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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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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The Opportunity To Reawaken The Progressive Majority

Isaiah J. Poole

Isaiah J. Poole Executive editor, OurFuture.org

It remains true, as we have asserted time and again using findings on our Populist Majority website, that the American majority is firmly populist and broadly progressive. But we have also seen time and again – most recently in this month’s elections – that people will vote based on their anxieties and fears in the absence of a more compelling message of hope and possibility.

The 2014 election results reveal a failure of Democrats to speak to the progressive populism latent in the American electorate. It is not simply, as some would have it, a failure of “messaging” – spiffier packaging of the products offered to voters. The product itself needs change: It must connect what voters see and understand about today’s America to the values of justice and equity they hold, and their aspirations for fairness and opportunity, so people have a transformative vision and a road map for transformation.

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How Walmart Destroyed U.S. Manufacturing

How Walmart Destroyed U.S. Manufacturing

By Molly McGrath and Brad Markell

Walmart has spent millions of dollars in the past two years on public relations promotions, advertising and conferences, trying to convince us that it, well, cares about America. From championing hiring veterans (which is noble, yes, but veterans deserve better than poverty wage jobs, and Walmart receives a substantial tax break for hiring them) to promoting “U.S. manufacturing,” the company has tried to evade the common sense of real, hardworking Americans by helping them forget Walmart was responsible for our manufacturing sector’s demise in the first place.

That’s why the Alliance for American Manufacturing’s petition to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has exposed the false claims by Walmart's supplier Element Electronics, that its TVs are "Assembled in America" is so important. There isn’t enough work being performed on Element’s TVs once they arrive in the United States from China in their boxes (already covered in American flags), to meet the standard prescribed by the FTC for “Assembled in America.” To meet it, the FTC says, a products’ “principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial.”

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A Collective Bargaining Agreement Guarantees Equal Pay

A Collective Bargaining Agreement Guarantees Equal Pay

Union Matters

Say No to Wage Suppression

In a letter to House and Senate leadership, the Trade Benefits America Coalition, a group of many of the nation's largest companies and their lobbying trade associations are pushing for bipartisan passage of updated Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as “Fast Track,” before year’s end.

The group includes the usual suspects of corporations that dodge paying their fair share of taxes and use their tax savings to fund dark money campaign expenditures through their trade association, which include:

National Foreign Trade Council

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Business Roundtable

U.S. Council for International Business

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