Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Fire Ants Killed the TPP

The defeat of the TPP is a tale of ants slaying a dragon.

It seemed a fearsome task, challenging the powerful behemoth that is Wall Street, Big Pharma, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Big Ag, Big Oil, all their lobbyists, and all the Congress critters they’d “campaign-financed” to support their money-grubbing 12-country trade scheme.

The battle was engaged, though, for the sake of workers’ rights, clean air and water, food safety, reasonably priced pharmaceuticals, national sovereignty, internet freedom, financial regulation, public control of public lands, the right of governments to pass laws for the public good without corporations suing for so-called lost profits in secret tribunals adjudicated by hand-picked corporate jurists, and the freedom of local governments to buy American-made products for taxpayer financed projects to create American jobs. And, frankly, so much more.  For a righteous, just and equitable society. That’s why there were so many ants.

Literally thousands of civil society groups coalesced to combat the TPP. These included labor unions, health care organizations, food safety advocates, environmentalists, churches, family farmers, social justice societies, indigenous rights organizations and allied groups in the 12 TPP partner countries. My union, the United Steelworkers, was among them. It was an overwhelming number of groups with an overwhelming number of members who conducted an overwhelming number of events over years to make it clear to lawmakers just how strongly citizens opposed the TPP.

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Unions Angered by Hard-Right Philosophy of Trump Cabinet Picks

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Unions concerned with Medicare, Medicaid, the future of the Affordable Care Act and support for public schools, students and teachers are angered by GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s picks for the top posts at federal departments dealing with those issues: Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., for the Department of Health and Human Services and Michigan right wing millionaire Betsy DeVos for the Education Department.

Trump unveiled DeVos, then Price, as his nominees for the two positions on Nov. 28-29. He also named an Indiana health consultant and protégé of Vice-president-elect Mike Pence to lead the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs those two programs.

Price, along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is a leader in the Republican campaign to repeal the ACA and replace it with a GOP plan that would, in essence, turn the nation’s health care over to the giant insurance companies again. 

 

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Trump’s Cabinet Picks Shatter his Campaign Promises

Richard L. Trumka

Richard L. Trumka President, AFL-CIO

After the election, we made clear that we would hold Donald Trump accountable to the promises he made to working people throughout the campaign.

His initial nominations fundamentally threaten these promises.  Taken together, the appointments push President-elect Trump away from the values and issues that working class voters said were most important to them. 

As a candidate, President-elect Trump railed against Wall Street greed and the failure of big banks to invest in America, yet his nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is a billionaire who got rich by foreclosing on the homes of hard-working American families. 

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Yes Folks, Trade Does Affect Manufacturing Employment

Dean Baker

Dean Baker Co-Director, Author, Center for Economic and Policy Research

You need not be a fan of Donald Trump to say that trade has had a big impact on manufacturing jobs, you really just need to be someone in the reality-based community. Unfortunately, a lot of people who should, and probably do, know better are insisting that trade is not a big deal. The story is that we lost the jobs due to productivity growth, not trade.

There are three points worth making here. The first is a simple logical one, we have a trade deficit of around $500 billion a year, a bit less than 3.0 percent of GDP. This is basically all due to a deficit in manufactured goods (we have a surplus on services). Does anyone believe that the extra imports associated with the trade deficit are not associated with jobs? Can $500 billion worth of manufactured goods be produced without hiring people? (This matters much more in a context where we face secular stagnation, meaning there is not enough overall demand in the economy.)

The second point is that our trade deficit has not always been this large. Our deficits had been around 1.0 percent of GDP through most of the period from the late 1970s until the East Asian crisis in 1997. Following the crisis, the value of the dollar soared and the trade deficit did also. It eventually peaked at almost 6.0 percent of GDP in 2005–2006. (I should be giving the non-oil deficit, but I'm too lazy to look that up just now.)

Anyhow, this explosion in the trade deficit coincided with a sharp decline in manufacturing employment.

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GOP Schemes to Reverse Federal Workplace Rules, Including Beryllium Standard

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

WASHINGTON (PAI)—Not content with overturning Obama administration rules – including pro-worker rules, pro-consumer rules and environmental rules – one by one in the federal courts, the Republican-run Congress is scheming to toss them out, wholesale.

In an innocuous-sounding measure, HR5982, the Midnight Rules Act, the House GOP majority plans to invoke a Gingrich-era federal law to throw out every single rule that administration agencies have approved, implemented or are proposing, starting this past May.

That includes not just rules judges tossed, such as the one that would have expanded eligibility for overtime pay starting on Dec.  1, but also ones in the pipeline and near final approval, such as a crackdown on worker exposure to beryllium dust, which can cause cancer.

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Union Matters

Appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court Now

Hugh J. Campbell

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

President Obama is petitioned in We the People Appoint Garland Now (Senate Has Waived Its Rights) to act now and make his Supreme Court appointment as a recess appointment, since the Senate’s inaction is a waiver of it right to consent. The legal basis for this petition is outlined in the Washington Post Op-Ed Obama can appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing.

Right-wing obstructionists are desperately trying to dissuade Americans from signing this petition by questioning the legal grounds of the waiver of rights argument, but their bias on this issue is indisputable.

Even though the We the People Appoint Garland Now (Senate Has Waived Its Rights) petition has the minimum 100,000 signatures to get an official update from the White House within 60 days, please sign the petition anyway, to communicate to the White House the urgency of this matter to the American People.

A 2016 SCOTUS recess appointment by President Obama should be effective through the end of the 115th Congress ending January 3, 2019 and will, in all likelihood, result in a case brought before our current eight member Supreme Court. The waiver of rights and other legal arguments including prior Supreme Court rulings on the substance over form doctrine can be put forth when and if this case is heard.

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The Party of Failures

The Party of Failures