Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Bargaining Power to the People

Bargaining Power to the People
During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave workers a New Deal, raising wages and employment.

Earlier this month, in the sparsely populated Kentucky county that’s home to Bowling Green, officials voted to convert the place into a right-to-work (for less) sinkhole.

The county officials did it at the bidding of big corporations. They certainly didn’t do it for their Warren County constituents because employees in right-to-work (for less) states get smaller paychecks than those in states that support the right to unionize. They did it at the demand of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation, both of which are corporate owned and operated.

They did it despite the fact that there’s no evidence they have any legal authority to create an anti-union bastion on the county level, which means they’ve subjected the residents of Warren County to substantial costs for a legal battle that Warren is likely to lose.

Moving right-to-work (for less) from the state to the county level is the latest tactic in the relentless campaign by CEOs and corporations to reverse gains made by workers in the 1930s New Deal. With laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a Democratic Congress slightly moved toward workers the lopsided balance of power that heavily favors corporations. Over the next several decades, the middle class thrived and income inequality decreased substantially. Now, however, income inequality is back up to the point where it was in the robber baron days because CEOs and corporations have stuck their fat thumbs back on the scale. 

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Should the World’s Largest Chemical Corporations Be Allowed to Attack States’ Chemical Safety Protections?

How would you feel about the U.S. government paying foreign corporations to keep cancer-causing chemicals out of your water bottles?

That is a risk we’d face under a sweeping U.S.-EU “trade” deal under negotiation – the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), also known as TTIP.  As proposed, TAFTA would empower thousands of European firms – including chemical giants like BASF, Bayer, and Royal Dutch Shell – to bypass U.S. courts, go before extrajudicial tribunals and demand taxpayer compensation for U.S. policies – including chemical regulations.  

We depend on such regulations every day to keep toxic chemicals out of our food, toys, rivers, and clothes.  This past July, more than 100 organizations on both sides of the Atlantic sent a letter to TAFTA negotiators to warn against TAFTA’s threats to such commonsense protections:

Stricter controls (including restrictions on some or all uses) of hazardous chemicals – including carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals – are vital to protecting public health…EU and U.S. trade policy should not be geared toward advancing the chemical industry’s agenda at the expense of public health and the environment – but that appears to be exactly what is currently underway with TTIP.

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A Living Wage os One that Can Support a Working Person Without Government Assistance

A Living Wage os One that Can Support a Working Person Without Government Assistance

Union Matters

Just When You Thought It Was Safe…

Almost as soon as it appeared that the Affordable Care Act had been accepted as a legitimate part of government services, along comes the political equivalent of Bruce in the movie Jaws.

It’s a case before the U.S. Supreme Court called King vs. Burwell, challenging the legality of tax credits offered through the federal health insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov.

The five conservative Justices of the Supreme Court will control the fate of Obamacare. If their ruling eliminates tax credits offered through HealthCare.gov, enrollees in 34 states without state exchanges could lose the tax credits that makes their health insurance affordable.

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