Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Donald Trump: The Answer to Curses

Donald Trump dares to say out loud what many people secretly think.

It’s a dark secret some people never share because they know it’s so offensive. Sometimes they say it only when they feel safe, when they’re among like-minded family members or with friends trying to drown financial fear in mugs of beer.

Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, talked to white workers in hardscrabble communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio over the past two months and found “huge,” as Donald Trump would put it, support for the Republican frontrunner, even among Democrats. Backers said they admired Trump for speaking his mind. What they really meant was that Trump spoke their minds. As one woman put it, “He says what most of us are thinking.” 

Americans are cash-strapped and fearful. They’ve been working hard, following the rules and falling behind. They’re looking for someone to blame. That’s when they think of “the other,” the black guy, the brown guy, the woman, the Muslim, the gay, the person they don’t really know, the person a little different from them who they suspect must have taken their job or promotion or opportunity.

Like a preacher of prejudice, Trump validates cursing the nation’s marginalized and accusing them of emptying workers’ bank accounts. Trump tells workers to point a finger at undocumented immigrants. He sermonizes excluding desperate refugees based on religion. This high priest of hate urged “Trumpeters” to stomp a Black Lives Matter activist seeking equal rights.

Fight among yourselves! Fight among yourselves, he urges. 

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Justice Ginsburg’s Warning To The American Worker

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

Lochner v. New York is one of the Supreme Court’s great anti-precedents. Typically taught in law schools as an example of how judges should not behave, Lochner rested on a fabricated “right to contract” that, in effect, gave employers broad license to exploit their workers. The so-called right invented in Lochner and similar cases later formed the basis for decisions striking down the minimum wage and laws protecting workers’ right to organize.

Speaking at Brandeis University last Thursday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg offered a warning that Lochner may not be as much of a relic of the past as it is often presented in legal textbooks.

I was reminded of Lochner reading some decisions of the Court concerning workers, consumers, credit card holders who signed agreements saying “if you have a dispute with us, you can bring it only in arbitration — not in court — and you cannot use the class action device. You must sue for your individual claim, which might be 30 dollars, and that’s it.” And that has also been described as tied to liberty of contract.

The cases Justice Ginsburg refers to concern a common practice where companies refuse to do business with consumers — or threaten not to hire a worker — unless the worker or consumer agrees to sign away their right to bring any disputes against the company in a real court, and instead submit to a private arbitrator.

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Our Jobs Are Disappearing

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit Author, editor, expert on income inequality

Americans are feeling the impoverishing effects of the shift from middle-income to low-income jobs. The disappearance—or, more accurately, downsizing—of living-wage jobs is documented by numerous reports that reveal the suddenness and the extent of this affront to middle America.

First, the Neoliberal Explanation: It's Not Really Happening

Business writer Robert Samuelson calls the post-recession low-wage recovery a "myth." To support his claim he cites a study from the Economic Policy Institute which, according to Samuelson, proves that "the economy’s employment profile—the split between high- and low-paying jobs—hasn’t changed much since the recession or, indeed, the turn of the century."

But the EPI analysis is based on average wages within industries, rather than on the median, which reflects unequal growth. If the median had kept up with the average over the past 15 years, the current median wage would be $1/hour higher, or about $2,000 per year. The employment profile has actually changed a great deal since the year 2000.

There's more. The EPI analyst claims that "jobs are being added relatively in proportion to their share." But she only considers one year's data, after much of the damage had already been done. Even so, the EPI figures show that the percentage of middle-wage jobs added in 2014 was 6.3 percent less than the overall percentage of middle-wage jobs (42.7% to 40%)—a rather dramatic change for a single year.

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The Latest Tax-Scam Corporate ‘Inversion’ – Who Pays Instead?

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Johnson Controls Inc. and Tyco International PLC have announced a $14 billion merger, with the resulting company pretending to be “Irish.” This is called an “inversion” and is all about dodging taxes.

Johnson Controls is actually based in Milwaukee. Tyco is based in Princeton, N.J. but became “Irish” through its own prior tax-dodging inversion(s). The Washington Post explains this, in “Manufacturing giants Tyco and Johnson Controls agree to merge“:

This is not the first time Tyco, which started as a New Jersey-based research laboratory for the U.S. government in the 1960s before growing into a global behemoth with workers in about 50 countries, has made use of tax-avoidance measures. In 1997, it merged with a Bermuda-based company in another corporate inversion before moving its headquarters to Switzerland in 2008. It moved to Ireland in 2013.

Tyco is also remembered for its former President Dennis Kozlowski, who was convicted in 2005 of various crimes related to looting shareholders and using the money for things like a 2001 $2.2 million party on the island of Sardinia.

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The Reality of the Rich

The Reality of the Rich

Union Matters

Bernie Sanders: From Political Science Fiction to a Force Set to Radically Disrupt the Political Marketplace

Hugh J. Campbell

Hugh J. Campbell Son of a steelworker, Philadelphia, Pa.

In his article Is Bernie Sanders the ‘Star Wars’ of politics? David J Adams compares Bernie Sanders to Star Wars’ Obi Wan who awakens Luke to his own potential. Sanders is demonstrating that the common folk, the everyday working families, the farmhands in remote parts of the political galaxy, actually do have power, that they can influence the political system and bring about change, that they can liberate themselves from perceived oppressors and have the better world they want.

As with Star Wars, the Sanders’ brand, his story, taps into our deepest longings. We want to believe the promise of ‘a new hope.’ We want to believe a better world is possible. We want to believe that by uniting together as a people we can awaken a force that can defeat the dark side.

 

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