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Jobs and Worker Rights

 

Source: TheNakedEmperor.com

 

Creating Jobs and Restarting the Economy

One in six people who would like a full-time job are unable to find one.  The unemployment rate of 9% greatly underestimates unemployment.  If the pre-1994 measures were used, e.g. including discouraged workers who want jobs, as well as part-time workers who want full time jobs the underemployment and unemployment rate would be 23%.  The measures listed below would effectively create jobs and restart the economy. Job loss means less tax revenue and more expenditure by the government. A critical ingredient to reducing the deficit is job creation.

-          One million jobs could be created annually by writing down all underwater mortgages to market value.  Correcting housing mortgages to the real value of homes would inject $71 billion per year into the economy and save families $6,500 per year on mortgage payments. This would also fix the housing crisis which is an anchor holding back any recovery, according to a new report by The New Bottom Line.  One in five mortgage holders owe more on their mortgage than their home is actually worth. Banks should not continue to be able to profit from housing bubble prices – a bubble they created with their poor and unethical lending practices. Adjusting mortgages to the real value of homes is a fair way to fix the housing market.

-          Failure to stop the foreclosure crisis will ensure a stalled economy.  It is an essential step to economic repair. This could be done without Congress as Fannie and Freddie together hold $1.5 trillion in housing loans or mortgage-backed securities which could be directed to fix the mortgages.  The Federal Reserve has just under a trillion and could unilaterally correct loans to reflect real value. And, the banks could be pressured. Last year, the nation’s top six banks paid out more than twice the cost of re-writing mortgages to make them fair ($71billion per year) in bonuses and compensation alone ($146 billion in 2010). The nation’s banks are sitting on a historically high level of cash reserves of $1.64 trillion.

-          A fundamental reason for job stagnation is relying on the private sector to create jobs and refusing to engage in direct government job creation in the public sector. According to Business Week, “Since the end of the recession, government employment--including federal, state, and local jobs--has fallen by roughly 600,000. State and local governments have particularly felt the pain, according to a report released this week by the Census Bureau, which shows that there were over 200,000 fewer state and local government jobs in 2010 than in 2009.” The most recent jobs report shows a continued downward trend in government jobs. State deficits and federal inaction ensure these job losses will continue.

-          In addition to our need to rebuild the nation’s physical infrastructure, there is an even more urgent need to rebuild its human infrastructure.  The drastic rise in inequality and joblessness has torn apart the social fabric, destroying countless individual lives, families, urban neighborhoods, and rural communities across our country. For more than a generation, the major “growth industry” in impoverished communities has been the illegal drug industry. Persistent, trans-generational poverty is directly responsible for the fact that the U.S. now leads the world in imprisoning its own people: 2.5 million, by the latest count, with more than 5 million more under some form of court supervision. (China, with its 2.5 billion people, runs a poor second.) Although most of the prison population is white, people of color are disproportionately represented, leading many analysts to declare that the mass incarceration of African-Americans and Latinos has created a new caste of unemployable "untouchables." Only a massive public works, community development, and job training program can end the destruction of American communities and stop the shameful criminalization of poverty.

-          As public sector jobs are created, the country must also strengthen the public sector in ways that will require new democratic reforms to put publicly owned or financed enterprises under popular control. A long-term goal should be to democratize the economy so the people of the United States share in wealth and ownership as well as influence over the economy. See below Democratizing the Economy, Shifting Economic Power, Wealth and Ownership to all in the United States. There is a desperate need for a mass public works program, not only to create jobs, but also to meet the urgent needs of the country.

-          The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that failure to fix the nation’s infrastructure has created serious damage so extensive that $2.2 trillion will be required by 2014 just to meet current demands. The ASCE gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of “D.” Its report cited cracking levees, a quarter of the nation’s existing bridges sagging, leaking pipes losing billions of gallons of drinking water per day, aging sewers releasing human waste into rivers and lakes, horrendous traffic congestion and air and water pollution. This is not “make work” but urgently needed work. A public works program modeled after the depression era Works Progress Administration would create 15 million jobs and build the infrastructure needed to create a sustainable economy.

-          Spending on the military is a drag on the economy, not just because it makes up 55% of federal discretionary spending, but because more jobs would be created by spending on education, infrastructure, green energy, or even on tax cuts for non-billionaires.  Converting a fraction of current military spending to other industries and tax cuts could produce 29 million new jobs, one for every unemployed or underemployed person in the United States, even after finding new employment for everyone displaced during the conversion.

-          Putting in place improved Medicare for all would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy not only by controlling the cost of health care and reducing deficits but by creating 2.6 million new jobs, and infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues, with another $100 billion in wages into the U.S. economy.

-          Erasing student loan debt would have an immediate stimulating effect on the economy. As Mychal Smith writes: “[C]onsider the potential impact on the economy if all of a sudden 35 million people were able to add to their monthly budget anywhere between $400 and $1000 that they no longer needed to satisfy exorbitant student loan repayments. . . . Debt free degree holders would allow for more risk taking and innovation.” As Robert Applebaum, an advocate of forgiving student loans writes: “the ‘educated poor’ are not buying homes, not starting businesses or families, not inventing, investing or innovating and otherwise engaging in economically productive activities.”  And, as Cryn Johannsen of All Education Matters points out, this would be a long term stimulus because college debts are multi-decade in length. Johannsen describes a “crisis that is affecting millions of educated Americans. We are indebted for life. Most of us will never be able to pay off our loans for college.” Education is a critical building block for the economy and going forward the United States must develop a system of higher education that does not require students to go into debt just to receive an education. Rather than a loan-based system the U.S. needs a system based on grants, scholarships and public funding.

These recommendations would create millions of jobs and get the economy moving again.  As the economy develops and expands, programs need to be put in place so that new wealth is shared more fairly; workers have greater control over their work through employee ownership and protections for collective bargaining; and so some of the profits created by public investment (i.e. by tax dollars) are shared among all U.S. taxpayers.  See below Democratizing the Economy, Shifting Economic Power, Wealth and Ownership to all U.S. Citizens.

Source: 99% Deficit Report: How to Create Jobs, Reduce the Wealth Divide and Control Federal Spending, October2011/Occupy Washington, DC.

 

Is the Real Unemployment Rate Closer to 49%

By Gregory Patin
 
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were approximately 163,000 private industry jobs created in the U.S. in July, and the unemployment rate is 8.3 percent. Those figures, however, do not accurately depict the reality of the unemployment rate in the U.S. today.
 
The government’s most widely publicized unemployment rate takes into account only those who are collecting unemployment benefits and actively looking for work. It does not take into account those whose unemployment benefits have run out, those who have given up seeking work, or those who are underemployed – desiring full time work but forced to work part time.
 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases two separate reports, the highly publicized U-3 unemployment rate and a lesser known rate called the U-6. There are, in fact, six different scales of unemployment that are numbered U-1 through U-6. The U-6 rate, however, is the most “liberal,” yet accurate gauge of the real unemployment rate in the U.S. because it takes into account not only those receiving unemployment benefits, but also those who are not receiving benefits as well as the underemployed. And the U-6 rate is truly staggering.
 
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, the official U-6 unemployment rate for the state of Wisconsin is 13.3 percent. Nevada’s U-6 rate is 22.1 percent, up from just 7.6 percent in 2007. Economically troubled California has a 20.3 percent real rate, while Rhode Island is at 18.3 percent, more than double its 8.3 percent rate in 2007. Only three states, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota have a U-6 rate that is under 10 percent. Even the U-6 rate, however, does not accurately measure the true amount of eligible workers who are out of work.
 
There is also a factor in the calculations known as “seasonal adjustments.” According to Ezra Klein, writing for the Washington Post, as well as Jacob Goldstein writing for Planet Money, if seasonal adjustments are not factored into the equation, the U.S. lost 1.2 million jobs in July rather than gaining 163,000. Klein explains:
 
“The discrepancy…has to do with what’s known as ‘seasonal adjustments.’ The U.S. economy follows certain predictable patterns in hiring and layoffs every year. School districts always let workers go for the summer and hire in the fall. Retailers always staff up for the Christmas holidays and lay people off afterwards. Students always flood the labor market in June. And this is exactly what BLS does in its monthly jobs reports…. According to the bureau, the economy still had 163,000 more jobs than one would’ve expected, given seasonal trends. So BLS reported it as a 163,000 gain in jobs.”
 
So, what is the truth? An article published by CNN entitled “The 86 million invisible unemployed” may shed some light – along with some simple math, which can also be found at whatreallyhappened.com.
 
The U.S. government officially admits that 8.3 percent of the labor force is “visibly” unemployed. The total US population is approximately 330 million. 24 percent of those, however, are young people not eligible to work and 13 percent are retired. So the total population of available workers in the United States is 100% – (24% + 13%) = 63% of 330 million people, or 208 million workers. Out of the pool of available workers, therefore, 8.3 percent accounts for about 17.3 million people. Together with the 86 million “invisible” that means 103.3 million Americans are available to work but do not have a full time job. And with 103.3 million workers not working or underemployed, the true jobless rate in the U.S. right now is closer to 49 percent, not the 8.3 percent the U.S. government and media is propagandizing about.
 
That calculation is consistent with a recent survey of income and program participation conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that shows that well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government. And that figure does not even include social security and medicare. (See slideshow).
 
The implications for the U.S. economy should be obvious. Government benefits for the unemployed merely provide enough for families to get by and cover basic living expenses, they leave no room for the type of discretionary spending that keeps businesses thriving in America. The amount of citizens out of work, not contributing revenue and receiving benefits, combined with billions in defense and war spending, bank bailouts, tax breaks for huge corporations that outsource jobs, etc., is simply unsustainable.
 
 
More on questions about government economic numbers, see Shadow Stats
 

Minimum Wage: Catching up with 1968

By Ralph Nader
Nader Page and Its Our Ecnomy, February 29, 2011
 
How inert can the Democratic Party be? Do they really want to defeat the Congressional Republicans in the fall by doing the right thing?
 
A winning issue is to raise the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 since 2007. If it was adjusted for inflation since 1968, not to mention other erosions of wage levels, the federal minimum would be around $10.
 
Here are some arguments for raising the minimum wage this year to catch up with 1968 when worker productivity was half of what it is today.
 
1. Pure fairness for millions of hard-pressed American workers and their families. Over 70 percent of Americans in national polls support a minimum wage that keeps up with inflation.
 
2. Already eighteen states have enacted higher minimum wages led by Washington state to $9.04 an hour. With the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the New York State legislature is considering a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage. The legislature should pass the long-blocked farm workers wage bill at the same time.
 
3. Since at least 1968, businesses and their executives have been raising prices and their salaries (note: Walmart’s CEO making over $11,000 an hour!) while they have been getting a profitable windfall from their struggling workers, whose federal minimum is $2.75 lower in purchasing power than it was 44 years ago.
 
4. The tens of billions of dollars that a $10 minimum will provide to consumers’ buying power will create more sales and more jobs. Aren’t economists all saying the most important way out of the recession and the investment stall is to increase consumer spending?
 
5. Most independent studies collected by the Economic Policy Institute show no decrease in employment following a minimum wage increase. Most studies show job numbers overall go up. The landmark study rebutting claims of lost jobs was conducted by Professors David Card and Alan Krueger in 1994. Professor Krueger is now chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.
 
6. Many organizations with millions of members are on the record favoring an inflation-adjusted increase in the federal minimum wage. They include the AFL-CIO and member unions, the NAACP and La Raza, and hundreds of non-profit social service and religious organizations. They need to move from being on the record to being on the ramparts.
 
7. With many Republicans supporting a higher minimum wage and with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum on their side, a push in Congress will split the iron unity of the Republicans under Senator Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner and gain some Republican lawmakers for passage. This issue may also encourage some Republican voters to vote for Democrats this fall. A Republican worker in McDonalds or Walmart or a cleaning company still wants a living wage.
 
8. President Barack Obama declared in 2008 that he wanted a $9.50 federal minimum by year 2011. If lip-service is the first step toward action, he is on board too. There is no better time to enact a higher minimum wage than during an election year. Against millions of dollars in opposition ads in Florida in 2004, over 70 percent of the voters in a statewide referendum went for a minimum wage promoted by a penniless coalition of citizen groups.
 
9. The Occupy movement can supply the continuing civic jolts around the local offices of 535 members of Congress, a slim majority of whom are not opposed to raising the minimum wage but who need that high profile pressure back home. Winning this issue will give the Occupy activists many new recruits, and much more power for getting something done in an otherwise do-nothing or obstructionist corporate indentured Congress. About 80 percent of the workers affected by a minimum wage increase are over 20 years of age.
 
Remember there is no need to offset a higher minimum wage with lower taxes on small business a higher minimum wage. Since Obama took office there have already been 17 tax cuts for small business and no increase in the federal minimum wage.
 
At the University of Virginia, twelve students have begun a hunger strike to protest the low wages and other injustices inflicted on contract service-sector employees. Students at other universities are likely to follow with their Living Wage Campaigns in this American Spring. They are fed up with millions of dollars for such top administrators’ salaries or amenities as fancy practice facilities for athletes, while the blue collar workers can’t pay for the necessities of life.
 
Raising the federal wage to 1968 levels, inflation adjusted, is a winning issue. It just needs a few million Americans to rouse themselves for a few months as they do for their favorite sports team and connect with all those large concurring organizations and their powerful legislators, like Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a big supporter, to start the rumble that will make it a reality.
 
If you are interested in more information on the efforts to raise the minimum wage, send an email to info@nader.org.
 
 

Agenda for a Democratized Economy: Workers Rights

Democratize the workplace by encouraging employee-owned businesses.  It is time to replace wage-slaves with employee owners.  Employee-owned businesses perform better not only in providing wages and benefits to employees, but larger profits and less bankruptcy.  Several studies show the greater the level of employee participation the greater the level of productivity. Democratization of the workplace – giving employees more power as employee-owners is the future – a future that is better for employees and corporations. Restore union rights, repeal Taft-Hartley, protect the collective bargaining rights of private and public workers.
 
Reduce the work week with no reduction in pay. Before the economic collapse, 7% of the U.S. GDP was based on consumer buying.  Since the early 1970s wages have been flat in the U.S. and the consumer economy has continued because of two-income families, increasing personal debt and cheap goods from abroad.  This is unsustainable.  In a time when millions are losing jobs, millions more are underemployed and tens of millions more are working overtime and two jobs just to make ends meet, we can’t afford to be putting people out of work. A reduction in the work week with no reduction in pay would spread the work around, keep people working and equally important, allow ‘the overworked American’ some additional, much needed leisure time. After 2000, the United States overcame Japan as the country with the most overworked employees. That’s not an accomplishment to be proud of, but rather, a problem to be solved. A root cause of the downturn in the U.S. economy is insufficient buying power – the economy has doubled in size, productivity has dramatically increased but workers have had no increase in buying power.  One remedy for this is the 32 hour work week and increase in overtime pay to double-time.
 
Establish a national guaranteed income for all Americans based on the model proposed by Richard Nixon in 1969. Governments are already paying a heavy cost for poverty and homelessness, much of that would disappear with an income guarantee. Indeed, currently nearly as much is spent on poverty bureaucracy as on poverty, by simply sending a check that bureaucracy is no longer needed. The guaranteed income is paid by government to its citizens on an individual basis, sufficient to meet basic needs.  Poverty has been rising in the United States since 1999.  The national poverty rate has climbed to record highs in recent years. More than 46 million people (14.3%) were in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million (13.2%) in 2008, according to data from the U.S. census; roughly 40% of Americans fall below the poverty line at some point within a 10-year time span. The United States has one of the highest poverty rates in the developed world. Moreover, the standard of living for those in the bottom 10% was lower in the U.S. than other developed nations except the United Kingdom, which has the lowest standard of living for impoverished children in the developed world.  Economist Milton Friedman proposed a variation of guaranteed income known as the “negative income tax.” In this model, income subsidies would be given through the tax system to persons or families with employment or other income below the poverty line. Guaranteed income is meant to cover basic needs, not life’s luxuries.
 
 
 
 

Protecting and Improving Social Security

Saving Social Security is not a traditional left-right battle. Polls consistently show that people across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support Social Security and do not want to see it cut. Even the vast majority of Tea Party Republicans support these programs. Cutting Social Security is a Wall Street agenda of the 1% that opposes the interests of the rest of us. As Dean Baker writes “There is a bipartisan consensus among the elites that these programs should be cut. The guiding philosophy of this drive is that public money that goes to programs for middle income and poor people is money that could be in the pockets of the wealthy.”
 
Social Security does not contribute to the deficit.  Social Security is financed by a designated Social Security tax and there is more than $2.5 trillion in the Social Security trust fund.  The efforts to cut Social Security to fix the deficit are a fraud designed to enrich Wall Street financiers by forcing people into the private retirement market.
 
The temporary payroll tax cut will create some jobs, but not enough to get the economy moving and is not the most effective tax cut stimulus. Further, it unnecessarily puts Social Security in jeopardy by reducing taxes designated for Social Security. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cut will reduce federal revenues by $112 billion over the next two years. The government will have to borrow to fill that hole in the Social Security trust fund, giving opponents of Social Security another argument against the program.
 
Social Security faces no immediate threat of insolvency. The Congressional Budget Office just released new projections showing that the Social Security trust fund is fully solvent through the year 2038. Even after that date, the program would have enough money to pay 81% of scheduled benefits for the rest of the century. Below are recommendations that would strengthen social security.
 
- The funding of Social Security is easy to fix. Currently, the tax on wages subject to the tax is capped at $107,000. The upward redistribution of income over the last three decades has caused a large share of wage income to escape taxation. If all wage income were subject to the tax, then it would leave Social Security fully solvent for its 75-year planning period.
 
- The Social Security tax has not kept up with the wealth divide. In 1983, the Social Security tax ceiling was set so the tax would hit 90% of all wages covered by Social Security. That 90% figure was built into the 1983 Greenspan Commission’s fix of Social Security. Requiring the ceiling to rise with inflation was expected to result in the Social Security tax continuing to hit 90% of total income. But, in 1983 no one predicted the extreme wealth divide that exists today. The richest 1% of Americans got 11.6% of total income in 1983. Today the top 1% takes in more than 20% of total income and as a result the Social Security payroll tax hits only about 83% of their total income. The tax should go back to covering 90% of income. That would mean the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax would need to be raised to $180,000.
 
- Social Security should be strengthened in ways that increase the retirement security of people in middle-and working-class. Particular attention should be paid to improving the living standards in retirement of workers in poorly compensated jobs, who typically have little or no retirement savings outside of Social Security.  The average Social Security benefit of $14,000 is only about 30% above the poverty line. Indeed, 21% of Social Security beneficiaries receive Social Security benefits that fall below the poverty line. In 2011, the Commission to Modernize Social Security proposed increasing benefits for all retirees by a uniform amount equal to 5% of the average benefit, about a $700 annual increase for beneficiaries today; that workers who have worked at least 30 years should receive benefits equal to 125% of the poverty threshold when they retire at the full retirement; providing at least five years of dependent care credits through Social Security as women (and some men) spend part of their working years caring for children and elderly parents; reinstating the post-secondary student benefit that existed until 1983 and allowed students who were receiving Social Security due to a parent’s death, disability, or retirement to continue until they were 22 years old if they were in college; and increasing the survivor’s benefit for widowed spouses to ensure that they receive at least 75% of the benefit amount they received when their spouse was still alive.
 
 
 

Defend and Expand Labor’s Rights!

The corporate class is using the financial crisis orchestrated by them to launch unprecedented attacks on the job security, living standards, working conditions and essential public services once enjoyed by the working class not only in the United States but in countries across the globe. This cold-blooded offensive threatens the very existence of our unions and shreds the safety net of all working people.
 
Among the many examples of this offensive:
 
- Congress voted to cut the number of weeks for unemployment insurance in order to pay for suspending the payroll tax deduction, resulting in the termination of compensation for 236,000 long-term jobless workers;
 
- They joined about 134,000 who had exhausted their benefits in April and about 40,000 whose checks ended in January or February;
 
- Congress also voted to cut $15 billion from pension benefits for federal workers in order to pay for suspending the payroll tax deduction;
 
- Attacks on postal workers’ jobs and postal services continue, with plans in place to fire 28,000 workers and close 229 processing centers;
 
- Congress refuses to act decisively and legislate a moratorium to protect home owners from foreclosures;
 
- With the president leading the way, Congress approved the so-called free trade agreements involving Colombia, Panama and South Korea, which degrade workers’ rights in all countries involved, with Colombia being the number one country in the world where union organizers are routinely assassinated or “disappeared”;
 
- Congress voted to perpetuate spending to the tune of ten billion dollars a month for the war against Afghanistan, and President Obama signed an agreement with Afghan President Karzai extending U.S. intervention in that country for 10 years after 2014. Meanwhile the U.S.‘  astronomical military budget continues to devour funds needed for jobs, infrastructure, safety net programs, and other human needs;
 
- Congress voted for a measure that will become effective January 1, 2013 (unless changed before then) that cuts $600 billion in domestic programs, which the National Education Association denounced as being a devastating blow to vitally needed educational programs;
 
- Racist violence and profiling of African Americans, Latinos and other communities of color is rising across the country;
 
- Voter suppression is becoming more and more widespread, with an estimated five million people projected to lose franchise rights in 2012;
 
- Increasing ICE raids, deportations and other assaults on immigrant workers continue at record rates;
 
- The drive escalates to ratchet up the perennial campaign to increase the number of states with “right to work” laws, the latest being Indiana;
 
- Public statements by leading Democratic and Republican members of Congress, as well as by the president, reflect agreement by them on the need for significant cuts in “entitlements,” which include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety net programs;
 
- Rejection of the labor-backed single-payer health care system – without even a public option being included! – was enacted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010, which allows the big health care for-profit insurance companies to remain as the centerpiece of the system;
 
- Congress also failed to enact a top labor priority: the Employee Free Choice Act (card check bill). Although the EFCA passed the House of Representatives in 2007, it died in the Senate when the necessary 60 votes could not be marshaled to close debate and prevent a Republican filibuster. Although the Republicans had only 41 members in the Senate at the time, several key Democratic senators also opposed the bill;
 
- Labor movement unity in action — public and private sector, the two federations and the independent unions — is indispensable for success in stopping and reversing these attacks. We envision a strategy that includes both actions in the workplace and in the streets. 
 
We must go to the streets to defend trade union and democratic rights. The right to collective bargaining is a right enshrined in universally recognized Conventions 87 and 98 of the UN-based International Labor Organization (ILO); it is also a human right codified in the UN Charter. In fact, the United States is on trial before world public opinion for violating basic labor rights at home. The ILO ruled recently that the state of North Carolina was out of compliance with international labor standards for denying collective-bargaining rights for public sector workers, and the ILO called on North Carolina and the U.S. government to repeal this ban on collective-bargaining rights.
 
We must also go to the streets to oppose the concessions demanded by the bosses and the government. There is plenty of money available without demanding givebacks from public or private sector employees, but this requires changing our nation’s priorities to raise taxes on the rich, create tens of millions of good paying jobs primarily by means of a massive federal jobs program, prevent outsourcing of jobs, guarantee pensions and provide retirement security, replace our for-profit health care system with single-payer, redirect war dollars to meet human needs, and more — all demands that we must place on the federal and state governments. We can no longer effectively deal with such crucial issues as health care and retirement through collective bargaining alone.
 
The U.S. does not have a deficit problem, it has a revenue problem, and progressive taxation of the wealthy — a hallmark of the U.S.’s highest periods of growth — is our response to the false cry of austerity. We defend the social insurance model — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc. — and demand that these programs be strengthened and improved. And it is high time we follow the example set by our Canadian sisters and brothers, who decades ago won Medicare for all.
 
Contract negotiations cannot create the 27 million full-time jobs urgently needed today. Since the private sector has failed to do this (in fact, the corporations continue to off-shore good paying full-time jobs in their continued drive to lower labor costs), we need a public sector that can put America back to work rebuilding our neglected and crumbling infrastructure, revitalizing mass transit, and promoting a sustainable economy. The public sector and public services provide the basic core safety net for human rights.
 
In fighting for such independent solutions to our country’s crises we would return to what once was the bedrock of trade unionism — our unions championing the needs of the entire working class, including the unemployed, not just our dues-paying members. That approach was what enabled the historic labor victories during the depths of the Great Depression. This is not only the right thing to do; with union density at near record lows we cannot win the big struggles just on our own.
 
To cement working class unity we must reject every attempt to divide us by race, color, gender, immigration status, religion, or sexual orientation. This means not only politically correct resolutions but active support to all targets of such pernicious discrimination.
 
A unified, energized working class could reach out for even wider alliances. There are millions of students, mom-and-pop businesses, family farmers, and others who are being squeezed by the corporate class.
 
Our goals cannot be met while American blood and vast amounts of our tax dollars are being consumed by unjust wars and occupations to advance the global corporate agenda. We say end the wars, stop intervening in the internal affairs of other countries, terminate the drone attacks which are killing an increasing number of civilians, bring all the troops home now — and put the war budget to work to meet human needs.
 
Instead of supporting expansionist wars, the labor movement should embrace international worker solidarity. The mutual declarations of support between protesters in Madison, Wisconsin and insurgent independent unions in Egypt are a proud example that deserves wide emulation.
 
Since the major attacks we face today have bipartisan support, labor must act independently of the Democratic and Republican Parties. To the extent that the labor movement subordinates its demands to agreements with these parties in the name of "shared sacrifice," it will not be able to defend effectively the interests of its members and of the working-class majority.
 
The call to protect the right to collective bargaining must include the demand to repeal all laws that prevent workers from having the right to bargain collectively and arrive at enforceable contracts. Laws, such as the Taft-Hartley Act, that prevent the consolidation of strong unions in the South and every other region of the country, must be repealed.
 
We must view organizing the South as fundamental to rebuilding a strong national labor movement in this country and we urge adoption by labor organizations of the following resolution:
 
Defend and Expand the Right to Collective Bargaining, the Union Shop, and Human Rights Under International Law
 
Whereas, more than 6.9 million federal, state, and local government workers have no legally protected collective bargaining rights and 24 of the 50 states in the US have no legal framework for collective bargaining; and
 
Whereas, 2 of the 25 states without legal frameworks for collective bargaining—North Carolina and Virginia—have unjust laws banning public sector workers from securing a legally enforceable contract on the job with their employers; and
 
Whereas, the right of public sector unions in protected states to bargain collectively for a legally enforceable collective bargaining agreement has been viciously and unjustly attacked; and
 
Whereas, the low wages and lack of protected benefits among public sector workers in the Southeast, many western states, and now a mid-western state like Indiana, who have no collective bargaining rights are being whipsawed against public sector workers who have collective bargaining, as a means to bring down wages, benefits, and trade union strength for all workers; and
 
Whereas, the Taft-Hartley Act was historically enacted in 1947, and adopted state by state through the Southeast and many western states, to prevent the growth and consolidation of a strong and unified national trade union movement in the U.S. by banning the closed shop and authorizing states to outlaw union shops, even after a majority of workers have voted for union organization and representation; and
 
Whereas, the historic issues of discrimination by race, gender, and other means in wages, working conditions, and society as a whole are sustained by a weakened national trade union movement and the lack of collective bargaining rights; and
 
Whereas, the economic crisis and recession was created by the greed and malfeasance of Wall Street and the unjust and unnecessary wars abroad; and
 
Whereas, the right to form, join, and organize a strong trade union movement and to bargain collectively with our employers in the public and private sector is recognized and protected as a fundamental human right under international law; and
 
Whereas, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has investigated and found the state of North Carolina in violation of international law for its ban on collective bargaining and has issued a decision in this regard; now therefore be it:
 
Resolved, that  ___________________________ calls on its officers, members, stewards, committees and all others to actively support the fight to protect and defend our collective bargaining rights wherever they are under attack and link that fight directly with the fight to expand collective bargaining rights into the Southern and Western states; and be it further
 
Resolved, that we will actively call upon our national union affiliates and elected officials as well as community groups, churches, and other organizations, working together, to publicly condemn the state of North Carolina at the local, national, and international levels for its violation of international law; and be it further
 
Resolved, that we will actively support the fight to repeal all laws banning collective bargaining in the states of North Carolina and Virginia; and be it further
 
Resolved, that we will actively support and provide financial and any other possible resources we have toward the building of a Southern Alliance for Collective Bargaining in the southeastern states; and be it further
 
Resolved, that we will actively call for, build, and support the fight for repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act and pending this happening, repeal of the prohibition of union shops in each adopted state; and be it finally
 
Resolved, that we will actively and publicly condemn the greed and corruption on Wall Street and the unjust and unnecessary wars abroad and call on all local and state governments faced with budget shortfalls to demand and enforce fair and higher tax rates for the rich and corporate class and to end the wars abroad and use those dollars to expand and strengthen the public sector and provide for human needs.
 
 

 

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