Leo W. Gerard Archive (Page 2)

Labor Day: 24 Hours When Workers Are Human

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Labor Day: 24 Hours When Workers Are Human
By Getty Images

Labor Day recognizes the humanity of workers. It commemorates their year-long efforts with time off dedicated relaxation, family, friends, and barbeques.

There’s no holiday for robots, raw materials, or the energy that animates the machines of manufacturing. Because, of course, they’re not human.

Somehow, though, business schools and the corporate executives they spit out have lumped workers together with robots and raw materials as “inputs,” as if laborers aren’t human. That makes it easier for CEOs in ungodly profitable corporations to deny workers raises. U.S. CEOs and shareholders can seize for themselves all the gains produced by faceless inputs.

And that’s what they’ve done. Republicans gave corporations a massive tax break this year with the promise that executives would share those gains with workers, to the tune of $4,000 to $9,000 raises each. The U.S. Commerce Department reported last week that after-tax corporate profits rose 16.1 percent in the second quarter, the largest year-over-year rise in six years. But corporations didn’t use that money for raises. Instead they bought back record amounts of their own stock, boosting the market to all-time highs, making the rich richer, while workers’ wages actually declined when inflation was factored in. This has been going on for decades, with workers’ wages flat since 1973.

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Corporations Owe Americans More

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

The stock market is effervescent. Unemployment seems inexorably descendent. On financial news shows, someone always is singing, “Happy Days are Here Again.”

But the chorus isn’t so cheery on factory floors. There are no Happy Days at the Harley plant to be shuttered in Kansas City, destroying 800 jobs as the corporation spends its big fat tax break on stock buy-backs instead. There’s no joy at a Kimberly-Clark plant in Wisconsin where hundreds learned in January that the corporation would use its tax break to cover the cost of closing their factory – and eight others.

In fact, there’s bitterness among blue collar workers whose wages have flat-lined for decades, then declined in May and June, even as CEO compensation skyrocketed 17.6 percent last year.

Happy Days? Only for the already rich – for stockholders and CEOs and trust fund babies. For the rest, every day still is a struggle. That’s the way it has worked in the United States for the past several decades. But it didn’t before that. And it doesn’t have to now. Citizens have the right, and arguably the responsibility, to change the rules under which corporations operate. Doing that would alter outcomes for American workers, give them more say in corporate governance, raise their pay and reduce offshoring.

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

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

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.

For more, click here.

Republicans: Up is Down, Medicare is Safe

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Up is down. Would is wouldn’t. What you are seeing and what you are reading is not what's happening.” And a new round of GOP tax cuts, proposed this week, definitely will not result in damage to Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security!

Definitely.

Republicans live in an Alice-in-Wonderland World where they can pass $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that won’t cost anything. They’ll pay for themselves! Just like a worker’s mortgage does every month. Just pays for itself! And then the GOP can propose another $1 trillion in tax cuts that also won’t cost anything! They certainly won’t increase the federal deficit!

The reason Republicans believe in Magic Unicorn Money is that they never actually socialize with, or speak to, or even vaguely know minimum-wage workers, or middle-class workers or precariat workers who drive for Uber at night because their day jobs deny them full-time hours. These workers get paid in cold, hard currency that lacks the power of Unicorn Money to magically materialize whenever necessary to pay bills.

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Billionaire Wolves in Workers’ Clothing

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Billionaire Wolves in Workers’ Clothing

Hundred millionaire Bruce Rauner just couldn’t wait to tell Illinois state workers that the U.S. Supreme Court had given them what he considered a gift.

Within hours of the court’s ruling in the Janus case last week, Rauner, the Republican governor of Illinois, emailed state workers to tell them the decision meant they no longer needed to pay either dues or fair share fees to their labor union but the union would still be required to represent them.

What a deal! Free service! And it was brought to them by Rauner! The governor had filed the lawsuit that led to the Janus decision. When a court tossed him as plaintiff, the right-wing foundations whose billionaire donors paid for the lawsuit drummed up replacement plaintiffs including Mark Janus. He’s an Illinois child support worker who refused to join the union and pay dues and who didn’t even want to pay the smaller fair share fee of $45 a month charged to non-members to cover the union’s costs of bargaining for them.

It was that fee that the Supreme Court said government workers had a free speech right not to pay. The court said unions do not have a corresponding free speech right to refuse to represent non-members.

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Supreme Court Conservatives Crush Workers, Again

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Supreme Court Conservatives Crush Workers, Again
Art by z_wei on Getty Images.

The radical conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court have twice now in two months ganged up on working Americans, denying them their right to band together to achieve mutual goals.   

Last month, the extremist court majority sided with big business to deprive workers of the right to sue collectively in class actions to redress violations like wage theft. This time, the same majority ruled against workers who organize themselves into unions, divesting public sector union members of the right to collect fair share fees from co-workers who don’t join but do receive all the benefits of union-negotiated contracts.

This is regression for the nation’s workers. In lockstep with the Trump administration and congressional conservatives, the high court’s right-wingers are shoving workers back to an earlier era, a time when corporations held all of the power and when workers, in what was supposed to be a free society, were in fact denied liberty.

Ideally, in the country that fought a war to rid itself of royal overlords, workers have the freedom to change jobs, even professions, to move across the country for better opportunities, to unite with co-workers, and to bargain collectively with corporations for better pay and benefits for the whole group.

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A Shining City on the Hill Treats Immigrants Humanely

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

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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Where’s that $4,000 Raise the GOP Promised Workers?

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

When Republicans in Congress passed a big, fat tax break bill in December, they insisted it meant American workers would be singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” all the way to the bank.

The payoff from the tax cut would be raises totaling $4,000 to $9,000, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors assured workers.

But something bad happened to workers on their way to the repository. They never got that money.

In fact, their real wages declined because of higher inflation. At the same time, the amount workers had to pay in interest on loans for cars and credit cards increased. And, to top it off, Republicans threatened to make workers pay for the tax break with cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

So now, workers across America are wondering, “Where’s that raise?”

It’s nowhere to be found.

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Poor People’s Campaign Is The Angry Response To Inequality America Needs

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

For the past half century, Americans have allowed the wealthy to get away with economic murder. Income inequality has risen to pre-Great Depression levels. Compensation for CEOs skyrocketed while wages for the rest stagnated. The wealthy received fat tax breaks even as workers got a pittance. Just this month, America’s high rollers bought dozens of paintings at prices tens of millions higher than anticipated during auctions at hoity-toity Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

And all of this has occurred with barely more than a peep of protest from the populace, no more than a few here today, gone tomorrow Occupy Wall Street sit-ins.

This month is not, however, business as usual. Two Mondays ago, a bunch of dedicated rabble-rousers launched a new Poor People’s Campaign. Thousands demonstrated in Washington, D.C., including members of the union I lead, the United Steelworkers. The group, led by the Rev. William Barber II and the Rev. Liz Theoharis, plans actions in 30 states over 40 days. This past week, dozens of Poor People’s Campaign activists were again arrested in Washington, D.C., as they demanded restoration of the Voting Rights Act.

The campaign is dedicated to the idea that “people should not live in or die from poverty in the richest nation ever to exist.” Its revival could not be more urgent or timely.

For more, click here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-gerard-poor-peoples-campaign_us_5b086698e4b0fdb2aa538846

Trade Negotiations Require a Steel Spine

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

President Donald Trump dealt himself a strong hand before negotiating with China.

He held three aces. He’d placed tariffs on imported aluminum and steel in response to unrelenting Chinese overproduction. He’d threatened tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese imports in retaliation for theft and forced transfer of American intellectual property. And for trade violations, he’d forbidden U.S. companies to sell parts to Chinese cell phone giant ZTE, forcing it out of business.

And then, inexplicably, his lead negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, quickly folded in talks in Washington, D.C.,  last week. He left two days of negotiations with top Chinese officials with what amounts of an unenforceable letter of intent. The “joint statement” says the Chinese will buy some more American made stuff, improve its protections for American intellectual property and patents, and remove some barriers preventing U.S. companies from operating in China. But there’s no specifics and no enforcement.

In exchange for vague promises, Mnuchin suspended the tariffs. In addition, on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States and China had reached a tentative deal to save ZTE, despite the fact that ZTE failed to honor an earlier agreement made after it violated trade embargos against Iran and North Korea.  

Now China holds all the aces. It is bragging that it trounced the United States in trade talks. The stock market shot up 350 points Monday on Mnuchin’s assertion that he’d stopped a trade war between China and the United States. And maybe certainty for investors was all Mnuchin, a former Wall Street banker, wanted. But steel stocks slumped Monday. And that’s not what President Trump promised on the campaign trail.  It’s not what tough negotiators would have achieved for the United States when it had the upper hand. No potent negotiator would have surrendered that hand for vague promises, especially considering China’s long history of disregarding its trade pledges. 

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No Breakthroughs in China Trade Talks is Good News

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

No Breakthroughs in China Trade Talks is Good News

That U.S. trade negotiators returned from China last week without trumpeting some big breakthrough is, in fact, a sign of real progress. That’s because there’s no point in touting more cheap promises that won’t be kept.

The U.S. and China discussed complex, long-standing trade disputes that have contributed significantly to America’s relentlessly expanding trade deficit with the Asian giant, to the shuttering of tens of thousands of U.S. factories, and to the loss of hundreds of thousands of good-paying American jobs.

The U.S. delegation traveled to Beijing with a four-page list of demands, as well as sufficient scarring from past burns to ignore shiny objects this time. The American demands are tough, and completely appropriate. Rebalancing trade with China, which is $375 billion out of whack, will not be easy.

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Protect Those Who Save Lives

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Working in a hospital, nursing home or ambulance is dangerous. Sometimes fatally so. It’s not so much that a worker might catch a communicable disease, although that happens. The real danger comes from violent patients, volatile family members and sometimes even vengeful co-workers.

Last June, Dr. Henry Bellow, 45, a New York City physician who had been forced to resign, returned to the facility with an assault rifle and opened fire, killing a doctor and injuring five other health care workers and a patient.

A month later, after Indiana physician Todd Graham refused to prescribe opioids to a female patient, her husband laid in wait for the doctor and shot him to death in a medical center parking lot.

These slain health care workers will be honored on Workers Memorial Day, which is Saturday, April 28. We should honor the dead, as labor activist Mother Jones (that is, Mary Harris Jones) instructed. But Mother Jones followed that directive with the admonition that we also “fight like hell for the living.”  

In the case of health care workers, who are more likely to suffer violence on that job than those in any other profession, we must fight like hell for a federal safety standard to ensure that more of them return home after a day’s work without broken bones, bruises, bite marks or gunshot wounds.

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GOP Fraud: “It’ll Pay for Itself”

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

GOP Fraud: “It’ll Pay for Itself”
Art of GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan by DonkeyHote/Flickr

Remember the Republicans’ claim that their tax scam slashing rates for the rich and corporations would magically pay for itself?

Here is how that works: a rich guy walks into a Mercedes-Benz dealership, gets behind the wheel of a $112,400 GP Coupe, and drives away yelling to the salesman, “Don’t worry. It’ll pay for itself.”

It’s nothing but a fraud.

Well, that’s what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said this week, anyway. Without blatantly labeling the GOP tax cut as a con, the CBO did say that it would in no way, not ever pay for itself. It would, the CBO warned, dramatically raise the national budget deficit, year after year, for at least a decade.

Republicans, the party of public hand wringing over deficits, deliberately created this gob-smackingly huge one. Privately, Republicans are the party of glee over deficits. That’s because they use them as an excuse to slash and burn programs cherished by the vast majority of Americans such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Yes, Grandma, that tax cut Republicans gave to fat cats means you’ll be eating cat food.

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Deep and Abiding Disrespect

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

When coal mine bosses said mules were more precious than men because dead miners could be replaced for free, but not dead mules, it demonstrated disrespect. That contempt from the top provoked pitched gun battles between workers and mine-owner militias in West Virginia a little over a century ago. 

Ill-paid, mistreated and insulted, what did the miners have to lose?

The same was true for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., half a century later. Subjected to dangerous equipment that killed four workers in four years and paid so little they qualified for food stamps, more than 1,300 walked off the job on Feb. 12, 1968. They demanded respect, carrying signs stating, “I am a man.” The day after Dr. Martin Luther King marched to support these workers, he was assassinated in Memphis.

Now, a half century later, GOP politicians have so denigrated public school teachers that the educators in three states have engaged in wildcat strikes, mobbing their capitol buildings and demanding improved school funding for students and better pay and benefits for themselves and other workers.

Teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, like the 1920s West Virginia coal miners, had nothing to lose. Educators in Arizona, who began demonstrating at their capitol last week, may walk out soon as well.

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Energy Independence Requires Steel Independence

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Shale oil and gas, now fracked from deep underground in two dozen states, is celebrated for delivering energy independence to the United States. But that goal can’t truly be achieved if America depends on China, Korea, even Brazil for the steel vital to drilling.

Sustaining steel independence is a big part of what President Trump’s tariffs are about.  They’re intended to revive American steel production which has been hammered by illegal trade practices, particularly in China. Just this week, the tariffs helped secure a new trade deal with Korea that reduces by 30 percent the amount of steel and drilling pipe the Asian country can export to the United States.

As fracking geared up across the United States, American steel makers invested in their mills to meet drillers’ needs, from pipe called Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) to plate for platforms.

It was a symbiotic relationship. The new access to energy resources reduced the price of natural gas used in forging steel. That, of course, helped lower the price of American-made OCTG, plate and other steel essential for drilling.

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Labor Organizes a Congressional Win

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

On Tuesday in Western Pennsylvania, a novice candidate, a 33-year-old Democrat who had never before run for office, upset an experienced politician who President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. all stumped for and who received more than $10 million from dark money groups and the  Republican Party.

Not only that, the rookie did it in a congressional district that was gerrymandered to elect Republicans for life, a district that went for Trump, Mitt Romney and John McCain.

It was stunning.

Democrat Conor Lamb defeated Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, which had sent a Republican to Congress for the past 15 years.

The shocker resulted from a winning combination. Organized labor worked for the candidate who pledged to work for labor. That candidate, of course, was Conor Lamb.

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A Penny for Your National Security

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

A Penny for Your National Security

A great wailing and gnashing of teeth arose across the land after the Trump administration announced its plan to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Some conservatives cried that the tariffs, 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, would incite an international trade war.

House Speaker Paul Ryan claimed the moderately sized tariffs on two metals would reverse the economic boon he thinks will surely be created by the tax breaks his party gave to corporations and the rich. The good times would be over. Kaput!

This drama comes from a politician who proposed a border adjustment tax on all imports, not just two metals, that would have cost American consumers $1 trillion. This hyperbole comes from conservatives who deliberately blind themselves to the devastation Chinese trade cheating has caused the American steel and aluminum industries. This hysteria comes from corporations that use steel and aluminum and are apparently just fine with Chinese trade violations completely killing off American producers, leaving the country without domestic suppliers of metals essential for national defense.

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Endangered Species: American Aluminum and Steel Workers

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

In preservation attempts, conservation groups pull at heartstrings and purse strings with photos of threatened animals – adorable baby elephants, majestic Amur leopards, sentient Sumatran orangutans. A less photogenic endangered species, the American aluminum and steel worker, received vital aid toward survival this week from the White House.

President Trump announced he would place tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum. This followed investigations by the U.S. Commerce Department that determined unfairly traded imports of both metals have killed off American mills and jobs, threatening national security.

American aluminum and steel manufacturers and their workers have railed for decades against the trade regulation scofflaws that bankrupted U.S. mills and destroyed U.S. jobs. American manufacturers and workers are willing and able to compete on a level playing field. But countries like China deliberately distort that surface to their favor by defying trade rules. 

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An Infrastructure Con

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

The administration’s infrastructure proposal, released this week, is a shift from Donald Trump’s campaign pledges, a shirk of the funding burden, and a stop to government construction projects serving the public good.

Candidate Trump boasted that he would double what his opponent Hillary Clinton said she’d spend on infrastructure. But the scheme released by the Trump administration this week not only fails to do that, it would rob vital and cherished social safety net programs to pay for a pittance of improvements.

It is nothing but a con.

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Promises, Promises, and More Broken Trade Promises

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

The U.S. Commerce Department announced this week that the 2017 trade deficit rose to the highest level since 2008, a biggest and best figure that no U.S. President would brag about, least of all Donald Trump, who pledged repeatedly and forcefully that he would slash the deficit – and fast.

It would be so easy, candidate Trump told workers in Monessen, Pa., on a June 28, 2016, campaign stop. Repeatedly, he promised those workers he’d get it done quickly. So quickly! “I know you have been through some very, very tough times,” he said, “but we’re going to make it better and we’re going to make it better fast, OK? Just watch.”

Steel, aluminum, and factory workers across America are still watching and waiting as their mills close and their unemployment benefits expire, even though Trump promised them quick action.

The Commerce Department reported the trade deficit rose 12 percent during Trump’s first year in office, that the goods deficit with China jumped 8 percent to a record $375.2 billion, that the overall non-petroleum goods deficit shot up to an unprecedented high of $740.7 billion. Those terrible numbers testify to an administration dawdling, not performing for American workers who voted for Donald Trump based on campaign promises of quick and easy action to cure bad trade.

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Kimberly-Clark Uses GOP Tax Break to Sucker Punch Wisconsin Workers

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Kimberly-Clark Uses GOP Tax Break to Sucker Punch Wisconsin Workers
David Breckheimer

Early Wednesday morning, David Breckheimer, a United Steelworkers local union president at a Neenah, Wis., paper factory, was gathering the last of his gear for a snowmobiling vacation.

At 7:45 a.m., less than two hours before he planned to leave, he got a call. It felt like a punch to the gut, he told me later that day.

Kimberly-Clark was closing its Cold Springs facility in Fox Crossing where David had worked 37 years, where 500 men and women earned a good living. Kimberly-Clark also was shuttering its Nonwovens factory in Neenah, costing another 100 workers their jobs.

The closures mean the virtual disappearance of Kimberly-Clark production in Neenah, the town along Lake Winnebago where the company was founded by John Kimberly and Charles Clark 146 years ago. It moved its corporate headquarters to Texas in 1985.  

The terminations are part of a life-shattering pattern in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, where Neenah and other paper mill towns are located. Once dotted with dozens of paper plants providing good jobs and middle class livelihoods, the valley had been devastated over the past decade and a half as paper companies failed or fled, one after another.

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America Needs Cops on the Trade Beat

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

The Trump Administration placed tariffs on imported washing machines and solar cells this week, provoking wailing and gnashing of teeth worldwide.

The same over-the-top beating of breasts can be expected if the administration penalizes steel and aluminum imported from countries that violate trade regulations.

Every time the United States enforces trade law, the recrimination starts. America, the free traders say, has no right to shield its domestic manufacturing from the onslaught of unfairly traded imports. There should be no cops on the trade beat, free traders say. It should be the Wild West when it comes to international trade, with the last factory standing the winner, no matter how many trade rules it defied to get there. 

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CEO Tax Con

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

CEO Tax Con
By Ivan Bandura/Flickr

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced this week that the company would repatriate $252 billion, give or take a few billion, then invest in America and create some American jobs – for a change.

This is a result of the massive tax cut Congressional Republicans awarded corporations like Apple that were hoarding trillions in profits overseas.

Corporate lobbyists told Congress to lower the tax rate on those overseas caches or companies like Apple wouldn’t pay a cent of the taxes they owed on those profits. Congress complied. That is highly productive corporate extortion.

As a result, Apple’s announcement that it would invest some of the repatriated profits in U.S. operations is tainted. Also sullied are the brags by other corporations that they’ll use small parts of their annual tax savings to pay workers one-time bonuses and tiny wage increases – only to turn around and lay off thousands of workers.

The corporate extortion and maltreatment of workers defy the advice that BlackRock CEO Laurence D. Fink offered the CEOs of the world’s largest companies in a letter delivered Jan. 16. Fink’s words carry some weight since his firm is the largest investor in the world with more than $6 trillion. The letter described as flawed the CEO-favored philosophy of shareholder capitalism, under which corporations shirk responsibility to everyone but shareholders.

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Fat Cat Tuesday: A Commemoration of CEO Excess

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

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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The Middle Class is So Christmas Past

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Republicans promised the American people a tax bill for Christmas, and this week they delivered. It’s definitely a bill for working people and the poor because by 2025, they’ll pay more. For them, poverty is the new black.

By contrast, Congress bestowed 83 percent of the new tax law’s benefits on the richest 1 percent. For them, greenbacks are the new black.

On the first day of Christmas
The GOP gave to me
A tax break for the wealthy

The 1 percent have already roasted and eaten the partridge, the pair of turtle doves, the three French hens, the four calling birds, the six geese, even the seven swans. They are, after all, very rich. And now, with these tax changes, Republicans in Congress have swiped Tiny Tim’s turkey and handed it to the wealthy so they can gorge themselves on it too.

Republicans hate income redistribution when it flows from the tony top down to impoverished Cratchits. But they delight in reaching into working people’s pockets and converting those coins into golden rings for the rich. That’s exactly what the GOP tax bill does.

The meager tax breaks awarded the working poor and middle class in this tax bill expire, like Cinderella’s outfit and entourage, before the tolling of a decade.  In addition, the bill increases other costs for workers. 

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The Middle Class is So Christmas Past 2017

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Republicans promised the American people a tax bill for Christmas, and this week they delivered. It’s definitely a bill for working people and the poor because by 2025, they’ll pay more. For them, poverty is the new black.

By contrast, Congress bestowed 83 percent of the new tax law’s benefits on the richest 1 percent. For them, greenbacks are the new black.

On the first day of Christmas
The GOP gave to me
A tax break for the wealthy

The 1 percent have already roasted and eaten the partridge, the pair of turtle doves, the three French hens, the four calling birds, the six geese, even the seven swans. They are, after all, very rich. And now, with these tax changes, Republicans in Congress have swiped Tiny Tim’s turkey and handed it to the wealthy so they can gorge themselves on it too.

Republicans hate income redistribution when it flows from the tony top down to impoverished Cratchits. But they delight in reaching into working people’s pockets and converting those coins into golden rings for the rich. That’s exactly what the GOP tax bill does.

The meager tax breaks awarded the working poor and middle class in this tax bill expire, like Cinderella’s outfit and entourage, before the tolling of a decade.  In addition, the bill increases other costs for workers. 

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Offshorers Demand: No Taxes, No Risk

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Offshorers Demand: No Taxes, No Risk
Ford is moving its electric vehicle factory to Mexico. PHOTO BY MIKE MOZART/FLICKR

Ford hit Michigan and its auto workers with some crappy holiday news. Instead of building a $700 million electric vehicle factory in Michigan as promised in January, Ford will construct the plant in Mexico.

Ford reneged on its promise to Michigan workers just days after the Senate passed a tax plan intended to end levies on corporate profits made at factories offshore – in places like Mexico. News of the letdown also arrived just days before new negotiations on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are to begin in Washington, D.C.

Ford and other giant corporations got what they wanted out of Republicans on taxes, dramatically lower levies on domestic profits and total elimination on foreign profits. That makes Mexico an even more attractive manufacturing site for them than NAFTA did. So now they’re lobbying the Trump administration hard to retain the privileges that NAFTA bestowed on them. If they win that argument, they’ll have secured double incentives to offshore.

Trump administration officials don’t sound like they’re buying the corporate line, however. And they shouldn’t. NAFTA has cost Americans nearly a million jobs as thousands of factories migrated to Mexico. As he campaigned, President Trump promised untold numbers of factory workers and their families across the nation’s industrial belt that he would fix or end NAFTA to keep jobs and industry in America. He needs to keep that promise. 

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GOP Goes for Win on Taxes, Consequences be Damned

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

An entire year of legislative defeats has grated on the GOP.

Their promised Affordable Care Act repeal failed – again and again and again. Their Muslim ban was, well, banned by the courts. And now, in the waning days of November, their infrastructure bill, big beautiful border wall and brand new NAFTA are all missing.

Republicans have lost so much, they’re downright desperate for a win. And that’s why they’re pushing a tax scam supported by a mere 25 percent of Americans, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll.

They’ve just got to rack up a win, consequences and American workers be damned. They’re so desperate that GOP Sen. Bob Corker, a self-described deficit hawk, agreed in committee Tuesday to send the bill to the floor for a vote after he got promises for changes. What he wants is cancellation of the bill’s tax breaks if they don’t stimulate economic expansion as Republicans say they will. The GOP keeps swearing the cuts will cause growth despite the fact that the Bush tax breaks didn’t and despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the cuts will add $1.44 trillion to the deficit. 

Some deficit hawk. But, hey, anything for a win.  

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Republican Tax Plan: Make America Grieve Again

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

A giant sucking sound, louder than a freight train, noisier than a tornado, shriller than Ross Perot yelling, “I told you so,” blasted across the nation Thursday as Republicans in the U.S. House passed their tax plan.

It was the terrible sound of jobs swept out of this country. When Perot ran for president, he said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would siphon off American jobs. And he was right. It did.

But this is much, much bigger.

House Republicans approved a scam exempting corporations from all taxes on their foreign operations. Under the GOP proposal, corporations like Carrier and Rexnord can benefit from protections provided by American patents, courts and armed forces, while moving their factories from the United States to Mexico. Or to other low-wage, high-polluting countries like China. Or to countries that charge little or no corporate tax. Once there, instead of paying the new, super-low 20 percent corporate rate Republicans propose for U.S-based producers, the expat factories will pay no taxes to the United States. Nothing. Not a cent.

Rather than Making America Great Again, Congressional Republicans plan to Make America Grieve Again as even more family-supporting factory jobs get shipped offshore to take advantage of the new tax rate of zip. 

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Workers Wary of GOP Flimflam Tax Scam

Leo W. Gerard USW President Emeriti

Congressional Republicans are selling a trickle-down tax scam times two. It’s the same old snake oil, with double hype and no cure.

A single statistic explains it all: 1 percent of Americans – that is the tiny, exclusive club of billionaires and millionaires – get 80 percent of the gain from this tax con. Eighty percent!

But that’s not all! To pay for that unneeded and unwarranted red-ribbon wrapped gift to the uber wealthy, Republicans are slashing and burning $5 trillion in programs cherished by workers, including Medicare and Medicaid.  

Look at the statistic in reverse, and it seems worse: 99 percent of Americans will get only 20 percent of the benefit from this GOP tax scam. That’s not tax reform. That’s tax defraud.

Republican tax hucksters claim the uber rich will share. It’s the trickle down effect, they say, the 99 percent will get some trickle down.

It’s a trick. Zilch ever comes down. It’s nothing more than fake tax reform first deployed by voodoo-economics Reagan. There’s a basic question about this flim-flammery: Why do workers always get stuck depending on second-hand benefits? Real tax reform would put the rich in that position for once. Workers would get the big tax breaks and the fat cats could wait to see if any coins trickled up to jingle in their pockets. 

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