Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Missouri Voters Show Right-To-Work Is A Political Loser, Even In Trump States

On Tuesday, Missouri voters trounced a right-to-work law pushed by CEOs, corporations and radical right-wingers intent on killing collective bargaining. The law was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature last year before advocates successfully petitioned for a direct referendum on the measure.

It was the second time in 40 years that Missourians kicked right-to-work to the curb. Ohio voters did the same in 2011.

The problem with trying to peddle right-to-work in the Show-Me State is that it has nothing to do with rights or jobs. Right-to-work is about power. Right-to-work states take power from workers and hand it to corporations, CEOs and wealthy shareholders. Right-to-work makes the rich richer. It makes workers poorer. No wonder Missouri voters crushed it by a 2-to-1 margin. No wonder Ohioans knocked it back.

Right-to-work policies win when decided by Republican politicians and right-wing judges. They lose when decided by voters ― even in red states that went for President Donald Trump.

More: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-right-to-work-missour_us_5b6cc58ce4b0bdd06207d2c1?5a

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“Freak Accidents” — Neither Freakish, nor Accidental

Jordan Barab

Jordan Barab Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, OSHA

This is another in an occasional seriesof posts about the stupidity and ignorance of labeling workplace fatalities “freak accidents.” Why are we opposed to seeing this phrase?

First, the phrase implies that this type of incident hardly ever happens and there is, therefore, not much you can do about it. In fact, the phrase “freak accident” is a double-whammy. Not only dies the word “freak” imply “rare,” but the word “accident,” defined as “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury,” implies that the event was “unexpected.”

Rare and unexpected. Shit happens. Waddayagonnado?

For example:

Married father-of-three mechanic, 40, is crushed to death in freak accident doing maintenance on ‘magic carpet’ ski lift in Colorado

Clear Creek County, CO — A Colorado ski area employee was crushed to death while working on a snow-level lift just three days after celebrating Christmas with his wife and three children. Clear Creek County officials say 40-year-old Adam Lee got caught in the equipment at Loveland Ski Area and suffered crushing chest injuries last Thursday.  Erika Mackay Lee, Adam’s wife, has expressed frustration at the lack of answers about what happened to her husband.  ‘I asked that question five times and every single time I was told it was a freak accident,’ the widow tells The Denver Channel.  In the days since her husband’s death, Erika has learned some of the details from Adam’s co-workers. ‘He was under the magic carpet conveyor belt,’ Erika told CBS4. ‘And that’s supposed to have a lock-out system. But somebody came up and started it. And he was dragged under.’

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Wage theft lawsuit muddies the water for potential Amazon headquarters in D.C.

Jeremy Mohler

Jeremy Mohler Writer, In the Public Interest

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. From President Donald Trump tweeting, incorrectly, that unemployment is at its “best point in history,” to Amazon trading new jobs for tax breaks on its next headquarters, employment seems to be today’s most valuable political currency.

Yes, jobs are valuable. They pay the bills and put food on the table. But what we rarely question is their quality: how much they pay, whether they come with good benefits, and who has access to them.

That’s why a lawsuit filed this week by Washington, D.C.’s Attorney General is so significant. It calls into question the common-sense strategy used by most if not all U.S. cities and states of handing out tax breaks to corporations and real estate developers in exchange for job creation.

In the grand scheme of things, the lawsuit is a slap on the wrist in what is really a heavyweight bout. Power Design, a Florida-based electrical contractor, allegedly schemed to avoid paying 535 D.C. workers sick leave, overtime pay, or the minimum wage. It’s already been sued at least five times for wage theft in D.C. and Maryland alone. And it’s just one contractor — employers in the ten most populous states steal an estimated $8 billion annually from workers by not paying the minimum wage.

Wage theft has been around a long time. My father has told me stories from the early 1980s when he was paid low, non-union wages by a construction company that charged its clients higher union wages.

But this lawsuit is an opportunity to ask loud and clear: if the public can’t enforce the agreements we make, then why make agreements at all?

Power Design has worked on many high-profile D.C. development projects, including the newly opened LINE Hotel in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, a few blocks from where I live. The luxury hotel’s developer received a $46 million tax break in exchange for hiring local residents for the majority of its construction and permanent jobs. The District is set to soon begin assessing whether the developer held up its end of the bargain. But what if Power Design and other contractors skirted labor laws in the process? Without full enforcement, how would we even know?

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Forget About Trump's Tariffs

Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher Labor Representative, Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace

We pay too much attention to President Trump’s tariffs. We’ve missed the point of what China is doing, and what we want.

Ronald Reagan told us that markets are good, government is bad, and we should let free markets solve all our problems. Winners will prosper, and gains will trickle down to workers and communities.

At the global level, this meant free trade policy that blurs national boundaries, and merges or integrates our economy into the global economy. This approach shifts power in favor of global corporations, while reducing policy space for governments, workers, communities, and the environment.

China has never accepted our free-trade free-market model. Zhang Xiangchen, China’s ambassador to the WTO, made this clear a few days ago.

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Union Matters

Guaranteeing Our Fundamental Dignity

From the AFL-CIO

Signing Medicare and Medicaid into law 53 years ago this week, President Lyndon B. Johnson cited an innate human tradition calling on us to build a more just society: “It calls upon us never to be indifferent toward despair. It commands us never to turn away from helplessness. It directs us never to ignore or to spurn those who suffer untended in a land that is bursting with abundance.”

In the half century since Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law, countless Americans have been guaranteed the health care and fundamental dignity that we deserve.

More than 59 million Americans enjoy health and financial security under Medicare.

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