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Labor Watch: Unions Ready to Spend $122 Million on Election Ads, While Abercrombie and Best Buy Workers Launch Labor-Backed Protests

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Plus: Canadian unions join in protests to stop a Tar Sands pipeline, and US Airways employees join forces to demand action on labor dispute.

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Here we present the most useful and interesting news about labor action from across the Web.

Washington Times
Link: Labor unions set to unleash millions for ad buys
"Labor unions are sitting on at least $122 million in cash that can be spent on politics - more than corporate political action committees have on hand - and have already sent millions to Democratic super PACs that are purchasing ad buys daily.

"With unions' traditional specialty being 'get-out-the-vote' rather than persuasion, it is now, in the final weeks of the campaign, that much of those funds stand to be spent."

Upstart Business Journal
Link: Strikes show unrest at retail

"It's the fourth quarter and as retailers get ready for the pivotal holiday season, a small number of their workers are not practicing their 'Can I help you find something?' greetings, but going on strike.

"Yesterday, workers at Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) marched along New York City's Fifth Avenue in protest of what some of its workers described as abusive scheduling. Among them was Bintou Kamara, a 22-year-old college student who works as a cashier at Abercrombie & Fitch. She started a petition with the Retail Action Project on Change.org last week and said that she was protesting the store's demands that she keep her schedule open and be available by phone to come into work as needed.

"With a recent survey showing that 63 percent of bachelor's degree holders are 'underemployed,' it is likely she isn't alone over too few hours. Others are frustrated over holiday hours. Remember the 29-year-old Target (NYSE:TGT) worker who started a petition last year over having to work in the evening on Thanksgiving Day?

"At Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), which is seeing a labor strike spread to 12 cities, including Dallas, Miami, and Washington, striking workers are threatening a Black Friday walkout."

Labor Notes
Link: Tar Sands Pipeline Risks Too Great, Canadian Unions Say
"The US presidential election has held up a decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but in Canada, unions have joined environmentalists to battle another export pipeline-this one headed for the pristine west coast of Canada.

"More than 3,000 protesters converged on British Columbia's legislature in Victoria on Monday, demanding the development be stopped. When a speaker asked if they were willing to sit down in front of bulldozers to stop the pipeline, the crowd roared Yes!"

Bloomberg Businessweek
Link:
US Airways CEO Reaps Union Criticism Amid Bid for AMR
"US Airways Group Inc. (NYSE:LCC) pilots and flight attendants joined other unions in urging Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker to end the carrier's labor disputes before trying to merge with AMR Corp.'s bankrupt American Airlines. (PINK:AAMRQ).

"Employees are frustrated that Parker reached conditional agreements with American workers in a matter of weeks yet hasn't combined the two biggest labor groups from the 2005 merger between America West Holdings Corp. and US Airways, US Airline Pilots Association President Gary Hummel said."

RTE News
Link: Threat of Industrial Action at Aer Lingus

"Talks at the Labour Relations Commission between the airline and unions broke down yesterday.

"Aer Lingus refuses to go to the Labour Court, and last night SIPTU warned that industrial action was now the only avenue left.

"At a meeting next Tuesday, Aer Lingus unions are expected to back industrial action.

"While Aer Lingus pilots are members of IMPACT, they are not members of the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme - the pension scheme at the centre of the dispute."

Los Angeles Times
Mexican Union Reform Effort Stays Alive -- For Now

"A dramatic vote in the Mexican Senate has kept alive a plan to reform this country's corrupt and politically powerful unions, despite opponents' attempts to smother the idea in the legislature.

"But the senators' move late Tuesday could also torpedo a broader labor-reform bill, of which the union reforms are only one part. That left Mexicans pondering two very different futures Wednesday: one that could see a diminished role for the country's king-making union bosses and another in which nothing much changes.

"The reforms in question would require union elections to be held with secret ballots and open the books of big labor to public scrutiny. That, in theory, could undermine the virtual fiefdoms of labor leaders like Elba Esther Gordillo, the head of Mexico's national teachers union, whose salary is unknown, but who is known to carry $5,000 Hermes purses and once gave out Hummers to loyal followers."

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