Category Archives: Workers’ Issues

With Walkout and Rally Planned for Monday, Teachers’ Anger Over Low Pay and Lack of Funding Spreads to Colorado

“Educators are fed up…Colorado has, year over year over year, significantly underfunded our public schools.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-15-2018

Teachers in Arizona last week wore red during a “walk-in,” preceding a possible walkout, to demand school funding. Colorado teachers plan to do the same on Monday. (Photo: @SenQuezada29/Twitter)

Colorado’s teachers’ union expects more than 400 teachers at a rally that’s planned for Monday at the state’s Capitol in Denver.

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Here We Go Again: Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Won’t Fix Anything

Current trade agreements are great at creating more billionaires, not so much at protecting the interests of workers.

By . Published 4-13-2018 by YES! Magazine

 

On Thursday, President Trump flipped his position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, suggesting the U.S. might want to rejoin the pact. His announcement sent Wall Street indices shooting upward in jubilation and angered labor leaders. It left China—which has been sorting out how to respond to Trump’s announced steel and aluminum tariffs—even more bewildered as criticism grows of its “Made in China 2025” initiative to dominate the high-technology sector.

Trump’s about-face is especially striking given that exiting the TPP was a crucial plank in his economic agenda on the campaign trail and one of his first acts as president. That pledge played well to the frustrations of people who know the global economy is ripping them off and are understandably angry. Continue reading

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Republicans Unveil Proposal to Push One Million Off Food Stamps

“Rich people who don’t need it get lavish billion-dollar handouts from this president…The struggling poor, on the other hand, are going to see new work requirements attached to their $1.40-a-meal food stamp.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-13-2018

Social welfare advocates on Friday denounced a proposal included in a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill which would impose work requirements on most adults who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps. The proposal represents the first concrete attempt by Republicans to erode the social safety net since President Donald Trump took office.

Critics said the plan showed blatant hostility toward the 42 million Americans who rely on the program, and that it would do nothing to “break the poverty cycle” as House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) claimed on Thursday. Continue reading

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Confirming He ‘Does Not Give a Crap About Working People,’ Trump Proposes Rejoining TPP

“In a series of broken promises Trump made to the working people of this country, rejoining the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the biggest yet,” warned Sen. Bernie Sanders

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-12-2018

Photo: End the Illusion

As if his enormous tax cuts for the rich, attacks on the safety net, and efforts to help bosses steal their employees’ tips weren’t proof enough, President Donald Trump further demonstrated that he “does not give a crap about working people” on Thursday by telling lawmakers he is considering rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact he withdrew from last year and repeatedly derided as “terrible.”

In a statement responding to the news that Trump has directed his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to examine options for reentering the 11-nation accord, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen argued that the president’s move “could bring short term joy to Democratic campaign operatives” but would be yet another signal that Trump “cannot be trusted on anything.” Continue reading

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On Equal Pay Day, New Study Shows Wage Gap Actually Growing for Women Under 40

Advocates are demanding equitable policies such as paid parental leave and affordable childcare while also declaring “we must address harassment and discrimination!”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-10-2018

Several women’s advocacy groups marked Equal Pay Day by delivering a petition to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to demand the agency collect American employers’ pay data to accurately monitor the nation’s gender wage gap. (Photo: @AAUW/Twitter)

A new report released on Equal Pay Day shows that the gender wage gap has actually worsened for women under 40 in recent years, despite increased media attention on the issue alongside mounting demands that businesses and politicians crack down on workplace sexual harassment, which researchers have tied to pay inequality.

Pay ratio

“Despite the great awareness of the gender equity issue, there is evidence that we have lost ground on this important measure of equality,” said John Schwarz, chief executive of Visier, the workforce analytics firm that conducted the study. “These findings should be a wake-up call to business leaders.” Continue reading

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With ‘Merger From Hell’ Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Warnings of Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System

Watchdog groups raise concerns after Wall Street Journal reports that Bayer’s bid to acquire Monsanto has been approved.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-9-2018

(L-R) Executive Vice President for the Agriculture Division of the E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company James Collins, President and CEO of Dow AgroSciences, LLC, Tim Hassinger, CEO of Syngenta International AG Erik Fyrwald, President and CEO of Bayer CropScience North America Jim Blome, and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the Monsanto Company Robb Fraley testify during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee September 20, 2016 on Capitol in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on ‘Consolidation and Competition in the U.S. Seed and Agrochemical Industry.’Photo: Zimbio

Watchdog groups sounded alarms on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto has cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the United States.

The reported approval from the Justice Department came “after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets,” the Journal reported, and despite concerns raised by hundreds of food and farm groups. It also comes weeks after the European Commission gave its thumbs up. Continue reading

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Internal Memo Shows Sinclair Threatening Employees to Keep Mouths Shut About ‘Must-Read’ Scripts

“Everything Sinclair gives us or forces upon us is met with uproar, but we have no choice,” one employee said

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-4-2018

“The new scripted ‘fake news’ segment caused a lot of anguish where I work,” one Sinclair journalist told the Huffington Post. (Screenshot: Deadspin.com)

Sinclair Broadcast Group really doesn’t want its employees talking to the press about the Trumpian “fake news” script it has recently been forcing local news anchors to recite.

This was made clear by a memo warning staff at the Sinclair-owned station KATU in Portland, Oregon that “giving statements to the media or sharing negative information about the company can have huge implications.” Continue reading

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To #SaveTheCensus, Major Cities Join 17 States in Lawsuit to Block Trump’s Citizenship Question

“One of the federal government’s most solemn obligations is a fair and accurate count of all people in the country, citizen and non-citizen alike,” says New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-3-2018

Led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, Attorneys General from 17 states and the District of Columbia have filed suit against the Trump administration for its plans to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census. (Photo: Eric Schneiderman/Twitter)

Attorneys General from 17 states and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration for its decision to ask about immigration status on the 2020 census, a move denounced by immigrant rights advocates as an effort to “undercount communities of color.”

Led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, the state attorneys—along with legal representatives from six cities and and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors—filed suit (pdf) in hopes of requiring the Trump administration “to enforce the federal government’s constitutional obligation to conduct an ‘actual Enumeration’ of the national population every ten years, by determining the ‘whole number of persons in the United States.” Continue reading

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Joining Nationwide Teacher Rebellion, Tens of Thousands Rally for Education in Oklahoma

The $50 million in school funding that was included in a bill last week “will buy less than one textbook per student,” said the head of the state teacher’s union

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-2-2018

An estimated 30,000 Oklahoma teachers rallied at the State Capitol on Monday, demanding far more funding for education than what was included in the legislature’s last-minute effort to avoid a strike last week. (Photo: @cora/Twitter)

A weeks-long mobilization in Oklahoma resulted in teachers striking across the state on Monday, with tens of thousands of educators and supporters rallying at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City to demand more funding for schools and higher wages for teachers.

Organizers planned to speak with state lawmakers about how decades of funding cuts have affected their schools—and why a bill passed in the legislature last week that would raise taxes on oil and gas production to give teachers a $6,100 raise and allot $50 million for school funding was not enough to stop the protest. Continue reading

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Trump’s $60 billion in China tariffs will create more problems than they solve

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Business such as California winemakers could be hurt by the new tariffs as a result of retaliation. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

William Hauk, University of South Carolina

After spending seven months investigating whether China is engaged in unfair trade practices, the Trump administration announced March 22 that it will impose tariffs on as much as US$60 billion in Chinese imports.

The tariffs are meant to address two problems: intellectual property theft by China and a steep and persistent trade deficit.

As an economist and expert in international trade, I don’t see how the proposed tariffs will resolve either one. In fact, it’s more likely that they will create two new problems by hurting both consumers and businesses.

IP theft and trade deficits

The administration formally justified its tariffs by invoking Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which allows the president to impose tariffs on countries in violation of international trade deals.

In particular, the Trump administration accused China of engaging in intellectual property theft forbidden by World Trade Organization agreements.

Intellectual property theft has been a major complaint of American companies doing business in China for decades. Sometimes this theft occurs through illicit means, such as industrial espionage. It also occurs through legal channels, such as when U.S. companies are forced to form a joint venture with a Chinese business. In other cases, technology transfers are a precondition of doing business in China.

Altogether, the U.S. trade representative estimates that these policies cost U.S. businesses around $50 billion a year.

The other problem that has long irked the president is the significant trade deficit. Since the U.S. normalized trade relations with China in 2000, the deficit ballooned from less than $84 billion to over $375 billion in 2017.

This “China shock” of cheap goods has caused considerable disruption in the U.S. economy. The labor market has been surprisingly slow to adjust, leading affected workers to earn far less money over a lifetime.

President Trump signs a presidential memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The wrong solutions

It remains to be seen, however, whether the tariffs will alleviate either problem.

The administration’s calculation seems to be that China will back down on intellectual property theft if faced with less access to U.S. markets.

But China is less dependent on U.S. trade now than it was a decade ago, making its economy resilient to these sorts of punitive measures. The U.S. accounted for 18.4 percent of Chinese exports in 2016, down from 21 percent in 2006.

The U.S. likely would have better luck resolving this problem at the WTO, which China joined in 2001 and must abide by its rulings. The best part about a WTO ruling is that it would affect all of China’s exports, not just those to the U.S.

Similarly, the trade deficit is unlikely to be resolved through higher tariffs. The primary cause of the persistent trade deficit – $566 billion in 2017 – is an imbalance between savings and investment in the U.S. economy.

The U.S. personal savings rate has fallen steadily since the late 1970s. At the same time, the government has run persistently large budget deficits, both of which have increased the level of borrowing in the U.S. economy.

As a result, foreign investment, particularly from China, has become increasingly critical to financing U.S. economic growth. This is great news in terms of helping Americans buy cheap Chinese goods and the government finance its budget deficit. But all that foreign cash going into the financial market isn’t being used to buy the stuff Americans are producing, like Harley Davidson motorcycles and Iowa corn.

This results in lower exports and a higher trade deficit. Tariffs will not change this reality.

Two new problems

While the full details of the tariffs have yet to be released, it’s clear they’ll cause at least two immediate problems.

One is that U.S. consumers will be hurt. The typical consumer has about $260 in extra purchasing power as a result of trade with China. Those benefits, which disproportionately go toward working-class Americans, will fall due to the U.S. tariffs, as American importers will pass some of their increased costs along to consumers.

Secondly, American companies that export to China will be exposed to retaliation in the form of tariffs on U.S.-made goods. Shortly after Trump’s announcement, China released its own policy statement targeting $3 billion worth of U.S. exports.

Particularly vulnerable to Chinese retaliation are the pork and soybean industries, which are concentrated in the Trump-friendly Midwest. This list could grow if a trade war with China escalates.

A broader concern is that, by acting unilaterally, the Trump administration is undermining the broader system that has facilitated the growth of international trade and adjudicated grievances between countries since World War II.

The ConversationWhile far from perfect, organizations such as the WTO have limited the scope of trade wars since the chaos of the 1930s. Failing to uphold these institutions could have major consequences in the future.

William Hauk, Associate Professor of Economics, University of South Carolina

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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