A century ago, Carl Sandburg dubbed Chicago the City of Big Shoulders: “hog butcher for the world, tool maker, stacker of wheat, player with railroads and the nation’s freight handler; stormy, husky brawling.”
All of this was true of America itself as well: Nation of big shoulders. The United States was a brawny country that would intervene to help win World War I and later quickly retool factories to serve as munitions mills to win World War II. Now, though, as America’s tool makers and freight car builders are furloughed, their factories shuttered and offshored, America is wasting. Ill-conceived free trade deals are reducing it to a nation of stooped shoulders.
The newest proposed deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed in New Zealand last week by representatives of its 12 member states, would further enfeeble American manufacturing. The first of the ilk, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), devastated U.S. manufacturing. Allowing China into the World Trade Organization and the bad trade deals that followed NAFTA all pummeled American manufacturing when it was already down.
From cookies to car parts, factories fled America for places like China and Mexico. There, corporations pay workers a pittance and pollute virtually penalty-free. CEOs and shareholders roll in the resulting royal-sized profits. Meanwhile, formerly middle-class American workers and their families suffer. Communities bereft of sustaining mills collapse. And the United States atrophies, losing more and more of those once-bulky industrial shoulders.More ...
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has been rightly criticized for how he has handled the water crisis in Flint. In his State of the State speech earlier this month, he had a chance to take the crisis head on and failed to do so. Working people, on the other hand, are stepping up where Snyder has failed.
Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, responded to Snyder's speech:
The people of Flint deserve answers and accountability, but the governor didn’t provide either tonight. Until the governor waives his [Freedom of Information Act] exemption and releases all materials on the Flint water crisis—including those from his senior staff—his promise to release a handpicked number of emails is hollow. To help the people of Flint start to heal and ensure a disaster like this never happens again, the governor needs to be fully transparent with the public and start telling the truth.
Friday marks seven years since President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, the first bill he signed, aimed at helping women combat the gender wage gap by giving them more time to bring lawsuits.
But in that time, the gender wage gap — which means that American women working full-time, year round make 79 percent of what men make, a gap that’s much larger for women of color — has only narrowed by two cents, not a statistically significant change. So to mark the anniversary, Obama will announce executive action on Friday to institute a new requirement that companies with 100 or more employees report what workers are paid broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The information will be included on a form companies already submit every year about employee demographic information. The EEOC can then use the data to identify businesses that might have discriminatory pay gaps. The new proposal expands an executive order Obama issued two years ago, requiring federal contractors to submit pay information broken down by gender.
The EEOC and Department of Labor will jointly publish the proposed regulation, which will be completed in September. The first employer reports would then be due a year later.More ...
Our government has been on a privatization binge for some time. Things that We the People used to just do federally or through state and local governments were closed down and private corporations were hired to do those things instead. This “saved money” because the well-paid public workers were laid off, losing their benefits and seniority, and new workers were hired at the lowest possible wages with few or no benefits.
Of course, this “cost savings” meant that the tax base eroded, the old and replacement workers often had to go on public assistance, property values plunged as the homes of the old workers were foreclosed and the new workers couldn’t afford to buy, schools were strapped as more low-income kids came in, and all the other ways that the transition to a low-wage economy has ended up costing all of us.
But who’s counting?
U.S. Senate Food Service Workers
One privatization story that literally “hits home” is the story of the people who work in the home of our federal government, the U.S. Capitol. In 2008 the U.S. Senate “saved money” by privatizing its food services. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at the time, “There are parts of government that can be run like a business and should be run like businesses.”More ...