Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Fast Tracking Democracy to Hell

Fast Tracking Democracy to Hell
Photo of workers protesting Fast Track by Steven Dietz of Sharp Image Studios for the USW

Free traders in Congress formally proposed last week that lawmakers relax, put their feet up and neglect the rigor of legislative review for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade scheme.

The TPP is a secret deal among 12 Pacific Rim nations that was covertly negotiated by unelected officials and corporate bosses. It’s so clandestine that lawmakers elected to represent the American people were refused access to the deliberations. It would expand secret trade tribunals that corporations use to sue governments over democratically established laws and win compensation from taxpayers.

The Congressional free traders want to Fast Track authorization of the TPP. Fast Track enables Congress to abdicate its constitutionally mandated duty to regulate international trade. Instead of scrutinizing, amending and improving proposed trade deals, lawmakers use Fast Track to gloss over the specifics and simply vote yea or nay on the entire package as presented. With elected officials excluded from the talks, details of the treaty deliberately shrouded in secrecy and free traders demanding lawmakers ignore the deal’s effects on constituents, this process condemns democracy.

More ...

The Fountain-Pen Economy

Jim Hightower

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

The Fountain-Pen Economy

Even the word "greed" is not negative enough to characterize the all-out assault on workers by today's corporate elite.

From offshoring jobs to busting unions, from slashing wages to looting pensions, corporate take-aways from America's used-to-be middle-class workforce certainly are driven by the avarice of top executives and wealthy investors. Plainly put, the more they can take from workers, the more they can put in their own pockets (or, most likely, in their offshore bank accounts). It adds up to a massive redistribution of wealth from the many to the few.

In addition to greedy, though, these people are rank thieves. As Woody Guthrie succinctly put it: "Some'll rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen." We're now in a rapacious fountain-pen economy. Since the Wall Street crash of 2008 (itself a product of grand theft by financial elites), the productivity and creativity of all Americans have regenerated every bit of the wealth that was frittered away by bankers, and we created trillions of dollars in new income. What a phenomenal national achievement that is, produced in an astonishingly short time by the shared effort of our people!

More ...

Buying Elections, Local Style

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

If you weren’t concerned about the burgeoning swamp that is the so-called “campaign finance system” in the U.S. before, here’s a figure that should interest you: $600,000.

Doesn’t sound like so much?  Wait till you hear the context.

The $600,000 is the campaign spending estimate we heard about for the aldermanic race between incumbent John Pope and challenger Susan Sadlowski Garza, daughter of  famed Steelworkers local leader Ed Sadlowski, in Chicago’s 10th ward, on the far Southeast Side.  After last week’s runoff, Garza leads by 30 votes, out of 12,000 cast, pending a recount.

$600,000 still doesn’t sound like a lot?  You haven’t been on the Southeast Side lately.

More ...

Imagine Him Being President

Jim Hightower

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

Imagine Him Being President

Ted’s recent announcement of his presidential candidacy was a real Cruz-a-palooza! It was part Ronald Reagan, part Elmer Gantry, part John Lennon, and part Jerry Falwell – yet it was totally Ted Cruz – full of blather, bloat, and BS.

Not only was it staged at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, but Cruz thumped the word “liberty” again and again, like a televangelist thumping the Bible. “We stand together for liberty,” the candidate declared one final time at the conclusion of the show. That was more than a little cynical. While the mass media reported that Cruz drew a packed house of 10,000 Liberty students, few news stories mentioned a pertinent fact about the crowd – the budding scholars were not at liberty to avoid his speech, for school officials made attendance mandatory.

More ...

The World’s Highest Paid Lawmakers Ignore Minimum Wage Workers

The World’s Highest Paid Lawmakers Ignore Minimum Wage Workers

Union Matters

First Amendment Violations

Recently, the Republican administration in Wisconsin took a step that seems to challenge the First Amendment to our Constitution.  According to a report in the New York Times, a Wisconsin agency that manages state lands has forbidden its employees from working on issues related to climate change while they are on the job.

Other than the obvious non sequitur inherent in this stance – since climate change quite possibly affects the lands the agency manages – there’s another significant question here.  Does such an order violate the First Amendment rights of these employees?  Let’s take a look at that amendment, the first in what’s known as the Bill of Rights, and a statement of what so many consider emblematic of our nation.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

More ...