Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

A Shining City on the Hill Treats Immigrants Humanely

By signing an executive order ending forced separation of immigrant families, President Donald Trump today admitted that the cruel practice was his administration’s policy and that he could have stopped it at any time.

Despite having the power to stop taking children from parents, the Republican administration enforced the practice since April, splitting more than 2,300 youngsters, some just months-old babies, from their mothers and fathers. The administration continued to enforce it even after photographs showed toddlers wailing, audio recordings revealed young children sobbing and pleading for their Mami and Papa, a 30-year-old Honduran father torn from his wife and three-year-old son killed himself in a jail cell, and some parents were deported without their children and without information about how to find or reunite with them.

It is appropriate that the United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council this week because America has been engaged in appalling human rights violations. The organization Amnesty International accused the Trump administration of hateful politics and violating human rights both in the United States and abroad.

Make no mistake: the American people opposed this policy. It was not their idea. It was a perverse Republican strategy, conceived and instituted by a Republican administration, Republican Attorney General and Republican secretary of Homeland Security. This is a grotesquerie of Republican construction. This is their Frankenstein.

Photo by Tom Kiefer of rosaries taken from immigrants. Title of image "43" Project title "El Sueño Americano - The American Dream" A fine-art photographer, Tom Kiefer was employed part-time as a janitor at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol processing facility from 2003 - 2014. In 2007, Mr. Kiefer started removing the deeply personal belongings of migrants that were confiscated and discarded in the trash. Website and instagram: www.tomkiefer.com

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This is Your Daughter’s Labor Movement

Lane Windham Author, Co-Director, WILL Empower

If there is going to be a revival of the U.S. labor movement, it’s likely that women are going to lead it. Women activists, especially young women of color, are doing much more than resuscitating traditional unions; they’re pushing boundaries that have long constrained labor, and are re-envisioning what workers’ organizations can be and do.  We used to say “this not your father’s labor movement.”  Increasingly, this IS your daughter’s labor movement, or even your granddaughter’s.

Already this year, a tsunami of red-shirted, striking teachers – – mostly female – – swelled the main thoroughfares of some of America’s reddest states, walking out despite the fact that public sector strikes are illegal in many of their states. Then 29,000 nurses in the University of California (UC) hospitals created the largest mass labor stoppage in years in their sympathy strike with 25,000 striking UC workers. Meanwhile, hotel housekeepers, waitresses and female farmworkers continue to boldly claim their place in the #metoo movement, ensuring that working-class women are front and center one of in the most potent workplace-based social movements in recent memory.

Women are on track to be the majority of union members in 2025. That’s a big shift, but it’s only part of the story of why women are poised to lead labor. In fact, women now hold the kinds of jobs that are at the epicenter of the nation’s economy.  In the mid-twentieth century, one in three jobs was in male-dominated manufacturing and agriculture; today these sectors account for only one in eight.  Meanwhile, a full half of our nation’s jobs are in the woman-dominated service sector.

Women are also key to the “gig economy,” a term that falsely conjures up images of men driving Ubers. A recent Harvard study found that women are now the majority of workers in “alternative work arrangements” which includes temps, freelancers, and independent contractors. Some experts argue that a new government report undercounts contingent workers, but even that survey shows that a third of gig workers are employed in education and health services, both of which are female-centric — think adjunct professors, half of whom are women.

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Trump Still Wants to Save ZTE, the Chinese Telecom Firm That’s a Threat to U.S. Security

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

President Trump has been facing a self-inflicted humanitarian crisis this week, as he deals with the massive public backlash to his administration’s decision to separate migrant children from their parents.

But despite that ongoing ordeal — one which appears to be far from over — The Donald still managed to find some time this week to fight to save his favorite shady foreign telecommunications company.

On Monday, the Senate passed its annual defense authorization bill by a bipartisan vote of 85-10. Included in the legislation was a provision that would ban Chinese telecom company ZTE from doing business in the United States. If enacted, that provision would reverse a controversial deal Team Trump made to save the company.

And Trump isn’t happy about the Senate's big move. On Wednesday, he met with key Republican lawmakers and urged them “not to scuttle his administration’s efforts” on ZTE. While no conclusion came out of the meeting, several Members of Congress in attendance told the New York Times that they hope a compromise between the White House and Capitol Hill will be reached.

In case you are just tuning in to this particular plotline of The Trump Show, here’s how we got here.

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Trump’s China Plans Are Muddy, but IP Tariffs Are Still the Right Call

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trump administration today announced a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, which it has identified as having profited from intellectual property (IP) theft.

This has been an expensive problem for years. The Obama administration went to work on it; President Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed in 2015 that “their governments would refrain from computer-enabled theft of intellectual property for commercial gain,” a year after it indicted Chinese military officers for engaging in industrial espionage against American companies.

With all due respect to that administration, it hasn’t worked. Chinese-sanctioned cyber-theft, either by hacking or of the "legal" variety – when foreign firms that want Chinese market access are forced to partner with a domestic company and share IP, for example – continues.

In comes the Trump administration, making good on a tariff threat it had telegraphed for months.

While that threat has been clear, Trump’s wider approach to his China trade policy has been muddy. Many observers focus on the erstwhile steak salesman’s preference for unilateralism, but what’s more concerning is his willing confluence of trade and security.

And it’s hard to say what we’re getting out of it. Remember a couple of weeks ago? When Trump went out of his way to bail out a Chinese telecom giant his administration had just banned from purchasing American technology? A telecom giant that repeatedly broke U.S. law and is considered by the American intelligence community to be a passthrough for China’s spies? That was an enormous bone thrown to President Xi (still around, now probably president for life) and it hasn’t resulted in anything useful – and increased soybean exports don’t count.

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The "Jobs for Everyone" Fantasy

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit Author, editor, expert on income inequality

"The more robots we add to our fulfillment centers, the more jobs we are creating." —Tye Brady, Amazon's Chief Technologist 

That's just one outlandish example of the job-related hyperbole we've been subjected to. We keep hearing about the low unemployment rate and the "booming" economy. "Economic news has been staggeringly good," said Jared Whitley, associate director in the White House under George W. Bush. More hype comes from CNN Money, which talks about "opportunities for almost everyone"; and the windy Wall Street Journal, which claims that "Americans traditionally left behind...are reaping the benefits.." 

The super-capitalists want us to believe that they know what they're talking about. Part of their strategy, based on a neoliberal disdain for any government efforts to provide opportunities for average people, is to perpetuate the myth, as Milton Friedman said, that "the free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people." Part of this myth is a job for everyone, or "full employment," which many economists believe we have attained with an unemployment rate under 4 percent. 

But "jobs for all" is a fantasy, if we're talking about family-sustaining, living-wage jobs, as we should. The facts make that clear.

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The Wall Street Con Now Shredding Our Economic Future

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Imagine yourself sitting in a corporate chief executive suite. You run a Fortune 500 corporation, and you’re facing the biggest decision of your career. Lawmakers have just enacted the largest corporate tax cut in world history. Hundreds of millions of unexpected dollars, maybe billions, will soon be pouring into your corporate coffers.

The immediate question for you, the CEO: What are you going to do with this incredible windfall?

You have options, plenty of options. You can invest your golden windfall in new plants and equipment. You can put money into R&D and create exciting new products. You can retrain your workers and reward them — with higher pay — for their increased productivity.

All reasonable choices. Which would you pick? Or would you choose some combination of all three?

In real life, America’s top corporate executives are facing exactly this same set of choices. And they’re picking . . . none of the above!

These execs are choosing instead to devote a huge chunk of their windfall to “stock buybacks.” Instead of investing in their corporate long-range future, they’re shelling out billions buying back shares of their own stock on the open market.

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Union Matters

A Broken Immigration System

From the AFL-CIO

After a week of family separation, workplace raids and even more bad legislation, it is clearer than ever that we must fix our broken immigration system.

“The Trump administration is using enforcement overreach to terrify immigrant workers and is directly threatening our freedom to stand together and fight in unions for fair pay and treatment,” said AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka.  

Trumka added: “Nothing embodies our broken immigration system more than the unnecessary pain and suffering of our immigrant brothers and sisters as families are torn apart at the border.”

America’s broken immigration system and threats of detention and deportation have been used as leverage to lower pay, worsen benefits and make workplaces less safe for decades.

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Concern of Concentration

Concern of Concentration