Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

GOP’s Blind Hate of Labor Union Members

GOP’s Blind Hate of Labor Union Members
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by DonkeyHotey on Flickr

To Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, America's labor union members are the same as murderous, beheading, caged-prisoner-immolating ISIS terrorists. Exactly the same. 

That's what he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week.  The governor said that because he destroyed public sector labor rights in Wisconsin after 100,000 union supporters protested in Madison he could defeat ISIS as President of the United States.

That sums up all the GOP hate and vitriol against labor union members in recent years. It would appear that Republicans can't discern the difference between suicide bombers and working men and women who band together to collectively bargain for better wages and safer conditions. Republicans, it seems, can't see that a foreign extremist group that kidnaps 276 schoolgirls is not the same as an American labor organization seeking to improve the lives of families and communities. This GOP blindness explains the relentless campaign by GOP leaders to renege on contractual obligations to workers, squash labor rights and slash the pay and benefits of union members. 

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The Secret Corporate Congress Inside the US Congress

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

My dictionary defines a "staff" as a walking stick, used either for balance – or as a weapon.

So how are today's congressional staffs used? At one time, they were behind-the-scenes people hired to walk lawmakers through the complexities of legislation, or to help find some balance between competing viewpoints. These days, though, top staffers tend to be a specific type of high-profile operative: Corporate lobbyists.

At the urging of House Speaker John Boehner, members are bringing the K-Street lobbying crowd directly inside their offices and committees to run America's lawmaking process. There's nothing subtle about the intent – these staffs are weapons for knocking aside the public interest and advancing the narrow legislative interests of their former corporate clients. Yes, the same corporations that generously fund the campaigns of Boehner's Republican majority. Neat, huh?

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The Fast-Track Fandango

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

The debate over fast-track trade authority – designed to grease the tracks for a vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) accords still in negotiation – ought to be the occasion for a fundamental review of our global economic strategy.

We know that it is broken. We’ve racked up unprecedented deficits year after year. The unsustainable imbalances contributed directly to the bubble and bust that blew up the global economy. We’ve watched good jobs shipped abroad, devastating America’s manufacturing prowess. We’ve seen workers’ wages decline and inequality grow to new extremes. Doing more of the same and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity. Clearly, a comprehensive review is long overdue.

Instead, as the debate over fast track heats up, it has already degenerated into a demeaning ritualistic debate, with the lobbyists for fast track recycling the same arguments, often the same phrases, that have been trotted out for every trade debate since President Bill Clinton peddled NAFTA. Who are we going to believe? Their shopworn promises or our own lying eyes?

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Fewer Labor Unions Means More Income Inequality

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Fewer Labor Unions Means More Income Inequality

Lower rates of workers belonging to unions are strongly associated with more income going to the wealthiest, according to a new paper from International Monetary Fund (IMF) economists Florence Jaumotte and Carolina Osorio Buitron.

The authors write, “[W]e find strong evidence that lower unionization is associated with an increase in top income shares in advanced economies during the period 1980–2010.” In particular, they found that the decline in unionization explains about half of the rise in incomes for the richest 10 percent and about half of the increase in the Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality. It’s also associated with less redistribution of income between the best off and the least well off.

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Where’s That Trickle Down Again?

Where’s That Trickle Down Again?

Union Matters

Wisconsinites’ Right to Work for Less

In December of 2014, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said a right-to-work-for-less bill would be a distraction from his preferred legislative agenda.  But more recently, he opined that such a bill had become appropriate because his budget and legislative agenda have been finalized.  In a burst of frankness, Walker followed up by stating that passing right-to-work-for-less legislation would be a step toward achieving his presidential ambitions.  (Walker has made other similar “pander to the right wing” statements of late.  For example, in an interview in February, Gov. Walker refused to say whether he believed in evolution.)

A number of Wisconsin labor leaders point to the governor’s recent championing of right-to-work-for-less as self-serving, to say the least.  These same leaders also insist that the governor is rushing the bill through the legislature to discourage discussion.

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