Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Anti-Presidential: Money Grubbing, Community Disdaining Candidates

Anti-Presidential: Money Grubbing, Community Disdaining Candidates
Art on Flickr by DonkeyHotey

Donald Trump says exactly what the GOP believes. It’s a simple axiom: personal wealth accumulation is everything. Republican Party officials believe individuals like The Donald attain riches through their own guts, glory and gumption with not an iota of aid from community, country or, frankly, inherited wealth. 

It’s just that when The Donald expresses their credo, he ignores the shinola and emphasizes the crass. Instead of going with the slick 2012 GOP convention theme, “I built that,” to aggrandize individual capitalist conquest, The Donald slammed a group of his primary competitors for serving their nation instead of themselves.

What The Donald failed to acknowledge is that some of them, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, serve themselves through their so-called public service. This year, for example, Walker took a quarter billion dollars from Wisconsin higher education, gave it instead to a project by billionaire sports team owners to construct a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, and now one of those rich guys, Jon Hammes, co-chairs Walker’s national campaign fund raising.

It’s a brilliant scam. The Donald, master of bankruptcies with four under his belt, really should be impressed. Walker is forcing the great majority of Wisconsin workers to pay taxes, not for projects they prize like schools or highways, but instead to further enrich millionaires who, in turn, fill Walker’s campaign pockets!  

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What Makes ‘The Donald’ Special and Dangerous

Carl Davidson

Carl Davidson Author and Writer, Beaver County Blue

Donald Trump is a unique guy in many ways—goofy hair, a four-time boom-and-bust devotee of our bankruptcy laws, and a multi-billionaire able to run for president on his own bank account.

My Dad, rest his soul, used to have a kind word for candidates like this. In his day, it was a Rockefeller. ‘At least you know he can’t be bought. He’s the one that does the buying.’

But here’s one item that takes the cake. If you visit Trump’s presidential-run web site, at least today, at donaldjtrump.com, you may notice something interesting.

There’s no ‘issues’ tab to click.

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Members Of Congress Introduce Largest Minimum Wage Hike Yet

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Members Of Congress Introduce Largest Minimum Wage Hike Yet

Last week, members of Congress introduced a national increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) along with Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison (MN), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus released details of the legislation after a morning event that day.

A $15 minimum wage hike marks a significant increase from past Democratic bills to raise it. In his 2013 State of the Union, President Obama called for an increase to $9 an hour. Some lawmakers went further a month later with a bill that would have raised it to $10.10 an hour. Then earlier this year, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) got closer to the $15 mark when they introduced a bill raising it to $12 an hour by 2020. Their bill also would phase out the lower minimum wage for tipped employees and automatically increase the wage as median wages rise. Details are not yet available on whether the Sanders and CPC bill will eliminate the tipped wage and when it would take effect.

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Big News to Report on the CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratio Disclosure Rules

Heather Slavkin Corzo

Heather Slavkin Corzo AFL-CIO

After continued pressure from you and tens of thousands of people across the country, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could finally be voting on implementing a rule requiring big companies to reveal their CEO-to-worker pay ratios as early as August.

It’s about time. Five years ago, this rule was passed as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street reform bill. But because of lobbying by CEOs, the SEC has sat on forcing corporations to disclose their CEO-to-worker pay ratios.

CEOs and their lobbyists are going to run a full-court press to stop the SEC from approving this commonsense rule—so we need to tell the SEC to do the right thing.

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Unions Are One Answer To Making The Economy Work For The 99 Percent

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

A panel at the Netroots Nation in Phoenix, “Unions as the Answer to the Defining Issue of our Time,” made the point that empowering unions is about more than just the workers having a path to the middle class; it is about strengthening the entire economy.

The panel was moderated by Seema Nanda, deputy chief of staff to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. On the panel were Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Frank Piccioli, President of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2960 with the City of Phoenix and Arizona EMS Workers United; Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress, and Naomi Walker, who serves as an assistant to the president of AFSCME.

The panel’s description set the stage:

It’s no accident that corporate-backed politicians have been on the attack against unions. They know what we have known for a long time: joining a union is one of the best ways to un-rig the system and level the playing field for all workers. After decades of these attacks, wages are dropping, inequality is rising – and women, communities of color, and the millennial generation still face especially steep hurdles in today’s economy. The system is rigged. This panel will explore what the labor movement is doing to reverse these trends and what challenges lie ahead. There’s no doubt that strong unions are a key part of the solution to income inequality, the only question is how workers will organize a winning movement in the face of corporate-funded attacks.

Neera Tanden described how all income gains in the economy have been going to the top. One third of the stagnation and decline in wages in men is due to the decline of unions – down to 11 percent of the total workforce and less than 7 percent of the private-sector workforce. This is a challenge for the economy writ large, a challenge for families, people struggling with stagnant wages and rising costs. Other countries have figured this out. Unionization rates of up to 40 percent in countries like Canada and Australia allow people to have wage gains. In hard times, not just workers bear all the risk.

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Fishy Policy

Fishy Policy

Union Matters

A Wage Victory for All Workers

Last week, the New York Wage Board recommended that the governor approve a $15 minimum wage for the state’s fast food workers. If Gov. Andrew Cuoco agrees, wages will gradually increase to at least that amount by 2021, making it nearly equal to what the minimum wage was in the 1960s.

This is a victory through and through. It should be applauded. It should also be noted that this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what needs to be done. All workers, of all skill levels, deserve a basic standard of living. The current federal minimum wage, $7.25, does not allow for that.

Although this is a victory for fast food employees, many other workers are left behind. The recommendation only impacts the fast food industry, meaning low-wage workers in a slew of other industries are passed over. Day care workers, nursing home assistants and nannies are still left wondering when they, too, will receive the same respect and dignity, the same right to live and pay their bills.

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