Archive for the ‘worker rights’ Category
In my opinion, this is a perfect example of the dangers of looking at real world jobs numbers in a lab environment. Money line:
One thing it’s worth observing here is that over the long-term the impact on jobs of any kind of international economic agreement is going to be zero.
Which is to say that over the long-term, the vast majority of able-bodied adults in a country who want jobs are going to find jobs.
See, because on a long enough timeline, you either find employment eventually, or die, or something. Anyway, it gets taken care of. Eventually. Shut up.
The UAW essentially sold-out 159,000 jobs to secure…800 jobs. And Yglesias is probably right that many of those hundreds of thousands of real-life people will get jobs somewhere. They may be shitty jobs with much lower pay, and no benefits, but they’ll scrape by. Their kids may not be able to go to college, thereby creating generational poverty, but we can deal with that later. Elongate the timeline!
The gray period in between losing your job and finding employment (or not) — those years spent struggling, making one heartbreaking sacrifice after another — somehow don’t make it onto a lot of wonks’ charts.
So the question we’re really asking with trade policy is “does it help us increase our growth rate?”
Ask yourself the questions that really matter, people.
President Obama says the new trade deal with South Korea is totally awesome, will boost annual exports, secure jobs, and result in everyone getting a pony. He called this arrangement “a free and fair trade agreement” and said that it was already “proving its worth.”
Actually, sorry. That was Hillary Clinton speaking on NAFTA. In 1996.
President Obama says this trade agreement with South Korea “recognizes the reality of today’s economy – globalization and technology. Our future is not in competing at the low-level wage job; it is in creating high-wage, new technology jobs based on our skills and our productivity.”
Erm, apologies. That was John Kerry. About NAFTA.
We’ve been down this road before, and unfortunately, the South Korean FTA prospects don’t look any rosier. But developing a consistant, coherent international trade policy, and learning from the past mistakes of NAFTA, aren’t really necessary if you can figure out how to get the left to cannibalize itself.
Sander Levin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has been on the phone trying to whip support for the bill. Heavy pressure is being brought to bear on United Steelworker President Leo Gerard, in an attempt to keep the AFL-CIO on the sidelines. Getting a rather cheap “give” from the Koreans to the auto industry to buy off the UAW was actually quite clever — because the Steelworkers are also being told that with all the cars that will be sold to Korea, there will be US steel used to make them.
Of course, that’s a crock. Korea would still face a lower tariff — 2% — in the US than the US will face in Korea — 4%.
The deal will devastate the building trade unions, also part of the AFL-CIO, who have been the hardest hit by NAFTA-style trade agreements. Much of their work has been building factories in the midwest, and as those factories get shipped overseas, their jobs have disappeared. In splitting the member unions, the administration hopes to sideline the powerful resources of the AFL-CIO which would otherwise organize to protect the building trades.
And here’s Obama on the South Korea FTA (for real this time. I promise)
“We are strengthening our ability to create and defend manufacturing jobs in the United States, increasing exports of agricultural products for American farmers and ranchers and opening Korea’s services market to American companies.”
If you think this sounds identical to the pro-NAFTA propaganda of the past, you’re right.
Hotel workers in Chicago, Hawaii, and San Francisco are staging strikes and walk-outs to protest what they call “cheap recession contracts.” Basically, union leaders say Hilton is exploiting workers even though the company received huge taxpayer-provided bailouts.
Hilton is owned by Blackstone Group LP.
Blackstone in February cut a deal to reduce its $20 billion debt by about $4 billion. The debt was partially owned by the Federal Reserve, which had taken over the debt from lender Bear Stearns, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.
And of course, the Blackstone Group was co-founded by Social Security privatization hawk, Pete Peterson.
Regular readers of this blog know that I have written extensively about Peterson’s privatization fetish. But this hotel strike story nicely illustrates Peterson’s grand scheme: deprive people of the most basic standards of human dignity i.e. a living wage their entire adult lives, and then rob their twilight years of the same basic standards of human dignity by raiding the Social Security funds.
Quite simply, it’s the Great Heist from workplace to grave.
The WSJ published a ridiculous article yesterday that claims Capitalism saved the Chilean miners, and opens with a boldface lie when writer Daniel Henninger proclaims, “It needs to be said.” Does it, Daniel? Does it really?
Henninger believes the rescue of the miners is a smashing success for free market Capitalism because without that nifty drill bit, which was the only tool capable of freeing the workers, those blue-collar suckers would still be trapped in the belly of the earth with Satan and his fiery army. You see, the drill bit was developed by a company for a profit, which obviously means regulation and anything else that stands in the way of the righteous free market, is are killing Chilean miners. Or something.
In reality, Capitalism helped contribute to the mine disaster. That is, hyper-Capitalism, the most warped version of Capitalism, which sacrifices regulation in the name of profit, led to mine disasters that culminated with 33 men being trapped deep below ground in darkness for 69 days.
Dick Blin, a spokesman for the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions in Geneva, says the Chile accident is a sign that the workplace safety culture needs to change in Chile. As proof, Blin cites the fact that the San Jose Mine was closed down for safety violations in 2006 and 2007.
Bob Herbert wrote a very good column today about what he calls the “campaign disconnect” between Democrats, Republicans, and average Americans. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but essentially Herbert makes the argument that neither party has adequately addressed the economic desperation of citizens. Democrats have decided to humor the disastrous idea of austerity measures, while Republicans behave as though they’ve “lost their minds completely,” an assessment that I think is way too generous on Herbert’s part.
I prefer his latter description when he accuses Republicans of “peddling a fantasy that has already damaged the country profoundly.” That definition contains the acerbity needed to fully grasp how poisonous the GOP’s philosophy is these days.
Yesterday, I briefly recapped the blatant hypocrisy displayed by certain Republicans in regards to the stimulus. Bobby Jindal and Jeb Bush, two “stalwart Conservatives” both greedily gobbled up stimulus cash before returning to their roots: bashing any recovery plan the Democratic administration proposes.
But hypocrisy aside, the GOP, and the elite in general, have genuine disdain for the underclass. The truly sad part is that they’ve brainwashed poor Republicans into going along with their scheme to permanently quarantine the undesirables. That’s when you get elderly people showing up at healthcare reform town hall meetings, screaming that they want the government to keep its hands off their Medicare. Sigh.
Senator Orrin Hatch proposed an amendment that would demand mandatory drug tests for welfare and unemployment beneficiaries because, as we all know, the only people out of work these days are worthless drug addicts. Sharron Angle implied unemployment benefits make people lazy, and that there are lots of jobs out there, but workers just refuse to buckle down and find them, and Rand Paul told them to quit being cry babies and go flip fries at McDonald’s so they can feed their children.
Listening to all the blather about deficits and stimulus, it’s easy to forget that a whole lot of people are out of work, and that’s sort of considered normal these days (Very Serious People call it “structural unemployment.”)
I recently interviewed journalist Doug Henwood about the deficit hysteria, and if a recovery can ever truly happen when the unemployment rate is so high, wages have flatlined, and workers are barely scraping by using their exhausted credit (barring any unforeseen medical emergencies, which will likely instantly bankrupt them).
Doug is a super articulate guy, who possesses a gift for clearly explaining complex issues. His summarized reply was: no. (I’ll post the entire interview when it’s up…probably some time early next week). Obviously, a recovery can’t be defined as simply getting Wall Street back on its feet (which it has…they even started handing out nifty bonuses again!) Average citizens need to have access to work, education, shelter, and food, which they should be able to pay for – even if they only have access to minimum wage jobs — in order to define an economy as “functional.”
We also chatted about the Obama administration, which has made it pretty clear they have no interest in protecting labor, and workers’ rights. EFCA has dropped off the radar. Big Business rules Washington to the point where Obama couldn’t even make a side remark about “fat cats” without Wall Street jumping down his throat. Oh, and let’s not forget the UWA, who can go fuck themselves.
It seems like we see this same study every month.
The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Yeah, but we’ve known that forever, right? Wages are stagnate, the majority of people have very little wealth (it’s much worse for women of color) while a smaller and smaller minority hoard all the cash.
I posted a question on Twitter: “How many studies need to come out showing the huge wealth disparity before the government acts to fix it?” and got the usual snarky, flippant response I’ve grown to expect and love from readers. The standard response goes like this: the government knows it’s a problem, but the rich, connected people are the ones in power, they benefit from this feudal system, and so they vote to preserve it.
I completely agree with that assessment, but there comes a time every few generations where that system becomes utterly unsustainable, and even the well-healed oligarchy must make some concessions to the serfs. Seriously – who in their right mind thinks this economic model can go on forever? Eventually, the whole thing will collapse and the rich won’t have a government left to protect their sweet little ponzi scheme. At this point, it behooves not only the poor to rework the system, but also the rich.
Here in this suburb of Cleveland, supervisors at Ben Venue Laboratories, a contract drug maker for pharmaceutical companies, have reviewed 3,600 job applications this year and found only 47 people to hire at $13 to $15 an hour, or about $31,000 a year.
As Atrios points out, it never occurs to the good people at Ben Venue Labs that they’re not paying enough to attract skilled workers, or that maybe they should provide on-site training to attract new talent.
It’s become a commonplace line of attack to hear right-wing loons like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle place the onus of unemployment on the unemployed, and of course this has been the territory of Conservatism for years: it’s your fault you’re unemployed. Intellectual giants like Rush Limbaugh constantly say things like unemployment benefits “do nothing but incentivize people not to find work.”
Surely, the BP disaster deserves the obsessive coverage it has received (thus far). But at the risk of missing some other important stories, I want to briefly address two somewhat overlooked catastrophes – one that has already taken place, and one that possesses the potential to be horrific, but we still have time to stop.
Many Americans would be surprised to hear there’s another domestic oil spill – in Salt Late City. (via)
Chevron says a hole the size of a quarter caused their pipeline to rupture around 33,000 gallons of oil into the creek.
The manager of Chevron’s refinery in the Salt Lake City area said Monday that the company believes the rupture in the 10-inch pipeline was caused by an electrical arc that traveled through a metal fence post. Mark Sullivan says the arc acted like an electrical torch, causing the hole.
Sullivan couldn’t say how long the pipeline was leaking before Chevron was notified of the problem Saturday morning. But Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says residents could smell the odor of petroleum overnight Friday.
The spill has coated about 300 birds at area creeks and ponds, and the oil is possibly threatening an endangered fish.
Chairman of the Salt Lake City Council, J.T. Martin, calls the event a horrible tragedy.
“When we found this dolphin it was filled with oil. Oil was just pouring out of it. It was the saddest darn thing to look at,” said a BP contract worker who took the Daily News on a surreptitious tour of the wildlife disaster unfolding in Louisiana.
His motive: simple outrage.
“There is a lot of coverup for BP. They specifically informed us that they don’t want these pictures of the dead animals. They know the ocean will wipe away most of the evidence. It’s important to me that people know the truth about what’s going on here,” the contractor said.
For good reason, there has been a lot of public outrage over BP’s “iron fist” handling of the spill zone. MoJo’s Mac McClelland has been reporting on the media blackout.