Thomas M. Conway

President’s Perspective

Tom Conway USW International President

Unleashing Corporate Spies

Google’s computers are spying on its workers.

Anytime a Google employee uses an online calendar to schedule a meeting involving more than 100 co-workers, management gets an alert—a great way for the anti-union corporation to sniff out union organizing efforts.

Lots of other employers also would like to put union organizing campaigns under surveillance. And they’ll have their chance if the National Labor Relations Board gives corporations a free hand to snoop on employees, as two of the board’s right-wing members, John Ring and Marvin Kaplan, evidently want to do.

Ring and Kaplan want to reconsider the longtime ban on labor spying. It’s a sleazy idea, but typical for these two. They’re part of a three-member Republican cabal that’s taken over the board and issued a string of decisions eviscerating workers’ rights and giving ever more power to corporations.

Because of them, for example, employers can change working conditions in the middle of a contract, fire employees for engaging in what was previously considered protected union activity and misclassify employees as contractors, who aren’t protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Allowing corporations to spy on workers would be one more gift the pair could give to employers that are eager to suppress wages and keep workers from organizing.

Surveillance intimidates employees. It can kill organizing efforts. If corporations get the green light to spy on workers, they’ll have an easier time ferreting out organizing campaigns and bullying employees into dropping them.

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act isn’t working and there’s no reason to think that will change

Hunter Blair

Hunter Blair Budget Analyst, EPI

Proponents of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made bold claims about the effects that the TCJA’s corporate rate cuts would have on the paychecks of U.S. households. The economic theory rests on corporate rate cuts bringing forth enough additional savings to finance new investment spending. Specifically, higher after-tax corporate profits are passed down to shareholders in the form of higher dividends. These higher dividends attract more savings from abroad and incentivize U.S. households to save more. These extra savings finance new investments in plants and equipment, which boost the productivity of workers, and eventually that increased productivity boosts workers’ wages.

We pointed out at the time that in practice, this theory wasn’t likely to hold. After the TCJA passed, we indicated that by increasing deficits, the specifics of the TCJA didn’t even conform to the economic theory that was supposed to support it.

But that wasn’t enough to stop the TCJA’s proponents from making disingenuous arguments about the effects it was having on the economy. Proponents pointed to corporate claims that they were giving out bonuses or raising wages in the wake of the TCJA. The economic theory above shows clearly how this was nothing but a corporate PR ploy. Even in theory, it takes time for corporate profits to trickle down into worker wages, and we weren’t the only ones pointing this out. Unsurprisingly, data since then show those bonuses didn’t materialize for workers.

Kevin Hassett, then the chair of the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), went so far as to bless the truly economically absurd notion that “retroactive tax cuts” are a way to boost long-term growth, claiming that businesses invested more before the TCJA was passed because they somehow knew that some of the TCJA’s corporate provisions would be made retroactive.

But if you want to know if the TCJA is working as advertised, investment really is the key economic indicator to watch. If the TCJA’s corporate rate cuts are to even have a chance at reaching your paycheck, first investment has to boom. The results have been abysmal for the TCJA.

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Amazon's Major Money Dump in Seattle's City Council Election Seen as 'Dangerous and Ominous Development'

Eoin Higgins Staff Writer, Common Dreams

An attempt by Amazon to fill the Seattle city council with members more supportive of the company than the current progressive slate was called a chilling development for city government by critics of the move after Tuesday's election.

Socialist councilor Kshama Sawant, one of the company's top targets, told The Guardian that her race had been uphill and that the power of a massive corporation like Amazon stacked against her campaign had been difficult to overcome.

"We have run a historic grassroots campaign, with working people, community members rejecting Amazon and billionaires' attempt to buy this election, and that doesn't mean we're going to win every battle against the billionaires," said Sawant. "What matters is the political clarity that the billionaires are not on our side and that this is going to be a struggle."

Seattle is still waiting for the final results in the race—Washington has a mail-in voting system that makes final counts unavailable for days after voting—but as of Wednesday, it looked likely that Sawant and fellow socialist Shaun Scott were headed for defeat against Amazon-backed candidates Egan Orion and Alex Pederson, respectively. Neither Scott nor Sawant had conceded at press time. 

Amazon dumped cash into the race via a super PAC, according to Bloomberg:

Amazon, the biggest employer in Seattle, contributed $1.45 million to a business-backed political-action committee to help elect council members Amazon views as more favorable to its interests and those of the business community.

The group, called the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy, backed six new candidates for seven open council seats. Three of them are trailing in early results. It also backed one incumbent, who is leading her race. Two positions were not up for election this year.

In a Medium post from November 1, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), whose district includes much of Seattle, said she was unsettled by the company's involvement in the election.

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Union Matters

Labor Wins

From the AFL-CIO

On Tuesday, the labor movement drove historic wins for pro-worker candidates like Governor-Elect Andy Beshear in Kentucky and new legislative majorities in Virginia. Not only did union members come out to vote in droves, 270 union member candidates were elected to public office last night and counting. This adds to the total of more than 900 union members elected up and down the ballot in last year’s midterms, a product of the Union Member Candidate Program launched by the AFL-CIO just two years ago. The share of union members who won in the 2018 midterms is two-thirds. The program will continue through 2020 and beyond, electing even more union members to public office. 

“Our efforts recruiting, training and supporting labor candidates have led to the passage of pro-worker legislation from coast to coast and everywhere in between,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work