Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Fat Cat Tuesday: A Commemoration of CEO Excess

Fat Tuesday is Mardi Gras, a day of revelry, gluttony, intoxication and showers of shiny plastic beads. It is the party to end all parties because it’s followed by Ash Wednesday, when Lenten sacrifices commence.

Fat Cat Tuesday is the day – Jan. 2, 2018 – on which the boards of directors of America’s biggest corporations handed their CEOs more money than those same CEOs would deign to pay their workers for an entire year of labor, 260 days.

It was a day of revelry, gluttony and private jets for CEOs and worthless shiny plastic beads for workers. 

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Trump Receives Commerce Department Investigation Into Aluminum Imports

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

It's crunch time.

The Commerce Department on Friday delivered its national security investigation into aluminum imports to the White House, Inside U.S. Trade reports. The delivery follows that of a similar Commerce Department report on steel imports that was sent to President Trump on Jan. 11.

Trump has 90 days after receiving the "Section 232" reports to decide whether to act to safeguard American-made aluminum and steel, meaning any action must occur by mid-April, about a year after the launch of the two investigations.

The Trump administration initially had pledged to move swiftly with both investigations, promising action by the end of June 2017. But the White House instead opted to focus on issues like health care and tax reform, which made the ongoing crisis worse; steel imports alone were up 15.5 percent in 2017 as foreign importers rushed product into the market to get ahead of potential White House action.

Like steel, aluminum is a critical part of America's national security and is directly threatened by surging foreign imports. Brig. Gen. John Adams, U.S. Army-Ret., wrote in a Jan. 10 op-ed for The Hill that state-owned smelters in places like China, Russia, and the Middle East have added 17 million metric tons of new aluminum capacity since 2009. American aluminum manufacturers, who play by the rules and aren't state-run, have seen a nearly 60 percent reduction in capacity and more than 4,000 U.S. jobs have been lost. Added Adams:

U.S. producers of finished products that are directly used in U.S. military and critical infrastructure are becoming increasingly dependent on imports. High-purity, American-made aluminum is used in defense platforms including F-35, F-18 and F-16 fighter jets and other military aircraft, littoral combat ships, armor for the light tactical vehicle program, tank hulls, missile structures and more. Yet, this vital material is only produced in one remaining smelter in the United States, producing at only 40 percent capacity and under great economic pressure to compete with Chinese dumping.    

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Enormously Lucky Man? Or Ultra-Deserving Deep Pocket?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Eric Schmidt, a top executive at Google ever since he joined the company as CEO back in 2001, is stepping down later this month. He’s leaving his latest executive slot about $14 billion richer than when he began his Google career.

Expect a digital avalanche of praise for Schmidt over the next few weeks. The breathless encomiums have indeed already begun. Wired magazine has just lauded Schmidt for his “mindboggling impact” on the world’s high-tech scene and his “brilliant” realpolitik behind Google’s closed doors.

Many observers of Corporate America simply see Schmidt as, in effect, a real-deal “very stable genius.” And they’ve thought that way for quite some time. Not many executives entered the twenty-first century more widely respected within American business circles.

Schmidt’s vita back then shouted merit on every page. He had studied electrical engineering at Princeton and Berkeley, two of the world’s most demanding educational institutions. After school, Schmidt had honed his high-tech skills at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in California, the legendary computer science hotbed that birthed the drop-down menu and the desktop mouse.

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What’s killing America’s middle class?

Jim Hightower

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

As the royal triumvirate of Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell continue their perverse quest to turn our America into a gold-plated Trumplandistan for oligarchs, they keep insisting that their blatantly-elitist schemes will magically elevate the middle class and even the poor, delivering a 7-course-dinner to everyone!

Yeah, right – as we’ve now seen from their totally-regressive new tax law, your and my seven-course dinner turns out to be a six-pack and a possum. In fact, as the non-partisan Tax Policy Center reports, 10 years from now, 83 percent of the benefits in the Trump-Ryan-McConnell tax act will be flowing to the wealthiest families, while more than half of America’s middle-income and poor people will actually see their taxes rise during the next decade.

Meanwhile, this egregious giveaway to undeserving corporate elites will add as much as one-and-a-half trillion dollars to the federal deficit. No problem, says the slap-happy triumvirate, for we have a plan to cover the cost of these lavish tax cuts we’ve given to the royals (including cuts for the gilded Trump family, which just happens to be one of the act’s top beneficiaries). As Trump himself explained the plan: “We’re going to go into welfare reform.” Yes, the plan is to cut such essential safety net programs as children’s health care, food stamps, jobless programs, and – as Ryan now publicly admits, they intend to cut your and my Medicare and Social Security.

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Overall union membership rises in 2017, union density holds steady

Lawrence Mishel

Lawrence Mishel Fellow, EPI

Newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics data on union membership trends show that union membership as a share of overall employment held steady at 10.7 percent in 2017, with essentially stable membership rates in both the private (6.4 or 6.5 percent) and public (34.4 percent) sectors.

Union membership gains among men offset continued losses among women last year. But, it is important to view these different trends by gender within historical context: union membership in 2017 was roughly equivalent among men (11.4 percent) as women (10.0 percent), compared to 1979 when men were more than twice as likely as women to be union members and comprised 69 percent of union members.

It is difficult to use one year changes in union membership trends to assess underlying dynamics. For one, the small samples involved for particular subgroups produce year-to-year volatility that should not be mistaken for a trend. Second, any change in union density can result from many different factors including the pattern of overall employment growth (whether sectors or occupations that are more heavily union grow faster or slower than average), the success or failure of union organizing drives, the scale of union organizing, changes in workers’ desire for union membership (i.e., demand for collective bargaining), and other factors. An understanding of the dynamics of union membership and representation requires a long-term analysis of detailed trends.

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Union Matters

The Clock is Ticking, Mr. President

Richard Cucarese
USW Local 4889

There was a time during the history of America that our elected officials did their best to act expeditiously on the behalf of their constituents when it came to dealing with the ‘hot button’ issues of the day.

But over the past few decades especially, the most important issues seem to be pushed aside in the interest of partisan politics and media posturing while the proletariat suffers under the weight of indecision.  Within this framework of political grandstanding, the Section 232 cases for the steel and aluminum industries are no exception.

Contending these measures that would help save the industries and create jobs in these vitally important sectors, candidate Donald Trump used Section 232 as a dangling carrot to a workforce that has recently become resentful of presidents whom we thought were our allies promising us job security, only to have them deliver a hard slap to the face by decimating our ranks under the guise and false promises of the benefits of Free Trade.

Riding into the White House with not much wiggle room to have a mandate, President Trump still acknowledged that one of his key achievements would be to move along Section 232 expeditiously in the interests of national security due to their level of importance in the military sector and the resurrection of our once-mighty but now-crumbling national infrastructure.

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Delve Deeper for Justice

Delve Deeper for Justice