Christine L. Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project and former policy director for the AFL-CIO, testified today on unemployment in the U.S. economy before the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. She adapted her remarks for us today. (Read her full testimony here.)
The U.S. Department of Labor’s employment report for February was another grim reminder of how bad the economy is for workers. Employers have shed jobs, people are dropping out of the workforce and growing numbers are forced to work part-time because they cannot get full-time hours. Added to the other signs of economic downturn, the employment report is a strong case for a federal extension of unemployment benefits, to stimulate the economy and provide income support to the 3 million jobless workers who will run out of their 26 weeks of state benefits this year and without new jobs or extended benefits, risk losing everything.
Sen. John McCain’s so-called “Straight Talk Express” has flip-flopped off the Social Security highway—and Arizona activists want to make sure voters know the presumptive Republican presidential candidate is looking out for Wall Street, not Main Street.
Several dozen members of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and the Arizona Advocacy Network marched at the Social Security Administration’s Phoenix office this morning. They were there to warn voters that McCain is “Taking Aim” at Social Security by his recent endorsement of President Bush’s failed and flawed proposal to privatize the cornerstone of the workers’ retirement security.
McCain backed Bush’s privatization plan and voted for it in 2005. But in a 2006 meeting, he told a different story. Says Doug Hart, president of the Arizona Alliance:
We had a meeting with him about a year and half ago, 12 of us in his office, and he said it was a bad idea, that he didn’t favor privatization. Now he’s flip-flopped and it looks like his Straight Talk Express isn’t so straight after all.
Three CEOs—Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide Financial Corp., E. Stanley O’Neal of Merrill Lynch and Charles Prince of Citigroup—presided over companies that lost a combined $20 billion in just the past two quarters of 2007 as a result of investments in subprime and other risky mortgages.
For that kind of performance, the CEO trio pocketed more than $320 million in compensation, stock bonuses and other rewards last year. That disconnect between performance and pay, says Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), shows that
there seems to be two different economic realties in this country. Most Americans live in a world where economic security is precarious and there are real economic consequences for failure. But our nation’s top executives seem to live by a different set of rules.…CEOs seem to hit the lottery when companies collapse.
One hundred years ago, 15,000 women marched through New York City on the first International Women’s Day, demanding shorter working hours, better pay, voting rights and the end to child labor.
Today, in virtually every country, women still face discrimination in the workplace. Consider that some 1.2 billion working women—about 40 percent of total world employment—earn less than men for the same jobs, are more likely to be unemployed and poor and face violence and harassment in the workplace.
To address these issues and bring them to the forefront, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Global Unions federation are launching a two-year “Global Campaign for Decent Work, Decent Life for Women” campaign. The AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in San Diego this week endorsed and joined the campaign.
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says:
I can think of no better way to honor those 15,000 women marched down the streets of New York 100 years ago than to ensure their legacy lives on. This campaign is an opportunity to build a better union movement, and ultimately, a better, more inclusive world that makes the most of the talents of all its citizens.
Momentum is building in the key special congressional elections set for coming days in Indiana and Illinois.
In the open seat in Indiana’s 7th House District, AFL-CIO–endorsed Democrat André Carson is working alongside labor to win this key race. Indianapolis-area union members have made more than 14,000 phone calls, knocked on more than 1,200 doors and are getting the message out via newsletters, worksite fliers and messages from labor leaders.
Carson is the grandson of the late Rep. Julia Carson, who represented the 7th District from 1997 to her passing last year. Julia Carson was a UAW member, and André Carson points to his labor roots as a reason why he’s committed to pro-working family policies like improving health care, protecting Social Security and passing the Employee Free Choice Act.
The number of jobs plummeted in February, down by 63,000, the deepest dive in five years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Yet the unemployment rate theoretically improved, from 4.9 percent to 4.8 percent.
The conflicting figures out this morning on the nation’s latest jobs data highlight why some pundits and analysts have for months been insisting the U.S. economy is strong while most of America’s workers know otherwise. Such contradictory results are more apparent than real, however. The decline in unemployment reflects the fact that more people have given up looking for work, rather than more people on the payrolls.