Stop the TPP Now: Restoring Trust in Trade Policy

by Stan Sorscher

  • TPP won’t work. The process that gave us TPP won’t work. TPP would lock in bad policy for a generation. That approach has lost legitimacy and it has lost trust.


I’m in favor of trade. I don’t know anyone opposed to trade. A better question is, “How should we manage globalization?”

We’ve lost trust in our approach to globalization. The Brexit vote in Europe was a vote of no confidence. Millions of voters in our presidential campaigns send a similar message. Globalization is not working for us.

We should rethink our approach to globalization if we hope to restore trust.

Strike one for trust in “free trade” – gains go to the top.

Under our trade policies since NAFTA, the gains from trade have gone to a few at the top, while workers and communities have lost out – even after counting the cheaper goods we buy from low-wage countries.

The US has lost millions of good jobs, and entire industries have disappeared from our economy. This would be OK if we had created millions of new good jobs. But we haven’t.

Workers in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia are still waiting for their gains from trade. NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade deals disrupted their economies. Millions of workers lost their jobs, their social support structures were weakened, and violence increased. Thousands of workers and unaccompanied minors were forced to leave their villages and migrate in search of work.

The issue is not workers in the US versus workers in Central America. The issue is workers in every country versus the 1% in every country.

Strike 2 for trust in “free trade” – bad power relationships

Mistrust reflects the bad power relationships in the policies we’ve chosen to manage globalization. Our trade policy helps global corporations move jobs and production from the US to Mexico. The same dynamic then applies when workers in Mexico see their jobs going to lower-paid workers in China. Workers in China worry about their jobs going even lower-paid workers in Vietnam. Workers everywhere lose bargaining power.

Continue reading

Dining Hall Workers at Harvard Win Strike

by Paul Garver


Harvard University Dining Hall workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 26, will return to work in two days following the successful resolution of a 3-week-long strike.and an expected member ratification vote.

The new contract will include a guaranteed annual salary of $35,000 and no increase in health insurance payments.

The workers enjoyed considerable support from Harvard students, from the local community and from other labor unions.   More than a thousand rallied and marched in support on 22nd October.   As a participant, I found the lively and racially diverse support march from Cambridge Common to the Cambridge City Hall to be a most spirited and upbeat labor demonstration.

Members of other UNITE HERE locals from as far away as Philadelphia and Atlantic City took part, as did Boston-area SEIU locals.   Young Democratic Socialist (YDS) members like Tom Dinardo from Philadelphia accompanied UNITE HERE delegations.

Spencer Brown,  a member of the Young Democratic Socialists at Wesleyan University, stated that he was also there to support food service workers organizing at Connecticut universities.

The Harvard-based Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) played a leading role in strike support, organizing large-scale student walkouts from classes and a 250 student occupation of the lobby of the Harvard administration building where contract negotiations were in their final phase.

As a long-term labor organizer, with whom the concept of an alliance between students and campus workers was first discussed during the Harvard strike of 1969, I observe that the strength and depth of alliances between students, even at elite universities, with campus workers of many types (even contingent faculty members!), is becoming more natural and organic as many students expect to be also subjected to precarious employment.

And the dining hall workers have are crediting the success of their struggle in part to the support they received from students, community members and other labor unions. But, of course, the workers themselves, their families, and their UNITE HERE local remain the bedrock.

Orwell Misunderstood- Right Wing Radio

By Brett Taylor

orwell I feel the subject of Right Wing Radio is an important one because it has such a profound impact on many working class people. Having worked in many blue collar jobs, I know that many workers rely on this source for their information about politics. I feel it is important to combat misinformation as much as possible.

Living as I do in a depressed region of the country, otherwise known as rural Appalachia, it is always a surprise when literary classics are casually mentioned in conversation. So I took note when two separate mentions of George Orwell’s work came up in a short span of time. The first was at a fairly menial job, where a rather eccentric coworker varied from his usual complaints about the current state of affairs to drop this literary reference: “I read 1984 in school,” he said, “but I never thought I’d see the day when I’d have to use it as a survival guide.” Aside from a certain amount of dubiousness about the parallels he was drawing between Big Brother and the Obama Administration, I was surprised at his familiarity with this literary work. A famous novel true, but I didn’t know him to be much of a reader but did know him to stretch the truth. I suspected he was quoting something he’d heard on Right Wing radio, which was usually booming from the lab in which he tested automotive materials. A few weeks later I was visiting the nearest library, which is a small one, and usually inhabited by a local retiree who makes frequent use of the Internet. This retiree, a former engineer I think, has a habit of loudly lecturing the librarian on the usual hot topics of the crackpot fringe, chem. trails and the Moon hoax and the like, the same topics regularly discussed on Alex Jones’ crackpot program. On this occasion he offered some advice to the librarian’s daughter, who looked to be Middle School age. “What books are they teaching you to read?” he asked. “Have you read Animal Farm? You need to read Animal Farm.” Again, I have never known this gentleman to read anything other than Internet news, so I suspected he was getting his literary opinions straight from his favorite radio hosts and their related websites.

Michael Savage has been known to reference Animal Farm on his popular Right Wing radio show. This is perhaps not too surprising, as the former Michael Weiner is simultaneously the vilest and the most literary-minded of the radio blowhard. The official Savage website includes a rather incoherent summary of Orwell’s book, presumably transcripted from the Savage Nation show. In this excerpt, Savage drags in Orwell in order to justify his belief that Obama is manipulating the turmoil surrounding attacks on Dallas police officers as an excuse to kill his opponents, apparently. “The Jim Crow laws are long dead,” according to Savage, “but Obama keeps referring to them.” Then Savage rhetorically asks, “Why does Obama keep referring to them?” The explanation is surprising and a little confusing: “If you read Animal Farm, you’ll find the answer.” The confusion is made worse by the fact that Savage keeps confusing the Bolshevik Revolution with the French one. Insisting on being an ardent student of the French Revolution, Savage describes Socialism as one long bloodbath: “Don’t you see what socialism is? It’s leading us to the guillotines.” This would be a surprise to the supporters of Bernie Sanders, who are largely more concerned with raising the minimum wage and combating social justice than in setting up guillotines in the streets. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Faculty on Strike

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, the union that represents 5500 faculty and coaches at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities took to the picket lines this morning, Oct. 19.

APSCUF President Kenneth Mash wrote to reporters, “At 11:35 p.m., we made a last attempt to negotiate through back channels. We waited until 5 a.m. We are headed to the picket lines, but even on the picket lines, our phones will be on, should the State System decide it doesn’t want to abandon its students.”

He added, “They’ll know where to find me at 5:30 a.m. I’ll be outside the chancellor’s office at the Dixon Center on the picket line.” Continue reading

Labor to knock on 1,000,000 doors

More Than 100,000 Volunteer Hours to Reach 1 Million Doors

In the final three weeks until Election Day, the AFL-CIO will leverage one hundred thousand volunteer hours to knock on one million doors in key battleground states. This acceleration of the Labor 2016 program is a pivotal effort to elect Hillary Clinton and pro-worker candidates across the country. In addition to speaking directly with voters at the door, union volunteers will engage in a wide range of GOTV actions, including phone banks and worksite leaflets.

“The GOTV efforts of local labor movements in the home stretch will propel working people towards Election Day,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “This is the peak of our political program. Together we will elect Hillary Clinton as the first woman president, and work with her administration to rewrite the economic rules so that working people can get ahead and stay ahead.”

In addition, the AFL-CIO will ramp up its direct mail program, which has been active since late August. In the final three weeks, almost 424,000 pieces of mail will reach union households, encouraging members to vote. Nearly 1.4 million slate cards listing pro-union candidates will also be mailed. These wide-ranging efforts will focus on voters in AFL-CIO Tier 1 states: Florida, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Contact: Jasmine Nazarett (202) 637-5018

From AFL-CIO blog.

The Left and Labor Should Take Donald Trump Very Seriously


Donald Trump Holds Pearl Harbor Day Rally At USS Yorktown

MT. PLEASANT, SC – DECEMBER 7: 2015.  (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Do you want to see movements like Black Lives Matter, Climate Justice, low-wage workers, immigrant rights, and other left social forces continue to grow and develop? Or do you want to see a Trump administration carry out ethnic cleansing as it sets loose armed white nationalists?

..This is the case with Donald Trump, who is all too easy to dismiss as inept, a clown, clueless, and more interested in the trappings of power than the details of policies.

However much truth there is to all this, it masks a grim reality. As president, Trump would launch an all-out war on social progress.

Those who think the ruling class will restrain him ignore that it has been unable to stop him thus far. Trump’s own party couldn’t do it. And despite Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the corporate media all lining up behind Clinton, Trump is gaining in the polls. Given his disdains for any laws, norms or rules, he would make the Bush era look like a paragon of probity and judiciousness. Continue reading

Chicago Teachers’ Strike – Averted

Late Monday evening, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) tweeted that only one thing could avert the citywide strike—its second in four years—scheduled for the next day: “We’re asking for $500/student for resources. Until the mayor decides to provide from TIFs, negotiations continue.”

A few minutes before midnight, CTU President Karen Lewis announced at a press conference that a tentative agreement had been reached and the strike was off. Asked by a reporter whether Mayor Rahm Emanuel had indeed agreed to release tax increment financing, or TIF, funds to the schools, Lewis said with a smile, “Well, it’s not in the contract, but there are rumors…”

It seemed that indeed, the mayor had “decided to provide from TIFs.” Later, a mayoral spokesperson confirmed to WBEZ that Emanuel was releasing $88 million in TIF money to schools, far less than would be needed to fund the CTU’s demand of an additional $500 per pupil.

What are TIFs, and how did this obscure and shadowy public financing tool become central to the battle over the future of Chicago public schools?

Reposted from Working In These Times