Obama’s Praise for Companies Like Amazon Is Nothing New

By Mike Elk

An Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga, Tenn. struck many worker advocates as an odd stop for Obama on his recent “jobs tour” around the country. The president says he has gone on the tour in order to “lay out [his] ideas for how we can build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle-class in America.”

However, worker advocates claim that the low-pay temp jobs at the Chattanooga warehouse contribute to a disturbing trend of middle-class erosion. As Dave Jamieson of the Huffington Post reported earlier this week, Amazon employs a temporary staffing agency at the warehouse, Integrity Staffing Solutions, that advertises seasonal jobs at the warehouse with a starting pay of $11.50 an hour, or about $24,000 a year (significantly less than the estimated living wage [PDF] for a dual-earner family of four in Chattanooga, which is $12.54 an hour). Continue reading

Obama’s Speaking Tour: More ‘Talk the Talk’ Again

This analysis of  President Obama’s current economic pivot was written before today’s Knox College speech. The author provides an update here.–Talking Union

by Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

This coming week and next, President Obama is reportedly planning to make a series of speeches on the economy. The deeper purpose of his coming speaking tour, however, is to stake out his position for the upcoming budget and deficit cutting battle that this writer has been predicting will occur within the next few months, as both the new budget year begins October 1 and a new ‘debt ceiling’ extension deadline concurrently approaches .

The hiatus in deficit cutting—aka ‘Austerity American Style’—that has characterized recent month is now coming to an end. A new round of austerity negotiations between the administration and radical conservatives in the US House of Representatives is about to begin. (For a deeper analysis, see this writer’s recent article entitled ‘Austerity American Style’ in the July issue of Against the Current magazine, as well as on the blog, jackrasmus.com).

Obama’s new Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, provided the administration’s first ‘shot across the bow’ last week, announcing that the administration would not tolerate another ‘debt ceiling crisis’ in the coming months like that which occurred in August 2011. Once again, as in the past, House Republicans simply shrugged, having recently cut food stamps for millions and engineered a phony agreement on student debt interest payments.

Continue reading

IBEW Chimes In with Obamacare Concerns

By Bruce Vail

In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage.   (From the IBEW website)

In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage. (From the IBEW website)

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) added its voice last week to the growing number of labor unions with complaints about how President Barack Obama is handling implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), better known as Obamacare.

The 725,000-member IBEW released a white paper on July 11 calling for changes to how the law treats multi-employer plans (also known as Taft-Hartley plans). These plans, which are jointly administered by unions and their employers, are endangered by the ACA because it will discourage employers from participating in the plans, and place some existing union employers at a financial disadvantage. The health insurance of more than 350,000 IBEW members covered by such plans is at risk, says IBEW spokesperson Jim Spellane. Continue reading

The Part-Timer Problem

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

The Obama Administration’s decision to delay for a year the penalty that employers (in firms of 50 or more employees) must pay if they don’t provide health insurance to their workers shines a light on a problem that may be even more profound than getting health coverage for every American: that is, the decline of the American job.

The employer mandate was designed for an economy in which American workers were employed in what had been normal jobs. In firms of 50 or more, all workers who put in at least 30 hours a week were either to receive coverage from the firm or else the firm would have to pay the government a $2,000 yearly penalty.

Problem is, fewer and fewer workers are putting in 30 hours a week. To begin with, labor-force participation is at its lowest level since women increased their work-force participation in the 1970s. It has declined even during the past four years of so-called recovery. The past four years have also seen a rise in the percentage of workers who are part-timers, who currently constitute 19 percent of the work force. Full-time work has been declining for nearly half-a-century. In 1966, the average workweek was 38.7 hours. Today, it’s 34.5. Continue reading

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on FY 2014 Budget Proposal

Richard Trumka (April 10, 2013) A president’s budget is more than just numbers.  It is a profoundly moral document.  We believe cutting Social Security benefits and shifting costs to Medicare beneficiaries – while exempting corporate America from shared sacrifice – is wrong and indefensible.

The administration’s budget cuts cost-of-living increases for current and future Social Security beneficiaries by $130 billion over 10 years, and much more in future years.  It shifts $64 billion in health care costs to Medicare beneficiaries over 10 years.  Yet despite closing some loopholes, it calls for corporate income tax reform that is “revenue neutral” – meaning it fails to ask big, profitable corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Continue reading

Court Ruling on Labor Board Harms Workers

rose-demoro
By RoseAnn DeMoro
NNU Executive Director

When the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Friday to overturn President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, it handed a huge gift to Wall Street, big corporations and the politicians they control.

In health care, the implications are especially insidious. It is a clear assault on the ability of nurses to act collectively to improve safety standards and public protections for patients.

When the labor board is not dominated by corporate-oriented appointees, as it has been most of the past four decades, the game plan of the antiunion crowd is to bar the board from operating, either by refusing to confirm appointees, de-funding it or destabilizing it. That was what prompted these recess appointments, made by President Obama only after the Senate minority blocked confirmation of his nominees needed to restore a quorum on the board to enable it to function. Continue reading

Reject the Fiscal Cliff, Tax the Rich

Invest in Infrastructure and Services

Democratic Socialists of America logo

Democratic Socialists of America logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A statement of the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America

November 20, 2012

 DSA rejects the “fiscal cliff” hysteria of the corporate establishment and the pressure for a “Grand Bargain” that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. While unemployment remains high and economic growth slow, the government should not impose austerity measures that reduce essential programs that benefit the middle and working classes and that further shred the safety net for the most vulnerable. Rather, government policy should prioritize investments in job creation, public education and healthcare reform, while raising essential revenues by taxing the large corporations and wealthiest citizens who can afford to pay.

 

Immediately after the election, Wall Street-backed foundations such as Third Way and the Concord Coalition organized a “Campaign to Fix the Debt” to spin the election results as a mandate for a “bi-partisan” focus on reducing the deficit as the highest national priority. For decades the billionaire Pete Peterson has funded groups that claim that the universal entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare are bankrupting the nation and that their future growth must thus be drastically trimmed.  These neoliberals scored an initial success in 2011 when the Simpson-Bowles Congressional Commission put to a vote a long-term “budget compromise” that would have instituted three times as much in budget cuts than in tax increases. But despite President Obama’s evident willingness to reach such a one-sided compromise, Tea Party insistence on no tax increases, even on the wealthiest, scuttled the deal. The “resolution” of this manufactured, alleged “budget crisis” was to postpone a decision on further deficit reduction until the end of 2012, hence the contrived “fiscal cliff.” Continue reading

President Obama establishes Cesar Chavez National Monument

The historic visit of Barack Obama to La Paz and the dedication of the Cesar Chavez Monument as a national historic site is important.

The video is here. http://choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com/2012/10/president-obama-creates-monument-to.html

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President Obama to establish César E. Chávez National Monument

 

Duncan West speaking with Cesar Chavez. The De...

On October 8th, 2012, President Obama will travel to Keene, California to announce the establishment of the César E. Chávez National Monument. Years in the making, the monument – which will be designated under the Antiquities Act – will be established on the property known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz.  The La Paz property is recognized worldwide for its historic link to civil rights icon César Estrada Chávez and the farm worker movement. The site served as the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW) as well as the home and workplace of César Chávez and his family from the early 1970’s until Chávez’ death in 1993, and includes his grave site which will also be part of the monument.

“César Chávez gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere,” said President Obama. “La Paz was at the center of some of the most significant civil rights moments in our nation’s history, and by designating it a national monument, Chávez’ legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come.” Continue reading

Beyond November: Thoughts on politics, social movements, and the 2012 elections

By Michael Hirsch and Jason Schulman

[This article first appeared in the September issue of Jacobin.]

Marx wrote in The Civil War in France that every few years workers got to decide which members of the ruling class were to misrepresent them. How right he was. And is. That is incontestable. What’s at issue are the implications. What politics is necessary in a formal democracy where elites have a stranglehold on national election outcomes and even candidate selection? What is to be done when the working class acts less like a class for itself and more like a crush of sharp-elbowed shoppers at a Walmart Presidents’ Day sale?

While movements for social and economic justice are in the final instance the agents of historical change, election efforts should reflect those movement interests. Yet the form electoral action takes rarely jibes with movement needs.

In no advanced industrial nation, and especially not the United States, have the needs of social movements and electoral gains been conjoined. Worldwide, the Occupiers deny a connection is even warranted—the Spanish Indignados are the most vocal—saying that political parties of the Left and Right inevitably work to maintain social order. Descriptively, it’s true; that is how governments of the Left and Right have acted, at least since the Second World War. But it’s not inevitable, and abandoning politics is no solution. Continue reading

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