Michigan locals raise funds for ‘hot dog guy’ after union protesters destroy his supplies

Clint Tarver2_hotdogMI.jpg

 

Clinton Tarver has been serving hot dogs to hungry locals in downtown Lansing, Mich., for the last five years, but a brush this week with a pro-union protest literally upended his small business in a matter of minutes.

During a protest against right-to-work legislation in Michigan’s capital, Tarver’s catering supplies were destroyed when demonstrators tore down the tent where he was serving and trampled his gear.

The tent had been set up by the conservative Americans for Prosperity, which supports the legislation Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law Tuesday that allows unionized workers to opt out of paying union dues.

Tarver, who has been a small business owner for the last 16 years, was there to give hot dogs to supporters in the tent on the Capitol lawn. He said he was just checking tickets, not sizing up customers.

“Everyone that had a ticket I had given a hot dog to,” the 63-year-old owner of Clint’s Hot Dog Cart and Casual Catering told FoxNews.com. “So when two guys, one with a mask, came to get their hot dogs, I didn’t think anything of it because they had tickets and I was just there for a job.”

He described the action that ensued as “violent.” Only minutes after he’d handed the two men their hot dogs, the pair tore down the tent, turned over his serving tables, smashed his hot dogs, tossed a cooler filled with sodas and spilled his chili.

“I kept explaining that I was just here to do a job, that I wasn’t on anybody’s side, but when people started calling me racial slurs, my friend who works at the Capitol told me I had to get out of there, so I crawled out,” said Tarver, who is black.

Until Tuesday, he thought he was relatively unknown. But word spread about the incident, and local residents on both sides of the issue began rallying to help Tarver out.

Lorilea Zabadal, a staff member for Republican state Rep. Al Pscholka, set up an online fundraiser at gofundme.com. The goal was to reach $5,000. As of Wednesday afternoon, over $14,000 in donations had been raised.

“I supported Clint. He’s a great guy and a great small business,”Lt Governor Brian Calley. He also thanked citizens who had supported Tarver financially.

Tarver said that state Sen. Joe Humes and his wife reached out to Tarver on Tuesday night promising to reimburse him for his equipment.

And a spokesperson for Americans for Prosperity said they plan to reimburse Tarver as well.

Michigan State Police have contacted Tarver about the incident, but a request for comment by Lansing police was not immediately returned to FoxNews.com.

Tarver said he’s overwhelmed by the support and that he didn’t know he had touched so many people.

“I never knew people cared so much about the hot dog guy — I feel overwhelmed,” Tarver said. “I’m just here to serve.”

Fox News contributor punched in face at pro-union protests in Michigan

 

 

A Fox News contributor was punched in the face during a pro-union protest Tuesday in Michigan, one of a series of confrontations between union demonstrators and opponents on the day the state Legislature approved so-called “right to work” legislation that unions oppose.

Steven Crowder, a conservative comedian and Fox News contributor, had spent the day questioning demonstrators, and video he posted on YouTube showed some of them becoming verbally aggressive, with one telling him, “get the f— out of my face!”

Another protester can be seen later in the video punching Crowder in the face before being restrained by another man.

Crowder later posted photos on his Twitter account showing a chipped tooth and “minor cut to the forehead.” He told the website TheBlaze.com that the scuffle started when protesters tried to tear down a tent set up by conservative organization Americans for Prosperity.

“They were trying to tear down the tent and people were trying to pull them off. … And as they did that, a few people tripped,” he told the website. “This guy tripped over a tent peg and then got up and hit me.”

The Lansing Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson said police would have further information on the incident some time Tuesday night.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed the legislation Tuesday evening after the state House gave final approval of the bills, which bar unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers they represent under collective bargaining agreements.

Earlier Tuesday, two people were arrested after trying to get into a Michigan state building where Snyder has an office.

By evening,dozens of state troopers in riot gear swept protesters away from the building. State police accompanied by sheriff’s deputies on horses moved shoulder-to-shoulder to clear the area across the street from the Capitol. Some people who refused to move were physically picked up.

The new laws deliver a blow to the labor movement in the heart of the U.S. auto industry. One bill dealt with public sector workers, the other with government employees. Both measures cleared the Senate last week.

“There will be blood, there will be repercussions,” state Democratic Rep. Douglas Geiss, speaking on the House floor on Tuesday, warned ahead of the votes.

Earlier in the day, two state school districts closed after hundreds of teachers called out, presumably to join the protests.

FoxNews.com confirmed that the Warren school district had to close Tuesday after so many teachers called out absent; WDIV in Detroit reported that the Taylor school district had to do the same. A statement from the Warren system said that by 8 a.m. local time, 750 staff members had called out.

Fox News’ Mike Tobin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Twinkies bakers say they’d rather lose jobs than take pay cuts

http://news.yahoo.com/twinkies-bakers-theyd-rather-lose-jobs-pay-cuts-075558559–finance.html

By Carey Gillam and Martinne Geller | Reuters – 11 hrs ago

KANSAS CITY, Mo./NEW YORK (Reuters) – Enough is enough, say bakery workers at Hostess Brands Inc.

After several years of costly concessions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) authorized a walk-out earlier this month after Hostess received bankruptcy court approval to implement a wage cut that was not included in its contract.

With operations stalled, the company that makes Twinkies and other famous U.S. brands said last week that liquidating its business was the best way to preserve its dwindling cash. It won court approval on Wednesday to start winding down in a process expected to claim 15,000 jobs immediately and over 3,000 more after about four months.

Interviews with more than a dozen workers showed there was little sign of regret from employees who voted for the strike. They said they would rather lose their jobs than put up with lower wages and poorer benefits.

“They’re just taking from us,” said Kenneth Johnson, 46, of Missouri. He said he earned roughly $35,000 with overtime last year, down from about $45,000 five years ago.

“I really can’t afford to not be working, but this is not worth it. I’d rather go work somewhere else or draw unemployment,” said Johnson, a worker at Hostess for 23 years.

With 18,500 workers, Hostess has 12 different unions including the BCTGM, which has about 5,600 members on the bread and snack item production lines, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents about 7,500 route sales representatives, drivers and other employees.

Unlike some non-unionized rivals, the maker of Wonder Bread and Drake’s cakes had to navigate more than 300 labor contracts, with terms that often strained efficiency and competitiveness, Hostess officials have said. In some extreme cases, contract provisions required different products to be delivered on different trucks even when headed to the same place.

Aside from those so-called onerous labor contracts, Hostess has grappled for some time with rising ingredient costs and a growing health consciousness that has made its sugary cakes less popular. It filed for bankruptcy in January, only three years after emerging from a prior bankruptcy.

Lance Ignon, speaking on behalf of Hostess, said the company recognized how difficult the past few years had been for workers and wished it did not have to ask them for more givebacks.

“But the reality was that the company could not survive without those concessions,” Ignon said.

FRUSTRATIONS, COMPLAINTS

Workers had a laundry list of frustrations, from rising healthcare costs to decreased wages and delayed pension benefits. They even cited a $10-per-week per worker charge they said Hostess claimed was needed to boost company capital.

“They have taken and taken and taken from us,” said Debi White, who has worked at Hostess for 26 years, most recently as a bun handler at its bread and roll plant in Lenexa, Kansas.

“They have been walking around stomping their foot saying either you give in … or else we’re going to close you now. Well, go ahead, we’re tired of their threats,” she said. “That’s how we feel.”

Hostess workers are now scrambling to figure out when their health insurance runs out — or if it already has — and where and how to apply for job retraining and unemployment benefits.

Following a summer and autumn spent in labor negotiations trying to find a common path to reorganization, Hostess’ management gained concessions from some unions, including the Teamsters.

The fear of thousands of job losses, for its own members and other unions, led the Teamsters to plead with the BCTGM to hold a secret ballot to determine if bakery workers really wanted to continue with the strike, even with the threat of closure.

Teamsters officials complained that bakery union leaders did “not substantively look for a solution or engage in the process,” and complained that the BCTGM called for its strike on November 9 without first notifying the Teamsters.

They said that, unlike the bakery union, the Teamsters voted to “protect all jobs at Hostess.” Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall said Wednesday’s court approval for liquidation marked “a sad day for thousands of families affected by the closing of this company.”

Bakery union President Frank Hurt has said that any labor agreements would only be temporary as Hostess was doomed anyway. The union said new owners were needed to get Hostess back on track and the only way they would return to work was if Hostess rescinded its wage and benefit cuts.

“Our membership … just had no confidence in this management group being able to run a business,” said Conrad Boos, a BCTGM local business representative in Missouri.

Hurt was not immediately available to comment on Wednesday but the union said in a court filing its sole objective was to leave Hostess with “a real, rather than an illusory or theoretical, likelihood of establishing a stable business with secure jobs.”

On Wednesday, Hostess’ lawyer Heather Lennox said the company had received a “flood of inquiries” from potential buyers for several brands that could be sold at auction, and expects initial bidders within a few weeks.

(Additional reporting by Peter Rudegeair in NEW YORK; Editing by Paul Tait)

Union protests at Los Angeles airport disrupt holiday travelers

Ok, this is silly. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are protesting because workers voted to leave the union. What does the SEIU hope to accomplish? Do they think the workers will rethink their departure?

 

LOS ANGELES –  A labor dispute at America’s third busiest airport turned what was already a bad travel day into a nightmare for some travelers.

One of the nation’s biggest unions snarled traffic as it tried to block two entrances into the Los Angeles International airport Wednesday, in a protest police feared would turn the streets outside into a parking lot at a time when tens of thousands of cars are pouring into the airport.

The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, claims a company that employs 450 sky caps, cabin cleaners and security workers at LAX illegally broke a contract and is in violation of the city’s living wage ordinance.

That company, Aviation Safeguards, claims that’s inaccurate, saying 52 percent of its workers voted to decertify the SEIU. It also says employee pay has increased by more than $2 million since workers kicked the union out to compensate for changes in their health care policies.

In protest, and with five additional LAX contracts expiring at the end of November, SEIU chose the busiest travel day of the year to bring attention to its cause. “We understand the inconvenience, but workers here are making the decisions of life,” spokesman Ernesto Guerrero said.

“Airport workers, they serve the public,” he told Fox News on Wednesday morning outside LAX Terminal 4. “They are very proud about their job. Unfortunately, they are being forced to do these extreme measures because otherwise no one is listening to them. The airport is not listening to them. The mayor of the city is not listening to them. We are being forced to take these extreme actions.”

The protest began in the afternoon, and police arranged traffic diversions to keep travelers moving, even if roads were blocked. But some people ended up in backups and were delayed as they tried to make their flights, a police commander told the Associated Press.

Airlines reported no major issues with passengers missing flights because of the protest, a LAX spokeswoman said. Thirteen people were arrested in the protest, including a dozen who sat down in the street and disobeyed a dispersal order, the Associated Press reports.

The union planned to bus in roughly a 1,000 union members to march down Century Boulevard, the main entrance into LAX, and Sepulveda Boulevard, the entrance used by motorists coming north from the beach cities and Orange County. An estimated 1.7 million are expected to use LAX over the Thanksgiving holiday.

While the union’s action did bring attention to its cause, as dozens of local radio and TV vans converged on the airport to cover the event, it also could backfire, according to the company the union accuses of breaking a contract.

“There is no dispute from our perspective. Our employees voted by a large majority to decertify from the SEIU,” Aviation Safeguard Vice President Joe Conlon said. “It is voluntary process to join a union. And it is voluntary process to not be part of a union. Our employees in a majority voted they did not want to be part of the SEIU anymore. So we don’t have a dispute. Our employees are happy with the wages and benefits they receive.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/11/21/union-protest-at-los-angeles-airport-threatening-to-disrupt-holiday-travel/?test=latestnews#ixzz2Cv7Kbbas

Hostess to close, lay off 18,500 after ‘crippling’ union fight

A small union’s stubbornness in contract talks with Hostess is being blamed for the shutdown of one of America’s snack food icons, the loss of 18,500 jobs just before the holiday season and much-needed tax revenue from hundreds of plants and shops across the country.

The privately-held company had reached a deal with the Teamsters, but a smaller union representing bakery workers refused to agree to concessions, prompting the mass layoffs and closing down of hundreds of plants, bakeries and delivery routes. That prompted harsh words from both the company and from Teamsters officials.

“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Chief Executive Gregory Rayburn said in a statement. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

The company said it will continue to ship out its well-known products until inventory runs out.

The national strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) that began last week decimated the 82-year-old company’s ability to produce and deliver products at roughly 12 of its 33 plants. The company announced earlier in the week that the ax would fall on Friday if the strikers didn’t get back to work, but the union didn’t blink. BCTGM President Frank Hurt said Thursday that the crisis was the “result of nearly a decade of financial and operational mismanagement” and charged management was scapegoating workers to allow the Wall Street investors who own Hostess to sell.

Calls seeking comment from Hurt were not returned early Friday.

Marty Zimmerman, secretary-treasurer for BCTGM Local 85, told Fox40 from a Sacramento picket line early Friday that workers had been at “wits end” with Hostess brass.

“Well, the mindset is we’re standing strong, absolutely,” Zimmerman told the station. “I mean, they’ve taken our pensions away, we’ve had seven CEOs in the last 10 years; this company has been so mismanaged. Really, we’re at our wits end and enough is enough”

The Irving, Texas-based company had already reached an agreement on pay and benefit cuts with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. On Thursday, Teamsters officials blasted the smaller union for not seeking a “solution” in the process or to engage in negotiations.

“The BCTGM chose a different path, as is their prerogative, to not substantively look for a solution or engage in the process,” the statement read. “BCTGM members were told there were better solutions than the final offer, although Judge Drain stated in his decision in bankruptcy court that no such solutions exist. Without complete information, BCTGM members voted by voice votes in union halls. The BCTGM reported that over 90 percent rejected the final offer and three of its units ratified the final offer.”

In a letter to employees posted on the company’s website, Rayburn said all employees would eventually lose their jobs, some sooner than others.

“Many people have worked incredibly long and hard to keep this from happening, but now Hostess Brands has no other alternative than to begin the process of winding down and preparing for the sale of our iconic brands,” Rayburn’s letter read. “As you know, for many months the Company has been working with our unions, lenders and other stakeholders to reach a consensual resolution to legacy costs and labor contracts. Despite everyone’s considerable efforts to move Hostess out of its restructuring, when we began implementing the Company’s last, best and final offer, the Bakers Union chose to stage a crippling strike.”

Because the company is privately held, its financials were not available. But has struggled for several years, with some blaming America’s increasing appetite for healthier fare. The company sought concessions from employees, but instead got a costly strike that further crippled it, according to officials, who told a federal bankruptcy court it would lose up to $9.5 million from Nov. 9 to Nov. 19 in lost sales and increased costs. The company has cancelled all orders in process and said any baked goods currently in transit would be returned to shippers.

“These losses and other factors, including increased vendor payment terms contraction, have resulted in a significant weakening of the debtors’ cash position and, if continued, would soon result in the debtors completely running out of cash,” the filing read.

Hostess will now sell its popular brands like Ding Dongs, Ho Ho’s and Sno Balls, along with the closure of 565 distribution centers, 570 bakery outlet stores and roughly 5,550 delivery routes.

Lenders have agreed to allow Hostess to continue to access $75 million in financing put in place at the start of the bankruptcy cases to fund the sale and wind-down process, subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.

BCTGM workers began striking at some Hostess production facilities without notifying Teamsters officials on Nov. 9, the Teamsters said.

“This unannounced action put Teamster members in the difficult position of facing picket lines without knowing their right to honor such a line without being disciplined,” the statement continued.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/11/16/hostess-brands-to-liquidate-lay-off-18500-after-crippling-union-fight/#ixzz2CQZyup00

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