Saturday, December 13, 2008




Please join a Holiday Picket supporting Union Workers in wireless @ Mobility.

Tuesday, December 16 - 5PM
Lakeshore Mobility Store
3333 Lakeshore Ave [near 580 Freeway]
Oakland, CA

Did you know that AT&T Mobility is the ONLY unionized wireless phone service?

AT&T Mobility Workers across the country appreciate your support. In the past few years, tens of thousands of workers at AT&T Mobility have joined together in a union; the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Workers at Mobility are working hard to raise standards in the wireless industry by negotiating fair contracts with our employer. We can improve conditions for wireless workers, but we could use your help. If working people join together and support each other, we can keep decent jobs in our communities and help the US economy—for all of our sakes.

Please join us this Tuesday on a Holiday Picket supporting good union jobs and consider subscribing to the only union wireless provider, Mobility. When our contract expires on February 7th, you can join us as we work to improve our conditions and keep good jobs in California.

Happy Holidays from our families to yours.

This action is sponsored by CWA 9415. For more information call (510)834-9415.


To Celebrate The 50th Anniversary Of The Cuban Revolution And For Hurricane Relief For Cuba
And: Important Update On The Cuban Five’s Struggle For Freedom
Featuring Renowned Dj Carlito Rovira
Wednesday, December 31, 9 pm to 1 am
Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St., San Francisco

For 50 years Cuba’s revolution has provided for its people, and at the
same time, extended international solidarity the world over with
doctors, teachers and so much more. Cuba needs our solidarity today!
More than 500,000 homes have been damaged, 65,000 destroyed, crops wiped out from three hurricanes this year.

Come celebrate Cuba’s Revolution, bring a generous donation, and have fun!

Sponsored by ANSWER Coalition, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Compañeros del Barrio, the FMLN-SF.

Requested donation at the door: $10 to $20.
Refreshments provided.
For information: 415-821-6545
Download the flyer:


Notes on a Meltdown, and a View of the Other Side
By Ali Mir
" I tried to figure out what a trillion was. I knew it had 12 zeros after the 1, that it was a thousand billion or a million-million, but I couldn't for the life of me understand what a trillion dollars might look like. So I imagined a magic machine that spits out a $10 bill every second, all day and all nightlong. Nice thought. In the first minute in my fantasy world, I would have $600. In the first hour, $36,000. In the first 24-hour day, $864,000. So far, so good. But as I kept up the calculation, and as the enormity of the numbers dawned on me, I began to dismay. I realized that after one year of this enterprise, I'd have a mere $315 million or so. It would take me three years to get close to a billion. I'd need to collect for more than 3,170 years to walk away from my machine with a trillion dollars. If I had been a contemporary of Jesus Christ, I still wouldn't be two-thirds of the way there!"
Samar, November 10, 2008


MARCH 21, 2009

The National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations:
Call for Unity

We hope that you and your organization agree that unified national March actions are sorely needed in these times of military and economic crises. We ask that you:

1. Sign the Open Letter to the U.S. Antiwar Movement.

2. Urge all local and national organizations and coalitions to join in building the mobilizations in D.C. in March and the mass actions on March 21.

3. Support the formation of a broad, united, ad hoc national coalition to bring massive forces out on March 21, 2009.

You can sign the Open Letter by writing [if you are a group or individual. (Individual endorsers please include something about yourselves.)] or through the National Assembly website at [if you are a group endorsement only]. For more information, please email us at the above address or call 216-736-4704. We greatly appreciate all donations to help in our unity efforts. Checks should be made payable to National Assembly and mailed to P.O. Box 21008 , Cleveland , OH 44121 .

In peace and solidarity,

Greg Coleridge, Coordinator, Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC); Economic Justice and Empowerment Program Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); Member, Administrative Body, National Assembly

Marilyn Levin, Coordinating Committee, Greater Boston United for Justice with Peace; New England United; Member, Administrative Body, National Assembly

On behalf of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations

For more information please contact: or call 216-736-4704


Bring the Anti-War Movement to Inauguration Day in D.C.
January 20, 2009: Join thousands to demand "Bring the troops home now!"
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311




1) Strikes Cripple a Riot-Shaken Greece
December 11, 2008

2) Italy: World Hunger Is Increasing
World Briefing
The number of hungry people in the world increased by 40 million this year, pushing the total to an estimated 963 million, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported Tuesday. The agency blamed high food prices for the increase. Even though grain prices fell sharply from their peaks earlier this year, they remain high compared with previous years, especially in local markets, the agency said. “This sad reality should not be acceptable at the dawn of the 21st century,” Jacques Diouf, the agency’s director general, said in Rome. “Not enough has been done to reduce hunger, and not enough is being done to prevent more people becoming hungry.”
December 10, 2008

3) Dire Forecast for Global Economy and Trade
December 10, 2008

4) In Afghanistan, Gates to Talk of Troop Increases
“In response to a question, Mr. Gates also said that because the U.S. was at war in two countries, he anticipated 'continued support for a pretty robust defense budget' in the next administration.'I may be whistling past the graveyard here but I think that we’re not likely to see significant cuts,' he said, adding to applause that 'the defense budget at the end of the day is a pretty impressive stimulus for the economy.'" [DISGUSTING!...BW]
December 12, 2008

5) Dr. King’s Documents Withdrawn From Auction
[Transcription of note on scrap of paper displayed with this article:
"I. Commend Strikers (Support of SCLC
II. You are demanding that this city respect the dignity of labor
III. You are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people in this rich nation to receive starvation wages. (Most poor people work everyday)
IV. We are tired of being at the bottom. We are tired of living in poverty.
V. Nothing worthwhile is gained without sacrifice. Nothing is gained without pressure (Work stoppages)
VI. This is why we are going to Washington....BW]
December 11, 2008

6) Economy Complicates Labor Dispute
[U.S. exploiting workers around the world to make war on workers around the]
December 11, 2008

From: Jobs with Justice National

8) The Reckoning
A Champion of Wall St. Reaps the Benefits
December 14, 2008

9) U.S. Training in Africa Aims to Deter Extremists
December 13, 2008

10) Even Workers Surprised by Success of Factory Sit-In
December 13, 2008

11) Ron Carey, Who Led Teamsters Reforms, Dies at 72
December 13, 2008


1) Strikes Cripple a Riot-Shaken Greece
December 11, 2008

ATHENS — The Greek government on Wednesday defended its response to the crisis that has gripped the country since a teenager was fatally shot in a clash with the police last weekend, saying that leaders in Athens had chosen not to crack down on a violent minority in an effort to avoid further bloodshed.

Even as new clashes erupted during a general strike that disrupted transportation, schools and services throughout Greece, a government spokesman said he expected the crisis to tail off in due course.

“I think it’s going to fade out,” said Panos Livadas, general secretary of the Information Ministry. “I think reason will prevail. I also think we will keep on doing our best not to have a future risk of innocent life. No more innocent blood. It’s O.K. if we have to wait a day or two.”

The statement coincided with an offer by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis to compensate shopkeepers whose premises have been damaged in the riots that have swept Greece since Saturday, when the teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15, was shot and killed by the police.

Tensions remained high on Wednesday in Athens and other major cities. Clashes erupted outside the Parliament building, where several thousand demonstrators had gathered to mark the general strike, and also outside the main Athens courthouse, where two police officers involved in the shooting that sparked the riots were testifying behind closed doors. The riot police reacted by firing tear gas as youths hurled rocks and gasoline bombs.

Meanwhile, the policemen’s lawyer, Alexis Cougias, told reporters that a ballistics examination showed that Mr. Grigoropoulos was killed by a ricochet and not a direct shot, The Associated Press reported. One of the officers had said that he had fired warning shots and did not shoot directly at the boy.

There was no comment from prosecutors, who do not make public statements on pending cases.

The general strike on Wednesday was a new blow to the government after four days of violent protests.

Airports were severely affected by the strike as air traffic controllers walked out. Scores of international and local flights were grounded, the state news media reported. Railways, subway and bus lines were virtually halted, as were intercity bus services.

But while labor unions went ahead with the national strike, they called off a planned protest to help limit the disorder that has unfurled through the country. Dozens of people have been arrested in the past four days as rioters have fought with the police and rampaged in Athens and other cities.

The general strike was originally called to press economic demands for increased pay and to protest belt-tightening measures put forward by the government.

But the antigovernment movement acquired new impetus after the shooting on Saturday.

While clashes between the police and students have been common in Greece for decades, the ferocity of the reaction to the boy’s death took the nation — and its government — by surprise. Outrage over the death was widespread, fueled by what experts say is a growing frustration with unemployment and corruption in one of the European Union’s consistently underperforming economies, worsened by global recession.

But it was expressed in violence in the streets by student anarchists. They had been quiet for several years but seemed revived by the crisis. Mr. Karamanlis, hanging on to power in Parliament by only one vote, has seemed frozen, his government, once popular but now scandal-ridden, increasingly under pressure.

“He’s seriously troubled” about the riots, said Nicholas Karahalios, a strategy adviser to the prime minister. “Whereas before we were dealing with a political and economic crisis, now there’s a third dimension attached to it: a security crisis which exacerbates the situation.”

More demonstrations were expected in the national strike Wednesday.

On Tuesday, bands of militant youths threw gasoline bombs and smashed shop windows in downtown Athens, as rioters battled with the police here in the capital and in Salonika, Greece’s second largest city. In the port city of Patras, residents tried to protect their shops from rioters, while other rioters blocked the police station, the authorities said.

While widespread and violent, the protests on Tuesday were seen as slightly smaller than those the day before, when after dark hundreds of professed anarchists broke the windows of upscale shops, banks and hotels in central Athens and burned a large Christmas tree in the plaza in front of Parliament.

At the Athens police headquarters, a spokesman said 12 police officers had been wounded in fighting with demonstrators that flared at 10 major locations around the Greek capital on Monday night. He said 87 protesters had been arrested and 176 people briefly detained because of the confrontations.

In the shattered city center on Tuesday, street-cleaning trucks tackled the mess. Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis advised Athenians not to drive into the area and asked them to keep their trash indoors; rioters burned 160 big garbage containers in the streets on Monday night.

On Tuesday, the opposition leader, George A. Papandreou, a Socialist, renewed his call for early elections. Yet it remained unclear whether the riots would cause the government to fall or whether the current stalemate would continue.

“What I foresee is a prolonged political crisis with no immediate results for two or three years,” said George Kirtsos, a political commentator and the publisher of City Press, an independent newspaper. “In that time, the country will be going from bad to worse.”

On Tuesday, as youths scuffled with the police outside Parliament, Prime Minister Karamanlis met with his cabinet council and opposition leaders in an effort to get their backing for security operations. But he seemed uncertain exactly how to contain the disturbances. The authorities seem to fear that cracking down on the demonstrators may lead to other unintended deaths, provoking more rioting.

Asked why the riots had not been contained, a spokesman for the national police, Panayiotis Stathis, said, “Violence cannot be fought with violence.”

But in a news conference, Mr. Karamanlis issued warnings somewhat stronger than his actions, saying there would be no leniency for rioters.

“No one has the right to use this tragic incident as an alibi for actions of raw violence, for actions against innocent people, their property and society as a whole, and against democracy,” Mr. Karamanlis said after an emergency meeting with President Karolos Papoulias.

Mr. Karamanlis faced criticism for not acting with a stronger hand earlier, with some suggesting that this gave credibility to the rioters’ anger.

“They chose to show tolerance, which backfired,” said Nikos Kostandaras, the editor of Kathimerini, a daily newspaper. The riots, he added, “were radicalizing every sector of the population.”

On Tuesday, schools and universities were closed, and thousands of teachers and students joined generally peaceful protests through Athens.

George Dimitriou, 22, a member of the agriculture students’ union, said the teenager’s death was an opportunity to protest other issues. “Our generation is facing a tougher future than our parents,” Mr. Dimitriou said as he stood outside Athens University. “This is unheard of, because normally things get better.”

Demonstrations, even occasionally violent ones, are nothing new in Greece, which has a long history of political protest and has been relatively tolerant of the professed anarchist groups that routinely hold antigovernment demonstrations.

To many Greeks, scarred by the memories of military rule in the 1970s, the police remain a hostile remnant of the military junta.

While Greece has a comparatively high ratio of more than 45,000 police officers for 10.7 million people, in the popular imagination, they are seen as ineffective and corrupt, so many Greeks view the police as a fair target for regular demonstrations.

The 15-year-old whose death is at the heart of the disturbances was shot on Saturday night while carousing with friends in the Athens neighborhood of Exarchia, where youths routinely battle the police. The police have said he died when officers clashed with a mob of some 30 youths.

One police officer has been charged with premeditated manslaughter in the case and another as an accomplice.

Meg Bortin contributed reporting from Paris.


2) Italy: World Hunger Is Increasing
World Briefing
The number of hungry people in the world increased by 40 million this year, pushing the total to an estimated 963 million, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported Tuesday. The agency blamed high food prices for the increase. Even though grain prices fell sharply from their peaks earlier this year, they remain high compared with previous years, especially in local markets, the agency said. “This sad reality should not be acceptable at the dawn of the 21st century,” Jacques Diouf, the agency’s director general, said in Rome. “Not enough has been done to reduce hunger, and not enough is being done to prevent more people becoming hungry.”
December 10, 2008


3) Dire Forecast for Global Economy and Trade
December 10, 2008

WASHINGTON — The world economy is on the brink of a rare global recession, the World Bank said in a forecast released Tuesday, with world trade projected to fall next year for the first time since 1982 and capital flows to developing countries predicted to plunge 50 percent.

The projections are among the most dire in a litany of recent gloomy forecasts for the world economy, and officials at the World Bank warned that if they proved accurate, the downturn could throw many developing countries into crisis and keep tens of millions of people in poverty.

Even more troubling, several economists said, there is no obvious engine to drive a recovery.

American consumers are unlikely to return to their old spending habits, even after the United States climbs out of its current financial crisis. With growth in China slowing sharply, consumers there are not about to pick up the slack from the Americans. The collapse in oil prices — a side effect of the crisis — has knocked the wind out of consumers in oil-exporting countries.

“We know that the financial crisis now is likely to be the worst since the 1930s,” said Justin Lin, the chief economist of the World Bank, summarizing the projections.

The bank forecasts the global economy will eke out growth of 0.9 percent in 2009, down from 2.5 percent this year and 4 percent in 2006. That is the slowest pace since 1982, when global growth was 0.3 percent. Developing countries will grow an average of 4.5 percent next year — a pace that economists said constituted a recession, given the need of these countries to grow rapidly to generate enough jobs for their swelling populations.

“You don’t need negative growth in developing countries to have a situation that feels like a recession,” said Hans Timmer, who directs the bank’s international economic analyses and projections. He predicted rising joblessness and closed factories in many developing countries.

The volume of world trade, which grew 9.8 percent in 2006 and an estimated 6.2 percent this year, will contract by 2.1 percent in 2009, the report said. That drop would be deeper than the last major contraction in trade: 1.9 percent in 1975.

Net private flows of capital to developing countries are projected to decline to $530 billion in 2009, from $1 trillion in 2007.

The loss of that capital will sharply constrict investment in emerging-market economies, the report said, with annual investment growth slowing to 3.5 percent in 2009 from 13.2 percent in 2007.

Several countries are also being hurt by the decline in the prices of oil and other commodities — a phenomenon the World Bank characterizes as the end of a five-year commodities boom — though the decline in food and fuel costs has relieved the pressure on people in other countries.

The sudden drop in capital flows poses a particular danger to oil exporters, some of whom have run up heavy debts.

“They’ll have to roll over that debt, one way or the other,” said Simon Johnson, a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. “That’s going to put a huge squeeze on these countries.”

Mr. Johnson said the calmer atmosphere in foreign markets belied the gravity of the situation. Spreads on credit default swaps — a common yardstick for whether a country’s government is in danger of default — continue to signal potential trouble for Ireland, Italy and Greece.

The authorities in Greece are battling violent street protests in Athens and its suburbs, caused in part by the deteriorating economy.

Reflecting what is by now conventional wisdom, the World Bank recommended that countries undertake large fiscal stimulus programs to cushion the downturn. The bank itself has committed up to $100 billion in aid to developing countries over three years.

If there is a silver lining amid the gloom, it is the relief that lower food and fuel prices mean for poorer countries. While the prices of almost all commodities have fallen sharply since July, they remain higher than in the 1990s, which the bank says should prevent future supply shortages.

As the World Bank’s experts struggled to find a historical analog for the slump, they said it had more in common with the Depression of the 1930s than with the severe recessions of the 1970s or 1980s.

“It is not just a supply shock,” Mr. Timmer said. “It is not just a reduction in demand, but it is the lack of availability of credit.”

Deutsche Bank, in a forecast issued this week, was even more pessimistic. It said global growth would drop to 0.2 percent in 2009, with the United States, Europe, and Japan in recessions of roughly equal severity.

China, which grew 11.9 percent in 2007, will slow to 7 percent next year, the bank projects, and 6.6 percent in 2010, when the rest of the world is slowly recovering. “It’s not going to be the spark that reignites global demand,” said Thomas Mayer, the chief European economist for Deutsche Bank. “We’re almost in an air pocket, where we don’t have a new global driver of growth.”


4) In Afghanistan, Gates to Talk of Troop Increases
“In response to a question, Mr. Gates also said that because the U.S. was at war in two countries, he anticipated 'continued support for a pretty robust defense budget' in the next administration.'I may be whistling past the graveyard here but I think that we’re not likely to see significant cuts,' he said, adding to applause that 'the defense budget at the end of the day is a pretty impressive stimulus for the economy.'" [DISGUSTING!...BW]
December 12, 2008

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Defense secretary Robert M. Gates said here on Thursday that the Pentagon, which plans to send 20,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, was trying to get thousands of the additional combat forces into the country as soon as next spring, a sign of the seriousness of the threat facing the United States against the Taliban.

The soldiers were requested by Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top commander in Afghanistan. The first of them, about 3,500 to 4,000 troops from the Third Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y., are scheduled to arrive next month.

Mr. Gates said he hoped to deploy an additional two combat brigades in Afghanistan by the spring as part of an effort to combat growing violence and chaos in the country. He declined to name the specific units. Pentagon officials have said it would take 12 to 18 months overall to get all 20,000 American troops to Afghanistan.

Both Mr. Gates and General McKiernan said on Thursday that there would be a “sustained commitment” of American troops in Afghanistan for the next three to four years, although they declined to put a number on that commitment.

The additional 20,000 troops will increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan to about 58,000 from the current level of 34,000. Neither Mr. Gates nor General McKiernan gave any indication that that number was likely to be reduced soon, meaning American force levels could remain that high in Afghanistan through much of the first term of President-elect Barack Obama.

Mr. Gates, who is stay on as Mr. Obama’s Defense Secretary, arrived here early Thursday on an unannounced trip to a regional military base for international forces in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, the ideological centre of gravity for the Taliban.

Earlier, Mr. Gates told reporters on his plane en route to Kandahar, that the planned drawdown of some troops from Iraq in January had enabled the military to begin sending additional forces to Afghanistan.

But while he outlined the United States’ commitment, he was critical of NATO for allowing the United States to share a disproportionate share of the burden of the war in Afghanistan.

“NATO is a military alliance, not a talk shop,” Mr. Gates told reporters.

Mr. Obama vowed repeatedly during the campaign to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan, which he declared the central front in the war against terrorism. His call for more troops here was consistent with the views of top commanders, although Mr. Gates made clear that the new administration’s military policy in Afghanistan is far from settled.

“But I have not heard anybody talking about forces beyond those that General McKiernan has already requested,” said Mr. Gates, who has been in recent conversations with Mr. Obama and in meetings with the president-elect’s transition team. “And I think that’s a discussion that the new administration will have as we look to the future.”

Mr. Gates said that his view would be to accelerate the growth of the Afghan army, particularly as the United States increases its military presence in the country.

“The history of foreign military forces in Afghanistan, when they have been regarded by the Afghan people as there for their own interests, and as occupiers, has not been a happy one,” Mr. Gates said. “And the Soviets couldn’t win in Afghanistan with 120,000 troops. And they clearly didn’t care about civilian casualties. So I just think we have to think about the longer term in this. I think we’re going to be in this struggle for quite a long time, and I think we have to make sure we’ve got some of the basics right.”

Mr. Gates said he had talked on the telephone with Mr. Obama since they first met in Washington on Nov. 10 and that the conversations since then have largely focused on personnel, including who will assume the top jobs under Mr. Gates at the Pentagon.

“It’s a dialogue,” he said. “I do not have specific candidates for specific jobs, and so they’re providing me with names and I’m giving them feedback.” Mr. Gates added that he would interview all prospects for senior-level positions and make recommendations to Mr. Obama. “I guess the way I would leave it is I believe I have substantial influence over those decisions, but if the president of the United States wants to appoint somebody to a job, nobody in the executive branch has a veto,” Mr. Gates said.

Mr. Gates also said there had been “some occasional awkwardness” as he makes the transition from one commander-in-chief to another. For example, he said, he has sometimes had to chose between attending what is known as a “principals”‘ meeting at the White House — a session with the secretaries of State, Treasury and other Cabinet members, without the president — or a session with Mr. Obama’s transition team.

“I haven’t missed any meetings with the president, let me put it that way,” Mr. Gates said. “But let’s just say that if I’m faced with a choice between attending a principals’ meeting on an issue that I think is not particularly hot and a meeting with the transition folks, I’ll opt for the latter.”

Before arriving in Kandahar, Mr. Gates made a brief stop at Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, the main base for American air transport into Afghanistan. In remarks to American troops there, Mr. Gates said that the scope and size of their mission would change in the months to come.

“The final decision will be made by the next president, but a consensus has emerged that more troops are needed,” Mr. Gates said, cautioning that “success in Afghanistan will not come easily or quickly.”

In response to a question, Mr. Gates also said that because the U.S. was at war in two countries, he anticipated “continued support for a pretty robust defense budget” in the next administration.

“I may be whistling past the graveyard here but I think that we’re not likely to see significant cuts,” he said, adding to applause that “the defense budget at the end of the day is a pretty impressive stimulus for the economy.”


5) Dr. King’s Documents Withdrawn From Auction
[Transcription of note on scrap of paper displayed with this article:
"I. Commend Strikers (Support of SCLC
II. You are demanding that this city respect the dignity of labor
III. You are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people in this rich nation to receive starvation wages. (Most poor people work everyday)
IV. We are tired of being at the bottom. We are tired of living in poverty.
V. Nothing worthwhile is gained without sacrifice. Nothing is gained without pressure (Work stoppages)
VI. This is why we are going to Washington....BW]
December 11, 2008

On the eve of a planned Sotheby’s auction of three documents related to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harry Belafonte, the singer and a friend of Dr. King who owned the papers, withdrew the items for sale.

In a brief statement released on Wednesday afternoon, Sotheby’s said the items had been removed from the auction roster “at the request of Mr. Harry Belafonte.” Sotheby’s gave no reason for the withdrawal, and Mr. Belafonte did not return calls left with his agent.

The items scheduled for the auction on Thursday included a three-page handwritten outline of one of Dr. King’s most important speeches, “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam,” delivered in February 1967, and notes for a speech recovered from his suit pocket after he was assassinated in 1968. The third document was a typewritten condolence letter to Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s widow, from President Lyndon B. Johnson.

After news reports early this week about the auction the King estate released a statement condemning the sale and saying that it believed the documents had been “wrongly acquired” by Mr. Belafonte.

“The King estate contends that these documents are the property of the estate of Martin Luther King Jr.,” the statement read. “Mrs. Coretta Scott King and the King estate stopped a previous attempt by members of Harry Belafonte’s family to anonymously and secretly auction wrongfully acquired King documents through a Beverly Hills auction house.” In the statement the estate said lawyers were “looking into issues related to the December 11th Sotheby’s auction of King documents.”

Joseph M. Beck, a lawyer representing the King estate, did not return calls or an e-mail message seeking comment. Calls to Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, children of Dr. King, were not returned. Phillip Jones, a King family representative, and Isaac Newton Farris Jr., a nephew of Dr. King and president of the King Center in Atlanta, did not return calls.

In a telephone interview before Mr. Belafonte withdrew the items for sale, David Redden, vice chairman of Sotheby’s, said that the outline for the anti-Vietnam War speech was written in Mr. Belafonte’s Manhattan apartment. The notes from Dr. King’s pocket, Mr. Redden said, had originally been given by Mrs. King to Stanley Levison, an adviser to Dr. King, who left the notes to Mr. Belafonte. Mr. Redden said that Mrs. King had given the condolence letter to Mr. Belafonte. Mr. Redden, who estimated the documents together could fetch from $750,000 to $1.3 million, declined to comment on whether the King family objected to the sale of the papers.

Mr. Belafonte originally met Dr. King, the civil rights leader, when he gave a speech at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem in the mid-1950s. In an interview this week with The Associated Press Mr. Belafonte said he met with Dr. King for four hours in the basement of the church outlining plans for the singer to help spread the civil-rights message through the entertainment industry. In the interview Mr. Belafonte said he later invited Mr. King to use his apartment during his visits to New York. In other news media interviews Mr. Belafonte said he planned to donate the proceeds from the auction to charities representing “the disenfranchised.”

Mr. Belafonte appeared to fall out with the King family around the time of Mrs. King’s funeral in 2006, when he was invited, and then disinvited, to give a eulogy.

The King family has been criticized for its handling of Dr. King’s papers and for trying to profit from them. In 2006 the family selected about 10,000 items from its collection of his papers to auction at Sotheby’s. At the last minute the collection was withdrawn from auction because the city of Atlanta secured a privately financed loan of $32 million and established a nonprofit organization to buy the papers and store them at Morehouse College, Dr. King’s alma mater.

David J. Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Dr. King, said that the Belafonte documents were historically important and that he hoped they would go to a “professionally respectable archive.” In addition to Morehouse, Boston University, where Dr. King received his Ph.D., holds a collection of his papers. “It is regrettable if Mr. Belafonte has been intimidated by the estate, if indeed he was going to put the proceeds to good social cause,” Mr. Garrow said in a telephone interview. “Given the years of intimate loyalty that Belafonte had with Dr. King, he is one of the last people who should be legally intimidated by the estate.”

Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a trilogy on Dr. King and a friend of Mr. Belafonte, said he was more concerned about the fate of hundreds of documents still stored in the King Center, the nonprofit foundation started by the King family in Atlanta. “Most of Doc King’s collections are locked up in the King archives, which have been essentially nonfunctional for years,” Mr. Branch said. “This is what really worries historians, which is that everything will get lost.”

Clayborne Carson, founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University and director of the King Papers at Morehouse, said that he was not so concerned about the content of Mr. Belafonte’s papers getting lost, because Mr. Carson had already obtained copies from Sotheby’s. “To me the buying and selling of papers is a whole other world from what my interest is,” Mr. Carson, a historian, said. “I wish we could go back to the days when people cared about the ideas as opposed to the commodity.”


6) Economy Complicates Labor Dispute
[U.S. exploiting workers around the world to make war on workers around the]
December 11, 2008

ADJUNTAS, P.R. — At a squat green factory here in the mountains of central Puerto Rico, workers stitch together camouflage uniforms for American troops. They arrive around sunrise, and the first thing they see is a banner that reads, “Say no to the union!”

It is the most visible sign of an intensifying conflict over sick days that has set mostly rural Puerto Rican workers against one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of military clothing. And in a sign of what may be to come in other depressed areas, both sides seem determined to use the faltering economy to gain leverage.

The company, Propper International of St. Charles, Mo., has been making military uniforms for more than 25 years. It employs about 3,000 people at eight factories in Puerto Rico, and Tom Kellim, Propper’s chief executive, said in an interview that its pay and benefits were “equal to or better than the competition.”

Indeed some employees say they feel blessed just to have a job, with Puerto Rico in its third year of recession and unemployment at nearly 12 percent.

But others — like Gladys López and Albert Torres here in Adjuntas — accuse the company of using an oversupply of labor to sidestep a Puerto Rican law (known as Law 180) that grants full-time employees 12 paid sick days and 15 days of vacation per year. Ten years after the law passed, workers say, Propper still does not pay for sick days and allows only about a week of paid vacation.

In interviews, they described a company where employees were expected to disregard their health to keep sewing.

Ms. López said that after she injured her back a few years ago at work, she postponed a doctor’s visit to protect her pay and her job. Similarly, Mr. Torres said he had put off an operation for a thyroid problem because he feared the consequences.

“I waited a year before going for surgery,” he said. “And when I finally submitted the paperwork to my superiors, two days later they gave me a memo stating I had been laid off.”

Mr. Torres said his health seemed to be the only cause for termination. “When I had my surgery and went back,” he said, “they rehired me.”

Workers from other Propper factories also said they had felt pressured by the lack of paid sick days and their financial needs to take greater risks with their health.

Maritza Vázquez, a worker at the Propper factory in Las Marías, in southeast Puerto Rico, said that after surgery for breast cancer a few months ago, she cut her recovery short by three weeks to get back to work.

“They made me sign a release at the doctor’s office in case something happened to me,” Ms. Vázquez said. “It took longer for my scars to heal, but they eventually did — and at least I didn’t lose my job.”

Mr. Kellim, in a brief telephone interview, did not deny that Propper failed to grant its workers the sick days allotted by Law 180. He said a longstanding “mandatory decree” from the Puerto Rican government exempted the apparel industry from certain labor provisions.

But according to legal experts, such a decree may apply, if at all, only to workers hired before Aug. 1, 1995. For more recent hires, like Ms. Vázquez, who started working at Propper in 1999, Law 180 superseded the earlier agreements, said Manuel Rodríguez Banchs, a law professor at the University of Puerto Rico.

“What the law did was make uniform a set of minimum requirements for all those companies that were subject to several different decrees,” Professor Rodríguez Banchs said.

Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor, which is responsible for enforcing the law, did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Diana Stewart, a spokeswoman at the Defense Logistics Agency — an arm of the Department of Defense, which ordered $99 million in products from Propper for fiscal 2008 — said her office would contact labor officials to learn more about the employees’ accusations.

Some of the workers said they had already filed formal complaints. They also turned this year to Unite Here, the union that represents more than 450,000 hotel, restaurant, apparel and laundry workers.

Liz Gres, a Unite Here organizing director in San Juan, said Propper was the largest of at least five military uniform manufacturers in Puerto Rico that do not comply with the law requiring paid sick days.

“They’ve basically been acting like this new law was never passed, and getting away with it for many, many years,” Ms. Gres said.

Unite Here has also accused Propper’s management of illegally threatening workers with plant closings or job loss for supporting the union. Last month, after the union filed a complaint with National Labor Relations Board, the company agreed to a settlement in which it promised to inform workers of their legal right to organize.

Still, the conflict shows no sign of fading; the antiunion banner in Adjuntas compares organizers to leeches with the line “pa’ fuera el chapacuotas,” or “out with the dues suckers.”

And the battle comes at an especially uncertain time. Puerto Rico has also lost 50,000 manufacturing jobs over the last four years, and evidence from independent groups like the Center for a New Economy suggests that high taxes, strict labor laws and government inefficiency are part of the cause.

Mr. Kellim said making military uniforms these days in Puerto Rico “is a very low margin industry.”

But Ms. Gres said Propper was simply exploiting the economic moment.

“They know it’s difficult to find jobs,” she said, “so people will take whatever they can get.”

Ebedet Negron contributed reporting from Adjuntas.


From: Jobs with Justice National

Tar Heel, N.C. - This week workers at Smithfield Packing in Tar
Heel, North Carolina, chose union representation with the United
Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). Workers
voted 2041 to 1879 for a voice on the job.

"When workers have a fair process, they choose a voice on the
job," said UFCW Director of Organizing Pat O'Neill. "This is a
great victory for the Tar Heel workers. I know they are looking
forward to sitting down at the bargaining table with Smithfield
to negotiate a contract. The UFCW has constructive union
contracts with Smithfield plants around the country. Those union
contracts benefit workers, the company and the community. We
believe the workers here in Tar Heel can achieve a similar

Ronnie Ann Simmons, a worker of 13 years at the plant said, "We
are thrilled. This moment has been a long time coming. We stuck
together, and now we have a say on the job."

Jobs with Justice would like to congratulate the workers and
their union for their courage and inspirational example.

We would also like to thank the many faith, community, student,
labor and political leaders who stood by the workers at
Smithfield through their long struggle.

Smithfield workers have shown the way for workers everywhere as
we fight together for an economic recovery that benefits

It shows the importance of passing the Employee Free Choice Act
so that all workers can have good jobs with decent wages,
respect on the job and a future for their families.

Sign on to Support the Employee Free Choice Act:

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for
Jobs with Justice at:


8) The Reckoning
A Champion of Wall St. Reaps the Benefits
December 14, 2008

“We are not going to rest until we change the rules, change the laws and make sure New York remains No. 1 for decades on into the future.”

— Senator Charles E. Schumer, referring to financial regulations, Jan. 22, 2007

WASHINGTON — As the financial crisis jolted the nation in September, Senator Charles E. Schumer was consumed. He traded telephone calls with bankers, then became one of the first officials to promote a Wall Street bailout. He spent hours in closed-door briefings and a weekend helping Congressional leaders nail down details of the $700 billion rescue package.

The next day, Mr. Schumer appeared at a breakfast fund-raiser in Midtown Manhattan for Senate Democrats. Addressing Henry R. Kravis, the buyout billionaire, and about 20 other finance industry executives, he warned that a bailout would be a hard sell on Capitol Hill. Then he offered some reassurance: The businessmen could count on the Democrats to help steer the nation through the financial turmoil.

“We are not going to be a bunch of crazy, anti-business liberals,” one executive said, summarizing Mr. Schumer’s remarks. “We are going to be effective, moderate advocates for sound economic policies, good responsible stewards you can trust.”

The message clearly resonated. The next week, executives at firms represented at the breakfast sent in more than $135,000 in campaign donations.

Senator Schumer plays an unrivaled role in Washington as beneficiary, advocate and overseer of an industry that is his hometown’s most important business.

An exceptional fund raiser — a “jackhammer,” someone who knows him says, for whom “ ‘no’ is the first step to ‘yes,’ ” — Mr. Schumer led the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the last four years, raising a record $240 million while increasing donations from Wall Street by 50 percent. That money helped the Democrats gain power in Congress, elevated Mr. Schumer’s standing in his party and increased the industry’s clout in the capital.

But in building support, he has embraced the industry’s free-market, deregulatory agenda more than almost any other Democrat in Congress, even backing some measures now blamed for contributing to the financial crisis.

Surely other lawmakers took the lead on efforts like deregulating the complicated financial instruments called derivatives, which are widely seen as catalysts to the crisis.

But in a somewhat less visible way, Mr. Schumer, a member of the Banking and Finance Committees, repeatedly took other steps to protect industry players from government oversight and tougher rules, a review of his record shows. Over the years, he has also helped save financial institutions billions of dollars in higher taxes or fees.

He succeeded in limiting efforts to regulate credit-rating agencies, for example, sponsored legislation that cut fees paid by Wall Street firms to finance government oversight, pushed to allow banks to have lower capital reserves and called for the revision of regulations to make corporations’ balance sheets more transparent.

“Since the financial meltdown, people have been asking, ‘Where was Congress? Why didn’t they see this coming? Why didn’t they provide better oversight?’ ” said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America. “And the answer for some, including Senator Schumer, is that they were actually too busy pursuing a deregulatory agenda. Their focus was on how we have to lighten up regulation on Wall Street.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Schumer has worked closely with the Bush administration to try to mitigate the damage to New York’s financial institutions. And as members of Congress and President-elect Barack Obama have called for new regulations to prevent future upheavals, Mr. Schumer has endorsed the need for reforms while still trying to make them palatable for Wall Street.

Calling himself “an almost obsessive defender of New York jobs,” Mr. Schumer has often talked of the need to avoid excessive regulation of an industry that is increasingly threatened by global competition. At the same time, Mr. Schumer has cast himself as a populist who looks out for the middle class.

In an interview, Mr. Schumer said that until the recent market turmoil, he did not fully appreciate how much risk Wall Street had assumed and how much damage its practices could inflict on ordinary Americans. “It is a learning process, no question about it, an evolution,” he said, adding that he now believed investors and average consumers must be better protected.

But he defended his record. “Wall Street and Main Street are tied together,” he said. “Often times, they are not in conflict. When they are in conflict, I tend to side with Main Street.”

While Mr. Schumer has taken some pro-consumer stances, his critics fault him for tilting too far toward Wall Street in balancing his responsibilities.

“He is serving the parochial interest of a very small group of financial people, bankers, investment bankers, fund managers, private equity firms, rather than serving the general public,” said John C. Bogle, the founder and former chairman of the Vanguard Group, the giant mutual fund house. “It has hurt the American investor first and the average American taxpayer.”

Navigating the Street

Brash and brainy (perfect SATs and double Harvard degrees), Chuck Schumer, now 58, learned early in his career how to talk to the financiers and chief executives who would become a vital constituency for him. Though he did not grow up in that world — his father owned a small exterminating business in Brooklyn — he quickly showed a keen grasp of complex financial issues.

And, recognizing how central Wall Street is to the city’s economy, he committed himself to keeping it strong.

“So much of what happens in this town is because we are the world financial center,” Mr. Schumer said at City Hall in January 2007. “It helps support our museums, it provides the tax base for schools and health care. If we lose being the financial center, the rest goes down the drain.”

Soon after arriving in Congress in 1981, Mr. Schumer snared a seat on the Financial Services Committee, which he viewed as the best way to help New York. While reliably liberal on many social issues, he established himself as a pragmatic Democrat willing to align with powerful business interests.

Mr. Schumer’s political rise — he moved in 1999 to the Senate, where he now has a party leadership post — paralleled Wall Street’s growing influence in Washington. As more Americans invested in the markets and financial institutions had a greater global reach, the industry came to rival the manufacturing sector as a driving force of the United States economy.

And in the 1990s, Democratic officials developed close links to a new generation of Wall Street leaders — labeled “New Moneycrats” by one author — who shared a free-market agenda.

Mr. Schumer became a magnet for campaign donations from wealthy industry executives, including Jamie Dimon, now the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase; John J. Mack, the chief executive at Morgan Stanley; and Charles O. Prince III, the former chief executive of Citigroup. And he was not at all reluctant to ask them for more.

Donors describe the Schumer pitch as unusually aggressive: He calls repeatedly to suggest breakfast or dinner, coffee or cocktails. He enlists intermediaries to invite prospects to events and recruits several senators to tag along. And he presses for the maximum contribution — “I need you to max out,” he often says — then follows up by asking that a donor’s spouse and four or five friends write checks, too.

“He was probably the kid that sold the most candy in grade school,” said Julie Domenick, a Democratic lobbyist who has given to the senatorial campaign committee. “He is not shy.”

Mr. Schumer, in the interview, acknowledged his full-speed-ahead approach. “Any job I do, I work hard at and I try to succeed at,” he said.

As a result, he has collected over his career more in campaign contributions from the securities and investment industry than any of his peers in Congress, with the exception of Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzed federal data. (By 2005, Mr. Schumer had so much cash in reserve that he shut down his fund-raising efforts.)

In the last two-year election cycle, he helped raise more than $120 million for the Democrats’ Senate campaign committee, drawing nearly four times as much money from Wall Street as the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Donors often mention his “pro-business message” and record of addressing their concerns. John A. Kanas, the former chief executive of North Fork Bank, said: “He would solicit my opinion, listen to my advice and he appeared to take it into consideration.”

Lee A. Pickard, a lawyer representing clients including the Bank of New York, whose employees have been significant donors to Mr. Schumer and other Senate Democrats, turned to Mr. Schumer last year to successfully beat back a regulatory initiative by the Securities and Exchange Commission. “If you get Chuck Schumer on your side, you are O.K.,” he said.

That may help explain why some of the wealthiest financiers in Manhattan attended the Sept. 22 breakfast hosted by Mr. Kravis at his office overlooking Central Park. A Republican with long ties to the Bush family, Mr. Kravis spent much of this year trying to help Senator John McCain, the eventual Republican nominee for president.

But last year, Mr. Kravis had gone to Capitol Hill to oppose a proposal that would have more than doubled taxes for executives at hedge funds and private equity firms like his, costing them up to $25 billion over 10 years.

Mr. Schumer had said publicly he would support the measure only if it also applied to executives at energy, venture capital and real estate partnerships, and he introduced alternative legislation that would do just that. His position was identical to that of lobbyists for a group paid by Mr. Kravis and other finance industry executives.

The Schumer bill, called a “poison pill” by the leading Republican advocate of the tax increase, went nowhere after provoking opposition from an array of industries.

At the breakfast meeting, Mr. Schumer, accompanied by fellow Senate Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Maria Cantwell of Washington, assessed the political landscape as debate over the bailout was beginning.

“On the right, you have those who view any government intervention as a threat to free markets,” one executive recalled Mr. Schumer explaining. “On the left, you have people who choose to view this as a government handout to the rich. In the middle, you have everyone who knows and takes the Treasury secretary seriously and recognizes that if something is not done here, we could be staring into an abyss.”

Within days, the businessmen sent off their checks to the Senate campaign committee.

‘Their Go-To Guy’

To Christopher Cox, the Republican chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the need for action was obvious in the spring of 2006.

His agency, which would later be criticized for a 2004 ruling that let banks pile up debt, had grown deeply concerned about lack of oversight of the nation’s largest credit-rating agencies, like Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service. Linchpins of the financial system, their ratings are vital to safeguarding investors by evaluating the risks of bonds and other debt. After the collapse of Enron and WorldCom, which had repeatedly been awarded favorable ratings, the agencies had agreed to meet voluntary standards.

But the S.E.C. concluded that those agreements were inadequate, so Mr. Cox urged Congress to give his agency oversight powers. “Without additional legislative authority, the S.E.C. will not be able to regulate in a thoroughgoing way,” he told the Senate banking committee at an April 2006 hearing.

The plan drew broad, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. But executives at the credit-rating agencies soon began pressing Mr. Schumer and other allies in Congress to block the proposal or at least limit its reach, according to current and former employees.

“They knew Schumer would support them,” said one former Moody’s executive, who asked not to be named because he still works in the industry. “He was their go-to guy,” the executive said.

While the Manhattan-based agencies were not significant campaign donors to Mr. Schumer or the Senate campaign committee, their lobbyists and many of their clients were.

At that time, revenues for the agencies were skyrocketing. The housing market was robust, and Wall Street investment firms were paying the agencies to rate various mortgage-backed securities after first advising the firms — and also collecting fees — on how to package them to get high credit ratings.

It was an obvious conflict of interest, financial experts now say. Despite their high ratings, many of those securities, based on risky loans, would prove worthless, roiling markets and threatening financial institutions worldwide.

But Mr. Schumer argued that the companies voluntarily met requirements to eliminate such possible conflicts. He suggested that regulators simply encourage competition and disclosure of agencies’ ratings methods. There was perhaps no need for an intrusive new law, he said in the spring of 2006. “They’ve implemented their codes of conduct,” Mr. Schumer told Mr. Cox at a Senate hearing. “They’re making good-faith efforts.”

Mr. Schumer could not stop the legislation from passing, but he managed to get the measure amended so that it explicitly prohibited the S.E.C. from regulating the procedures and methods the agencies use to determine ratings.

Richard Y. Roberts, a former S.E.C. commissioner, said the amendment Mr. Schumer won was troubling, adding that it could block the S.E.C. from punishing a credit-rating agency that consistently issued unreliable ratings.

Sean J. Egan, managing director of a small Pennsylvania agency, Egan-Jones Ratings, and a proponent of the tougher regulations, was more blunt. “The bill was eviscerated,” he said. “You have stripped away basic safeguards for the investors.”

At times in Congress, Mr. Schumer has teamed up with Republicans, like former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, who aggressively promoted a free-market agenda. Mr. Schumer pushed for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law, passed in November 1999, which knocked down the walls between investment banks and commercial banks and allowed financial supermarkets to flourish. The law also weakened regulatory oversight by fracturing it among different agencies.

In 2001, Mr. Schumer and Mr. Gramm jointly proposed legislation that would cut fees paid by Wall Street firms and others to the S.E.C. in half, or by $14 billion, over the coming decade. Their proposal included some extra funds for salaries of commission employees.

But with trading volumes high, Mr. Schumer argued, the government was collecting far too much money from those fees and using it to subsidize other government operations. “It is a tax, an unintended but very real tax, on all sorts of investors,” he said at the time.

But some Democrats, pointing to the recent corporate accounting scandals, argued that the S.E.C. budget should be doubled or tripled so it could more effectively combat fraud that could lead to a major economic collapse.

“We are making a tragic mistake,” Representative John J. LaFalce, Democrat of New York, warned in arguing for a much smaller reduction in the S.E.C. fees. “We give the industry what it asks for unwittingly.”

Mr. Schumer’s argument prevailed, and the fee cut passed overwhelmingly.

Some consumer advocates laud Mr. Schumer for his stances on consumer finance issues, including combating high interest rates on credit cards, challenging predatory lending practices and advocating legislation to allow bankruptcy courts to force banks to accept lower interest rates so that families facing foreclosure could stay in their homes.

“He is a strong advocate for families and homeowners to make sure they are not taken advantage of,” said Eric Stein, senior vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit group that combats abusive lending practices.

But those efforts mostly affect commercial banks and mortgage lending operations around the country and in New York, not the securities and investment businesses concentrated in Manhattan.

“He built his career in large part based on his ties to Wall Street,” said Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, which advises investors on the regulatory system. “And he has given the Street what it wanted.”

Mr. Schumer, though, has a surprising defender in Alfonse M. D’Amato, the onetime Republican senator he ousted.

“Don’t take someone to task simply because a group has supported him politically and now he supports legislation that helps them,” Mr. D’Amato said. “The question is, is the legislation good or bad? With Chuck, it is clear he tries to do what is best for the state and city as a whole.”

For Mr. Schumer, Wall Street’s crisis has been especially painful to watch. “It is horrible, just awful,” he said in the interview. “And it affects everybody.”

And he has already begun identifying those he faults for the devastation. Subprime lenders top the list, but he has lashed out with particular fury at the credit-rating industry, which he once defended but now says misled him and the investing public.

“The work at these ratings firms was severely compromised, and the companies were some of the biggest contributors to the current financial crisis,” Mr. Schumer said earlier this month in response to an S.E.C. move that same day to tighten control over the agencies. “The lesson from this is that the three major firms’ stranglehold on the ratings industry must be loosened.” Mr. Schumer has also blamed the Bush administration for its push to ease rules. “After eight years of deregulatory zeal by the Bush administration, an attitude of ‘the market can do no wrong’ has led it down a short path to economic recession,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor in September.

He has not assigned responsibility to himself or fellow Democrats, saying he had no way of knowing of the misdeeds going on on Wall Street. “I wish I was omniscient,” he said. “I’m not.”

Since the economy began to fall apart, Mr. Schumer has joined others in calling for new regulations to combat abuses. He has proposed tougher rules for credit-rating agencies, even changing the way they are paid so they are compensated by investors, not by the companies they are evaluating. He has said he is open to imposing regulations on hedge funds, which currently operate with limited government oversight.

And while he previously succeeded in limiting consumers’ rights to sue financial institutions, he says he now favors offering that remedy in certain circumstances.

But he is also warning that any new rules must be carefully crafted so they don’t impose excessive burdens.

“You need to provide safety and security to investors in order to attract them to the markets,” Mr. Schumer told Wall Street executives in a speech last month. “On the other hand, you must be sure that regulation does not snuff out the entrepreneurial vigor and financial innovation that drives economic growth and makes financial institutions successful and profitable.”

And he is seeking some regulatory concessions for some Wall Street supporters. He has proposed, for example, that the government lift a cap on how big the giant banks can get, an issue important to institutions like JPMorgan Chase. Lifting the cap would allow the biggest banks to absorb weaker ones, but it would also limit competition and increase the risks to the financial system posed by failure of one of the giants.

Mr. Schumer is also calling for the adoption of European-style regulations that impose far fewer rules and instead require banks to meet certain performance standards, a system institutions generally prefer but some banking experts criticize as not rigorous enough.

In recent weeks, Mr. Schumer has listened to Wall Street leaders for advice on what should come next. At a dinner at Morgan Stanley’s headquarters the night before the presidential election, John Mack, the chief executive, and a dozen top hedge fund officials talked with Mr. Schumer about possible changes affecting their industry.

“People feel like he is going to be fair and reasonable,” said one Morgan Stanley executive, who asked not to be identified because the session was private. “He is mindful that this is a very big part of his constituency — Wall Street.”

Griff Palmer contributed reporting from New York.


9) U.S. Training in Africa Aims to Deter Extremists
December 13, 2008

KATI, Mali — Thousands of miles from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, another side of America’s fight against terrorism is unfolding in this remote corner of West Africa. American Green Berets are training African armies to guard their borders and patrol vast desolate expanses against infiltration by Al Qaeda’s militants, so the United States does not have to.

A recent exercise by the United States military here was part of a wide-ranging plan, developed after the Sept. 11 attacks, to take counterterrorism training and assistance to places outside the Middle East, like the Philippines and Indonesia. In Africa, a five-year, $500 million partnership between the State and Defense Departments includes Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia, and Libya is on the verge of joining.

American efforts to fight terrorism in the region also include nonmilitary programs, like instruction for teachers and job training for young Muslim men who could be singled out by militants’ recruiting campaigns.

One goal of the program is to act quickly in these countries before terrorism becomes as entrenched as it is in Somalia, an East African nation where there is a heightened militant threat. And unlike Somalia, Mali is willing and able to have dozens of American and European military trainers conduct exercises here, and its leaders are plainly worried about militants who have taken refuge in its vast Saharan north.

“Mali does not have the means to control its borders without the cooperation of the United States,” Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a former prime minister, said in an interview.

Mali, a landlocked former French colony that is nearly twice the size of Texas with roughly half the population, has a relatively stable, though still fragile, democracy. But it borders Algeria, whose well-equipped military has chased Qaeda militants into northern Mali, where they have adopted a nomadic lifestyle, making them even more difficult to track.

With only 10,000 people in its military and other security forces, and just two working helicopters and a few airplanes, Mali acknowledges how daunting a task it is to try to drive out the militants.

The biggest potential threat comes from as many as 200 fighters from an offshoot of Al Qaeda called Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which uses the northern Malian desert as a staging area and support base, American and Malian officials say.

About three months ago, the Qaeda affiliate threatened to attack American forces that operated north of Timbuktu (or Tombouctou) in Mali’s desert, three Defense Department officials said. One military official said the threat contributed to a decision to shift part of the recent training exercise out of that area.

The government of neighboring Mauritania said 12 of its soldiers were killed in an attack there by militants in September. By some accounts, the soldiers were beheaded and their bodies were booby-trapped with explosives.

Two Defense Department officials expressed fear that a main leader of the Qaeda affiliate in Mali, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was under growing pressure to carry out a large-scale attack, possibly in Algeria or Mauritania, to establish his leadership credentials within the organization.

Members of the Qaeda affiliate have not attacked Malian forces, and American and Malian officials privately acknowledge that military officials here have adopted a live-and-let-live approach to the Qaeda threat, focusing instead on rebellious Tuareg tribesmen, who also live in the sparsely populated north.

To finance their operations, the militants exact tolls from smugglers whose routes traverse the Qaeda sanctuary, and collect ransoms in kidnappings. In late October, two Austrians were released after a ransom of more than $2 million was reportedly paid. They had been held in northern Mali after being seized in southern Tunisia in February.

Because of the militants’ activities, American officials eye the largely ungoverned spaces of Mali’s northern desert with concern.

This year, the United States Agency for International Development is spending about $9 million on counterterrorism measures here. Some of the money will expand an existing job training program for women to provide young Malian men in the north with the basic skills to set up businesses like tiny flour mills or cattle enterprises. Some aid will train teachers in Muslim parochial schools in an effort to prevent them from becoming incubators of anti-American vitriol.

The agency is also building 12 FM radio stations in the north to link far-flung villages to an early-warning network that sends bulletins on bandits and other threats. Financing from the Pentagon will produce, in four national languages, radio soap operas promoting peace and tolerance.

“Young men in the north are looking for jobs or something to do with their lives,” said Alexander D. Newton, the director of A.I.D.’s mission in Mali. “These are the same people who could be susceptible to other messages of economic security.”

Concern about Mali’s vulnerability also brought a dozen Army Green Berets from the 10th Special Forces Group in Germany, as well as several Dutch and German military instructors, to Mali for the two-week training exercise that ended last month.

Just before noon on a recent sunny, breezy day, Malian troops swept onto a training range here on the savannah north of Bamako, the capital, aboard two CV-22 Ospreys, rotor-blade transport aircraft flown by Air Force Special Operations crews from Hurlburt Field, Fla.

As the dull-gray aircraft landed in a swirling cloud of dust, rotors whomp-whomping, the Malians disembarked single file from the rear ramp in dark-green camouflage uniforms and helmets, M-4 assault rifles at the ready. (The Malians normally use AK-47s, but used American-issue M-4’s for this exercise.)

After a mile-long march through savannah grass, the troops walked down a hill into a small valley. Their target — the mock hide-out of the insurgents — was in sight. But what the Malians did not know was that their American instructors were lying in wait, and suddenly attacked the troops with a sharp staccato of small-arms fire (plastic paint bullets), with red flares soaring high overhead.

The make-believe skirmish lasted just a few minutes. The Malians, shouting to one another and firing at their attackers, retreated from the ambush rather than try to fight through it.

“We’re still learning,” said Capt. Yossouf Traore, a 28-year-old commander, speaking in English that he learned in Texas and at Fort Benning, Ga., as a visiting officer. “We’re getting a lot of experience in leadership skills and making decisions on the spot.”

Even more significant, Captain Traore said, was that the exercise gave his troops an unusual opportunity to train with soldiers from neighboring Senegal. Soon after the Ospreys returned to whisk the Malian soldiers from the training range, two planeloads of Senegalese troops arrived to carry out the same maneuvers.

Still, worrisome indicators are giving some Malian government and religious leaders, as well as American officials, pause about the country’s ability to deal with security risks.

Mali is the world’s fifth-poorest country and, according to some statistics from the United Nations and the State Department, is getting poorer. One in five Malian children dies before age 5. The average Malian does not live to celebrate a 50th birthday. The country’s population, now at 12 million, is doubling nearly every 20 years. Literacy rates hover around 30 percent and are much lower in rural areas.

There are also small signs that radical clerics are beginning to make inroads into the tolerant form of Islam practiced here for centuries by Sunni Muslims. The number of Malian women wearing all-enveloping burqas is still small, but the increase in the past few years is noticeable, religious leaders say.

New mosques are springing up, financed by conservative religious organizations in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Iran, and scholarships offered to young Malian men to study in those countries are on the rise, Malian officials say.

In Imam Mahamadou Diallo’s neighborhood in Bamako, a congested, fume-choked city on the Niger River, a simmering debate is under way. Imam Diallo, 48, said that two new mosques had been built in his area with financing from Wahhabi extremist groups in Saudi Arabia, and that they were drawing away some members of his mosque.

“Many people here are poor and don’t have work,” Imam Diallo said through an interpreter in Bambara, one of the local languages. “They’re potentially vulnerable to these Wahhabi people coming in with money.”

Just down a bumpy, reddish dirt road, however, the leader of one of these newer mosques, Al Nour, quarreled with Imam Diallo’s characterization. Ali Abdourohmome Cisse, the imam since Al Nour opened in 2002, said he did not know who had financed its construction. He added that no one on his staff, including an Egyptian assistant who helps conduct Friday Prayer in Arabic, advocated any form of extremism.

At El Mouhamadiya, an Islamic school in the neighborhood, more than 700 students, ages 4 to 25, take classes including math, physics and Arabic. “But we don’t train them in terrorism,” said Broulaye Sylla, 25, an administrator. “We don’t talk about jihad.”

Mahmoud Dicko, president of the High Council of Islam in Bamako, acknowledged over soft drinks in his second-story office that the influence of conservative Sunni and even Shiite groups had become more visible, but he said they did not pose a serious threat to Malian society.

“Their influence has limits because of the importance of cultural ties here in Mali,” he said. “We have a tolerant Islam here, a pacifist Islam.”

American and African diplomats here said Mali was one of the few countries in the region that had good relations with most neighbors, making it a likely catalyst for the broader regional security cooperation the United States is trying to foster. American commanders expressed confidence that by training together, the African forces might work together against transnational threats like Al Qaeda. While Mali has no effective helicopter fleet, for instance, it could team up its soldiers with better-equipped neighboring armies, like Algeria’s, to combat a common threat.

“If we don’t help these countries work together, it becomes a much more difficult problem,” said Lt. Col. Jay Connors, the senior American Special Forces officer on the ground here during the exercise.

American and Malian officials acknowledged that there were other hurdles to overcome. The Pentagon needs to better explain the role of its new Africa Command, created in October to oversee military activities on the continent, and to dispel fears that the United States is militarizing its foreign policy, Malian officials said.

American officials say their strategy is to contain the Qaeda threat and train the African armies, a process that will take years. The nonmilitary counterterrorism programs are just starting, and it is too early to gauge results.

“This is a long-term effort,” said Colonel Connors, 45, an Africa specialist from Burlington, Vt., who speaks French and Portuguese. “This is crawl, walk, run, and right now, we’re still in the crawl phase.”

Eric Schmitt reported from Mali in November, and did additional reporting from Washington.


9) Trickledown Downsizing
December 11, 2008

IN September, Cathy DeVore, a real estate agent in Larchmont, N.Y., whose business has been at a standstill lately, began taking gradual steps to lay off her longtime nanny and housekeeper. Aware that the woman supports a son, a mother, and a niece in Dominica, and worried for their well-being, Mrs. DeVore wanted to make sure her employee found another source of income before losing her $500-a-week salary.

“I told her I was worried about her job security with me, and found her an additional day of work with my sister, and told her that she should start saving because I was worried about having to cut her back more,” Mrs. DeVore said. “In October I started a no-overtime policy; in November I told her that as of Jan. 1, I am cutting her back to 20 hours a week, and that as of June 30, I probably won’t need her at all.”

Mrs. DeVore said that both she and her employee (who declined to be interviewed and asked not to be named) had marveled at the speed with which the financial crisis had hit home. “We talk about the trickledown effect of Wall Street, how my selling less houses is going to affect her mother living in her hut in Dominica, which is crazy,” she said. “But her mother is going to get less sugar because she has less money to send home.”

In the New York area, where there is a high number of dual-career professionals and where workdays are notoriously long, the number of people filling in for them at home is also immense. Domestic Workers United, a nonprofit advocacy group, estimates there are more than 200,000 nannies, housekeepers, personal chefs and other domestic workers employed in the New York metropolitan area.

And as professionals recalibrate their spending because of job losses, salary or bonus cuts or just anxiety about the future, said Ai-jen Poo, an organizer at Domestic Workers United, “domestic workers’ wages are often the first thing that gets compromised.”

“Essentially, 10,000 jobs lost at Lehman Brothers means 10,000 domestic workers’ jobs that are in jeopardy,” she added, referring to the number of people in North America who were employed by the bank.

Given that the connection between domestic workers and their employers is often more intimate than other working relationships, when it is threatened by economic downturn, feelings on both sides run high. For employers, who form attachments to the people they entrust with their children and their homes, terminating or even scaling back the relationship can feel like betraying a family member. For workers — particularly those who are being paid off the books and have little or no legal protection or financial buffer — there is much more at stake.

One employer, a lawyer who grew up “very middle class” in a household with few luxuries, said that she and her husband, also a lawyer, had taken on a lot of domestic help — a housecleaner, two part-time nannies, even a dog walker — because “our time became more valuable than anything” when she went back to work after having children. But now that money has become more of an issue again, the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she pays her workers under the table, said cutting back on their hours was not so easy.

“We pay an extra five hours a week so we can have a date night,” she said. “It’s a complete luxury so it could easily be cut” — except that one of the nannies, paid $18 an hour, depends on that extra work.

She is also considering dismissing the housecleaner, to whom she pays $150 a week. “She doesn’t do that great a job, but she has four kids and I know she relies on the money.”

The cleaner once told her that she couldn’t wait even a few days for a check to clear, suggesting to the lawyer that she lives hand-to-mouth. “If being late is going to affect her, imagine firing her,” the lawyer said.

Many employers interviewed for this article said they had searched for other ways to save money before laying off housekeepers or nannies or cutting back on their wages. After losing her job teaching art classes in September, Vicki Devor (no relation to Cathy DeVore), a 48-year-old mother in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, gave up on eating lunch out and a $59-a-month gym membership, she said, before even considering laying off her housekeeper, who cleaned Ms. Devor’s apartment twice a month for $100 a visit.

“It was really hard,” Ms. Devor said. “She needs the money. Initially, I just cut her back to once a month, but told her that soon I wasn’t going to be able to keep paying her. I just couldn’t justify it.”

The housekeeper has returned to her native Poland — first to take care of an ailing sister, then of the sister’s orphaned children — and declined to be interviewed about her lost job.

Often, employers who lay off domestic workers feel driven to help them find other employment. Alexa Winton, a design historian and adjunct instructor at Parsons, recently dismissed her daughter’s three-day-a-week nanny, Regina Mingo, after cutting back on her own teaching schedule. “As much as I had to make this financial decision for us, I feel so responsible for Regina,” Ms. Winton said. “She’s a great baby sitter, and she hasn’t found anything.”

Ms. Winton has posted notices on two Brooklyn Internet message boards advertising Ms. Mingo’s formidable skills and availability, but there have been few inquiries.

For her part, Ms. Mingo is trying to stay optimistic — she has been a professional caregiver for New York families for 21 years, and says she knows former employers are looking out for her — but her position with Ms. Winton was not the first job she lost this year. In June, a family that provided the two days of work that filled out her income laid her off. “I was struggling to pay rent,” she said, and in October she had to give up her third-floor walk-up in Carroll Gardens. At the moment, she is searching for a place to live.

“Now, it’s hard,” Ms. Mingo said last week. “Nobody’s looking for baby sitters.”

The message boards Ms. Winton used, Park Slope Parents and BoCoCa Parents (which is for families who live in Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens), were already full of postings from parents recommending that other people hire their former sitters, or take on “shares” of their current ones. On Saturday, a woman who said her husband was recently laid off wrote on BoCoCa Parents, “we love our nanny and want to try our best to keep her with us. If you would be interested in a nanny share — we would love to speak with you.”

Not all employers, of course, show so much concern.

Michelle, a nanny from Guyana who worked until recently in the New York area, and wouldn’t give her last name because she is in the country illegally, said she had been with her employers, a media executive and his wife, for a year and a half before they fired her last month. “They came to me one evening and said to me they can’t afford to pay me anymore,” said Michelle, who lives in Queens and supports two teenage sons in Guyana, and hasn’t yet found a new job. “I said, how long are you going to give me? And they said just the following week. It’s close to Christmas. This is a very bad time.”

Unemployed domestic workers who are able to secure new positions may have to accept lower salaries. Jaime Hochhauser, who runs the Right Staff, an agency that places nannies and housekeepers with families throughout the tri-state area, said the compensation being offered right now is about 20 percent less than it was six months ago, a decrease that’s consistent “even among the wealthiest clients.” (Workers who are still employed, too, may find their circumstances reduced along with their bosses’. “I got a 20% pay cut,” someone posted on the UrbanBaby chat boards last week. “Should I give one to my nanny as well?”)

Employers are also combining positions, asking for nannies who will watch their children and do the cleaning, for example, or switching from three days a week of help to just one, according to Ms. Hochhauser and several other agency owners.

“There’s a lot of fear around job loss,” said Ai-jen Poo, of Domestic Workers United. “Workers are getting their hours cut, they’re getting fired, their employers say they found somebody who will work for less.”

And “unlike other sectors getting hit, domestic workers have no safety net,” she added. “It’s the invisible, untold story of this crisis. It’s really hitting people hard.”


10) Even Workers Surprised by Success of Factory Sit-In
December 13, 2008

CHICAGO — The word came just after lunch on Dec. 2 in the cafeteria of Republic Windows and Doors. A company official told assembled workers that their plant on this city’s North Side, which had operated for more than four decades, would be closed in just three days.

There was a murmur of shock, then anger, in the drab room lined with snack machines. Some women cried. But a few of the factory’s union leaders had been anticipating this moment. Several weeks before, they had noticed that equipment had disappeared from the plant, and they began tracing it to a nearby rail yard.

And so, in secret, they had been discussing a bold but potentially dangerous plan: occupying the factory if it closed.

By the time their six-day sit-in ended on Wednesday night, the 240 laid-off workers at this previously anonymous 125,000-square-foot plant had become national symbols of worker discontent amid the layoffs sweeping the country. Civil rights workers compared them to Rosa Parks. But all the workers wanted, they said, was what they deserved under the law: 60 days of severance pay and earned vacation time.

And to their surprise, their drastic action worked. Late Wednesday, two major banks agreed to lend the company enough money to give the workers what they asked for.

“In the environment of this economic crisis, we felt we were obligated to fight for our money,” Armando Robles, a maintenance worker and president of Local 1110 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, which represented the workers, said in Spanish.

The reverberations of the workers’ victory are likely to be felt for months as plants continue to close. Bob Bruno, director of the labor studies program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, predicted organized labor would be emboldened by the workers’ success. “If you combine some palpable street anger with organizational resources in a changing political mood,” he said, “you can begin to see more of these sort of riskier, militant adventures, and they’re more likely to succeed.”

The tale of how this small band of workers came to embody the welter of emotions in the country’s economic downturn is flecked with plot turns from the deepening recession, growing anger over the Wall Street bailout and difficult business calculations. The workers were not aware, for example, that Republic’s owners had quietly set up a new company, Echo Windows LLC, incorporated on Nov. 18, according to records with the Illinois secretary of state’s office. And Echo had bought a window and door manufacturing plant in Red Oak, Iowa.

Company officials in Iowa declined to comment, but Mary Lou Friedman, the human resources manager at Echo, said in a telephone interview that the factory had 102 employees, all nonunion.

And at the last minute of negotiations, according to Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, who helped moderate talks to resolve the standoff, and union officials, Republic’s chief executive, Richard Gillman, demanded that any new bank loan to help the employees also cover the lease of several of his cars — a 2007 BMW 350xi and a 2002 Mercedes S500 are among those registered to company addresses — as well as eight weeks of his salary, at $225,000 a year.

The demand held up the settlement, which was reached only after Mr. Gillman agreed to back down. (Mr. Gillman said Friday that he had sought the money to offset a large bonus in 2007 that he had chosen not to accept.)

In many ways, however, Republic was an unlikely setting for a worker uprising. Many workers interviewed, including some who had been at the plant for more than three decades, said they considered it a decent place to work. It was a mostly Hispanic work force, with some blacks. Some earned over $40,000 a year, including overtime, pulling them into the middle class and enabling them to set up 401(k) retirement accounts and buy modest homes.

But after Mr. Gillman took over as owner in 2006, there were several rounds of layoffs, and the number of employees fell to about 240, from more than 500.

The company had been affected by the declining housing market, and Mr. Gillman said it had also been affected by Chicago’s higher production costs. He said he had hoped to salvage the business by buying another manufacturer in Ohio, but was turned down by Bank of America.

“This has been the worst week of my life,” he said. “I know many of those workers at Republic personally, and I put 34 years of my life into that business, and all my money, too. No stone was left unturned in our effort to save Republic.”

By mid-October, the company had exhausted its $5 million line of credit with Bank of America, and the bank was refusing to lend the company any more money.

“We declined to provide an additional loan because of the company’s dire financial conditions,” said Julie Westermann, a bank spokeswoman.

Bank officials said Republic filed for bankruptcy on Friday.

In mid-November, during a late-night vigil to see where the missing equipment was going, Mark Meinster, 35, one of the factory’s union organizers, broached the possibility of a sit-in with Mr. Robles, the president of the local, if the plant should be closed.

Mr. Robles, 38, who had worked at the factory for eight years, said he was excited by the idea but also mulled the potential repercussions. “We’d basically be trespassing on private property,” he said. “We might get arrested.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Robles told Mr. Meinster that he believed most workers would participate. In the coming days, the idea would take root among other union leaders.

On Tuesday, Dec. 2, Barry Dubin, the company’s chief operating officer, delivered the final verdict to workers, telling them they would probably not be getting severance pay or be paid for accrued vacation days. Union leaders quickly moved to hash out details of an occupation.

“We knew keeping the windows in the warehouse was a bargaining chip,” said Melvin Maclin, a groove cutter and vice president of the local.

While some workers picketed Bank of America, others began attending to their own financial worries, with many liquidating their 401(k)’s. Others cast worried eyes on their meager savings accounts.

On Friday, union officials met with company officers and learned the workers’ health insurance was being cut off.

Later, with employees gathered in the cafeteria, Mr. Robles asked for a show of hands of how many would be willing to stay at the factory. All hands went up, with shouts of, “Sí, se puede!” — or “Yes, we can!”

“I ain’t got no other choice,” Alexis McCoy, 32, a driver’s assistant, said later. “I have a newborn. I have to take care of my family.”

Local politicians discouraged the police from arresting the workers. Exasperated company officials decided not to press the matter as the news media began arriving in droves.

The workers organized themselves into three shifts and set up committees in charge of cleanup, security and safety. A sign was taped to a cafeteria wall banning alcohol, drugs and smoking.

Negotiations involving the company, Bank of America and union officials began late Monday afternoon at the bank’s offices downtown.

At the root of much of the discussions was the federal law requiring employees to be given 60 days’ notice, or that amount of severance, when plants close.

Bank officials said it was not their responsibility as lenders to ensure that the company made these payments. They said later that they had been discussing closing the plant with the company as far back as July, giving it plenty of time to fulfill its obligations to its workers.

Nevertheless, union officials argued that Bank of America had received billions of taxpayer dollars in the recent federal bailout, meant to free up credit to companies like Republic.

“We never made the argument you have a legal responsibility,” said Mr. Gutierrez, who described bank officials as willing to be helpful almost immediately. “We said, ‘Will you make a corporate responsibility decision?’ ”

Bank of America’s offer to lend the company roughly $1.35 million came on Tuesday, and additional help came from William M. Daley, the brother of Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago and the Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase, which owned 40 percent of the window company and agreed to lend an additional $400,000.

Mr. Gillman’s demands, however, became a major sticking point. “I’m not going to describe to you the words that were used when those issues were brought up,” Mr. Gutierrez said.

Eventually, the parties agreed that the workers would be the only ones to benefit. They would be paid severance and for vacation, and receive two months’ health coverage. The company owners also agreed to come up with $114,000 to cover the payroll for their last week of work.

When union negotiators returned to the factory on Wednesday evening with the agreement, the workers approved it unanimously. They emerged from the factory chanting, “Yes, we did!”

Karen Ann Cullotta contributed reporting.


11) Ron Carey, Who Led Teamsters Reforms, Dies at 72
December 13, 2008

Ron Carey, a parcel truck driver from Queens who became president of the Teamsters union and led a successful strike by 185,000 workers against United Parcel Service, but was then ousted in a campaign finance scandal, died on Thursday in Queens. He was 72.

He died of lung cancer at New York Hospital Queens, said Ken Paff, a longtime friend and supporter.

Mr. Carey, one of the most prominent labor leader of the 1990s, having run on an anti-corruption platform to capture the presidency of a union long notorious for Mafia connections.

A wiry man with a smoldering intensity and a strident voice, Mr. Carey initially developed a reputation as Mr. Clean by vowing to root out corruption from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which was the nation’s largest private-sector union, with 1.4 million members, when he took its helm in 1992.

After having faced death threats during the election campaign, Mr. Carey vowed to restore honesty and eliminate the union leadership’s luxurious trappings. He sold the union’s two private jets, cut the president’s salary by one-third and removed from union locals more than 70 leaders who were found to be corrupt.

In 1997, in the biggest strike in more than a decade, he led a 15-day walkout against U.P.S., generating huge public support for the union. When the Teamsters emerged victorious, many union leaders hailed Mr. Carey as having turned around labor’s sagging fortunes; he got U.P.S. to back off demands for pension concessions, to convert thousands of part-time jobs to full time and increase part-timers’ wages for the first time in 15 years.

Just days after the strike ended, a federal union overseer moved to overturn Mr. Carey’s 1996 re-election victory over James P. Hoffa, son of the famous Teamsters leader. The overseer asserted that Mr. Carey and his aides had arranged to contribute more than $750,000 in union money to several liberal organizations, while donors to those groups contributed more than $100,000 to Mr. Carey’s re-election campaign in exchange. Federal law prohibits using union money on behalf of a union candidate.

In 1998, a court-appointed review board expelled Mr. Carey from the union. It did not find that he had participated in the scheme, instead finding that he had breached his fiduciary duties by not detecting the scheme and stopping it.

Ronald Robert Carey was born in Manhattan on March 22, 1936, the second of five sons of Joseph and Loretta Carey. His father was a United Parcel driver for 40 years.

He graduated from Haaren High School in Manhattan and was offered a swimming scholarship to St. John’s University. After turning it down, he joined the Marines and served from 1953 to 1955. At 18, he married the girl who lived upstairs, Barbara Murphy. He is survived by his wife, along with their five children, Ronald, of Babylon, N.Y., Sandra Perrone of Smithtown, N.Y., and Daniel, Pamela Casabarro and Barbara Marchese, all of Queens. He is also survived by 13 grandchildren.

Concerned that he could not support a family on Marine wages, Mr. Carey became a U.P.S. driver in Queens in 1956. Two years later, he became a shop steward with Teamsters Local 804, becoming its secretary in 1965 and president in 1967.

In his 24 years as head of that 7,000-member local, he developed a reputation as being clean as he sought to disassociate himself from the parent union’s mob-influenced leadership. Moreover, he barred the local’s officers from putting relatives on the payroll and insisted that they visit the truck yard daily.

He also won a reputation for delivering at the bargaining table, becoming one of the first local leaders to win his members a pension after 25 years of employment, regardless of their retirement age. With a reputation as a fighter; he led walkouts of 9 to 13 weeks in 1968, 1971 and 1974.

Steven Brill’s 1978 book, “The Teamsters,” catapulted him to national attention, devoting a chapter to him and describing him as an honest, exemplary leader.

He ran for the union’s presidency in 1991 against two longtime insiders, winning with 48.5 percent of the vote, a narrow victory that encouraged what he called the old guard to challenge him at every turn. Asserting that union dues were to help union members, not union leaders, he angered many officials by barring them from drawing multiple salaries.

The court-appointed review board expelled Mr. Carey from the Teamsters in 1998. Mr. Carey insisted that decision was wrong. Then in January 2001, federal prosecutors indicted him, not on charges of participating in the campaign financing scheme, but of lying to investigators that he knew nothing about it. In October 2001, after a four-week trial, a jury found him not guilty.

Throughout that trial and the years afterward, Mr. Carey insisted that he was not corrupt and that he had known nothing about the campaign scheme conducted by his aides.

He said that if aides had informed him of the scheme, “I would have stopped that dead in its tracks.”