Category Archives: Unions and Organized Labor

The TPP Was All but Dead, Now DC Think Tanks Are Quietly Urging Biden to Bring It Back

Former officials are practically begging Biden to revisit the controversial trade agreement, arguing that “China must be isolated.“

By Alan Macleod  Published 12-18-2020 by MintPress News.

Photo: Lorena Müller/CC

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was dead and buried. But now, with the imminent arrival of the new Biden administration, many of the most influential policy groups in Washington are quietly trying to resurrect it.

Writing for the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), Joshua Eisenman, the organization’s Senior Fellow in China Studies, argues that it is “time to revisit the TPP,” which has now been rebranded as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  Last month, China signed a far-reaching trade agreement with most of the countries of south and east Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand. For many in Washington, this is a warning sign that the Pacific region is slipping out of U.S. control. Continue reading

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Groups Provide Biden With Draft Climate Emergency Order to Help Put Out ‘Fire Fanned by Trump’

The president-elect “must take bold action the moment he steps into the Oval Office, without punting to a dysfunctional Congress.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-16-2020

Image by Jasmin Sessler from Pixabay

President-elect Joe Biden must swiftly move once in office to “avert the climate emergency” with a series of actions to ensure the nation invests in “a just, clean, distributed, and democratic energy system that works for all.”

That’s the demand Wednesday from over 380 groups who’ve sent Biden a draft executive order (pdf) that details how, exercising executive authority, he can rein in greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard the environment while boosting jobs and community wellbeing. Continue reading

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Hailed as ‘Heroes’ During Pandemic, Retail Workers Stripped of Hazard Pay While Companies Rake in Massive Profits

“While business booms and the pandemic rages, the rich are getting richer—and workers are getting sicker.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-20-2020

Nearly all of the top 15 retailers in the U.S., which provided hazard pay to workers in the beginning of the pandemic, have halted the extra compensation and are spending lavishly on stock buybacks. (Photo: Public Citizen)

Frontline retail workers have been lauded by U.S. corporations as “heroes” this year for keeping operations running during the Covid-19 outbreak, but a new study shows how companies like Dollar General and Walmart—which have made massive profits over recent months—have treated their employees like “sacrificial workers” by stripping hazard pay even as the pandemic soared.

The report, released Thursday by Public Citizen, details how most of the top 15 U.S. retail companies have quietly taken away hazard pay from their frontline workers, even as the coronavirus has continued to spread across the country and is now surging in states including Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Minnesota. Continue reading

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Unions Representing Hundreds of Thousands of Workers Prepare for General Strike If Trump Subverts Election Results

“Paired with people in the streets, a strike could help stop a GOP coup.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-30-2020

Protests during Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Photo: Ted Eytan/flickr/CC

Dozens of labor unions have resolved to consider a general strike after Nov. 3 should President Donald Trump refuse to accept the results of the election or sabotage the counting of ballots, with organizers calling a work stoppage “the most powerful tool the movement has” to protect democracy.

The 100,000-member Rochester-Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation in New York was the first union federation to adopt a resolution this month stating that it would prepare for and hold “a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 presidential elections.” Continue reading

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Quietly Signed Trump Order Denounced as ‘Declaration of War’ Against Federal Employees

The order sets up Trump’s “cronies to burrow into permanent jobs in the U.S. government,” said one critic.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-23-2020

Photo: AFGE

After years of complaining that career federal employees are part of the “deep state” and aim to undermine his administration, President Donald Trump this week took a major step toward remaking the federal government as one without nonpartisan civil servants—signing a little-noticed executive order that would strip potentially hundreds of thousands of government employees of their job security.

Under the order, signed late Wednesday, career federal employees could be fired with little or no cause, lose their right to due process, and potentially lose union representation. Continue reading

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‘Catastrophic Failure to Tackle Inequality’ Left World Unprepared for Pandemic: Global Index

“Millions of people have been pushed into poverty and hunger and there have been countless unnecessary deaths.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-8-2020

Photo: Sarah Wy/flickr/CC

With the world’s death toll from Covid-19 above one million and confirmed cases surpassing 36 million, a pair of advocacy groups on Thursday released an analysis illustrating how governments’ failures to implement policies that reduce inequality left countries “woefully unprepared” for the coronavirus pandemic.

The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, updated annually by Oxfam International and Development Finance International (DFI), ranks 158 governments based on three core pillars: spending on public services (meaning health, education, and social protection), progressive taxation policies, and workers’ rights. Continue reading

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‘Quiet Revolt’ Brewing at USPS as Postal Workers Defy Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s Mail Sabotage

“A good reminder to thank your letter carrier for the important work they do.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-29-2020

A postal worker gives a thumbs-up to demonstrators protesting the Trump administration’s sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service on August 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for MoveOn)

On top of mounting court injunctions and ongoing investigations by members of Congress, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is running up against another key source of resistance as he attempts to implement sweeping changes to the U.S. mail service just ahead of the November election: letter carriers and other rank-and-file Postal Service employees.

Angered by DeJoy’s efforts to overhaul longstanding USPS policies designed to ensure mail is delivered on time, postal workers across the nation have been slow-walking and outright defying instructions from leadership to leave mail behind, dismantle sorting machines, and cut back on overtime in an effort to limit the damage to a service that millions rely on to vote, receive life-saving medications, and run small businesses. Continue reading

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USDA and Meatpacking Industry Collaborated to Undermine Covid-19 Response, Documents Show

Hundreds of emails obtained by Public Citizen and American Oversight offer a rare inside look at the meat industry’s power and access to the highest levels of government.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2020

Some critics have called keeping meat processing plants open during the Covid-19 pandemic a “death sentence” for workers.. Screenshot: CBS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meatpacking industry worked together to downplay and disregard risks to worker health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in documents published Monday by Public Citizen and American Oversight.

The documents (pdf), which the groups obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, reveal that a week before President Donald Trump issued his controversial executive order in April to keep meatpacking plants open—overriding closure orders from local health officials—a leading meat industry lobby group drafted a proposed executive order that was strikingly similar to Trump’s directive. Continue reading

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‘A Conspiracy to Steal the Election, Folks’: Alarms Sound After Postal Worker Reports Removal of Sorting Machines

The removal of key equipment from Post Offices should be viewed as nothing less than “sabotage,” said one observer.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-2020

Flat sorter machine. Photo: USPS

The head of the Iowa Postal Workers Union alleged Tuesday that mail sorting machines are “being removed” from Post Offices in her state due to new policies imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor to President Donald Trump whose operational changes have resulted in dramatic mail slowdowns across the nation.

Asked by NPR‘s Noel King whether she has felt the impact of DeJoy’s changes, Iowa Postal Workers Union President Kimberly Karol—a 30-year Postal Service veteran—answered in the affirmative, saying “mail is beginning to pile up in our offices, and we’re seeing equipment being removed.” Continue reading

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With ‘Systemic Violations’ of Worker Rights, US Comes in Dead Last in Labor Rankings of Wealthy Nations

The U.S. was identified as a country where “the government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers, putting fundamental rights under threat.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-18-2020

Amazon warehouse. Photo: Scott Lewis/flickr/CC

The International Trade Union Confederation’s world map showing its rankings of the best and worst countries for working people includes a noticeable difference between the U.S. and other wealthy countries.

Dark orange in color on the map, the U.S. was singled out by the ITUC this year as the only country in the Group of Seven to have “systematic violations of rights” in work places. Continue reading

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