Category Archives: Workers’ Issues

Critics Say Deregulatory Rush Shows Even If Defeated the Trump White House Willing to ‘Scorch the Earth Before They Go’

From bomb trains to biometrics to workers’ rights, the administration is pushing for last-minute rollbacks that could prove hard for its successor to overturn.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-17-2020

President Donald Trump signs an executive order in the White House. Photo: White House/flickr

With President Donald Trump’s re-election very much in doubt, his administration is rushing to ram through regulatory rollbacks that could adversely affect millions of Americans, the environment, and the ability of Joe Biden—should he win—to pursue his agenda or even undo the damage done over the past four years.

Reporting by the New York Times details how the administration is cutting corners as it scrambles to enact as much of its agenda as possible before ceding power on January 20 if Trump loses the election. Required public comment periods and detailed analyses, according to the Times, are being eschewed in favor of streamlined approval processes that have left even staunch deregulation defenders sounding the alarm. Continue reading

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Warning Fundamental Rights and American Lives at Stake, 5,000+ Lawyers Urge Senate to Reject Barrett

“Rushing to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett will cause irreparable damage to the public’s faith in the Supreme Court, the rule of law, and our democracy.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-9-2020

Photo:massmatt/flickr/CC

Ahead of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings scheduled to start Monday, more than 5,000 lawyers issued an open letter Friday urging senators to “defend the lives and fundamental rights of all Americans” by refusing to confirm President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Congressional leaders and the White House have been locked in a political battle over the high court’s empty seat since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg  in September. Rights advocates have raised alarm about Barrett’s “extreme ideology”—as the lawyers put it—since even before Trump officially announced her nomination. 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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Successful GOP Repeal of ACA Would Strip Health Coverage From Millions and Give Top 0.1% a Massive Tax Cut—During a Pandemic

“If Trump gets the Supreme Court to strike down ACA, the richest 0.1% would get a tax cut of $198,000 a year, and Big Pharma would get a tax cut of $2.8 billion. But millions of seniors would pay billions more for prescription drugs, and 20 million would lose their health insurance.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-6-2020

Health Care Reform Law Protests at the US Supreme Court in 2012. Photo: Elvert Barnes/CC

New research released Tuesday shows that if the Supreme Court next month sides with the Trump administration and 18 state attorneys general seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more than 20 million people would lose health insurance and millions more would be forced to pay more for healthcare—in the middle of a pandemic—while Big Pharma and the richest 0.1% would enjoy major tax cuts.

“The stakes in this case, always extraordinarily high”—wrote Tara Straw and Aviva Aron-Dine in one of several reports (pdf) published this week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)—”are even higher now amidst a global pandemic and an economic crisis that has caused more people to lose health insurance and become eligible for help from the ACA.” Continue reading

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Unlike US, Europe picks top judges with bipartisan approval to create ideologically balanced high courts

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 21 called on the Republican-controlled Senate not to confirm a new justice until the next president is in office. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

David Orentlicher, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court immediately sparked a bitter partisan fight.

But choosing judges for the nation’s highest court doesn’t have to be so polarizing.

In some European countries, judicial appointments are designed to ensure the court’s ideological balance, and the entire process, from nomination to confirmation, is generally not seen as partisan. By choice and by law, high court justices in those places work together to render consensus-based decisions. Continue reading

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Civil Rights Commission Calls for End to Subminimum Wages for People With Disabilities

“Paying workers with disabilities a subminimum wage is discrimination—plain and simple—and it’s way past time we repeal this outdated policy.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-17-2020

NYC DOT joined the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in the first ever Disability Pride NYC Parade on Sunday, July 12, 2015. Photo: NYC DOT/flickr/CC

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ recommendation that Congress repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act—which allows employers to pay employees with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage—was praised Thursday by numerous Democratic lawmakers.

According to the USCCR’s report—titled “Subminimum Wages: Impacts on the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities” (pdf)—there are over 1,500 “sheltered workshops,” separate work centers where employees with disabilities are “not integrated into a broader community or work setting,” in the U.S. that employ over 100,000 people. 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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“Touted as ‘Essential’… Treated as Disposable”: Labor Day Anger as Migrant Farm Workers Toil Inside Wildfire Evacuation Zones

“For the workers, their hands were forced by a combination of circumstances as toxic as the ash that falls over the region’s famous vineyards.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-7-2020

Photo via salud-america.org

This Labor Day, immigrant and worker’s rights advocates are sounding the alarm in response to reports of migrant grape pickers, many of whom are undocumented, being forced to work in fire evacuation zones by California growers in a situation critics say demonstrates how some of those deemed “essential” at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic have been rendered “disposable” in the face of a record-setting heat wave and extremely dangerous conditions.

While the threat of flames and smoke was strong enough in Sonoma County to provoke the relocation of area residents, “the county agriculture commissioner invited workers to continue laboring in the fields, doling out evacuation-area access passes to dozens of agricultural producers,” Alleen Brown reported for The Intercept. Continue reading

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Exposing Trump’s Payroll Tax Deferral as ‘Wage Theft,’ Treasury Signals Millions of Workers Will Earn Less in 2021 Under Plan

“Like Donald Trump’s other economic executive orders, this will not provide actual relief to workers.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-29-2020

Photo: skeeze from Pixabay

Days after the payroll processor for the federal government—one of the nation’s largest employers—announced it would implement President Donald Trump’s plan to defer payroll taxes for the rest of 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department indicated that employers will be responsible for paying the deferred taxes next year.

The plan is scheduled to go into effect September 1, and companies that take part will be required to collect the taxes their employees owe from the last four months of this year at the beginning of 2021—after the general election, which Trump hopes to win with claims that he’s strengthened the economy and helped workers. Continue reading

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Confirming Progressive Warnings, Social Security Actuary Says Trump Payroll Tax Cut Would Effectively Destroy Program by 2023

“Trump’s disastrous plan to defund Social Security would eliminate retirement and disability benefits by 2023,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “That may make sense to the billionaires at Trump’s country club, but it makes zero sense to me.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-25-2020

Hundreds of union activists rally at the Minneapolis Social Security Field Office on Wednesday, August 27, 2014. (Photo: AFGE/Flickr/cc)

The Social Security Administration’s chief actuary estimated late Monday that eliminating the payroll tax would fully deplete Social Security’s disability and old-age trust funds by 2023, confirming the disastrous consequences progressive advocacy groups and lawmakers have been warning of since President Donald Trump threatened earlier this month to “terminate” the levy if reelected in November.

In a letter (pdf) to Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), SSA chief actuary Stephen Goss wrote that scrapping the payroll tax would “permanently” deplete the Disability Insurance trust fund by mid-2021 and the Old Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund by mid-2023 “with no ability to pay” the benefits afterward. Continue reading

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