Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

The Words of Dead Workers

The Words of Dead Workers

To give voice to 35 workers killed on the job over the past 35 years at a massive refinery in Texas City, hundreds of surviving family members, co-workers and friends gathered there last month to erect white crosses marked with their names.

They conducted the ceremony on the 10th anniversary of an explosion that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170, including townspeople.

Marathon Petroleum Corp., which bought the refinery from BP two years ago, did its best to shut the mourners up. Marathon uprooted the crosses and tossed them in a box like trash within hours of the commemoration.

For years during contract negotiations, the United Steelworkers (USW) union has pressed ungodly profitable oil companies to improve safety. This fell mostly on deaf ears. On Feb. 1, USW refinery workers began loudly voicing this demand by striking over unfair labor practices (ULP). Ultimately 7,000 struck 15 refineries. Within six weeks, all but five oil corporations settled. Marathon is a hold out. It wants to cut safety personnel. It does not want to hear about dead workers.

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Study Finds Right-Wing Tax Voodoo Doesn’t Work

Isaiah J. Poole

Isaiah J. Poole Executive editor, OurFuture.org

“The effects of state tax policy on economic growth, entrepreneurship, and employment remain controversial,” begins the abstract of a study of state tax policy just released by the Brookings/Urban Institute Tax Policy Center. But that’s only in the same sense that the statement “human activity is responsible for global warming” is kept “controversial” by people who want to keep us buying and burning fossil fuels.

But the report, “The Relationship Between Taxes And Growth at the State Level: New Evidence,” quickly goes on to declare false a central tenet of conservative dogma and policy: that cutting taxes, especially for the wealthy and businesses, invariably leads to economic growth. That’s not true in the real world, the report said. “We find that neither tax revenues nor top income tax rates bear stable relations to economic growth or employment across states and over time,” the authors wrote. “Our results are inconsistent with the view that cuts in top state income tax rates will automatically or necessarily generate growth.”

The authors – William G. Gale, Aaron Krupkin, and Kim Rueben – mention that several states have cut taxes in recent years, “most prominently Kansas,” which has eliminated its top income tax bracket and reduced tax rates in other areas. But the study looks at the results of state tax policies going back to the 1970s for the 48 contiguous states, attempting to correct for flaws and complications in previous studies.

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Four Things You Should Know About Carly Fiorina

Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath Online Producer, Campaign for America’s Future

For a brief, shining moment, Carly Fiorina was all over the media after announcing her candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. That’s probably because she made a point of turning her presidential bid into “this weird girl fight” with Clinton, as CNN’s Carol Costello put it.

Then Ben Carson’s campaign launch sucked up all the oxygen left in the day’s media bubble, and Fiorina disappeared from the headlines in much the same way she’s destined to disappear from the presidential race. In the meantime, here are a few things you should know about Carly Fiorina while she’s still relevant.

Carly Fiorina Is No Match For Hillary Clinton (Or Anyone Else)

Hillary Clinton isn’t running against Carly Fiorina, but Fiorina is definitely running against Clinton. It makes sense, because Fiorina is already as close as she’ll ever get to facing off with Clinton. Last week, Fiorina spoke of neutralizing Clinton’s “gender card.” “If Hillary Clinton were to face a female nominee, there are a whole set of things that she won’t be able to talk about,” Fiorina said in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, “She won’t be able to play the gender card.”

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Bad Trade Policies Destroyed My Hometown; Now TPP is Coming for Yours

J. David Cox

J. David Cox AFGE President

Watching the discussion around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) gives me a nasty sense of déjà vu.  

Long before joining AFGE, I worked as a food service worker, licensed practical nurse, and registered nurse in my hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina. In those days, Kannapolis was just another Southern mill town full of honest, working class people just trying to get by. Working at the textile mill was hard, but it was honest work that supported hundreds of families, and that was enough for generations of us to buy homes and support our families. That was, until the cheap imports started arriving from overseas.  

It didn't take long for things to unravel after that. The vacancies came first, then the pink slips, then delinquency notices, then the foreclosure notices. Men and women who had been working in the mills their whole lives – my family members included – were now out of work, and whole communities were left without a means to put food on the table.

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Exposing the Corporate Funders of "Dr. Evil's" Attack Ads

Jim Hightower

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

A longtime Washington PR flack for tobacco giants, labor exploiters, frackers, and other corporate profiteers celebrates himself "Dr. Evil" – the scourge of all progressive groups!

But Rick Berman is not a doctor, not evil, and not a scourge. While he is a wholly-unprincipled little man, he's just a self-serving huckster who grubs for corporate dollars by offering to do their dirty PR work.

Berman's modus operandi is not exactly sophisticated: Taking money from the likes of Phillip-Morris, Monsanto, and Tyson Foods, he sets up tax-exempt front groups (with non-descript names like Center for Consumer Freedom, Employment Policies Institute, and Environmental Policy Alliance) posing them as independent research outfits; each one is an empty shell, run by his small staff out of his Washington, DC office; using the names of the front groups, Berman and Co. buy full-page newspaper ads and write opinion pieces that amount to raw hatchet attacks on whatever progressive groups or public policies the corporate funders want to kill.

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Fast Track: Bad for Workers

Fast Track: Bad for Workers

Union Matters

From NAFTA to Baltimore

Is there a connection, a causal relationship, between trade agreements such as NAFTA and urban unrest like that recently experienced by Baltimore?

Some feel there is.  For instance, the Chief Operating Officer of the Baltimore Orioles said:

My greater source of personal concern …  is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S.[and] plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation …

Data exists to support such claims.  For instance, one of the Huffington Post’s subsidiaries, together with the organization  Public Citizen, reported in early 2014 that NAFTA, in its first 20 years, had produced no benefits to our economy.  Rather, it resulted in:

  • a $181 billion U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada
  • a corollary loss of 1 million net U.S. jobs
  • increasing income inequality
  • the doubling of immigration from Mexico
  • more than $360 million paid to corporations after rollbacks of domestic public interest policies
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