Category Archives: Workers’ Issues

Fed Economists Warn US Unemployment Rate Could Soon Reach 32%—During Great Depression It Peaked at 25%

“These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-31-2020

 

Hundreds of cars waiting to receive food from the Greater Community Food Bank in Duquesne, Pennsylvania on March 30, 2020. Photo: The Mind Unleashed

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis are warning that if the current rate of U.S. job losses continues, the country’s unemployment rate could reach a staggering 32.1% by the end of June as the coronavirus pandemic-induced downturn sparks mass layoffs across the nation.

Miguel Faria-e-Castro, an economist with the St. Louis Fed, wrote in an analysis last week that 47 million more workers could lose their jobs by the end of the second quarter of 2020, bringing the total number of unemployed people in the U.S. to 52.8 million. As CNBC noted, that number would be “more than three times worse than the peak of the Great Recession.” Continue reading

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Walmart Was Almost Charged Criminally Over Opioids. Trump Appointees Killed the Indictment.

Even as company pharmacists protested, Walmart kept filling suspicious prescriptions, stoking the country’s opioid epidemic. A Republican U.S. Attorney in Texas thought the evidence was damning. Trump’s political appointees? Not so much.

By Jesse Eisinger and James Bandler. Published 3-25-2020 by ProPublica

Attorney General William P. Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Photo: Department of Justice (Public domain)

On a Tuesday just before Halloween in 2018, a group of federal prosecutors and agents from Texas arrived in Washington. For almost two years, they’d been investigating the opioid dispensing practices of Walmart, the largest company in the world. They had amassed what they viewed as highly damning evidence only to face a major obstacle: top Trump appointees at the Department of Justice.

The prosecution team had come to Washington to try to save its case. Joe Brown, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, led the group, which included Heather Rattan, an over-20-year veteran of the office who had spent much of her career prosecuting members of drug cartels. Continue reading

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‘Now Make It National’: Vermont and Minnesota Classify Grocery Store Staff as Emergency Personnel

“If your job is so ‘essential’ that you can’t get off for a killer global pandemic, you deserve $15 an hour and a union.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2020

Photo: Piqsels

Demands for nationwide protections for grocery store workers grew Thursday after officials in Minnesota and Vermont officially designated such employees as emergency workers who are essential to the U.S. population’s wellbeing as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the country.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, added grocery store workers to those protected under the state’s “Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers” order, requiring schools in the state to provide childcare for the employees. Previously, only hospital staff, nurses, and other public health and disaster workers qualified as emergency personnel under the directive. Continue reading

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Closing polling places is the 21st century’s version of a poll tax

Californians wait in line to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University and Derek H. Alderman, University of Tennessee

Delays and long lines at polling places during recent presidential primary elections – such as voters in Texas experienced – represent the latest version of decades-long policies that have sought to reduce the political power of African Americans in the U.S.

Following the Civil War and the extension of the vote to African Americans, state governments worked to block black people, as well as poor whites, from voting. One way they tried to accomplish this goal was through poll taxes – an amount of money each voter had to pay before being allowed to vote. Continue reading

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What the Trump budget says about the administration’s health priorities

President Donald Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2021. AP photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Simon F. Haeder, Pennsylvania State University

The Trump administration recently released its budget blueprint for the 2021 fiscal year, the first steps in the complex budgetary process.

The final budget will reflect the input of Congress, including the Democratic House of Representatives, and will look significantly different.

However, budget drafts by presidential administrations are not meaningless pages of paper. They are important policy documents highlighting goals, priorities and visions for the future of the country. Continue reading

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‘We’re Just Getting Started,’ Says Union Leader, as Worker Strike Activity Hits 35-Year High Under Trump

“Trump’s economy is not a workers’ economy, and workers know solidarity is the best way to fight back.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-11-2020

Thousands of members and allies of the Chicago Teachers Union demonstrated in the city’s Union Park during a strike in October 2019. (Photo: CTU/Twitter)

In yet another rebuke to President Donald Trump’s claims that the U.S. economy is “roaring” and his “relentlessly pro-worker” agenda is serving the American public, a report published Tuesday by a progressive think tank revealed that the “number of striking workers surged in 2018 and 2019” after decades of decline.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report, entitled Continued Surge in Strike Activity Signals Worker Dissatisfaction With Wage Growth, noted that the spike marked “a 35-year high for the number of workers involved in a major work stoppage over a two-year period.” Continue reading

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‘People, Poor Disabled People in Particular, Are Going to Die’: Trump Takes Axe to Medicaid

“Trump wants to destroy Medicaid while claiming to save it. This fiendish scheme is an Orwellian fable conjured up by the most shameless pack of liars to ever occupy our government.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-30-2020

CMS Administrator Seema Verma with President Donald Trump in 2018. Photo: White House

The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan allowing states to convert federal Medicaid funding into block grants, a longstanding conservative goal that critics warn could have deadly consequences for millions of vulnerable people who rely on the healthcare program as a major source of income.

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced the so-called “Healthy Adult Opportunity” initiative in a statement claiming the policy will “improve health outcomes and care” for low-income people. Continue reading

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‘Cruelty Is the Point’: Trump Takes Aim at Medicaid With Plan That Could Harm Millions

“The president’s war on healthcare knows no bounds.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-24-2020

President Donald Trump speaks during an event on kidney health at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on July 10, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Screenshot: YouTube

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to intensify its assault on Medicaid by granting certain states permission to convert federal funding for the program into block grants, a move critics slammed as a cruel and likely illegal attack on vulnerable people.

Politico reported Thursday that the plan, which could be finalized as early as next week, would allow the 37 states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to seek waivers to convert funding into fixed sums that could limit states’ flexibility to increase spending in response to public need. Continue reading

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Amid Years of Funding Cuts to Public Health, First US Case of China’s Coronavirus Detected

Public health advocates say state, local, and federal agencies are underprepared to cope with the spread of a new infectious disease.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-21-2020

Coronavirus. Photo: CDC

Officials in Washington State reported Tuesday that a resident was diagnosed with the coronavirus which was first detected in Wuhan, China last month, leading federal public health agencies which have suffered billions of dollars in cuts in recent years to issue warnings and post information about the illness.

“This is an evolving situation and again, we do expect additional cases in the United States and globally,” Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Washington Post. Continue reading

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New Report Details How EPA Is Promoting ‘Worst of the Worst Pesticides’

From 2017-2018, the agency approved 69 new pesticide products containing an ingredient the EPA recognizes as a “known” or “likely” carcinogen.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-10-2020

A detail of the cover image for Toxic Hangover, a new report by Center for Biological Diversity. (Image: Center for Biologicial Diversity)

A new review into the pesticide products the U.S. approved in 2017 and 2018 reveals the Environmental Protection Agency is carrying out an industry-friendly, “broken” regulatory process that included green-lighting over 100 products with ingredients widely deemed extremely dangerous.

Entitled Toxic Hangover: How the EPA Is Approving New Products With Dangerous Pesticides It Committed to Phasing Out, the 11-page analysis was released Tuesday by the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

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