Jobs and Medicare for All Bargaining for the Common Good Comes of Age

Joseph A. McCartin Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor & the Working Poor

The week-long strike by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) in January 2019 marked the most significant struggle yet in a movement by teachers and other public-sector workers called Bargaining for the Common Good.  By striking over a long list of community-generated demands and with the support of a dense network of allies, LA teachers moved bargaining away from the union-versus-taxpayer framework into which public employers routinely push such conflicts.  Instead UTLA made itself the spearhead of an effort to reshape LA’s priorities around a common good agenda.  Drawing on several years of experimentation by public-sector unions around the country, and coming hard on the heels of the #RedforEd teachers uprisings of 2018, the LA strike illuminated a significant shift in union strategies, one that holds profound implications for the future of organized labor and the relationship of unions to working-class communities.

Judged by the “pure-and-simple” union standards of a generation ago, the UTLA strike might have been deemed a failure because it did not add a penny to the six-percent raise the LA school board had offered teachers prior to the walkout.  But the strike was anything but a failure. The union fought over issues that went far beyond salaries, issues at the heart of public education and its centrality to the aspirations of working-class Angelenos.

The teachers won commitments from the school district to reduce class sizes by four students by 2021, increase investment in the schools, hire school nurses and full-time librarians, reduce standardized testing and random searches of students, and launch a dedicated hot-line for immigrant families who need legal assistance.  Many of these demands were crafted with allies like the Association of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and they explicitly challenged the austerity agenda of LA school superintendent Austin Beutner, a wealthy philanthropist and former investment banker who was installed by the LA school board in 2018 despite having no prior experience in education.

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How We Can Stop Wall Street From Threatening Democracy

House passes sweeping voting rights, electoral reform bill

Addy Baird

Addy Baird Reporter, ThinkProgress

House Democrats passed expansive legislation last week aimed at increasing ballot access, including making Election Day a federal holiday, as well provisions for publicly financing elections and requiring presidents to release their tax returns.

The bill, known as HR 1, passed by a vote of 234-193 Friday. It has been a top priority for Democrats since the party took back the House in November, following an election marked in large part by voting rights issues, including Stacey Abrams’ refusal to concede in the Georgia gubernatorial election and the passage of Amendment 4 in Florida, which re-enfranchised 1.4 million formerly incarcerated people.

While many of the individual provisions have been considered in previous bills, progressive voting rights and electoral reform legislation has been essentially nonexistent since Democrats lost the House eight years ago, and the party has made HR 1 their top priority since taking back the chamber.

Though the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate — and even less likely to be signed into law by President Donald Trump — legislators and activists have cheered the bill’s passage as step one and hope it will become law should a Democrat win in 2020.

“In the years since the Supreme Court struck down critical protections in the Voting Rights Act, voters of color have faced intimidation, voter suppression and an outright theft of our electoral power,” Jennifer Epps-Addison, network president and co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, said in a statement Friday. “HR1, the For the People Act, is a step forward in ensuring that all of us, no matter who we vote for, what we look like, or what we believe, can have our voices heard in our democracy. It improves access to the ballot, strengthens election security, ends partisan gerrymandering, and bolsters oversight and accountability of elected officials. Democracy is best when all of us can participate in it.”

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Super-rich tax cheats can now expect to avoid audits after years of Republican sabotage guts IRS

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Here is a picture of neglect: Out of every 100 taxpayers who reported more than $1 million in income last year, just three got audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The feds were similarly reticent to examine the filings of corporate taxpayers, auditing less than half of the 633 separate business entities that currently hold assets whose value exceeds $20 billion.

These alarming figures are just the continuation of a multi-year downward trend on basic accountability for those taxpayers who are best positioned to pay fancy accountants to skulk through the tax code looking for places to hide their loot from the public.

The decline in the number of audits of high-income individuals is particularly stark, as Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) noted in their report on the data, released Thursday. Twice as many million-dollar earners were audited in 2010, at which time the IRS identified $5.1 billion in unpaid taxes from 32,494 audits. Last year’s considerably more torpid effort to provide oversight of the well-to-do pulled in just $1.9 billion, per TRAC.

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Are February’s Disappointing Jobs Numbers the Start of a New Trend or Just a Blip?

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

The Labor Department released its monthly jobs report on Friday, and it was a… good one? Bad one? O.K. one?

Manufacturing gained 4,000 new jobs in February, while 20,000 new jobs were created across the economy. That was well below expectations of around 180,000 new jobs.

Over at the White House, President Trump shrugged off the report, and some economists also said they weren’t all that concerned. After all, wages are on the rise, suggesting things are still strong. Unemployment rates for workers who didn’t graduate high school fell 5.3 percent, a sign that the economy is still doing just fine.

Meanwhile, the weather was pretty brutal across the country in February, which probably slowed hiring down quite a bit.

But not everybody is so confident. After all, 20,000 jobs isn’t great, especially when you consider that factory jobs alone had grown by an average of 22,000 new jobs per month over the past 12 months.

“This is a disappointing report. I don’t think there’s any way to sugarcoat it,” Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist of Northern Trust in Chicago, told the New York Times.

So who has it right?

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