Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Question Before the Court: Can Corporations Betray Retirees?

Question Before the Court: Can Corporations Betray Retirees?
M&G Polymers is Point Pleasant's new Mothman

At a chemical plant called Point Pleasant in a town named Apple Grove in a state John Denver labeled almost heaven, a man known as Freel Tackett helped negotiate three collective bargaining agreements that provided raises and decent benefits for workers and retirees.

Heaven ended in 2007 for Tackett and other retired Point Pleasant workers. That’s when the corporation that now owns the plant betrayed them by refusing to continue paying the full cost of retiree health benefits. These days, it’s almost hell for retirees. For seven years they’ve lived under a dark shadow, as if Point Pleasant’s most infamous denizen, the monster Mothman, immortalized in the book and movie The Mothman Prophesies, had returned.

The United Steelworkers (USW) union told the U.S. Supreme Court last week that these workers had labored a lifetime to earn retiree health benefits. The court should forbid the company from rescinding earned benefits, the USW argued. The corporation, M&G Polymers, asked the court to validate its reneging on its pledge to workers because, it contended, the collective bargaining agreement is insufficiently specific. M&G insisted that vagueness gives it carte blanche to shift costs to workers. 

 

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Here’s Your Union-Made in America Thanksgiving Shopping List

Mike Hall

Mike Hall Senior Writer, AFL-CIO

Here’s Your Union-Made in America Thanksgiving Shopping List

Before you put together your Thanksgiving dinner shopping list, check our list of union-made in America food and other items that are essential to a traditional family Thanksgiving feast. Speaking of thanks, a big “thank you” to the Union Label and Service Trades Department (ULSTD), Union Plus and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's resource site, Labor 411, for compiling their extensive catalogs of union-made products.

Here are some of the best union-made Thanksgiving eats and cookware from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM); Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers (GMP); Machinists (IAM); United Steelworkers (USW); and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Appetizers

 

Kraft/Nabisco crackers—BCTGM

Nabisco (Mondelez) crackers—BCTGM

Keebler (Kellogg) crackers—BCTGM

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The Roberts Court Has Already Said That Obama Has The Power To Issue His Immigration Order

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

The Roberts Court Has Already Said That Obama Has The Power To Issue His Immigration Order

President Obama is widely expected to issue an executive order permitting millions of undocumented immigrants to remain in the country without fear of deportation — or at least, without fear of deportation for as long as the order remains in effect. Indeed, sources tell ThinkProgress that the president is likely to announce the order on Thursday.

Congressional Republicans, as they often do when they disagree with a particular policy, claim that this executive order is illegal. Indeed, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a leading opponent of immigration reform, claims that the executive order is an “unconstitutional action.”

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The Rich Are Winning -- Big

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

The Rich Are Winning -- Big

How much income do America’s households take in? How much do they have left after taxes? Do federal taxes leave the nation less or more unequal?

Questions don’t get much more basic than these. Or more complicated either.

How, for instance, do we define income? Everyone agrees, of course, that anything anyone collects from a paycheck should count as income. As should interest collected from a bank account or profits from the sale of an asset.

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Obamacare Started Accepting New Signups Again — And Four Good Things Happened

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

Obamacare Started Accepting New Signups Again — And Four Good Things Happened

The second open enrollment period for the health insurance law kicked off this past weekend to relatively little fanfare. After its highly publicized first round of enrollment, the law isn’t commanding quite as much attention this time around. That’s partly because fewer people are expected to sign up in 2015. And it also may reflect the fact that the general atmosphere surrounding enrollment is different now.

While the beginning of last year’s enrollment period was marked by catastrophic website glitches that prevented people from signing up, as well as general uncertainty about how the law was going to work, the outlook is a little brighter this year. Here are four pieces of good news going into the law’s second sign-up period:

1. There haven’t been major issues with HealthCare.gov so far.

While the first day of enrollment wasn’t altogether free of technological issues — some users had issues logging into their accounts, and others received inaccurate estimates for the subsidies available to help them buy plans — HealthCare.gov hasn’t had the same kind of major problems that plagued the site last year.

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If for No Other Reason, Raise the Wage for Veterans

If for No Other Reason, Raise the Wage for Veterans

Union Matters

Obamacare: Unconstitutional?

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has a somewhat checkered history.  On the one hand, there are decisions like Marbury v. Madison.  That case helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of our Federal government.  On the other hand, there are decisions which were much less commendable.  Dred Scott, anyone?

According to Talking Points Memo, reporters who cover the court are, are, as TPM put it, apoplectic.  Why?  SCOTUS agreed to hear a case that, if won by the plaintiffs, would effectively gut the Affordable Care Act.

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