Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

An Infrastructure Con

The administration’s infrastructure proposal, released this week, is a shift from Donald Trump’s campaign pledges, a shirk of the funding burden, and a stop to government construction projects serving the public good.

Candidate Trump boasted that he would double what his opponent Hillary Clinton said she’d spend on infrastructure. But the scheme released by the Trump administration this week not only fails to do that, it would rob vital and cherished social safety net programs to pay for a pittance of improvements.

It is nothing but a con.

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The Meaning of America

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?

Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians.

Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.

Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders. 

Trump encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty. 

But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law. 

We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that “to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.”

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The Koch Klan is funding a stealthy war against the principle of the Common Good

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

What’s happening to America? I mean the big America we thought we were building. Since 1776, We the People of this bountiful land have not only worked to meet our individual needs and achieve personal goals, but we’ve also worked collectively to build something that’s much bigger than any one of us, more important than any particular group, and more enduring than any single generation–namely, a “little-d” democratic society committed to the Common Good.

And, yes, we’re still a long way from achieving that ideal, but by fits and starts our nation has made real progress, thanks to 242 years of gutsy grassroots movements. Today, though, we need to face up to a shocking reality: There has been a coup against our national pursuit of the Common Good!

Few people are aware of it, for the coup has not been conducted as a single, bold, commando-style frontal assault. Rather, since the middle of the last century the perpetrators have mounted a sneaky, slow motion coup of attrition, moving methodically from one political venue to another, donning multiple organizational guises to strike down a law here, reverse a public policy there, demonize “others,” and ambush progressive groups all along the way. Consequently, over decades, the essential American idea that “we’re all in this together” has been steadily losing out to a diametrically opposed idea: “Each of us is on our own.

This bleak outlook is even recognized as a formal political doctrine: selfish individualism. Basically an ethic of greed, this “philosophy” is being advanced by a plutocratic elite that insists that the role of government is not to promote our common interests and do the will of the majority, but to protect the property and accumulated wealth of moneyed individuals from the rest of us. They are anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-union, anti-majority radicals who militantly declare: “I got mine, good luck getting yours and don’t even think of touching any of mine.”

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Trump Administration Should Rescind Proposal That Allows Bosses to Pocket Working People's Tips

As we previously reported, President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced a new proposed regulation to allow restaurant owners to pocket the tips of millions of tipped workers. This would result in an estimated $5.8 billion in lost wages for workers each year―wages that they rightfully earned.

And most of that would come from women’s pockets. Nearly 70% of tipped workers are women, and a majority of them work in the restaurant industry, which suffers from some of the highest rates of sexual harassment in the entire labor market. This rule would exacerbate sexual harassment because workers will now depend on the whims of owners to get their tips back.

In a letter to Congress, the AFL-CIO opposed the rule change in the strongest possible terms, calling for the proposal to be rescinded:

Just days before the comment period for this [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] closed, an extremely disturbing report appeared indicating that analysis of the costs and benefits in fact occurred, but was discarded. On Feb. 1, 2018, Bloomberg/BNA reported that the Department of Labor "scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that potentially billions of dollars in gratuities could be transferred from workers to their employer." Assuming these reports are correct, the Department of Labor should immediately make the underlying data (and the analyses that the Department conducted) available to the public. We call on the Department of Labor to do so immediately and to withdraw the related Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

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A Middle Class Job in Pennsylvania, Provided by Steel

Jeffrey Bonior

Jeffrey Bonior Researcher/Writer, AAM

The Commerce Department on Friday revealed the findings of its “Section 232” investigation into steel imports. Steelworkers and steel companies are now counting on Trump to act to defend good-paying jobs — and our national security — from foreign imports. In an occasional series, we catch up with steelworkers across the country to get their thoughts about the president’s impending decision.

Jim Johnston is a third-generation steelworker. He is a caster-run operator at U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Steel Works in North Braddock, Pennsylvania.

At the age of 36, he is one of the youngest United Steelworker (USW) local union presidents. He represents the production and maintenance workers at Local 1219 at the Mon Valley steel mill.

Johnston has worked at the mill for 13 years and even though work is steady in the Mon Valley, Johnston fears for the mill’s future.

“Just because we have orders and we’re running and making steel and getting a paycheck every two weeks -  which is great - but how long does that last when your company is not doing well as a whole,” said Johnston. “We need a favorable ruling on the 232 investigations not only for us but the company as a whole.”

Sitting on President Trump’s desk is a document with recommendations from the Commerce Department on a Section 232 investigation into whether China, Russia and a host of other countries are “dumping” their government-subsidized steel into the United States, threatening America’s national security and the domestic steelmaking industry. These foreign countries manufacture steel, drop it into the international market, and sell it for less than American steelmakers can produce the same products. That runs down prices. The American steel industry operates in an open market and cannot compete with foreign government subsidized steel.

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Union Matters

We Can Win Fair Trade

From the AFL-CIO

The AFL-CIO and our allies are sticking together for improvements to NAFTA. The renegotiation presents an opportunity for President Trump to earn bipartisan support for one of his signature campaign promises.

This is an expression of our labor movement’s political independence: We will work with anyone who supports good jobs, worker freedom and raising pay. The right deal must:

  • Cut back or kill the special corporate court, known as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, because it subsidizes outsourcing and undermines our democracy.
  • Include clear and strong labor rules to end “protection contracts” that keep pay low in Mexico and also add safeguards so workers aren’t intimidated, hurt or killed for trying to form strong, independent unions.
  • Prevent outsourcing, level the playing field and ensure that high U.S. standards are not watered down to the lowest common denominator.
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The Fight for a Fair Wage

The Fight for a Fair Wage