Wednesday, June 19, 2013
How to Start Rebuilding the Working Class, Right Now!
With so many obstacles to rebuilding the middle class, where should Washington start? One easy answer: "President Obama could bring some relief and set a good example. He has the power with his presidential pen to require a minimum-wage increase for employees of businesses, including fast-food vendors, that have contracts with the federal government. It wouldn't relieve all low-wage workers, but it would be a powerful place to start."
Fast-food workers echo 'Occupy' spirit - Chicago Tribune
Another obstacle to rebuilding the middle class: Big corporations are turning a blind eye to labor violations at their franchises. "Big corporations like McDonald's and 7-Eleven exert a lot of control over their franchise owners when it comes to things like branding and the products they sell. When it comes to labor standards, though, it's almost like corporate management doesn't care at all, as two recent cases remind us." If we want a strong middle class, one of the most critical steps is ensuring workers have the right to form a union if they so desire.
We need to change the narrative and attitude in Washington that the working class is just lazy, and that the only people who matter are wealthy corporate donors. The working class is more productive than ever, but the gains from this productivity are going to the wealthiest among us. It's time Washington gets the message that when working-class Americans do better, everyone does better. We need to raise our voices so that Washington finally gets the message.
Monday, June 17, 2013
The Myth of Upward Mobility
While the Right pitches the myth that the poor and working-class who are struggling to get ahead are just lazy, the truth is that hard work is being rewarded with low wages. Low-wage work has replaced good paying jobs, increasing income inequality. According to the New York Times, the number of workers earning minimum wage jumped from 1.7 million workers in 2007 to 3.6 million in 2012.
Faces of the Minimum Wage - The New York Times
Many Americans accept our growing income inequality because they believe there is a strong chance they will someday be a part of the 1%. Unfortunately, upward mobility is increasingly unlikely. People in nations such as Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and New Zealand are far more likely to enjoy upward mobility than Americans.
Great Gatsby economics are no party for the middle class - Washington Post
It's no coincidence that there is a direct correlation between the decline in union membership and the decline in good jobs. If we want the good jobs with benefits that make the middle class strong, we need unions. Plain and simple.
Do private-sector unions still have a future in the U.S.? - Washington Post
Friday, June 14, 2013
Obvious Steps For the Survival of the Middle Class
"Five years after the Great Recession began, the US economy appears to be rebounding a bit. But two recent bits of evidence suggest that the impact of the recession on ordinary workers may have been even worse than we thought—and that the impact of future recessions might be worse too."If the Economy Is Back, Why Are Wages Still So Low? - Mother JonesA higher minimum wage decreases inequality and stimulates demand to get the economy moving. Don't believe it? Read on!A strong safety net is critical to preserving the middle class, "and with an ever-rising share of income going to capital rather than labor, that safety net would have to be paid for to an important extent via taxes on profits and/or investment income." Not by taxing the very people who have an increasingly smaller share of the economic pie.Krugman Tears Apart Proposed Solution To Inequality Crisis - New York Times
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Walmart Hosts Star-studded Event, While Their Workers Suffer
Hugh Jackman and Tom Cruise (among others) showed up to Walmart's Annual General Meeting last week to dump praise on the company. Cruise even said that Walmart is a, “role model for how business can address some of the biggest issues facing our world, in ways big and small.” Meanwhile, Walmart has failed to pay most of its workers living wages, has largely turned a blind eye to the death of hundreds of workers in factories due to unsafe conditions, and has even been accused of discrimination based on gender.
While the celebrities gathered to help Walmart pat itself on the back, "workers and activists converged on the meeting to demand sweeping changes at the company’s U.S. stores and global factories... to change company practices on wages, safety and unions."
Here is yet another example of Walmart behaving badly. A new report alleges that a Walmart shrimp supplier has been subjecting workers to horrendous conditions, including "workers not being paid, being charged excessive fees for work permits and being forced to work in dangerous and unsanitary conditions."
Report Claims Thai Shrimp Processor Abusing Workers - Wall Street Journal
Monday, June 10, 2013
Still Waiting for Good Jobs
According to Paul Krugman, the number of Americans with jobs is still down two million from six years ago, and 7.6 percent of the workforce is unemployed. Before the recession, this would have been unacceptable, but now politicians are sitting idly by and taking no action on job creation. What exactly will it take for jobs to be a priority again?
The Big Shrug - New York Times
The title says it all. 13 laws passed by Congress this year. None on jobs.
Congress Has Passed 13 Laws This Year—None of Them Have to Do With Jobs - National Journal
Robert Reich knows one reason we can't seem to get anything done on jobs; it is because the tea party doesn't want the government to do anything. They have accomplished their goal of minimizing the role of the federal government by essentially shutting down the House (at the middle class's expense).
The Quiet Closing of Washington - Huffington Post