Category Archives: Workers’ Issues

Report Details How Social Security Has Become Rigged for the Wealthy While Leaving Behind Those It Was Designed to Help

“The program’s become less progressive,” said Jim Roosevelt, a former Social Security Administration official and grandson of FDR.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-3-2019

The benefits of Social Security, a program designed to help vulnerable and low-income people, have since the 1980s become increasingly skewed toward the wealthy due to demographic shifts and soaring inequality, according to a new report.

Proponents of Social Security expansion, responding to the report (pdf) by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, said the New Deal-era program’s increasing regressivity was not inevitable, but the result of lawmakers’ refusal to enact basic progressive reforms such as lifting the cap on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Continue reading

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‘Their Secret Agenda Today Is Exposed’: Corbyn Says Leaked Trade Docs Show Tory Plan to Privatize NHS With Trump’s Help

The U.K. Labour leader said the move, if successful, “could lead to runaway privatization of our health service.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-27-2019

U.K. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn holds redacted copies of the Department for International Trade’s U.K.-U.S. Trade and Investment Working Group report following a speech about the National Health Service in Westminster, London. Photo: Devutopia/Twitter

U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday unveiled over 450 pages of leaked documents that he said expose British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s effort to open up the National Health Service to corporate exploitation in trade negotiations with U.S. President Donald Trump.

During a press conference, Corbyn said the Trump administration’s negotiators are “demanding” that the NHS be put “on the table” in talks over a possible post-Brexit trade pact between the U.S. and U.K. Continue reading

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‘Targeted by My Own Government’: Journalists Sue Trump DHS Over ‘Coordinated Attack’ on Press Freedom

“This interference effectively prevented me and other journalists from carrying out our reporting at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-21-2019

“When I saw my photo crossed out in a secret government database, I realized the secondary screening and interrogation wasn’t random,” said photojournalist Bing Guan. “I was being targeted by my own government for reporting on conditions at the border.” (Image: NBC7 San Diego via ACLU)

Five journalists who were tracked, detained, and interrogated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for reporting on conditions at the southern border in 2018 and 2019 brought a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration Wednesday for what the ACLU called an “unprecedented, coordinated attack on the freedom of the press.”

The national ACLU, joined by chapters in New York and California, filed the suit (pdf) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of Bing Guan, Go Nakamura, Mark Abramson, Kitra Cahana, and Ariana Drehsler. The five are all U.S. citizens who traveled to Mexico as professional photojournalists. Continue reading

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Senate Democrats Join GOP to Back ‘Automatic Austerity’ Bill That Would Gut Social Programs, Hamstring Bold Policies

“One priority of a Sanders or Warren White House absolutely must be politically crushing the deficit scolds within the Democratic Party.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-14-2019

Sheldon Whitehouse. Screenshot: MSNBC

A handful of Senate Democrats joined forces with Republicans last week to advance sweeping budget legislation that would establish an “automatic deficit-reduction process” that could trigger trillions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and other social programs—and potentially hobble the agenda of the next president.

The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act (S.2765), authored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), passed out of the Senate Budget Committee on November 6. The legislation is co-sponsored by five members of the Senate Democratic caucus: Whitehouse, Mark Warner (Va.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), and Angus King (I-Maine). Continue reading

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‘Talk About Direct Action Getting Results’: Bankrupt Blackjewel Agrees to Pay Over $5 Million to Laid Off Coal Miners Who Blocked Train Tracks

“When workers stand together, fight back, and demand an end to corporate greed—they win,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-25-2019

Coal miners from Blackjewel coal company started blocking a train in Cumberland, Kentucky on July 29, to prevent a shipment from their former employer until Blackjewel pats them their lost wages. The miners were suddenly put out of work when the company declared bankruptcy in July. Photo: BlackJewel Miners Blockade/Twitter

Progressives on Friday highlighted the power of direct action following a series of federal court settlements this week that will provide coal miners who blocked train tracks in Kentucky for nearly two months this summer to protest against unpaid wages from their bankrupt employer, Blackjewel LLC, with over $5 million in back pay.

Congratulating the laid off coal miners on their victory, longtime labor advocate and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) tweeted Friday, “When workers stand together, fight back, and demand an end to corporate greed—they win.” Continue reading

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‘This Is Just Cruelty and Exclusion’: Amid Trump’s Attack on Poor, One Million Fewer Kids Receiving Medicaid and CHIP

“This is not people reaching self-sufficiency,” warned Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-22-2019

The Trump administration’s aggressive efforts to monitor who is benefiting from government assistance programs have had what critics say is their desired effect—pushing more than a million children off Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in less than two years.

Between December 2017 and June 2019, according to the New York Times, about three percent of children enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP were dropped from the program. Continue reading

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Demanding ‘Education Justice and Equality,’ Striking Chicago Teachers Call on Mayor to Put Campaign Promises In Writing

“We mean business. It’s got to be about shifting and transforming the infrastructure of inequity.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-19-2019

Photo/: Midwest Unrest/Twitter

On Friday, the second day of the Chicago Teachers Union strike, union leaders said that contract negotiations have seen some progress but that teachers and Chicago Public Schools have more work to do before achieving “educational justice” for the city’s 300,000 public school students—not just raises for teachers.

Before heading into negotiations Friday morning, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the city offered $8 to $10 million to reduce class sizes—an improvement over the $1 million it initially offered. Continue reading

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IRS: Sorry, But It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor

Congress asked the IRS to report on why it audits the poor more than the affluent. Its response is that it doesn’t have enough money and people to audit the wealthy properly. So it’s not going to.

By Paul Kiel. Published 10-2-2019 by ProPublica

Charles Rettig testifying at his confirmation hearing on June 28, 2018. Screenshot: C-SPAN

The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%. Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money.

ProPublica reported the disproportionate audit focus on lower-income families in April. Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance. Rettig readily agreed. Continue reading

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‘Unacceptable’: Family Farms, Ag Advocates Hit Back After Sec Perdue Says Small Dairy Farms Destined to Die

“Five years of plunging farm prices, increasing bankruptcies, and climbing suicide rates were not discussed by Perdue. His message to them was basically, stop whining, your demise is inevitable.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-2-2019

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visits The World Dairy Expo and holds a stakeholder townhall in Madison, Wisconsin, October 1, 2019. (Photo: USDA/Flickr)

Furious family farmers flamed Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Wednesday after comments he made on the future of the dairy business that cast doubt on the future of small farms during a stop in Wisconsin Tuesday.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” said Perdue. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” Continue reading

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Trump Labor Dept Slammed for ‘Wholly Inadequate’ Overtime Pay Rule That ‘Leaves Behind Millions of Workers’

“Once again, President Trump has sided with the interests of corporate executives over those of working people.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-24-2019

President Donald Trump speaks at the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania on Aug. 13, 2019.. Screenshot: YouTube

Labor rights advocates and progressive economists slammed the Trump administration after the Department of Labor announced Tuesday a final rule on overtime pay to replace a bolder Obama-era proposal blocked by a federal court in Texas.

“While the administration may be trumpeting this rule as a good thing for workers, that is a ruse,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “In reality, the rule leaves behind millions of workers who would have received overtime protections under the much stronger rule, published in 2016, that Trump administration abandoned.” Continue reading

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