UAW Trade Resolution Demands “Significant Economic Consequences” for Worker Rights Violators

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Going beyond other stands, the United Auto Workers are demanding “significant economic consequences” under any new trade pacts – NAFTA included – for firms that violate workers’ rights.

And enforceable, transparent worker rights, including forcing nations to live up to international labor standards, must be written into any and all future trade pacts, UAW added.

UAW convention delegates in Detroit passed the resolution with that demand on June 13. There was no dissent, and a lot of denunciation of predatory corporations and foreign nations who use so-called “free trade” pacts to strip U.S. workers of jobs and U.S. cities of factories, notably in autos and auto parts.

The resolution and the remarks from the convention floor made clear that UAW, like other unions, is not against foreign trade, but against unfair foreign trade.

Delegates approved the measure at a time when tensions over trade between the GOP Trump administration and its two NAFTA trading partners, Canada and Mexico, are rising. On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump called NAFTA “a disaster” and pledged to kill it.

That stance won him hundreds of thousands of unionists’ votes in the key Great Lakes industrial states – Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – he carried. And those states’ electoral votes put him in the White House.  But since then, Trump’s been renegotiating NAFTA, not killing it. Progress in the talks has been rocky.

And labor and congressional Democratic opposition forced Democratic President Barack Obama to shelve an even worse pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). NAFTA was the recipe for TPP and other following corporate-written “free trade” pacts. All those pacts, led by NAFTA, anger UAW and the rest of organized labor.

And on June 15, after the conclave closed, Trump imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods from China, which immediately retaliated. New union President Gary Jones told a post-confab press conference union leaders are evaluating Trump’s move.

“In this interconnected world, the issue is not whether one is ‘for’ or ‘against’ trade, but what form it will take and who it will benefit,” the union resolution said. “The UAW supports trade that benefits working people as opposed to global capital.”

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From the AFL-CIO

After holding steady for decades, the percentage of American workers in all jobs who would say yes to join a union jumped sharply last year, by 50%, says a new independent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The evidence is clear: The popularity of the labor movement is surging as more people want to join unions than ever before. Every worker must have the freedom to negotiate in a union over pay, benefits and working conditions.

The national narrative that the economy is doing OK, while working people struggle and billionaires bask in their latest round of massive tax cuts, is all wrong.

The truth is more working people want collective power. From 1977 to 1995, the percentage of all workers who would say yes to a union drive stayed flat, at about 32% of nonunion workers. Today, that number is 48%, a remarkable 50% increase.

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Republicans renew attempts to repeal Obamacare

Amanda Michelle Gomez

Amanda Michelle Gomez Health Reporter, Think Progress

A group of Republicans and Washington D.C. think tanks released a proposal Tuesday that aims to resurrect Obamacare repeal. The consistent chatter around the proposal has drawn ire from the White House and GOP leadership, as the midterms are just months away, and repeal efforts haven’t proved to be winning strategies.

The seven-page whitepaper titled “The Health Care Choices Proposal: Policy Recommendations to Congress” asks lawmakers to scrap the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with block grants. In other words, the bill would eliminate Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid expansion, and give states a fixed dollar amount so they can set up their own health system.

“But Obamacare is broken, can’t be fixed, and continues to do great harm. What’s needed is a fresh approach — one that gives Americans more choices of private, affordable coverage while making sure the most vulnerable are protected,” the proposal reads.

The “fresh approach” resembles the Graham-Cassidy bill, one of six failed GOP health bills from last summer that effectively deregulated the insurance market. “States decide how much insurers can charge people who are sick, required benefits, and cost-sharing,” Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt said last September of the bill. Had it been enacted, millions of additional people would be uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Last year’s Graham-Cassidy bill didn’t even make it to a floor vote, as there were too many Senate hard “no’s” against Obamacare repeal. It’s hard to see how this proposal is any different.

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Divorce or Bankruptcy to Pay for Medical Bills