Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

New Rules

New Rules

Some of the biggest banks in the world are expected to plead guilty to felonies this week.  Felonies! They are scandalous crimes, too: fraud and antitrust violations.

Finally, America will see members of the class that crashed the economy dressed in black and white suits that are hardly the Brooks Brothers pinstripes to which they’ve grown accustomed.  

Oh, wait, no. The New York Times says these felons will just pay some fines and go about their business of playing roulette with the world economy. Of course they won’t face prison like normal criminals. They’re bankers! Members of the exclusive Too Big to Jail Club. They’re protected. Just like millionaires and CEOs are. A CEO can, for example, be fired for failing to produce but still get $21 million in severance, then lose a well-financed race for U.S. Senate and still be considered a viable presidential candidate. That’s because the rules are written for them. The economy currently is constructed to ensure their enrichment. 

More ...

Third Year of Korea FTA Data Released, Show Failure of Obama’s ‘More Exports, More Jobs’ Trade Pact Promises, Further Burdening Fast Track Prospects

Ben Beachy

Ben Beachy Research Director, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

Today’s release of U.S. government trade data covering the full first three years of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (FTA) reveals that the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea has more than doubled. In addition, today’s U.S. Census Bureau data show Korea FTA outcomes that are the opposite of the Obama administration’s “more exports, more jobs” promise for that pact, which it is now repeating with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as it tries to persuade Congress to delegate Fast Track authority for the TPP.

U.S. goods exports to Korea have dropped 6 percent, or $2.7 billion, under the Korea FTA’s first three years, while goods imports from Korea have surged 19 percent, or $11.3 billion (comparing the deal’s third year to the year before implementation). As a result, the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea has swelled 104 percent, or more than $14 billion. The trade deficit increase equates to the loss of more than 93,000 American jobs in the first three years of the Korea FTA, counting both exports and imports, according to the trade-jobs ratio that the Obama administration used to project gains from the deal.

More ...

Five Things Ben Carson Doesn’t Get

Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath Online Producer, Campaign for America’s Future

Two more candidates joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday. Of the two, retired brain surgeon Ben Carson is the one likely to have the most impact. That makes it frightening how much Carson just doesn’t get.

Carson went back to his roots to announce his candidacy for the nomination. On an auditorium stage in Detroit — his estranged hometown — he recounted his troubled, poverty-stricken childhood and then launched into a speech that revealed just how much he doesn’t get, for a guy who wants to be president.

What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About The Safety Net

Carson’s humble upbringing is an important part of his narrative. His rise to becoming one of the top neurosurgeons in the country and a best-selling author is impressive because it starts in the poverty-stricken streets of Detroit and a fatherless home headed by a single mother with little education. Carson attempted to preemptively rebut those who would point out that his childhood experience of poverty doesn’t seem to inform his political positions.

More ...

What We’re Arguing about When We’re Arguing about Trade Deals.

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

One problem in this whole debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership is that we lose the forest for the trees. We end up arguing about trade deals—and worse, a deal almost no one has read (because it’s negotiated in secret)—as opposed to the broader underlying issues of the economic impact of trade from the perspective of what matters most: growth, jobs, wages, incomes, and inequality.

I draw that distinction because what follows is not about politics. Many players in this debate form their views based on perceived labor or corporate interests, or the fact that their constituents are convinced, often legitimately, that prior trade deals have hurt them. That’s not what I’m thinking about here. What follows is instead is my brief take on the economic questions invoked by the debate. For a deeper dive into much of what’s here, see Chapter 5 in the Reconnection Agenda (I’m not saying it’s any good, but I will say that I spent a lot of time trying to make some of the less intuitive parts of this as clear as possible.)

There’s trade and then there’s trade deficits: Economists and the punditry typically pull for more trade because its benefits are well known: greater supplies of goods (and thus lower prices), the opportunities for trading partners to produce and sell more of the goods and services in which they specialize, greater interdependence between countries, the opportunity for developing countries to spur their development.

More ...

How the New Flexible Economy Is Making Workers' Lives Hell

Robert Reich

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

How the New Flexible Economy Is Making Workers' Lives Hell

These days it's not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she's not needed right then.

Although she's already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won't be paid for it.

Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum.

Software can now predict up-to-the-minute staffing needs on the basis of information such as traffic patterns, weather, and even sales merely hours or possibly minutes before.

This way, employers don't need to pay anyone to be at work unless they're really needed. Companies can avoid paying wages to workers who'd otherwise just sit around.

More ...

Minimum Wage vs Maximum Wage

Minimum Wage vs Maximum Wage

Union Matters

Fantasy Politics

Bashing liberals is a time-honored sport on the far right.  Bashing the Clintons can therefore legitimately be compared to fantasy baseball.  In each of these, one can construct one’s own reality, related to facts no more than one wishes.

A major-league example of Clinton bashing is the book Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweizer, founder of the Government Accountability Institute.  Mr. Schweizer is a conservative with a history of getting it wrong.  According to Media Matters, his most recent work continues that tradition.

Right-wing snark of recent years, like the purple-heart Band-Aids that mocked John Kerry’s Presidential candidacy in 2004, has often been funded by uber-wealthy conservatives.  In the case of Clinton Cash, the folks behind the screen are, apparently, the Koch Brothers.

These siblings are no slouches when it comes to keeping conservative causes afloat; their efforts have included bankrolling the campaign to prevent the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  Operating as they do so far under the radar, the Koch Brothers’ efforts to distort the information that underlies our electoral process might seem almost impossible to overcome.  But they’re mot.

Not even the Koch Brothers have enough money to outstrip the votes of millions of motivated Americans.

***

To submit a blog to Union Matters, e-mail it to bstack@usw.org. Keep it to 250 words or fewer. You MUST include your full name, hometown, and state. You may attach a photograph of yourself. Please include a phone number. This WILL NOT be published. Posting any given blog is within the discretion of the USW. No blog using foul language (this is a family site), false information (we don’t want to get sued), or unnecessary personal attacks (again, we don’t want to get sued) will be used. Wait a reasonable period of time, then blog again!

More ...