Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Barak Obama Flirts with Union Workers Earning Poverty Wages

Flirting and sweet-talking women who make less than poverty wages (but pay their fair share of union dues) doesn't seem to be below Barak Obama's standards of campaign mores.

According to a Huffington Post, Hillary Clinton's uber-nemesis was visiting a company called Tama Manufacturing near Allentown, Pennsylvania yesterday when he decided to shed his decorum to 'chat up the ladies'...

Obama lavished compliments on dancewear manufacturer Marisa Cerveris, who gave him a black and pink leotard for [Obama's daughters] Malia and Sasha, explaining she was once in the New York City ballet. "You look like you might be a dancer," Obama told her, later adding: "You're big time."

"You're gorgeous," he told Cerveris after glancing at one of her old ballet photos.

"I was," she replied.

"You still are," he countered, asking the crowd, "Isn't she beautiful?" and answering
his own question: "Absolutely."

While this seems to be news to the Huffington Post, the real story is the fact that Tama Manufacturing Company is a garment manufacturer whose employees are represented by UNITE-HERE.

Unlike most garment manufacturers that have left the United States, Tama is still trying to survive in the good old US of A. However, like the majority of U.S. companies in an ever-increasingly unfriendly climate, Tama is facing ever-rising health care costs.

Last year, when it went to negotiate a new contract with the union, the Company asked the unionized workers to pick up a portion of their health care costs.

That did not sit well with the union or the workers so they struck....For 15 weeks.

Since, according to press reports, the average unionized worker at Tama makes about $18,000 a year, for a worker trying to support a family these union wages are lower than poverty level wages, according to the US Dept of Health & Human Services. For the Tama workers making $10.50 an hour, by striking, each worker gave up around $6,300 (not counting overtime).

Since the union ultimately settled the strike with the workers contributing $50 a month toward their health care--the Company had been asking for $170 a month in employee contributions--the union's strike still cost each striker around $2,000 more over the life of the contract than if they had accepted the Company's original offer. In addition to continuing to pay hundreds of dollars per year in union dues, the unionized workers lost a wage increase as part of the settlement.

For his part, though, Obama praised Tama Manufacturing as a success story saying, "I'm glad to see we still have a good company here with a good owner looking after his workers."

It's too bad their union wasn't doing the same.


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