Monday, December 14, 2009

The nominees have been chosen for the 'Scrooge of the Year' contest sponsored by the American Jobs With Justice group. Here, from the AFL-CIO Blog is the announcement about the "winners" and how you can vote for the evilest boss of the year. While looking over this contest don't forget to go over to the Canadian Blog Awards and vote for 'Molly's Blog' as the best 'Political Blog' of the year in Canada. One good vote deserves another after all. Voting at the CBA is open until December 19.
Cast Your Vote for ‘Scrooge of the Year’:
by James Parks, Dec 14, 2009
It’s the holiday season and time once again to say “bah humbug” to the most cold-hearted and greedy CEOs, corporations and politicians who exemplify the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge.

This is the 10th year that Jobs with Justice (JwJ) has “honored” the person or group that has done the most to “scrooge” workers. And given the current crop of nominees—Bank of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hyatt Hotels, Publix Supermarkets and student loan providers—it looks like it will be a hard decision to pick just one.

You can cast your vote for any of these deserving nominees here. The winner will be announced Dec. 21.

First, there’s Bank of America, which had a hand in the worst of the subprime lending excesses, providing financing to four of the top five largest subprime lenders during the years prior to the crash. Among them, these four firms issued more than $320 billion in subprime loans from 2005-2007. As a result of these kinds of abuses, Bank of America helped crash the economy and then accepted bailouts and backstops totaling $199.2 billion.

Next, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the second nominee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has become a front group for a few narrow interests, not a membership association that represents the voice of mainstream American businesses.

The Chamber opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, paid sick days and other basic workers’ rights. Recently, members of the U.S. Chamber have been renouncing their membership—including major corporations and local chambers of commerce that have quit or distanced themselves, in large part because of the Chamber’s extreme stance on environmental issues.

In Boston, Hyatt Hotels fired the entire housekeeping departments of its three nonunion hotels, replacing long-time employees who were paid around $15 an hour with subcontracted workers paid the minimum wage. It gets worse: Hyatt required Boston-area housekeepers to train their replacements before they were fired.

At unionized Hyatt hotels in San Francisco and Chicago, Hyatt is using the recession as an excuse to roll back health care and other hard-won contract standards. In Indianapolis, San Antonio, Long Beach and elsewhere, Hyatt is fighting its own workers as they seek a fair process to organize a union. Penny Pritzker, who is chairwoman of four Hyatt-related companies, has come out strongly against the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field for workers seeking to join a union.

Then there’s Publix Supermarkets, which had 2008 revenues of more than $24 billion, but refuses to pay just one penny more per pound for its tomatoes to directly improve worker’s wages. Publix also won’t work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to implement a code of conduct to protect farm workers’ basic human rights.

Other corporations, including Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Subway and Publix competitor Whole Foods, already have agreed to pay an additional one cent per pound. Publix, on the other hand, continues to purchase tomatoes from two of the growers tainted by last year’s modern-day slavery prosecution.

Finally, an increasing number of students depend on private companies like Sallie Mae, Citibank and other lenders for loans to finance their college educations, yet these loans get little oversight from government regulators. Private student loans are expensive and mostly variable-rate loans that cost more for those who can least afford them. They lack the flexible repayment options of federal student loans, functioning more like a credit card than a student loan.

Whoever wins the Scrooge award will join an infamous group. Last year’s winner was the entire lot of Wall Street executives whose unchecked corporate greed led to our nation’s economic disaster.

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