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Kerry speaks out for EFCA Posted by on

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry publicly reinforced his support for the Employee Free Choice Act today in a Guest Opinion piece in the Fall River (MA) Herald News. The bill, which would make it easier for workers to organize using either card check recognition or a secret ballot election, will be the biggest labor battle in Washington in several years.

Most American say they would like to be in a union, if the opportunity were more readily available, but heavy handed campaign tactics and little enforcement against rule breaking employers during NLRB elections often keep organizing efforts from moving forward successfully.

President Barack Obama supported the bill during the campaign, but business groups have putting tremendous pressure on Senators and Representatives to prevent it from passing.

First Trade could get Treasury TARP funds Posted by on

First Trade Union Bank
announced Friday afternoon that it had received preliminary approval for an $11 million investment from the US Department of the Treasury. The investment is part of the Capital Purchase Program the Treasury Department has undertaken to stimulate economic activity. The added capital will allow First Trade to become a larger part of the banking industry. The transaction is expected to close in late February.

"We plan to utilize capital received from the United States Department of the Treasury to continue to expand our relationship-based lending," noted Michael Butler, First Trade President & CEO. "We??re excited about the opportunity to support the government??s program to stimulate economic activity and are eager to play our small part in strengthening the financial markets."

The investment of TARP funds in First Trade is an indication that the Treasury Department is now providing those funds not only to banks that are troubled, but is also prepared to fund banks that can move the money onto the street and into the economy.

First Trade recently released its Fiscal Year 2008 earnings. Net income increased 17.2% from the previous year, loans grew 25.7% and deposits increased 23.1%. First Trade??s asset quality remains very strong, with net charge-offs of less than 0.01%. Additionally, its capital position also remains strong, with a Tier 1 capital ratio of 8.25% and a Risk-Based capital ratio of 12.98%.

Obama reverses Bush on Federal PLAs Posted by on

President Barack Obama yesterday reversed another Bush administration policy by issuing an Executive Order lifting a prohibition on the use of Project Labor Agreements on Federal construction projects and encouraging departments to use PLAs on projects valued at more than $25 million. The order specifically cites problems that may occur on large-scale construction projects when a structure for ensuring a steady supply of labor is not present, and when there is no formal process for resolving disputes, which are more common on sites with multiple employers on large sites.

The order stated, in part: "The use of a project labor agreement may prevent these problems from developing by providing structure and stability to large-scale construction projects, thereby promoting the efficient and expeditious completion of Federal construction contracts. Accordingly, it is the policy of the Federal Government to encourage executive agencies to consider requiring the use of project labor agreements in connection with large-scale construction projects in order to promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement."

Project Labor Agreements had been used by the Federal Government for years before George W. Bush issued an Executive Order prohibiting their use. Though anti-union advocates lobbied hard for that move, private companies and state governments continued to use the agreements to establish fair standards and procedures for managing projects.

The Executive Order also directs the Office of Management and Budget to study and make recommendations on broader use of PLAs "with respect to both construction projects undertaken under Federal contracts and construction projects receiving Federal financial assistance."