Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Stop China’s Stealth Invasion

Stop China’s Stealth Invasion

A country claiming the greatest military on earth can’t be without some things. Steel is an obvious one.

In the age of drones, aluminum is another. Aluminum is essential for flying machines like the F-35 joint strike fighter and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, for armor plating on army vehicles and naval vessels and for countless infrastructure projects including bridges and roads.

Obviously, then, for the United States to retain top ranking, it must protect its aluminum industry. That industry, though, is under a two-pronged stealth attack from China. For more than a decade, the Chinese have ramped up their own aluminum production and dumped the excess on the world market, depressing prices and bankrupting Western producers. Now, a corrupt Chinese company that is under investigation by three U.S. agencies is trying to buy an American aluminum firm. To ensure national security, that must be stopped. America can’t be beholden to China for aluminum.

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North Carolina Bill Would Kick 133,000 People off of Food Stamps

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

For most people, the food stamps program is about fighting hunger.

For North Carolina state Sen. Ralph Hise (R), however, it seems to be about fighting the concept of unfairness — even if it means booting 133,000 human beings off of the food assistance rolls.

Hise defended the Republican senate leadership’s decision to rescind a 2010 expansion of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) eligibility by arguing that the current system, under which more people are less hungry, isn’t fair.

The 2010 rules make anyone who qualifies for another North Carolina poverty assistance program eligible for food stamps as well, for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. It’s a common policy known as broad-based or categorical eligibility, which streamlines the administrative process for poverty programs whose benefits come from federal dollars, not state budgets.

But to Hise, local NBC affiliate WRAL reports, that program creates a pernicious “double standard” for food assistance.

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America’s Biggest Employers Leave Their Hourly Workers out of Paid Family Leave

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Niko Walker has given Starbucks seven years of his hard work, moving up the ranks from barista to shift supervisor. As a transgender man, he was drawn to a company that promises good benefits and has telegraphed an acceptance of diverse employees. The company’s health insurance has even paid for medical expenses stemming from his transition thus far.

“Starbucks became important to me at a very early stage,” he said. “They’ve always been very supportive of me and who I am… That really drew me to the company.”

But if and when Walker decides to start a family, he’s worried the acceptance of who he is and what he needs could evaporate.

If Niko were a white collar employee working in Starbucks’s corporate headquarters, he would be able to take 12 weeks of fully paid time off for the arrival of his baby. As a male retail employee who may adopt, however, he won’t be offered any paid time off at all.

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Ex-Massey CEO Blankenship Leaves Prison, Starts Blaming Others for Fatal Upper Big Branch Blast

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

No sooner did Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Coal Company, leave federal prison after serving a year for violating mine safety laws – violations that led to the fatal explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine seven years ago -- than he started blaming almost everyone else. The sole exception: The 29 victims.

Needless to say, neither the Mine Workers, who at the request of the victims’ families joined federal investigators in probing the blast, nor top congressional Democrats on workers’ issues were pleased with Blankenship’s assertions.

Blankenship was convicted in federal court in West Virginia of willfully conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws. That was the heaviest count that could be lodged against him after the UBB explosion, since the federal Mine Safety and Health Act lacks felony criminal penalties for mine operators after such fatal blasts. 

Blankenship was sentenced to the year in jail and fined $250,000. He stepped out of jail on May 10 and started a tour of talk-radio programs to try to vindicate himself.

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Union Matters

Harvey Milk on the Cost of Humanity

Harvey Milk on the Cost of Humanity