Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Killing Uncle AL

Specialty metals manufacturer ATI reinvented itself in recent years. Instead of serving as a vital organ in the dozen communities where it operates mills, it decided to be a boil, blight - a bane upon civic life in six states.

Communities once cherished their ATI specialty mills and the feeling was reciprocated. Managers knew mill workers by name, lived in the same towns and fulfilled civic responsibilities. The mills contributed to scout troops and fire departments. Townspeople referred to the plants as Uncle AL, for Allegheny Ludlum, the name before its Aug. 15, 1996 merger with Teledyne that created ATI.

But now ATI is butchering that time-honored relationship.  It has demanded tax abatements and special electrical rates and forced excessive overtime on weary workers. Its disdain for civic engagement is most clearly demonstrated by its decision to unlawfully lock its 2,200 skilled union workers out of their jobs on Aug. 15 despite the Steelworkers’ willingness to continue working. By wasting untold millions on security guards and highly paid, but inexperienced replacement workers, ATI has finished converting itself from a pillar of the community into a pariah.

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In Search of Our First Trillionaire

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

White House hopeful Bernie Sanders has been doing his best lately to place America’s “billionaire class” right at the center of the nation’s political discourse. But Phoenix-based attorney Bob Lord would like to see the nation start contemplating the next chapter in the ongoing concentration of America’s wealth: the emergence of our first trillionaires.

Lord doesn’t stand alone. Other observers also see trillionaires — billionaires a thousand times over — in our future. Last year, for instance, CNBC explored whether America’s first trillionaire might arrive in time for that network’s 2039 50th anniversary.

But Lord may be doing more than any other analyst to track the trends bringing trillionaires ever closer. As both an estate planner and an engaged political activist, he has sat front-row to those trends, and his thoughts on them have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Arizona Republic, and a wide variety of other media outlets.

Lord currently serves as an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. I’ve just interviewed him on our trillionaire future for Too Much, the Institute’s monthly on excess and inequality.

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Breaking News: The Rich Discover Inequality

Jeff Faux

Jeff Faux Author, The Servant Economy

Breaking News: The Rich Discover Inequality

After forty years of rising income and wealth inequality, some of America's rich seem worried that maybe things have gone too far. In a recent New York Times Op Ed (August 9), for example, Peter Georgescu, CEO emeritus of the multinational public relations firm, Young and Rubicon, wrote that he is "scared" of a backlash that might lead to social unrest or "oppressive taxes."

The Times was so impressed with such enlightened views from this prominent capitalist that a few days later they devoted another long article with his answers to questions submitted by readers.

We should, I suppose, be grateful that Georgescu seems to understand that the gap between the rising value of what American workers produce and the stagnation of their wages has channeled the benefits of economic growth to shareholders (and, he might have added, but didn't, corporate CEOs). But if you are waiting for him and other members of his class to get serious about the problem, don't hold your breath.

Georgescu writes that he would like to see corporations pay their workers a fair wage. But with few exceptions, they don't. He doesn't tell us why, but the reason is obvious -- paying workers less has made their owners and top executives rich.

So, what to do?

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Georgia County Admits To Illegally Disenfranchising Voters

Alice Ollstein Political Reporter, Think Progress

Georgia County Admits To Illegally Disenfranchising Voters

Fulton County, Georgia admitted to illegally disenfranchising and misleading voters in the 2008 and 2012 elections in a settlement this month. For more than two dozen violations of state law — including improperly rejecting eligible ballots and sending voters to the wrong precincts — the county will pay a fine of $180,000. To make sure the problems do not continue in the future, the county has promised to spend an additional $200,000 on new training software for their poll workers.

Voting rights advocates who focus on the region, including Julie Houk with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, praised the Secretary of State for investigating the violations but questioned whether the punishment fits the crime.

“What’s going to happen to that money?” she asked ThinkProgress. “How is the state going to use it? Is it wise to make the county pay a very large civil penalty in light of the economic crunch many of these counties are in? I wonder why a settlement couldn’t have been reached to set aside the money for remedial training to make sure the issues don’t happen again.”

The county, which includes Atlanta, has a heavily African American voting population and leans progressive, voting overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. As detailed in the new settlement, county elections officials misinformed the precincts of who was coming to vote and when, failed to provide absentee ballots to voters who requested them, and failed to put voters who registered on time on the rolls, among other violations. The head of Fulton County’s elections office was fired last year, which she credits to her refusal to cover up the improper purging of voters in 2012.

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Wait, What?

Wait, What?

Union Matters

The Wackiness of Enclosing the United States in Border Walls

Late in August, Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin appeared to try to thumb a ride on Donald Trump’s coattails.  Walker’s statements lacked the overt xenophobia that Trump seems to cultivate.  There was, for example, no mention of murderers or rapists.  But like Trump, Walker put forward the idea of a wall.  Trouble was, Walker envisioned a wall, not along the border between Mexico and the United States, but between Canada and us.

Walker claimed that law enforcement officials had concerns about the world’s longest unarmed border.  According to the Wisconsin governor, those officials saw our border with Canada as a possible source of a sort of “commuter crime.” with wrongdoers travelling back and forth with ease.  Such ideas are, in my opinion, ludicrous.

I lived and worked in Canada for a year, teaching at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Halifax is an active, busy sea port; the capital of the province; and an urbane, multicultural environment.  My time there was completely comfortable, enjoyable and safe.  Not once in those months did I feel myself to be in danger.

Not only Halifax, but Canada in general refute the idea that multi-culturalism is dangerous, and a possible precursor to crime and even terrorism.  If a wall on the United States – Mexico border is ludicrous, how much more so would one on our northern border be?

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