Posts Tagged Labor

Trade Deals: Magic Practiced By The Powerful and Slick

Free Trade & Globalization Machine

Read these:  Trade deals are good for everyone, or so the propaganda goes.  Beginning with George H.W. Bush, then Bill Clinton, then George W. Bush and now Barack Obama, all of our presidents seem to love them.  We’ve had NAFTA, CAFTA and other less well know trade deals and are waiting for the mighty pen to drop, committing us to TPP.  Each one has been touted as a fix for workers, trade, corporations, investors, oh and don’t worry about labor protections, the environment, safety, etc.  It is all covered and will be good. So what do the American people and the leaders of smaller economies around the world do?  What can they do?  They resist a little, try to get the word out and then cross their fingers and sign.

What happens shortly after the ink dries has been a very well hidden but quite different story.  These trade deals, largely written by corporations, have led to massive reductions in trade for small farmers, greatly reduced wages, loss of local farms and industry, devastated local economies, environmental pollution, degradation in safety standards among other destructive effects.  They have been good for corporations, their investors and some others, so I guess that is what we call a win / win.

Understanding these trade deals is difficult and you will seldom see much on our beloved news/entertainment media.  Below are several links to well documented and detailed reports giving a “not so rosy” review of the existing trade deals and of course the impending TPP deal (what many are calling NAFTA on steroids).  There is a lot to read, so do it in pieces and at your own pace, but please read.  You / We need to understand these agreements and maybe begin to abstain from participating in these abusive endeavors to further the power and wealth of the few.

NAFTA, CAFTA & Other Trade Deals

Failed Trade Policy & Immigration

NAFTA Impact on Mexico

Free Trade and the Environment

NAFTA Report Warns Of Trade Deal Environmental Disasters

NAFTA, Twenty Years After: A Disaster




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Postal Workers Backing Socialist Sanders, Right On!

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves as he marches with supporters in the Labor Day parade Monday, Sept. 7, 2015, in Milford, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Read this:  In the article linked below The Nation Magazines‘ John Nichols discusses the “endorsement of a longtime foe of privatization who supports postal banking”.  That would be Bernie Sanders of course. Different from any other candidate, in either party, Bernie has been singing the same song and supporting that with corresponding actions throughout a very long career.  As the right has been doing everything in its’ power to weaken the US Postal Service and then eventually force it into privatization so some corporation, or billionaire, can then gut it an reap a nice profit, Bernie, does the socialistic thing and tries to find ways to make it stronger, to ensure stability for postal workers.  He just does what is right.

As Nichols points out, the postal workers have taken note as “the American Postal Workers Union endorsement of Bernie Sanders illustrates”.  Bernie has been “an ardent foe of privatization, he … has championed the expansion of its (APWU) mission, backing innovative initiatives such as postal banking.”  These types of innovation will help to stabilize the US Postal Service after years where conservatives have done everything in their power to weaken it in order to justify calls for privatizing it.  The article discusses differences in how labor organizations have backed different candidates, emphasizing the choice made by the APWU.  Sanders “decried the fact that ‘the Postal Service is under constant and vicious attack,’ noting that “the same billionaires who want to privatize Social Security, Medicare and public education, also want to privatize the Postal Service.”  So they chose Bernie saying “Bernie Sanders is a fierce advocate of postal reform. He staunchly opposes postal privatization, and supports enhanced postal services, including postal banking.”  And different from many candidates, he has been doing it his whole political life.  So maybe socialism doesn’t always look so bad, huh?

Let’s add voter registration to the services provided by the Postal Service.

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New New Deal

Read this:  The article in the link below is from The Nation Magazine, by James M. Larkin and Zach Goldhammer.  It asks, is “our economy broken” and could New Deal like changes (a New New Deal) help to turn things around?  It takes you to “the third of three installments in a podcast series on American work produced in partnership with Open Source with Christopher Lydon, a weekly program on WBUR.”

The 3 part radio podcasts are titled (links to Parts 1 & 2 can be found in Editors Notes within the third part on the link below.):

  1. Fate of the Union,
  2. What’s Working: 2 – 9 to 5 in 2015,
  3. What’s Working: A New New Deal

Read and listen to this 3rd part and if it catches you, go back to parts 1 & 2 and do the whole series.  They are a great combination to listen too and make you think a little deeper about the scope of the problem we are in and some possible steps we could take to make the middle class less of a dying thing.

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U.S. Says Welcome Back To The 19th Century

New Guilded Age

Read this:  Funny how rewarding it is to discover an article that travels over ideas that you thought privy to only your own thoughts.  Particularly, when those thoughts go beyond your own.  You start to feel part of something that is, maybe, a lot bigger than just you and you are on to something.  This article in The Daily KOS, by gjohnsit, did exactly that for me.  As I have watched, read and studied the right wing control of the U.S. government, slowly undoing social accomplishments that took decades to enact, I heard others talking about the “rolling back” of the New Deal.  But, although the specifics of the New Deal are probably the easiest to identify, what is happening seems to be bigger and more devastating.  As gjohnsit says in this article, there are “trends which show the 21st Century is going to look a lot more like the 19th Century than the 20th Century.”  The article focuses on these specific trends:  Big Labor, The Second Gilded Age, The New Asylums, Worse than Slavery, Return of the Debtor Prisons, The Return of Preventable Diseases and The Return of Monopolies.  The end goal becomes a “Return of Gilded Age Politics” which has “several distinct qualities: 1) blatant corruption, 2) excessive influence by corporations, and 3) neither political party distinguishing themselves from the other, especially in areas that involve significant reforms.”  It sure starts to sound familiar to me.  Click the link below for more details.

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The Poverty Trap of the Hourly Worker

Image result for moyer on hourly workers images

Watch and read:  Once again, Bill Moyers & Company tell the timely (Labor Day weekend) story of part of labor in the United States that many of us do not notice in our hectic lives.  In the link below and it’s accompanying video we are introduced to the leaders of two groups organized to fight for basic rights of groups largely and maybe intentionally ignored: “National Domestic Workers Alliance”  and “Jobs With Justice”.   The work of these organizations and their leaders Ai-jen Poo and Sarita Gupta have helped to move an issue that was basically invisible into the lens of some of our national leaders.  As the article says, these hourly workers “aren’t living paycheck to paycheck; they’re living hour to hour.  How can people working under these conditions set a budget? How do they schedule medical appointments or arrange care for their children? In addition to dealing with their erratic schedules, retail workers are often required to be on call — making sure they are available without any guarantee of a shift.”  As these issues have begun to register in the media some of our leader have taken note and begun to help.  “The Schedules That Work Act — introduced last month by Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), along with Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — is … critical.”  Increases in the minimum wage are important but there are many other issues that make life as an hourly worker extremely difficult, if not impossible, like “the right to request a predictable or flexible schedule.”  Watch the video, read the article, check out the embedded links, but most important, support these movements.




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Abuse of Overtime Pay

 Labor - Overtime  Sign the petition:  Robert Reich is combining here with the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) on a change to the ceiling ($23,600 a year) beyond which corporations don’t have to pay their employees overtime.  This has trapped people into working excessive hours with no O/T compensation for years.  This has been an effective cost control mechanism for corporations but is a change that is way overdue.  Corporate CEOs and many other employees have continued to see their salaries increase exponentially.  But not those on the bottom.  Once again corporations are trying to dodge the bullet on this one, a popular tactic.  The proposed change is simple: “President Obama and the U.S. Department of Labor are proposing to raise the overtime threshold — what you can be paid and still qualify for ‘time-and-a-half’ beyond 40 hours per week — from $23,600 a year to $50,400. This is a BIG deal. Because of it, about 13 million workers will get a raise.”  To get this passed, however, we must defeat the “National Retail Federation …including Walmart” and that won’t be easy.  Help solidify fair labor practices and sign the petition.



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Supreme Court Targeting Public Sector Unions – You Should Be Worried?

 Labor Unions Read this:  This Al Jazeera article by Ari Paul takes a look at the upcoming Supreme Court case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which looks to “determine whether public-sector unions could still require workers who opt out of union membership to pay some dues.”  This would overturn a 40 year old standard and potentially “severely crippling the financing of public employee unions, a pivotal part of the American labor movement.”  That is probably precisely what this is all about – crippling another part of organized labor.  “If the court’s conservative majority overturns the precedent, government workers could opt out of dues payments in droves, severely crippling the financing of public employee unions, a pivotal part of the American labor movement.”  Recent decisions show that even the liberal justices are not inherently a friend to labor.  Even while there is so much push from corporations and the wealthy for a “nationwide right-to-work regime” we seem to be at a time when labor has lost the “social” focus in its’ actions.  Too many times the members seem to focus on ME, RIGHT NOW instead of the long term good of the majority.  With this type of thinking we would have no weekends, no 8 hour workday and many other privileges taken far too much for granted.  Read more in the article to get a more comprehensive feel for what this decision by our Supreme Court could effectively do.


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Right to Work, HOGWASH – It’s A Well Disguised Path to Less For Workers

 Labor Characters Read this:  The attached article from the Economic Policy Institute, by Elise Gould concludes that “there has been an erosion of collective bargaining across the nation and it hurts workers’ wages and benefits”.  Ms. Gould points out that “one key factor in the divergence between pay and productivity is the widespread erosion of collective bargaining that has diminished the wages of both union and nonunion workers. In fact, the erosion of collective bargaining has been a key factor undermining pay growth for middle-wage workers over the last few decades.”  At the same time, there is a total disconnect between productivity and the typical workers compensation providing charts to support this.Since the 1070’s there has been a creatively mislabeled push in certain states to make them “right to work” states.  The main factor here is to nullify the ability of unions to collect their member fees as an automatic payroll deduction.  This policy strangles unions ability to recieve funding.  So what actually is the relationship between wages and right-to-work status?  This article says “at their core, right-to-work laws hamstring unions’ ability to help employees bargain with their employers for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Given that unionization raises wages both for individual union members as well as for nonunion workers in unionized sectors, it is not surprising that research shows that both union and nonunion workers in right-to-work states have lower wages and fewer benefits, on average, than comparable workers in other states.”

Read more in the attached short article and remember when voting – a candidate for “right to work” is only concerned with corporations.



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Hate unions? Here’s one of their stories worth hearing.

 Hate Unions  Read this:  I too often hear middle class people who are against unions for one reason or another.  Sometimes I will try to debate but too often there are only deaf ears.  Forget that most of the labor rights we take for granted were accomplished because of unions.  They’re just bad, end of discussion.  If you got this far, maybe you will read the attached article.  It was found in The Daily KOS, in an article titledCockroach, slob, union thug, leech” by ruleoflaw.  It tells one story that is really part of a family story from that red, “anti labor” state of Wisconsin.

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