Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

No More Trickle-Down Trade Deals

Free trade be damned.

People don’t need any more free trade. They need jobs. And not just any jobs. They need good jobs with living wages and decent benefits.

That’s what negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico must prioritize as they begin talks this week to rewrite the reviled and failed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Negotiators must focus on improving the lives of people, not boosting the profits of corporations.

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Trump Agrees to Pay Key Obamacare Subsidies, Extending its Lifeline

Amanda Michelle Gomez

Amanda Michelle Gomez ThinkProgress

Everyone and their doctor has asked President Donald Trump to continue funding Obamacare cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. After flirting with eliminating these payments to insurance companies, he finally agreed to pay them for the month of August. A White House spokesman told multiple news sources on Wednesday that the Trump administration will make the payment.

Under current law, insurance companies need to provide CSR subsidies to enrollees who make between 100 and 250 percent of the poverty line (that’s about $12,060 to $30,150 for an individual).  CSR is one of two types of subsidies offered to low-income people who purchase plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. Unlike premium tax credits that are administered through the tax code, the federal government directly reimburses insurers for providing these CSR subsidies to help cover the costs of deductibles and co-payments.

The Congressional Budget Office released a reportTuesday that said if Trump cuts CSR payments, premiums for benchmark plans would rise 20 percent the next year and about 25 percent by 2020. Additionally it would cost the federal government, namely taxpayers, about $194 billion over 10 years.

 Due to a lawsuit filed by the House of Representatives during the Obama administration, paying insurers directly has been a point of contention for years now. The House claimed that federal payments to insurers was unconstitutional, and the Obama administration had been forced to fight the legality of the ACA provision in court ever since. The Trump administration inherited the legal battle.
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We Still Haven’t Recovered Well-Paying Construction and Manufacturing Jobs

Robert E Scott

Robert E Scott Senior Economist, Economic Policy Institute

The economy has added 8.2 million jobs in the private sector since the Great Recession began in December 2007, but creation of construction and manufacturing jobs continues to lag. These industries are important to workers because they provide good jobs and high wages (that are even better if the workers are unionized). They are also some of the highest paying jobs for people without a bachelor’s degree. In July 2017, there were still 1.9 million fewer workers in construction and manufacturing than at the start of the Great Recession.

Construction $29.70 $29.70<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}"> $9.03 $9.03<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}">
Manufacturing $30.52 $30.52<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}">  $9.14 $9.14<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}">
All industries that have gained jobs $25.24 $25.24<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}"> $5.79 $5.79<\/strong>","labelcolor":"white","showlabel":true}">
$38.73$39.66$31.03Benefits:$9.03$9.14$5.79Wages:$29.70$30.52$25.24ConstructionManufacturingAll industries that havegained jobs01020304050

Source: EPI analysis of BLS Current Employment Statistics and Employment Cost Trends public data series.

Industries such as hospitality, health care, temporary help services, and other professional business services that have gained jobs since the beginning of the recession pay substantially less than construction and manufacturing industries. Hourly pay in job-gaining industries is $25.24 on average, versus $29.70 in construction and $30.52 in manufacturing. Total compensation (which includes both wages and all benefits) in job-gaining industries is $31.03, while compensation in construction and manufacturing is $38.73 and $39.66, respectively, 24.8 percent to 27.8 percent more than in job gaining industries.

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Undocumented DREAMers Mark 5th Anniversary of DACA with Fear and Hope

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

It’s been five years since the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative granted undocumented immigrants the ability to receive temporary deportation relief and work authorization. In this time, upwards of 800,000 immigrants have began their first jobs, opened their first bank account, bought cars and other major consumer products, and contributed millions of dollars in taxes to the country.

Year after year, the program has come under successive waves of attacks from Republican lawmakers who say the program was an executive overreach by then-President Barack Obama. With a Democrat president and a Democrat-controlled Senate, the threats to rescind DACA without the promise to carve out a pathway to citizenship for so-called DREAMers have always remained largely empty. But now, the program is at an inflection point where it could end immediately. There already is a looming legal challenge against the White House by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and nine other state lawmakers to stop DACA by September 5. On the other side however, the program enjoys broad defense from at least 20 state attorney generals and more than 100 law professors across the country.

The fate of the program is clearly unclear: President Donald Trump promised to rescind any executive actions from his predecessor, but he also has said he would treat these so-called DREAMers “with heart.” In June, a White House official told Reuters that “no final determination has been made” about the future of the program.  With less than one month until Paxton’s deadline, Trump has remained mum so far.

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Union Matters

NAFTA Must be Fought from the Ground Up

A group of local labor leaders, activists, and politicians met in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to take part in a forum regarding NAFTA renegotiations, which were set to begin this week in Washington. Of course, the main focus was how to rework the free trade deal to instead be fair for all workers instead of favoring CEOs.

“It’s urgent that workers’ voices be heard,” said USW President Leo W. Gerard. “If the agreement is renegotiated and doesn’t meet the standard that workers have a voice, we’ll have a very aggressive campaign to stop this new NAFTA.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey also touched on one point that perhaps many in the debate tend to miss, which is that NAFTA can't just be reworded with the hope that it solves all of our economic problems. The countries must also tackle policies put in place outside of the failed trade deal in all three nations involved—the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

One of these things, Casey pointed out, is tax reform. As of now, there is no financial incentive to keep U.S. companies operating on U.S. soil. Our tax code does the opposite and encourages them instead to ship jobs overseas and into Mexico.

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A New NAFTA for Workers

A New NAFTA for Workers