Taxpayer-Subsidized DC Wharf Creates Low Wage Jobs

4628426066_60fa654566_z

By Staff of DC Fiscal Policy Institute – The District of Columbia’s economic development efforts – including the enormous Wharf project – too often support creation of low-wage jobs with minimal benefits, because they do not link large public subsidies with requirements to create high-quality jobs, according to a new analysis by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. This means that DC is failing to use its substantial economic development investments to reduce the city’s large income gaps or to ensure that benefits of DC’s growing prosperity are shared widely. The redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront is one of the largest real estate development projects in the history of the District. It is transforming an historic area of the city’s waterfront, while creating new retail, dining, entertainment and housing options within walking distance of the Mall. Yet the project faces growing questions about the type of jobs it is actually creating, and who truly benefits from large taxpayer subsidies for such developments. The District approved $300 million in public subsidies for the Wharf project, including public land and cash subsidies through DC’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and PILOT economic development subsidy programs.

Left And Right Have Nothing In Common On NAFTA

1fairdeal

By Stephanie Basile for Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – Today, the fourth round of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are taking place in Washington, DC. Protests are planned at multiple locations around DC, including a petition delivery of over 360,000 signatures to Congress demanding the elimination of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). United under the threat from continually expanding corporate power, the fight against NAFTA has brought together a cross-section of social movements, including unions, community groups, land reform movements, environmentalists, food safety groups, and internet rights organizations.

Federal Employees Ordered To Attend Anti-Leaking Classes

5263096282_4f0f1b0ba5_o

By Michael Biesecker for Mint Press News – WASHINGTON (AP) — Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency are attending mandatory training sessions this week to reinforce their compliance with laws and rules against leaking classified or sensitive government information. It is part of a broader Trump administration order for anti-leaks training at all executive branch agencies. The Associated Press obtained training materials from the hourlong class. Government employees who hold security clearances undergo background checks and extensive training in safeguarding classified information. Relatively few EPA employees deal with classified files, but the new training also reinforces requirements to keep “Controlled Unclassified Information” from unauthorized disclosure. The EPA occasionally creates, receives, handles and stores classified material because of its homeland security, emergency response and continuity missions. EPA employees also work closely with contractors and other federal agencies that more regularly handle classified information. President Donald Trump has expressed anger repeated leaks of potentially embarrassing information to media organizations in recent months. In a speech last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said those responsible for the “staggering number of leaks” coming out of the administration would be investigated and potentially prosecuted.

Victory For Immigrant Hunger Strikers

1imm

By Mike Ludwig for Truthout. For three years now, incarcerated immigrants have staged hunger strikes and work stoppages to protest conditions at the Northwest Detention Center, an immigration jail in Tacoma, Washington, run by a private prison company that pays detainees as little as $1 a day to work in the jail. “This week folks were offered chips or a soup for several nights of waxing the floors, so not even $1 [per] day,” one person incarcerated in the jail recently reported to NWDC Resistance, an immigrant-led group fighting to end the deportation and detention of immigrants.

310,567 Signatures Block ‘Right To Work’ In Missouri

After a grassroots effort gathered 310,567 signatures, Missouri was forced to postpone the implementation of right to work till November 2018, when voters will determine its future. Photo: We Are Missouri

By Judy Ancel for Labor Notes – The results astounded everyone who thought they knew the Missouri labor movement: more than 300,000 signatures to repeal “right to work.” Thousands of union members and allies marched through the streets of the state capital August 18 to deliver 163 boxes of petitions signed by 310,567 Missourians. The signers called for a referendum to repeal the right-to-work law passed by the legislature earlier this year. The signatures gathered were more than three times the number needed. Although signatures were needed in only six of the state’s eight Congressional districts, there were enough to qualify from all eight, and they came from all 114 Missouri counties. The state was forced to postpone the August 28 implementation of right to work till November 2018, when voters will determine its future. The petition drive was coordinated by We Are Missouri, a coalition of unions both in and out of the state AFL-CIO. Volunteers from Missouri Jobs with Justice and the Sierra Club stepped up, too. Most of the money for the campaign came from Missouri unions, with contributions as low as $100 and as high as $83,000. Much bigger donations came from labor PACs representing the state AFL-CIO, Teamsters, and Carpenters. As of August 31, the labor side had raised $1.36 million and spent almost half of it.

What America Would Look Like If It Guaranteed Everyone A Job

Screenshot 2017-09-16 at 7.34.47 PM

By Dylan Matthews for Vox Magazine – Imagine if a well-paying job, with benefits and a high enough salary to pay for rent, transportation, and food, were a human right. Imagine the US federal government established a policy whereby anyone who didn’t have a job and wanted one could go into a local office for a government agency — call it the Works Progress Administration — and walk out with a regular government position paying a livable wage ($15 an hour, perhaps) and offering health, dental, and vision insurance, and retirement benefits, and child care for their kids. Different people would do different things: teaching or working for after-school programs or providing child care or building roads and mass transit or driving buses and so on. But everyone would be guaranteed a job, including during recessions. Involuntary unemployment would be a thing of the past. No one who works would be in poverty. That’s a truly radical policy idea. But it has deep roots in the Democratic Party’s past, from the New Deal’s emergency employment programs to the Humphrey-Hawkins Act, a 1970s proposal that, as originally written, would have given unemployed Americans the right to sue the government. Today, there are even some actual proposals on the table. In May, the Center for American Progress issued a report calling for a “large-scale, permanent program of public employment and infrastructure investment.” But some labor economists, even left-leaning ones, are skeptical. None of the programs, they argue, have done enough work on the details.

After Generations Working In Coal, Young West Virginians Are Finding Jobs In Solar

Solar Holler founder Dan Conant, foreground, looks on at the beginning of a solar roof installation in Lewisburg, West Virginia.  Credit: Jason Margolis

By Jason Margolis for PRI – Nobody from his graduating class is working in coal, says Swiger. “[They’re] honestly working in fast food, or not working at all.” Not Swiger. He has a job installing rooftop solar panels. He says his family is delighted with it. “They’re excited that I’m actually doing something different,” says Swiger. “A lot of people ain’t doing this in West Virginia, a lot of people are against it actually. A lot of people want to go back to coal. “I ain’t against it, I love solar. It’s way better than coal, I think.” Solar panels can save people money on their electricity bills and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, which fuel climate change. With battery storage, found in some home set-ups, solar can also allow people to continue to power their homes off the grid during power outages. Swiger is working as an apprentice with Solar Holler, which was founded four years ago by 32-year-old Dan Conant. Conant doesn’t see solar energy and coal at odds with each other. “The way I think about it, as a West Virginian, is that West Virginia has always been an energy state, and this is just the next step. It’s the next iteration,” says Conant. West Virginia’s economy has long been reliant on coal. Metallurgical coal, which is found in the state, is used in the steel-making process.

Tens Of Thousands March In France Against Anti-Worker Reforms

Demonstrators walk during a protest against the labor reform on September 12, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo: Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

By Jake Johnson for Common Dream – Led by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), France’s second largest trade union, demonstrators flooded Paris and other major cities chanting: “Macron you’re screwed, the slackers are in the streets.” The “slackers” label came from Macron himself, who in a recent speech vowed to not “give any ground [on his labor reforms], not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners.” Union leaders and France’s left opposition seized upon Macron’s comments and used them to rally workers ahead of Tuesday’s planned actions, which included around 180 protests and 4,000 strikes—the first nationwide demonstrations of Macron’s young presidency. In an interview on Monday, former Socialist Party presidential candidate Benoit Hamon slammed Macron’s “slacker” remarks as “insulting” to French workers. “Lazy people are the independently wealthy, who don’t need to work for a living,” Hamon retorted. “And a lot of independently wealthy picked Emmanuel Macron as their champion.”

Living Paycheck To Paycheck Is A Way Of Life For Majority Of U.S. Workers

"We all know that our economy is broken. We have seen that elected officials are just failing to do anything about it," said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project. (Photo: Wisconsin Jobs Now/cc/flickr)

By Staff of Career Builder – Having a higher salary doesn’t necessarily mean money woes are behind you, with nearly one in 10 workers making $100,000 or more (9 percent) saying they usually or always live paycheck-to-paycheck and 59 percent in that income bracket in debt. Twenty-eight percent of workers making $50,000-$99,999 usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, 70 percent are in debt; and 51 percent of those making less than $50,000 usually or always live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, 73 percent are in debt. “As an employer, your employees’ financial problems become your financial problems,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “If workers are constantly thinking about their financial struggles, their quality of work can decrease, and it can take a hit on their morale and productivity. If you do what you can to help people keep their finances under control — by doing things such as matching 401(k) contributions or hosting financial planning seminars — you’ll ease some of their financial worries and it will be less likely to have a negative impact on your business.”

Chris Hedges Visits Former Car Manufacturing City To See Impact Of Job Flight

Chris Hedges (Credit: Nation Books)

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – In a special edition of “On Contact,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges visits Anderson, Ind., formerly a center of car production. He witnesses the economic and psychological impact on workers caused by the flight of General Motors jobs overseas. The city has changed dramatically since the 1970s when, at the peak of American automobile manufacturing, a third of Anderson’s 70,000 residents worked at General Motors. Over the past 30 years, Anderson’s population has decreased as thousands upon thousands of well-paid union jobs have been lost. Watch the video above in which Hedges interviews people in what used to be “big car country” and documents what’s become of Anderson now.

Future Of Low-Wage Worker Movement May Depend On NYC Law

1ffj

By Max Zahn for Waging Nonviolence. New York City – Flavia Cabral doesn’t equivocate. She joined the fast food worker movement, she said, for a single reason: to put her daughter through college. Cabral, 53, of the Bronx, earned $7.25 per hour at McDonald’s when she stood alongside coworkers in her first single-day strike four years ago. Over 10 strikes later, she makes $12 per hour, thanks to a statewide minimum wage hike that will gradually elevate her pay to $15 by the end of 2018. Still, her goal remains out of reach. “I don’t have enough savings for my daughter to finish college,” she said. “I want her to graduate.” Cabral’s predicament is emblematic of one facing the Fight for $15: how to move beyond its titular demand to address other barriers that are keeping fast food workers from a middle class life. These obstacles include insufficient hours, non-union workplaces and crippling expenses like housing, health insurance and college education.

The Work Lives Of Uber Drivers: Worse Than You Think

In addition to showing solidarity with immigrants, people of color, and workers nationwide, the actions will also take on Uber, a central figure in critiques of the U.S. "gig economy." (Photo: Reuters)

By Katie Wells, Kafui Attoh, and Declan Cullen for Working Class Perspectives – To be an Uber driver is to work when you want. Or so Uber likes to say in recruitment materials, advertisements, and sponsored research papers: “Be your own boss.” “Earn money on your schedule.” “With Uber, you’re in charge.” The language of freedom, flexibility, and autonomy abounds, and can seem like a win for workers. But the reality of our research shows something very different. The price of flexibility in the gig economy is substantial. Last year we conducted 40 in-person interviews and online surveys with Uber drivers in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Our project—which creates one of the first independent, qualitative datasets about the rideshare industry—found that the economic realities of precarious work are a far cry from the rosy promises of the gig economy. In exchange for flexible schedules, Uber retains near total control over what really matters for drivers, namely the compensation and costs of work. Aman bought a Lincoln Town Car in 2012 after he been approved to drive for Uber Black, the brand-new private car service. As an Ethiopian immigrant in Washington, D.C., he had supported himself by driving a taxi so he already had the chauffeur license that was then required. In 5 or 6 hours of driving, he earned what would have taken him 8 hours in a taxi.

Murphy Oil May Be The Last Workers’ Rights Case

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

By Celine McNicholas for Portside – Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed its brief in NLRB v.Murphy Oil, which will be argued in the Supreme Court in October. The case will determine whether mandatory arbitration agreements with individual workers that prevent them from pursuing work-related claims collectively are prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The brief makes clear what is at stake for workers if the Supreme Court were to rule against the NLRB in this matter. The NLRA guarantees workers the right to stand together for “mutual aid and protection” when seeking to improve their wages and working conditions. Employer interference with this right is prohibited. However, increasingly, employers are requiring workers to sign arbitration agreements that force them to waive their rights to collective actions, and handle workplace disputes as individuals. In practice, that means that even if many workers faced the same type of dispute at work, each individual employee must hire their own lawyer, and must resolve their disputes out of court, behind closed doors, with only their employer and a private arbitrator.

Why Did Nissan Workers Vote No?

Workers voted 2,244-1,307 against joining the United Auto Workers, after a 12-year campaign to organize the mile-long Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi.

By Chris Brooks for Labor Notes – There’s no sugar-coating a loss this dramatic: 2,244-1,307 against the United Auto Workers, after a 12-year campaign to organize the mile-long Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi. After four attempts, the UAW has yet to win a plant-wide vote at a foreign-owned auto plant in the South. The August 4 loss can be laid to three factors: Nissan’s fierce anti-union campaign, the union’s failure to build a strong organizing committee that acted like a union on the shop floor, and Nissan workers’ reluctance to rock the boat and risk losing a job that pays far higher than they could expect to make almost anywhere else. UAW strategists felt that the demographics were in their favor, since 80 percent of the Nissan workforce is Black. Data shows that Black workers are more likely to vote for a union than are their white counterparts. But they also had to contend with the fact that Nissan brought well-paid jobs to an area with very few. Even though Nissan workers make less than workers at the Big Three automakers, they still take home some of the highest blue-collar wages in the state. “People drive two hours to get to this plant because they’ve never had a job like this before,” said Robert Hathorn, a pro-union frame worker.

How D.C. Grocery Workers Got Their Groove Back

Screenshot 2017-07-29 at 8.50.43 AM

By Alan Hanson for Portside – In 1983, newly hired grocery workers in D.C. earned $6.95 an hour—more than twice the federal minimum wage at the time, and worth nearly $17 in today’s dollars. It took just two years to reach top pay of $10.44 an hour, worth $25.45 today. “Back then you had to know someone to get hired at Safeway,” said Jibril Wallace, a Safeway file maintenance clerk in D.C. “My sister was my ticket to getting a job.” But beginning in 1996, Local 400 agreed to create new tiers featuring lower pay and benefits in four of its next five contracts. By 2013, starting wages had plummeted to $7.60 an hour—a mere 35 cents above the federal minimum wage, and only 65 cents more than starting pay 30 years earlier. By then the union had also given up its pay progression based on months of service. Instead workers progressed up the scale based on hours worked. Most part-time workers would not see the top rate of $14.50 for 10 years or longer. This decline was hardly unique to Local 400. UFCW has done a poor job organizing regional nonunion competitors such as Food Lion and Harris Teeter and national ones such as Walmart and Whole Foods.