Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Off-Shorers Should Shut Up

Whirlpool, the big appliance manufacturer, stressed in recent years its preference to make it in America.  

In 2013, it actually moved dishwasher manufacturing jobs back to the United States from Mexico. The next year, it announced a $40 million investment in its Greenville, Ohio KitchenAid plant, adding 400 jobs. Last year, Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig said the company would spend another $40 million to expand its Findlay, Ohio dishwasher plant, adding 50 jobs and raising to $1 billion its investment in U.S. manufacturing since 2010

Last week, Intel announced it would spend $7 billion to upgrade an Arizona facility and employ 3,000 people to fabricate advanced computer wafers – meaning its CEO Brian Krzanich chose the United States over Ireland, Israel and China where Intel already produces silicon wafers.

So it makes sense that Fettig and Krzanich serve on President Donald Trump’s new Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. The initiative is supposed to help the president promote U.S. job and manufacturing growth.

Curiously, though, named to that same 28-member committee are at least seven CEOs who have recently – and sometimes infamously – offshored manufacturing and jobs. They include Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, the corporation that is shipping Indiana jobs from its Carrier subsidiary to Mexico.

The performance of the manufacturing council is crucial to large swaths of workers who voted for President Trump based on his promises to stop unfair trade and resurrect American manufacturing. In his inauguration speech, the president told those voters that he would enact “America first” policies. It is no “America first” policy to send jobs from two profitable Carrier plants in Indiana to Mexico for the sole purpose of making extra bucks. That kind of offshoring exhibits a greed first mindset. The CEOs who have pursued that philosophy should shut up and take advice from the committee’s American job creators.

Former GE CEO Jack Welch wanted to be able to put factories on barges and ship them, on a corporate whim, to countries where it was cheaper to operate.

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What’s Happening to Your Health Care: 3 Things to Know Right Now

here is definitely lots of talk about how President Donald Trump and Congress are planning to make major changes to Americans’ health benefits. That’s because Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have said that repealing the Affordable Care Act is one of their top priorities. Although it is not clear when they will act or exactly what they will do, here are three things to know right now:

1. Your health benefits are at risk, no matter where you get them:

  • Medicare: A straight-up repeal of the ACA would eliminate some Medicare benefits by reinstating the full Medicare prescription drug donut hole and taking away free preventive care. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is still pushing his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system, meaning benefits would no longer be guaranteed and health costs for seniors and people with disabilities would go up dramatically.
  • Workplace Health Benefits: Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the powerful chairman of the tax writing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, wants to tax part of the cost of workplace health benefits by including the cost in working people’s taxable income. So does the person Trump hired to be in charge of health care, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. If you get your health benefits on the job, this will raise your taxes and lead to even higher deductibles and co-pays. Some employers could even cancel their health plans in response.
  • Health Insurance You Buy Yourself: Most media coverage is focused on what impact repeal of the ACA will have on the approximately 10 million people who now buy individual health coverage through the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces, often with the help of federal tax credits. A straight-up repeal of the ACA would not just take away the tax credits that help people buy health insurance. Full repeal also would eliminate the ACA’s protections that require insurance companies to treat people fairly, to give them meaningful insurance without tricks and traps, and not to discriminate against anyone because they have a pre-existing condition or even because of their gender.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is the health plan run by states with significant federal funding that enables 74 million people to get the medical care they need. One-in-three kids in the United States get their health coverage from Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. Millions of seniors and people of all ages with disabilities also count on Medicaid for nursing home care and the long-term supports and services that allow them to live independently in their homes and communities. A straight-up repeal of the ACA would take health coverage away from some 11 million people who now have benefits because the ACA allowed states to expand Medicaid. Trump and Republican leaders in Congress also want to cut Medicaid for everyone who receives it by imposing new limited caps on what the federal government will contribute, even if the cost of health care keeps going up much faster than prices in the rest of the economy. That will shift costs onto states and likely force cuts in benefits.
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New study confirms that voter ID laws are very racist

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Conservative lawmakers routinely tout voter ID laws as a solution to voter fraud, but multiple investigations — including investigations conducted by Republican supporters of voter ID — confirm that those laws are a solution in search of a problem. The kind of fraud prevented by such laws is only slightly more common than elves.

A new study by political scientists Zoltan L. Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi, and Lindsay Nielson explains what these laws do accomplish, however. According to Hajnal and his co-authors, turnout among Hispanic voters is “7.1 percentage points lower in general elections and 5.3 points lower in primaries” in states with strict voter ID laws. The laws also reduce turnout among African-American and Asian-American voters.

White turnout, according to their study, is “largely unaffected.”

 

Hajnal and his co-authors also offer a possible explanation for why conservatives favor these laws. “By instituting strict voter ID laws,” they explain, “states can alter the electorate and shift outcomes toward those on the right.” In states with such laws “the influence of Democrats and liberals wanes and the power of Republicans grows.”

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How Trump's Retirement Advice Executive Order Could Affect Your Retirement

Shaun O-Brien AFL-CIO

Last week, President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Labor to reconsider the Obama administration's retirement savings protections due to begin taking effect in April, with an eye toward revising or completely eliminating them. 

Remember, these protections are based on two core ideas. First, if you are a retirement investor, your best interests should come first—they should not take a back seat to the financial interests of your financial adviser. Second, how your adviser gets paid cannot conflict with your best interests.  

How likely is the Trump administration to cut back on these retirement protections? Based on the comments of White House press secretary Sean Spicer, it sounds like they already have made up their minds either to cut or eliminate them. Spicer called the rule “a solution in search of a problem.” 

What could eliminating these protections mean for you?

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Who is Alex Acosta?

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

resident Trump has nominated longtime Republican attorney Alex Acosta to head the Department of Labor, after his initial choice Andy Puzder withdrew in the face of withering criticism late Wednesday.

It remains to be seen if Democrats will find Acosta as objectionable as Puzder, a fast food CEO who embodied almost every policy idea and character trait the party has fought against in recent years. But if Acosta’s nomination does become a flashpoint, it would not be the first time his candidacy for a job drew critics out of the woodwork.

The black marks on Acosta’s resume have cost him at least one job he coveted, and cast a significant shadow over his current role as head of Florida International University’s law school.

Connections to Bush-era civil rights sabotage

Acosta, 48, was already “a young superstar of conservative legal circles” back in 2006 when George W. Bush made him the top federal prosecutor in Miami. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito even showed up for Acosta’s swearing-in as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, in recognition of a friendship dating back to Acosta’s time as a clerk for the conservative judge in the 1990s.

Before taking the top prosecutor job in south Florida, Acosta served the second Bush administration in other capacities. Acosta was a member of the National Labor Relations Board from December 2002 to August 2003 — and was confirmed to the post rather than recess-appointed like most of President Bush’s NLRB picks.

The board issued 251 decisions in Acosta’s 8-month run, including 27 published on his final day in the post. Acosta authored 125 of those opinions himself, according to a bio on the website of Florida International University’s law school, where he is currently dean.

But Acosta’s other work for the Bush team may, oddly, prove more significant during his confirmation hearings than his NLRB stint.

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Union Matters

Term Limit Supreme Court Justices

Hugh J. Campbell

Hugh J. Campbell Son of a steelworker, Philadelphia, Pa.

The Washington Post article Why it’s time to get serious about Supreme Court term limits focuses on the politicization resulting from the open SCOTUS seat after Antonin Scalia's death and that nearly every other country in the world subjects their high court justices to limited terms or mandatory retirement ages.

There is widespread support for term limits among the general public. In 2015, two-thirds of Americans supported a 10-year term limit on Supreme Court justices, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll. Only 17 percent said they supported life tenure. Sixty-six percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans supported the proposal - a strong, and rare, show of bipartisanship.

"The Constitution was written at a time when life tenure meant living into your 50s because that's what life expectancy was," legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, author of two books on the Supreme Court, has noted. "Thirty-year tenures are not what the framers had in mind."

Term Limits would mean a court that more accurately reflects the changes and judgments of the society.

Forcing Trump to make recess appointments would create SCOTUS term limits of as short as less than one year, thereby putting the proverbial “gun to the head” of the establishment to seriously consider a constitutional amendment which is necessary for supreme court justice term limits.


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The Force of Transformation

The Force of Transformation