Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Outlaw Chinese Steel

Forged with the despicable dividend of stolen trade secrets, priced with monopoly collusion, then traded with fraudulent labeling to dodge U.S. duties, steel from China violates every principle of capitalism. That’s in addition to defying both U.S. and international trade laws.

It’s outlaw steel. And last week, U.S. Steel Corp. asked the U.S. government to outlaw its import.

U.S. Steel requested this unusual intervention after China hacked into its computers, ripped off trade secrets, then used those secrets to directly compete with U.S. Steel in the American market. China is flooding the international market with excess, government-subsidized steel. That is closing mills and killing jobs from South Africa to Great Britain to North America. The United States can choose to ignore this. It can become a weakling, reliant on other nations for steel, including some, like China, that clearly are not allies. Or, the United States can act now, as U.S. Steel demands, to secure America’s industrial strength and independence. 

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The Third Way: Share-the-Gains Capitalism

Robert Reich

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

Marissa Mayer tells us a lot about why Americans are so angry, and why anti-establishment fury has become the biggest single force in American politics today.

Mayer is CEO of Yahoo. Yahoo’s stock lost about a third of its value last year, as the company went from making $7.5 billion in 2014 to losing $4.4 billion in 2015. Yet Mayer raked in $36 million in compensation.

Even if Yahoo’s board fires her, her contract stipulates she gets $54.9 million in severance. The severance package was disclosed in a regulatory filing last Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In other words, Mayer can’t lose.

It’s another example of no-lose socialism for the rich — winning big regardless of what you do.

Why do Yahoo’s shareholders put up with it? Mostly because they don’t know about it.

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The Washington Post Says Doctors Without Borders Is Silly to Worry About the Impact of the TPP on Drug Prices

Dean Baker

Dean Baker Co-Director, Author, Center for Economic and Policy Research

The humanitarian group, Doctors Without Borders, along with many other NGOs involved in providing health care to people in the developing world, have come out in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) over concerns that the deal will make it more difficult to provide drugs to people in the developing world. Their argument is that it will raise drug prices by making patent protection stronger and longer and by making it more difficult for countries to scale back protections that they may come to view as excessive and wasteful.

But the Washington Post editorial board tells us not to fear, that the TPP is actually "a healthy agreement." The gist of its argument is an analysis by Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Thomas Bollyky, which finds that there were few incidents of large increases in drug prices for countries following the signing of previous trade deals. 

As I noted in a previous post, this analysis almost seemed designed not to find substantial rises in prices. Bollyky looked at changes in drugs prices immediately after a trade deal took effect. The problem with this approach is:

"In most cases, the rules in these agreements will only apply to new drugs, and even then to a subset of new drugs, for example patent protection for a drug that is a combination of already approved drugs. They may also allow for the extension of patent terms beyond the date where they would have expired under pre-trade deal rules, but here again the impact will only be felt gradually over time.

"Furthermore, the date of a trade deal with the United States may not be the key factor in pushing up drug prices. The United States signed a deal with South Korea in 2012 that required stronger patent and related protections, but most of these conditions were already law as of 2009 due to a trade agreement Korea signed with the European Union."

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An Open Letter to Verizon Wireless Customers: Don’t Cross the Picket Line

Sarita Gupta Executive Director, Jobs With Justice

If you live in the northeast, you’ve probably heard about the 39,000 men and women who walked off their jobs at Verizon and Verizon Wireless more than three weeks ago. While you may not have directly felt the impact of the strike yet, Isaac Collazo definitely has. The field technician has worked for Verizon for 19 years in New York. When asked how he can afford to go on strike and still support his three kids, he says “I can’t.” He adds, “It’s because of my boys that I have no choice but to strike.” After months of failed negotiations, the strike is the only way for the working people at Verizon to be heard by company executives.

For the rest of us, the question is whether we’re listening too.

Verizon doesn’t believe that people who work for a living ought to earn a living, and that’s why Isaac is risking his livelihood to stand up to corporate greed. Isaac and his co-workers want you to know that — no matter where you live — you can still play an important role in their struggle: please, don’t cross the picket line. In other words, whether you’re a current customer or not, don’t go into a Verizon Wireless store during the strike.

Why is respecting a picket line so important? Here are just a few reasons:

Working people strike not just for themselves but for others in similar positions.

No one wants to go on strike. It puts an immense amount of financial stress on striking employees and their families. Just this past week, Verizon ended health-care coverage for the strikers, and they haven’t received a paycheck since walking out on April 13.

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Make It a Union-Made Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is less than a week away (May 8), so you have no excuse for waiting until the last minute to find a nice tribute for mom that also carries the union label. Our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, can help you out.

If you want to go the traditional route with some top-of-the-line chocolates, take a look at these from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Chocolates

  • Ghirardelli
  • Hershey's
  • Russell Stover
  • See’s Candies

If she deserves a little pampering, try health and beauty products made by UFCW and UAW members.

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It's Funny Because It's True...

It's Funny Because It's True...

Union Matters

One Year Later, Seattle’s Raising Wages, Not Prices

Seattle began the first phase of its plan to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour last April, putting it on track to have the highest minimum wage in the country. Now, a year later, new data shows that the local economy has continued humming along, despite the change.

Critics of raising the minimum wage warned of dire consequences: that costs would spike and there would be an exodus of jobs from the area. Nearly two-thirds of businesses surveyed directly after the new minimum wage ordinance passed said they would have to raise prices to keep up.

Yet a year into the project, there is no indication that the Seattle economy has been ravished by the incremental increase to the minimum wage, and last month, a report from researchers at the University of Washington found “little or no evidence of price increases in Seattle relative to the surrounding areas.” 

When the Seattle City Council approved the new minimum wage, to be instituted gradually until it reaches $15 in 2021, it also commissioned the University of Washington researchers to monitor the effects of the increase

Their preliminary findings show that prices at grocery stores, gas stations, apartments and retail establishments have all remained steady.

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