Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

The GOP Has Money to Kill

The GOP Has Money to Kill

Shock and awe describes the budgets issued last week by Republicans in the House and Senate. The shock is that the GOP never stops trying to destroy beloved programs like Medicare. Awe inspiring is their audacity in describing their killing plans as moral.

When the House released its budget last Tuesday, Georgia Republican Rep. Rob Woodall said, “A budget is a moral document; it talks about where your values are.” His chamber’s spending plan shows that Republicans highly value war and place no value on health care for America’s elderly, working poor and young adults.

The opposite of win-win, the GOP budgets are kill-kill. Despite the GOP’s successful demand in 2011 for spending caps, Republicans now want more money for the military. War kills, as too many families of troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan know. By contrast, Republicans gouge domestic spending, condemning Americans to die unnecessarily from untreated disease. The GOP intends to revoke the health insurance of tens of millions by repealing the Affordable Care Act, voucherizing Medicare and slashing Medicaid. The Republican plans mandate overtime for the Grim Reaper. 

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The Trade Onslaught We Should Be Watching

Taylor Garland

Taylor Garland Media Coordinator, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trade Onslaught We Should Be Watching

Steel imports increased by 38 percent in 2014.

The Obama administration likes to talk about exports. What they should be talking about is imports – steel imports in particular.

The domestic steel industry is facing a surge of foreign imports. Steel imports increased by 38 percent in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Already this year, there has been a 36 percent increase in steel imports from the same period in 2014.

So where is all this steel coming from? China. The Wall Street Journal reports:

China’s steel exports rose 63% to 9.2 million tons in January from a year earlier, a rise that puts them on pace this year to beat the 82.1 million tons China exported last year. That number increased 59% from 2013 and was the most steel ever exported by any country this century.

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The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

Robert Reich

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

The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren't feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.

What's behind this? Two big facts.

First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.

In fact, most Americans have no influence at all. That's the conclusion of Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, who analyzed 1,799 policy issues and found that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

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New Restaurant Gets Rid Of Tipping, Pays Every Employee $15 An Hour

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

New Restaurant Gets Rid Of Tipping, Pays Every Employee $15 An Hour

William Street Common has been open for less than two weeks in Philadelphia, but owner Avram Hornik says it’s already hitting its numbers even with a totally different business model than most restaurants.

The “indoor beer garden,” as he calls it, which serves up comfort food and craft beer at communal tables, pays all of its employees, from the servers to the dishwashers, at least $15 an hour plus paid sick leave and health insurance benefits. The customer experience is unique as well: tips aren’t mandatory and all the prices for different beers are the same. So every drink costs $6: $5 for the drink itself plus a 20 percent service charge.

“We wanted people to compare apples to apples,” he said. “Instead of charging $6 and no tip, we wanted the customers to understand that the staff is being taken care of.”

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The GOP's Green Eggs and Ham Candidate for President

The GOP's Green Eggs and Ham Candidate for President

Union Matters

ALEC’s Shrinking Universe

In one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation, Dr. Beverly Crusher is trapped in a universe that threatens to shrink until she is its only occupant.

The conservative activist organization called the American Legislative Exchange or ALEC now finds itself in a similar situation.  On March 24th, the Center for American Progress, in its email newsletter called The Progress Report, predicted, if not the demise at least the continuing diminution, of ALEC.

Here at Union Matters, we’ve discussed ALEC before.  Specifically, ALEC exists to offer cookie-cutter bills that right-wing state legislatures use to accomplish conservative goals.

But ALEC and its agenda aren’t without opponents.  On March 23rd, British Petroleum, which employs many USW members, announced that it is cutting ties with ALEC.  And BP is only the most recent mega-company to do so.  In 2012, superstars of the business world such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, Walmart, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, and Miller/Coors, withdrew support for ALEC because of the latter’s buttressing restrictive voter ID legislation and Stand Your Ground gun laws.

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