Prosecute The Bankers Responsible For The Global Financial Crisis

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Delegates to the 28th International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention in Las Vegas last week unanimously approved a resolution to prosecute chief executives and other Wall Street players responsible for the global financial crisis of 2008.

‘How come not a single Wall Street CEO has gone to jail after destroying the economy,’ said Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel. ‘We demand that Wall Street pay for the crisis.’

Passage of the resolution followed discussions of the devastating impact of Wall Street’s greed and recklessness on the middle class.

The ‘Putting Working Families First, Make Wall Street Pay’ resolution states that not only have there been no prosecutions of anyone directly responsible for the financial crisis, but ‘not a single worker, pension fund, or home owner has received a government “bailout,” while the government spent trillions bailing out Wall Street financial institutions.’

The resolution demanded:

• The prosecution of the CEOs and other Wall Street players directly responsible for destroying the economy and the jobs, homes, and living standards of millions of Americans, and

• A financial rescue package for struggling pension funds, and

• A moratorium on home foreclosures, and

• That Wall Street banks be forced to restructure the debt obligations of struggling companies that would otherwise be forced to shut down and eliminate jobs.

There is no better example of the impact of the financial crisis on Teamsters than trucking company YRCW.

‘While Wall Street schemed to profit from YRCW’s failure, we gathered our best ideas and were able to keep the company afloat and 25,000 Teamster members working,’ Keegel said.

Local 41 member Carl Barelli, a 31-year Teamster, said critics were wrong in urging union leaders to let YRCW go bankrupt.

‘It’s about saving the one thing absolutely vital to all of us – jobs, good-paying union jobs that allow us to provide a very good way of life for our families,’ Barelli said.

Another resolution chastised Congress for failing to help multi-employer pension funds, despite a massive lobbying and mobilisation campaign by the Teamsters.

Delegates on the third day of the Convention also discussed strategies for fighting back in the war on workers unleashed by anti-union politicians who recently came to political power, including the need to be politically active and to contribute to DRIVE, the Teamster political action committee.

‘Big business spends money in Washington to buy members of Congress and push it’s anti-worker agenda,’ said General President Jim Hoffa. ‘They outspend working families on politics by more than 15 to 1.’

Steve Vairma, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 455 in Denver, said Teamsters must hold elected officials in both parties accountable.

‘You need to stop hiding in the halls of Congress,’ he said. ‘You better be damn proud to say the word “union”.’

Other speakers included UAW President Bob King, Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a Teamster and Local 25 member.

The convention also honoured eight Teamsters who were killed last year in a workplace shooting at Hartford Distributors in Manchester, Connecticut, and the death of Teamster Jayme Biendl, who was killed on the job as a Washington state corrections officer in January.

According to the Teamster Constitution, the International Convention, held every five years, is the supreme policymaking body of the union with the power and authority to modify the Constitution, establish programs, address fiscal issues and set priorities.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

l Meanwhile, the SEIU public sector union has taken up the case of a victimised health worker.

An SEIU statement said last Friday: ‘Rafelina Caraballo was illegally fired after seven years as a Lab Phlebotomist at Pocono Medical Centre.

‘We should file this one under: “Can they really do that?”

‘The short answer should be: “Only if we let them.”

‘How Pocono Medical Centre (PMC) thought it would get away with flagrant disregard for the law, no one knows, but what we do know is that they’re busted and going to trial on August 15th.

‘The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a formal complaint against PMC for its unlawful activity.

‘Following a two-month investigation, the NLRB has charged PMC management for a whole laundry list of bad behaviour.

‘The Board singled out HR Vice President Lynn Lansdowne and other members of PMC management for:

• Illegally firing Rafelina Caraballo – a Lab Phlebotomist, dedicated 7-year employee and mother of three.

• Interfering with employees’ rights to talk to about workplace issues and meet with union representatives on their own time.

• Threatening employees and engaging in unlawful surveillance of employee activities.

‘Rafelina did the right thing and called out PMC for violating the terms of the contract between SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and PMC.

But instead of correcting the issue and thanking Rafelina for her dedicated service. . . they fired her. Can they do that? No!’

‘I was simply speaking up about something I thought was unfair,’ she said at a recent press conference.

The SEIU statement continued: ‘Not only was it unfair that PMC violated the terms of her contract, it was also illegal for them to retaliate against Rafelina for simply pointing it out.

‘The NLRB viewed PMC’s behaviour in firing Rafelina for speaking up so outrageous, they saw fit to file a complaint against the company.

‘To highlight how miserable PMC is: Rafelina was once nominated to be Employee of the Month for her outstanding work and dedication to her patients and the facility as a whole.

‘During the holidays, she has been known to deliver presents to nursing home residents she visits on her rounds collecting blood samples – a real die-hard advocate for her patients, which PMC apparently couldn’t care less about.

‘Per the NLRB’s procedures, an administrative law judge from Washington, DC, will determine whether labour laws were violated after an August 15th hearing in the Monroe County Administrative Centre.

‘PMC is only getting its day in court because of strong union members like Rafelina who aren’t afraid to speak out.

‘It’s a reminder to all of us that holding law-breaking corporations accountable takes more than a contract.

‘So, can they do that?

‘Not if we don’t let them.’