Burger King merger, political nonsense

facebook losses

image source: www.clusterflock.org

The recent Burger King, Tim Horton’s announced merger has you feeling? Angry, shocked, or? Myself I am in disbelief. Not of the actual merger or Burger King’s new home of Canada, but of the outrage. Politicians standing up, and speaking out against the new Burger King. “Avoiding Taxes”, you must be kidding! These outraged politicians are the same people who have created the tax game that BK and all the rest of corporate America are playing in. Why should we be surprised? Or is it, the politician playing their game? The game of outrage, acting as if they will do something to protect the tax-base, the middle-class? Washington politicians will they do something about Burger King? Why didn’t they do anything about General Electric when they paid NO taxes?
The issue at hand is not Burger King becoming Canadian and avoiding U.S. Taxes. The issue is the tax-code and the politicians who think we are all stupid! (Though there is no evidence that taxes paid to the U.S will be any less as Burger Kings are franchises.

One big political stunt to get us to believe the little guys being protected. From Obama on down, it’s just political foolishness that far too many of us are believing.

America, the land of less opportunity

stars and stripes

pic: Rebecca Betzler

America, the land of opportunity. This idea is what drives immigration, legal and illegal. Immigration is what built America and it will also be what destroys it. That is if we continue on our current path of inaction.

It has been nearly ten years since the banking crisis almost collapsed this nation. Since that time, America has battled (or pretended to) many a fight along the way . Unemployment, immigration, the housing crisis just to name a few. The response by our government, some believe good, others not so good. We have also seen to some degree civil unrest most notably the  Occupy Movement. Now just with this little bit said, where do you believe we are as a country? Has our country become stronger or weaker during this period?

Economically we are far weaker as a nation as well as a people. Immigration, many might say, has played a role in weakening our country. I am not of that belief, at least not in its stated form. This brings me back to the opening sentence, “the land of opportunity.” Opportunity is in America for the immigrant for now, but this will not last. The fight for those entry level jobs, those according to the Republican Party nobody wants, is becoming  a real fight. And the battle for these minimum wage jobs is becoming more difficult with each passing day. We have not built strong opportunities since the collapse of our economy. Not anywhere near what we did post World War 2. The jobs that our country has been creating, low paid service jobs. And we who are citizens are or soon will be fighting for these opportunities. Not because we want them, but because we will NEED them. The creation of living wage opportunities, like America experienced during the Post WW2 era, is that possible? Only if we begin to bring the jobs home. How do we do this?

Washington, that is where it begins and ends. Starting with not your vote, but your candidate. The positions of  your candidate on immigration and job creation, go hand in hand. We cannot continue to allow the growth of our population without strong job growth (outside the service industry). So your candidate must answer also to the tax-code and incentives for business to grow American jobs. The tax-code would also need to cover tax-penalties for shipping jobs overseas. Lastly we get to education. Making college more affordable and having a GI Bill that will cover in its entirety educational expense for veterans. Many complex issues for a candidate to answer, but we must be asking. America’s in decline? Take a good hard look around you and what do you see? Poverty is on the rise. Incomes have flat-lined for the working. The problems facing us are not singular issues. It is not just about jobs, immigration, food-stamps or a GI Bill. Though we are fighting as if they are.

Immigration will be the final nail in the coffin of America the great. How? It is all about jobs and education. If you look at America’s past we have cycled in new immigrants. As the second generation of each group began to work they moved out of the lower-end jobs. Today we do not have this. They are coming and staying in those jobs. Washington hasn’t created any meaningful new jobs to move up to. If Washington continues on with this, it is simple. Too many workers for the low-paying jobs.Washington has two choices, do something about jobs/education or stop immigration. If America cannot provide opportunity for its own people why are we allowing more to come?

The solar White House

image source: en wikipedia.org

image source: en wikipedia.org

The White House’s new solar panels are installed capping a project originally announced by President Obama in 2010. The project did not begin until late 2013, the cost to the taxpayer? Unknown as security issues will keep us from knowing how much and how many panels were installed. The solar panels will provide hot water and some electricity for the White House.

This is not a first for the White House. President Carter installed a solar water heating system in the late 1970’s at a cost of $30,000. Quickly removed by President Reagan when he took office.President George W. Bush did return to some solar while in office, powering a maintenance building, some of the mansion and heating his pool with the sun.

What is absent in the “solar story”, is the rest of our beloved government. First, they are in Washington to spend our money prudently are they not? With attacks on the middle-class and social programs, where is the cost saving ideas when it comes to them? The White House and it’s new solar panels should have been mandated by our government long ago. The House and the Senate buildings should also be powered by solar along with any building within the Federal Parks system ( without destroying its visual beauty). Saving us the taxpayer money on the “cost of government”. The solar panels are expected to return the full investment in eight years.

The cost to run the government, that is the home. When you or I need to buckle down and restrict the budget we look for savings wherever we can get it. And yes, sometimes we also spend money to save money in the long run. That is the key! The long run, our government is unable to look forward to the long run. They need to be held accountable to this idea.

The question that will be left unanswered at least until 2016 is, “how long will the solar panels remain on the White House this time?

Its the economic cycle stupid!

facebook losses

image source: www.clusterflock.org

Everywhere you look there is somebody that’s STUPID. From a rather young age we begin to recognize stupidity. I know my children did, as there were times I needed to shush them in public using the “s” word too loud. They needed to learn sensitivity, right?

What is stupid? Most certainly it is subjective and the words that I continue with are subjective. Back to stupid! We lived through the 2005 banking collapse and the Great Recession that followed (some more successfully than others). What have we learned? This question is what defines stupid for this post. The stock market is racing to new highs seemingly each day. With this friends, co-workers and family expressing glee are thrilled to announce their new-found wealth. Is this financial cycle different from any previous financial cycles? I guess not, making the excitement of new riches part of it I imagine. So why is it stupid? Why am I pointing the finger of stupid at others, heck too some degree myself! Because, nothing has fundamentally changed. 

Attitudes, economics, politics and theory has not been altered. Not moved by the collapse of banks, credit, personal wealth, the housing market. We have had protests and some push back (Occupy, Fight for 15). A few states have increased their minimum-wages, but is that it? The Right-Wing has won far more, reducing the size of government, not spending  just payroll! This has only weakened the LABOR MOVEMENT and the size of organized labor, with the promise of lower taxes? Is your tax bill smaller? Not in New Jersey where the “shrinking” of government took place. Good 99%’s voted in the Republican Christie and bought in to the lies of smaller government! Not once but twice. So that is where the example of stupid is quantified. ( I DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM ON EITHER OCCASION).

Disgust, is that what I am feeling? Is that what you are feeling? Or should we be standing with the vast majority? The people who have embraced the “recovery”. Fully accepted their stock market gains, planning their futures, their retirements as if that money will never go away. We will never experience another downturn, banking collapse or money crisis. Our government has……………………………..done nothing.

Unions, start rebuilding with education

source: theblogofprogress.com

source: theblogofprogress.com

Rebuilding the Union Movement, where to begin? America’s unions are in decline and Americas Middle-Class is following right along. To go through the laundry list of reasons for the decline, take your pick. For today’s post, picking a reason or to find blame is not what we are after. We want to rebuild and to do this we should only look back to find what could work, what has worked.

Education, the foundation of any successful organization. Many years back this is where I got my start in the union movement. Not education of current members, but potentially future members. The program run by our Regional Union went to area high schools by request or during career days. The basic premise was to give the young minds eager to begin the next phase of their lives, something to think about. I altered the program to my liking just a bit in the introduction. Calling two students (girl/boy) to the front of the room, I had them pass out our literature, telling them to return when completed. After they were completed I would pay them a small amount for their services. I did not pay them equally. This would immediately begin the discussion and boy was it lively! I began by explaining what an at will employee was. Then to move into the other big issue, disparity of pay between men and women. Most all times, the children were attentive and left with the basic concept of what unions do, equality. 

The importance of  this education was first experiences. As many of these high school kids knew little to nothing about unions. Sadly like many programs and union jobs, it was lost to funding cuts. The program was cut about 14 years ago. And we see clearly union membership decline in large amounts over this period, coincidence?

We need to rebuild but we are not educating our youth. Isn’t our youth the future of everything? Calling on all UNIONS! educated your members, the public and most importantly the future workers of America. Pro-creation is the only possible way to rebuild our future.

Interaction, ideas far better then complaints

source: theblogofprogress.com

source: theblogofprogress.com

Passion or anger? Smart or dumb? Both of these questions are obviously opposite sides of the coin. As a young man getting my feet wet in the working world I became very interested and out-spoken in the goings on within my workplace. Why? I didn’t agree with some of the union language, practices and treatment of some within my workplace. The powers to be at the time did not appreciate my opinions and positions, but that did not matter much to me. I did not care if I was liked or being part of the club. I was exercising my rights and getting my voice heard and isn’t this the point of being unionized?

Today many years later much as changed in my workplace and in my way of thinking. What was poor treatment of the worker is gone. The issues I fought for, equality from top to bottom and fair treatment of all have been realized. Along with better wages, time-off and opportunity. Sadly though a large portion (the younger) of the population do not see this. One reason being they were not part of that past. Other reasons, ignorance and laziness. Ignorance in having no interest in learning the past and understanding where we have come from. Laziness, the lack of reading and understanding what they have. The reliance on others to read, explain what is clearly written in their collective bargaining agreement. Why read? “That’s what you (the steward) is there for.” Really! This is the overwhelming response, verbally and in actions, by asking the same questions over and over again. Along with repeating the same mistakes.

The lack of interaction is what really is disturbing. Union meetings that are of low attendance for one. Followed up by the complaining! Lets understand what complaining I am referring to. The complaints of “why” things are the way they are. I get the fact that things do change, so with a complaint should come an idea, should it not? One would expect one but they rarely are offered. Complaining, a nation of whiners is what we have become. Is it just better to complain and blame others for the things you desire but do not have the guts/ambition to go get?

Being lazy and a nation of wimps is what we have become. Far too few are real leaders (though they act is if they want to be), stepping out and challenging the status quo with real ideas and a vision. Where would we (I) be today if it were not for standing up, speaking my mind and offering real ideas? And being willing to challenge and eventually lead?

Passion or anger? It is a little of both. I have passion for my beliefs and the change I have brought. Anger for those who have plenty of negative things to say but offer no real ideas. Until ideas are offered, I will remain the smartest in the room and you the lazy complainer will stay DUMB. Or for a nicer more sensitive way of stating, far too many are okay with being wet behind the ears.”

 

The cost of diversity, declining wages, benefits, pensions

image source: http://awesomedc.com

image source: http://awesomedc.com

Friday, Boeing’s machinists in Seattle approved their contract by a 51-49 percent margin. What was at stake, jobs building the new 777-X jetliner and the workers defined benefit pension. Boeing threatened to move the work if the contract was not ratified. Reading the news of the narrowly approved agreement and statements of “they held a gun to our head and fear of job loss by younger workers” (51% of the workers are under age 50 ). This vote is a significant one for the rest of America’s workers and a lesson comes from it.

For the record I do not have direct knowledge of Boeing contract negotiations.

Diversity in the workplace, age, male/female, race, directly impact all negotiations. Boeing’s make-up is no different and the resulting statements coming from the vote show this. Understanding your membership, this is not easy for any union. As we witness the death of the defined benefit pension throughout the United States and the change to defined contribution,is diversity playing a role? Listening to younger workers within my own experiences many do not view this as a negative or literally have no opinion at all. Is this a failure of leadership? I was certainly young once and I will admit at the time pensions were down on the priority list. But they were on the list! It was on my list because I listened to mentors in my life and understood the value of a defined pension, how it worked and how it would secure my golden years. Today we have little of that and why? Is it because unions are just plain struggling for membership? Not having the time and resources to educate their membership on what is important and the history of their Unions and the labor movement.

Race plays a part? Sure it does! If you have emigrated from countries that have none of what America offers, some can be far more! Is the worker who emigrated to our shores to blame or again is it the leadership of the unions? Why would any of these workers be interested in labor history or the history of their workplaces? First and foremost they are ingratiated to the company for the “opportunity” which puts the union(s) behind. And what have they done to prevent this swing to the un-knowledgeable? Little at the local level, the information must come to the worker(s) as they will not seek it out.

Diversity, if it is a woman in the workplace as the non-bread winner or an immigrant, unions have not responded well to this change, or have they? Is what we are seeing in the losses of pension benefits directly related to the changes in our workplace make-up and what the new workforce(s) deem priorities? We can blame Corporate America and label them whatever we want but it is not working. “WE” have our hand in the pie and are deciding what’s worth fighting for. Apparently it is not the defined benefit pension.

Corporate America, who were forced by laws to be inclusive have figured out how to also use this diversity to their advantage. Not to say everyone has bought in to this but far too many have. Creating a “feel good” environment and  perceived “equal opportunity”.  The facts are clear, a declining middle-class, more in poverty and the loss of benefits. Recently it was published that women are closer to making what a man makes in similar jobs. Women are doing better but the number is misleading, the wage gap is also being closed by the decline in wages overall.

A personal experience in the hiring practices of a company who I have direct knowledge. “The Company uses a temporary service to fill the holes of their company. They are long-term temp-workers who the company have also used as their hiring pool for full-time employment. (Many of these temp-workers relatively recent immigrants) They work as temps, making less-then $10.00 an hour. They work hard for the opportunity for the few full-time jobs available. When they are hired, their wages more-than double. The company dangles these few opportunities and generally get hard work from those competing and if/when they are hired, the employee eternally ingratiated, shown by the lack of union participation. Do they become good union members, interested in the advancement of the group as a whole? The experience has been NO in nearly all of the hires. Does the company know what they are doing? The results would indicate they do. The new workers wages are increased exponentially and their interest in the value of formerly negotiated pension benefits? None, as the Company decreased their pension benefits without a whimper of protest. Who is to blame for this? I would have to say the unions who did little to bring the individual into the collective family. Bring the education to the workers in all languages and also bring those languages to the unions and their leadership.

In Boeing’s case the contract vote was very close split by the divide by age. Taking sides? I would lean toward the older worker and the defined benefit pension. As for their future? Only time will tell us if they will do better than their fathers.

 

 

 

 

Elections online, is this the natural progression?

image source:http://egb63.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/

image source:http://egb63.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/

Expanding the digital age to voting, a natural progression? In the 2008 presidential election President Obama won big and did it with young voters, using social media and the internet. Obama’s use of social media was considered a game changer in future elections and it certainly aided in his re-election. To some (including myself) the next step in improving elections would be online-voting. What protest would occur from the Republicans? Prior to the 2012 election they were behind the push for voter-id were they not? So would a digital-id serve as a perfect system for verifying votes?

Voter participation, we applaud above 50% turnout! (?) In the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election the turnout was a mere 37%, not a record low. The special election for Senate weeks before the lowest ever at 24.5% participation. ( Governor Christie’s plan) These numbers say plenty, though I am not so sure what they say. Lack of inspiration for the candidates? Disinterest in politics in general? Or too difficult (not enough time) to go to the polls and vote? So how would online-voting change participation? Two of the three questions won’t be answered if we were to have voting online. But one would and it could also correct the “voting fraud” alleged by Republicans. A bigger benefit would be the cost of elections. Voting machines are expensive (purchasing/maintaining), as well as using voting sites. Online votes could be counted by poll workers on a lap-top or an I-pad.

The future of America depends much on voter participation and lack of it. So to move forward we first must push out the idea to state governments and find out where the politicians stand. If they are against the idea, then push them for why. Even if the participation remains the same with online voting we will still accomplish two things. One it will eliminate fraud ( or the GOP claims), second it will make voting cheaper and saving money is always good.

A New Year, A New System

facebook losses

image source: www.clusterflock.org

As this year nears its end and fades into history, and a new year, full of possibilities, lay before us, it is only natural to think about our (collective and individual) future. Many propose New Year’s Resolutions –to lose more weight, see our loved ones more often, work harder to get a raise-in hopes of making the new year better than the old. Some may even take a look at the world around them and vow to get more involved, to pick an issue (or set of issues) and attempt to make progress. For anyone who is hoping that 2014 will be the year of democracy, a chance to transcend the post-Citizens United America and work toward a fairer and more democratic political system, here is an idea worth discussing.

Yale Law School professors Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres have developed a two-part campaign finance reform which is dynamic, creative, and purposefully designed to avoid constitutional and popular objections. (Note: My source of this information is David Schweickart’s book After Capitalism). It is very different from many of the typical progressive approaches to the issue. It is best to be viewed as an immediate reform which can be implemented to make our current system fairer. It is not, however, the end of the line. It is a step toward a full publically funded, participatory, and pluralistic democracy.

Theoretically, a democracy is supposed to be organized along one person, one vote lines. However, when money pervades the system (as in the United States), and the “democratic” society in question is unequal and class-stratified, this principle surrenders to one dollar, one vote. Those with the lion’s share of the wealth and influence in society can, and do, use their privileged positions to influence the “democratic” process to their favor. Thus, one ends up with plutocracy rather than democracy. The 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. F.E.C. has destroyed any semblance of campaign finance regulation designed to curb moneyed influence and create a level playing field. This situation is now thus that two individuals (the Koch Brothers), to name just one example, can have vastly greater sway over the government of the United States than even those elected to run it. Since there is no chance that the entire system can be scrapped and remade overnight, what can we do in the interim?

Ackerman and Ayres have an answer. They propose a two-part plan. The first part consists of providing every eligible voter with a credit card. On each credit card is $50 that can only be used to donate to candidates and/or political parties of their choosing. This includes third parties. The $50 can be distributed to as many candidates and/or parties as the citizen chooses. These cards have been called “Patriot Cards”. These cards are publically funded. But wouldn’t this cost a fortune? Not quite. As Schweickart points out, if all 200 million or so eligible voters use their $50 card, the cost would be around $10 billion. This amount is equivalent to about 0.3% of the Federal Budget. Even if half of it was used (about $5 billion) it would be enough to offset the influence exercised by the super rich. This proposal is fair, equitable, relatively inexpensive, and largely avoids constitutional issues regarding money and free speech.

The second part of the plan involves what happens once the money is donated. Part two insists that all donations, from the “Patriot Cards” as well as from private donations, have to be made anonymously. All anonymous donations would go into a trust ran by the Federal Elections Committee. From there, the money would be distributed into each candidate/party account. So, under this plan, politicians still get money from private donors, they just do not know which private donors. This would eliminate the quid pro quo which dominates our political landscape today. This is still a far cry from publically funded elections, and there will still remain an imbalance in the amount of money given. But the playing field between the top 1% and everyone else is significantly leveled. With the “Patriot Cards”, citizens can match the amount of money pumped into the system by the top 1%. With the anonymity rules, Super PACs and private donors cannot openly support candidates financially, and thus cannot demand special favors in return.

The hope is that this plan would reinvigorate democratic discourse in the US. It would also create space for third parties and independent candidates. It would largely alter the landscape which currently exists that bestows upon the rich undue influence in our political system. It also does so in a relatively uncontroversial manner. Though doubtless there are some, it remains difficult to find a compelling enough reason not to employ this strategy. It is this author’s opinion that this is a great step in the right direction toward “democratizing democracy” in America. It will give workers and ordinary citizens some space from which to challenge the plutocracy and, perhaps, create some political inertia to move toward a full publically funded political system. So, if you are looking for a New Year’s Resolution, perhaps you might consider making America a truly democratic place one of them.

Wages on the rise for women, is this the real story?

facebook losses

image source: www.clusterflock.org

A recent study suggests that wages are on the rise for women in the United States. Women now earn .93 cents to each dollar a man earns. Some may call this an improvement and it is despite the continued disparity. The real question, “is wages really improving for women or are overall wages decreasing?

The consumer economy and the continued high unemployment just might be the factors that affected these results. Taking these numbers in hand and declaring it a victory will lead to future disappointment for women and the rest of the workers in America. How can we achieve wage parity? UNIONIZE of course!

additional reading: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/12/11/on-pay-gap-millennial-women-near-parity-for-now/

 

John Boehner continues to pander to the hard-right on workplace non-discrimination

Congress

image source: www.teambuildinginc.com

“The speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business” Michael Steel John Boehner’s press secretary. This was the statement made on Speaker Boehner’s position on The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 and not taking to a vote on the House floor. The proposed legislation would protect those in the workplace that are gay from discrimination. While many large corporations already have policies that cover this issue (90% of Fortune 500 companies) this legislation would close the door this workplace issue. Boehner’s statement begs to ask, “How will this cost American jobs?”

Boehner who again is using his leadership to protect the views of the hard-right is not even addressing it with a legitimate statement. It is all about votes and support from your base. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heritage Action two conservative groups that announced opposition that Boehner would be pandering to. Next year the entire House will be up for re-election so it is highly doubtful that this legislation will make it to a vote. Possibly in next years lame-duck? That looks as if then will be the next opportunity to push legislation through.

Boehner is protecting his own ass on this one and again ignoring what is the right.

UNIONS need UNION candidates

image: insurancejournal.com

image: insurancejournal.com

Supporting those who sort of support us. This the conversation I had the other day with my contributor Shane Johnson. Shane was a bit disgusted with his union throwing support behind a candidate who didn’t fully support his unions agenda. The opponent held NONE of the values of his union, making the Democrat a no-brainer pick despite his flaws. The question asked, “why support anyone?” In the answer I gave, it is better to have someone who would some support your unions positions then to have nobody. Not quite the answer Shane was satisfied with. Also an answer that I wasn’t satisfied with but its politics.

The decline of unionism, it begins with the unions themselves. Much as been written on politics and unions. To believe unions have no responsibility for their state is foolish. Actively involved in politics they are failing in providing the right candidate. The Democrats/Republicans provide the candidate, the unions decide on generally the Democrat despite flaws. We can call this default. In this default the unions and their members have and will continue to fight to hang on. Spending money not to advance. We can certainly find many a failed decisions when it comes to support. Just the other day Democratic candidate for NJ Governor Barbara Buono was boasting of a police union who threw support behind her. This union previously supported Republican Governor Christie in the last election. Did the union have Governor Christie’s support? Apparently not.

For unions to advance and grow, they must begin to grow their own candidates. Homegrown union candidates beginning at local levels. Moving them through the levels of government to gain name recognition and most importantly experience. The North East, strong union country so why not strong UNION candidates? Where do we find them? Within our ranks! Training and education, to be a candidate, is where some if not most of the political money needs to be spent.

Finding the perfect union candidate has been impossible and easily seen in the decline of unionism. This will not get better until we pool our resources, educate and train our members to become candidates. If we do this, we will not be debating endorsements.

In Guns We Trust, your Republican Party

baby w gunIn guns we trust”, this the slogan of the Republican Party? If we consider the Republican Party’s reaction each time there is a mass murder in the United States it is difficult to come up with any other slogan. The latest mass killings in Washington again had the Right-Wing Media on the same attack with the same phrases. “Responsible gun-owners” and the effects legislating changes to our gun laws being “unconstitutional”. . Those of us on the responsible side of life, need to reflect on our argument as the politicians in Washington (and states) have not listened. Nothing has changed after any of the recent mass killings. Children slaughtered in their schools, people murdered attending a movie, death’s at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, the list goes on.

In Colorado voters successfully removed two Democratic state senators for their support of gun control measures in the state in a recall vote. Angela Giron and John Morse lost in a special election to be replaced by two Republicans. Though in a small district in the state, some call it a proxy battle between gun-control advocates ( N.Y Mayor Bloomberg donated $350,000) and the National Rifle Association. Morse who was also the Senate President was pounced on after a March remark (on the Senate floor speaking on gun violence) “cleansing a sickness from our souls.” 

The real sickness is the platform of the Republican Party. Health, education, jobs, seniors is the short-list of their non-action while they protect guns and support less regulation on them. While also supporting government shutdowns so not to provide health care for all the countries citizens. Lets not forget the one supporting issue that screams hypocrisy, protecting the unborn. Support of this issue is not the argument nor being against their support is the issue I am taking up. I am simply asking, what does the GOP support once removed from the womb?

If we could create our country over in Republican ideology what would it be? For starters we would have far fewer people roaming our lands (more dead by guns). Guns would be the police and our justice system. The life expectancy would be far lower, many killed by those guns, while the rest dying young from curable illness because of little accessible health care.  Living in their Ivory Tower protected possibly by a moat full of polluted water (as environmental regulations would be none) or very underpaid protectors the Republican.

I stated earlier that we need to reflect on our argument so that we might change our future. Gun-Rights advocates are not winning as evidenced by the small Colorado recall. All I know is that the cartoon Family Guy had it right when the baby came out of the womb firing off a gun. Now that would be the perfect Republican Country.

 

 

Growing the ranks of Labor, a future National Union?

pic: defender of the middle class

pic: defender of the middle class

Richard Trumka’s plan to increase the ranks of the AFL-CIO by allowing entry of non-union affiliates such as the  NAACP, Sierra Club, The National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group and MomsRising, an advocacy group for women’s and family issues , long over due. The shrinking size of labor organizations has and is killing America’s economy. The immediate future certainly does not bode well for labor making a move like this important. It also falls short.

The power of the masses, we know what effect it has had on politicians and our welfare in the past. But what of the individual? How can we include them in the labor movement? Unions need to think outside of the box. Allowing individuals to become part of the labor movement through membership. Offering benefits through membership, that unionized workers receive, such as lower cost life insurances (group rates), offers on credit cards. These are just two of many opportunities of being part of a large group that may attract individuals. Exposure to the labor movement, their periodicals and the vast knowledge of the organizations.

AFL-CIO officials could also be entertaining the above (NY TIMES) looking to failed organizing drives and bringing in potential supporters as members. And also providing them some benefits as we suggested above. Unions should also be looking toward this as a way to increase membership and voices. A stronger lobby base is what’s needed and opening the doors to everyone to an inclusive union is the answer.

The plan by the AFL-CIO if successful would be great boost for the labor movement in America. All unions should be embracing this idea, to increase their ranks and ultimately a stronger voice.

National Union? We think so check out this previous post under our tag UNION

Activism, protests, strikes, unionism, raising the minimum wage

pic: defender of the middle-class

pic: defender of the middle-class

“Elimination of labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standards of living necessary for health, efficiency and well-being of workers” ( FLSA 1938)

When Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, President Roosevelt boasted that it was “the most far-reaching , far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted.” The Act provided us the maximum workweek of 40 hours and  a minimum wage of .40 and hour (by 1945).  Much has changed since and also much as reverted back to the days of poor treatment of workers.

Labor Day and where we stand as a nation; we are on the cusp of becoming a two-class economy. Some in the media would like you to believe, unions are no-longer relevant but as we have seen recently this is far from the truth. Labor is standing behind those who desperately need help. The fight for a higher minimum wage has labor support and can be seen around the nation in one-day strikes. Fast food and the retail industry are the subject of these actions. While President Obama supports a federal minimum wage of $9.00, the strikes seek a much higher floor, $15.00. The success of these actions will not just benefit those protesting. It will benefit the entire nation as higher wages will move the working poor off the rolls of welfare for one. More importantly will be tax-dollars to run our government (state/federal).

In our nations capital we have local politician’s fighting to protect low wage workers against the entry of Walmart. The Washington D.C. Council passed legislation that would increase their minimum wage by 50% for businesses that meet certain sales numbers ($1 billion in sales). Mayor Vincent C. Gray has not signed the legislation and has indicated that he would not. Walmart has pushed back hard and has stated that it would scrap plans to open stores if the law is approved.With many politicians taking the side of business when it comes to legislation the D.C. Council deserves applause.

Labor and politicians (at least the ones on our side) are fighting to provide the foundation for the people to provide for themselves. Activism, with peaceful protests, lobbying of politicians and hard work the word is spreading. $7.25 an hour is no living wage. “The minimum standard of living necessary for health”, physical and economic. Not much has changed since 1938 has it?