Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Forced Trade

Forced Trade
Photo by author Chad Broughton of Dave Bevard, former Machinists local union president at the Maytag factory in Galesburg, Ill., standing beside the last refrigerator produced there in 2004 before the corporation moved production to Mexico. The refrigerator is autographed by some of the 1,600 workers who lost their jobs.

Senators who voted last week to Fast Track ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) call it a free trade deal, but really, it’s forced trade imposed on protesting American workers who have endured its damaging effects for decades.   

Under the free trade regime, rich and powerful corporate interests have hauled in ever-higher profits as they shipped manufacturing overseas to low-wage, no-environmental-regulation countries. Meanwhile, American workers lost jobs, health benefits, income and all sense of stability.

For the past 50 years, the government provided compensation to some American workers who suffered because of trade deals. They got Trade Adjustment Assistance, a little bit of money to help them subsist and retrain after losing their jobs. Now, the wealthy beneficiaries of free trade, and the Republicans they fund, contend that senior citizens should pay the cost of Trade Adjustment Assistance. That Republicans feel it’s appropriate to cut Medicare to cover the cost of Trade Adjustment Assistance illustrates how deeply flawed American trade policy is. It is based on the philosophy that workers and the retired should suffer to facilitate the rich getting richer.

More ...

Stop Calling the TPP a Trade Agreement – It Isn’t

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Stop Calling the TPP a Trade Agreement – It Isn’t

This is a message to activists trying to fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Stop calling the TPP a “trade” agreement. TPP is a corporate/investor rights agreement, not a “trade” agreement. “Trade” is a good thing; TPP is not. Every time you use the word “trade” in association with the TPP, you are helping the other side.

“Trade” is a propaganda word. It short-circuits thinking. People hear “trade” and the brain stops working. People think, “Of course, trade is good.” And that ends the discussion.

Calling TPP a “trade” agreement lets the pro-TPP people argue that TPP is about trade instead of what it is really about. It diverts attention from the real problem. It enables advocates to say things like, “95 percent of the world lives outside the U.S.” as if that has anything to do with TPP. It lets them say, “We know that exports support American jobs” to sell a corporate rights agreement. It enables them to say nonsense like this about a corporate rights agreement designed to send American jobs to Vietnam so a few “investors” can pocket the wage difference: “Exports of U.S. goods and services supported an estimated 9.8 million American jobs, including 25 percent of all manufacturing jobs … and those export-supported jobs pay 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average wage.”

More ...

Making the Economy Work for the Many, Not the Few -- Step 2: Make Work Family Friendly

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

Making the Economy Work for the Many, Not the Few -- Step 2: Make Work Family Friendly

No one should have to choose between providing for your family and being a good parent. Yet "family-friendly" work is still a pipe dream.

Today most parents are also wage earners, whether in a two-parent or single-parent household. Politicians talk a lot about the importance of family, but must do a better job delivering.

Specifically:

- Require that women receive equal pay for equal work.

- Require employers provide predictable hours so workers can plan to be home when their family needs them.

- Provide universal childcare -- pre-school and after-school -- financed by employers and taxpayers.

- Require that employers offer paid family and medical leave.

The richest nation in the world should enable its workers to be good parents. Family-friendly work isn't a luxury. People who work hard deserve to make more than a decent living. They and their families deserve a decent life.

***

This has been reposted from The Huffington Post.

4 New Trumps Shaking Fast Track's House of (Trading) Cards

Carl Pope Executive Chairman, Sierra Club

4 New Trumps Shaking Fast Track's House of (Trading) Cards

After first rejecting "fast-track authority" to prevent Congress from amending President Obama's pendingres Asian and European trade agreements,13 Senate Democrats changed their votes Thursday. The senators who flipped had obtained other concessions, on issues like the Export-Import Bank and currency manipulation - but tellingly most of the concessions were promises to let something be voted on, not commitments to pass them.

The Senate vote passed the bill Friday night, the process proved far more difficult than expected and prospects in the House were even more challenging.

The debate thus far represents a seismic change in the trade conversation. Now the argument is not about whether to incorporate labor and environmental standards. This year's debate is about the fundamentals -- are the kinds of trade agreements we have been negotiating good for the country at their core?

More ...

The Power of Stupid Ideas: ‘Three Generations That Have Never Worked’

Robert MacDonald

Robert MacDonald Sociology Professor, Teesside University, UK

This month I ran a workshop with a group of first year undergraduate sociology students at Teesside University (in the North East of England). Our students tend to be from working-class or lower-middle class backgrounds and often the first in their families to go to university. I’d been invited to give an insight into a ‘real life’ research project, and I began by asking for responses and thoughts about some quotations:

‘Behind the statistics lie households where three generations have never had a job’ (ex-British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, 1997).

‘…on some deprived estates…often three generations of the same family have never worked’ (Iain Duncan Smith, 2009; now British government Minister for Work and Pensions).

‘To reintroduce the culture of work in households where it may have been absent for generations’ (Universal Credit, Department of Work and Pensions, 2010; this is a document that introduces a very major overhaul of UK welfare payments).

‘…there are four generations of families where no-one has ever had a job’ (Chris Grayling, ex-Minister for Work and Pensions, 2011).

More ...

Tame Wall Street So Workers Aren’t Ravaged

Tame Wall Street So Workers Aren’t Ravaged

Union Matters

Fantasy Politics

Bashing liberals is a time-honored sport on the far right.  Bashing the Clintons can therefore legitimately be compared to fantasy baseball.  In each of these, one can construct one’s own reality, related to facts no more than one wishes.

A major-league example of Clinton bashing is the book Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweizer, founder of the Government Accountability Institute.  Mr. Schweizer is a conservative with a history of getting it wrong.  According to Media Matters, his most recent work continues that tradition.

Right-wing snark of recent years, like the purple-heart Band-Aids that mocked John Kerry’s Presidential candidacy in 2004, has often been funded by uber-wealthy conservatives.  In the case of Clinton Cash, the folks behind the screen are, apparently, the Koch Brothers.

These siblings are no slouches when it comes to keeping conservative causes afloat; their efforts have included bankrolling the campaign to prevent the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  Operating as they do so far under the radar, the Koch Brothers’ efforts to distort the information that underlies our electoral process might seem almost impossible to overcome.  But they’re mot.

Not even the Koch Brothers have enough money to outstrip the votes of millions of motivated Americans.

***

To submit a blog to Union Matters, e-mail it to bstack@usw.org. Keep it to 250 words or fewer. You MUST include your full name, hometown, and state. You may attach a photograph of yourself. Please include a phone number. This WILL NOT be published. Posting any given blog is within the discretion of the USW. No blog using foul language (this is a family site), false information (we don’t want to get sued), or unnecessary personal attacks (again, we don’t want to get sued) will be used. Wait a reasonable period of time, then blog again!

More ...