Employees deserve a meaningful increase to make
up for years of neglect, AFGE says
WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement:
“President Obama has again set the bar far too low by proposing a 1.6% pay raise for federal employees in 2017, continuing a regrettable record of denying federal employees even the most basic cost-of-living adjustments.
“According to the federal law governing the civil service pay system, federal employees should receive an across-the-board increase of 1.6% next year, plus additional locality adjustments to help close the pay gap among employees in the federal and private sectors.
“For six consecutive years, federal employees received no locality increases to their pay, and for three of those years they received no pay raise at all. Since 2010, the inflation-adjusted value of federal wages and salaries has fallen by 6.5%, leaving all federal employees with a lower standard of living than they had at the start of the decade.
“We believe federal employees deserve a meaningful pay raise next year to help make up for years of neglect by elected officials. AFGE is calling on lawmakers to approve a 5.3% pay raise in 2017, which reflects the 1.6% national increase employees should receive plus a partial catch-up for the national and local pay adjustments denied for the past four years.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.
Cross-partisan movement calls on president and presidential candidates
to commit to concrete actions that will “fix our politics”
January 2015 NH Rebellion Rally at the State House
NH Rebellion Executive Director Dan Weeks today applauded President Barack Obama’s view that “the most important thing” we must do as a county is “fix our politics.”
“In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama gave voice to what those of us at the grassroots level already know: ‘democracy breaks down when the average person feels that their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some special interest.’ Our country is at that tipping point right now,” Weeks said. “Poll after poll has found that Americans of all political stripes agree – overwhelmingly – that money has too much influence over our politics. Unlimited campaign money is corrupting our government, and voters have reason to be angry about that.”
“It was refreshing to hear President Obama address the problem in such a high-visibility way,” Weeks said. “Too many elected officials shy away from talking about it. And far too many elected officials have actually voted against measures that would help fix the problem.”
In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama also endorsed other parts of the NH Rebellion agenda: ending gerrymandering and making it easier for citizens to vote, saying “over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms.”
Weeks noted that campaign finance reform advocates have studied the influence of political spending on federal contracting, and are calling for measures to increase transparency.
“This is one area where President Obama could, himself, make a big difference,” Weeks said.
“But President Obama could take executive action, and issue an Executive Order requiring at least those corporations that contract with the federal government to disclose their political spending,” Weeks said.
A 2014 Sunlight Foundation study found that “on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government.”
“We the people – taxpayers – are the ones who pay for government contracts,” Weeks said. “We deserve to know how much federal contractors are spending, trying to influence the budget and contracting decisions. We deserve to have transparency in that process.”
“We hope President Obama will follow his State of the Union remarks with concrete action,” Weeks added. “Congress may be moving in the wrong direction on transparency, but President Obama can issue an Executive Order and help us move a little bit more in the right direction.”
Weeks also called on the candidates for president to take clear positions on the issue.
Members of the Rebellion have been attending campaign events, asking each candidate “What specific reforms will you advance to end the corrupting influence of money in politics?” Candidates’ answers can be found here.
The New Hampshire Rebellion (#NHRebellion) is a cross-partisan movement of citizens who are Walking the Talk to get big money out of politics — 30,000 miles and counting. We are motivated by one undeniable fact: American government no longer works for the American people because of the corrupting influence of special interest money in elections. Fully 96 percent of citizens agree that money has too much influence in politics, yet 91 percent have little hope that it will change. Our job in 2016 is to restore their hope and harness their energy to make reforming our democratic process possible, starting in New Hampshire. http://www.nhrebellion.org/
Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)
Coalition of Immigration, Civil Rights, Labor, and Social Service Groups Urges Supreme Court to Protect President’s Executive Actions on Immigration
Legal Brief Filed by 224 Groups Pushes High Court to Hear Landmark Immigration Case, Texas v. U.S.
Washington, D.C. — A coalition of 224 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief, urging the Supreme Court to review the case, Texas v. U.S., that has blocked some of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The filing comes less than a month after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction put in place by a Texas federal district court that blocked implementation of protections for millions of immigrants across the country.
The filing from the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others, comes only ten days after the formal request, known as a petition for writ of certiorari, from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court to review the case. Amicus briefs in support of a cert petition are usually due 30 days after the petition is filed. The amici coalition acted swiftly given that the Department of Justice has requested a briefing schedule that would allow the Supreme Court ample time to hear the case during the current term and issue a decision by June 2016.
“The breadth and depth of support for the President’s executive actions is clear,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center. “It’s now up to the Supreme Court to take the case up this term and put the legal questions to rest so that the over 5 million U.S. citizen children whose parents are eligible for DAPA, can finally have stability and be free from the fear that they will one day be separated from their parents.
“With more than 200 organizations joining this amicus, including labor groups that represent millions of immigrant workers, there’s no question that the president’s immigration initiatives are necessary and backed by the majority of the American public,” said Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of SEIU International. “The Supreme Court has a responsibility to take this case, just as we have a duty to mobilize our communities to continue to defend the immigration action and push lasting immigration reform to the forefront of the agenda with our vote.”
The brief provides personal stories and testimonials about potential beneficiaries of expanded DACA and DAPA and explains how these deferred action initiatives would positively impact millions of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children, family members, employers, employees and other community members. The groups explain that the sweeping injunction upheld in the lower court directly harms individuals who have either been in the U.S. since they were children or are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
“The individuals profiled in the brief illustrate the havoc this case has wreaked on the lives of millions of immigrants who remain in legal limbo,” added Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to take up this case and give hard working immigrant families the chance to live and work without fear of deportation.”
The immigration programs, which were announced by the President last November, would expand eligibility for the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and expand protections for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents through a program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). Together, the programs would allow millions of undocumented individuals to remain in the United States without fear of deportation and apply for work authorization permits for a period of three years, with the possibility of renewal.
“The DAPA and expanded DACA policies will help ensure that families are not needlessly separated and that immigrant workers can speak up for basic safety and fairness on the job without facing retaliation,” said Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO. “We urge the Supreme Court to take up this case right away.”
Late last night, House GOP leadership announced a compromise bill that will (temporarily) end all the Congress-created crises by setting the federal budget and suspending the debt limit through the end of the Obama presidency.
The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow (Wednesday). A draft of the bill is available here.
What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Right Wing:
What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Working Class:
It doesn’t rein in corporate giveaways to stockholders, such as dividends and buybacks. (Trillions of dollars that corporations could have used to create jobs, pay fair wages and make long-term investments.)
It doesn’t end the tax preference for unearned income. (Most investment income is still taxed at about half the rate of wage income.) Ending this tax preference could end the budget deficit.
In its current form, it doesn’t do much to reverse previous cuts to Food Stamps, veterans benefits, and other safety-net programs. It doesn’t mention the 2.1 million American workers who are long-term unemployed… or the 1-in-five American children who are living in poverty.
What it does do:
It loosens the Sequester budget restrictions, both for defense and non-defense spending – and it also increases an off-budget military spending account.
It completely rewrites the procedures governing IRS audits of business partnerships. (Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that part of the bill was written by somebody’s lobbyist.)
It diverts some Social Security tax revenue into the Social Security Disability Trust Fund, and *privacy alert* it also creates a new information clearinghouse (presumably, to be used to detect fraud).
It reduces payments to some Medicare providers and regulates the increase in Medicare supplement policy premiums.
It renames the small House rotunda… in honor of the House Freedom Caucus.
It does some other things. Please take the time to read through the bill yourself – and encourage your Congressional representatives to do the same. Contact information for those representatives is available here.
Personally, if this “grand compromise” happens, I don’t expect anything else to get through this Congress until President Obama leaves office. (Remember, GOP extremists have been working to “submarine his presidency” since the very first day of his first term.)
MomsRising Backs President Obama Urging Congress to
Pass the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act
Earlier today, President Obama in a Labor Day address announced a new executive order expanding paid sick leave to all employees who are working on federal government contracts. The action makes all federal contract workers eligible to earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to 7 days. In the speech, President Obama also announced his support for the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would guarantee paid sick leave to all U.S. workers; and of the the FAMILY Act, legislation that would establish an insurance program that would provide workers—including those who are self-employed and/or work part time—with much-needed income while they, or a family member, deal with the arrival of a new baby or a serious health issue.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRIsing.org, an organization of more than 1 million mothers and their families issued the following statement, praising President Obama’s announcement and urging Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act and FAMILY Act:
“Moms and their families across the country welcome President Obama’s expansion of earned paid sick days to all federal contract workers. Advancing earned paid sick days, as well as family leave insurance, boosts our nation’s families and our nation’s economy. Our over million members wholeheartedly support these two policies and have been raising their voices, sending letters to leaders, attending meetings, sharing their stories with the media, and much more at the city, county, state and federal levels to advance these critically important policies.
Plain and simple – no one should ever have to choose between going to work sick and risk infecting coworkers and customers or staying home and losing an invaluable day’s pay. And no one should have to go back to work immediately after a new baby arrives or when facing a catastrophic health issue.
American families just can’t afford it. American businesses and our economy can’t afford it either.
It is now up to Congress to take the next step and expand earned paid time off to all American workers. Our public policies are not caught up with what modern working families and our modern economy need to thrive. Women are now 50% of the labor force, and 40% of primary breadwinners are moms, but our family economic security policies are stuck in the stone ages.
For instance, despite the fact that over 160 countries guarantee a minimum number of earned sick days, right now, nearly 40% of private sector workers, and more than 80% of low-wage workers, in the US don’t have the ability to earn a single paid sick day – costing the economy nearly $160 billion in lost revenue and productivity.
Further, it is a national embarrassment that over 177 countries provide some form of paid family leave insurance to new parents and that the US isn’t one of them. Even though the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed more than two decade ago, only 13% of American workers are able to access paid family leave when a new baby arrives.
President Obama’s Labor Day announcement for working families, including his public support for the Healthy Families Act (earned sick days) and the FAMILY Act (paid family leave insurance) are important steps in helping to improve family economic security in the US, while at the same time strengthening our businesses and our economy.
We thank and salute President Obama for his commitment to helping our families and our economy be healthy and strong and recognizing the needs of the American workforce this Labor Day. Moms and their families around the country back President Obama’s call for Congress to pass these crucial laws now, and we call on every single person running to be President of the United States to support earned paid sick days and a national paid family leave insurance policy.”
MomsRising.orgis an online and on-the-ground grassroots organization of more than a million people who are working to achieve economic security for all families in the United States. MomsRising is working for paid family leave, flexible work options, affordable childcare, and for an end to the wage and hiring discrimination which penalizes so many others. MomsRising also advocates for better childhood nutrition, health care for all, toxic-free environments, and breastfeeding rights so that all children can have a healthy start. Established in 2006, MomsRising and its members are organizing and speaking out to improve public policy and to change the national dialogue on issues that are critically important to America’s families. In 2013, Forbes.com named MomsRising’s web site as one of the Top 100 Websites For Women for the fourth ye
“We applaud Secretary Clinton’s endorsement of a commonsense solution to a pernicious problem in American society—our nation’s refusal to give the formerly incarcerated a second chance at a decent life. With Clinton’s announcement, the three leading Democratic presidential candidates and President Obama himself have all endorsed banning the box.
President Obama must listen to the calls from formerly incarcerated people, from civil rights groups, and from businesses who all want the White House to walk the talk by issuing an executive order banning the box for federal jobs and contractors and implementing hiring practices that give these applicants a fair chance at employment.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.
“This is an important step forward in updating our nation’s labor practices and will ensure a fairer overtime wage for more workers, including women, low-income people, and people of color. This overdue adjustment would provide overtime protections for 5 million people who currently work above and beyond 40 hours a week without any benefits.
By and large, our nation’s labor practices haven’t caught up with the times. Workers are suffering from stagnant wages, a rollback of their right to organize, unscrupulous employment contracts that bar them from enforcing their rights in court, and a minimum wage that—due to inflation— is worth a little less every day.
More needs to be done. Our country needs sweeping reforms necessary to ensure economic security for the American workforce. We also need legislative action that protects workers and raises the minimum wage, issues that cannot be addressed by the executive branch alone.
We applaud the Obama Administration and Secretary Perez for this important step forward in ensuring that more workers can pursue the American Dream.”
Nancy Zirkin is executive vice president and director of policy of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference, visit www.civilrights.org.
America is in an abusive relationship with trade-obsessed politicians and corporations.
Despite their long history of battering the U.S. middle class with bad trade deal after bad trade deal, these lawmakers and CEOs contend workers should believe that their new proposal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), will be different. President Obama and the CEO of Nike, a company that doesn’t manufacture one shoe in the United States, got together in Oregon on Friday to urge Americans to fall once again for a trade deal.
The trade fanatics say everything will be different under the TPP – even though it is based on deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that lured American factories across the border, destroyed good-paying jobs and devastated communities. They plead: “Just come back for one more deal and see how great it will be this time!” And, like all batterers, they say: “Sorry about the terrible past; trust me about the future.”
This is trade abuse.
At the Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., the chief executive officer of Air Jordans told the chief executive passenger of Air Force One that Americans should believe in the TPP because it’ll be like Santa Claus stuffing jobs down chimneys across America.
The thing is, Nike could easily create 10,000 manufacturing and engineering jobs in the United States right now. No TPP required. It employs 1 million overseas, the vast majority in low-wage, high-worker-abuse countries like Vietnam, China and Indonesia. To bring 1 percent of those jobs – 10,000 – to the United States doesn’t seem like such a Herculean, TPP-requiring task, especially considering Nike’s massive profit margin.
Instead of manufacturing in America, Nike chooses to “just do it” in countries where it knows workers are abused. In the 1990s, the media slammed the corporation for sweatshop conditions in its foreign factories. Like a typical abuser, Nike promised to reform its ways. It said in a news release last week, “Our past lessons have fundamentally changed the way we do business.”
Promises, promises. Why doesn’t Nike simply insist on higher standards at its factories? What exactly is there in a trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations that is essential to Nike establishing higher standards and stopping the abuse of workers in factories making its shoes?
Oh, yeah, the American middle class, which has suffered most from past trade deals, is not allowed to know that. The TPP is secret. Well, except to the privileged corporate CEOs who helped write the thing.
In pushing for “Fast Track” authority to shove the deal through a Congress that has abdicated its Constitutional responsibility to oversee foreign trade, President Obama admitted “past deals did not always live up to the hype.”
Just three years ago, trade fanatics promised that the Korean deal, called KORUS, would definitely provide more exports and more jobs. Instead, U.S. goods exports to Korea dropped 6 percent, while imports from Korea surged 19 percent. So the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea swelled 104 percent. That means the loss of 93,000 America jobs in just the first three years of KORUS.
What this means is that instead of exporting goods, America is exporting jobs. Foreign workers get the jobs making the stuff Americans buy. And they’re often employed by factories producing products for so-called American corporations like Nike. They’re employed by factories that collapse and kill hundreds. Factories that catch on fire and immolate workers trapped inside. Factories where workers are ill-paid, overworked and slapped when they can’t meet unrealistic production quotas. Factories that pollute grievously.
American workers no longer are willing to engage in this abusive relationship with trade fanatics. They no longer believe the promises of change. They don’t want the federal money TPP fanatics promise them to pay for retraining as underpaid burger flippers after their middle class-supporting factory jobs are shipped overseas. They’re over trade pacts that benefit only multi-national corporations like Nike.
To Fast Track and the TPP, they say, “Just Don’t Do It!”
President Obama pushing for his flagship trade agreement at the headquarters of one of the largest abusers of cheap foreign labor is more than ironic. Rachel Maddow said, “It’s like going to approve the Keystone pipeline at the site of an oil spill.”
Politico reported: “Nike pledged earlier Friday that it would create 10,000 jobs over the next decade if the trade deal passes, a small part of the global company’s more than 1 million contract factory workers, most of which are based in Asian countries.”
Yea, 10,000 jobs but how many new jobs will Nike create in foreign factories thanks to the TPP?
The major issue with the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not that we do not want to have fair trade with these countries, it is that we as American workers want to know that the TPP will level the playing field not encourage more offshoring of US jobs.
Another major sticking point in this agreement is the lack of transparency. The entire agreement is being negotiated in secret. The White House is assuring us that this agreement will help American workers and force better wages and labor conditions overseas.
We need our elected leaders to stand up and be the representatives we elected them to be. I recommend you call at tell them how you feel about the TPP and the Fast Track legislation at 1-855-712-8441.
I reached out to my Senator’s office through the press connections I have made. I asked if Senator Shaheen supports the Fast Track legislation and the TPP as a whole?
“Senator Shaheen plans to carefully review the final Trade Promotion Authority legislation as it makes its way through the committee process in the coming months,” said Senator Shaheen’s Deputy Press Secretary, Nick Brown.
I asked the same of Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s office. Her press secretary Rosie Hilmer responded with some more a more promising response. “
“Congresswoman Kuster has raised concerns with draft legislation to grant the President trade promotion authority, also known as fast-track authority, and there are ongoing efforts to change and improve this legislation.”
“Congresswoman Kuster supports fair trade policies that protect U.S. jobs and reflect American values. She believes Congress must play a leading role in setting our nation’s trade agenda, and she has raised concerns with the flawed process that has been used to pass earlier trade agreements. She continues to have concerns about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership could affect Granite State workers and, as Congress debates these issues, she will continue to advocate for Granite State priorities and will judge any trade legislation by its impact on New Hampshire.”
We need to keep pressuring all of our elected leaders and make your voices heard. We want good paying American jobs, not more false promises of mythical jobs that come from these trade agreements.
CALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND YOUR SENATORS AT 1-855-712-8441.
For more information on the TPP and Fast Track go to StopTheTPP.org and watch this short video from Robert Reich
There is one thing that is abundantly clear now that the Republicans control both the House and the Senate, the Keystone XL Pipeline will pass through Congress. Republicans are trying to convince us that this monumental piece of crap will “spur economic growth” and “create thousands of jobs.”
Thankfully we elected a President who is willing to stand up for our Mother Earth by standing up against the Keystone Pipeline. Well maybe he has not said it yet, but like my Magic 8 ball says, all signs point to veto.
It is becoming more and more obvious that President Obama will not sign the Keystone legislation even if it was to pass. He told The Hill that, “building the Keystone oil pipeline would ‘not even have a nominal benefit’ to consumers, pushing back at claims it would lower gas prices further.”
That is what we progressives have been trying to say for years.
The Republicans are trying to sell the Keystone XL Pipeline as a “jobs bill” that would create tens of thousands of good paying jobs.
Yes, we need a jobs bill that will create tens of thousands of good paying jobs, but the reality is that the Keystone Pipeline would only create a few thousand temporary construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs.
We also need to look at who is really going to benefit from the Keystone Pipeline? It will not be us, it will the be the Canadian oil industry as they move their tar sands oil right through America’s heartland to the Gulf of Mexico to be shipped off and sold to foreign countries.
Even President Obama knows this.
“That oil currently is being shipped out through rail or trucks and it would save Canadian oil companies, and the Canadian oil industry enormous amounts of money if they could simply pipe it all the way down to the Gulf,” Obama said during his final press conference of 2014.
It also begs the question, why would this group of fiscal conservatives be willing to take out a $3 Trillion dollars loan, pushing us further into debt, to benefit a foreign oil company? I will give you a hint, TransCanada’s profits would go through the roof and that would be very good for Wall Street insiders. (Side note: Did you know that Grover Norquest is the lobbyist for the Keystone XL pipeline?)
In 2009, the economy was hemorrhaging jobs and unemployment was skyrocketing. Congress passed the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)” that nearly every Republican balked at. The $900 million dollar investment in America increased the number of “people employed from between 1.5 and 3.3 million” workers, and reduced unemployment from “between .7% and 1.8%.” Ultimately the stimulus only added $200 million dollars to our national debt and started us back on the road to recovery.
How is this $3 Trillion dollar investment going to help us? Will you be one of the lucky 35 people to get a permanent job after the pipeline is created? Instead of spending $3 Trillion dollars for 35 jobs, we could spend $1 Trillion and create millions of jobs.
Lets not forget that we have seen a significant rise in oil pipes leaking their toxic sludge over the past few years.
“History has shown that these pipelines are notorious for springing leaks, and middle class American homeowners, farmers, and ranchers stand to lose the most if there is a spill,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) in her opposition to H.R. 5682, a bill to fast track the Keystone Pipeline. “The sections of the Keystone Project that are already in use suffered over thirty spills in their first year of operation.”
So let me sum this all up. The Republicans, who are heavily funded by Wall Street and oil tycoons like the Koch Brothers, are pushing a bill that would require us to take out a $3 Trillion dollar loan, potentially wrecking our environment, all to boost the profits of a foreign corporation.
Opposing the Keystone Pipeline is a bold step for President Obama. He is opposing the Republicans, opposing Wall Street, and standing up for our environment. We progressives need to stand behind him.
The fight is far from over, in fact it has just begun.
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