Archive for August 2013

Thank You, Labor

August 30, 2013

Labor Day Weekend. Thank you, Labor.

Labor - Built America

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8/29 Fast Food Strike

August 30, 2013

I support fast food workers around the nation who are striking today for a $15 an hour minimum wage and the Fast Five Strikeright to form unions without retaliation.

For Strike information and resources, check out the Low Pay Is Not OK website.

Two interesting articles about the Labor action are Largest fast food strike ever today: 58 cities will be affected in today’s Salon magazine and Working Fast Food: Can Low-Wage Workers Be Organized on the Talking Union blog.

Support the men and women who fix and serve the fast food you eat and sell you merchandise at your local retail stores.

The March On Washington Remembered

August 29, 2013

Today, August 28, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

On that day in 1963, over 200,000 men and women of all colors and ages gathered in Washington D.C. in a  March on Washington Buttontremendous display of unity and solidarity to demonstrate for racial equality, civil rights, the end of segregation, the creation of jobs that would provide meaningful and dignified work for all who wanted and needed employment, and a national minimum wage that would give working men and women a decent standard of living.

The Kennedy-Johnson Administration and the Congress of the United States heard the people and responded with Civil and Voting Rights legislation.

Great advances have been made in civil rights over the last fifty years but there is much more that must be done in our country to legally protect, enforce, and advance the civil and economic rights of every American.

Today, as we remember the March on Washington and its impact on America, let us commit ourselves to the values of the men and women who led the Civil Rights movement of old and to the guarantee and advancement of civil and economic rights for men and women today.

Ten Essentials For A New Progressive Movement

August 21, 2013

In my last post, On A Progressive Learning Curve, I shared with you that I am endeavoring to educate myself about current political-economic-community issues that are confronting our nation and our people.  Resources I am using are progressive in their orientation.

One of the resources I am using is Robert Reich. Reich is a political economist who served as the Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. He is the author of many books, writing about issues such as democracy, the economy, and alternatives to the present political-economic system. He writes a blog at Robert Reich and posts comments on Facebook at Robert B. Reich.

Mr. Reich’s insight into and comments on political-economy and government issues help me better understand today’s current economic situation – the causes of The Great Recession, unemployment/under-employment, the effects of a part-time, minimum wage economy, and the growing inequality gap in our nation. There are many comments on Robert Reich’s Facebook page that I have benefited from.

One in particular was posted on August 14. In it Reich lists ten essentials that a new progressive political-economic movement in America will need to address in order to make dramatic , corrective changes in the course that our nation is currently on.

These ten essentials are:

1) a living wage and a larger Earned Income Tax Credit,

(2) an exemption on the first $15K of income from Social Security taxes and elimination of the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes,

(3) a new WPA and CCC, and major infrastructure investments, to put the long-term unemployed back to work,

(4) early childhood education for all, high-quality K-12 for all, and access to affordable higher education,

(5) a single-payer healthcare system,

(6) an easy way to form unions through simple up-or-down votes at the workplace,

(7) a higher marginal income tax on top earners, more tax brackets at the top, a wealth tax, and a tax on financial transactions;

(8) a resurrection of Glass-Steagall and a cap on the size of the biggest Wall Street banks,

(9) a ban on gerrymandered districts, voter-suppression laws, and other means of blocking the majority’s will, and

(10) reversal of “Citizen’s United” (by constitutional amendment if necessary), strict campaign-finance limits, public financing of elections, a resurrected “fairness doctrine” for the media, and stricter limits on the “revolving door” between government and industry or Wall Street.

On the surface, these ten essentials for a new Progressive Movement in the United States do not look like a bad place to begin bringing real change to America. Which one of the ten would you begin with and why?

On A Progressive Learning Curve

August 18, 2013

I have to admit that I do not know a lot about business, economics, or the day-in and day-out workings of government. But, there are two things that I do know.

The first thing I know is that our nation is suffering economically. This suffering is referred to as The Great Recession, the worst economic condition that our nation has been in since The Great Depression. That suffering expresses itself as unemployment, under-employment, home foreclosures, austerity programs, a growing inequality gap, and attacks on working people and unions.

The second thing I know is that I must become better educated and informed about the critical political-economic-community issues that face our nation and our people. Not just to be better educated. But educated in order to become an advocate for, and involved in, progressive change in our country.

With a view toward educating myself, I have discovered and have begun reading and studying on-line magazine articles, blogs, Facebook posts, and Tweets that address the issues above. These materials are, admittedly, progressive, left-of-center resources. I have chosen them because they represent a perspective that is opposite the dominant one we hear on and read in the main-line media. There are many books on these subjects I would like to purchase, but income prohibits that.

Some of these resources include Dollars and Sense, Economic Policy Institute, Inequality.org, Labor NotesRichard Wolff, Robert Reich, the United Steel Workers blog, and Truthout.

If you know of any material you think would benefit me as I endeavor to educate myself along progressive lines, please feel free to share them. I would appreciate your suggestions.

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“‘Educate yourselves because we’ll need all your intelligence. Agitate because we’ll need all your enthusiasm. Organize yourselves because we’ll need all your strength.” – Antonio Gramsci

Facts About Part-Time Work

August 13, 2013

There has been a lot of talk recently about the number of jobs that have been created this year. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that approximately three-fourths of these new jobs have been part-time jobs.

A recent Huffington post article, dated August 9, 2013, shares nine tragic facts about part-time work. These facts are:

  1. “Just 24 percent of part-time workers have access to employer-sponsored health care, according to a July report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
  2. “Part-time workers often have little opportunity for advancement as highlighted by striking fast food workers during their walkouts earlier this summer. In addition, part-time workers are much less likely than their full-time counterparts to be protected by labor and employment laws,, according to a March speech from Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin.”
  3. “Just 24 percent of part-time workers have access to paid sick days, according to a July report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Without paid sick days workers are more likely to get the flu, research has shown.”
  4. “Just half of those who graduated from college between 2006 and 2011 were working in full-time jobs as of May 2012, according to a survey from Rutgers University. In addition, 40 percent of recent college graduates said they were underemployed in an April Reuters poll.”
  5. “About 8.5 percent of part-time workers say they’re currently being treated for depression, according to a July Gallup poll, compared to 5.6 percent of full-time workers.”
  6. As of January 2013, there were about 8.6 million involuntary part-time workers — or employees working part-time because they had to, not because they wanted to. This figure is nearly double what it was in January 2006.”
  7. “The surge in part-time work during the Great Recession and the recovery is increasing the gap between high- and low-wage workers, according to a March speech from Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin. Indeed, the richest 20 percent of working families took home 48 percent of the nation’s income  in 2011, according to the Working Poor Families Project. The bottom 20 percent of working families took home just 5 percent.”
  8. “Millions of part-time workers are at the highest risk of having their hours cut under the President’s Affordable Care Act as businesses look for ways to skirt the law and avoid offering workers coverage. But despite numerous threats to cut worker hours, most businesses haven’t actually cut the in anticipation of the law.”
  9. “In the first six months of 2013, employers added more than four times as many part-time jobs as full-time jobs, according to a July Wall Street Journal report.”

If our nation is going to climb out of the Great Recession we have been in since 2008, community, government, and business emphasis needs to be placed on the creation of full-time jobs that enable working men and women to adequately provide for their families, jobs that have purpose and bring dignity to the workplace, and jobs that provide economic security today as well as into the future.