbrella Men Strike <p&g= t;<strong>By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | August 5, 2012</st= rong></p> <h5>Italy’s Beaches Are Empty as Umbrella Men Strik= e</h5> <p>Italian beaches were denied of their usual August crow= ds on Friday as beach clubs staged a short strike, the latest in an emotive = conflict over right of access to the Mediterranean country’s sun-soaked coas= t. The strike, organized by the beachworkers’ union during the peak season, = to protest against the government’s plan that would see the right to operate= patches of seafront decided by auction from… Continue reading

Does Silence and Money Go Hand-In-Hand?

By Harry Kelber | The Labor Reform Movement | August 5, 2012

Union members often wonder what AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka does to earn 8 times their average salary. They can’t find out from Trumka himself, because for years he has refused to answer any of your questions.

We know that he makes speeches about the nation’s economic crisis, but we have yet to hear what he’s actually done to improve things for us. He has no plan to stop the exodus of tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. jobs to low-wage countries. He’s… Continue reading

Glass-Steagall Bill Would Define Bank’s Activities

By Harry Kelber | Labor Reform Movement | August 3, 2012

In the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash and economic meltdown, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act, which was designed to prevent future financial crises by reforming the functions of the banking industry.Under the Act, there would be two types of banks: one would be limited to commercial institutions for bank depositors, withdrawals, transfers and related transactions. The other type would deal exclusively with financial risk-taking investments in securities and bonds, where the banks could use our depositors’ money to produce profits for… Continue reading

98-year-old Brooklyn Heights man runs for president of nation’s largest labor group

By Danielle Furfaro | July 30, 2012 | The Brooklyn Paper

On his 98th birthday, professional rabble-rouser and Brooklyn Heights resident Harry Kelber announced he will run for president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. No, not the local chapter of the nation’s largest labor group — the activist born during the Wilson administration wants to be in charge of the entire 11-million worker organization, better known as the AFL-CIO. The Brooklyn Paper’s Danielle Furfaro visited Kelber and talked about his campaign, his… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | July 28, 2012

Lebanese civil servants carried out a general strike on July 24 at various ministries and public institutions to denounce the government’s failure to approve the long-awaited new salary scale for the public sector. The strike came in compliance with a call from the Union Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public school employees. Public school teachers have boycotted marking the official examinations of grades 9 and 12. They are demanding a salary scale that would give them and other public school employees the… Continue reading

Answer: Richard Trumka

Labor Reform Movement | July 24, 2012 | By Harry Kelber

The man who has earned that title is Richard L. Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a 12-million-member labor organization. So let me tell you why.

Trumka is not the richest man in the U.S., although it’s true that he is doing far better than most of us at a salary of $264,827 in 2010, which is about eight times the average salary of union members.

In 2011, just one year later, he had his salary increased to $293,750. That’s a 10 percent increase in one year.… Continue reading

The World of Labor | July 21, 2012 | By Harry Kelber

Adidas, the giant sportswear company, has won a $156 million deal that makes it the key sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics. But it has produced the tons of athletic sportswear exclusively in a range of low-wage countries, including China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand, where workers receive poverty wages and substandard working conditions.

In the United States, there is widespread outrage that our athletes won’t be wearing clothes that are manufactured in our country. A worldwide alliance of trade unions and civilian… Continue reading

30 Million Workers Would Benefit from Proposed Minimum Pay Law

By Harry Kelber | LaborTalk | July 19, 2012

If some 30 million low-wage workers had received their minimum wage checks adjusted to inflation over the past 40 years, they would be getting $10 an hour, instead of the $7.25 an hour under federal law.

This gross injustice against poorly-paid workers of the past forty years is being rectified in a proposed bill introduced by Illinois Democratic Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., titled "The Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2012."

The longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate, Ralph Nader,… Continue reading

Unlikely bid for organization’s top office to emphasize transparency

By Sarah Freishtat | The Washington Times | Thursday, July 19, 2012
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When Harry Kelber announced his intention to run for president next year of the nation’s largest labor organization, he carefully planned his campaign message. But he also had something else to plan — his 98th birthday party.

Mr. Kelber, a longtime labor activist from Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., and outspoken critic of the AFL-CIO, announced his candidacy late last month on the day he turned 98. He will be 99 when he formally challenges AFL-CIO President Richard L.… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | LaborTalk | July 16, 2012

In the past decade, 50,000 manufacturing sites in the United States closed their doors and 6 million Americans lost their jobs. Why? Because U.S. companies were outsourcing those jobs to low-wage countries that also offered them tax breaks and freedom from "labor trouble."

Since the 1990s, our government has given profiteering companies a free hand to outsource and outshore hundreds of thousands of good-paying American jobs. It has even encouraged the practice of outsourcing by treaties like the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since the early 1990s.

You won’t believe… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | July 14, 2012

A British MP, Glenis Willmott, is demanding a clearer commitment from European employers on the issue of blacklisting of workers. She has given a cautious welcome to a confirmation from the European Commission that, as part of the its upcoming review of health and safety legislation, it will ensure that EU law is being followed, and that workers are not being put at a disadvantage by employers.

Willmott, who is Labor’s leader in Europe, has called for a positive statement that the Commission will specifically address the issue… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | July 10, 2012

Both Republicans and Democrats have just about given up on the idea of providing millions of jobs (except talking about it as an election issue).

But Germany has found a solution that puts cash into the pockets of the unemployed, while reducing the jobless rate to 6 percent (at a time when it was 9 percent in the United States.)

How has Germany done it? How has it managed to dramatically drop the unemployment rate in the middle of their biggest economic crisis in 80 years? The answer… Continue reading

Workers Need a Strong Voice

By Harry Kelber | The Labor Reformers’ Campaign | July 8, 2012

Union members have read, in utter amazement, that for more than 100 years, no officer or member of a State AFL or Central Labor Council has ever held a seat on the policy-making AFL-CIO Executive Council, which has as many as 51 vice presidents.

How could such outrageous, undemocratic practices exist for so long without a massive rebellion on the part of union members, they ask? We’ll tell you how-and more important–how we are going to establish honest elections and other reforms at… Continue reading

Printers Strike Leaves France with No Newspapers on July 5

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | July 6, 2012

Printers Strike Leaves France with No Newspapers on July 5

The French were left with no morning paper to accompany their croissant and coffee on Thursday morning after a nationwide strike by printers protesting layoffs. Many editors had to publish their Thursday issues online, free of charges.

A switch to digit technology has resulted in large numbers of redundancies in newspaper printing. According to news reports, Hersani publishing house has fired 670 people, and one newspaper distributing company… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | LaborTalk (252) | June 30, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama’s health care law, saying that its requirement that Americans obtain health insurance or pay a penalty was within Congress’s power to levy taxes. The vote was. 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John C. Roberts Jr. joining the four more liberal members.

Unions were pleased with the decision, because it safeguarded three important features of the Affordable Care Act; (1) that insurers could not reject people with pre-existing health disabilities; (2) children living with insured parents would be covered until age 26,… Continue reading

Trumka Relies on Petitions That Are Routinely Ignored

By Harry Kelber | The Labor Reform Movement | June 26, 2012

While corporations continue to outsource good-paying U.S. jobs in search of cheap labor overseas that will increase their profits, the AFL-CIO relies on e-mails and petitions in a feeble and unsuccessful attempt to stop the practice.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is initiating a petition campaign to persuade the Obama administration to revise its international trade policies. Obama, as well as previous presidents since Bill Clinton, who helped to initiate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, have dismissed labor’s request.

Right… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | June 23, 2012

With 50 Million Members. IndustriALL is Set for Action

A newly-formed global federation of industrial unions will be a force with the muscle to take on giant international corporations on behalf of workers, the president of the United Steelworkers (USW), Leo Gerard, said on June 19. The coalition, known as IndustriALL Global Union, is being formed by a group of 1,200 trade union representatives, meeting this week in Copenhagen, Denmark. It joins together three former global labor groups: the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), the International Federation of Chemical,… Continue reading

You Get Bad PR With Poor Leadership

By Harry Kelber | The Labor Reform Movement | June 23, 2012

What we should have learned from the Wisconsin defeat is that the AFL-CIO does not project a favorable image to the public and that its appeal to the voters needs to be reformed.

Among the millions of unorganized workers, there must be huge numbers who would like the protection of a union, but object to the AFL-CIO, because it does not allow honest elections, tolerates corruption and is silent on the issue of worker rights.

To help workers around the country… Continue reading

Corporate Crime Reporter | June 20, 2012

Harry Kelber will challenge Richard Trumka for the presidency of the AFL-CIO at the labor union’s convention September 8-12, 2013 in Los Angeles. Remember Harry Kelber? He’s a labor activist and writer who runs The Labor Educator. Every week, Kelber eviscerates the leaders of the AFL-CIO for not actively challenging the corrupt corporate establishment in Washington, for paying 131 of its executives more than $100,000 a year, and for censoring any criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an interview with Corporate Crime Reporter last year, Kelber said that Trumka was… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | June 16, 2012

Only One in 10 of the G20 Countries Believes Austerity Will Work

International unions warned of a dangerous credibility gap between G20 leaders’ past statements on jobs and many G20 governments’ actions that are pushing economies back into recession and destroying jobs. The warning came as global unemployment climbed toward 210 million, with 75 million young people without jobs. The OECD and the ILO estimate that 21 million jobs need to be created each year to return to pre-crisis employment rates by 2015.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary,… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | LaborTalk (251) | June 14, 2012

On the assumption that the candidate with the most financial contributions will win the presidential election, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are spending most of their time to coaxing potential big donors for their support.

With only five months before Election Day, both Romney and Obama are on a frenzied schedule of fund-raising all across the country, leaving their surrogates to talk to voters about the critical issues of their campaigns.

On one afternoon, (June 12), President Obama made feature appearances at three fund-raisers in the Baltimore area before running… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | ‘Thinking of Labor’s Future’ | June 11, 2012

Article 8 Ends the Series

Right now, there are some 20 million people unemployed, including those who are on part-time jobs and others who have given up looking for work in a tight labor market.

Optimistic pundits and economists insist that the economy is improving and that before long, there will be lots of jobs as employers begin hiring. But the facts prove otherwise. Only 69,000 jobs in private industry were created in May, and with other statistics, reveal that the recession is far from over. And consider… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | June 8, 2012

Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights

The year (2011) was a difficult and often dangerous time for workers throughout the world, with those who dared to stand up for their trade union rights facing dismissal, arrest, imprisonment and even death. That, in essence, is the picture that emerges from the annual survey of trade union violations published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). This year’s survey examines 143 countries.

Colombia is once again the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. Of the 76 people… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | LaborTalk (250) | June 8, 2012

The unions are faced with a perplexing dilemma: Why are hardly any of the millions of unemployed speaking up and demanding that Congress create jobs for them? Why is the campaign for jobs being led almost exclusively by unions and progressives whose members are currently employed?

The silence of jobless workers may be that most of them have lost hope and don’t see anyone coming to help them. But supposing the AFL-CIO made a serious effort to find and organize the unemployed in a massive jobs campaign?

What if every… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | ‘Thinking of Labor’s Future’ | June 6, 2012

Article 7 in the Series

In Europe, as well as in Asia, several large international union federations are merging into even larger organizations, because they feel that is the best way to challenge giant multinational corporations that have been swallowing companies and creating subsidiaries throughout the world.

The world’s largest trade union was formed on Nov. 1, 2006 out of the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of Labor (WCL). At its founding Congress in Vienna, Austria, the International Confederation… Continue reading

BY CARL GINSBURG | National Nurse | May 2012
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From his perch high up on Brooklyn Height’s north bank, Harry Kelber can see across New York Harbor at all of Wall Street, its skyscrapers stacked in jagged outline. "They are dominating our country. The government is subservient to Wall Street," said Kelber, never one to pull punches. ‘We need a settlement to make up for what was taken. They are getting away with murder:’

Harry Kelber National Nurses United

Harry Kelber at his Brooklyn home. Photo from the National Nurses United magazine

On June 20, Harry Kelber turns 98. With remarkable… Continue reading

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