Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

One Percenters Stuff their Pumpkin Pie Holes

One Percenters Stuff their Pumpkin Pie Holes
This is what a $75-a-pound turkey struts like.

This Thanksgiving, in dining rooms across America, the turkey will be smaller, the stuffing more meager, the pumpkin pie sliced thinner. Gratitude will be given. But roiling just below the surface, for far too many families, will be economic anxiety.

The vast majority of working Americans haven’t seen a real raise in 35 years. Meanwhile, every year, their health care costs rise. Their employers eliminate pensions. And their kids struggle with rising college or technical school tuition and debt. Workers worry whether they will ever be able to pay the bills.

By contrast, on the other side of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the richest 1 percent are supersizing their feasts. For example, three families will spend $45,000 – each – for Marie Antoinette-style meals, gold flakes and all, at the Old Homestead Steakhouse in New York City. That’s up by $10,000 from the restaurant’s Thanksgiving fare for eight last year. It’s more, for one meal, than the average American worker earns in a year.

The 1 percent can spend $45,000 for a Thanksgiving supper because they’re gobbling up virtually all of the income from workers’ productivity increases. And now they’ve launched a new assault on workers. It’s a lawsuit called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA). The 1 percent hopes it will prevent public service workers like teachers from joining together to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. If the $45,000-Thanksgiving-dinner crew wins the case, they’ll go after private-sector labor organizations next. They intend to gorge themselves until there’s nothing left for workers.

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Raise Wages, Improve Conditions for Poultry Workers

Roger Kerson

Roger Kerson Communications Consultant, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

As Americans from coast-to-coast prepare for Thanksgiving, worker advocates are calling on CEOs of America’s largest poultry companies to raise wages, improve safety conditions and guarantee fair treatment for workers who help feed millions of American families.

Three advocacy organizations – Interfaith Worker Justice, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and the Western North Carolina Workers Center – today released copies of letters to:

Advocates cite low wages with scant benefits; high rates of injury among poultry workers; and a climate of fear and intimidation inside poultry plants as conditions that require immediate attention.

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Why Derrell Fights for $15

Why Derrell Fights for $15

Today we honor all veterans - including Derrell Odom, who received a Purple Heart serving our country in Iraq. Now, he struggles to provide for his son working for KFC. That's why yesterday he went ON STRIKE to #FightFor15.

Posted by Fight for $15 on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Five Reasons Glass-Steagall Matters

Richard Eskow

Richard Eskow Writer, Host, "The Breakdown;" Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Five Reasons Glass-Steagall Matters

The Glass-Steagall Act came up as a major point of disagreement between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton during Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate. The act, which was originally enacted in 1933, separated risky trading and investment from traditional banking activities like business lending and consumer finance.

1933. “Anthony Adverse” and “Magnificent Obsession” were topping the bestseller lists. “King Kong” and the Marx Brothers were big at the box office. What does a law passed back then have to do with the 21st century economy?

As it turns out, a lot.

Bernie Sanders wants to implement a new version of the law, which was repealed in 1999 after having been in effect for more than 75 years. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is not calling for its reinstatement.

Sen. Sanders is right. Here are five reasons why it is important to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act.

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34 Senators Stand With Senate Cafeteria Workers – And With All Workers

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

34 Senators Stand With Senate Cafeteria Workers – And With All Workers

Our government has contracted (as in privatized or outsourced) with a British-owned, anti-union company to operate the U.S. Senate cafeteria. The company pays so little that many employees are on public assistance; at least one was homeless. Meanwhile the company is fighting efforts by the employees to organize a union.

The outsourcing company that operates the Senate and the Capital Visitors Center cafeterias, Restaurant Associates, is a subsidiary on a British firm called Compass Group. The company is resisting efforts by the employees to form a union, even using intimidation that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled is likely illegal.

Last week, 34 Democratic senators issued a strongly worded open letter to the company, asking it to negotiate a “labor peace,” stop illegal anti-union activity and set the stage for ending strikes and boycotts at the U.S. Capitol and Senate.

“Employees working full time in the U.S. Senate should not be living in poverty. […] The time has come for the Compass Group to ensure Senate cafeteria workers have a model employer that addresses its workers’ legitimate concerns,” the letter says.

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The Rigging of the American Market

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

The Rigging of the American Market

Much of the national debate about widening inequality focuses on whether and how much to tax the rich and redistribute their income downward.

But this debate ignores the upward redistributions going on every day, from the rest of us to the rich. These redistributions are hidden inside the market.

The only way to stop them is to prevent big corporations and Wall Street banks from rigging the market.

For example, Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than do the citizens of any other developed nation.

That's partly because it's perfectly legal in the U.S. (but not in most other nations) for the makers of branded drugs to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay introducing cheaper unbranded equivalents, after patents on the brands have expired.

This costs you and me an estimated $3.5 billion a year -- a hidden upward redistribution of our incomes to Pfizer, Merck, and other big proprietary drug companies, their executives, and major shareholders.

We also pay more for Internet service than do the inhabitants of any other developed nation.

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In Richest Country in World, Economic Security Eludes Too Many

In Richest Country in World, Economic Security Eludes Too Many

Union Matters

Wage Theft is Crime, Deserves Jail Time

A Papa John’s franchise owner in New York City was sentenced last week to 60 days in jail for wage theft, a potentially precedent-setting punishment that could have wide-reaching consequences for the enforcement of labor law.

Abdul Jamil Khokhar pled guilty in July to cheating workers out of $230,000, denying them earned overtime pay and falsifying records to keep this information from tax authorities. Last week, he faced additional penalties: $280,000 in damages and what may be the first ever jail sentence for wage theft.

In the past, Khokhar’s illegal business practices would have likely yielded only a civil suit and the payment of a relatively small fine. However, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who earlier this year called fast food wage theft a “crime wave,” has been pushing for stronger sentences, joining other attorneys general across the country in making wage theft a top priority.

Schneiderman is right to treat Khokhar’s actions as a crime. Employers steal billions of dollars every year from workers, and, just like car theft, home invasion and mugging, wage theft has real victims.

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