Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Voodoo Trickle Down Be Damned

Voodoo Trickle Down Be Damned
Share of global wealth of the top 1% and bottom 99% respectively; the dashed lines project the 2010–2014 trend. By 2016, the top 1% will have more than 50% of total global wealth. Graph by Oxfam.

Reaganomics, the plot to appease the rich and condemn the rest, got its comeuppance last week in President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

The President asked: “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?”

That’s the trickle down economy he’s talking about. And when he said, “spectacularly well,” that understated the great fortune of the very few.  Oxfam, the international federation working to end poverty, reported just before the speech that if nothing changes over the next two years, the top 1 percent will hoard more wealth than that held by the entire remaining 99 percent of humans on earth.

President Obama made it clear he has no intention of accepting such economic damnation for the vast majority of Americans. He proposed an alternative to Ronnie’s scheme. President Obama called it middle class economics. Though its intent is to create opportunity, prosperity and security for the working poor and middle class, it’ll be a hard sell. That’s because Americans have been force fed that voodoo, greed-is-good, grovel-before-the-rich financial philosophy for so very long. 

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Environmental Groups Denounce Fast Track Trade Process

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters and 41 other environmental groups sent a letter to Congress this week, asking them to oppose “fast track” trade promotion authority for upcoming trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). They asked Congress to instead set up an open, transparent trade negotiating system that gives stakeholders, other than just corporate representatives, input in the process.

The letter begins, “As leading U.S. environmental and science organizations, we write to express our strong opposition to ‘fast track’ trade promotion authority, and to urge you to oppose any legislation that would limit the ability of Congress to ensure that trade pacts deliver benefits for communities, workers, public health, and the environment.”

Background On Fast Track, TPP

Currently, trade negotiations are conducted in secret. Corporate representatives are part of the process, and the negotiators come from or expect to go into the corporate world. Stakeholders like environmental, consumer, labor, democracy, human rights, and other groups are excluded from the process.

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The Empty Center: Challenge and Opportunity for Progressives

Robert Borosage

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

Legislators in the new Congress haven’t even cut the curtains for their offices, but it is already clear that the right has no clue and the “center” offers no hope.

Republican Mitch McConnell, newly installed as Senate majority leader, announced that his goal is not to be “scary.” House Speaker John Boehner declared his troops had to prove Republicans can “govern.” But Republicans are already tripping over those low bars. They stuffed the legislative docket with “message” bills to repeal Obamacare, rollback immigration reforms, and cripple agencies that protect the environment (Environmental Protection Agency), consumers (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), workers (the Labor Department) and taxpayers (cutting the IRS ability to police tax dodgers). They’ve already proved adept at backroom maneuvers to tuck Wall Street favors in “must-pass” legislation.

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McDonald's Desperately Seeks Love

Jim Hightower

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

McDonald's Desperately Seeks Love

McDonald's, the burger behemoth, pushes its product with an advertising slogan that exuberantly proclaims, "I'm Lovin' It."

But the slogan doesn't seem to be selling more burgers – in fact, customers have been buying a lot fewer McEdibles, causing a serious sag in sales. The slump is not about slogans, though – it's about the fact that customers are not "Lovin" those news reports that some of its suppliers have been repackaging expired meat. Nor do they love McDonald's corporate-wide policy of paying poverty wages, its ruthless anti-union tactics, and its cynical strategy of having taxpayers subsidize its labor costs by directing employees to go on food stamps and Medicaid.

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Five Causes of Wage Stagnation in the United States

Five Causes of Wage Stagnation in the United States

A series of recent reports from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) make clear the case for why wages have stagnated in the United States. 

Before digging into the details, it's important to note a few things. First off, wage stagnation is not a small problem, it's something that affects 90% of all workers. As one of the authors of these reports, Lawrence Mishel, says: "Since the late 1970s, wages for the bottom 70 percent of earners have been essentially stagnant, and between 2009 and 2013, real wages fell for the entire bottom 90 percent of the wage distribution." Second, while the Great Recession made things worse, the problem goes back 35 years. And third, and most importantly, wage stagnation is a matter of choice, not necessity.

Here are five real reasons why wages have stagnated in the United States.

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The People Have the Right to Establish the Rules

The People Have the Right to Establish the Rules

Union Matters

Labor History in 2:00 – Harry Truman Nearly Doubled the Minimum Wage

On January 24, 1950 the minimum wage in the United States was raised to 75 cents an hour.  This move nearly doubled the minimum wage, from the previous level of 40 cents.  22 million people were eligible for this wage increase.  In his statement on the change President Harry Truman declared, “It is a measure dictated by social justice. It adds to our economic strength. It is founded on the belief that full human dignity requires at least a minimum level of economic sufficiency and security.”

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