Sears Crash Shows Capitalism Is Morally Bankrupt

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By Matt Stannard for Occupy.com. One of my closest friends in town recently lost his job managing a Sears automobile department, when the store was closed for financial reasons. My friend was surprised to be laid off because he says he’d been told the store was doing well, and his auto shop customers were happy, giving the department complimentary reviews and keeping the staff busy. He was doing everything right and so, apparently, were his fellow workers. But the success of individual Sears stores was irrelevant. In a pretty amazing body of work, Business Insider’s Hailey Peterson has documented the slow death of Sears at the hands of CEO Eddie Lampert.

Newsletter - Greater Austerity Coming Unless We Act

Flickr/ Charles Hutchins

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. As one of the world’s richest nations, the US stands out for having the greatest wealth divide and high levels of poverty. Over the past 40 years, wages have stagnated and, as Lynn points out, “the richest one percent took more than half of all income growth since 1979.” Currently, the top 0.1 percent have wealth equal to the bottom 90 percent. It isn’t a matter of whether the US has enough money to support basic necessities like health, education and housing, but who has the wealth in the US and where our tax dollars are being spent.

Canceling NAFTA Could Be The Best Way Forward

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By Lois Ross for Rabble. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you called the bully’s bluff? As Liberal members of Parliament return to their seats in the House of Commons, they need to consider the sometimes-veiled opportunities that political bullying provides. Are you listening, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland? More than 20 years ago, I was someone who campaigned and organized against the passage of both the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). I was devastated, like many others, when both passed, first the FTA and then later NAFTA, enabled by the Liberals, and supported over the years by various shades of Conservatives.

Newsletter – No #NAFTA2, Yes To Trade For People & Planet

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By Daniel Cooper Bermudez. The Trump administration is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico in secret, just as President Obama did with the TPP. Over the past two decades, NAFTA has resulted in workers losing their jobs and being replaced by machinery, ruined family farms throughout the continent, displaced communities and privatized social services, environmental disasters like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a widespread attack on labor rights and unions. This week, we explain our opposition to NAFTA2 and put forward a strategy to remake trade so it is no longer corporate-driven trade for the profits of a few, but people-driven trade to benefit all and protect the planet.

States Blocking Cities From Raising Standards For Workers

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By Marni von Wilpert for Economic Policy Institute. On August 28, 2017, low-wage workers in St. Louis, Missouri, became the latest victims of state preemption laws. “Preemption” in this context refers to a situation in which a state law is enacted to block a local ordinance from taking effect—or dismantle an existing ordinance. In this case, St. Louis had raised its minimum wage above the state minimum—but was then forced to lower it back down when the Missouri state legislature preempted the local ordinance. Ironically, state preemption of labor standards has historically been used for good: to ensure that minimum labor standards are applied statewide. It is only in recent years that it has been so frequently used to take earnings and protections away from workers. This report looks at the rising use of preemption by state legislatures to undercut local labor standards.

Newsletter - Positive Actions You Can Take This Summer

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. This week, we look at some of the current struggles in the United States and ways that you can get involved this summer. From protecting health care, net neutrality and the environment to building positive alternatives that transform our current dysfunctional systems, there is something for everyone to do. Read on to learn what’s happening and how to take action. This is the time to rise up and protect our families, communities and planet.

Impact Investing And Employee Ownership

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By Mary Ann Beyster for the Democracy Collaborative. With income inequality in the United States at record high levels, employee ownership is increasingly being lauded as a potential solution to spreading wealth more broadly. Most recently, research from the National Center for Employee Ownership released in May shows that employee owners have a household net worth that is 92 percent higher than non-employee owners. They also make 33 percent higher wages, and are far less likely to be laid off. But employee ownership requires new investment in order to get to scale. A new report by Mary Ann Beyster, president and trustee of the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED), published by the Fifty by Fifty initiative of The Democracy Collaborative, examines the investing landscape for potential opportunities in employee ownership.

Newsletter - The People's Plan For Transformation

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. It is important to understand that we arrived in this situation by, what Moyers described as “careful long-range planning and implementation…consistency of action over an indefinite period of years…” By understanding this plan, we can realize that we can design a way out of it. This includes seeing through the propaganda and exposing the truth; not allowing ourselves to be divided into issue-based silos or taken off track by the agenda of a plutocratic political party; and organizing not just to resist, but more importantly to demand the changes we require in our communities and on the planet. Popular Resistance is one of the conveners of The People’s Congress of Resistance, a grassroots effort to build resistance and collaboration in our communities to solve the crises at hand and create a better world. One of the purposes of the conference will be to plan the future of the resistance movement and determine how we can work together more effectively. It’s time for the people to create a plan for the transformation we need.

Movimiento Cosecha On The National “Day Without Immigrants”

Protestors March During Wisconsin's Day Without Latins, Immigrants, and Refugees. Protesters gather at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, Feb. 13, 2017. Darren Hauck of Getty Images

By Carlos E. Rojas Rodriguez for Movimiento Cosecha. Movimiento Cosecha endorses, but did not organize the national “Day Without Immigrants” taking place today across the country. As far as we know, it was not coordinated by any organized group, but spread rapidly and organically through Whatsapp and social networks. It is important to understand the moment we are in, this is not the first time the immigrant community organizes itself organically around the idea of a Day Without Immigrants. Movimiento Cosecha has spent the past year training thousands of immigrant students and workers in a strategy that builds up to a Week Without Immigrants. This past weekend, 350 Immigrants from across the country came together for a National Assembly, and to formally inaugurate Movimiento Cosecha’s May Day campaign, launching decentralized preparations for a one-day national “Day Without Immigrants” strike on May 1st, 2017

Economic Insecurity Of US Workers Increases With Unstable Jobs

More Americans work without full-time employers yet policies fail to address this new reality. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

By Elizabeth Grossman for In These Times – The U.S stock market may be at record highs and U.S. unemployment at its lowest level since the Great Recession, but income inequality remains stubbornly high. Contributing to this inequality is the fact that while more Americans are working than at any time since August 2007, more people are working part time, erratic and unpredictable schedules—without full-time, steady employment. Since 2007, the number of Americans involuntarily working part time has increased by nearly 45 percent. More Americans than before are part of what’s considered the contingent workforce, working on-call or on-demand, and as independent contractors or self-employed freelancers, often with earnings that vary dramatically month to month.

Workers Celebrate 20 Years Of Shared Bread And Ownership

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By Misty Dawn Spicer-Sitzes for Shareable. Workers in California are taking economic change into their own hands. The Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives is one of the shining examples of how shared ownership empowers workers and builds community. For the past 20 years, the association, comprised of six bakeries, has been innovating the way business is done. What’s its recipe for success? It turns out that it is more than just tasty treats: Each bakery is democratically-owned and governed by its workers. A worker-owned cooperative is a business in which each employee owns one equal part of the company. They share the profits in the good times, and they share the burdens in the hard times. Worker co-ops can have anywhere from three members to thousands, and they have varying pay scales and job structures.

This Worker-Owned Cooperative Is 'Bigger Than A Business'

Some of TightShift's members: Delonte Wilkins, Noreil Gorham, Nicholas Gorham, Juan Reid, Joseph Morgan, Adriel Fogle, Donnell Sims. (Photo by Samira Rashid/SR Photography)

By Sam Tabachnik for DCist – On the morning of his 34th birthday, Juan Reid woke up in a van parked outside a homeless shelter. He couldn’t stop sobbing. Reid had just finished 14 years in prison, and acclimating to life on the outside was taking its toll. He could feel himself being pulled back into his old habits, tempted by the routine that got him put away. Not wanting to burden his parents any longer, and filled with shame, he elected to sleep in a van on the street instead of ask them for help. Then his phone rang. It was his mom, calling to wish him a happy birthday and say she was proud of him.

Bad News For America’s Workers

Workers’ strike in Milwaukee in January of 2014. (Photo: Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association/flickr/cc)

By Joseph E. Stiglitz for Project Syndicate – NEW YORK – As US President-elect Donald Trump fills his cabinet, what have we learned about the likely direction and impact of his administration’s economic policy? To be sure, enormous uncertainties remain. As in many other areas, Trump’s promises and statements on economic policy have been inconsistent. While he routinely accuses others of lying, many of his economic assertions and promises – indeed, his entire view of governance – seem worthy of Nazi Germany’s “big lie” propagandists. Trump will take charge of an economy on a strongly upward trend, with third-quarter GDP growing at an impressive annual rate of 3.2% and unemployment at 4.6% in November.

Momentive Workers On Strike For Health Care

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By Dr. Andy Coates for All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care – HR 676. Albany, NY – Just north of where the Mohawk River joins the Hudson, in upstate New York, the highly skilled members of IUE/CWA Local 81359, have been on strike since the beginning of November. A chemical plant, once owned by General Electric, today Momentive Performance Materials, would like to drive workers back to a minimum wage with no benefits. The IUE/CWA local endured setbacks in two recent contracts and this time has said NO MORE. One important issue is the right to retire at age 60–with health benefits. The company wants to eliminate retiree health benefits altogether. This would make retirement unaffordable. The workers at the plant live with a high risk of illness due to occupational exposure to dangerous chemicals.

Faux-Populist Trump Wages All-Out War On American Workers

United Steelworkers Local 1999 president Chuck Jones joked Friday, "I was not offered a job as secretary of labor. That's off the table." (Screenshot: CNN)

By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams. President-elect Donald Trump, a supposedly populist candidate who rose to power on promises made to frustrated American workers, has now seemingly launched what Politicois describing as an outright “war on unions.” Labor leaders and advocates across the nation are rallying in support of United Steelworkers Local 1999 president Chuck Jones, after Trump publicly attacked the Indiana union leader for calling him out for lying about the number of Carrier jobs the incoming president claimed to have saved from being outsourced to Mexico. “An attack on [Jones] is an attack on all working people,” Richard Trumka, president of the nation’s largest union federation AFL-CIO, declared Thursday. The hashtag #ImWithChuck has drawn a groundswell of support for Jones, including from national labor groups and prominent progressive politicians.