Is the Hotel Bel-Air using renovations as an excuse to bust a union? Jesse Russell reports:
An agreement has been reached between the United Auto Workers and Deere & Co. If approved by members the six-year contract will cover 9,500 current employees and 17,000 retirees. It needs to be voted on by 15 UAW locals, so no information on what is included in the contract has been released. Negotiations took place over the last two months and the previous contract expired on Wednesday.
By Doug Cunningham
The Economic Policy Institute says over four million U.S. jobs could be at risk in climate change legislation unless Congress maintains the competitiveness of energy-intensive, trade-sensitive manufacturers. EPI says any climate change bill must include rebates on the cost of emissions compliance and a strong border adjustment fee on the carbon content of goods from countries that fail to regulate greenhouse gases. United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard agrees.
Industries supporting more than 4 million U.S. jobs could be at risk unless lawmakers include strong provisions in climate change legislation to keep energy-intensive, trade-sensitive manufacturers competitive.
A new report says the legislation should include a system of rebates and allowances to help U.S. companies make the transition to lower carbon emissions and a tariff system, or border adjustments, to penalize countries that fail to regulate greenhouse gases in the production of goods.
The report, “Climate Change Policy,” released today by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), says a well-designed climate policy can support the economic recovery and green investments can support millions of new jobs, starting with the creation of more than 1 million jobs in the next two years. Click here to read the report.
Robert Scott, author of the EPI study, warned in a telephone press conference today that the United States will face serious consequences if it develops climate change policies that apply only to domestic companies without regard for their effects on trade. He said companies that use large amounts of energy in production and are in pitched battles with cheap imports could respond by moving jobs overseas, causing what is euphemistically called “carbon leakage.” Industries that are particularly vulnerable include steel, pulp and paper, basic chemicals and glass products.
Worse yet, Scott said, increased production of these energy-intensive goods in developing countries with no climate change rules could likely increase net global greenhouse emissions.
The job loss would impact every state, Scott writes, with the biggest losses coming in California (404,000 lost jobs) and Texas (425,000).
During the press conference, United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard said the issue of global warming is everyone’s business:
It’s not just Pittsburgh warming or Cleveland warming…it’s global warming. It’s important to have a climate change bill that doesn’t cost us jobs and leak carbon.
Ten Democratic senators, led by Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recently signed a letter to President Obama calling for measures in any climate change legislation to ensure that the U.S. domestic manufacturing base remains strong. Joining Brown in signing the letter were Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin (Mich.), Al Franken (Minn.), Bob Casey and Arlen Specter (Pa.), Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) and Russ Feingold (Wis.).
Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, summed it up this way:
The stakes are simply too great, and the potential damage to the economy and environment too large, if we fail to adequately address the trade-related implications of climate change.
The union movement wants the Obama administration to develop a coherent trade policy that advances key domestic priorities and makes our nation more competitive in a global economy.
That means rebuilding our infrastructure, investing in education, cleaning up the environment, creating green jobs and providing affordable health care, AFL-CIO Policy Director Thea Lee told a group of business leaders today in Washington.
Speaking at a forum on “Labor and the American Trade Agenda” sponsored by the Global Business Dialogue, Lee said the economic strategies of the past two administrations relied on privatization and global deregulation, ending up with a failed economy based on “asset bubbles, debt and borrowed money.”
She said ensuring workers’ rights in trade agreements is good for business because customers don’t want to buy products they know are made from child labor or slave labor. They want to know that you treat your workers like human beings, Lee said.
Enforcing workers’ rights globally also helps create markets for our products, provided policies are in place that develop the U.S. economy, she added. The relentless corporate onslaught against unions and the rush to move manufacturing jobs offshore in search of the lowest-wage countries has decimated the middle class here, but has not produced a middle class in other countries. Lee told the business group:
You don’t have anybody to sell to if we don’t rebuild our middle class.
Unions want U.S. workers to be competitive, she said. For unions, that means creating jobs in the United States that produce quality exports and build better lives for workers. In contrast, corporations often see competitiveness as finding the place to make the most profit, U.S. jobs be damned, Lee said.
She also called for more forceful, transparent enforcement of trade laws, including worker rights and environmental protections, which would empower workers and build up a middle class both at home and in developing nations.
|Algernon Austin, Economic Policy Institute|
If you’re under age 25 and looking for a job, you’re going to have a much tougher time than your older brother or sister did in 1999. Then, 60 percent of 16-24-year-olds had a job. Today, just 48 percent do, the lowest rate of young worker employment since World War II.
Young workers are twice as likely to be unemployed as the overall population—18 percent, compared with the overall unemployment rate of 9.7 percent. The jobless rate soars to 27.3 percent for young African American workers and 21.3 percent for Hispanic workers.
(For more on the economic struggles of a broader group of young workers—under age 35, see our AFL-CIO report, “Young Workers a Lost Decade).”
This morning at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing examining job and economic problems of 20-something workers, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) warned:
It is clear that the drop in employment is not just the result of a sudden shock to the system, but is part of a larger trend. You cannot ignore the fact that 20 percent fewer young workers are participating in the labor market.
The consequences of reduced work opportunities among young Americans mean fewer long-term employment prospects, less earnings and decreased productivity….If these dramatic trends are not reversed, our nation faces the potential of a generation of youth disconnected from the job market.
In addition to the staggering unemployment and underemployment (32 percent), young workers are carrying unprecedented debt burdens—especially education costs. Even if they have a job, those debts are harder to pay down because of low, shrinking or stagnant wages, says Matthew Segal, founder and co-chair of the coalition built by and for young people, 80 Million Strong for Young American Jobs. He told the committee:
Two-thirds of students holding a bachelor’s degree graduate with more than $20,000 in debt, twice as much as a decade ago. Law and medical school graduates have it even worse, with roughly $76,000 and $155,000 of debt respectively. Approximately 23 percent of freshman borrowers drop out of school because of debt.
The average earnings of full-time workers ages 25 to 34 are lower today than they were a generation ago, except among women with college degrees. And young men without a college education are earning 29 percent less than they did in 1975….Nearly 18 percent of 18-24-year-olds are living below the official poverty line.
Providing new education and economic opportunities needs to begin in high school and focus on both college-bound students and students interested in careers that do not require a college education, testified Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s (EPI’s) program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy.
We have to begin with high school curricula. Students need better information and guidance about finding good jobs that do not require a college degree and they also need better advice concerning college selection. Our jobs training programs need to be connected to the current and future labor market and ideally connected to real jobs.
Witnesses also proposed expanding or establishing new paid internship and community service programs; increasing access to community colleges and special emphasis on training for the growing sectors in green jobs, health care and national security.
Click here for witnesses’ written testimony and access to video excerpts of the hearing.
Today and tomorrow, the Minnesota AFL-CIO is holding its 2009 Political Conference, and newly elected AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler will be on hand to mobilize and energize delegates to win all across the state.
Today, the conference will hear from a number of candidates for governor, and Shuler will kick off tomorrow’s session. State AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson, the first woman elected to head the state federation, will lead the conference.
The grassroots volunteer efforts of Minnesota union members and Working America members were critical to electing Sen. Al Franken, a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, in the nation’s closest Senate race last fall. Over the next year they’ll focus on the 2010 race for Minnesota governor as well as key races for the U.S. House.
“Jobs now” was the rallying call of thousands of delegates to the recent AFL-CIO Convention in Pittsburgh, and “unemployment aid” is the cry from millions of those who find themselves unable to get work in a U.S. economy that now has six jobless workers for every one job opening. More than eight of 10 Americans (83 percent) cite unemployment as the nation’s big problem in a survey just out by Peter D. Hart Research Associates.
And yesterday in Washington, D.C., several top economists, including Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, all stressed that creating jobs and alleviating the pain of unemployed workers must happen quickly at the federal level—or unemployment will not fall below 8 percent through at least 2014.
That’s more than 12 million U.S. workers without jobs as America’s status quo. And that’s only the official unemployment figure. Those not counted in the official data likely would double that number to at least 24 million workers.
All those who think 24 million jobless workers is a fine way to operate the economy, raise your hands.
Speaking at a panel sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Krugman said that although “the apocalypse has been postponed” because of the Obama administration’s economic recovery package passed by Congress earlier this year, it’s essential to follow up with further fiscal action—that is, spending money now to create long-term benefits, like jobs—to prevent prolonged suffering.
The notion that we’re going to pay a heavy price for spending a lot now is just wrong.
Brad DeLong, an economist at the University of California-Berkeley, went further, saying that lawmakers on Capitol Hill don’t seem to understand the difference between incurring short-term debt—which would aid the economy—and long-term structural debt, which is a different animal. All three agreed Congress must approve more funding, especially for states, which are at the front lines of providing critical support for those without jobs, health care and food.
In fact, DeLong stated, the economic recovery act Congress passed is only between one-fifth and one-third of the funding needed to adequately address the economic crisis, and it did not include a cortically needed “trigger” that would have automatically moved more aid when unemployment increased beyond 9 percent. Right now, the official U.S. unemployment rate is 9.7 percent-and likely will worsen when the Labor Department releases September jobs data tomorrow.
EPI economist John Irons made real the long-term damage of an ongoing recession, citing a recent study that found some 35 percent of jobless workers don’t have jobs two years later and 13 percent had only part-time jobs. Meanwhile, 13 percent of those who did find full-time work were paid less than at the job they lost.
DeLong also pointed to the debilitating effects of a jobless recovery on young people: Every 1 percent increase in unemployment results in the loss of 7 percent of income for young people entering the job market.
Job loss also disproportionately affects people of color. New unemployment data for September show overall unemployment at 9.8 percent, with 15.4 percent of black workers jobs and 12.7 percent of Latino workers unemployed, compared with 9 percent of white workers.
And that means young workers are in real trouble with this recession. Our AFL-CIO report we released last month on young workers, shows that one-third of young workers cannot pay the bills and seven in 10 do not have enough saved to cover two months of living expenses.
Creating jobs isn’t enough. Working families need jobs that enable them to support themselves and their families. And right now, that picture looks grim. Recent data show that the U.S. income gap is worsening. While household income declined across all groups, middle-income and poor Americans are hurt the hardest. Median income fell last year from $52,163 to $50,303, wiping out a decade’s worth of gains to hit the lowest level since 1997. Poverty jumped sharply to 13.2 percent, an 11-year high.
Yet we hear from some in the Obama administration that the worst is over.
Yet that’s not what most Americans think. In fact, the Hart survey, which found strong support for stimulus spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also showed that the overwhelming majority of respondents-81 percent-say the Obama administration still has not done enough to deal with unemployment.
As Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) summed up at yesterday’s panel:
We should be very wary of any economic suggestion that recovery is over and that will translate to the family level. Our economic recovery should not just be measured by the liquidity of banks but by nutrition for our children. Now is not the time to pull back our economic resources.
We second the sister from Connecticut.