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Australia slides from world’s greatest country to pariah – in just ten years

Australia slides from world’s greatest country to pariah – in just ten years


A decade ago, Australia was lauded worldwide for its accomplishments and today it is condemned for its racism, selfishness and corruption, says Alan Austin.

THERE WAS NO question which the world’s most admired country in 2011. Australia’s achievements included:

  • The world’s highest median wealth, according to Credit Suisse;
  • The greatest economic freedom in the OECD, according to the Heritage Foundation;
  • 20 years of continuous GDP growth, alone in the developed world;
  • Triple A credit ratings with all three global agencies for the first time in history;
  • A jobless rate down to 4.92% in June, among the lowest five in the OECD and a level not achieved since;
  • The Australian dollar hit a 30-year high of 1.095 U.S. dollars;
  • The world’s best Treasurer, according to other global finance ministers;
  • Australia’s first carbon pricing scheme was enacted, thereby joining the world on climate action; 
  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech to the U.S. Congress was interrupted six times for standing ovations, ten times for seated applause and received a record three-minute standing ovation at the end; and
  • Australia was nominated at the 2011 G20 leaders’ summit to chair the G20.

That’s the top ten. There were plenty more. ANU astrophysicist Brian Schmidt won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics; Samantha Stosur won the U.S. Open; and Sally Pearson was named IAAF world athlete of the year. It was a great year for global recognition. It’s a pity that so few successes were reported in Australia.

Fast forward one decade and Australia is now condemned globally for its abject failures on more than ten substantial issues.

It takes more than 'speaking up' to change a toxic culture

Rape in the national Parliament

The New York Times headed its report, ‘Parliament rape claim roils Australian Government’The Independent in the UK declared, ‘Australian parliament rape accuser calls out PM’s office for briefings and “victim-blaming”’.

Similar reports ran in the British The Guardian, the BBC, Argentina’s La NacionThe Japan Times, The New Zealand Herald and elsewhere.

Morrison dumps Australia’s problem on New Zealand

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison took devious advantage of the fact that an Australian in Syria had been born in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Herald quoted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern explaining that the woman:

… left New Zealand at the age of six, [was] resident in Australia from that time, became an Australian citizen, left from Australia to Syria, and travelled on an Australian passport. Our very strong view … was that this individual was clearly most appropriately dealt with by Australia.

 

I raised that issue directly with Prime Minister Morrison and asked that we work together on resolving the issue. I was then informed in the following year that Australia had unilaterally revoked the citizenship of the individual.

Morrison’s stance on this was reported in The Times of India, The Jakarta Post, the BBC, Canada’s Toronto Star, FR24 in France, Deutsche Welle in Germany and widely elsewhere.

Killings and cover-ups by Australian special forces in Afghanistan

Thus began a feature titled The Killing Field in Qatar’s Al Jazeera:

“We investigate explosive revelations about killings and cover-ups by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.” 

The prestigious New York Times headed its report, ‘Blood Lust and Demigods: Behind an Australian Force’s Slaughter of Helpless Afghans’.

Similar damning reports ran in Indonesia’s Kompas, The Indian Express, France 24, the BBC, NPR and CBS.

War crimes report: Changing the culture and facing the true cost of war

Australia isolated on climate change

With the U.S. under President Joe Biden rejoining the global community on climate action, Australia is again the conspicuous international pariah. 

A lengthy essay in the Washington-based Foreign Policy analysed Fiji’s response to:

‘Australia’s continued recalcitrance towards climate change creating significant friction at the most recent in-person Pacific Islands Forum meeting.’

Similar condemnations of Morrison’s regime appeared in The Straits Times in Singapore, the Japan The Japan Times, South China Morning Post, Klimareporter in Germany and Japan’s Nikkei Asia.

Australians stranded abroad

Many countries now host Australian travellers who can’t get home because of the Morrison Government’s failed pandemic border policies.

Le Figaro in France wrote:

‘… tens of thousands of Australians remain stranded abroad. Those who return must pay around 3,000 Australian dollars for their hotel quarantine.’

Negative reports have run in Argentina’s InfobaeThe New Zealand HeraldThe Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.

Continuing abuse of asylum seekers

A scathing report in The New York Times quoted Dr Nick Martin, a former chief medical officer on Nauru, claiming the Morrison Government was intentionally detaining people ‘to make an example of them’.

The report read:

‘The Government is sending a message because it has gone hard on refugees and asylum seekers. Many will have severe mental health issues after being kept offshore for upward of eight years …’

Similar condemnations of Australia’s inhumane refugee policies have run in many countries.

Governments continue to ignore climate change as a cause of koala extinction

Facebook’s news ban

According to Professor Jeff Jarvis of New York:

“Facebook called the bluff of [News Corp boss Rupert] Murdoch and his politicians [after the Morrison Government attempted] blackmail on behalf of media companies who are cashing in their political capital to try to get money out of Google and Facebook and they are using politicians in the process.”

Virtually all major news outlets worldwide are reporting this saga.

Ongoing Indigenous oppression

Indigenous Australians ‘on average die up to 17 years younger than non-Indigenous people’, according to a recent news story in Al Jazeera. Equally damning reports run routinely in journals worldwide.

Australia Day protests

A New York Times essayist wrote:

‘On Tuesday, tens of thousands of people marched through Australia’s major cities in opposition to the holiday, which they instead refer to as Invasion Day. It is a blunt reframing of the legacy of the arrival of the British 233 years ago, which set in motion centuries of oppression of Indigenous people.’

Other reports of Australia’s violent conflict over Australia Day ran in The Huffington Post,  The New Zealand Herald, the BBC and elsewhere.

Deterioration of the relationship with China

Le Figaro in France reported that:

‘Relations between China and Australia have deteriorated in recent months, especially after Australia requested an international investigation to determine the origin of the coronavirus pandemic …’

Journals to have reported the Morrison Government’s failure to maintain cordial relations with its trading partner include Indonesia’s Kompas, Washington-based The Diplomat and, not surprisingly, the China Daily.

Several other scandals and failures have been reported globally, including Australia’s failure to plan for electric cars, the marginalisation of migrants and the conspiracy theorists inside the Coalition parties.

Can Australia recover the world’s favourite nation status again? Of course. It’s just one election away.

Alan Austin’s defamation matter is nearly over. You can read the latest update here and contribute to the crowd-funding campaign HEREAlan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @AlanAustin001.

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12 Japanese firms will end business deals involving Uighur forced labor

12 Japanese firms will end business deals involving Uighur forced labor


Twelve major Japanese companies have established a policy of ceasing business deals with Chinese companies found to benefit from the forced labor of the Muslim Uighur minority in China’s far-western Xinjiang region, a Kyodo News investigation showed Sunday.

Pressure has been mounting on Japanese firms to take action over such human rights abuses in the supply chain after the United States and Britain imposed import restrictions on cotton and other products originating from the autonomous region.

The Japanese government, which has been criticized for being slow to impose similar sanctions, has been passive in addressing the issue due to fears of provoking China.

In a report last year, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute identified over 80 global companies “directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uighur workers outside Xinjiang through abusive labor transfer programs.” Kyodo News recently asked 14 Japanese companies mentioned by the think tank how they plan to respond.

With the exception of Panasonic Corp., which declined to comment, all companies either denied directly doing business with companies suspected of benefiting from forced labor or said they could not verify the claims against their suppliers.

In terms of future policy, 12 companies responded that they would cease or consider ceasing business with business partners found to be using forced labor.

A 'vocational training center' in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region | REUTERS VIA KYODO
A ‘vocational training center’ in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region | REUTERS VIA KYODO

Toshiba Corp., which has a license contract with a firm suspected of using forced labor, said it could not confirm the claims but has decided to terminate business with them by the end of the year.

The 12 companies also include Fast Retailing Co., operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing brand, Sony Corp. and Hitachi Ltd.

As many foreign companies rely on self-reporting of the human rights situation by the firms themselves, they are faced with the challenge of grasping the situation beyond direct business partners.

Ryohin Keikaku Co., the Muji brand goods store chain operator, was among three Japanese companies found to have dealings with Chinese firms, or parent companies of those firms, currently under embargo by the U.S. government.

“All our cotton and yarn has been internationally certified organic by a third party,” it said.

The retailer had been selling various products with “Xinjiang cotton” as part of the product’s name on its official website, but they were removed following the Kyodo News investigation.

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12 Japan firms will kill business deals involving Uyghur forced labor

12 Japan firms will kill business deals involving Uyghur forced labor


Twelve major Japanese companies have established a policy of ceasing business deals with Chinese companies found to benefit from the forced labor of the Muslim Uyghur minority in China’s far-western Xinjiang region, a Kyodo News investigation showed Sunday.

Pressure has been mounting on Japanese firms to take action over such human rights abuses in the supply chain after the United States and Britain imposed import restrictions on cotton and other products originating from the autonomous region.

People take part in a rally condemning China’s alleged human rights violations against Uyghurs in Hong Kong on Dec. 22, 2019. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The Japanese government, which has been criticized for being slow to impose similar sanctions, has been passive in addressing the issue due to fears of provoking China.

In a report last year, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute identified over 80 global companies “directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through abusive labor transfer programs.” Kyodo News recently asked 14 Japanese companies mentioned by the think tank how they plan to respond.

With the exception of Panasonic Corp., which declined to comment, all companies either denied directly doing business with companies suspected of benefiting from forced labor or said they could not verify the claims against their suppliers.

In terms of future policy, 12 companies responded that they would cease or consider ceasing business with business partners found to be using forced labor.

Toshiba Corp., which has a license contract with a firm suspected of using forced labor, said it could not confirm the claims but has decided to terminate business with them by the end of the year.

The 12 also include Fast Retailing Co., operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing brand, Sony Corp. and Hitachi Ltd.

As many foreign companies rely on self-reporting of the human rights situation by the firms themselves, they are faced with the challenge of grasping the situation beyond direct business partners.

Ryohin Keikaku Co., the Muji-brand goods store chain operator, was among three Japanese companies found to have dealings with Chinese firms, or parent companies of those firms, currently under embargo by the U.S. government.

“All our cotton and yarn has been internationally certified organic by a third party,” it said.

The retailer had been selling various products with “Xinjiang cotton” as part of the product’s name on its official website, but they were removed following the Kyodo News investigation.





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Labor faction fails to promote gender equality in politics

Labor faction fails to promote gender equality in politics


Equality is something every employer should strive for and our Federal Parliament should be no different.

The male-to-female ratio of the major parties is something that much has been written and spoken about across all forms of media. It is something both the Greens and the Labor Party in particular campaign particularly hard on.

The Coalition, on the other hand, has dragged the chain. However, It is also fair to say progress is being made in the Coalition, but is painstakingly slow. They have seemingly had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards the equality table and it is a table where they are yet to take a seat.

Last Federal Election campaign, Labor proudly launched its ‘Australian women. Labor’s plan for equality’ policy in Melbourne with former leader Bill Shorten talking up the fact that Labor would have an equal number of men and women in its ministerial team should he win government.

Even better, it wasn’t just the ministerial team, Bill announcing:

‘…if we win the election on May the 18th, we will be the first government in the history of the Commonwealth with 50 per cent women in our ranks.’

It was fitting that this policy was launched in Victoria, Bill’s home state and a state with strong rules regarding the role of women in the Party.

Men must play a constructive role to achieve gender equality

The Labor Party’s Affirmative Action platform means there are strict party rules regarding the equal representation of women across all party positions, including elected positions.

The Coalition has no such rules nor does it seem to have any inclination of putting any in place. Maybe Prime Minister Scott Morrison is hoping for another miracle.

However, things aren’t quite as rosy in Labor as Shorten would have had us believe.

Ironically, it was Shorten making this equality policy speech and also ironic that he was making it in Victoria.

The Labor Affirmative Action rules cover virtually every aspect of the Party, however, it doesn’t cover one crucial area — the factions.

The leading Labor faction in Victoria is the Victorian Right, Bill Shorten’s faction. As published by Fairfax, the Victorian Right has 13 members in Federal Parliament, three of which are women. That’s 23%, or less than half of the 50% Shorten bragged so proudly about. With the Right holding the power across Labor’s internal committees, is it any wonder the Affirmative Action rules don’t apply to factions?

(Source: The Sydney Morning Herald)

To put things in perspective, 29% of the National Party’s Federal Parliamentarians are women. A pathetic amount sure, but still 26% better than Labor’s Victorian Right faction can manage.

No member of the Victorian Right has any moral authority to be critical of the Coalition when it comes to equality, but of course, that hasn’t stopped some of them blowing their trumpet based on the willingness of others to observe their own party rules.

It may be the director of the “boys club” over at the Victorian Right Zionist think tank, John Curtin Research Centre, publicly berating EMILY’s List, an organisation dedicated to promoting women in Labor and telling them to ‘get in the bin’. It may be the fact that the largest faction in the state’s dominant political party can’t find a handful of women amongst its thousands of members that it thinks are worthy of preselecting in winnable seats. Any way you cut it, this is a faction that makes the party of Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan look progressive by comparison.

Supporters of this faction may think that the public doesn’t notice so therefore, it doesn’t matter. The Victorian Left supports both women and the party rules and makes up for the failings of the Right so what does it matter?

There are three unwritten party rules that decide who will be Labor’s federal deputy leader. They are that Affirmative Action rules apply to party leadership, that leadership must be made up of both Left and Right members and that the leader and deputy should not be from the same state.

With current Labor leader Anthony Albanese coming from the NSW Left, this means the deputy should be from the Right, female, from another state and an elected member from the House Of Representatives.

Outside of NSW, the dominant faction is the Victorian Right, unfortunately leaving the choice of only two women from the HOR rather than the six they would have had if they followed the party platform.

While I think Clare O’Neil would have made a fine deputy leader, certainly one that would run rings around Richard Marles, the Victorian Right decided that the unwritten rule about Left and Right was more important than the one about gender equality, so we ended up with Richard Marles as deputy leader. A less than inspiring bloke rather than a strong woman.

The party spin was that there were two female leaders in the Senate so that provided the balance of half the leadership team.

Women in politics don't get the credit they deserve

Quite frankly, that is bullshit.

Penny Wong is Labor’s Senate leader. She is the Senate equivalent of Tony Burke, not the Party equivalent of Richard Marles.

The Labor Party leadership is the leader and the deputy, currently this is made up of two men. A less-than-fantastic achievement that nobody had to burn a bra to achieve.

The Victorian Right is a rogue boys club that operates well outside the party platform and sadly, even after being put into administration due to the branch stacking from one sub-faction of the Right, the other sub-faction carries on as nothing has happened.

Some members of the Victorian Right will tell you that all Labor leaders that have won a federal election have come from Labor’s Right.

Others will tell you that every Labor leader from the Left has been undermined and white-anted by members of the Right, a phenomenon we’ve seen in the UK recently from the turncoats that brand themselves “Blue Labour” like some kind of toilet cleaner or mouthwash with a septic aftertaste.

Every time you read a headline that questions Anthony Albanese’s leadership, be under no illusion what rock the “unnamed source” crawled out from under.

If Labor ever seeks to form government again, they need to rein in its rogue conservative members.

Victoria is a great place to start.

Peter Wicks is an Independent Australia columnist and a former Federal Labor Party staffer. You can follow him on Twitter @MadWixxy.

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Labor backflip would only benefit the rich – 16 News


Australian Greens Housing spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has said reports that Labor may scrap commitments to wind back negative gearing and reduce capital gains tax (CGT) deductions would only benefit the wealthy.

Senator Faruqi said:

“For decades, Australian governments have created a housing system that actively impoverishes people and makes inequality worse.

“Not too long ago, Labor was calling out negative gearing and the CGT discount as “tax subsidies” that “benefit the wealthiest Australians” and are “skewed to high income earners”.

“This seems to be an opposition in name only. There is no good policy reason for backing down on negative gearing and capital gains. Any back down would be purely political and would only benefit the rich. It will do nothing to provide a home for everyone.

“Covid-19 has put the inequity and inhumanity of our housing system starkly in the spotlight. Labor should be strengthening its policies on negative gearing and capital gains, not abolishing them.

“I’m urging Labor not to shrink away from what are very modest policies. In reality, we should dismantle this rigged system through comprehensive reform and winding back CGT deductions and negative gearing.”



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Miami-Dade County Mayor Ends Eulen America’s Contract at Miami Airport

Miami-Dade County Mayor Ends Eulen America’s Contract at Miami Airport


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For years, subcontracted workers at Miami International Airport have reported abusive working conditions, being forced to work when sick, and being subjected to retaliation for speaking out.

Today, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava terminated a contract between the county and Eulen America, the company that subcontracts these employees to provide services for American Airlines, Delta, and other airlines at MIA.

Miami Herald reporter Doug Hanks first tweeted the news on Friday afternoon.

A memorandum from Cava’s office to Eulen America reads, in part:

“The decision to terminate the services currently provided by Eulen America was not made lightly. On the contrary, for many months Miami-Dade County staff and elected officials have heard complaints voiced by Eulen America employees with regard to poor working conditions at MIA. to mention just a few, employees have expressed concerns about working long hours without adequate breaks, lack of training, lack of personal protective equipment to minimize exposure to hazardous conditions, vehicles in disrepair, limited access to drinking water or restrooms, and under-staffing.”

Hanks also tweeted a response from Eulen, in which the company stated that it was given no advance warning or reason for the contract termination.

“We are deeply disappointed and frankly concerned that Mayor Levine-Cava has taken this surprise action against our company. This puts the jobs of more than 900 of our employees at MIA in jeopardy during a global pandemic and the worst economic downturn in the history of the aviation industry.”

Eulen America subcontracted employees to clean airplane cabins and handle luggage for the airline companies, among other tasks.

An April 2019 investigation by CBS4 investigative reporter (and Miami New Times alum) Jim DeFede detailed harsh and harmful working conditions experienced by Eulen employees, including exposure to extreme heat, vermin, blood, and other bodily fluids. Workers said they often couldn’t pay their bills owing to the abysmal pay and limited hours.

In response to DeFede’s report, the company denied the allegations of inhumane working conditions and characterized the criticism as “attacks” by a few employees and a union with an agenda.

But in November 2019, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found some of the working conditions were severe enough to warrant citations and fines for violations, such as exposure to excessive heat, dangerous noise levels, and blood-borne pathogens. OSHA initially fined the company nearly $80,000, but online records show the parties reached an informal agreement that called for about $47,000 in penalties.

Last March, when the novel coronavirus began spreading across Miami-Dade, Eulen workers told New Times they didn’t feel they had the supplies or the training to do their jobs and protect themselves against infected passengers.

Following mass layoffs last summer, employees still with the company told New Times they felt pressured to report to work even when they felt sick. The workers said they weren’t notified when coworkers tested positive for COVID-19 and that they had to purchase their own personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves. (Eulen doesn’t provide paid sick leave to its subcontracted employees, which workers said had presented a longtime problem for those with pre-existing conditions and those who contracted COVID-19.)

Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ, the union that represents subcontracted airline workers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, has been trying to organize workers at MIA for years. Union representatives have said the company has resisted the efforts.

32BJ-SEIU has also long called for Miami-Dade to terminate its contract with Eulen unless the company improved working conditions.

Reached by phone on Friday afternoon, union spokesperson Ana Tinsly said she needed to review the information about the contract termination and that she had no comment for now. Union representatives have been leading a janitors’ strike over the past week.

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Russia Eyes Measures to Tackle Migrant Labor Shortage

Russia Eyes Measures to Tackle Migrant Labor Shortage


Russia said Wednesday it was looking to simplify entry requirements for migrant workers, to aid industries like construction and agriculture that are facing labor shortages due to the pandemic.

Moscow announced border closures in spring last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus, prompting thousands of migrant workers, mostly from ex-Soviet countries in Central Asia, to hastily return home. 

Russia has now opened its borders to several dozen countries but international flights are infrequent and most foreigners are still barred from entering.

The interior ministry estimated last year that close to half of all migrants living in Russia before the pandemic had left the country.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Wednesday that the government is “actively discussing” simplifying entry procedures to help labor shortages in agriculture. 

Peskov added that the issue has “also been raised in the construction sector” where there is a growing demand for workers. 

Business daily RBC reported Wednesday that the Agriculture Ministry filed a request to allow migrants to enter Russia for seasonal agricultural work in 2021, with farmers worried about a lack of skilled local labor.

In a statement quoted by TASS state news agency, the ministry said it was planning to release 184 million rubles ($2.5 million) to help farmers meet the costs of additional recruitment.

These subsidies are intended in particular to finance hiring and housing of local agriculture students, who would be available to work in the summer. 

The sudden flight cancellations in the spring left hundreds of migrant workers from Central Asia stranded in Russian airports and in border towns for several days.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants live in Russia and their salary transfers are essential for the economies of several Central Asian countries.

Migrant workers were among the worst-hit by the Covid-19 crisis in Russia, with one survey showing that three in four lost their source of income during the pandemic.



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Why American labor laws need a major update — the PRO Act is a great start

Why American labor laws need a major update — the PRO Act is a great start



When workers at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions tried to form a union, the company quickly brought in five full-time union-busters to torment them day and night.

The hired guns saturated the Bridgeport, Michigan, plant with anti-union messages, publicly belittled organizers, harangued workers on the shop floor and asked them how they’d feed their families if the plant closed.

The months of endless bullying took their toll, as the company intended, and workers voted against forming the union just to bring the harassment to an end.

“Fear was their main tactic,” recalled Duane Forbes, one of the workers, noting the union-busters not only threatened the future of the plant but warned that the company would eliminate his colleagues’ jobs and health care during a labor dispute. “Fear is the hardest thing to overcome.”

Legislation now before Congress would ensure that corporations never trample workers’ rights like this again.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, introduced on February 4, will free Americans to build better lives and curtail the scorched-earth campaigns that employers wage to keep unions out at any cost.

The PRO Act, backed by President Joe Biden and pro-worker majorities in the House and the Senate, will impose stiff financial penalties on companies that retaliate against organizers and require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to fast-track legal proceedings for workers suspended or fired for union activism. It also empowers workers to file their own civil lawsuits against employers that violate their labor rights.

The legislation will bar employers from permanently replacing workers during labor disputes, eliminating a threat that companies like Orchid Orthopedic often use to thwart organizing campaigns.

And the PRO Act will empower the NLRB to force corporations into bargaining with workers if they interfere in union drives. That means an end to the mandatory town hall meetings that employers regularly use to disparage organized labor and hector workers into voting against unions.

Orchid Orthopedic’s union-busters forced Forbes and his colleagues into hour-long browbeating sessions once or twice a week for months—and that was on top of the daily, one-on-one bullying the workers endured on the production floor.

“There was nowhere to go,” Forbes, who’s worked at Orchid Orthopedic for 22 years, said of the relentless intimidation. “You couldn’t just go to work and do your job anymore.”

growing number of Americans, many of whom saw unions step up to protect members during the COVID-19 pandemic, seek the safe working conditions and other protections they can only achieve by organizing.

That includes Forbes and his colleagues, who endured years of benefit cuts but still put their lives on the line for the company during the pandemic.

They launched an organizing drive to secure a voice in the workplace. They also sought job protections to prevent the company from discarding them “like a broken hammer”—as one worker, Mike Bierlein, put it—when it’s done with them.

But as more Americans seek the benefits of union membership, employers’ escalating attacks on labor rights make the PRO Act ever more important.

Corporations drop hundreds of millions of dollars every year on “union-avoidance consultants”—like the ones Forbes and Bierlein encountered—to coach them on how to thwart organizing drives.

The higher the stakes, the dirtier employers play. Tech giants Google and Amazon used their vast technology and wealth to propel union-busting to a new level.

Google not only electronically spied on workers it suspected of having union sympathies, but rigged its computer systems to prevent them from sharing calendars and virtual meeting rooms.

Amazon developed plans for special software to track unions and other so-called “threats” to the company’s well-being. In Alabama, where thousands of Amazon warehouse workers just began voting on whether to unionize, the company showed anti-union videos and PowerPoints at mandatory town hall meetings, posted propaganda in bathroom stalls and sent multiple harassing text messages to every worker every day.

“It really opened my eyes to what’s going on,” Bierlein, who’s worked at Orchid Orthopedic for 18 years, said of the unfair tactics his company employed against organizers. “The deck is stacked against workers.”

The PRO Act will help to level the playing field and arrest the decades-long erosion of labor rights that significantly accelerated under the previous, anti-worker presidential administration.

It will require employers to post notices informing workers of their labor rights, helping to ensure managers respect the law. The legislation will enable prospective union members to vote on union representation on neutral sites instead of workplaces where the threat of coercion looms.

And the PRO Act will make it more difficult for employers to deliberately misclassify employees as contractors with fewer labor rights. That change will give millions of gig workers, including those driving for shared-ride and food-delivery companies, the opportunity to form unions and fight for better futures.

Right now, employers often stall negotiations for a first contract to punish workers for organizing or frustrate them into giving up. The PRO Act will curb these abuses by requiring mediation and binding arbitration when companies drag talks out.

Orchid Orthopedic’s campaign of intimidation and deception lasted until the very end of the union drive.

As the vote on organizing neared, Forbes said, the company promised it would treat workers better in the future if they decided against the union.

Instead, after the vote fell short, the company quickly increased the cost of spousal health insurance. That left Forbes more convinced than ever that workers need changes like those promised in the PRO Act to seize control of their destinies.

“I’m all about right and wrong,” Forbes said, “and the way we were treated was wrong.”

*This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.



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ROADS: Labor raises spectre of regional job losses

ROADS: Labor raises spectre of regional job losses


Concern are being raised over the Government’s regional roads scheme as the Minister refuses to rule out the possibility of job losses stemming from their flagship election promise.

The NSW Government’s election commitment to take responsibility for 15,000km of roads was seen as a win for local councils burdened with hundreds of kilometres of rural road maintenance.

There has been significant interest in the scheme with 97 per cent of regional councils attending consultation sessions with an independent panel set up to guide the process, chaired by former NRMA president Wendy Machin.

The most raised topic during those sessions was funding arrangements for transferred roads.

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If councils are able to relinquish ownership, a significant liability will be taken off their books and a priority round opened last year for those deemed eligible by having roads needing urgent attention.

Shadow Minister for Regional Roads Mick Veitch (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Shadow Minister for Regional Roads Mick Veitch (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

However, there is concern the scheme could lead to maintenance contracts being taken up by the private sector rather than local councils and Labor’s shadow Minister for Rural Roads, Mick Veitch, wants assurances that no council will be worse off.

“The implementation of this decision by the Liberal and National government should not end in job losses in our regional and rural councils,” he said.

READ MORE: Council could seal financial windfall

“The Government has refused to guarantee there will be no job losses,”

“Councils and their employees throughout rural NSW are justifiably concerned about what will happen next.”

Roads Minister Paul Toole at the sod turning before the official start of the Coffs Harbour bypass.

Roads Minister Paul Toole at the sod turning before the official start of the Coffs Harbour bypass.

While Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole refused to answer questions relating to Labor’s concerns, Transport for NSW responded with a short statement.

“The Panel is due to deliver its interim report and priority recommendations to the NSW Government shortly based on submissions received in the priority round,” the spokesperson said.

“No decision has yet been made on the reclassification or transfer of any roads.

“The Panel plans to deliver its full report, which will provide recommendations as per its Terms of Reference, later this year.”

Clarence Valley Council has previously indicated Armidale Rd and Clarence Way were prime candidates for the scheme, while it is unknown if Coffs Harbour City Council would nominate any roads for reclassification.

Tony Judge

Tony Judge

Labor’s Coffs Harbour spokesperson Tony Judge said Council workers who maintained the region’s roads needed assurance their jobs were not under threat.

“Our region needs more secure, fairly paid jobs for local blue collar workers, not greater uncertainty about their future,” he said.

“They need to come clean about their plans.”





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ROADS: Labor raises spectre of regional job losses

ROADS: Labor raises spectre of regional job losses


Concern are being raised over the Government’s regional roads scheme as the Minister refuses to rule out the possibility of job losses stemming from their flagship election promise.

The NSW Government’s election commitment to take responsibility for 15,000km of roads was seen as a win for local councils burdened with hundreds of kilometres of rural road maintenance.

There has been significant interest in the scheme with 97 per cent of regional councils attending consultation sessions with an independent panel set up to guide the process, chaired by former NRMA president Wendy Machin.

The most raised topic during those sessions was funding arrangements for transferred roads.

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If councils are able to relinquish ownership, a significant liability will be taken off their books and a priority round opened last year for those deemed eligible by having roads needing urgent attention.

Shadow Minister for Regional Roads Mick Veitch (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Shadow Minister for Regional Roads Mick Veitch (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

However, there is concern the scheme could lead to maintenance contracts being taken up by the private sector rather than local councils and Labor’s shadow Minister for Rural Roads, Mick Veitch, wants assurances that no council will be worse off.

“The implementation of this decision by the Liberal and National government should not end in job losses in our regional and rural councils,” he said.

READ MORE: Council could seal financial windfall

“The Government has refused to guarantee there will be no job losses,”

“Councils and their employees throughout rural NSW are justifiably concerned about what will happen next.”

Roads Minister Paul Toole at the sod turning before the official start of the Coffs Harbour bypass.

Roads Minister Paul Toole at the sod turning before the official start of the Coffs Harbour bypass.

While Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole refused to answer questions relating to Labor’s concerns, Transport for NSW responded with a short statement.

“The Panel is due to deliver its interim report and priority recommendations to the NSW Government shortly based on submissions received in the priority round,” the spokesperson said.

“No decision has yet been made on the reclassification or transfer of any roads.

“The Panel plans to deliver its full report, which will provide recommendations as per its Terms of Reference, later this year.”

Clarence Valley Council has previously indicated Armidale Rd and Clarence Way were prime candidates for the scheme, while it is unknown if Coffs Harbour City Council would nominate any roads for reclassification.

Tony Judge

Tony Judge

Labor’s Coffs Harbour spokesperson Tony Judge said Council workers who maintained the region’s roads needed assurance their jobs were not under threat.

“Our region needs more secure, fairly paid jobs for local blue collar workers, not greater uncertainty about their future,” he said.

“They need to come clean about their plans.”





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