Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

There’s Always Money for the Boss

There’s Always Money for the Boss

Businesses always find big bucks for the boss. He wants a raise; he gets it. No problem. For workers whose sweat of the brow produces profits, well, somehow there’s never a cent for them.

In fact, last week when President Obama proposed making more workers eligible for overtime pay, fat cats and CEO sycophants expressed abject horror that companies may have to pay employees more when they work more.

No way could they pay, they protested! The proposed rule would bankrupt America, they raged. It’s not humanly possible, they fumed, for corporations that pad CEO paychecks with millions in bonuses to also manage to pay time and a half when workers labor more than 40 hours a week. Can’t be done, they cried! Well, except that it has been done since 1938.

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June Jobs: Continued, Solid Gains, but That 5.3% Unemployment Rate Makes the Job Market Look Tighter Than It Is

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Today’s jobs report was a bit weaker than expected, and a bit weaker than it looked at first blush. While payrolls were up 223,000 in June, in line with expectations, and the unemployment rate fell to a record low in this recovery of 5.3%, mitigating factors include:

–downward revisions in payrolls for April and May of 60,000 combined;

–the fall in unemployment was exclusively due to people leaving the labor force, not jobseekers finding work;

–thus, the labor force participation rate ticked down a significant 0.3 percentage points to 62.6%, its lowest level since the late 1970s, though see below re this important trend;

–hourly wage growth was flat in June, and is up 2% over the past year, a slight deceleration from last month’s report;

–average weekly hours worked were also unchanged, so weekly earnings were also up 2%;

–factory employment growth remains weak, up 4,000 and little changed over the past five months (construction was also a weak spot in June, adding no net new jobs).

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Is Jeb’s Social Security Flub The Worst Bush Gaffe Yet?

Richard Eskow

Richard Eskow Writer, Host, "The Breakdown;" Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Is Jeb’s Social Security Flub The Worst Bush Gaffe Yet?

George W. Bush: His policies brought untold harm, but at least his gaffes offered some occasional lighthearted moments. Now his brother Jeb may have outdone him in the faux pas department – but there’s nothing funny about it.

The former Florida governor has been running on a platform that includes cutting Social Security benefits, so he’s been talking about raising the retirement age. But, as it happens, he doesn’t even know what the retirement age is.

When he was asked about it, Jeb responded in the tortured syntax characteristic of his clan: “We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70.”

Except that the retirement age isn’t 65, and hasn’t been for some time. The current retirement age is 66, and it will continue to rise. People born in 1959 won’t be able to retire until they are 67 years old.

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A Bank CEO Said Elizabeth Warren Doesn’t Understand Wall Street. Her Response Was Perfect.

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Last month, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D), “I don’t know if she fully understands the global banking system.”

By Thursday, Warren already had a response. Speaking on the Huffington Post’s “So, That Happened” podcast, she said, “The problem is not that I don’t understand the global banking system. The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system and I understand how they make their money. And that’s what they don’t like about me.”

Warren’s résumé comes with nearly 20 years of experience teaching corporate law at Harvard University, publishing nine books, chairing the Congressional Oversight Panel that oversaw the bank bailouts in 2008 (of which JP Morgan was a beneficiary), and coming up with the idea for and helping to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has already helped consumers avoid numerous predatory lending schemes and recouped more than $4.8 billion through its enforcement actions.

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Reverse Citizens United; Give Power Back to the People

Reverse Citizens United; Give Power Back to the People

Union Matters

TPP Pits Americans Against Abused Foreign Workers

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim countries would pit U.S. workers against those in countries with long histories of human and labor rights violations, including child and forced labor.

Violations that would shock the conscience of most Americans are described in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, annual reports produced by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The 2014 report details abuses in four TPP countries: Malaysia, Vietnam, Mexico and Brunei.

The worst among these is Malaysia.  Workers there who attempt to unionize are often punished with temporary detainment, wage abatement or firing.  The State Department also reported that Malaysian companies use child and forced labor and employ victims of human trafficking. 

In Vietnam, the state department reports, it is a federal crime for workers to unionize outside of an organization that answers directly to the Communist Party.  This restriction limits workers’ freedom of association because unions are under the supervision and control of that organization, which is not run by workers.

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