Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

“Do No Harm” Still Hurts

Promises were made.

And workers believed candidate Donald Trump when he pledged to stop corporations from exporting American factories. Workers cast votes based on Trump swearing he would end the trade cheating that kills American jobs.

This week, though, workers got bad news from Washington, D.C. President Trump proposed virtually eliminating funding for a Labor Department bureau that helps prevent U.S. workers from having to compete with forced and child labor overseas. In addition, the administration issued only vague objectives for renegotiating the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

When NAFTA has cost at least 900,000 Americans their jobs, vague is unacceptable. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said his first rule in negotiations for a new NAFTA would be to “do no harm.” That’s not good enough. That’s the status quo, and promises were made. The first rule should be to “do substantial good.”  

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Preventing Another Rana Plaza: A Model for Holding Corporations Accountable

Cathy Feingold

Cathy Feingold Director, AFL-CIO International Dept.

The roof collapsed, trapping thousands of workers for days. The world watched, in horror, as rescue crews scrambled to pull working people out of the debris. When the search was over, 1,134 had died and approximately 2,500 were injured.

This tragic incident occurred on April 24, 2013, in Dhaka District, Bangladesh. The collapse of Rana Plaza brought worldwide scrutiny to the poor and unsafe conditions of sweatshops in this Asian nation. The victims were garment workers who were sewing brand-name clothing for multinational corporations. Most of them earned just enough money to feed their families.

The tragedy in Rana Plaza shed light on the practices of multinational corporations that utilize the global supply chain to lower costs, even if this means risking the lives of hardworking and vulnerable people. At the same time, this unfortunate incident pushed many of these corporations to work with the global labor movement to reach agreements aimed at improving working conditions in Bangladesh.

As a result, today IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union joined leading fashion brands in signing a new Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

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Democratic Leaders Promise to Block National Right-to-Work (For Less) Bill

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Democrats’ top two congressional leaders have told the Teamsters that they will do everything possible to block a proposed so-called “national right to work” bill from passing the GOP-run Congress.

But while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made that pledge, she can do little to halt the legislation, authored by right-wing anti-worker and anti-Hispanic Rep. Peter King, R-Iowa.

The story is different with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Backed by his 46-member Democratic Caucus, plus two independents – Maine’s Angus King and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders – who usually support Democratic positions, Schumer controls enough votes to sustain a filibuster. They can thus talk RTW to death.

Right-to-work, which workers and their allies call “right to work for less,” has been a key business and right wing cause for more than 70 years, but now it’s only allowed state-by-state, under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which emasculated U.S. labor law.

King wants to nationalize RTW. Other national Republicans agree. They would let non-union members covered by union contracts use union services – bargaining and grievances – without paying one red cent for them. That robs unions of needed money to defend all workers.

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Save America’s Steel Jobs, President Trump

Scott Paul

Scott Paul Director, AAM

The Trump administration is concerned the domestic steel industry, shocked by massive global overcapacity and layoffs, may not be able to supply U.S. defense needs in a time of crisis or conflict.

Say what you will about this president, but when it comes to this he has a point: Steel is a significant input in many military applications, and is essential to our critical infrastructure here at home. The American steel industry has been notably unstable, a result of massive distortions in the global market, caused mainly by China. This crisis has resulted in more than 14,000 steelworker layoffs in the past 18 months at a time it should be churning out more jobs, given our relatively healthy domestic economy.

President Trump had those layoffs in mind when he ordered an investigation into the national security implications of steel imports. He could use its results to take stabilizing actions such as tariffs, quotas, or a combination of both, to rebalance the steel market.

With rumors circulating that the investigation’s findings are imminent, the investigation’s critics have grown increasingly shrill.

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Union Matters

Is Donald Trump Keeping His Promises on Trade?

Candidate Trump made a lot of promises about what he called America's "failed trade policies." But is President Trump keeping his word? Yes, no — and maybe? Host Scott Paul and the Alliance for American Manufacturing's Scott Boos take a deep dive.

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Support for Medicare-for-All is Growing

Support for Medicare-for-All is Growing