Archive for category Labor Unions

Robert Reich: The ‘Paid-What-You’re-Worth’ Myth

Inequality graphs

As usual, Robert Reich says it better than I could (emphasis added).

“Paid-what-you’re-worth” is a dangerous myth.

…The real difference is the GM worker a half-century ago had a strong union behind him that summoned the collective bargaining power of all autoworkers to get a substantial share of company revenues for its members. And because more than a third of workers across America belonged to a labor union, the bargains those unions struck with employers raised the wages and benefits of non-unionized workers as well. Non-union firms knew they’d be unionized if they didn’t come close to matching the union contracts.

Today’s Walmart workers don’t have a union to negotiate a better deal. They’re on their own. And because fewer than 7 percent of today’s private-sector workers are unionized, non-union employers across America don’t have to match union contracts. This puts unionized firms at a competitive disadvantage. The result has been a race to the bottom.

…The reason Wall Street bankers got fat paychecks plus a total of $26.7 billion in bonuses last year wasn’t because they worked so much harder or were so much more clever or insightful than most other Americans. They cleaned up because they happen to work in institutions — big Wall Street banks — that hold a privileged place in the American political economy.

…The “paid-what-you’re-worth” argument is fundamentally misleading because it ignores power, overlooks institutions, and disregards politics. As such, it lures the unsuspecting into thinking nothing whatever should be done to change what people are paid, because nothing can be done.

It’s not that working Americans are lazy/incompetent. Capitalists are greedy and powerful.

UPDATE:

Conservative Myths About the Minimum Wage, Debunked
Contrary to conservative myths, raising the minimum wage would boost the economy, benefit all workers, and won’t hurt consumers.

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Barrett: ‘The Truth Is On Our Side’

Recall Scott Walker

Today is the day when we find out if the people of Wisconsin win or lose. If Governor Scott Walker succeeds in turning his state into a right-wing experiment, the outcome might foretell the ultimate fate of the American middle class. President Obama is sitting this one out (OK, he tweeted his support for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett).

The polls are in a statistical tie
. Voter turnout is breaking records. The airwaves are flooded with Walker ads, but Barrett says, “The truth is on our side.”

Amanda Terkel on HuffPo:

“This is not about the word ‘I.’ This is about the word ‘we,'” said Barrett in his pitch to supporters. “We are in this together. We are in this together to reclaim our state. To make sure that our children and their grandchildren and their grandchildren can be here. So we can have a middle class in a state we’re proud of. This is about our values. It’s about Wisconsin values. That’s why we need each other. That’s why we have to keep working. That’s why we have to win this election…”

The guy he’s running against, Governor Scott Walker, is one step ahead of an indictment. Since Walker took office, Wisconsin has been dead last in job creation. Never has the governor of a U.S. state survived a recall election. But Walker is funded lavishly by the Koch brothers, and the right-wing is hoping he can cling to his office long enough to finish destroying the public-sector unions.

No dirty trick is too stupid or embarrassing for Walker to use: he’s phone-jamming and using robocalls telling petition signers they don’t have to vote.

UPDATES:
Dirty Tricks In Wisconsin: Secret Group Shuts Down Phones Of Scott Walker’s Democratic Challenger With Spam Texts
Wisconsin Voters Report Receiving Robocalls Telling Them Not To Vote
Wisconsin Recall Election 2012: Live Updates

More info: Total Recall 2012 ;-)

66 Comments

Walmart Dumps ALEC!

This could mean different theoretical things…

1. Walmart and other VERY LARGE corporations have already got everything they ever dreamed of. Amazon just bolted recently. You’ve already heard about McDonalds and the others.

2. ALEC is about to change it’s name which would allow our complicit congresspeople to pretend to stand for working peoples interests too, instead of only the shareholders, while continuing to peruse the same aims.

3. Corporations and the congresspeople, who have bolted, are feeling bad about what they’ve done to the country and have decided we should have the right to vote, have a good environment, collectively bargain in our workplace, not be killed by cowards with guns, not be put in jails for profit, have healthcare that doesn’t send us to the poorhouse and numerous other liberal ideas that bring people joy and comfort.

I’m not saying which different theoretical thing this might mean, but I’ve been pretty skeptical over the last decade.

I KNOW, I KNOW! Corporate leaders could be put in jail for not maximizing their shareholder’s profits. Where in the hell did that law come from: most certainly NOT from the people!

Maybe ALEC could work on that one before they disband.

15 Comments

Favorite Candidate of the 1 Percent Calls NLRB Members ‘Union Stooges’

The latest lie from Willard (“Mitt”) Romney, who has taken to wearing jeans and posing as a member of the middle class:

“The National Labor Relations Board, now stacked with union stooges selected by the President, says to a free enterprise like Boeing, ‘You can’t build a factory in South Carolina because South Carolina is a Right to Work state.’ That is simply un-American. It is political payback of the worst kind.”

Boeing makes most of its profits from government contracts, not “free enterprise.” Their South Carolina factory is already built. And the NLRB resolved the Boeing issue last month when Boeing and the Machinists union reached a contract extension and the NLRB dropped its legal action. Yesterday President Obama appointed Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Griffin to the NLRB so that the board would have enough members to function despite Republican obstructionism. Flynn is a Republican.

A key role of the board is to supervise union elections and referee disputes between the nation’s private-sector employers and employees, in part by deciding cases brought to the agency. Without a quorum, the board can’t rule on cases or create major new regulations.

…Mr. Griffin is the general counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers and serves on the board of the lawyers coordinating committee for the AFL-CIO labor federation. In the early 1980s, he served as a counsel to NLRB board members.

Ms. Block is the Labor Department’s deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs. She was previously the senior labor and employment counsel for the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions, where she worked for the late Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Mr. Flynn, who was nominated by Mr. Obama in January 2011, is chief counsel to the NLRB’s lone Republican member, Brian Hayes.

UPDATE: Waiting for brewski to come along and tell us the correct term for NLRB members is “union thugs.”

UPDATE: Obama Fails On Minimum Wage Pledge. After the 2008 election, the President promised to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by the end of 2011 and index it to inflation, “to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage.” The minimum wage remains where it was when Bush left office, $7.25 an hour. If it had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would now stand at around $10.

UPDATE: Boeing has announced the closure of its Wichita, Kansas factory complex after promising Kansas Republican members of Congress that it would build Air Force tankers there if awarded the contract. They got the contract, but reneged on their promise.

4 Comments

FDR and the New Deal Did Not Prolong the Great Depression

It’s become an accepted as fact among many on the right that the New Deal actually prolonged the Great Depression.  It’s a concept that was popularized by Amity Shlaes book The Forgotten Man.  Shlaes’ book caused a sensation on the right but has been repeatedly debunked for using a set of employment figures the were inaccurate (they excluded millions of people with jobs) and for measuring economic growth solely by the Dow while ignoring GDP and other measure of economic growth.  I mention this because in recent weeks, people on the right have taken to repeating these lies.  For instance this article,Thomas Sowell writes:

The American economy usually rebounds a lot faster than it is doing today. After a recession passes, consumers usually increase their spending. And when businesses see demand picking up, they usually start hiring workers to produce the additional output required to meet that demand.

That’s accurate as far as it goes.  Recessions caused by financial crashes are different creatures.  I’m sure someone with a PhD in econ could explain all the details and reasons but for our purposes it’s sufficient to recognize that the Great Depression and the Great Recession are not examples of normal economic downturns; we can’t expect them to behave like normal downturns.  Among other things, interest rates at rock bottom should stimulate the economy and they’re not.  Read the rest of this entry »

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24 Comments

In Lieu of Labor Day

Satire depends on reality; otherwise, it’s not funny.

This is funny!

9 Comments

Dying For Justice in Wisconsin

No, really! Somebody is actually giving his life – one agonizing day at a time – to bring justice to the workers of Wisconsin. You wouldn’t know this hero was in agony by reading the upbeat posts on his blog.

Today is the 27th day of his ordeal, but I’ll bet you haven’t heard a thing; after all, why should this man be allowed to hold the honorable men trying to take away workers rights hostage? I guess that’s the way the media looks at it.

Since the congresspeople are forced to walk past this guy every day in the capitol of Wisconsin, I would think some of the ones who haven’t lost their souls feel a little queasy in the morning.

Update: Matthew Schauenburg talks today:

UPDATE: Thankfully, Matthew Schauenburg has decided to start eating again due to the recent victories and positive rulings against the Republican agenda in Wisconsin. Citizens have gathered enough signatures to recall Sen. Dan Kapanke and this is just the beginning. I hated to put this post up at all because it’s so depressing, but I just couldn’t let this man die without anybody knowing about it.

On Wisconsin!!!

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Deja Voodoo All Over Again

Unemployment

Joshua Holland has a piece worth reading on AlterNet:
The GOP’s Absurd Plan for the Economy: Lowering YOUR Wages

[A top Republican priority is] “decreasing the number and compensation of government workers,” which [they] say will spur job creation because “a smaller government workforce increases the available supply of educated, skilled workers for private firms, thus lowering labor costs.”

“Labor costs,” of course mean “wages” – Americans’ paychecks. So, a central plank in the GOP’s economic recovery plan is to flood the market with yet more unemployed people in order to drive wages (which have stagnated for an extended period) further down.

This is insane. But it explains the sudden right-wing obsession with attacking already-struggling public sector workers. This is not about deficits, and it’s not about economic recovery. It’s a war on the American middle class. We’ve got to defend ourselves, or we’re in big trouble.

11 Comments

You Know Who On Rachel Maddow Tonight

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Posted without comment.

42 Comments

Michael Moore: ‘We Are All Wisconsinites Now’

This is a great speech. Awesome, worth listening to. I seriously doubt this will be seen on TV (unless it’s MSNBC). Michael Moore denounces the “financial coup d’etat” by Wall Street, then schools the Tea-GOP on Economics 101. “The rich have overplayed their hand,” he concludes. “It’s one person, one vote, and there are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them!”

Synopsis from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Madison – “America is not broke,” filmmaker Michael Moore declared in a speech to pro-labor demonstrators Saturday at the state Capitol.

“The country is awash in wealth and cash,” he said. “It’s just not in your hands.”

He said wealth has been transferred “in the greatest heist in history” from the workers to the bankers and the super-rich.

“Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic,” he said.

Moore called Gov. Scott Walker “your soon to be ex-Governor.”

He added that there have been three major lies over the last decade:

“Wisconsin is broke. There are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And the Packers need (Brett) Favre to win the Super Bowl.”

Moore said people in Wisconsin “have aroused a sleeping giant, known as the working people.”

“Right now, the earth is shaking and the ground is shifting under the feet of those who are in charge,” he said. “Your message has inspired people in all 50 states: ‘We have had it.’ ”

“We are all Wisconsinites now,” he said. “We are rich with ideas and talent and hard work and love, yes love.”

“For three weeks you have stood in the cold, sat on the floor, skipped out of town to Illinois, whatever it took you’ve done it,” he said. “What is certain, Madison is only the beginning.”

BTW, the inflatable palm trees are a taunt directed at Faux News Channel’s lies about “union thugs.”

UPDATE: Michael Moore: The Smug Wealthy Have Gone Too Far — And We’re Finally Fighting Back

UPDATE: If Banks Paid Their Full Taxes, We Could Rehire All 132,000 Teachers Laid Off During The Recession — Twice

UPDATE: Sam Baldwin: Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About

107 Comments

Why Teachers Are Less Deserving Than Wall Street CEOs

Jon Stewart tries to explain Faux News logic. Unlike those “greedy” public school teachers who make $50,000 a year (more like $40K in Utah), the “poor” Wall Street millionaires need and deserve every dollar they take from the taxpayers.

This is why the Tea-GOP is in the midst of an epic fail. Their assault on the middle class is out in the open now.

11 Comments

Matt Taibbi: Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?

Amy Goodman interviews Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi about his new article, “Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?”

These are excerpts from the interview, but the whole thing is worth reading.

MATT TAIBBI: …It was essentially a gigantic criminal fraud scheme where all the banks were taking mismarked mortgage-backed securities, very, very dangerous, toxic subprime loans, they were chopping them up and then packaging them as AAA-rated investments, and then selling them to state pension funds, to insurance companies, to Chinese banks and Dutch banks and Icelandic banks. And, of course, these things were blowing up, and all those funds were going broke. But what they’re doing now is they’re blaming the people who were collecting these pensions—they’re blaming the workers, they’re blaming the firemen, they’re blaming the policemen—whereas, in reality, they were actually the victims of this fraud scheme. And the only reason that people aren’t angrier about this, I think, is because they don’t really understand what happened. If these were car companies that had sold a trillion dollars’ worth of defective cars to the citizens of the United States, there would be riots right now. But these were mortgage-backed securities, it’s complicated, people don’t understand it, and they’re only now, I think, beginning to realize that they were defrauded.

Well, the most important thing to get from the Obama administration is that its economic policy represented absolute continuity with the policy of the previous administration. Timothy Geithner was the principal architect of Bush’s bailouts, and he was retained. Ben Bernanke, who was the head of the Fed under Bush, stayed on under Obama.

And they essentially continued the same bailout policy, which, again, was essentially to tell Wall Street that we’re going to make you whole again. You know, after they flooded the entire international economy with all these toxic debt instruments, their policy was to get Wall Street well again, and ostensibly they were supposed to reinvest in the economy and put people back to work. But instead, they just kept the money. And, I mean, they literally went from being completely insolvent to, you know, making $150 billion bonus pools every year, and that money is all public money. It’s pure bailout gift from the taxpayer.

Nobody gets criminally prosecuted. No individuals ever get fined. They pay these fines, and they almost always have a little section in there that says that they do not admit wrongdoing. So, they don’t even have to say they’re sorry, essentially. These companies go and they pay their fines. No individuals have to suffer at all. And it’s all done in a very collegial way.

Every single former investigator or current investigator that I talked to said the same thing: Madoff went to jail because the wrong people suffered. You know, it was famous actors. It was, you know, the glitterati in New York. If these were teachers and firemen and all the usual suspects—you know, look at the—we have a million people in foreclosure in this country right now, and a lot of them are there because of predatory lending and because of this fraud scheme, but there are no criminal prosecutions. I think that’s the reality now, is that we don’t see anybody being criminally targeted unless their victims were powerful people themselves.

You know, it’s incredible. I mean, there was a case in Ohio that somebody forwarded to me, where a woman, a single—a black single mother of two children, she lied about where she was living so that her two kids could get into a better school system. And the state of Ohio actually prosecuted her for fraud, and the judge in that case insisted—they sentenced her to, actually, I think it was five years in jail, but they insisted that she actually do 15 days. And the judge’s quote in that case was that if she didn’t do real jail time, that would demean the seriousness of the offense. And so, I mean, the case was ultimately commuted because of the public outcry, but this, to me, is symptomatic of what we’re dealing with here.
You have people in this country who—we have two-and-a-half million people in jail this country, you know, more than a million who are in jail for nonviolent crimes. And yet, we couldn’t find a single person on Wall Street to do even a day in jail for losing 40 percent of the world’s wealth in a criminal fraud scheme?

AMY GOODMAN: If you were president, what would you do right now?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, I would certainly get rid of all those guys, you know, from Wall Street. I think there needs to be a freeze on foreclosures. I mean, there’s all kinds of things that need to be done. But the most important thing is we have to, you know, get the right people into bodies like the SEC and the Justice Department. Everybody I talked to said the same thing. The existing laws we have, you know, they’re not perfect, but they’re probably good enough to do some real good. It’s just that we don’t have the right people in the jobs, and the will isn’t there to do these prosecutions. So, I think we’ve just got to get the right people in the right jobs.

UPDATE: Carl Gibson, the founder of US Uncut, points out:

“I have one dollar in my wallet. That’s more than the combined income tax liability of GE, ExxonMobil, Citibank, and the Bank of America. That means somebody is gaming the system.”

Yet the media go on incessantly day after day about how public employees are costing the taxpayers too much!

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