- Job Board
News Stories for June 20, 2011
Every year since 2003, the California Chamber of Commerce publishes its hit list of proposed legislation it labels "job killers." The list includes legislation to protect consumers, workers and the environment from irresponsible business practices, or raise revenues to fund public services, or support middle and working class families.
The Chamber released their 2011 list on May 25. Topping the list of 29 so-called "job killer bills" are restrictions on the use of Styrofoam that is filling landfills and polluting our rivers and oceans. The list includes proposed legislation to index the minimum wage, decrease greenhouse gases, and raise desperately needed revenue for local governments. Read the source story here.
Democratic Congressman Joe Baca stepped into the labor dispute this week between the Teamsters and BMW Group by sending a letter to the automaker urging the company to keep union workers at a parts distribution center.
"These plans will end a 40-year partnership with Teamsters Union Local 495 and put an end to 65 union jobs," the San Bernardino legislator wrote in a June 15 letter to Jim O'Donnell, BMW of North America's CEO."It will needlessly layoff workers in a region experiencing the highest rates of unemployment in the country," Baca said. "Replacing those positions with a low wage worker force is an injustice and a blow to our local economy." Read the source story here.
The Political Carnival
Now that Scott Walker and his band of legislator thugs have done real damage to Wisconsin unions, the unions are doing everything they can to fight back and rectify what they can.
How? JSOnline tells us in this article. One way they intend to improve their situation is to raid their “formidable war chest” to recall six of the GOP senators who have destroyed their ability to collective bargain. Democrats taking the Senate would be a real boost, despite the persistent problem of some of the Wisconsin Supreme Court justices palling around with Gov. Walker.But that’s not all [...] | Read the source story here.
AFL-CIO Now Blog
During the height of the Wisconsin protests against Gov. Walker’s attacks on workers’ rights, chants of “the people, united, will never be defeated” pulsated through the Wisconsin State House. The shaking walls could be heard not just inside the Capitol, but for quite a distance outside. And thanks to the power of the Internet, they could be heard around the world.
When we see attacks like autoworkers being blamed for the auto crisis, teachers blamed for the teaching crisis, and public workers being blamed for financial difficulties (albeit, often manufactured ones that could be resolved by simply making the rich pay their fair share in taxes)—you can bet that the same corporate forces that have tried to divide and conquer workers for generations are behind them.
How can we overcome divisions in the labor movement—and the broader collective movement—to show solidarity?This Friday, AFL-CIO Media Relations Director Alison Omens moderated a session with Josh Dorner, Communications Director for Progressive Media at the Center for American Progress, Susan Madrak of Suburban Guerilla and many other blogs, Joan McCarter (aka mcjoan) from Daily Kos, Marcy Wheeler (aka emptywheel) of Firedoglake and John Aravosis of AMERICAblog. (Watch the video here.) Read the source story here.
Los Angeles Times
The silver lining in economic crises, if there is one, is that they can lead us to reexamine the flaws in the capitalist system and chisel out the rot.
But what explains the headlong rush in Washington to use the current crisis to undermine the foundations of economic security even further?
Specifically, I'm talking about a new proposal to rob from Social Security to fund a continuing tax break for people who don't need Social Security — the wealthy.
Make no mistake: This is a bipartisan effort. It started back in December, when President Obama capitulated to the GOP on a budget deal by cutting the payroll tax, which funds Social Security. Advocates for the program pointed out then the shortcomings of this approach: It was targeted inefficiently and unfairly, skewing to the upper middle class and hurting lower-income families in comparison with the Making Work Pay tax credit it replaced.
Even more troubling, it blew a hole in the financing mechanism for Social Security by reducing payroll tax revenue by roughly $110 billion for the year. It was plain then, as it is now, that once you've cut a tax, it's ever harder to restore it. Read the source story here.
AFL-CIO Now Blog
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler joined Rep. Debra Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) Melissa Bradley from the Tides Foundation, Rha Goddess at The Opportunity Agenda and researcher Anat Shenker-Osorio yesterday's at Netroots Nation plenary session.
Click here to view the entire session. After each participant made an opening presentation, the panel explored ways to break down the barriers working families must hurdle on the road to prosperity and dug deep into the inequality that is so pervasive in today's economy.Shuler's presentation—it begins about 35 minutes into the session—explored the attacks on collective bargaining in states across the nation and who is behind them, and how workers can gain a stronger voice when they organize. She shared the trio of videos (click here to view) the AFL-CIO produced with Laughing Liberally to convey the importance of collective bargaining with humor, showing just how bad things can get if workers don't have a voice at the bargaining table. Read the source story here.
The News Tribune
Washington's governor can claim "executive privilege" as a reason to withhold records from the public even though it is not listed as a specific exemption under state law, a judge ruled Friday.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy said in her decision that she wants to hold another hearing to determine whether Gov. Chris Gregoire properly asserted the claim in blocking the release of documents to a Libertarian think tank. The governor's office has proposed rules on how to make that determination. Read the source story here.
The NY Times
Sitting in a defensive crouch for months at a time can get a little uncomfortable, and several Senate Democrats are finally starting to rouse themselves. In the last weeks, there have been some tiny but tantalizing hints that at least a few senators want to offer an alternative to the Republican cost-cutting frenzy and talk about ways to cut sensibly and help put people back to work.
Last week, 41 Senate Democrats wrote letters to President Obama urging him to resist the Republican effort to sharply cut and transform Medicaid, the joint federal and state health program that primarily benefits poor children and pregnant women, disabled adults, and nursing home residents. Several senators have also broken through the wall of fear in Washington that prohibits discussion of stimulus spending.
These actions might seem unremarkable by Democrats in an ordinary year, but those in the Senate have largely been invisible in the current Congress, cowed by a noisy Republican majority in the House and afraid of losing their three-vote edge in the 2012 elections. Senate Democrats will not even put their priorities on the record by producing a budget, leaving it to the White House to negotiate with the House on matters like the debt ceiling. Read the source story here.
We Party Patriots
Following the ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that the Budget Repair Bill's passing was, in fact, legal, the focus of the legislature's detractors shifted squarely back to the recall of the State Senators who enabled the entire mess in the first place.
The Democratic party had drafted a scheme to ensure primaries in all of the recall elections. This would have ensured that all of the recall elections themselves would be held on the same day, avoiding a potential double turnout burden. But, when fake Democrats, run by the GOP, qualified in each race, the Democrats no longer needed to carry out the low-brow match play.
In the end, trickery may not be necessary. Local news reports, many of which are coming from the districts where the GOP candidates themselves reside, indicate the votes may very well go the Democrats' way. Read the source story here.
The Seattle Times
AARP, the lobby for older Americans that has been seen as one of the leading opponents of Social Security benefit cuts, said Friday that it was open to modest reductions in benefits for future recipients.
"Our goal is to limit any changes in benefits," John Rother, the group's policy chief, said in an interview, "but we also want to see the system made solvent."Rother said the group's stance on possible cuts, first reported in The Wall Street Journal, should be seen less as a major change in position than as a reflection of the political and financial realities facing the Social Security system and the country. Read the source story here.
When it comes to measuring the combination of unemployment and inflation, it doesn't get much more miserable than this.
In fact, misery, as measured in the unofficial Misery Index that simply totals the unemployment and inflation rates, is at a 28-year high, reflective of how weak the economic recovery has been and how far there is to go.
The index, first compiled during the soaring inflation days of the 1970s by economist Arthur Okun, is registering a nausea-inducing 12.7—9.1 percent for unemployment and 3.6 percent for annualized inflation—a number not seen since 1983. The index has been above 10 since November 2009 and had been under double-digits from June 1993 through May 2008. Read the source story here.
We Party Patriots
The raucous battle over workers' rights in Wisconsin has drowned out nearly all other matters there. Still, workers this week had cause for celebration in the state that claims the very first apprenticeship program in United States history.
"Wisconsin's law became a model for other states and the federal government for developing their own systems," Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Scott Baumbach told attendees at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center on Monday. In June 1911, Wisconsin enacted apprenticeship legislation, and at this week's 25th Biennial Apprenticeship Conference, the Apprenticeship Centennial Exposition was on display. Read the source story here.
No wonder Tea Party activists love Florida governor Rick Scott. To save a pittance on the state's budget, Scott, who has a personal net worth of more than $200 million, thanks in part to his having been president of a healthcare company that perpetrated the biggest medical fraud in United States history, vetoed a bill earlier this month that finally would have brought relief to 2,500 poverty-plagued African American farm laborers. Over the course of five decades, these people were poisoned on a daily basis by a witch's brew of pesticides.
I met Linda Lee, one of the afflicted workers, last summer when she took me on a "pesticide tour" of the land near Lake Apopka, a few miles northeast of Orlando. Leaning on her cane in the scorching midday June sun, Lee, who is 57, matter-of-factly listed her medical conditions: diabetes, lupus, high blood pressure, emphysema, and arthritis. Her hip had to be replaced and her gall bladder removed. Her kidneys failed, so she had a transplant. She also had two corneal implants. Asked what caused her woes, she didn't hesitate: As a farm laborer on the shores of Lake Apopka in the 1970s and 1980s, she was routinely exposed to agricultural chemicals as she worked in the fields. "Plenty of my old friends and neighbors got what I got, and a lot of them got stuff I don't want to get," she told me. Read the source story here.
When Robert "Fighting Bob" LaFollette pushed for the creation of an open-primary system in Wisconsin, his intent was to weaken the power of political party bosses beholden to special interests, like the railroad barrons. A central tenet of the progressive movement, opening up the primaries allowed independent, progressive activists to advance their political causes.
In its purest form, an open-primary system means that anyone can vote in any primary, and anyone can run in any primary.
Wisconsin has arguably the most open primaries in the United States, of the 17 states that currently follow that system. Open primaries aren't just part of a political system in the Badger State; they're part of a Wisconsin tradition. It's the kind of tradition that allowed marijuana rights activist Ben Masel to bring attention to his cause through campaigns for governor and for the U.S. Senate seat held by Herb Kohl.
That tradition is about to face its greatest challenge.
Top Wisconsin Republicans -- the head of the state party and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald -- have publicly announced their
plans to run spoiler candidates in Democratic primaries. Stephan Thompson, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement that the party advocates the practice to push back the recall election schedule "to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved."
Fitzgerald has echoed those reasons in his support, despite some apparent objection from candidates such as Rep. Dan Kapanke and Rep. Randy Hopper who denied any involvement in the spoiler efforts even though Fitzgerald claimed to have briefed all Republican candidates on the strategy. Read the source story here.
The annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting got off to an international start on Friday, with some backing a resolution to hasten the end of the Afghan and Iraq wars — and channel that spending to cities.
The resolution calls on Congress to redirect the military spending to domestic priorities. The resolution says $126 billion is being spent each year on the wars that should be spent at home to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, develop sustainable energy and provide for other needs.
When asked to respond to those who argue military efforts have made American cities safer from foreign terrorists, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pointed to the cost.
"How did we get to a deficit and a debt larger than at any time not only in U.S. history but in human history? We got involved in two wars that, no matter what you think about those wars, we haven't paid for," Villaraigosa said.
"That we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City, absolutely boggles the mind." Read the source story here.
- The Progressive:
On Wisconsin at Netroots Nation
Democrats eye new jobs agenda
- The Seattle Times:
Candidates raise millions with 'money blurts'
- We Party Patriots:
SBill Maher Says 1) We Need Unions 2) We Need Infrastructure 3) Rick Perry's Cowboy Boots Are "Kind of Gay"
- The Raw Story:
More than 100,000 in Spain anti-crisis protests
- The Wall Street Journal:
Texas Gov. Perry Calls for More State Power
- Think Progress:
Perry's Texas Has Highest Percentage Of Minimum Wage Jobs In The Nation
- Washington Monthly:
Who Are the Most Consistently Misinformed Media Viewers?
- Huffington Post:
Senate Democrats: We Will Not Let GOP Cut Medicare. Stay the Course.
- The Washington Post:
Split in Republican Ranks Over Ethanol Subsidy Vote
- USA TODAY:
Budget cuts may hamper flooding research
- The News Tribune:
No more Nalley's: After nearly 100 years, plant will fill its final can of chili in Tacoma Saturday
- The News Tribune:
Gregoire in Europe, promoting business
- Crooks and Liars:
Schumer Asks Incredulous Schieffer: Hey, GOP, Where Are The Jobs?
"Merchants of Doubt": How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues From Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
- Think Progress:
House GOP Slashes Food Safety Funding Because "The Private Sector Self-Polices"
- Crooks and Liars:
"Do any of our political leaders realize that kissing rich peoples' asses won't magically restore prosperity?"
Five of the Nastiest Examples of Wal-Mart Evil