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Massive Nationwide Protest By Walmart Workers on Black Friday by Ruth Conniff, The Progressive | November 20, 2012On Black Friday there will be over 1,000 strikes, rallies, and actions at Walmart stores across the nation. Workers began speaking out last week after Walmart told them to prepare for early store openings at 8 pm on Thanksgiving Day, in advance of Black Friday, making it impossible to spend the holiday with their families. The workers are also worried about their safety during the lethal Black Friday rush. But most of all, they are fed up with making poverty-level wages, no benefits, and facing discrimination and disrespect in their jobs for the world's largest retailer. read more »
Austerity: A Violation of Human Rights? by Laura Flanders, The Nation | November 20, 2012Have you ever wished there was a set of standards by which budgets could be assessed that didn’t have to do with deficit hawks and stimulus sparrows pecking each other’s eyes out in the constricted ring of corporate opinion? A noble little park opened in New York City last month: Four Freedoms Park. In the coverage of the Louis Kahn structure (which seems to rise like a ship out of Manhattan’s East River), remarkably little was made of the title. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1941, “the Four Freedoms” are core requirements for humane political and economic existence. read more »
The Missing Living Wage Agenda by Arnette Bernhardt, nextnewdeal.net | November 20, 2012Now that the election is over, our hope is that we can finally move beyond the vacuous invocations of an imaginary middle class where everyone is in the same boat. It’s time to get real about the concrete policies needed to take on the multiple inequalities that run deep through the U.S. labor market. And we’re not talking about the “skills mismatch,” another red herring routinely flung into this debate by both sides (including by President Obama as recently as the last week of the campaign). What we’re talking about is a broad, multi-year agenda to give America’s workers a living wage and voice on the job and to take on the continuing exclusion of workers of color, immigrants, and women from good jobs. The media may have discovered inequality last year with the surprise emergence of Occupy Wall Street, but in truth, there is a 30-year backlog of policies to fix the extreme maldistribution of wages and opportunity in the labor market. read more »
Are Low Retail Wages Required For Low Prices? by Catherine Ruetschlin, | November 20, 2012It’s the biggest shopping season on the calendar and retail companies are expecting hundreds of billions of dollars in sales. To meet this demand, retail pulls in around 600,000 seasonal workers on top of a workforce of 15 million. This massive work force is majority female and fairly diverse – people of color comprise about 30 percent of workers in the sector. It is also low-paid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical cashier makes just $18,500 per year for full time work. The nation’s largest employer and largest employer of African Americans – Walmart – is engaged in a struggle to keep it that way. Right as we turn to these workers to provide assistance and advice during the holiday season, many retail employees are striking for basic respect. And they deserve it. A new paper by Demos shows that retail employers can afford to pay decent wages, and the benefits would feed back into t read more »
Consumers Love the Made in the U.S.A. Brand by Daniel Gross, thedailybeast.com | November 20, 2012For a long time, U.S.-based manufacturers have felt like the deck was stacked against them. Labor costs are lower almost everywhere, especially in China. Taxes on profits are comparatively high. The most rapidly growing end markets are also overseas, and it frequently makes sense to manufacture heavy items like cars or appliances near the consumers who will buy them. But trends have a way of reversing. Rising labor costs in Asia and the continuing hard work American firms have done on efficiency and productivity have helped reduce the cost advantage of offshore locations. In an influential report, Made in America, Again the Boston Consulting Group suggested that up to 3 million manufacturing jobs could return to the U.S. over the next several years. read more »
Why You Shouldn’t Line Up For Walmart’s Black Friday Deals by Julianne Hing, colorlines.com | November 20, 2012Don’t call it Black Friday anymore. The kickoff to the national holiday shopping frenzy has now officially merged with Thanksgiving day itself, with Walmart leading the Thanksgiving evening creep by opening its doors at 10pm on Thursday this week. And the Thursday night opening has given workers at over 1,000 Walmart stores planning a Black Friday strike even more reason to walk out from work. The planned action has been in the works for some time, long before Walmart announced its Thursday evening opening. The strike comes after months of such walkouts that started in Los Angeles area stores and spread to Maryland, then Texas, for a total of nine states this fall. Workers say they are upset over much more than just having to leave their families on Thanksgiving evening. read more »
How Vulture Capitalists Killed the Twinkie by Jake Blumgart, alternet.org | November 20, 2012As the final Twinkies, Sno-Balls and those glowing orange cupcakes were stuffed with cream and wrapped in cellophane on Friday, the business world and much of the news media knew who was to blame for this dying American icon. It was the unions. As Hostess moved to end its operations last week — a bankruptcy judge asked the company Monday to try mediation with its unions; those talks are scheduled to begin today — commentators were eager to blame the rigidity of unions. But the story is far more complicated than that — and in some ways, the exact opposite of the tale pushed by those on the right. It’s the story of two bankruptcies, hundreds of millions of givebacks from Hostess unions and hundreds of millions of debt piled onto the company by venture capitalists. It’s a story of management that boosted its own salaries, while failing to make agreed payments into workers’ pension funds. And it’s a story of changing tastes and diets. read more »
Walmart trying to shut down wave of Black Friday protests by Laura Clawson, dailykos.com | November 20, 2012Walmart appears to be facing an unprecedented wave of worker protest on its biggest day of the year, Black Friday, and the wave continues to grow, with actions planned all across the country, even as Walmart tries to shut it down. Walmart has tried to shut down the protests by filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, the first it has filed in a decade. Josh Eidelson explains that a key question is whether the actions are, as Walmart charges, representational picketing aimed at getting union recognition, or, as OUR Walmart, the UFCW, and the workers involved have insisted, unfair labor practices strikes and picketing, which have much greater legal protection. Getting an injunction may not be the point, though. Walmart is worried that these protests outstrip management's ability to intimidate workers store by store and person by person, in other words, so it's trying to use the law to intimidate them. read more »
Walmart Rattled By Growing Unrest Ahead Of Black Friday's Strike by Sarah Jaffe, The Guardian | November 20, 2012On Friday, Americans by the millions will crowd into big-box retail shops to take advantage of bargains on wide-screen TVs and other electronics – necessities, as well as luxuries – all marked down in order to draw them in and have them line up outside in advance of the doors opening. And now, as we've learned, several chains plan to open at 8pm on Thanksgiving day itself. The greatest irony of "Black Friday", as it's known, is that it's seen as a celebration of consumerism, instead of a sign of desperation: when a Walmart worker was crushed to death by a Black Friday crowd in 2008, the news was accompanied with moralizing about American greed, rather than any discussion about low wages in the U.S.. Would people be so desperate for bargain shopping at already dirt-cheap places like Walmart if they themselves were making a decent living? read more »
The Twinkie Manifesto by Paul Krugman, The New York Times | November 19, 2012The Twinkie, it turns out, was introduced way back in 1930. In our memories, however, the iconic snack will forever be identified with the 1950s, when Hostess popularized the brand by sponsoring “The Howdy Doody Show.” And the demise of Hostess has unleashed a wave of baby boomer nostalgia for a seemingly more innocent time. Needless to say, it wasn’t really innocent. But the ’50s — the Twinkie Era — do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich. read more »
Key Dem: Immigration Bill Lacks Votes, thehill.com | June 25, 2010
leading proponent of comprehensive immigration reform admitted Thursday that “there are an insufficient number of Democratic votes” to pass a bill this year.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-Ill.) comments are significant because he has aggressively pushed President Barack Obama to pass immigration reform during this Congress.
Dems Could Win Tea Party Voters Over With America-First Trade Message, inthesetimes.com | June 25, 2010
Senate GOP Blocks Jobless Aid Extension, Los Angeles Times | June 25, 2010
Senate Republicans on Thursday once again blocked legislation to reinstate long-term unemployment benefits for people who have exhausted their aid, prolonging a stalemate that has left more than a million people without federal help. read more »
Republicans Thwart Bill With Unemployment Aid, Buyout Tax Boost, bloomberg.com | June 25, 2010
Senate Republicans yesterday killed a bill to extend unemployment benefits, provide aid to state governments and raise taxes on buyout fund managers, saying the measure would add too much to the federal deficit. read more »
Senate Democrats Pull Jobs Bill, Politico | June 25, 2010
Her emphasis on small business is not surprising as a senior Republican tax writer on that Senate panel. But the allusion to health care tells something of the history of the past year, too. read more »
Senate Again Rejects Expanded Spending Package, The Washington Post | June 25, 2010
Unemployment: Outlook Grim For Jobs Bill Ahead Of Vote , Huffington Post | June 24, 2010
Thousands in State Squeezed as Clock Runs Out on Jobless Aid, boston.com | June 23, 2010
Republican Leaders Walk Fine Line on Unemployment, thehill.com | June 22, 2010
Congressional Republican leaders are using the nation’s jobless rate as campaign ammunition while facing pressure from some in their ranks who want to stop extending unemployment benefits. read more »
Senate Grapples With Tax and Safety Net Legislation, thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com | June 21, 2010
The Senate will continue trying this week to break a partisan logjam over a major package of tax changes and safety-net spending, including added unemployment benefits.
The Senate’s inability to advance the bill is a sign that the partisan discord in this highly competitive mid-term election year is causing legislative paralysis.