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war on workers

Trump/GOP assault on workers is here

by Dan Burns on March 24, 2017 · 0 comments

childworkAbsolutely despicable. Then again, is there anything about Trump, Lyin’ Ryan, and their minions that isn’t?

While the details of President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget remain scant, one thing is clear: The Department of Labor will likely be one of the biggest losers. Trump’s budget proposal would cut the department’s funding by $2.5 billion, or 21 percent, which will mean drastic changes for the work the department does…
The 2018 budget details around $500 million in cuts for the department, which likely means that programs for disadvantaged workers, including seniors, youths, and those with disabilities, would be reduced or completely eliminated. The Senior Community Service Employment Program, training grants at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and technical-assistance grants at the Office of Disability Employment Policy would all disappear. Job-training centers for disadvantaged children would be shuttered and funding for more general job-training and employment services would move from the federal budget to states.
(The Atlantic)

The infamous Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced a bill last month which would take Right To Be Exploited national.


american-trading3There has always been a concern that Pr*sident Trump “officially” finishing off the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal would actually primarily be cover for even worse “trade” policy. A couple of items; what’s really going on right now is murky.

Given that recently released 2016 trade data shows that our $347 billion goods trade deficit with China represents almost 50 percent of our global goods trade deficit, what happened to the “get tough on China” trade mantra from the campaign? There’s been a lot of administration talk about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, Trump’s promises to bring down the U.S. trade deficit and create more U.S. manufacturing jobs require attention to China trade.
Yet, one of the only first-day promises included in Trump’s Contract with the American Voter that was not fulfilled was declaring China a currency manipulator. The executive order flurry has not included the widely expected termination of negotiations for a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT.) The treaty replicates key aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the NAFTA pacts that Trump loves to bash.
The China BIT, started by the Bush administration and almost completed by the Obama administration, would make it easier to offshore more American jobs to China. It also would give Chinese firms broader rights to purchase U.S. firms, land and other assets and newly expose the U.S. government to demands for compensation from Chinese firms empowered to attack U.S. policies in extra-judicial tribunals. Everything Trump says he is against, so what gives?
(Common Dreams)

President Donald Trump has been conspicuously silent about the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since taking office, so whether the administration comments on the pact’s March 15 fifth anniversary is being closely watched. Trump spotlighted the “job-killing trade deal with South Korea” in his nomination acceptance speech and on the stump, where he also often noted “this deal doubled our trade deficit with South Korea and destroyed nearly 100,000 American jobs.”
Trump’s approach to the pact was called into question when he appointed one of the Korea FTA’s most persistent promoters, Andrew Quinn, to be special assistant to the president for international trade, investment and development. When the deal was initially completed in 2007, Quinn, who played a role in FTA negotiations as counselor for economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, declared: “It’s a great agreement” that “demonstrated the effectiveness of the model, i.e., a comprehensive high-standard agreement.”
(Common Dreams)

There was in fact no comment from the Trump administration on the five-year anniversary.


MN lege: Preemption bill rolls through House

by Dan Burns on March 3, 2017 · 0 comments

stopwaronworkersThe Minnesota Party of Trump behaved as anticipated, yesterday.

The debate over higher wages and paid sick time won’t end with Thursday night’s vote by the Minnesota House, workers said. They vowed to keep organizing – all the way to the ballot box.
The House voted 76-53 to pass a preemption bill that bars local governments from adopting measures to improve workplaces. It included a provision to retroactively rescind the earned sick and safe time ordinances passed by the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, depriving 150,000 people of paid leave when they are ill or need to care for a loved one.
The Republican-controlled Senate still must vote on the bill before it can go to Governor Mark Dayton, who is likely to veto it.
(Workday Minnesota)

This doesn’t really matter in practical terms in the big picture, but I often see the term “hypocrisy” used in the context of issues like this. After all, Republicans are supposedly the party of “less big government,” and letting people decide for themselves, right?
My old paperback Merriam Webster Dictionary (not the one I had in college, not that old, but not far from it) defines hypocrisy thusly:

A feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; esp : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

“Feigning” implies some degree of conscious realization that your words and actions are not consistent.
For me, a good example of hypocrisy would be claiming that you’d rather nibble on “designer dark chocolate” than stuff your face with Hershey bars, because nobody would really rather do that, and we all know it. But often people honestly are just so messed up in their heads, so utterly bereft of any connection to fact and reason in the matter of their socio-political opinions, that they have become simply incapable of apprehending, even a tiny bit, when their actions don’t match their words – indeed, quite the opposite.
So, to my mind, when right-wing legislators pull atrocious crap like this it doesn’t really qualify as hypocrisy. And maybe the distinction does matter a little, as it helps to understand what really goes on in right-wing “minds.” You’re not going to shame them into better behavior with charges of being “hypocrites,” because they honestly do not get that they are engaging in these massive disconnects between what they claim to be about, and how they really act. They absolutely are that far gone in their delusional bubbles. It’s called “cognitive rigidity.”


Atrocious ruling blocks new overtime rule

by Dan Burns on November 28, 2016 · 1 comment

greedThis is beyond despicable.

To be clear, nationwide injunctions from federal judges are rather extraordinary measures but they have recently become commonplace in the 5th Circuit, where conservative federal judges have routinely used them to block Obama’s policies on issues ranging from immigration to transgender bathroom access to federal contracting rules and now overtime pay.
(Daily Kos)

Over 4 million workers nationally will lose out if this ruling stands. I was unable to find an estimate for how many of those are in Minnesota.
For some time now, viciously fanatical right-wingers have had success using conservative judges to keep good things from happening. There are currently over 90 openings in the federal judiciary that the Trump administration will now be able to fill, and undoubtedly will fill with right-wingnuts, who will do their utmost to block any progressive legislation or executive action on sight, for decades to come.

I don’t mean by any of this to suggest that progressives should just give up. But we need to be reality-based and aware of what we’re really up against.
Comment below fold.

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Three of the top six employers in Minnesota are fighting better wages and benefits for Minnesota voters.
Mayo Clinic is busting their food service union. Good paying jobs with benefits will be outsourced to sub-contractor Sodexo who plans to pay poverty wages with no benefits.
Allina Health System attacked pay and benefits for, and security demands by, nurses for weeks. The nurses fought back since Labor Day and although an agreement was made, they still feel Allina’s assault on their value as healthcare professionals and human beings.
The University of Minnesota wants to segregate their faculty and are practically begging for a massive, statewide strike like we see in Pennsylvania.
Voters love Minnesota’s vibrant economy and world class quality of life. Our biggest employers, who benefit from subsidies and our states standard of living, need to share these values with voters.

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New overtime pay rules to take effect

by Dan Burns on May 18, 2016 · 0 comments

scotusThis is from an email I got last night. As one of the brilliant, beautiful, and well-informed people that reads MN Progressive Project, you probably got the same thing, or something like it. Here’s the link embedded therein.

I wanted you to be the first to know about some important news on an issue I know you care deeply about: making sure you’re paid fairly.
Tomorrow, we’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans’ hard work is rewarded.
If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones. It’s one of most important steps we’re taking to help grow middle-class wages and put $12 billion more dollars in the pockets of hardworking Americans over the next 10 years.

And here’s something that I think will happen, and I’m sure that I have plenty of company. Some right-wing lawsuit mill already has one ready to go to block this, and most importantly, has already identified the right judge to go to, a reactionary extremist who on both intellectual and psychological grounds should never have even been admitted to the bar, much less given a seat on the federal bench. He or she will issue the desired “halt” order, and millions will continue to be grossly overworked and underpaid as this slowly makes its way up the judicial ladder. Corporate media, meanwhile, will present it as a disastrous “burden on job creators,” or some such infantile nonsense. Progressives need to do what we can to make electoral hay of this, and to work toward a moderate – perhaps even a little bit “liberal,” – U.S. Supreme Court, for when this and so many other items ultimately end up there.


Workers Memorial Day

by Dan Burns on April 28, 2016 · 1 comment


On April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe jobs. This year we will come together to call for work in this country that is safe and healthy and pays fair wages. We will celebrate the victories won by working people and commit to fighting until all workers have safe jobs and the freedom to form unions without the threat of retaliation.
(Minnesota AFL-CIO)

More on the issue.

By the time you’re done reading this article, roughly one person will likely have died from dangerous working conditions somewhere in America. It could happen in virtually any job, but it’s especially likely to happen to a Latino worker, maybe someone working on your office building’s roof. There’s also good chance they’ll be killed in a rigging mishap while extracting the natural gas powering your laptop, or perhaps they’ll be an immigrant woman killed in a farming accident while harvesting your groceries…
The roughly 3.8 million occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2014 represent the myriad ways that the economy values capital over human life: from unmonitored toxic exposures at lucrative oil and gas fields, to construction workers falling from faulty scaffolding on million-dollar office towers―150 work-related deaths daily. Tragedy was often preventable, but risking lives more profitable.
(The Nation)

Comment below fold.

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The loathsome TPP crawls along

by Dan Burns on April 8, 2016 · 0 comments

tpp2This vile, corporate atrocity was signed by delegates on February 4. It now has to be ratified by legislatures. It’s telling that that’s not expected to be a problem in more totalitarian-leaning places like Malaysia and Vietnam, but it is perhaps iffy in somewhat more democratic ones.

Japan’s parliament has started in on it. This article does not include speculation on whether it’s expected to pass, there. It does note a great deal of controversy.

Canada and Australia has been suggested as other countries that may not go for it. There’s plenty of opposition, and therefore grounds for hope, in Canada. My searches this morning turned up nothing recent about where Australia may be headed.

The biggest question mark is probably right here in the U.S., where among other things all four major remaining presidential candidates (Clinton, Cruz, Sanders, Trump) have expressed opposition. The plan appears to be to try to get it passed in a lame-duck session in December, with tactics that could well include all-but-open bribery for outgoing congresscritters. I wish that I was as optimistic about it being killed as the author of this kind of appears to be. I really hope he’s right.


childworkA SCOTUS decision yesterday was a big positive, but something like that will never slow the haters down. Only being crushed, politically, once and for all, will do so.

Contract agreements between Minnesota and its public sector unions typically sail through the Legislature. This year, however, those deals may get caught up in a broader fight over union dues and political activities.
House Republicans this spring have altered the traditional process of putting all the two-year contracts up for a single vote. Instead, they’ve spread ratification votes across several bills, and the bill they’ve crafted for the state’s biggest unions is coming with some serious strings attached…
The Minnesota GOP proposal “would make Scott Walker blush,” said Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, the largest state employee union. Along with the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, the two unions represent most of the state’s more than 30,000 public employees.
“What this is not about is not the provisions of the contract, “Seide said. “What this attack by Representative (Steve) Drazkowski is about is continuing the war on workers to attack the rights on workers to have a voice in the workplace, to continue to trash the public sector unions.”

A while back, one of this blog’s glorious founders nominated The Draz as “worst legislator in America,” with good reason. Check it out. Drazkowski may have since toned down the public rhetoric, but as a legislator he’s still a witless ninny. And a menace.


stewartshornThe sale is indeed set to happen. City Pages has been on top of this for a while.

KKR’s scorched earth brand of capitalism is well-documented. The firm starred in the 1989 book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco. Written by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar of the Wall Street Journal, the book tells the story of KKR’s leveraged buyout of the cookie and cig conglomerate. Under KKR’s shepherding, 46,000 Nabisco employees got pink slips.
It’s a repetitive story. A Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles in 1990 by Susan Faludi detailed workers’ suffering as the result of KKR’s acquisition of Safeway. Faludi’s expose showed how longtime workers had been discarded in the pursuit of a fatter bottom line. One former grocery store employee was living in a homeless shelter. One committed suicide. Yet another who’d saved the company $1.6 million by inventing a new cooling system had been laid off. In the Dallas area alone, KKR canned 8,600 Safeway employees.
(City Pages)

(It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that KKR promised Stewart Mills III to hold off on deep workforce cuts until after the election. Nor, if so, would it surprise me if KKR reneges on that, as soon as they feel like it.)
Incidentally, does anyone still believe the story about Mills’s much more congressional run-friendly hairstyle being the forced result of a “grilling accident?” This guy is as phony as they make ‘em.
Also from City Pages: “Stewart Mills Gets 1.5 Million In Welfare: His Workers Aren’t So Lucky.”