This is no plea for pity for corporate kingpins like Walmart and McDonald’s inundated by workers’ demands for living wages.
Raises would, of course, cost these billion-dollar corporations something. More costly, though, is the price paid by minimum-wage workers who have not received a raise in six years. Even more dear is what these workers have paid for their campaign to get raises. Managers have harassed, threatened and fired them.
Despite all that, low-wage workers will return to picket lines and demonstrations Wednesday in a National Day of Action in the fight for $15 an hour. The date is 4 – 15. These are workers who live paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay their bills, and certainly unable to cope with an emergency. They know the risk they’re taking by participating in strikes for pay hikes. They’ve seen bosses punish co-workers for demonstrating for raises. To lose a job, even one that pays poverty wages, during a time of high unemployment is terrifying. Still, thousands will participate Wednesday. That is valor.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, leader of the corporate wing of congressional Democrats, never met a global trade deal too ugly to hug. So when even he says, "This is really troubling," you know his eyes have been singed by something truly hideous.
That "something" is the trade scam called Trans-Pacific Partnership. The scam is that TPP only masquerades as a trade deal, while actually being a gross enlargement of multinational corporate power over our people's sovereignty. Specifically, a chapter of this secretly-negotiated, 12-nation deal empowers foreign corporations to challenge America's laws, rules, and court rulings – whether local, state, or national – by suing our governments in private, corporate-run tribunals set up by the United Nations or the World Bank.
That's what made Chuck nearly upchuck. "Savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates," he gasped, "could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government, such as made-in-America laws or anti-tobacco laws." Exactly.
It was only a matter of time until the multi-national corporations who helped fund the campaigns of many of the politician’s in Washington pushed for another trade agreement that will make them billions of dollars, and leave millions of American workers without a job.
Today the “Senate’s Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015” hit the Congressional floor. The deal was brokered by Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).
“It would give Congress the power to vote on the more encompassing 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is completed, but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, which President Bill Clinton pushed through Congress despite opposition from labor and other Democratic constituencies.”
Co-Director, Author, Center for Economic and Policy Research
One of the most important Supreme Court cases this year is King v. Burwell. The suit questions the legality of the subsidies to low- and middle-income families in the health-insurance exchanges run by the federal government. If the Court rules for the plaintiff, millions of people in the 36 states that did not set up exchanges could lose their subsidies. With insurance now unaffordable for much of the population in these states, their exchanges will no longer be operational, leading to the collapse of the Affordable Care Act in much of the country.
The whole basis for King v. Burwell is one sentence in the 1,700 page law indicating that subsidies are only supposed to be paid to people in states that have set up their own exchanges. This sentence contradicts the rest of the law, which clearly says that people are eligible for the subsidies regardless of whether they are enrolled via a state-established exchange or an exchange established by the federal government. The plaintiff’s argument is also at odds with the understanding of every member of Congress at the time they voted on the bill, as well as the understanding of all the various independent analysts assessing its impact.
In short, King v. Burwell should be a joke case. But in a context where at least four members of the Supreme Court are prepared to rule in whatever way they feel advances the interests of the Republican Party, it is very possible that it will be the basis for undermining a law that provides health insurance to millions of people and access to insurance to tens of millions more.
I just read President Leo Gerard's blog on the New Hampshire Labor News. I respect it very much. The sentence: "The truth is that Patel, like so many other employers, believes that employees should work for free" is the absolute truth.
The American people, as well as union members, need to understand this at a time when paying dues to keep a union solvent is being viciously lied about eliminated wherever the corporate interests can get away with it.
I will be at a rally tomorrow with thousands of courageous workers who are miserably paid in New York City and treated brutually.