Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Bad Trade

Bad Trade
Photo of Save Our Steel Jobs rally in Pittsburgh in May 2014 by Chelsey Engel

Sucker punched by massive, illegally subsidized imports, American steel producers laid off thousands of workers in bedrock communities from Ohio and Illinois to Texas and Alabama.

That’s in just the past three months.

The families of furloughed workers are struggling to pay mortgage bills. The communities, losing tax dollars, are canceling needed road work. The companies are talking about the similarities between now and the 1990s when half of the nation’s steel firms disappeared. Members of the Congressional Steel Caucus are worrying about the effect on national security if America can’t make its own steel for guns and tanks.

Virtually everyone who testified last week at a Congressional hearing on the state of steel fingered bad trade as the culprit in the current collapse. Lawmakers, steel company executives, industry group leaders and a vice president of the United Steelworkers (USW) union all agreed on this. Foreign firms, particularly those operating in non-capitalist countries, are violating international trade regulations. Those rules also require American companies, communities and workers to forfeit a pound of flesh before trade enforcement can occur. They’re failing America.

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Now We Know Why Huge TPP Trade Deal Is Kept Secret From the Public

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Now We Know Why Huge TPP Trade Deal Is Kept Secret From the Public

A key section of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has been leaked to the public. The New York Times has a major story on the contents of the leaked chapter, and it's as bad as many of us feared.

Now we know why the corporations and the Obama administration want the TPP, a huge "trade" agreement being negotiated between the United States and 11 other countries, kept secret from the public until it's too late to stop it.

The section of the TPP that has leaked is the "Investment" chapter that includes investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses. WikiLeaks has the text and analysis, and the Times has the story, in "Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S.":

An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment "expectations" and hurt their business, according to a classified document.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a cornerstone of Mr. Obama's remaining economic agenda -- would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings -- federal, state or local -- before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

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Adjuncts Struggle to Unionize at a Liberal College

Michelle M. Tokarczyk Professor

Adjuncts Struggle to Unionize at a Liberal College

Adjunct Action Day on February 25 highlighted the working conditions of adjuncts, who make up about 70% of the American professoriate. Adjuncts usually make $20,000–$25,000 a year, often by teaching courses at various institutions each semester. They have no job security, and frequently receive no health or retirement benefits. But they have begun fighting to improve their lot. SEIU is organizing in several states. In the Baltimore/ DC area it has formed adjunct faculty unions at several colleges and universities, Georgetown and American University among them. At Goucher College in Baltimore, SEIU is struggling to have a pro-union vote recognized by the administration.

For the past 25 years I’ve taught at this small liberal arts college that purports to value inclusion and fairness. We value diversity in staff, faculty, and students. We do anti-racist work. Yet approximately 60% of our faculty are adjuncts—lower than the national average, but shockingly high for an expensive selective college. When SEIU came to Goucher with the goal of representing full-, part-, and half-time adjuncts, the College’s values were put to the test, and the College failed.

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Obama: Republicans Are ‘Motivated, Principally, By Opposing Whatever It Is That I Propose’

Natasha Geiling

Natasha Geiling Climate Reporter, Think Progress

In an interview with VICE founder Shane Smith, President Obama called climate change an example of one of the hardest problems to solve, warning that there eventually comes a point of no return.

“You have to make sure that you get at this thing quick enough and with enough force to be able to make a difference,” Obama said, noting that climate change is an especially difficult problem to tackle because it requires immediate sacrifices for a long term payoff.

In the 18-minute interview, Obama dedicated the first six minutes to climate change, saying that he wanted the country to think of climate change as an immediate and serious problem, a shift in national conscience that could be difficult considering that more than half of Congressional Republicans question or deny the science associated with human-caused climate change, according to research conducted by the CAP Action Fund.

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Tell Your Congressman: No Fast Track for Trade Deals!

Tell Your Congressman: No Fast Track for Trade Deals!

Union Matters

Stop the Bleeding of Manufacturing Jobs!

Our legislators have failed to address and police our trade laws. They’ve allowed China's runaway currency manipulation and unfair government subsidies, as well as unfair dumping of products. All of this has plunged U.S. manufacturing and the U.S. economy into the current poor position.

We are watching some in Congress promote fast track trade authority that could once again create a sucking of manufacturing and jobs across our borders. Some in Congress want fast track authority to quickly approve due a questionable Asian trade agreement called Trans-Pacific Partnership. It would be a trade pact with Japan and a dozen other countries that have close ties with China.

It's time to stop the bleeding of manufacturing and jobs! Call your representative in both chambers. Stop the hemorrhaging, grow our economy!

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