By Sheila Suess Kennedy for IBJ – The fight over the GOP’s health care bill was the latest iteration of a recurring debate between free market true believers and people who understand that market exchanges require a willing buyer and willing seller, both of whom possess all information relevant to the transaction. For rather obvious reasons, that doesn’t describe health care. Proponents of single-payer systems routinely point out that countries having such systems pay less for better health outcomes but seldom explain how our system disadvantages American business. The largest single drag on job creation and entrepreneurial activity in the U.S. is the cost of providing insurance.
By Dave Jamieson for The Huffington Post – WASHINGTON ― Companies that commit wage theft and put their workers in harm’s way just received a favor from the Trump administration. President Donald Trump signed a bill Monday repealing a regulation that had encouraged federal contractors to follow labor laws. Under the Obama-era rule, companies with an egregious record of violating wage and safety laws would lose their government contracts if they didn’t come into compliance. The idea behind the rule was to make sure unscrupulous employers didn’t receive taxpayer dollars. But Republicans in Congress thought the rule was too punitive and unfair to businesses…
By Nicole Colson for Socialist Worker – The Women’s Marches held the day after he took office were the largest single day of demonstrations in U.S. history. Thousands of people participated in a new form of protest–the airport occupation–in response to his Muslim ban. There are two major environmental justice mobilizations coming up in in April. And now, with the Trump regime ramping up deportations and raids across the country, immigrant rights activists and organizations are joining with labor and other forces to turn this year’s May Day into a show of solidarity and struggle against Trump’s agenda. The urgency of making a stand is clear after the White House shifted the deportation machine into high gear.
By ALBA Movements for Dawn News. The 2,500 organized workers of the Chilean mine La Escondida, the biggest copper mine of the world, reached the first month of strike today, in the middle of the talks paralyzation and of the radicalization of the conflict. “We’re no longer fighting for the 2,500 workers, what we stand for here is the future of mining in the country, we’re creating a precedent for all Chilean workers”, said today Enrique Thenoux, leader of the Syndicate Number 1 of the mine to Efe Jaime. Since the past February 9, the 2.500 organized workers of La Escondida mine, that employs 4,500 people, paralyzed the extracting work in repudiation to the collective agreement proposed by the company. The workers sustain that the company, operated by the Australian BHP Billiton, offers them a new agreement that reduces in a 14,5% their salaries and benefits, and implements discriminatory terms in the contracts of new workers.
By David Shepardson for Reuters. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is proposing to shift oversight of the U.S. air traffic control from the federal government to an independent group, according to budget documents released on Thursday. Trump, who called the U.S. air traffic control system “obsolete” in a meeting with airline executives last month, is proposing $16.2 billion for the Department of Transportation’s discretionary budget for fiscal year 2018, a reduction of 13 percent. Some Transportation Department budget items are paid through the highway gas tax fund. Privatization advocates argue that spinning off air traffic control into a non-government entity would allow for a more efficient system and rapid, cost-effective improvements of technology, in part by avoiding the government procurement process. Opponents, including some airlines, say the U.S. system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk.
By Dominic Rushe and Tom Pietrasik for the Guardian. Momentive’s workers are not alone in their grievances. In 2016 dollars, the average hourly wage of a high school educated worker was $18.29 in 1973, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Last year it was $17.25. Ignoring minor bumps and dips, it’s fair to say that a quarter of the US workforce (those with no more than high school education) have seen their wages barely keep up with inflation for more than 40 years – a period that enjoyed decades of spectacular economic growth, particularly for the top 1%. Chatting over a beer after a day on the lines, Benny Patrignani, Dominick’s brother, says he has hope that Trump will bring change. “Both parties are so busy hitting each other, they haven’t been interested in us,” he says. The choice, he said, was: “Do you want to die by drowning or die by fire?”
By Alexandra Bradbury for Labor Notes – The Staples boycott is over, and the union won. The Postal Workers (APWU) announced January 5 that the Postal Service will terminate its deal with Staples, closing down the 540 “mini-post offices” inside stores by the end of February and nixing plans to expand them to all 1,600 locations. The union fought for three years against the deal, which amounted to contracting out post office work to the low-wage, non-union office retailer. Staples opened its first postal counters in 2013. They offered a selection of the services APWU members provide at post office windows, including stamp sales, first-class domestic and international mail, and priority and express mail. Customers paid the same rates they would in a real post office — but Staples got a discount from the Postal Service, and pocketed the difference as profit.
By Anne Meador for DC Media Group – Immigrant workers around the country on February 16 flexed their economic muscle with a strike called “Un Dia Sin Inmigrante,” or “A Day Without Immigrants.” Planned at a three-day conference in Boston on February 10, the series of boycotts and strikes are intended to gain leverage for foreign-born immigrants, visa holders and undocumented immigrants at a time when migrant communities are scapegoated and discriminated against. Recently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids have swept through cities, detaining and deporting many people who allegedly lack proper documentation to reside in the U.S. “Now more than ever, it is important for the immigrant rights movement to have an offensive strategy,” said Maria Fernanda Cabello, a spokesperson for Movimiento Cosecha, in a press release.
By Ed Childs for Workers World – Well in advance of the Harvard University Dining Service strike, we knew we would need to build a solidarity coalition to take on the Harvard Corporation. We spent months laying the groundwork. (For Part 1, about strike preparations, go to tinyurl.com/z3goecw.) Once the strike began the coalition was critical. Harvard Medical School students staged two walkouts in support of the striking HUDS workers. The Student Labor Action Movement played a big role; they organized a dinner for us on campus where faculty, administrators, deans, parents and our workers spoke. Campus environmentalists saw worker health as necessary for a healthy campus environment. The Jewish group Hillel hosted meetings and fed us, and rabbis spoke at our rallies.
By Staff for Occupy.com. Community leaders, elected officials, faith leaders, labor unions, student groups and racial justice organizations came out firing last week again Nissan for its civil rights abuses against African-American workers, leading protests in Nashville and Atlanta ahead of further actions planned across the South. Specifically, the coalition, called Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), is launching region-wide efforts to educate consumers about Nissan’s treatment of workers at its manufacturing plant in Canton, Mississippi. Of the roughly 5,000 workers at the carmaker’s Canton plant, an estimated 80 percent are African-American. Now, calls are growing to let the workers form a union, something that hasn’t been allowed. “The right to organize and form a union is a basic right here in America. It’s how workers represent their interests and make sure that their workplace rights are respected,” said Georgia State Senator and Atlanta mayoral candidate Vincent Fort.
By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – “This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st century economy,” said DOE Senior Advisor on Industrial and Economic Policy David Foster. “Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14 percent of the new jobs in 2016.” The solar industry is particularly shining bright. “Proportionally, solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the Electric Power Generation sector,” the report, released on Jan. 13, states.
By Dianne Feeley for Labor Notes – Last week auto workers from Chicago and Detroit made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of auto workers’ sit-down strikes to lend solidarity to workers who’ve been locked out for eight months and counting. Honeywell locked out 320 aerospace workers with Auto Workers (UAW) Local 9 in South Bend, Indiana, on May 9 after they voted 270-30 to reject the company’s offer. Another 40 Honeywell workers with Local 1508 at in Green Island, New York, are also locked out. Honeywell was demanding the power to change health care premiums and deductibles unilaterally. The rejected proposal would also have eliminated cost-of-living increases and retiree health care…
By Seth Kershner for In These Times – Retail is the nation’s largest employer. Since 1980, the number of jobs in retail has reportedly grown nearly 50 percent, from 10.2 to 15.1 million. At the same time, real wages for retail workers have fallen by 11 percent while on-call scheduling, involuntary part-time work and “clopening”—where workers are required to lock up the store late at night and reopen the next morning—have wreaked havoc with workers’ lives. Not surprisingly, the retail sector also has one of the lowest rates of unionization in the economy—around the 5 percent mark under which unions have virtually no influence. It didn’t used to be this way. Retail had 15 percent union density in the 1970s, according to sociologist Peter Ikeler…
By Curtis Black for The Chicago Reporter – On a frigid evening near the close of 2016, while going to a meeting at Goose Island, I was a bit startled to recall another frigid gathering there eight years earlier. In 2008, Barack Obama was president-elect, the economy was collapsing, and the workers at Republic Windows and Doors occupied their factory to protest its sudden shutdown. You stepped inside the building and saw the very serious faces of blue-collar workers, mainly black and Latino, who had taken a very serious step at great personal risk in order to take back some control over their future—and perhaps set an example for the rest of us.
By Philip Guelpa for WSWS – With the strike of 700 workers against Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford, New York, north of Albany, entering its third month and the plant manned with scab labor, it is clear the company is determined to break the workers’ resistance to sweeping concessions. At the same time, the International Union of Electrical Workers/Communications Workers of America (IUE/CWA), Locals 81359 and 81380, have collaborated in the slow strangulation of the strike. The company is seeking major cuts in health care, pensions and other benefits.