Why It Would Be a Mistake for SEIU to Endorse Clinton

Français : Logo SEIU

Français : Logo SEIU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why it would be a tragic mistake for SEIU to endorse HRC at this time.
This letter is being sent to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and members of the IEB.  This is also being cc’d to members of the Board of Directors of SEIU Local 503 in Oregon, the local to which we belong.
Unhappy with the pro-corporate/pro-Wall St. bias of the Democratic Party establishment, of which Hillary Clinton is a major player; early on we have been among the many labor activists calling for Sen. Elizabeth Warren to step up and run for President.
We have long been appreciative of the stances taken by Senator Bernie Sanders on labor issues, and on broader economic and social justice issues.  However, when Sanders first announced his candidacy, many of us were unsure that he could mount a credible national campaign and candidacy.  What has happened since has surprised almost everyone.  The issues and values that we hold near and dear are today at the center of national discussion and in the Presidential debate.  For this, we largely have Senator Bernie Sanders to thank.
We list a number of reasons below why, 1) Hillary Clinton is not our candidate, at least not in this primary period, and 2) any primary endorsement should be the result of an exhaustive process of union-wide discussion in which our International provides hard facts to our members on the actual positions and voting records of all the candidates on the issues of critical importance to us. Continue reading

Bending the Arc of History

by Stan Sorscher

Many economists and policy-makers struggle to explain growing inequality and the erosion of the middle class.

Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman has a simple explanation, “…corporations use their growing monopoly power to raise prices without passing the gains on to their employees.”

The top 1% take 93% of all new gains created in our economy.

They divide gains that way – because they can!



Years ago, manufacturing workers had relatively strong bargaining power, which created a wage floor for all workers in the economy. Not anymore.

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As the 1 Percent Leaves the 99 Percent in the Dust, Bush’s Chief Economist is Smiling

by Gregory N. Heires

2008_Top1percentUSAPerhaps you shouldn’t be surprised that the chief economist during George W. Bush’s presidency seems happy that economic inequality in our country is at its most extreme since the Great Depression.

After all, the Bush administration delivered huge tax breaks to the wealthy, the very people described by the former president as his political base.

N. Gregory MankiwN. Gregory Mankiw, chair of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romey and now chair and professor of economics at Harvard University, created a stir with his pre-publication release of a new paper entitled, “In Defense of the One Percent.”

Author of the college textbook “Principles of Economics,” Mankiw stands behind conservative political and economic policies whose success has come at a high social cost. Continue reading

Inequality is real, expensive, and it was created

Here’s is an attractive, short.animated video narrated by Robert Reich for the launch of the Economic Policy Institute’s exciting new interactive website on inequality in the United States. The text below  is from the video description on Youtube.

Inequality is real, it’s personal, it’s expensive and it was created. Today, 1% of Americans are taking home nearly 20% of the country’s total income and own nearly 35% of the country’s wealth. This didn’t happen by accident. As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains, we allowed it to happen.

We can’t have a prosperous economy without a strong and prosperous middle class. Inequality can be fixed. So, let’s fix it.

inequality.is, a new interactive site from the Economic Policy Institute, explains the causes of and solutions to income inequality

Workers face an economic power gap

By Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

On Labor Day 2012, U.S. workers are in dire straits, and an increasing share of elite opinion says it’s their own damned fault.

Not quite so bluntly, of course. But it’s impossible to read the business press and the editorial pages without encountering the argument that the economy hasn’t perked up because of the “skills gap.” U.S. workers, this thinking goes, just don’t have the skills required by our advanced economy. If only our workers and schools were better, if only teachers unions ceased to exist, all would be well.
There are indeed some skills-gap problems plaguing the economy, but the downward mobility of U.S. workers results far more from their lack of power than their lack of skills.

Sacrilege: Wall Street Worship

by Leo Gerard

USW President Leo Gerard

Americans have been worshiping a bull. Too many citizens, and particularly politicians, prostrate themselves to Wall Street’s bronze idol.

They revere financial titans who pay themselves and their minions millions to manipulate money and gamble recklessly. Politicians gave tribute to the financiers with tax breaks and bailouts when the bankers’ bad bets threatened to bankrupt their institutions.

This false idolatry produced a nation gripped by massive unemployment, a nation in which destructive income inequality has risen beyond robber baron levels, a nation where greed has been perverted from sin to good, a nation where politicians genuflect to money changers, not majority citizens.

Salvation for the majority is not more failed trickle-down economics or more deregulation so that Wall Street can resume committing unfettered wagering. Redemption is political and economic systems devoted to serving the common good, not the affluent few.

These concepts — that governments should protect majorities and that the international financial collapse is an opportunity to transform the system into one supporting a more fraternal and just human family — are contained in a report released last week by the Pope’s Council for Justice and Peace. It says:

“The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence.”

Those values mandate economic and political systems that transcend “personal utility for the good of the community,” the report says, then adds:

“The primacy of the spiritual and of ethics needs to be restored and, with them, the primacy of politics, which is responsible for the common good – over the economy and finance.”

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Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street has captured the imagination and passion of millions of Americans who have lost hope that our nation’s policymakers are speaking for them. We support the protesters in their determination to hold Wall Street accountable and create good jobs.    We are proud that today on Wall Street, bus drivers, painters, nurses and utility workers are joining students and homeowners, the unemployed and the underemployed to call for fundamental change.  Across America, working people are turning out with their friends and neighbors in parks, congregations and union halls to express their frustration – and anger — about our country’s staggering wealth gap, the lack of work for people who want to work and the corrupting of our politics by business and financial elites.  The people who do the work to keep our great country running are being robbed not only of income, but of a voice.  It is time for all of us—the 99 percent—to be heard.

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Decline in Unions a Leading Factor in Income Inequality

By James Parks

Unions and Inequality


With union members under attack across the country, a new study shows how important unions are to the economy. The study, “Union Decline Accounts for Much of the Rise in Wage Inequality,” published in the August issue of the “American Sociological Review,” says the decline in the percentage of workers who belong to unions is worsening income inequality and closely parallels the decline of the middle-class.

In fact, the decline of union membership explains about a fifth of the increase in wage inequality among women and about a third among men, says Bruce Western, a professor of sociology at Harvard University and co-author of the study. According to Western:

Our study underscores the role of unions as an equalizing force in the labor market.

Even nonunion workers benefit from stronger unions as employers raise wages and increase employee benefits, says co-author Jake Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington:

For generations, unions have been the core institution advocating for more equitable wage distribution. Today, when unions—at least in the private sector—have largely disappeared, that means that this voice for equity has faded dramatically. People now have very different ideas about what’s acceptable in terms of pay distribution. Continue reading

On the Tenth Anniversary of G. W. Bush’s Tax Cuts: Where Has All The Money Gone

by Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

This month marks the tenth year anniversary of the first of George W. Bush’s three general tax cuts, passed between 2001-2003, which reduced taxes by a total of $3.4 trillion over the decade, 2001-2010. These general cuts were followed by a series of additional $1.1 trillion industry-specific tax cuts in 2004-2006 that, together with the 2001-2003 cuts, would raise the total Bush era tax cuts to approximately $4.5 trillion.

Various studies during the last decade estimated that 80% of the $3.4 trillion in general tax cuts–$2.7 trillion–were distributed to the top 20% richest households, and most of that to the wealthiest 1%. Thus, conservatively, together with the $1.1 trillion enacted specifically for businesses, a total of about $3.8 trillion in tax cut income were distributed to corporations, investors and the wealthiest households during the Bush years.

That $3.8 trillion is just about equal to the total growth under Bush in the federal government debt between 2000-2008. Bush entered office in 2001 with a federal debt of about $5.6 trillion and left it with approximately $9.5 trillion. The federal debt has since risen to $14.3 trillion, due to continuing costs of war and defense spending, falling tax revenues due to the current recession, direct bailouts, and the continuing negative impact of health care costs on Medicare and Medicaid. So where has all that $3.8 trillion in tax cut money gone, one might ask? To expand jobs? No. Today there are fewer jobs in the U.S. than there were when Bush came into office. Workers wages? No. Real wages are lower today than a decade ago. Continue reading

Making Business Succeed

by Stan Sorscher

Last spring, a congressional staffer introduced me to a new expression. She said, “Our job is to make business succeed.”

My message to her had been that careers in science and technology were threatened as our economy de-industrialized. As manufacturing work goes to low-wage countries, the engineering and R&D jobs will go, too. American engineers and technical workers will have fewer opportunities for career growth. Already, engineering and science graduates compete with hundreds of thousands of foreign temporary high-tech workers for entry-level high-tech jobs. About half of all engineering and science students find work outside of engineering and science, when they graduate from college. Our policies are undermining high-tech workers in America.

She was gently explaining how I had missed the point. Her job was to make business succeed. I was worried about workers. Her priorities and mine did not match up.
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