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’s Plan to Sabotage Obamacare Costs $200 Billion and Doesn’t Really Even Sabotage Obamacare

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

For months, President Donald Trump has flirted with a tactic that could help make “Obamacare implode” — thus potentially forcing House and Senate Democrats to negotiate on a way to dismantle the law. On Tuesday, however, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on what would actually happen if Trump implemented this tactic, and the results are less than spectacular.

For the most part, Obamacare would continue chugging along as usual. But the federal government would wind up spending $194 billion more.

The tactic Trump has considered revolves around the Affordable Care Act’s Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs), which reimburse health insurers for the cost of reducing deductibles, co-payments, and other expenses for people with modest incomes. In part due to a federal court decision, Trump could likely cut off these CSRs, thereby throwing the insurance markets into a bit of turmoil.

The good news for people who are insured through the Obamacare exchanges, however, is that that turmoil is likely to sort itself out in a few years — at least according to the CBO. Many exchange customers won’t be impacted at all by the loss of CSRs, and some people could actually be better off.

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The Great American Eclipse is Coming. Here’s How to Keep it Made in America.

Erica Maddox

Erica Maddox Social Media Intern, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Save the date: Aug. 21, 2017! 

That’s the day that a total solar eclipse will be visible from coast to coast, and it’s being called the “Great American Eclipse.”

The once-in-a-lifetime event will see the sun go completely behind the moon, and the moon will cast a twilight here on earth. The moon and sun will appear to be the same size, even though the sun is much larger. 

The eclipse will be visible from the waterfront of Government Point, Ore., through Charleston, S.C. The eclipse will start at 10:16 a.m. in Oregon, and end in South Carolina at 2:41 p.m., and the total duration will be about an hour and a half. 

The Great American Eclipse will pass through 12 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. If you live in one of those places, you won’t want to miss it! But even if you don't live in one of those places, you'll still be able to watch a partial eclipse — NASA has an interactive map that shows exactly what you can expect to see and when.

And as USA Today reports, you also need to take steps to protect yourself — special eclipse glasses must be worn to protect your eyes from the damaging rays of the sun, for example. We put together a list of American-made items you’ll need for the eclipse.

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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.


 WagesBenefits
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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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