Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Canadian Mounties to the Rescue of American Workers

The Canadian Royal Mounties have offered to ride to the rescue of beleaguered American workers.

It doesn’t sound right. Americans perceive themselves to be the heroes. They are, after all, the country whose intervention won World War II, the country whose symbol, the Statue of Liberty, lifts her lamp to light the way, as the poem at the statue’s base says, for the yearning masses and wretched refuse, for the homeless and tempest-tossed.

America loves the underdog and champions the little guy. The United States is doing that, for example, by demanding in the negotiations to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Mexico raise its miserable work standards and wages. Now, though, here comes Canada, the third party in the NAFTA triad, insisting that the United States fortify its workers’ collective bargaining rights. That’s the Mounties to the rescue of downtrodden U.S. workers.    

More ...

Steelworkers Descend on Washington, Urging President Trump to Finally Act on Steel Imports

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of Black Monday, the infamous day in 1977 when Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. abruptly shut its doors. Thousands of steelworkers were suddenly without a job.

That terrible day marked a turning point for Youngstown, Ohio, and many industrial cities across the nation. Steel facilities across the country closed not too long after, and hundreds of thousands of people lost good-paying, middle-class sustaining jobs. Local grocers, restaurants, department stores and others were forced to shutter, unable to survive without the business a customer base of steelworkers once provided. Entire communities were dismantled.

Four decades after Black Monday, steelworkers are again at risk of losing their jobs — and the survival of the American steel industry itself is at stake.

Dozens of steelworkers headed to Washington on Tuesday to urge the Trump administration to finally act to safeguard American steel (and aluminum) from the threat of unfairly traded imports. The steelworkers met with lawmakers and members of the press, too, explaining that they are counting on President Trump to keep his promise to workers — noting that by not acting quickly, the president is making the problem worse.

More ...

Cases Before U.S. Supreme Court Part of Anti-Worker Campaign

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The two top labor cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court are part of a concerted corporate campaign to deprive workers of their rights and to defund unions, an attorney tracking the issues for the Service Employees says.

And if the corporations succeed in their arguments before the justices, unions would lose millions of dollars and workers would lose part of their rights to join together and defend themselves. Corporations would benefit in both cases, adds Claire Prestel, SEIU’s Associate General Counsel.

Prestel offered that analysis in a brief interview with Press Associates Union News Service following a Supreme Court preview session on Sept. 12. The American Constitution Society, a progressive lawyers’ group that includes many pro-worker attorneys, sponsored it.

“It’s very clear these cases are part of a decades-old movement to weaken the collective power of workers and to keep them from advocating for themselves,” she said after covering the two workers’ cases for five-person ACS panel.

The labor cases pending before the nine justices are Janus v AFSCME and the Murphy Oil case, which is three cases rolled into one. It comes up first, on Oct. 2, the day the court re-opens its doors. The justices have yet to decide when they’ll hear Janus.

But on the 3rd, the justices will plunge right in to another case important not just to workers, but to everyone nationwide, hearing arguments on whether political gerrymandering violates peoples’ rights by depriving them of constitutionally protected representation of themselves and their views.

More ...

Today’s Census Data on Poverty, Income, and Heath Insurance

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

A solid report, showing gains across the spectrum. But inequality’s up too, and median earnings, not so much…

My data dive in the WaPo underscores the clearly favorable results in the report, but here are a few other factoids to consider:

–While this isn’t the best data for inequality analysis, for reasons I note in the WaPo, my piece points out the relative difference between gains at the 10th and 95th percentile. That observation is correct, but the 10th %’ile is a bit of a negative outlier. Better to look at a more stable statistic, the average real income gain for the bottom fifth, up 2.6% last year, compared to a 5.6% gain among the richest 5% of households. The bottom half gained last year, but not as much as the top.

–It’s also true that incomes shares going to the middle and low income households are at all time lows, as the figure reveals. (See note in WaPo piece, however, re the impact of the 2013 survey change on comparisons like this. I think it’s a legit comparison, and it comports with other, better inequality data–where better means inclusive of more data sources, including taxes, more transfers, and capital gains–showing even more growth in inequality.)

Source: Census Bureau

–The lack of change in real median earnings for full-time, full-year workers last year is worth noodling over a bit. It surely reflects a composition effect as lower-paid were drawn into the sample last year, pulling down the median (see here for how this works). But even considering that reality, look at this series for men since 1960:

More ...

Union Matters

Expand Health Care Coverage; Don’t Shrink It

Once again, Senate Republican leaders are pushing their incredibly unpopular and destructive plan to take health care from millions of Americans to line the pockets of corporate CEOs. Working people will continue to oppose transferring wealth from workers to Wall Street under the guise of health care.

Republican leaders in the Senate should stop trying to find ways to make health care worse.

The latest plan is yet another attempt to deny health care to people who need it to give tax breaks to those who don’t.

More ...

The Power of Labor

The Power of Labor