Tag Archives: pensions

‘Either Trade Unions Win This, or It Will Be the Far Right’: Labor Sees High Stakes in French Pension Fight

A new poll shows that Marine Le Pen would beat French President Emmanuel Macron in a head-to-head rematch, making the left’s struggle against Macron’s pension attack a struggle for democracy in France.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 4-7–2023 by Common Dreams

A demonstration on the 11th day of nationwide strikes against the government’s proposal to raise the retirement age in Paris, France on April 6, 2023. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis/Twitter

 As French workers intensify their fight against President Emmanuel Macron’s deeply unpopular plan to raise the nation’s retirement age from 62 to 64, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

A poll released Wednesday shows that reactionary lawmaker Marine Le Pen—leader of the far-right National Rally party, the largest opposition force in Parliament—would beat Macron by a margin of 55% to 45% in a head-to-head rematch. The neoliberal incumbent defeated Le Pen in a runoff election last April, but the openly xenophobic and Islamophobic challenger has gained significant ground since their first matchup in 2017.

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Bolstering Call to Expand Social Security, New Reporting Reveals How Corporations Are Offloading Pensions

Not only are pensions being offered less, existing pensions are being transferred to insurers, with employees suffering consequences

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2019

Economists “warn that rarely, if ever, can people replicate the security of a pension,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center. (Photo: 401kcalculator.org)

New reporting showing companies’ scrapping of pension plans has gone into overdrive means that Social Security must be expanded, an advocacy group said Wednesday.

“Expanding Social Security is important for today’s retirees,” Social Security Works said in a tweet, “but even more important for tomorrow’s.

The shift from traditional pensions to 401(k) or similar retirement plans—a change panned as an inequality-fueling disaster—isn’t new. “But lately,” reported Axios, “those changes are happening even faster.” Continue reading

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Chicago’s Terrible New Plan to Force High School Kids Into the Military

By Alice Salles. Published 7-7-2017 by The Anti-Media

Kelly High School, Chicago. Photo: Frank Buchalski/flickr/CC

Chicago, Illinois, has a chronic inflated state problem disguised as a schooling problem. In order to eradicate the symptom, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to attack those who suffer from it and not the actual root of the problem — adopting a classic “more of the same” approach.

A plan approved in May is set to take effect soon, forcing high school seniors to either be enlisted in the military, have a job, be enrolled in a gap-year program, or have a college acceptance letter before the Chicago public schooling system will give them their diploma. The obvious consequences of this new policy are problematic. Still, Emanuel doesn’t seem to care. Continue reading

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Reports: Greek Prime Minister To Resign, Announce Snap Elections

Resignation seen as attempt to forestall political revolt following approval of new bailout package and austerity measures in economically-battered nation

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-20-2015

Alexis Tsipras at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb, 2013. Photo by Robert Crc (Subversive festival media) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Alexis Tsipras at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb, 2013. Photo by Robert Crc (Subversive festival media) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

In a move that came as a surprise to many, sources have told Reuters that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will announce Thursday that he will ‘step down’ from his post as soon as this evening and that new elections for control of the government will be held next month.

“The aim is to hold elections on Sept. 20,” the government official reportedly said after Tsipras met with senior party officials and ministers to discuss the government’s next move.

Though a call for snap elections was ultimately expected, many assumed they would not be held until after a confidence vote in Parliament. Tsipras’ preemptive resignation was not widely foreseen, though the ruling government is compelled to give over power once the election is officially announced. Media outlets report that Tsipras will address the nation tonight to make his resignation official and make clear his reasons for doing so. Continue reading

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Going Postal

By Tim1965 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tim1965 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the United States Postal Service is in fiscal hot water, and has been for quite a while. However, you may not know the reasons why this is the case, and why what happens with the USPS is important to all of us. To understand it all, we need to review the recent history of the postal service in this country.

On March 18, 1970, New York postal workers went on strike against the U.S. government over wages and working conditions- at that time, the postal service in this country was a cabinet level department known as the Post Office. While the strike gained support nationwide, the workers didn’t win any immediate concessions, it did lead to the forming of unions and an eventual negotiation with the government over contracts.

Later the same year, President Nixon signed the Postal Reorganization Act, which disbanded the Post Office and created an independent entity, the United States Postal Service, which took effect in July of 1971. This made the Postal Service a government-run corporation instead of an actual government department. This also meant it was self-supporting, with no public money to help support it.

Then came the Reagan years, and like so many other things we’ve discussed recently, they didn’t bode well for the Postal Service. His administration’s report from 1988, Privatization: Toward More Effective Governmentrecommended that the Postal Service more actively pursue contracting out opportunities in all of its functions. At the same time, the Postal Service released the USPS Procurement Manualwhich made it easier for management to outsource without worrying about “full and open competition.” 

The Postal Service had $12 billion in outside contracts in 2010, with the largest being FedEx (those FedEx boxes outside the post office? Yep- that was part of the outsourcing due to the new procurement manual). And, because it’s outsourced so many of its functions, the quality of the service has suffered; the classic “too many cooks” syndrome.

By Amtrakfan4 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Amtrakfan4 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Then, the icing on the cake. In 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. This law requires the Postal Service to prefund parts of their employee pension fund for seventy five years into the future; something that neither any government entity or privately held corporation needs to do. This, of course, has led to budget shortfalls and the Postal Service losing money. The proposed solution? In 2011, the Postmaster General stated that the Postal Service will close half of its 32,000 post offices over the next few years, selling off the old buildings. He also proposed stopping Saturday mail delivery as a necessary cost reduction.

But, you might ask, why all this focus on the Postal Service. The answer’s simple- the Postal Workers Union. The Postal Service is the third largest employer in the nation after the Federal government and WalMart, and it’s the largest unionized employer. Breaking the union’s always been the main goal behind all this focus.

Which brings us to now. Earlier this year, Staples and the USPS announced a deal, where postal service offices would be placed in selected Staples locations, and if successful, would spread to more locations. The catch? The locations would be staffed by Staples employees, and not Postal Service employees. For obvious reasons, this doesn’t sit well with the union.

Occupy World Writes stands in solidarity with the American Postal Workers Union. We call on Staples to respect the union and its members, and we call on Congress to stop imposing the undue and unique hardship that the pension funding requirements places on the USPS. We categorically reject any further moves towards privatization of the Postal Service. The postal service in this country was once a model for the whole world; its duties are even defined in the Constitution. But these days, we and Somalia are the only countries where the postal system isn’t underwritten by the government; the Founding Fathers would be screaming bloody murder over what we’ve done to it.

We can do better than this…


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