Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

GOP on Wrong Side of History on Immigration

GOP on Wrong Side of History on Immigration
Photo by Fibonacci Blue on Flickr

At the first Thanksgiving 383 years ago, Native Americans and Pilgrim immigrants gathered with mutual respect to share a bountiful harvest they’d produced together.

This Thanksgiving, though, there’s no respect or sharing in the homes of GOP nativists.

Suffering amnesia about their personal histories, nativist Republicans want to expel the 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants, the people who harvest America’s Thanksgiving vegetables and care for America’s toddlers and grannies. The GOP has threatened to sue, shut down the government and impeach President Obama to punish him for issuing an executive order giving fewer than half of the nation’s undocumented workers a limited ability to remain in the United States.

Americans would prefer if Congress fixed this problem. But Congress hasn’t. In the year and a half since the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill, House leaders have refused to permit a vote on it. So now, President Obama, like all 10 presidents since 1956, Republican and Democrat, has issued an executive order on immigration. The order says America will treat 5 million striving unauthorized immigrants with respect.  

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25 Million Reasons to Give Thanks for Social Insurance

25 Million Reasons to Give Thanks for Social Insurance

The National Academy of Social Insurance recently examined Census Bureau data and found that social insurance programs have a made a significant dent on the number of people living in poverty in the U.S. More than 45 million people (14.5% of the population) lived in poverty in 2013, but those numbers would be significantly larger if it weren't for programs such as Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation and Supplemental Security Income. 

These four programs together kept nearly 25.4 million people out of poverty in 2013, including:

  • Nearly 1.9 million children
  • More than 8.4 million adults younger than 65
  • More than 15.1 million adults 65 and older
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Amazing Black Friday Deals, Brought to You by the American Taxpayer

David Cooper

David Cooper Economic Analyst, Economic Policy Institute

Amazing Black Friday Deals, Brought to You by the American Taxpayer

As retailers and consumers gear up for the holiday shopping season, it’s a good time to take a closer look at what things are like for the person on the other side of the cash register. Over the past year, there have been an increasing number of retail strikes as workers in the industry call for higher pay and better working conditions. Why should this matter to the ordinary shopper just out looking for the perfect gift? Because poor wages in retail may be shrinking your paycheck as well, and in more ways than one.

Retail workers tend to be paid significantly lower than workers in other industries. As the graphic below shows, the median hourly wage for workers in the retail sector is 32.4% lower than the median hourly wage for all other industries.1 Importantly, the lower wages in retail are not simply the result of demographic factors that might contribute to lower wages, such as the age or education levels of typical retail workers. Using a regression approach to control for demographic and regional factors, the data show that wages in retail are 18% lower than in other industries.2 This is the “wage penalty” of working in retail.

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Bottom Chefs: A Working-Class Lens in the Competition Kitchen

Kathy Newman

Kathy Newman Carnegie Mellon University Associate Professor of English

Bottom Chefs: A Working-Class Lens in the Competition Kitchen

Last week Top Chef Boston aired its Thanksgiving episode (filmed in July) in which the chefs had to squat over open fires, stir pots with large wooden spoons, and to try to cook a Thanksgiving feast limited by the ingredients (venison, blueberries, clams, squash, goose, etc.) that would have been available during the first Thanksgiving in the autumn of 1621. Katsuji Tanabe, an eccentric, funny, mouthy chef, the son of a Mexican mother and a Japanese father, won the competition with a dish that combined squash, lobster, and fresh herbs. Tough-as-nails Stacy Cogswell, the only chef who is actually from Boston, was sent home for getting dirt in her clam dish when she had to plate on the ground at the famed Plimoth Plantation.

In the last decade we have seen a prodigious spike in the number of reality shows that feature labor in the kitchen. From the Food Network competitions, to the Master Chef empire, to the Emmy winning Top Chef, if you like to watch people braise, chop, and sauté on TV this is a Golden Era to be sure.

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Pity the Poor Stressed-Out Rich

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

Pity the Poor Stressed-Out Rich

Here's a random thought that might not have occurred to you: It's not easy being rich.

Well, yes, there are all those things that money can buy to alleviate the burden of fabulous wealth – things like servants, summers in Provence, private jets, and such. But, as an article in the "Wealth" section of the New York Times reminds us, money buys things, not happiness – and the article reports that America's poor upper-one-percenters are not happy.

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Fast Track Lost First Round; Make Sure It's Knocked Out Permanently

Fast Track Lost First Round; Make Sure It's Knocked Out Permanently

Union Matters

Leader Cruz?

And you thought Night of the Living Dead was scary …

In discussing his horror classic, George Romero stated that he wanted to make a hopeless film – one in which the rogues, not the good guys, prevailed.

On Nov. 4 that happened.  Republicans regained control of the U.S. Senate by a significant margin.  They’re projected to hold the upper chamber by eight seats.  Now for the scary part:  There’s a consensus developing that, while Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will be the new majority leader, the de facto chief will be – shudder – Sen. Ted Cruz.

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