Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Ms. Peaches The Voting Lady Explains How to Soft Talk a Texas Voter

If you think Texas is a red state, you have not met Almeda Dent. She is a political whirlwind. She is a voting dynamo. She is 67, a retired member of USW Local 2083 in Houston, and now working 24 hours a day to ensure Texas shows what she believes are its true blue colors at the polls this fall. 

She is in Philadelphia this week as a delegate for Hillary Clinton, attending daytime meetings with the USW and working the convention floor at night because, as she explained to me, her goal is to get as many Democrats elected as possible, up and down the ticket.

Now, every TV commentator I know will tell you Texas is a red state. But Almeda, who lives there, and knows the people and the community, says that’s not so. Though it votes red now, she says the un-voting majority soul of the state is blue. So she wants to register voters and get them to the polls and change the tide in the state.

Her interest in politics goes way back, to when she was a student at Texas Southern University in 1969. She double majored in political science and computer science. She left after three years to take a job at Texas Instruments, and then moved to Reed Tools, where she joined the USW. There she was elected secretary to the local union and received training from the AFL-CIO, which furthered her political skills and activism. 

More ...

Does Hillary Get It?

Robert Reich

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

Does Hillary Clinton understand that the biggest divide in American politics is no longer between the right and the left, but between the anti-establishment and the establishment?

I worry she doesn’t — at least not yet.

A Democratic operative I’ve known since the Bill Clinton administration told me “now that she’s won the nomination, Hillary is moving to the middle. She’s going after moderate swing voters.”

Presumably that’s why she tapped Tim Kaine to be her vice president. Kaine is as vanilla middle as you can get.

In fairness, Hillary is only doing what she knows best. Moving to the putative center is what Bill Clinton did after the Democrats lost the House and Senate in 1994 — signing legislation on welfare reform, crime, trade and financial deregulation that enabled him to win reelection in 1996 and declare “the era of big government” over.

In those days a general election was like a competition between two hot-dog vendors on a boardwalk extending from right to left. Each had to move to the middle to maximize sales. (If one strayed too far left or right, the other would move beside him and take all sales on rest of the boardwalk.)

But this view is outdated. Nowadays, it’s the boardwalk versus the private jets on their way to the Hamptons.

More ...

NLRB Rules Unions Can Organize Temps Doing Same Jobs as Permenant Workers Without Employers’ OK

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

WASHINGTON (PAI)—In a decision that kicks another employer anti-union dodge in the head, the National Labor Relations Board voted 2-1 on July 12 to let unions organize temporary workers at a job site who are doing the same jobs as permanent workers there, without getting the employers’ approval in advance. That applies to part-timers, too.

In a case involving the Sheet Metal Workers organizing drive among temps at Miller & Andersen, also known as Tradesmen International, in Monessen, Pa., the board’s majority said it was returning to the plain language of the National Labor Relations Act and to more than 40 years of NLRB precedents – precedents overturned by a GOP-majority board in 2004.

The decision is important because many employers, in order to dodge labor law and organizing drives, hire workers as temps to toil side by side with full-time permanent workers who perform exactly the same tasks. The old decision, Oakwood, said unions could organize the temps only if they got an OK from both the regular employer and the temp agency.

Needless to say, such a dual approval from employers rarely, if ever, happens.

The new ruling’s important point is whether the temps and the permanent workers share “a community of interest,” which is labor law’s general standard for deciding whether a specific group of workers can vote to unionize or not. If they don’t share such interests, they can’t ordinarily be combined. If they do, all can vote for or against the union.

Since the temps and the permanent workers share such interests, they all can vote for the union, the board majority said.

More ...

Obama Debunks Trump’s Politics Of Fear

Aaron Rupar

Aaron Rupar ThinkProgress

President Obama devoted part of his speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention to debunking the fearful brand of politics Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is selling to the American people.

“Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill.’ Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix,” Obama said. “It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.”

Illegal immigration and crime are two centerpieces of Trump’s campaign. Trump has asserted both are are worsening problems in the country, routinely saying things like, “A nation without borders is no nation at all” and “Crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse.”

But the data and research provides no support for either notion. Studies show immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Furthermore, the number of undocumented immigrants in the country actually peaked in 2007 and has remained relatively flat for the last half-decade.

More ...

What A Party Platform Says, and Means

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

We were originally going to use this column to discuss how the two political party conventions reveal the soul – or lack of it – of the Democrats and the Republicans. But on second thought, and after reading through the entire texts of both, we’ve got a better source for that mantle: The parties’ platforms.

Yes, we know, party platforms are usually filed and forgotten. Indeed, even presidential nominees have been known on many occasions to disregard them during the campaign and to reverse course completely once they achieve office.

Workers have only to remember Barack Obama’s promises about renegotiating job-losing trade pacts – and what he did once he took office – to get that point.

Still, the platforms are an even better index, because they reflect not just the views of the nominee, but of the party faithful, and particularly of its officeholders. So reading the platforms will tell you – as it did us – what policies the parties intend to impose should they win.

For workers, it’s no contest. 

More ...

The More You Know...Russian Edition

The More You Know...Russian Edition

Union Matters

A Lame Duck Vote on TPP Would Leave Americans Feeling Cheated

Hugh J. Campbell

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

President Obama vilified Donald Trump’s lifelong behavior of leaving people with the feeling of being cheated. President Obama, what about your signing TPP into law after passage during the lame-duck session? Candidates Clinton, Trump and Stein all oppose TPP versus Johnson who recently flipped to favor TPP.

President Obama squarely placed Trump’s status as a “homegrown demagogue” in a lineup of other threats to the American democratic experiment. However, based on following quote Trump’s rise can be squarely placed on the shoulders of Presidents Clinton, Bush-43 and Obama:

“One thing I don't like about the consequences of sustained large trade deficits is I think it makes the potential for demagoguery and really foolish policies more likely over time.” – Warren Buffett

More ...