Unions Urge Action to Stop GOP Tax Scam

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Communications Workers President Chris Shelton warned workers and their allies to act now against a planned Republican tax hike on the middle class.

“You may hear from Trump that it’s ‘tax reform.’ I want to caution you: That’s the usual bullshit,” the blunt former telephone lineman told union activists in an Oct. 26 conference call.

“What is being proposed is a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires,” Shelton said. “Donald Trump and the GOP leadership want to get this massive giveaway to their Wall Street friends through by the end of the year.

“This is another phase in the ongoing fight for decades to shift more and more of the wealth to the elites and away from the rest of us.”

Labor must mobilize through protests, call-ins swamping lawmakers’ switchboards, constant visits to congressional offices and educating the public on the real impact of the tax cut, Shelton said. His union is already preparing materials to educate voters about how it would hurt them.

Congress’ GOP leaders plan to roll out a tax legislation on Nov. 1 that would cost $1.5 trillion over a decade. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., aims to pass it by Thanksgiving.

The tax bill would cut top tax rates for the rich, but raise tax rates – from 10 percent to 12 percent – for those who earn the least. And it would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation calculated that 80 percent of the benefits would go to the richest 1 percent.

The claims that tax cuts for the rich would trickle down to the rest is “clearly wrong,” said Economic Policy Institute analyst Josh Bivens. 

“Economic logic and evidence argues strongly that American workers should not expect any noticeable wage boost from cutting corporate income taxes,” he said.

To grease the skids for the tax plan, Ryan shoved a House-Senate budget blueprint agreement through by a 216-212 vote the night of Oct. 26, with 20 Republicans defecting because the pact would let the tax bill hit their constituents hard.

The budget agreement would let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shove the tax cut through the upper chamber by “reconciliation” with only 50 GOP votes, plus Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaker.

Twelve House GOP “no’s” came from lawmakers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, whose constituents would get socked by the proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction. Every Republican from California and Illinois, whose constituents would also get hurt, voted for the budget blueprint. All Democrats opposed it.

Trump’s claim the tax cut would help the middle class “is the biggest lie I’ve seen in my five years in Congress,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., a Painter, who joined Shelton on the conference call. If Trump’s tax cut is approved, millionaires “are likely to be paying less” as a share of their income “than the average family,” he said.

Shelton warned that Ryan and the Republicans would cut Medicaid and Medicare to make up for part of the massive deficit their tax cut would create.

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Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

Union Matters

Members of Local 7798 achieve major goal with workplace violence policy

From the USW

Workers at Copper Country Mental Health Services in Houghton, Mich., obtained wage increases and pension improvements in their contract ratified earlier this year, but the benefit Local 7798 members were most proud of bargaining was language regarding workplace violence.

The contract committed the employer to appoint a committee, including two members of the local, to draft a workplace violence policy. Work quickly began on the policy, and just last week, the committee drafted and released its first clinical guideline focusing on responding to consumer aggression toward staff.

“We are so excited to have this go into effect,” said Unit Chair Rachelle Rodriguez of Local 7798. “This was a direct result of our last negotiating session.”

The guideline includes the definition of aggression and an outline of procedures, all of which will be reviewed yearly. And though this is just a first step in reducing the incident rates and harm of workplace violence in their workplace, it still is a big one for the local, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a collective bargaining agreement.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work