Presumably you’ve seen this at the NY Times:
UNLESS something changes in Washington, American workers will, on New Year’s Day, effectively lose their right to be represented by a union. Two of the five seats on the National Labor Relations Board, which protects collective bargaining, are vacant, and on Dec. 31, the term of Craig Becker, a labor lawyer whom President Obama named to the board last year through a recess appointment, will expire. Without a quorum, the Supreme Court ruled last year, the board cannot decide cases.
What would this mean?
Workers illegally fired for union organizing won’t be reinstated with back pay. Employers will be able to get away with interfering with union elections. Perhaps most important, employers won’t have to recognize unions despite a majority vote by workers. Without the board to enforce labor law, most companies will not voluntarily deal with unions.
If this nightmare comes to pass, it will represent the culmination of three decades of Republican resistance to the board — an unwillingness to recognize the fundamental right of workers to band together, if they wish, to seek better pay and working conditions. But Mr. Obama is also partly to blame; in trying to install partisan stalwarts on the board, as his predecessors did, he is all but guaranteeing that the impasse will continue. On Wednesday, he announced his intention to nominate two pro-union lawyers to the board, though there is no realistic chance that either can gain Senate confirmation anytime soon.
The author was NLRB chair during the Clinton years. While I don’t agree fully with some of his comments, clearly this is one issue that deserves more notice and debate. Either workers have rights or they don’t. If they do have rights, they need a reasonable enforcement capability to support their rights.
Part of what I disagree with is the idea that Obama is at fault if the NLRB falls apart, by nominating worker-friendly members to the board. I agree members of the board should be mostly non-partisan professionals, not ideological hacks. But if the board exists to protect worker rights, then the bias on the board should be towards appointing members who will defend those rights. Presumably businesses that disagree with the board on an issue have their own resources and will protect their interests, as well. And Senators should respect this dynamic. Otherwise, Senators are agreeing with Republicans that workers have no rights.
It also goes without saying that without unions wage suppression becomes even more pronounced and the ability to have a viable middle class disappears in the US (it’s already gone, in many ways).
The Federal Aviation Administration said it’s losing $30 million a day in taxes because Congress let the agency’s revenue-raising authority expire.
Airlines can’t collect excise taxes on tickets, fuel and cargo until Congress passes legislation to extend the FAA’s authority, Randy Babbitt, the agency’s administrator, said today on a conference call from Washington. The FAA operated through July 22 under a series of 20 short-term extensions, after its multiyear funding legislation expired in 2007.
Most major airlines have raised base ticket prices by at least 7.5 percent to capture the forgone federal revenue, Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of FareCompare.com, a website that tracks ticket prices, said in an e-mailed report.
“With the added ticket revenue and the reduction in sales tax on jet fuel, this could be a major boon for airline bottom lines if the issue goes unresolved for several weeks,” Seaney wrote in an e-mail.
The deadlock in Congress continued today as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he doesn’t plan to bring a House-approved FAA extension bill to a Senate vote.
Senate Democrats oppose the House measure to continue FAA funding through Sept. 16 because it would end taxpayer support for flights to 13 small-town airports, including one in Reid’s home state.
The National Journal is the only outlet that begins to describe the union angle to Republican objections, along with some predictable boilerplate debate on the merits (love the guy arguing New Guinea should be a model for the US!). What’s even more galling than airlines charging the Federal tax rate as pure profit, and Republicans trying to hurt unions, is that FAA inspectors are working without pay and having to charge travel and hotel to their personal accounts. For at least another month because Congress went on recess without funding the FAA. What are the odds they’ll be paid back before their credit runs out? Or that they’ll be reimbursed once funding happens in September, if it happens?
From the NY Times:
The United States is in the grips of its gravest jobs crisis since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House. Lose your job, and it will take roughly nine months to find a new one. That is off the charts. Many Americans have simply given up.
But unless you’re one of those unhappy 14 million, you might not even notice the problem. The budget deficit, not jobs, has been dominating the conversation in Washington. Unlike the hard-pressed in, say, Greece or Spain, the jobless in America seem, well, subdued. The old fire has gone out.
In some ways, this boils down to math, both economic and political. Yes, 9.2 percent of the American work force is unemployed — but 90.8 percent of it is working. To elected officials, the unemployed are a relatively small constituency. And with apologies to Karl Marx, the workers of the world, particularly the unemployed, are also no longer uniting.
Nor are they voting — or at least not as much as people with jobs. In 2010, some 46 percent of working Americans who were eligible to vote did so, compared with 35 percent of the unemployed, according to Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University. There was a similar turnout gap in the 2008 election.
And this clueless bit:
Why populist anger over the poor economy is leaning right, rather than left, this time around is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps it is because Democrats, traditional friends of labor, control the White House and the Senate.
Clueless because the real issue is the corporate embrace of the Democratic party added to the fact the Republican party is 100% owned by companies like General Electric, Goldman Sachs, and their ilk. The 99% screwed in this economy have almost zero political representation. Not because that group doesn’t care (certainly a large number are demoralized). Rather it’s because the groups that supported the 99% have been methodically broken down (e.g. unions, offshoring jobs) while the media has been co-opted through mergers with giant corporations that could care less about normal people. And lobbying jobs and jobs in these giant corporations serve as landing places for politicians and their staffs, encouraging them to toe the line to grab their six or seven figure job post-politics. Read the rest of this entry »
From NY Times:
WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in Afghanistan!” No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.
And yet in education we do just that. When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources.
Compare this with our approach to our military: when results on the ground are not what we hoped, we think of ways to better support soldiers. We try to give them better tools, better weapons, better protection, better training. And when recruiting is down, we offer incentives.
I’d quibble that all US students do poorly on international tests. POOR kids in the US don’t do well compared to those test but the rest of US kids score high relative to other kids in the world. And the frame assumes international testing is even valuable when judging how education works for kids and communities those kids grow up into.
From NY Times:
All are signs that New York City’s real estate industry is clawing out of the recession. But they are noteworthy for another reason: they are being constructed without any union labor.
For most of the last century, the city’s construction unions were a symbol of labor strength in a pro-labor town, and their involvement in large projects was almost never in doubt. But just as public employees’ unions across the country are in the fights of their lives, the city’s major building unions are facing their own moment of reckoning.
While they are still a major presence, their share of the city’s $20 billion to $30 billion in annual construction work has dropped significantly in recent years. There are no official statistics; according to unionized construction companies, two out of five construction jobs in the city are now nonunion, though unions put the number at one in four. All agree that for many years, at least 85 percent of building jobs were union ones.
While the article quotes a union leader saying developers, union and non-union, are making money, the Times doesn’t bother to ask the obvious question: if you cut labor costs, who gets the money? This is yet another example how the economy is rigged to trickle money up to the wealthiest at the expense of working people and their ability (right?) to earn a living wage. Especially people who might not have a college degree.
Non-union developers should be forced to pay living wages to their non-union employees, comparable to union wages, both for fairness and to prevent their gaming the economy for their benefit at the expense of all workers.
On one hand we are faced with a Corporo-Conservative assault on labor unions using their mercenary GOPper legislators in WI and elsewhere.
On the other, a cultural hegemonic front that systematically excludes Progressive views, analysis, and solutions from the mainstream media, elected office, and the history of our nation.
As Merge Left was taking form from the remains of Open Left one idea that percolated up was for us to use this site to organize members to swarm other web-sites and media outlets in a effort to push their coverage toward the left. To show them that the Right Lane is Closed!
This coming Monday morning from 9 – 11 AM (CST) we have an opportunity to swarm Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) during the Midday call-in program. The site is structured to allow non-members to stream the programs in real time and to submit questions via the website or a toll-free phone line. We can do this.
Read the rest of this entry »
The data is clear and indisputable.
A very few people control a huge share of the capital available in the world. The personal and/or familial fortunes of these folks are a “ceiling”. This ceiling covers the globe. By my calculation only about 30% of the top 100 are considered residents of the US. Even so, much of the discussion has been focused on the nasty ways that one or two of the US plutocrats use the riches their families have amassed. But David Koch, funder of Koch Heads across the US, only ranks #24. Now, I understand that “all politics is local” and most of us at Merge Left live in the US, so that focus is to be expected. Likewise, the emphasis of most posts on local and state level issues and actions is quite appropriate. Action and organization begin in our hometowns and Merge Left is, in a sense, our virtual hometown. The fact remains that the ceiling, the special place that the greed of the globes oligarchs has pushed them, covers the world.
For a moment, I’d like to refocus on the “floor”, the thing that underlies the ceiling, the place where 99.8% of the world’s population stands, even as we are forced (coerced?) to support the thieving bastards in the ceiling.
Read the rest of this entry »
Will the people of PA rise up like their brothers and sisters in WI? Corbett’s budget demands lots of pain, and includes more tax cuts, to address the deficit. Somehow. The Predator State rolls on. (All emphases mine).
The governor’s proposed spending plan for 2011-2012 is 3.1 percent leaner than this year’s roughly $28.2 billion budget, and proposes no additional taxes or fees, including no new tax on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.
To offset the pain of cuts to public schools, the governor is asking school districts to reopen their collective bargaining agreements to push for a one-year salary freeze on all school district personnel, from superintendents to teachers. The administration believes that would save an estimated $400 million.
In other areas, the administration is proposing to reinstate the phase-out of the capital stock and franchise tax, in the hopes of stimulating job creation. It also preserves the film tax credit, which had appeared to be destined for doom earlier this month.
China, Burma, North Korea, United Arab Emirates, Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, Napoleon’s France, Hussein’s Iraq, Bremer’s Iraq.