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.

More ...

Republican Candidates Finally Comment On Shooting, Continue False Attacks On Planned Parenthood

Katie Valentine

Katie Valentine Deputy Editor, Climate Progress

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabeee responded to the deadly shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood Sunday by reiterating false claims that the organization sells babies’ body parts.

Trump said the attack was “terrible” and that Robert Lewis Dear, who allegedly killed two civilians and one police officer, was a “maniac.” But he didn’t directly comment on the potential political motives of the shooter, who, according to multiple outlets, said “no more baby parts” to law enforcement officials after the shooting.

Instead, he referenced claims that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue.

“I will tell you, there is a tremendous group of people that think it’s terrible, the videos that they’ve seen, with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car,” Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Now I know some of the tapes were perhaps not pertinent. I know a couple of people that were running for office or are running for office on the Republican side were commenting on tapes that weren’t appropriate. But there were many tapes that are appropriate… and there are people that are extremely upset about it.”

More ...

AAM’s 2015 Made in America Gift Guide

Zach Jones

Zach Jones Public Policy Intern, Alliance for American Manufacturing

There's something American-made for everyone on your list this season.

We know American-made options aren’t always available and sometimes take effort to find. That's why, with your help, we put together this helpful Made in America holiday gift guide.

By making sure there are at least a few American-made items on your gift list you’ll be supporting American workers.

Alabama: Make a Statement! Night Owl Paper Goods creates cards, calendars, invitations, and other paper goods that stand out as both creatively thoughtful and environmentally friendly. This Birmingham, “owl”-abama company creates everything by hand from sustainably harvested birch wood or reclaimed textiles.

Alaska: For the aspiring chef in your life, this Alaskan Made Ulu knife based on the original Eskimo design, is an excellent addition to any kitchen. Particularly adept at fileting fish and chopping vegtables, the Ulu knife makes cutting and chopping a breeze.

More ...

Red States Begin To See The Light On Medicaid Expansion

Alex Zielinski

Alex Zielinski Health Reporter, ThinkProgress

Conservative leaders may be warming up to Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion — a program that has been traditionally gridlocked in GOP-led states — in an emerging trend that could have a serious influence on the program’s adoption in fellow red states. Recent state elections unveiled a majority of these changes.

At first, many voters in favor of Medicaid expansion feared the recent elections would worsen their chances. And with a new, staunchly anti-expansion governor elected in Kentucky and a unwavering Republican majority in the Virginia Senate, it’s clear why. But these potential road blocks to further state expansions may be countered with other unexpected victories in other states.

The biggest surprise came out of the Louisiana election, where Democrat John Bel Edwards won the governor’s race by a landslide this weekend. He’ll fill the seat of current Governor Bobby Jindal, who has rejected the “subpar” Medicaid expansion program from its start. Edwards is a true Southern Democrat — he’s openly against abortion and gun control — but stands firmly behind progressive health care and labor plans. He’s already pledged to sign an executive order authorizing Medicaid expansion on his first day in office. This would provide immediate coverage to an additional 225,000 uninsured residents.

More ...

Big Banks: Paying Billions (of Borrowed Money) to Stockholders

Liz Iacobucci

Big Banks: Paying Billions (of Borrowed Money) to Stockholders

The “new economy” in a nutshell: full-time employees need government assistance because their wages are so low. Businesses are shrinking, not growing. And corporations are borrowing money to pay it out to stockholders… because, well, that’s what the system is designed to reward.

The more I look, the more I see it. The same pattern, almost everywhere. It’s not limited to just a few rogue companies. It’s not limited to just a few industries.

And it’s not getting any better.

Here’s the view, from the financial sector.

Remember that study showing that almost one-third of bank tellers receive food stamps, Medicaid or other public assistance? The authors calculated that taxpayers pick up the tab for almost $900 million in government aid – just to bank tellers – each year. That study didn’t break those costs out by particular employer, but…

More ...

Right Wing, One Percenters File Friedrichs Case to Further Tilt Economy Against Working People

Right Wing, One Percenters File Friedrichs Case to Further Tilt Economy Against Working People

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.

More ...