"That's what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity,'' he said. "There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land." 

--Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, quoted in The New York Times. Carson's description of slaves as "immigrants" quickly drew fire on the Internet. http://nyti.ms/2lPSx5I

Ben Carson..please read or watch Roots, most immigrants come here VOLUNTARILY,cant't really say the same about the slaves..they were stolen.

--Actress Whoopi Goldberg on Twitter. http://bit.ly/2mfUpIk


TODAY'S FAIR SHOTS - March 7th, 2017

1-Chair: Equal Pay Law Would Make Litigation Cheaper for Businesses, Not Just Defendants

2-Trump, John Oliver Building Circulation for Top-Flight News Organizations

3-CWA Reaches Tentative Deal With AT&T

4-Nissan Protest in Mississippi Draws Huge Crowd; Texas AFL-CIO Represented by Levy

5-Austin Approves 'Better Builder' Ordinance That Speeds Up Permits in Return for Higher Safety Standards

1. The House Business and Industry Committee yesterday considered, once again, an effort to expand court access for Texas women who receive lower pay than men doing the same job.


   HB 228 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, addresses situations in which women do not find out about pay discrimination for years after they are hired. Under current law, such women cannot ask for help in the state courts.

  Thompson said the measure simply gives women who have been wronged a meaningful entry to state court rather than federal court.

   The United Labor Legislative Committee supports the Equal Pay bill. A version of the same legislation made it to Gov. Rick Perry's desk in 2013 only to be vetoed. 

   In talking with witnesses, Committee Chair René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, offered a wrinkle that has not been discussed regularly in the past. Oliveira, an attorney, pointed up that the cost of going to federal court - the only option left for some women if state courts are closed off - is substantially higher not just for women who make discrimination claims but for the businesses involved. 

   Opponents of the bill included the National Federation of Independent Business and the Texas Association of Business.

   The committee left the measure pending after the hearing - the norm for all its bills.

2. Putting more meat on the "accidental Renaissance" theory suggested Friday by New York Times columnist Timothy Egan, Newsonomics offers some numbers on circulation gains by publications that do not subscribe to "alternative facts."

   It's about Trump. But interestingly, this article also credits comedian John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" appeal to Americans to read publications that routinely feature in-depth reporting:

   Trump, of course, has become the greatest source of lead generation the American press has ever seen, his campaign and then election inspiring hundreds of thousands of Americans to rush to buy digital news subscriptions and memberships. Oliver provided some seed, name-checking The New York Times, The Washington Post and ProPublica in a legendary journalism-affirming appeal in August, which so far has generated 7.4 million views on YouTube.

  A month ago, the big number that generated the big headlines was that of the Times, as it passed the 3 million subscription threshold. It is now the numbers generated by dozens of media companies that certify the Trump bump as a major trend in the news publishing business...

  In newspapers, The New York Times has lit the way forward. By the end of this month, it expected to have added 500,000 new net subscribers over a six-month period, unprecedented in U.S. history, moving past its recently achieved subscriber milestone. Meanwhile, its partner in surge, The Washington Post said that January generated more subscription starts than any other month, beating what had been a record-setting November, with the Post overall seeing "doubled digital subscription revenue in the past 12 months, with a 75% increase in new subscribers."

Read more: http://bit.ly/2mvaXg4

3. Congratulations to the Communications Workers of America, who have reached a tentative four-year agreement with AT&T.

As always, CWA members must approve the agreement in a vote before it can take effect.

The key feature: a return to the U.S. of 3,000 call center jobs.

    Via CNN Money: 

   The union that represents AT&T workers, the Communications Workers of America, said Thursday that it's reached a tentative agreement with AT&T Southwest -- a regional landline arm of the company -- that includes a commitment to hire American workers to do jobs that were previously done by contractors overseas. 

  The four-year deal also covers wage hikes, paid parental leave, healthcare and benefits for 20,000 AT&T Southwest workers across five southern states. The exact terms of the deal still need to be approved by a union members vote. 

  AT&T praised the deal in a statement Thursday. "It maintains one of the most robust health care plans in the nation," the company said. "The agreement also includes two weeks of paid parental leave to help mothers or fathers bond with a newborn or newly adopted child." 

  The decision to add 3,000 jobs in the U.S. marks a significant concession by AT&T. The issue is likely to come up in other negotiations. While this contract would cover AT&T Southwest workers, discussions are still underway between AT&T and workers in its other divisions, such as wireless and customer service.

Read more: http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/03/news/companies/att-outsourcing-jobs/

4. Thousands of demonstrators, including Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rick Levy, gathered at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi to call for a fair shot for workers to bargain through the United Auto Workers.

   The immediate request was for neutrality by the company, but the larger implications for organizing in the South drew national attention. The action drew, among many others, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, UAW President Dennis Williams and actor Danny Glover. Levy said a broad cross-section of union members, including representatives of several southern state labor federations, joined plant workers.

The AFL-CIO blog relayed Jobs With Justice's account of the proceedings:

   On Saturday, more than 5,000 auto assemblers, handlers and servicers marched with their families and supporters in Canton, Mississippi, to demand Nissan respect their employees' desire to come together in union. Nissan refuses to allow the people who work for them to have a seat at the table to voice their concerns and gain a better workplace. At the march, an active leader in the plant read a letter on behalf of his fellow members of the United Auto Workers. They called on the auto giant to stop attacking their union and threatening their families, and to include them at the table to improve safety and conditions in the plant.
  U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), actor Danny Glover, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, and hundreds of working people, civil rights leaders, international supporters and social justice advocates, including Jobs With Justice, converged on the automaker's factory grounds in Canton to march in solidarity with Nissan autoworkers. Citing a pattern of civil rights abuses by Nissan against its predominantly African American workforce, we demanded that the company respect its workers' right to vote for a union free from fear and intimidation...
  Kevin Harkins has worked at Nissan for 13 years. The father of three children who joined him on Saturday explained in The Clarion-Ledger why he participated in the march: "It's just simple things they could fix...we work there every day all day, and it has an effect on your body after so many years. It's certain things-days off-small things like that they could change but they don't. They make promises that they never change."
  Along the two-mile walk to the plant from a local park where Nissan autoworkers often cook out together after shifts, marchers passed by a large RV campsite where many Nissan workers sleep during the week before making the long drive back to their homes on days off. "We're glad that the company based itself in Mississippi, but Nissan can do better," one member said.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2lxBx8R

5. Bo Delp of the Workers Defense Project offers information on a "Better Builder" ordinance approved Thursday by the Austin City Council.

   By meeting criteria that include worker safety, developers have the opportunity under the ordinance to receive expedited movement on their permitting:

 Bo Delp - Workers Defense Project, Better Builder Project Program Director 

Bo Delp - Workers Defense Project, Better Builder Project Program Director 

  On March 2, 2017 the City of Austin passed an ordinance that will require Better Builder certification for developers seeking to access the city's new expedited permitting program. 

  The new program is expected to take effect and begin processing applications in May 2017. You can find the ordinance here: http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=272529

  As you can see, all commercial buildings valued above $7.5 million, or above 75,000 square feet, must receive Better Builder certification in order to gain access to this new program. In addition, site plans submitted with commercial buildings that cumulatively reach these thresholds will also need to be Better Builder certified. 

  City staff estimates that there are in excess of 70 projects each year that meet these criteria, employing thousands of construction workers in the Central Texas region.

  By becoming Better Builder certified and reducing permitting delays from months down to just days, owners are expected to save up to an estimated 4-5% on hard and soft development costs.

  Austin is growing rapidly. The City of Austin's new permitting program rewards businesses who invest in the men and women who build our city....