Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Donald Trump: The Answer to Curses

Donald Trump dares to say out loud what many people secretly think.

It’s a dark secret some people never share because they know it’s so offensive. Sometimes they say it only when they feel safe, when they’re among like-minded family members or with friends trying to drown financial fear in mugs of beer.

Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, talked to white workers in hardscrabble communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio over the past two months and found “huge,” as Donald Trump would put it, support for the Republican frontrunner, even among Democrats. Backers said they admired Trump for speaking his mind. What they really meant was that Trump spoke their minds. As one woman put it, “He says what most of us are thinking.” 

Americans are cash-strapped and fearful. They’ve been working hard, following the rules and falling behind. They’re looking for someone to blame. That’s when they think of “the other,” the black guy, the brown guy, the woman, the Muslim, the gay, the person they don’t really know, the person a little different from them who they suspect must have taken their job or promotion or opportunity.

Like a preacher of prejudice, Trump validates cursing the nation’s marginalized and accusing them of emptying workers’ bank accounts. Trump tells workers to point a finger at undocumented immigrants. He sermonizes excluding desperate refugees based on religion. This high priest of hate urged “Trumpeters” to stomp a Black Lives Matter activist seeking equal rights.

Fight among yourselves! Fight among yourselves, he urges. 

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Robert Reich: Why the 2016 Election Is a Political Volcano in Full Eruption

Robert Reich

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

Not a day passes that I don’t get a call from the media asking me to compare Bernie Sanders’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax plans, or bank plans, or health-care plans.

I don’t mind. I’ve been teaching public policy for much of the last thirty-five years. I’m a policy wonk.

But detailed policy proposals are as relevant to the election of 2016 as is that gaseous planet beyond Pluto. They don’t have a chance of making it, as things are now.

The other day Bill Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a “recipe for gridlock.”

Yet these days, nothing of any significance is feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock.

This election is about changing the parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system.

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Union Membership Rose 219,000 in 2015

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Union Membership Rose 219,000 in 2015

Union membership nationwide rose by 219,000 in 2015 compared to 2014, a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey reported. BLS calculated that unions had 14.795 million members last year and that their share of the U.S. workforce stayed unchanged at 11.1 percent.

The survey showed unionists still concentrate in the Northeast, the Great Lakes and the Pacific Coast, and are fewest in the anti-union South. The most union-heavy states are New York and Hawaii. And it showed female union workers are close to pay parity with union men.

Membership increases occurred even as unions battle right wing politicians and their business backers over the right to organize, union dues and other issues. The right wing triumphs were most obvious in a sharp decline in one state, Wisconsin.

Public workers are still five times more likely to be unionized (35.2 percent) than private-sector workers (6.7 percent), with teachers and public safety workers leading the way. Public and private densities changed little from 2014. The public sector added 23,000 unionists, to 7.241 million last year, slightly fewer than the 7.554 million private-sector unionists.

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National Labor Relations Board to Determine if Teaching, Research and Graduate Assistants Can Unionize

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Reopening a debate that has raged for 16 years as its partisan majorities swung back and forth, the National Labor Relations Board set a Feb. 29 deadline for initial briefs on whether teaching assistants, research assistants and graduate assistants at private universities are employees – and thus can unionize – or not.

And it wants to know if undergrads who toil in campus-sponsored work-study programs should be able to unionize and join that bargaining unit, too.

The latest case involves Columbia University graduate assistants, who want to unionize with the Auto Workers. In addition to the basic question of whether they can do so, the board wants both sides to discuss what standards it should use to rule whether specific groups of TAs and graduate assistants are “employees” or not, and thus eligible to organize and bargain.

But it also asked both sides to address whether the undergrads and RAs and TAs whose income comes mostly from outside grants could organize and bargain, as part of the same union, too.

The issue is important to tens of thousands of underpaid, overworked TAs, graduate assistants and research assistants at private universities nationwide.  In 2004, a GOP-majority NLRB, by a 3-2 partisan vote, reversed a prior decision from 2000, and ruled the TAs and RAs are students, not “employees” under labor law, so unions cannot organize them.

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Where Are the Jobs? New Reports Show TPP Fails Workers

Steve Smith Director of Communications, California Labor Federation

This post originally appeared at the Labor's Edge Blog.

When it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the operative question for Americans to ask is “Where are the Jobs?” According to two new independent analyses, they’re nonexistent.

The Barack Obama administration, as part of its full-throated defense of the deal, is touting a new report from the Peterson Institute that claims the TPP will increase exports and raise wages. More on that specious claim in a minute. But the kicker in this report is that the TPP won’t add jobs, despite job creation being central to the Obama administration’s and big business supporters’ argument in support of the deal. In fact, the report states it will lead to “job churning” from manufacturing to service sector jobs.

While in absolute terms, employment in manufacturing continues to grow irrespective of the TPP, the agreement dampens the growth rate of manufacturing employment by about one-fifth. In absolute numbers, the lower trajectory of employment growth in manufacturing equals increases in employment in the service and primary goods sectors. More detailed results show 121,000 fewer jobs created in the sector relative to the baseline by 2030.

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How to Destroy the Middle Class

How to Destroy the Middle Class

Union Matters

Bernie Sanders: From Political Science Fiction to a Force Set to Radically Disrupt the Political Marketplace

Hugh J. Campbell

Hugh J. Campbell Son of a steelworker, Philadelphia, Pa.

In his article Is Bernie Sanders the ‘Star Wars’ of politics? David J Adams compares Bernie Sanders to Star Wars’ Obi Wan who awakens Luke to his own potential. Sanders is demonstrating that the common folk, the everyday working families, the farmhands in remote parts of the political galaxy, actually do have power, that they can influence the political system and bring about change, that they can liberate themselves from perceived oppressors and have the better world they want.

As with Star Wars, the Sanders’ brand, his story, taps into our deepest longings. We want to believe the promise of ‘a new hope.’ We want to believe a better world is possible. We want to believe that by uniting together as a people we can awaken a force that can defeat the dark side.


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