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Young vs UPS: Is It Legal To Discriminate Against Pregnant Women?

Discrimination in the workplace is real and it happens every day. Some are discriminated based on their skin color, others are discriminated based on their sexual preference, and many are discriminated based on their sex.

This week the Supreme Court will hear a case, Young v UPS, that will decide if it is legal to discriminate against pregnant women.

After working as a delivery driver for UPS, Peggy Young became pregnant. This is not uncommon as 2.5 million working women become pregnant every year. As Peggy’s pregnancy progressed her doctor restricted her to light duty. The doctor said that Peggy should avoid lifting anything over 20 pounds.

Peggy went to UPS and asked to be reassigned to light duty activities. UPS denied her request and to add insult to their denial, they fired her as well. Not only did Peggy lose her paycheck she lost her healthcare too. This is why she chose to sue UPS for lost wages and expenses.

Some are saying this case is moot as UPS has already changed their policy, allowing pregnant women to work light duty jobs, but this case could set a very bad precedence.

Some lawmakers are not waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on this case and have already filed new legislation to strengthen the protections for pregnant women. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) authored the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), legislation which would strengthen the rights of pregnant workers to request accommodations during their pregnancy without fear of retribution.

The PWFA would secure the right of a pregnant worker to ask for workplace accommodations without fear of retribution. Today, women make up nearly half of the labor force, and three-quarters of women entering the workforce will be pregnant and employed at some point in their careers.

“A woman should never have to face a choice between her job and pregnancy,” Senator Shaheen said. “Women are a crucial part of our workforce, and they have every right to receive reasonable workplace accommodations to continue a healthy pregnancy while providing for their families and contributing to the economy.”

“Women make up nearly half of the workforce, and in Pennsylvania, approximately 96,000 women in the workforce give birth each year,” Senator Casey said. “Too many women still face discrimination in the workplace during pregnancy as some employers continue to refuse to provide reasonable accommodations. No woman should be forced out of a job because she is pregnant. Every employer should work to provide accommodations that will allow women to keep working safely through their pregnancies.”

The Senate version of the PWFA (S.942) currently has 33 co-sponsors, 32 Democrats and one Independent, Senator Sanders (I-VT).

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) submitted identical legislation (H.R 1975) to the House and it currently has 140 co-cosponsors, again all Democrats.

“No woman should ever be discriminated against in the workplace simply because she is pregnant, and I was proud to help send an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court supporting Peggy Young, whose treatment by her employer clearly violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “As a cosponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which additionally prohibits employers from treating pregnant workers unfairly, I urge the Supreme Court to fall on the right side of the law and rule against UPS for its unacceptable, discriminatory treatment of Peggy Young.”

This case has created some strange bedfellows. Both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups have come out in support of Peggy and her case against UPS. Vox.com reported:

“Both the anti-abortion right and the feminist left have filed amicus briefs on behalf of Young, though they come at it from different angles. Women’s rights groups like the Women’s Law Project and Legal Momentum (formerly known as the NOW Legal Defense Fund) have signed onto briefs arguing Young’s side of the case. In one of those briefs, these groups argue that the Fourth Circuit was incorrect and ‘misconceive[d] the gender stereotyping behind pregnancy discrimination.’”

If both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups support stronger protections for working pregnant women, why hasn’t a single Republican signed on to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act? Protecting the mother, protects the child, and the pregnancy.

This should be a slam dunk for Congress.

Or, is it just another example of how Congressional Republicans do not really care about working families and are blocking anti-discrimination legislation for their corporate campaign funders?

Greedy Corporations Are Stealing Thanksgiving From Millions Of Low Wage Workers

KMart

I cannot begin to explain how outraged I am over the theft of Thanksgiving by greedy corporations who are all trying to one-up each other by opening earlier and earlier.

Thanksgiving has always been about family. The one holiday that does not revolve around buying anything more than a massive meal. It is a day where everyone has the day off, kids come home from college, and families pack up to head to grandma’s for a piece of her homemade pie.

For too many low-wage workers this Thanksgiving will not be about family but feeding the greed of their corporate bosses.

This year almost every major retailer will be open on Thanksgiving. The worst is Kmart who will be open at 6 am, and staying open for 42 hours straight.

I applaud all of the stores who have chosen not to open like GameStop and Costco.

“For us, it’s a matter of principle,” said Tony Bartel, the president of GameStop, whose company has 4,600 stores nationwide. “We have a phrase around here that we use a lot — it’s called ‘protecting the family.’ We want our associates to enjoy their complete holidays.”

“It’s an important holiday in the U.S., and our employees work hard during the holiday season, and we believe they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving Day with their family and friends,” said Richard A. Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Costco Wholesale.

My problem with stores being open on Thanksgiving is that they are forcing workers to forgo their own Thanksgiving to go to work or lose their jobs. Kmart has come under fire for threatening to fire any employee who does not show up for work on Thanksgiving. These low-wage workers have no choice in the matter.

I don’t see the Kmart CEO working a 12-hour day on Thanksgiving, even though it was his decision to open.

Retail workers have always been treated like garbage from their corporate bosses. They are paid just above minimum wage and are scheduled as much as possible without being classified as a full time employee to avoid being required to offer them healthcare.

No WalmartAcross the country Walmart workers will be walking out in protest. Making Change at Walmart (OUR Walmart) is walking out to protest Walmart’s low wages, lack of opportunity for full time work, and refusal to offer affordable healthcare options for associates.

This year I suggest you start a new Thanksgiving weekend tradition. Spend Thanksgiving with your family. Enjoy the day, eat until you burst, then later get a little more.

Instead of running around like a madman on Friday, take some time and stand with Walmart workers protesting in your area. (Click here to find a Black Friday Protest near you.) All workers deserve respect in the workplace, they deserve fair wages, and access to quality affordable healthcare.

Lastly, spend your Saturday shopping in your local community. Supporting the small businesses in your community ensures that your money stays in your community. Small Business Saturday has grown in popularity in the past few years and that is one Thanksgiving sale that I can stand behind.

The Colbert Report Highlights The FREE KEENE Robin Hoods

Screen shot of the Colbert Report 11-19-14 show on Free Keene

Screen shot of the Colbert Report 11-19-14 show on Free Keene

Last night the Colbert Report covered something that we in New Hampshire have been talking about at length for years, the Free Staters, specifically Free Keene.

The Colbert Report focused on the Free Keene Robin Hooders and their harassment of parking attendants.  The NH Labor News was one of the first to break the story about the harassment of Keene police officers in our story, “Free Keene from ‘Free-Keene’: A Story Of Harassment In The Workplace.

I am glad to see that The Colbert Report is bringing some national attention to the outrageous and threatening actions of the Free Keene Robin Hoods.

Striking New England Workers, and the American Economy

 

Image from Fairness at Fairpoint

Image from Fairness at Fairpoint

By Carol Driscoll

As a person who grew up in New England in a union household, I was very stirred to learn that on October 17 nearly 2,000 New England telecommunication workers—members of the IBEW and CWA—walked off their jobs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, in a protest against unfair labor practices. They struck against FairPoint Communications, based in North Carolina and owned by five Wall Street hedge funds. At the expiration of their union contracts this past August, the company adamantly refused to sit down and negotiate, despite the unions’ willingness to do so. According to the Kennebec Journal, FairPoint “…asked the unions for $700 million in concessions, mostly by freezing pensions, eliminating health coverage for retirees and asking employees to contribute…20 percent to their health care costs.”

 Why They Went on Strike

The company’s demands are patently ridiculous. The persons in this unionized workforce are skilled, productive men and women who perform some of the most grueling and dangerous work—telephone line repairs and installations—including in all kinds of weather. They have a sense of their value, and refused to accept the company’s offensive “offers.” The fact that FairPoint did not want to continue negotiations is telling. In recent years slashing labor costs by eliminating union workers is a prime function of hedge funds, and to achieve this they must kill the unions’ collective bargaining agreements. Peter Keefe, the unions’ bargaining chair, explained: “The money they’re trying to cut out of our contracts will go right back to the hedge funds. This is a Main Street versus Wall Street fight. It’s not just telecommunications and FairPoint. This is what’s going on in America today.”

Another big issue in the negotiations is job security. The company wants to outsource the jobs of these workers to out-of-state and foreign contractors. “The main reason we are standing out here,” said Randall Curtis on a picket line, “is because we are trying to keep good jobs in Maine. The company wants the ability to outsource all of our work…and we’re fighting to keep those jobs here, to keep them local.”

What’s Going On in America Today?

It’s heartening to me that union officials are aligning their struggles with those of Main Street Americans. However, what the fight is really about needs to be seen more clearly. I say this as a person who worked nearly 25 years for unions on the international and local levels. I love what they represent: their large meaning for the life of every American. I’m deeply grateful for what I’ve been learning these years about unions and the American economy from my study of Aesthetic Realism, the comprehensive education founded in 1941 by Eli Siegel. I learned, for example, that profit economics is based on contempt: on using the labor of working men and women to enrich owners and shareholders—who do not do the work—at the expense of these workers. In the instance of FairPoint, the majority of profits from the labor of nearly 2,000 individuals goes to five Wall Street investors, and when profits go down, the people who do the work are asked to give concessions. To hell with this! Why should these workers have to forfeit their hard-won benefits that they earned day in and day out, year after year?

I’ve learned that unions, from their very beginning, have been a force for ethics and against this contempt. Union workers fought for—and sometimes died for–an honest seeing of what people deserve, and their struggles courageously go on. As a union member in Waterville put it, “You have to fight for what’s right, and it isn’t always easy…but it’s absolutely worth it.”

One of my most ardent wishes is that every union official study what Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, has explained about our economy, the role of unions, and the fierce efforts to destroy them. For instance, in her commentary to The Battle of Insistences she writes:

Beginning in 1970, Mr. Siegel explained that an economy based on the profit motive—on seeing people in terms of how much financial gain one can extract from them—was no longer able to carry on successfully. The profit system would never recover, though it might be made to limp along at the cost of enormous pain to people. Profit economics is a form of contempt. It arises from this assumption, which is also an insistence: certain people should own much more of the world than others, and can use those others to aggrandize themselves.

However, by the 1970s, another insistence had, as Mr. Siegel said come to a tangibility. He called it the force of ethics. And this ethical insistence, working through history, had made it so that by the end of the 20th century private profits were much more difficult to obtain….In the last years, I have been describing the following fact: those who insist that the profit way must be the basis of our economy have been trying to do the one thing that can now keep it going. That one thing is: make Americans work for less and less pay, so more and more of the money they earn with their labor can go into the pockets of the owners, who don’t do the work. Only by increasingly impoverishing the American people can the profit system now go on. Of course, to pay people less and less, to impoverish them successfully, one must try to annihilate unions. Unions—which have fought for and won better economic lives for people over the decades, are one of the biggest embodiments of ethics as a force.

A personal note: It very much affects me that some of the strong actions on behalf of ethics are taking place in Maine. My husband, photographer Harvey Spears and I spend time there every year.  I love its vastness, its beautiful landscapes, and its rocky coastlines. But I’ve also seen firsthand the hurtful effects of profit economics, showing in low wages, which make food pantries shamefully necessary in places both urban and rural.

Eli Siegel asked this kind, crucial question about economics: What does a person deserve by being a person? When this is answered honestly, the folks in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and everywhere else in the U.S. will have a new economy, one that is based on ethics—and one they rightly deserve.

TV Ads Tell FairPoint: Respect New England Workers

Striking Employees Say They Want To Get Back to Work

Augusta, Maine — The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers released four new television ads featuring FairPoint Communications employees and retirees calling on the company to return to the bargaining table and give workers a “fair deal.”

The spots will run in the Boston, Manchester, N.H., and Portland, Maine, media markets.

In one ad, 15-year employee Marc Jutras describes the struggles his family has faced since the strike began last month.

“My wife passed away in 2013,” says the father of three in the spot. “It was devastating to all of us. It’s daunting to not know where that next paycheck is coming from.”

Jutras says FairPoint’s refusal to bargain fairly constitutes an attack on the middle class. “We’ve made concessions,” he says. “We’ve brought them back from bankruptcy. All we’re looking to do is to get back to work.”

Another ad features Kristen Wescott, whose 11-year-old daughter suffers from a congenital heart defect. But Wescott has no idea how her family will pay for life-saving surgery because FairPoint canceled health benefits for striking workers Oct. 31.

“I’m upset and angry. This isn’t something the company needed to do,” she says in the ad. “The company wouldn’t be in the position it is today if it wasn’t for the union members.”

Nearly 2,000 FairPoint employees in Northern New England went on strike Oct. 17, citing management’s unwillingness to bargain in good faith after company representatives walked away from contract negotiations. Bargaining, which began last April, were stonewalled by FairPoint management, who rejected every compromise offered by union negotiators.

FairPoint wants to outsource skilled New England jobs to low-paid, out-of-state-contractors.

“Our representatives offered numerous concessions which would have saved the company millions of dollars,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill. “But FairPoint refused to budge from its outrageous demands which would destroy middle-class jobs in communities throughout New England. All our members want is a fair deal so they can get back to doing what they do best: servicing their communities. “

Watch the new ads here.

###

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents approximately 750,000 active members and retirees who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government. The IBEW has members in both the United States and Canada and stands out among the American unions in the AFL-CIO because it is among the largest and has members in so many skilled occupations.

In A New Book Teacher’s Advocate Defends Teachers

Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen By Dr. Tom Staszewski

Total-Teaching-book-graphicFrom the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book will provide an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession. It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes that ‘teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.’ This book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school year and to persevere beyond the challenges associated with the profession.  This inspiring book is filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it provides a motivational pep talk to help teachers stay focused, to succeed in the classroom, to maintain the passion that brought them into the profession and develop a plan to be the best that they can be!

As featured in http://www.teacherscount.org TeachersCount is working to create a permanent culture of teacher appreciation in the United States.

Copies are available through the publisher Rowman and Littlefield and also at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com or from Rowman & Littlefield Education Phone: (301) 459-3366, http://www.rowmaneducation.com Customer Service, Toll free: (800) 462-6420, custserv@rowman.com

Dr. Tom Staszewski Teaching standards have risen and so have teacher stress levels. The pressure imposed on teachers by administrators, parents, and students, often creates feelings of teacher self-doubt. Luckily, Total Teaching by Tom Staszewski offers those in this much beleaguered profession both guidance and inspiration.

Offering constructive advice and teaching tools, Total Teaching provides readers with a source of hope. Staszewski provides tips and proven strategies for success that are applicable both inside and outside the classroom. If you are looking for a gift for a special teacher, or looking to purchase a bit of personal inspiration, TOTAL TEACHING will help shine some light at the end of your tunnel.

Tom Staszewski has been an educator since 1974. His career has spanned a variety of levels, from teaching elementary and middle school grades to instructing and holding various administrative positions at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Frequently asked questions about Total Teaching…Your Passion Makes it Happen,

written by Dr. Tom Staszewski, tomstasz@neo.rr.com

What prompted you to write the book?

In this era of policy change and educational reform at the K-12 level, suddenly “everybody” has become an expert on our school systems. In my opinion, there is a great amount of unjustified criticism that is unfairly being leveled against our schools and our teachers. Most of the criticism is unfounded, baseless, undeserved and distorted. Many critics of our school systems have never set foot in a classroom to see what’s going on —other than their own experience as a former student—and their criticism is  erroneous and counterproductive. If they (critics) would take the time to better understand just how hard the teaching profession really is, they would change their criticism to face the reality of today’s schools and society at large. I believe that most critics would find it difficult to even make it through even one day in the life of a typical teacher. The essence behind the book is that today’s teachers are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny and there is a need for more support, recognition and appreciation for the good that they are providing for society. So the point of my book is to inform the uninformed about how difficult it is to teach in many of today’s schools. And to provide recognition to educators and to thank teachers for the positive difference they are making  in society. I’ve always said that our schools are a reflection of society and society at large has changed and undergone a dramatic shift from previous generations. The book also focuses on the success stories and “what’s right” with our schools rather than “what’s wrong” with our schools. Unlike previous generations…in many homes today, whether it be a single parent household or with both parents home…many parents send their kids to school unfed, unprepared and with little or no basic skills and often with no social skills, etc.

In my previous work as a motivational speaker and professional development trainer, I have personally worked with thousands and thousands of teachers statewide and nationwide and I have found them to be hard-working, dedicated, industrious and committed to the success of their students. It’s about time that someone has taken a stand to recognize and acknowledge the value to society that  teachers are providing and to thank them for their dedication.

What is the theme of the book?

In addition to thanking and recognizing the good that teachers provide to society, the book is also a handbook that can be used by the teacher as a means of providing coping skills and methods to succeed in the classroom with the trials and tribulations of teaching. It provides a means of offering tips, strategies and techniques to make it through the day and to have a successful school year. In many respects it is a personal growth and development type handbook.

From the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book provides an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession. It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes that “teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.” This book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school year and to persevere beyond all of the challenges associated with the profession. Filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it will provide a pep talk to help teachers stay focused. Readers are able to maintain the passion that brought them into the profession and to develop a plan to be the best that they can be.

What is the author’s background and experience?

Born, raised and residing in Erie, PA, Dr. Tom Staszewski (pronounced Sta SHEF ski) is a proud product of the City of Erie Public School District and graduated from Erie Academy High School in 1970. He is married to Linda Laird Staszewski. His BS in Education is from Penn State University, an MA from Indiana University of PA and a doctorate in administrative and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

As a career educator, my background has spanned a variety of educational levels, from teaching elementary and middle school grades to teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels. In addition, I’ve held various administrative positions at the higher ed. level.

Why We Organize: The Fight For $15

For RespectEvery workers deserves respect.  

We work hard, and only ask to be paid fairly.  For many low-wage workers, work is more like slavery. They work hours on end, making scraps and living in poverty.  For hundreds of thousands of workers in the greater Los Angeles area, living on California’s (higher than average) minimum wage is just not enough to survive.  Workers in LA have come together with local union organizers to Fight for $15.

They are asking for Mayor Garcetti to help improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers in the greater LA area.

Workers all across LA are fighting to build a better future for our families. The truck drivers that deliver the clothes on our backs, the fast food workers who serve us our food on the go, warehouse and retail workers that help fill our holidays with cheer, and the car wash workers who keep LA’s beloved automobiles shiny… We are the backbone of our economy and we have joined together to fight for our rights!

We will not back down until there is change!

Mayor Garcetti, support our fight to improve the lives of the hundreds of thousands of workers that keep the city running.

Sign the petition 

Look at the faces of the people who are organizing in the Fight for $15 in LA.  They are not children, they are everyday Americans, just like you and me.  They are hard workers.  They have families of their own.  They just want to be paid a living wage.

FIGHT FOR $15!

Watch the video on YouTube 

Workers Rally To Ask Congress To Stop Delaying America’s Mail

A boisterous crowd gathered in downtown Manchester on a blustery Friday evening to urge lawmakers not to decimate the U.S. Postal Service. This rally was part of a National Day of Action to stop the closing of 82 mail processing plants starting in January. The deconstructing of the Postal Service network continues despite the fact that on this same day the U.S. Postal Service reported a $1.4 Billion operational profit for the year.

The incredible list of Speakers included NH AFL CIO President Mark McKenzie, SEA/SEIU #1984 President Rich Gulla, IBEW #2320 Business Manager Glen Brackett, AFT NH President Laura Hainey, Gene Porter – husband of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, Norm Welsh Manchester Newspaper Guild President, Liz Skidmore , Carpenters #118 Business Manager and NALC State President Wayne Alterisio. NPMU Rep Ed Barnes was the informative MC and this amazing event was made possible by the incredible work of APWU leaders Janice Kelble and Kim Hayes. (I apologize for those I failed to mention)

The lawmakers that are endorsing these plant closures and eliminating Saturday mail delivery are not trying to save or reform the postal service they want to destroy it. A highly efficient and popular government agency does not fit their mindless anti government ideology that they sell to the American Public to get elected.

Add to the fact that the postal service is highly unionized and the anti worker politicians come out in mass. The battles to shrink worker pay and take back benefits are all around us. Friday’s speakers detailed those battles locally with the bitter strike at Fairpoint being the most ominous. The newspaper guild is still searching for fairness for its employees. The continuous war on reducing public employees is what Teachers and State Employees fight everyday. The workers at the U.S. Postal Service are the next target in our nations ongoing war on workers.

The war against postal workers not only affects the hundreds of thousands of postal workers but the millions of people in our country who rely on timely mail delivery. The elderly waiting for their medicine or child waiting for delivery of their birthday present or a small business waiting for essential documents should not be considered insignificant collateral damage in the attack on postal workers.

Congress should focus on eliminating the onerous $5.4 billion annual retirement healthcare prefunding requirement that has caused financial hardship for the USPS. That unprecedented requirement has to be modified and instead of shrinking the network it should be looking to expand it.

Good USPS financial news abounds with the strong $1.4 billion operational profit just reported.  Add to that Sunday parcel delivery for Amazon Packages is becoming a reality for many parts of the country next month. Letter revenue is up as our economy grows. The USPS can further enhance its skyrocketing 9.1% package revenue growth in the past year. It’s time to build on these success moving forward. Killing the Postal Service for ideological reasons seems more absurd now than ever before

Saving the Postal Service is what united this impressive crowd today. As I listened to the speakers and crowd response another theme became clear to us all. This spirited event highlighted a unified work force in NH that will be a formidable obstacle to those politicians and businessmen who want to erode workers pay and benefits. Our solidarity is a force that must be reckoned with.

Below is a short video of Janice Kelble, Legislative Director for the NH Postal Workers Union talking about the rally and the issues facing the USPS.

You can view all of the videos from the rally in this playlist. 

 

UPDATE:
Other local coverage from WBIN NH1 :http://www.nh1.com/news/postal-service-workers-protest-in-manchester-over-pending-cuts/

New England Cable News (NECN) http://www.necn.com/news/business/Postal-Workers-Say-Cuts-Will-Kill-Service-282766071.html
National USPS Rally Coverage:
Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/11/12/postal-workers-to-protest-plant-closings-and-service-reductions/

Senate Democrats Need To Move Quickly To Approve A New Member To The NLRB

Well the elections are over and the now, just ten days after all the votes were counted, it is obvious that we are headed for another two years of monumental gridlock.

The Republicans in the Senate used their minority power to filibuster major Presidential nominees forcing Harry Reid to take the “nuclear option,” changing the rules of the filibuster to a simple majority vote. This rule change means if all the Senate Democrats voted together, they would be able to approve any and all of the President’s nominees.

The Democrats only have a few weeks left in charge of the Senate and they should be using it to appoint dozens on nominees including a new board member to the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB).

President Obama’s NLRB appointments came under fire by Senate Republicans when President Obama forced his appointments through while the Senate was in recess. Although the Supreme Court ruled that recess appointments are legal, they also found that President Obama violated those rules when he appointed Sharon Block to the NLRB.

After the Supreme Court ruled that the Senate would need to approve of the nomination, President Obama once again submitted Sharon Block to the NLRB. Unfortunately her nomination was a poison pill to the Republicans and they blocked her nomination.

It was announced yesterday that President Obama has withdrawn his nomination of Sharon Block and in turn nominated “Lauren McFerran, who has served as chief labor counsel for the Senate Health Committee since 2005.”

“Sharon Block is a thoughtful, smart and committed public servant with a proven track record serving on the both the National Labor Relations Board and at the U.S. Department of Labor,” said Mary Kay Henry, President of the SEIU. “Today, once again, obstruction by the far right has stripped the American people of a qualified nominee with stellar credentials who would have served our nation’s working families ably and justly. It is disappointing for America’s hardworking men and women that such a capable candidate would fall prey to an extreme and crassly political agenda.”

Senate Democrats now have a choice to make, and they only have a few days to make it. Do they push through the nomination of Lauren McFerran to the NLRB before December 16th when Nancy Schiffer’s term expires, leaving two Republican and two Democratic appointees on the board?

“Congress must prioritize filling all of the seats on the NLRB and confirm the Obama Administration’s new nominee, Lauren McFerran, immediately,” stated Henry. “The rights of our 2 million members — and tens of millions of working people in every sector and vocation — are protected by labor laws that are best regulated by a fully functional NLRB. Lauren McFerran, is also an impressive candidate with a robust background in labor relations law and an excellent reputation for her professional work on the Hill. It is imperative to the security of our working families that Congress confirm McFerran swiftly.”​

The Senate Democrats need to grab the bull by the horns and push through some of these nominees before the Republicans, and their opposition to everything Obama, begins their two-year reign of terror in the Senate.

What would YOU do with $707 billion?

WWYD_707_billionGoldman Sachs just weighed in with their predictions for next year’s economy. They expect “only a modest growth in business investment”… but a whopping increase in the amount of money corporations will spend buying back their own stock.

(Corporations buy back their own stock to increase per-share prices.  Many CEOs get paid more, if the price of their company’s stock rises.  And most CEOs receive at least some of their compensation as stock or stock options.  Either way, increasing the stock price increases how much $$$ the CEO takes home.)

Next year, Goldman Sachs analysts expect corporations to spend a total of $707 billion buying back their own stock.

What else could Corporate America do with that money?

  • Companies could create about nine million $50,000 jobs – with benefits!  (Wait… isn’t “nine million” the number of people who are unemployed in America, right now?)
  • Companies could “afford” to increase the wages of the 3.3 million minimum-wage workers in America. (Most minimum wage employees work 34 hours or less at their primary job… calculating that as 5.8 billion minimum-wage work-hours a year… would mean that all those workers could get a $122/hour increase!  Yeah, that was “one hundred twenty-two dollars an hour”… do the math yourself.)
  • It could pay for the Food Stamp program — for almost an entire decade. (Which only seems fair, since nearly three-quarters of families receiving public assistance are working families who don’t get paid enough to make ends meet. And it doesn’t matter how profitable the industry is: almost one-third of all bank tellers are on public assistance; more than half of all fast-food workers; thousands upon thousands of workers in other industries.)

But apparently Corporate America isn’t going to be doing anything like that, with that $707 billion. Not creating jobs. Not increasing wages. Not giving up the taxpayer subsidies for their low-wage jobs.

No, Goldman Sachs expects Corporate America to spend that money just… buying back shares of stock.

Which doesn’t really create value. It’s not a new factory, or a new product, or even a new market. All stock buybacks do is concentrate corporate ownership. Like ultra-concentrated dish soap: it’s the same stuff, just in a smaller bottle.

And yes, this does have advantages if you’re looking at things from the CEO’s perspective.

All too often stock buybacks are deceptive things, which create a sugar high in the share price, a nice little windfall for management, and pretty much nothing in the way of actual value creation.

But looking at that $707 billion from the perspective of the 99%…?

  • In a stack of $100 bills… that same money would be about 480 miles high.
  • You could buy enough ultra-concentrated dish soap to fill about 75,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

… and from the perspective of the 99%, either of those options would probably be just as good as spending all that $$$ on stock buybacks.

Have a better idea about how to spend $707 billion? Use our comments section to share it.

Read “Nightmare on Wall Street? Are Stock Buybacks Creating Another ‘Financial Bubble?’” here.

Read “Why the Economy Doesn’t Work for the 99%: Massive Payouts to Corporate Stockholders” here.

 

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