March 29, 2014 War on Workers News

Corporate Tax Cuts: Profiteers Thrive As Local Budgets Dive

Common Dreams
[S]ince 2011, “federal aid to states for vital services like schools, roads, and environmental protection has been on a downward spiral,” the report notes. This was accompanied by a decrease in taxes on rich people and corporations by right-wing governors and state legislators across the country.

These trends have been used to justify punishing austerity measures across the United States. Vital public goods have paid the price, and “[t]wo-thirds of the states now provide less educational funding per student than before the recession began,” the report notes.

Yet, in 2013, corporate profits “reached record levels – more than 12 percent of GDP,” the report notes. “At the same time, corporate taxes were 1.6 percent of GDP.”
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FedEx loses another driver misclassification case, in Maine

People’s World
FedEx, notorious for misclassifying its drivers as “independent contractors” – barring them from labor law protection and avoiding paying Social Security, Medicare and workers’ comp taxes, lost another misclassification case, in Maine.

On Mar. 14, a federal judge in Portland approved a settlement saying FedEx Ground misclassified 141 drivers. The drivers will net $3.9 million in back pay and damages.

That follows previous FedEx losses and settlements of misclassification claims in Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Montana, and elsewhere. Another case is pending in Missouri.
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Senate gives final approval of anti-union legislation

Mississippi business Journal
Bills that aim to restrict union organizing and picketing practices in Mississippi, as well as limit governments’ abilities to pressure employers to use unionized workers, are on their way to Gov. Phil Bryant.

The Senate gave final passage yesterday to the three bills, on mostly party-line votes.

Senate Bill 2473 would make it illegal to coerce a business into staying neutral in a union drive or to allow workers to choose union representation by signing cards instead of by secret ballot. It’s not clear what would constitute coercion, but businesses could sue anyone they believed engaged in it.
Read the source story here.

Pastors lend UAW welcome support in Mississippi

Los Angeles Times
It is just more than a month since the United Automobile Workers suffered a bruising defeat at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, with workers voting not to join a union in an election widely seen as a test of whether labor unions will gain a foothold in the rapidly growing auto factories of the South.

Attention is turning now to the more than 5,000-worker Nissan plant in Canton, Miss., where another union effort is gaining steam. This time, union organizers have help from an unexpected source. Pastors and students across this part of central Mississippi have joined the campaign, championing the workers’ cause. From pulpits, at leafleting campaigns outside Nissan dealerships and at auto industry events in Brazil, Geneva and Detroit, these new organizers have a message: God supports the working man.
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U.S. Trade Deficits Have Grown More Than 440% with FTA Countries, but Declined 16% with Non-FTA Countries

Public Citizen
The aggregate U.S. goods trade deficit with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners is more than five times as high as before the deals went into effect, while the aggregate deficit with non-FTA countries has actually fallen. The key differences are soaring imports into the United States from FTA partners and lower growth in U.S. exports to those nations than to non-FTA nations. Incredibly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website states, “For those worried about the U.S. trade deficit, trade agreements are clearly the solution – not the problem.” Their pitch ignores the import surges contributing to growing deficits and job loss, while their export “data” is inflated, using tricks described below.

The aggregate U.S. trade deficit with FTA partners has increased by more than $147 billion (inflation-adjusted) since the FTAs were implemented. In contrast, the aggregate deficit with all non-FTA countries has decreased by more than $130 billion since 2006 (the median entry date of existing FTAs).
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NZNO joining rally against TPPA

Voxy.nz
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is joining the national rally against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) tomorrow because it believes that public health is too important an issue to be negotiated away in a secret agreement.

NZNO policy analyst, Marilyn Head says, “It is widely acknowledged that the TPPA includes provisions which could increase the cost of healthcare through extending patent periods for medicines and allowing the patenting of treatments, techniques and operations. These provisions could also deter innovation and generic drug production.”

“The government has given assurances that ‘the fundamentals of PHARMAC will be protected’ but it has not provided evidence or analysis from our own institutions to support its assurances, nor any opportunity for public engagement with the health sector that allows them to be tested.”
Read the source story here.

Playing College Football Is a Job

The New York Times, editorial
Before college is even in session, Northwestern football players spend up to 60 hours a week practicing at a one-month training camp. During the three- or four-month football season, they put in up to 50 hours a week preparing for games. That’s more time than many full-time employees devote to their jobs.

Looking at these basic facts, the logic is clear. Football players at colleges like Northwestern with big-time sports programs are not “student-athletes,” as the National Collegiate Athletic Association claims, but employees. Critics have been making this point for years. Finally, on Wednesday, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board agreed, ruling that Northwestern football players on scholarships were eligible to form a union and bargain collectively.

It cannot be said that the employer’s scholarship players are ‘primarily students,’ ” Peter Ohr wrote in his 24-page decision, noting that players were recruited for their athletic talents rather than academic ability, must undergo drug testing, and that they risked losing their scholarships if they did not follow team regulations.
Read the source story here.

Connecticut Jumps Ahead of the Pack, Will Raise Minimum Wage to $10.10 by 2017

Working America
More than 227,000 Connecticut workers will see raises in the next 3 years, thanks to a bill signed into law by Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy on Thursday.

Connecticut legislators passed a bill by wide margins raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017. In many respects, the bill mirrors federal legislation introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (I-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over a similar period and indexing it to inflation.
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Wal-Mart has a lower acceptance rate than Harvard

The Washington Post
This year’s Ivy League admissions totals are in. The 8.9 percent acceptance rate is impressively exclusive, but compared to landing a job at Wal-Mart, getting into the Ivy Leagues is a cakewalk.

Last year when Wal-Mart came to D.C. there were over 23,000 applications for 600 jobs. That’s an acceptance rate of 2.6%, twice as selective as Harvard’s and over five times as choosy as Cornell.

[These statistics are ridiculous.  You can't equate academic eliteness to working poor desperation.  But thank you Wa-Po for the punchy headline!]
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Walmart Gets More Heat for Low Pay

AOL Jobs
The latest insider tell-all comes from a Walmart assistant manager, who told Salon.com he gets paid for a 40-hour week but routinely works 48 hours, and 60 hours during the holiday season, to fill in on tasks like cashiering and restocking. He blames the long hours on the company’s determination to keep down the number of hours worked by other store personnel, who are paid by the hour.

The assistant manager is hoping that an expansion of federally-mandated overtime pay, recently proposed by President Barack Obama, will go through. He doesn’t even want the overtime pay. He wants more time to spend with his family.

Meanwhile, more Walmart employees are venting anonymously on a page at TheStreet.com with a url that reads, in part, “pictures-and-employee-emails-that-make-me-think-walmart-is-about-to-implode.html.”
Read the source story here.

NLRB Charges Kellogg with Illegal Conduct in Memphis Lockout

AFL-CIO

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint Thursday against the Kellogg Co., charging the cereal maker with violating federal labor law in its more than five-month lockout of 22 workers at its Memphis, Tenn., plant.
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Trumka Calls Minimum Wage a Good “First Step”

Working America
In a recent opinion piece that ran in USA Today, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka tackled the issue of minimum wage, calling it the first step towards combating the larger issue of falling wages.

In his piece Trumka asserts that the great inequality, a hot topic for many world leaders, in this country is not a cause, but in fact it’s an effect of the “disassociation between wages and productivity.”

Falling wages is no longer a class issue; instead it’s an epidemic that, due to the aforementioned disassociation, affects the majority of working Americans, he says.
Read the source story here.

Half of America is POOR says obvious evidence. Must be the season of the rich

Daily Kos
I don’t use the term “Middle class” when I speak or write. Doing so pretends that America still has a middle class. It doesn’t. I use the term “Working Class”. America only has two classes nowadays, a working class that works for a paycheck and a super-rich investor class, the 1%. There is no middle. Even Paul Ryan’s budget doesn’t have a middle tax bracket, just two, one for those who earn a quarter million a year and one for everyone else. There can not be a middle when half of the middle is poor and the other half of the middle is 3 months away from poverty.

When 80% of us are going to be poor at some point or another there is no “middle class”, because the middle is still f#cking poor.

And it wasn’t like a rampant case of laziness broke out. The ranks of the poor grew by 25% since George W Bush came into office. Turns out when our Government, and one political party in particular, go out of their way to coddle the rich and extract ‘sacrifice’ from the other 99% of us you end up with a country that is going broke. Must be the season of the rich.
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Is Perelman Jewish Day School the Hobby Lobby of Union-Busting?

In These Times
A small group of teachers in Philadelphia are finding their union rights under attack on questionable religious grounds, much the same way that women across America found their right to healthcare assaulted this week in the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby case.

Some 55 teachers at the Perelman Jewish Day School, which has two K-5 campuses in the Philadelphia suburbs with some 300 total students, were stunned March 24 to be notified that the school’s board had decided to cease recognizing their union. The teachers were told that the current union contract will be allowed to expire and they will be required to negotiate individual one-year contracts with school administrators. Normally, revoking union recognition would be considered a blatant violation of collective bargaining law. But board vice president Aaron Freiwald says the action is justified by a Supreme Court decision. The case he’s likely referring to is the obscure 1979 NLRB v. Catholic Bishops of Chicago, in which the Supreme Court found that religious schools are exempt from certain provisions of the National Labor Relations Act.

[...] Members held an emergency meeting March 27, Goodman says, and unanimously passed a resolution to fight for their union.
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Republican Bill Threatens Health Care for 1 Million Workers

AFL-CIO
House Republicans are expected to hold a vote next week on a bill that could cost as many as 1 million workers their employer-based health care. The Affordable Care Act imposes a penalty on larger employers that do not offer affordable, adequate health care coverage to employees who work 30 hours a week or more. The Republican bill would kick the threshold up to 40 hours a week.

With the 40-hour threshold, employers simply could cut workers back to a 39-hour week without a penalty and avoid any responsibility to offer health benefits. About 6.5 million workers are in jeopardy of having their hours sliced if the threshold is increased.

Read more from our recent article on the Republican bill here.
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Republicans eager to let women know how unimportant equal pay is

Daily Kos
Forget rebranding, Republicans are handing Democrats a powerful, base-motivating issue for the midterm elections, in equal pay. Texas attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott says he would have vetoed the Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Gov. Rick Perry did veto it, and calls equal pay concerns “nonsense.” They’re not alone. A parade of Republican men is always at the ready to dismiss pay inequities and outright pay discrimination:

In the heat of the last presidential race, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio waved off the Ledbetter Act as “an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits.” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the Paycheck Fairness Act would interfere with the free market, comparing it to the way the Soviet Politburo set the price of bread.

Designated Republican ladytalker Katie Packer Gage says sure, sure, Republican men should pretend to care by telling women who don’t know any better that since pay discrimination is already illegal, no other protections are needed, but really, Democrats are campaigning on equal pay “to distract women from real issues.”
Read the source story here.