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NH Looks To Raise The Minimum Wage To $15.00* By 2021

This week, the New Hampshire State Senate held a public hearing on SB 554, a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15.00* per hour by 2021.  This bill, is different than any of the previous bills to raise the minimum wage because the bill does give a generous reduction in the lowest allowable hourly wage to employers who provide healthcare to their employees.

“New Hampshire has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but when it comes to paying decent wages, we are at the very bottom of the scale. All of the other New England states pay at least $10.00 per hour, putting New Hampshire at a competitive disadvantage. People working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to support their families, not qualify for public assistance. This legislation is a creative solution to provide workers with a livable wage while giving employers an incentive to provide their employees with much needed health benefits. I call on my Senate colleagues to join me in passing this bill to address the long overdue need for a livable wage for our state’s workers,” said Senator Donna Soucy who sponsored the legislation.

Currently New Hampshire’s minimum wage is set the federal government minimum of $7.25 per hour.  Senator Soucy’s proposal would raise the minimum wage, effective July 1st, to $9.00 per hour, or $7.50 per hour if employers offer health insurance to their employees. By 2021, the minimum wage would rise to $15.00 per hour, or $12.00 per hour for those employees provided benefits.

Inside the proposed legislation is how the “employer provided benefits” would work.

“Employer-sponsored plan” means health benefits offered by the employer to the employee and his or her dependents at a total cost to the employee for premiums not to exceed 10 percent of the employee’s annual gross taxable income from the employer.”  

Here is an example of how this would work.  Bob makes $15 per hour, which equates to $31,200 annually for full time employment.  That means if his employer offers him healthcare benefits where the premium does not exceed $3,120 per year then they would be eligible to reduce their minimum hourly rate to $12 per hour. That works out to about $60 per week.

The National Conference of State Legislators reported that the annual employee contribution for employer provided healthcare in 2017 was $5,714. That means that there is a very small likelihood of an employer qualifying for this reduced hourly wage.

The question is will the New Hampshire Legislature finally do what all the other New England states have already done, increase the minimum wage?

Berry Craig: Unions Will Appeal Kentucky ‘Right to Work’ Ruling

 By BERRY CRAIG AFT Local 1360

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Louisville-based Teamsters Local 89 will lose no time in appealing today’s Franklin Circuit Court decision that upheld the state’s “right to work” law, according to Bill Londrigan, state AFL-CIO president.

The court dismissed a suit to overturn the law that the state federation and the Teamsters filed last May.

The unions argued that the law violates the state constitution by “taking” from unions because under federal law, they must represent all workers in a unionized workplace–even those who won’t join the union and pay dues or pay the union a service fee to represent them.

The year-old law represents an “attack on Kentucky’s hard-working men and women and the unions that fight for their interests” by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and the GOP-majority legislature, Londrigan said in a statement.

All but a handful of Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing the measure, which quickly passed in January, 2017. Bevin eagerly signed it. He was elected governor in 2015 after boosting a RTW law on the campaign trail.

When Bevin was sworn in, the GOP had a 27-11 edge in the Senate, but the Democrats controlled the House.  In the November, 2016, elections, the Republicans held their Senate majority and flipped the House to 64-36, GOP.

The House had been all that stood between Kentucky and RTW.

The RTW bill “was rushed through the General Assembly…to avoid a full debate on the important questions it raised and to silence its critics,” Londrigan said.  “The law denies union members the equal protection of the law afforded to other Kentuckians and other Kentucky organizations, it imposes onerous requirements on Kentucky unions and their members not imposed on others, and it takes unions’ property without just compensation.”

Also in the statement, Londrigan said unions believe “Kentucky’s higher courts will understand that this law violates our state constitution and causes real harm to our workers and the unions they represent.”

Londrigan said the court “failed to consider the undisputed testimony of nationally-recognized experts in labor economics who uniformly proved that RTW laws lower wages, hurt workers and fail to add new jobs.  Instead, these laws serve to increase profits and weaken the strongest voice workers have to speak on their behalf.”

Added Londrigan, “We believe our higher courts will recognize the harmful effect that this unjust and discriminatory law has on our workers and their unions, which are required under federal law to represent all workers in a bargaining unit, including those who choose to withhold dues and fees.”

Londrigan vowed that “Kentucky unions will continue to fight for all Kentucky’s hard-working women and men to mitigate the detrimental consequences which RTW laws have had on workers in other states – lower wages, fewer workers with health care benefits and retirement plans, and more fatalities on the job – all while failing miserably in their empty promise of more jobs.”

Also today, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self issued a statement of solidarity with Bluegrass State unions:

“The Kentucky Democratic Party will continue to stand and fight alongside union workers for Kentucky’s working families. Gov. Bevin’s budget director spoke yesterday on budget shortfalls under the current administration. It proves right-to-work legislation hasn’t economically benefited the state but has only weakened the bottom line and bargaining rights for every working man and woman in the state.”

The RTW measure, HB 1, made Kentucky the 27th “right to work” state. Click here to view the ruling.

AFL-CIO and Broad Coalition File Amicus Briefs in Janus v. AFSCME

(Washington, DC) — Today, the AFL-CIO joined unions, public and private employers, elected officials from both parties, religious organizations, academics and civil rights organizations filing amicus briefs in Janus v. AFSCME, defending working people’s right to effectively organize and negotiate.

“Working people have always had to fight for the freedom to work and retire in dignity. Corporate CEOs and special interests have spent millions in their attempts to strip that away,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Today, working people are taking this fight to the Supreme Court. We’re standing up for the freedom to sustain a family while still being able to take time off to care for a loved one, receive quality health care and enjoy a secure retirement.”

Working people’s freedom to join together in strong public-sector unions has been protected since a unanimous Supreme Court ruling more than 40 years ago. That ruling secured these unions’ ability to effectively advocate and negotiate on behalf of their members.

Now, a Koch-backed network of corporate interests is challenging those longstanding legal precedents. Their goal is to undermine working people’s right to organize—and they’ve said so themselves. These same right-wing special interests have previously attacked LGBTQ rights, voting rights and women’s health care.

The AFL-CIO was joined today by the State of California, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, several U.S. senators, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 20 state attorneys general, Republican elected officials, former presidents of the District of Columbia Bar Association, distinguished law professors and others. This action comes as organizers prepare to stand against the corporate interests behind this case during a Working People’s Day of Action on Feb. 24. This will mark the 50th anniversary of striking African American sanitation workers’ first march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.

Cost-of-Living Adjustment Necessary for Thousands of Retired Public Employees

Concord — Last week, dozens of retired public workers in New Hampshire turned out for a public hearing on HB1756-FN. The bill would provide a long overdue COLA to the 28,000 currently retired public employees. Long overdue, the last COLA to take effect was eight years ago and without legislative action, retirees will not see an increase.

In his written testimony, William McQuillen, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire and Chairman of the NH Retirement Security Coalition stated:

“The New Hampshire economy is the strongest it has been in 10 years due to low unemployment rates, raising wages strong and real estate sales. It is important to understand both the role the NH Retirement System and the buying power our retirees have on the strength of the local economy and the foundation it provides for the long-term growth of our state. A continuous focus on stimulating the local economy is a necessary and important focus for this legislature.”

Rich Gulla President of SEIU Local 1984 said in his testimony,

“The legislature by statute, decides whether a COLA would be granted and how much would be granted.  There is no built in COLA which puts the fate of the thousands of retirees solely in the hands of the legislature.  And that is why we are here today urging you to pass a bill to help our retirees.  Our future is in your hands and we are pleading with you to take action today and not push it off to the next legislature.”

The next step for the bill will be to go before the House Finance Division I Committee this Thursday, January 18th at 9:30 a.m.

Don’t Be Fooled By Walmart’s Promotional Stunt About Increasing Wages

This week the nations largest employer made national news by announcing they would raise their minimum wage to $11 an hour and provide a $1,000 bonus to 1.5 million American employees. They say that this move to increase wages and provide employee bonuses is all thanks to the Republican Tax Plan that President Trump signed into law this month.

However a closer review of this new announcement shows that it is all a publicity stunt.  They are also using the publicity stunt to cover up the news that they are closing 60 Sam’s Club stores across the country.

Making Change at Walmart director Randy Parraz explains what is happening in his statement: 

“While pay raises are usually a good thing, this is nothing but another public relations stunt from Walmart to distract from the reality that they are laying off thousands of workers and the ones who remain will continue to receive low wages. The fact is that Walmart is not permanently investing the estimated $2 billion it will receive annually from Trump’s tax giveaway to its workers – it is keeping almost all of it. This announcement is attempt to repair a crumbling image, while ignoring thousands of its workers who struggle year after year to pay their bills or depend on government assistance.

Once you crack the veneer, you see that Walmart’s wage increases does not raise hourly wages for many of its workers. Hourly wages for those workers making above $11 dollars will essentially stay the same. Workers will get a one-time bonus or raise, but not both.

Instead of taking Walmart at its word, we would hope that the Members of Congress, civic and state leaders, and the media, ask Walmart for actual facts about what this means for workers. Empty words will not lift Walmart workers out of poverty, an actual living wage will.”

Looking deeper into Walmart’s own statement you can clearly see that this is nothing more that publicity stunt to continue the myth that tax cuts somehow help corporations fuel wage increases.

The Wage Increase

Walmart’s press release further explains how this pay increase will into effect.

An increase in Walmart’s starting wage rate to $11 an hour, effective in the Feb. 17, 2018, pay cycle. The change is in addition to wage increases already planned for many U.S. markets in the coming fiscal year. The increase applies to all hourly associates in the U.S., including stores, Sam’s Clubs, eCommerce, logistics and Home Office.

Facing backlash over low-wages and protests from OUR-Walmart, Walmart announced they would raise wages from $7.25 to $9 in 2015 and raise them again to $10 in Feb of 2016.  Logic would dictate that a pay raise to $11 was overdue at this point.  Not to mention that Target, one of Walmart’s biggest rivals, announced last September that they would be raising their wages to $11 in January of 2018 and would continue to push wages up to $15 by 2020.

The Bonuses

Praising the newly passed tax cuts, Walmart said they would be giving out $1,000 bonuses to their “associates.”  As Parraz already explained, those bonuses are along going to the people who will not be getting a wage increase.  The devil is in the details.

“A one-time bonus benefiting all eligible full and part-time hourly associates in the U.S. The amount of the bonus will be based on length of service, with associates with at least 20 years qualifying for $1,000.”

So to qualify for one of Walmart’s generous bonuses, you would have to be a full-time employee, making more than $11 already and have at least 20 years with the company.  Since less than 50% of Walmart’s employees are full-time, combined with the high turnover of the retail industry, it really makes you wonder how many of Walmart’s 1.5 million employees will even see that bonus.

The Cost

There is no denying that raising wages and giving away bonuses is going to hit Walmart’s bottom line. But when you put it into perspective, it will not hurt them as much as you might think.

“This increase in wages to associates will take effect in February and will be approximately $300 million incremental to what was already included in next fiscal year’s plan. The one-time bonus represents an additional payment to associates of approximately $400 million,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO.

That is $900 million dollars in payouts. Yes, that is a lot of money.  It looks like a ton of money.  However when you take into account that Walmart did $482 billion dollars in revenue last year and collected $13.6 billion in profits. $900 million is less than 10% of their profits. The wage increase would only be about 3% of their profits.

Maybe we should also take into account that in October of 2017, Walmart used $20 billion of its own profits to “buy back” their own stocks to artificially increase their stock prices.

Joe Ciolli from Business Insider wrote:

“Walmart is sweetening the pot for shareholders before its annual meeting, using the oldest trick in the book.

The retailer on Tuesday morning announced that it had authorized up to $20 billion in stock buybacks over the next two years. That’s a massive amount of capital to be allocated for repurchases, which are frequently used by companies to boost shares during times devoid of other positive catalysts.”

According to our research, that $20 billion dollars would do a lot for Walmart workers.

Layoffs

On January 12, the day after Walmart announced they would be increasing wages, they announced that they would be closing 63 (or 10%) of their Sam’s Club stores across the country.

“We know this is difficult news for our associates and we are working to place as many of them as possible at nearby locations,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Sam’s Club.

So far this year, Sam’s Club has closed two stores in my area and kicked 250 people out of a job.  Given both of the stores had about 125 employees, it would be safe to assume that nearly 8,000 workers are going to lose their jobs with the closing of these 63 stores.

The Tax Cuts

Walmart is praising the new Republican Tax Cuts for their ability to raise wages. Of course they neglect to mention that they spent millions lobbying Congress to oppose a minimum wage increase and to lower their corporate taxes.

The corporation will shed an estimated $2.2 billion dollars from their annual tax bill next year thanks to Republicans.  That cuts their tax bill by nearly 40%.  I won’t even go into how much the Walton Family is worth and how this tax bill will greatly benefit them. I will say that the Walton Family saved an estimated $670 million just because their income comes from dividends paid out from their Walmart stock holdings which are taxed at a drastically reduced rate compared to “regular income.”

So you see, Walmart the corporation is going to pocket $1.8 billion dollars this year in tax savings even after they spend $300 million to raise wages in their promotional stunt.

Do not be fooled by Walmart’s newly found generosity. They were going to raise wages anyway but now they can use this tax cut as a promotional stunt at the same time.  The Walmart executives are going to use this Tax Scam to line their pockets and continue to pay their low wages. Everyday.


After this post was first published, Walmart announced that they would be laying off an additional 3,500 “Co-Managers” and replacing them with lower paid “assistant manager” position.  Those who are being laid off are encouraged to apply for the new position.

Talk about a slap in the face.

Read more from ThinkProgress


Update: Original publication had the incorrect profit numbers. 

 

Proposed New Law Could Require Up To 3 Months Rent Before Moving In

Renting an apartment is not easy.  Some places require first month’s rent and a security deposit equal to a month’s rent before you can even move in.  This is a lot of money.  The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness reported that the median fair market rent for a two bedroom apartment is $1259 a month.  This means you would have to put up $2500  just to move in.

For the landlord, the security deposit is to ensure that the tenant leaves the rental in the same shape as when they first moved in.  If the tenant leaves the rental in good shape the renter would get their security deposit returned to them.  In most cases the landlord uses the security deposit to clean and freshen up the apartment and returns the unused amount to the tenant. In many cases, tenants never see their security deposits returned to them after the leave.

A group of New Hampshire legislators is looking to make it harder for people to rent and more profitable for landlords by increasing the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Introduced this week, House Bill 1485, would allow landlords to collect a security deposit equal to two month’s rent up front as a condition of the rental agreement.  Currently the law only allows for a maximum of one month’s rent.  With this change a renter could be forced to come up with $3,700 up front to move into their new apartment.

This is an exorbitant amount of money for most people.

According to a  2015 study, “62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 21% don’t even have a savings account.”  They continued by saying “62% of Americans have no emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair.”

If if the average American cannot come up with $500 dollars for an emergency repair on their car, how are they going to come up with $3,700 for a downpayment on an apartment?  This also speaks to the fact that we need to raise the minimum wage to a real living wage, but I digress.

This bill is unnecessary and spiteful. Even paying two months rent up front is hard enough, making them pay three is obscene.  Making it a “security deposit” that they may or may not get back is even worse.  One month’s rent for a security deposit is more than ample. If the tenant does more damage than the security deposit covers, take them to court.

The legislature should kill this bill.

AFT-NH’s Statement On The House Passage Of SB 193 (School Voucher Bill)

AFT-NH President Douglas Ley released the following statement about the January 3 vote in the NH House on SB193, the so-called “voucher” bill

“AFT-NH and all supporters of public education in New Hampshire are grievously disappointed with yesterday’s initial House vote on SB193. By a margin of 184-162, the House gave initial approval to this grievously flawed bill, sending it on to the Finance Committee for further examination before bringing it back to the floor for a final vote.

“Despite a powerful speech by Rep. Robert Elliott denouncing the bill as in clear violation of Article 6 of the NH Constitution which explicitly bars spending public monies on religious or sectarian schools, a majority composed almost entirely of House Republicans took a major step towards dismantling the State’s commitment to funding public education. By siphoning public tax revenues into private schools SB193 erodes the State’s commitment to maintaining and providing a quality public education to all children and sets up a separate system of funding for private schools. With all assessment and accountability left in the hands of a private agency that also handles transferring public monies to private schools via “Education Savings Accounts,” the incentive to rake in more revenue by ignoring any serious assessment or accountability is clear. It is a case of the fox guarding the henhouse and ultimately, local taxpayers will bear the additional costs.

“SB193 now moves to the Finance Committee, which must somehow figure a way to fund the program without local property tax increases or raising additional State revenues. As one member of the Finance Committee noted on the House floor, SB193 is a jumble of half-baked financial schemes and unanswered financial questions which will pose great challenges for the committee. There is no clear timeline, though the committee will need to report the bill to the House no later than March 2018.”

The people at Advancing New Hampshire Public Education posted the full roll call votes, here.

Court Upholds New OSHA Rule On Silica Dust Exposure, Garnering Praise From Worker Safety Groups

Workers’ Right to Protection from Deadly Silica Dust Affirmed by DC Appeals Court

National COSH says this decisions is “A Huge Win For Millions of Workers”

Yesterday, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia released their decision on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) groundbreaking worker protection rule limiting exposure to Silica. OSHA instituted the new rule in 2016 sharply lowering the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for worker exposure to silica dust to 50 micrograms of silica per cubic meter, reducing dust levels two to five times lower than the current permissible exposure.

Silica is found in stone, rock, brick and other common building materials. Cutting, drilling, shaping, molding and other operations expose more than two million workers each year to the hazards of silica dust in construction, foundries, mining, shipbuilding and other industries.

Silica dust is a known human carcinogen. Exposure can also lead to silicosis, an incurable and potentially fatal disease that interferes with basic lung functions, making it difficult for an affected worker to breathe. Between 1999 and 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 2,000 workers died from silicosis, just one of the diseases linked to exposure to silica dust.

“This is a huge win for millions of workers in construction, foundries, mining, shipbuilding and many other industries. Low-wage workers and those in the informal sector can now be assured of safer working conditions,” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. “The U.S Court of Appeals has upheld OSHA’s finding – based on extensive research and expert testimony – that silica dust is significant risk to workers’ health. The silica standard remains in effect, with feasible, affordable requirements to reduce dust in the workplace and protect workers from silicosis and other potentially life-threatening diseases.”

“Now that industry’s challenge to this sensible, life-saving rule has failed, OSHA must focus on rigorous enforcement. National COSH will continue our efforts to inform workers about how to exercise their right to a workplace free from harmful dust and other hazards,” Martinez added.

OSHA estimates the new rule will prevent nearly 700 deaths each year, saving the U.S. economy between $2.8 and $4.5 billion a year due to reduced costs for illness, injury and death of affected workers.

The new OSHA standard requires employers to use cost-effective measures to reduce silica dust, including wetting down affected areas, vacuuming up dust before workers can inhale it, and improved ventilation. Employers must also monitor workers’ exposure to silica, provide medical exams for those with high exposure, and train all potentially exposed workers about the hazards of silica dust and how to avoid them.

“Working people won a huge victory today with the court’s decision fully upholding OSHA’s 2016 final silica standard. This will protect millions of workers from disabling disease and save thousands of lives,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The court rejected industries’ arguments and directed the agency to further consider additional union safety recommendations.

“The labor movement worked for decades to win these lifesaving measures, and we are proud to see these standards remain the law of the land. I want to thank all of those who contributed to this great victory, including the Obama administration and the career staff at the Department of Labor.”

“Now we must turn our efforts to making sure this standard is put into full effect, enforced and protected from further attacks so that workers are finally protected from deadly silica dust,” Trumka concluded.

(Leo W Gerard) Offshorers Demand: No Taxes, No Risk

Ford is moving its electric vehicle factory to Mexico. PHOTO BY MIKE MOZART/FLICKR

Ford hit Michigan and its auto workers with some crappy holiday news. Instead of building a $700 million electric vehicle factory in Michigan as promised in January, Ford will construct the plant in Mexico.

Ford reneged on its promise to Michigan workers just days after the Senate passed a tax plan intended to end levies on corporate profits made at factories offshore – in places like Mexico. News of the letdown also arrived just days before new negotiations on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are to begin in Washington, D.C.

Ford and other giant corporations got what they wanted out of Republicans on taxes, dramatically lower levies on domestic profits and total elimination on foreign profits. That makes Mexico an even more attractive manufacturing site for them than NAFTA did. So now they’re lobbying the Trump administration hard to retain the privileges that NAFTA bestowed on them. If they win that argument, they’ll have secured double incentives to offshore.

Trump administration officials don’t sound like they’re buying the corporate line, however. And they shouldn’t. NAFTA has cost Americans nearly a million jobs as thousands of factories migrated to Mexico. As he campaigned, President Trump promised untold numbers of factory workers and their families across the nation’s industrial belt that he would fix or end NAFTA to keep jobs and industry in America. He needs to keep that promise.

That means elimination of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) scam that allows corporations to sue governments in secret courts presided over by corporate lawyers when legislatures pass laws corporations don’t like. That means standing strong on the Trump administration demands that the new pact expire in five years if it’s not working and that a substantial portion of automobiles – including Fords – be made in the USA to attain duty-free status. It means strong protection for workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain. It means substantially raising the Mexican minimum wage, which now stands at $4.70. That’s for a day, not an hour.

What it really means is prioritizing the needs of workers over the demands of corporations, something that was not done the first time around by NAFTA negotiators. As it stands now, NAFTA places all of the jeopardy on the shoulders of workers and communities while substantially eliminating normal business risks for corporations.

The jeopardy NAFTA created for workers is that its corporate-friendly provisions prompt employers to close American factories that sustain both workers and communities and move them to Mexico. This exodus of American manufacturing to Mexico has continued apace this year, even as the Trump administration began renegotiating NAFTA, probably because corporations assume they’ll get everything they want in the end. They have, after all, always done so in the past because they are, after all, massive political campaign donors and lobby firm patrons, while hourly workers are not.

Bloomberg reported in October, for example, that firms whose function it is to help corporations move factories from the United States to Mexico had a boom year in 2017, with one reporting it had done more offshoring this year than in any during the previous three decades.

Mexico is alluring because of its dirt-cheap wage rates, the paucity of environmental enforcement and the ISDS scam that lets corporations sue the government if Mexico would regulate in a way some CEO claims would crimp his profits.

The ISDS along with NAFTA’s unlimited lifespan reduce risk for corporations. Normal business decisions in capitalist systems involve some jeopardy. A chemical company could, for example, invest in developing a new pesticide, but then lose when the government bans the product after determining it kills babies as well as bugs.

NAFTA provides corporations with investment protection because it ensures they’ll get their profits even if a government changes regulations. ISDS enables corporations to sue to recoup money the corporations supposedly would have made if the government hadn’t issued new laws or regulations. The corporate-run court can order a country’s citizens to pay tens of millions to the corporation.

Some say this government-financed investment insurance corrupts capitalism. Among the significant people who have is U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. He said corporations are insisting the government absolve CEOs of political risk. CEOs are using ISDS as a guarantee rather than buying risk insurance or factoring political risk into economic decisions about whether to move.

Lighthizer said businessmen have literally told him the administration cannot change ISDS because corporations wouldn’t have invested in Mexico without it. “I’m thinking,” he said, “‘Well, then, why is it a good policy of the United States government to encourage investment in Mexico?’”

These are the same corporate honchos who object to a five-year sunset clause for a new NAFTA, he said. They want a free eternal warranty on the provisions of a deal they describe as the world’s greatest. Lighthizer’s response is that if the deal is so great, why would the government choose to end it after five years? What are they really worried about?

The worry may be that those CEOs know NAFTA is great for their bottom line but not for the workers who elected Donald Trump President.

They know NAFTA was drafted by CEOs for CEOs. Its priorities were determined by corporate bigwigs behind doors closed to the public. Corporations designed it at the expense of workers and ordinary citizens, Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist, said in an op-ed in the Guardian newspaper this week.

It often seems, he wrote, “that workers, who have seen their wages fall and jobs disappear, are just collateral damage – innocent but unavoidable victims in the inexorable march of economic progress. But there is another interpretation of what has happened: one of the objectives of globalization was to weaken workers’ bargaining power. What corporations wanted was cheaper labor, however they could get it.”

U.S. corporations like Ford got it by writing a trade deal that gave them market-distorting profit protections, then abandoning their dedicated American workers and moving to Mexico where they could pay $4.70 a day and pollute unfettered.

President Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA if his negotiators can’t get new reasonable terms that protect American manufacturing and American workers.

That is right. It’s appropriate that corporations like Ford sustain the actual risk of offshoring rather than workers bearing it all.

Trump And Right to Work And Janus v AFSCME

AFT Local 1360

Janus was a Roman god with two faces, each looking in the opposite direction.

“Janus-faced” means two-faced, or deceitful. It aptly describes the Trump administration and the other big-time, union-busting backers of the plaintiff in Janus v AFSCME Council 31.

The case, which is before the U.S. Supreme Court, could, in effect, force all public employee unions into a “right to work” framework. Also, it could “further undermine the rights of workers to choose, in a democratic process based on a majority vote, to support the payment of fees or dues for those represented by a union and protected by the collective bargaining agreement,” according to Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

AFSCME has several members in Kentucky.

Federal law requires a union to represent all hourly workers at a unionized job site. Under a state RTW law, workers can enjoy union-won wages and benefits without joining the union and paying dues or paying the union a fair-share fee to represent them.

Janus is part of the whole effort to turn back the clock on workers and unions by undermining our ability to represent our members by shutting off our financial resources,” Londrigan said. “Now with Janus, the focus is primarily on the public-sector, which has been the fastest growing part of the labor movement.”

In the Janus case, Mark Janus, an Illinois state government employee, is suing AFSCME because he doesn’t want to pay the union a fair-share fee. Rabidly anti-union groups like the National Right to Work Committee and the State Policy Network are behind him.

Organizations like the NRTWC and SPN claim they support “worker freedom.” Their real purpose is crushing unions. The SPN admits it’s goal is to “defund and defang” public employee unions.

“Under current law, every union-represented teacher, police officer, caregiver or other public service worker may choose whether or not to join the union — but the union is required to negotiate on behalf of all workers whether they join or not,” explained Roberta Lynch, AFSCME Council 31 executive director, in a Springfield, Ill., State Journal-Register guest column.

Council 31 represents 100,000 active and retired public service workers, including Janus.

She added, “Since all the workers benefit from the union’s gains, it’s only fair that everyone chip in toward the cost. That’s why 40 years ago a unanimous Supreme Court [in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education] approved the kind of cost-sharing arrangements known as fair share.”

Trump’s solicitor general has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Janus.

Even so, the president says he’s the champion of workers. Yet on the campaign trail, he said he preferred “right to work” states to non-RTW states. He ran on a platform with a plank calling for a national right to work law.

“The Janus v. AFSCME case is an effort by powerful corporate interests to outlaw fair share, encouraging workers to contribute nothing toward the cost of union representation,” Lynch also said. “It actually began as a political scheme by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who shortly after taking office issued an executive order and filed a lawsuit trying to ban fair-share fees.”

After a handful of Kentucky counties passed local RTW laws, Rauner, a Republican, started pushing for local “right to work” zones in Illinois municipalities. Under federal law, only states can pass RTW measures. GOP Gov. Matt Bevin and his Republican-majority legislature made Kentucky a RTW state in January.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the most anti-union lawmakers in Washington, has proposed a national RTW law.

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