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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

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Heath Care Gap Larger than Thought, Study Finds

Official government estimates of the number of United States residents without health insurance may be severely understated, according to a report released yesterday by the Iowa Policy Project, a nonprofit research group. The new information shows that those in the now-substantial employment margins are less likely to be insured than society as a whole, adding to a mountain of evidence that current economic policies have worsened the lot for those already suffering from economic inequality.

Unaddressed Health Hazards Persist as New Orleans Slowly Rebuilds

Health advocates continue to raise alarms in response to troubling environmental test results, saying that instead of enforcing vital workplace safety regulations, the government has tied its own hands.

Ohio Grocery Workers Approve Strike*

Negotiators representing employees at five of the largest grocery-store chains in Ohio have a new hand to play heading into meetings with store representatives today after workers overwhelmingly pledged to strike in a Tuesday-night vote. Though union leaders stated they would prefer not to strike, the authorization, passed by more than 93 percent of those who voted, provides just that power should talks falter.

Second Group Looks to Raise Arizona Minimum Wage

A new coalition seeking to hoist Arizona’s wages filed ballot-initiative papers with the Secretary of State earlier this month. The measure would boost the state’s minimum wage by $2.60 beginning in 2007, in addition to attaching that wage floor to cost-of-living increases. The effort joins that of a second group that filed papers earlier this year proposing an incremental measure that would bring the wage floor to that level by 2008.

Santa Fe’s Living Wage Law Survives First Legal Challenge

Minimum-wage workers at businesses contracted by the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico saw their city-mandated wage-hike reaffirmed by a state court yesterday, after a coalition of business interests attempted to take wages back down to $5.15 per hour. Yesterday the New Mexico Court of Appeals said there was nothing illegal about a 2003 Santa Fe City Council decision to require all businesses over a certain size – in this case, more than 25 employees – to pay a minimum wage higher than that set by the state or federal governments.

Indianapolis Noise Ordinance Silences Protest, Groups Charge

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union took up the cause of the local Justice for Janitors campaign Monday, filing a lawsuit asking that a federal court declare a City of Indianapolis noise ordinance unconstitutional because it restricts workers’ right to protest. According to charges by the ACLU, city officials have used the ordinance to hinder unionized janitors’ attempts to challenge their labor conditions.

Food Workers Union Steps up Healthcare Reform Push

Joining the efforts of a government-founded national organization devoted to finding a workable solution to growing problems with the United States’s healthcare system, one of the nation’s largest unions yesterday announced its intention to actively engage members in the conversation. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is the first labor union to join the two-year-old Citizens’ Health Care Working Group.

Labor Group’s Database Tracks Outsourcing, Violations

A project of the nation’s largest organized labor organization has a new tool for US-based workers and their supporters: a database of companies that outsource jobs, violate labor laws and threaten the health and safety of workers.

Umbrella Labor Groups Near Deal on Local Cooperation

A contentious discussion between the nation’s largest organized labor groups over the substance and practice of cooperating at the state and local levels appears closer to a resolution this week after both groups announced that national leaders had reached a tentative agreement for implementing the plan.

Job Creation, Quality at Historic Low, Think Tank Finds

As national lawmakers consider legislation granting somewhere between $35 billion and $60 billion in tax cuts, much of it to the nation’s wealthiest citizens, a progressive economic think tank yesterday released its annual Thanksgiving report asserting that the acceleration of tax cuts since 2001 has done little to create jobs while contributing to "economy-choking deficits."

Mountaintop Removal Meets Fresh Resistance in Tennessee*

A revival of the controversial strip-mining practice that decimates landscapes known for their lush, majestic peaks is stirring ire and protest from locals in Tennessee's North Cumberland Mountains.

Some Minneapolis Workers May Soon See ‘Living Wage’

In a move hailed by labor organizations, the Minneapolis City Council resoundingly approved an ordinance requiring companies operating with city money to pay workers at least $12.09 an hour. The measure, which could spread to neighboring St. Paul, strengthens an existing "living-wage" law in the city, upping the minimum wage some employers must pay from 110 to 130 percent of the federal poverty level.

Congress Urged to Ax Bill Giving ‘Free Rides’ to Katrina Contractor

A coalition of labor, workplace safety and environmental groups is calling on Senators to reject a bill that, the organizations say, would allow private contractors to violate environmental and worker protections in national disasters and other emergencies.

Californians Vote Down All Eight Ballot Measures

Voters appear to have defeated all eight ballot measures put before them this year, four backed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, early returns from the Secretary of State show.

Supreme Court Sides with Workers in Wage Case

In the first workers’ rights ruling of the John Roberts era, the Supreme Court on Wednesday found that employers must pay workers for the time it takes them to don protective gear and travel to their workstations. The unanimous decision upheld one lower-court ruling and partially overturned another, while finding that employers could deny pay for time spent waiting for protective equipment and uniforms.

Kitchen-labor Union Launching Wal-Mart Workers Association

Keeping the heat on the world’s largest retailer, the United Food and Commercial Workers on Friday unveiled a new organizing tool: the Wal-Mart Workers of America (WWOA). The UFCW said the effort is designed to "help empower Wal-Mart workers to join together in order to improve their working conditions, their lives and change Wal-Mart into a more responsible and moral corporation."

Auto Union Reassures Delphi Workers, Reaffirms Strike Threat

Last week a federal bankruptcy judge approved severance and payment plans offered by recently bankrupted auto-parts manufacturer Delphi Corp., setting the stage for a broader showdown with the labor union representing most of the company’s 35,000 workers. If Delphi’s plans go through, some employees will lose their jobs and all will have to accept drastic pay cuts.

Immigrants Rebuilding Gulf Coast Suffer ‘Third World’ Conditions

As businesses reap huge profits from contracts to clean up and reconstruct the storm-devastated Gulf Coast, a hidden underclass doing much of the toiling is underpaid, defrauded and mistreated.

Campaign Against Wal-Mart to Heighten in Mid-November

Opposition to Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is escalating as a coalition of the company’s detractors prepares to launch a week-long series of grassroots actions nationwide from November 13 - 19. Led by WalMartWatch, an umbrella group of liberal and progressive organizations founded by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) head Andrew Stern, tens of thousands are expected to take part in organized discussions and protests to be held at community centers and churches across the country, as well as outside many of Wal-Mart’s 3,600 stores.

Anti-Union Actions at Blue Diamond Spur Charges

A year-long campaign to organize nut-farm workers at the Sacramento, California-based Blue Diamond Growers is escalating. Employees recently filed charges of unfair labor practices against the company, and the union sent people out over the weekend to inform patrons and employees of businesses that deal with Blue Diamond about the grower’s aggressive anti-union actions.

Pentagon Readies Personnel Rule Changes

Despite court findings barring a similar plan and threats of a new lawsuit, the Pentagon last week officially announced it would implement a new personnel system that cuts worker input. The plan would affect about 650,000 employees, the majority belonging to labor unions vehemently opposed to the new rules.

Delphi Goes Back on Word to Workers

In a switch not anticipated by labor union leaders, the nation’s largest auto-parts maker is demanding that workers accept pay that could be as little as one-third of their current compensation as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy. The proposal would place many workers below the federal poverty line.

Bush Promises to Restore Wage Protections for Gulf Coast Workers

Bowing to pressure from organized labor, politicians and others, the White House said yesterday that it would lift an emergency order permitting federal contractors to pay less than the prevailing wage in the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast region. The move is expected by the second week of November.

Wal-Mart Exec. Sought to Cut Benefits, Discourage Disabled Labor

In a memo executives are now scurrying to downplay, a Wal-Mart executive advised her colleagues to consider cutting healthcare benefits and instituting policies to discourage "unhealthy" workers.

New York Firefighters to Sue over 9/11-related Disability Decision*

Claiming that a 2003 pension board decision changing the rules for firefighters seeking 9/11-related disability payments may be "political," a group of 30 current and retired New York City firefighters is preparing a class-action lawsuit against the city fire department to force officials to either return workers to full status or allow them to retire with the original pension.

Bush Nominees for Labor Safety Slots Have Questionable Records

In two nominations to Department of Labor positions charged with overseeing workplace health and safety issues, President Bush named two men known for advocating business interests, in lieu of people with any known record of promoting worker protections.

Groups Urge Congress to Protect Gulf Workers

With near-daily reports about workers in the Gulf Coast region toiling under hazardous conditions for long hours with poor pay, over 100 organizations are seeking federal action to reverse the situation for many of the nation’s most vulnerable people.

Competing Minimum Wage Bills Nixed in Senate

Despite recent reports showing a widening income gap and increasing poverty in the nation, the US Senate this week narrowly voted down two measures that would have boosted the federal minimum wage for the first time in nine years. Both bills would have raised the wage floor a modest $1.10 an hour over eighteen months, the first such increase since 1996.

Automakers Lining Up for UAW Healthcare Concessions

Possibly smelling an opportunity following the recently announced deal between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and General Motors to shift a greater share of health care costs onto the shoulders of workers, two more automobile manufacturers are seeking similar compromises from unionized workers.

Investigation of Gov’t Whistleblower Office Purges Underway, Finally

More than seven months after employees of a federal watchdog agency demanded it, an investigation into allegations of cronyism, discrimination and a sudden and seemingly politically motivated personnel decisions is set to begin.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.