Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Bad Trade

Bad Trade
U.S. jobs lost because of trade deficit with China, 2001-2013, in thousands of jobs (EPI).

Under billions of tons of imports, the American dream is suffocating.

The American people have lost faith. They know that bad trade has bled factories, middle class jobs and wage increases from the country.

A report issued last week by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) details how bad trade has cost Americans hope. And hope is the essence of the American dream, hope for a good, steady job with benefits and a pension, one that supports a family and a home, one that enables the kids to achieve even better lives. Bad trade has battered all of that. And more damage is threatened by pending trade deals and a so-called fast track process to approve them without in-depth deliberation.

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Even With a GOP Congress, Obama Could Still Defend American Workers. Here’s How.

David Moberg

David Moberg Senior Editor, In These Times

Even With a GOP Congress, Obama Could Still Defend American Workers. Here’s How.

After the Republican mid-term election victories last November, labor unions and other worker advocates can expect virtually nothing but trouble from Congress over the next two years. With their ongoing attempts to undermine the National Labor Relations Board and the strong likelihood that they will bury any effort to increase the minimum wage, the Republicans’ grand plan calls for fewer rights and no pay increase for the working poor.

But the Obama administration may be able to execute an end-run around the GOP and fix some of the big problems facing workers if it wants to—especially those in low-wage, non-union jobs. Obama can veto whatever horrible measures Congress puts on his desk, and he can use several tools such as executive orders, drafting tougher rules to implement legislation more effectively, and demanding more vigorous action on labor law enforcement. 

The president has been increasingly exercising his executive powers. In one of his first major actions after the election, for example, he issued an executive order curbing deportation of undocumented immigrants. Last July, Obama issued the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” executive order, which sets up a procedure to identify and screen out or reform federal contractors with serious histories of labor law violations. Earlier that month, he banned discrimination against gay workers by federal contractors, and in February 2014 he used his executive power to set a $10.10 minimum wage for all federal contract employees.

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The Flacks for Plutocrats Need a New Analogy

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

A rising tide lifts all boats. A growing economic pie means bigger slices for everybody. Wealth that flows to the top will always trickle down.

Cheerleaders for wealth’s concentration have over the years invoked a variety of images to justify the ever larger fortunes of our society’s most fortunate. These images all rest on a single economic assumption: that letting wealth accumulate in the pockets of a few grows an economy’s capacity for investment and ultimately, as investments create jobs, leaves everybody better off.

That assumption has dominated mainstream economics for generations. But that’s changing. Even mainline economic institutions are these days challenging the notion that good fortune for the few eventually and automatically translates into better fortune for the many. The latest of these institutions to chime in: the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the official economic think tank for the developed world.

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How “Citibank Budget” Push Foreshadows “Fast Track” For Trade Deals

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

It is worth examining how the process was rigged to push that budget deal through Congress over the weekend that contained Citibank-written derivative deregulation and all kinds of other goodies for the rich and powerful. That’s because the “cromnibus” formula will be formalized in the next big deal, in a process called “fast track.”

Congress passed the “cromnibus” (continuing resolution for omnibus budget) right at the deadline for another government shutdown. (After they extended the deadline, actually.) The budget contained a Citibank-written provision that undoes some Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations. It authorizes a cut in many people’s pensions by up to 60 percent, severely cuts the IRS budget and its ability to collect taxes, dramatically expanded the ability of big money to influence elections, reduced the EPA’s authority, and included many other provisions that could not have passed in the light of day. This budget “deal” was pushed through Congress using a rigged process that kept representative democracy from stopping it.

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Right-to-Work (For Less) Is About Destroying Unions and Workers' Power to Win Decent Pay

Right-to-Work (For Less) Is About Destroying Unions and Workers' Power to Win Decent Pay

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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