Right to work laws give you the “right to work” for less money

Why are Michigan Democrats opposed to right to work laws being contemplated by Gov. Rick Synder? “Workers are currently not required to join a union — …they simply wanted to preserve the right of unions to collect fees from non-members to pay for wage and benefit negotiations that actually benefit them.”

Michigan prepares for mass protests today against right-to-work legislation: Union leaders in Michigan have been training members in “peaceful civil disobedience” methods in preparation for a protest on Tuesday against controversial right-to-work legislation. Supporters of the law, which among other measures would prohibit unions from collecting fees from non-union workers, are also expected to demonstrate at the state capitol in Lansing. The Republican-dominated Michigan Senate voted the right-to-work bill on Thursday by 22 votes to 16. Governor Rick Synder has said he will sign the bill into law and could do so on Tuesday.

Laura Clawson reports on Obama’s appearance in Detroit yesterday:

Speaking in Detroit Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama strongly criticized the push by Michigan Republicans to pass an anti-union law during the lame duck session. In a speech largely focused on his proposal to tax income over $250,000 and making the case that “our economic success has never come from the top down, it comes from the middle out and the bottom up,” Obama characterized the bill being rushed through the Michigan legislature as political and part of a race to the bottom:

And by the way, what we shouldn’t do. I’ve just got to say this, what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. These so-called right to work laws, they don’t have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.

You only have to look to Michigan, where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry, to see how unions have helped build not just a stronger middle class but a stronger America. [...]

We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top. America’s not going to compete based on low skill, low wage, no workers rights. That’s not our competitive advantage. There’s always going to be some other country that can treat its workers worse.

That appears to be just what Michigan Republicans do want, however. After hearing from his state’s congressional Democrats, Gov. Rick Snyder once again insisted that the bill “is all about creating more and better jobs in Michigan.” In fact, we know that freeloader laws lower wages by about $1,500 a year for the average worker—the “right to work for less money” that President Obama referred to. 

The Waltons have created lots of jobs — but are they jobs YOU’d want to try to support your family with? How many of us want an American economy based almost exclusively on minimum-wage, no benefits “Mcjobs” — or a future for our children where, if you’re not born into wealth, those kinds of jobs are the only aspiration?

Costco and Walmart: a good American employer vs. a shitty American employer

Costco charges charges low prices, makes a ton of money & still treats its employees well.

For Costco, treating workers well has led to increased motivation, higher quality service, greater productivity and lower turnover. After the first year of employment, turnover was less than 6 percent, one of the lowest rates in the industry. The combination of good wages and the knowledge that there were opportunities for advancement was an important incentive for employees to work hard and build a career with the firm. The high quality of service provided by motivated, engaged employees at Costco, combined with the low prices, meant that customers returned and were willing to pay the membership fees. Costco’s high-quality service also attracted a clientele that shopped not only for basic goods but also luxury items, which were still more profitable, even with the low markup. As a result, Costco had higher annual sales per square foot than its most direct competitor, Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club, ($795 versus $516), and higher annual profits per employee ($13,647 versus $11,039) even though Costco’s average wage was 42 percent higher. Over 16 years, Costco grew from 206 warehouses and $16 billion in sales to 554 warehouses and $69.9 billion in sales.

via: ericmortensen

The Walton’s wealth equals the bottom 40% of Americans: how the rich amass fortunes

According to Pat Garofalo at Think Progress, Walmart heirs have a combined wealth equal to the bottom 40% of Americans combined:

“Last year, Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, found that as of 2007, the Walton family — heirs to the Walmart fortune — had a net worth equal to that of the bottom 30 percent of Americans. And due to the effects of the Great Recession that ratio has gotten substantially worse. New Federal Reserve data analyzed by both Allegretto and Josn Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute shows that the Waltons now hold as much wealth as the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined.”

So? Didn’t they ‘earn’ their wealth — should we punish the Walton family for being this wildly successful? As Garofalo points out, the federal government (i.e. the Republican Party / tax laws) have helped to redistribute money towards the Walton fortune as much as anything:

“At the same time that the Waltons have amassed an ever larger fortune, Congress decided to cut the estate tax, a policy for which the Waltons have been pushingfor years. And now that the estate tax cut is in place, conservatives are doing everything they can to ensure it doesn’t go away, allowing the Waltons to amass even larger amounts of wealth.”

And as president, Mitt Romney would like to redistribute even more money to the Waltons by implementing further tax cuts for those in the elite one percent class (himself included).

Further, let’s not forget that the Walton family fortune has been built on the backs of their low-wage employees:

“[Walmart] employees on average take home pay of under $250 a week. The salary for full-time employees (called “associates”) is $6 to $7.50 an hour for 28-40 hours a week, which is typical in the discount retail industry. This pay scale places employees with families below the poverty line, with the majority of employees’ children qualifying for free lunch at school. When closely examined, this amounts to a form of corporate welfare, as the taxpayer subsidizes the low salaries. One-third are part-time employees – limited to less than 28 hours of work per week – and are not eligible for benefits.”

So every taxpayer, in any community where a Walmart is located, has helped to subsidize the Walton family’s employees — and by extension, the Walton family fortune.  Instead of expecting them to pay their workers a living wage and provide affordable benefits (remember labor unions?), taxpayers have helped the Waltons pocket a selfishly unequal amount of their profits. Profits, by the way, which are created by selling goods from other countries, like China:

“Despite a well-publicized “Made in the U.S.A.” campaign, 85 percent of the stores’ items are made overseas, often in Third World sweatshops. In fact, only after Wal-Mart’s “Buy American” ad campaign was in full swing did the company become the country’s largest importer of Chinese goods in any industry. By taking its orders abroad, Wal-Mart has forced many U.S. manufacturers out of business.”

The Walton family is a basic story of how many in the elite one percent acquire their fortunes (ingenuity and hard work or by cheating with a lot of help from others including all levels of government). It’s this kind of information, ultimately, that people like Mitt Romney would like to withhold from public scrutiny. One doesn’t willingly reveal how one’s fortune was made, where it came from, who was sacrificed, and how it’s being used now by turning over one’s tax returns to the rabble. That could turn out to be rather distasteful.

Mitt Romney’s “business experience” = a robber baron in the White House

Laura Clawson at DailyKos argues that Romney’s big rationale for his presidency, his business experience at Bain Capital, is based on bringing jobs BACK to America by making America more like China. American jobs that Bain Capital, and companies like Bain, outsourced to other countries for their own profit for the past three decades:  

If you pay attention to what Romney is saying past the quotable “My job is to bring jobs back to America” lines, he’s saying the jobs would come back because he’d make the U.S. into China. What he’s talking about when he promises to bring jobs back to America is weakening safety and environmental protections, lowering corporate taxes, keeping workers from organizing for better pay and working conditions. If Romney can accomplish all that, his time at Bain certainly does qualify him to exploit the giant new pool of low-wage, poorly protected workers that would result.

Union workers and everyone’s wages and benefits


image: christopherstreet

Read more about The Republican Strategy 

Unions make a difference for everyone

via: silas216

Higher union wages raise non-union wages as well. No wonder the GOP / corporate culture wants to be rid of organized labor.  The Economic Policy Institute says:

  • Strong unions set a pay standard that nonunion employers follow. For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized but whose industry is 25% unionized is paid 5% more than similar workers in less unionized industries.
  • The impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.
  • The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.

Continue reading…

Labor unions built the American middle-class lifestyle and their decline will be its death

Source: anticapitalist

Our country and its middle-class hasn’t been the same since the GOP demonized and busted up the unions. You know who has profited since unions were busted? The one-percent.

Take a look at two graphs and decide for yourself if the majority of us are better off without labor unions:

What’s actually happened with working and middle class wages along with the decline in unions? CEO pay has skyrocketed 300% since 1990, corporate profits have doubled. Average “production worker” pay has increased 4%. The minimum wage has dropped.

Since 1990, your pay and mine increased only 4% (if we’re lucky enough to have jobs), while the 1 percent have enjoyed a massive pay increase of 300%!  I suppose that’s justified if the 1 percent contributed and produced and worked 296% more than the rest of us — but my guess is that they didn’t. (via)

Study: Contractors paid far more than feds for comparable work

As reported by Federal Times:

Contractors are paid almost double what federal employees earn and more than double what the private sector pays its employees for similar services, according to a Project on Government Oversight report released Tuesday.

POGO’s report attempts to settle the debate on who costs less for the government — a federal employee or a contractor.

[...] To calculate pay and benefits for contractors, POGO looked at contractor billing rates listed on General Services Administration services contracts, which include benefits costs. To calculate pay and benefits for federal employees, POGO relied on Office of Personnel Management data. To calculate private-sector pay and benefits, POGO used Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

[...] POGO’s figures do not include costs of overhead, material and supplies, and facilities’ use and maintenance. POGO contends that because many of the contracted job categories they compared tend to work at federal offices, differences in overhead and facilities costs would be slight or nonexistent.

Summary of salary and benefits comparisons for contract, federal, and private-sector employees:

  • HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGERS: contracted — $228,488, federal employees — $111,711, and private-sector — $100,465.
  • INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT SERVICES: contracted — $198,411, federal employees — $124,663, and private-sector — $114,818.
  • ACQUISITION SUPPORT SERVICES: contractors — $259,106,  federal employees — $113,319, and private sector — $115,596.

As you can imagine, many contractors hired to replace federal employees have / had friends in very high places. Via the Wall Street Journal:

The White House is drafting new rules that would require companies making bids on government contracts to disclose their contributions to political candidates and organizations, including donations that otherwise would remain secret.

The White House casts the proposal as an effort to improve transparency and accountability, but Republicans charged that the rules would inject politics into what should be an unbiased procurement process.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that President Barack Obama “intends to pursue” the executive order, but said details have not yet been settled.

Mr. Carney told reporters that Mr. Obama “believes very strongly” that “taxpayers deserve to know” how contractors are spending taxpayer dollars. “His goal is transparency and accountability. That’s the responsible thing to do when you’re handling taxpayer dollars,” he said.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) called the rules “an effort to silence or intimidate political adversaries’ speech through the government contracting system.”

The draft executive order would require that companies seeking federal contracts disclose political contributions made in the prior two years to organizations that seek to influence elections through independent expenditures, which are allowed to remain anonymous under current law.

If Mitch McConnell doesn’t like the proposal, it must be a good idea.

Screw You: Me, Myself and I — The Life & Death of Ayn Rand

That should really be the title of Atlas Shrugged, Part II.

So now we know that Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand’s biggest fanboi and author of the “2012 Path to Poverty: Soylent Green for Everyone” budget plan, went to college on Social Security benefits he received after his father’s death. And that’s fine — for HIM. He just doesn’t want you or your children to be able to do the same.

No wonder Ryan worships at the shrine of Saint Ayn:  Rand constantly railed against government help as something that turned people into morally weak  parasites who fed off society.  WELL.  When the time came for Rand to sign up for Social Security and Medicare, she did so — but under the name Ann O’Connor. If she was willing be a morally weak parasite on the ‘dole’ of the United States government, apparently she wanted to keep it a secret. (Emphasis below is mine):

Michael Ford: [I]t was revealed in the recent “Oral History of Ayn Rand” by Scott McConnell (founder of the media department at the Ayn Rand Institute) that in the end Ayn was a vip-dipper as well. An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand’s law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand’s behalf she secured Rand’s Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O’Connor (husband Frank O’Connor).

As Pryor said, “Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out” without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn “despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently… She didn’t feel that an individual should take help.”

But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so. Apart from the strong implication that those who take the help are morally weak, it is also a philosophic point that such help dulls the will to work, to save and government assistance is said to dull the entrepreneurial spirit.

In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest.

And that last statement, in a nutshell, is what this movement, Objectivism, is all about. Remember that when you listen to Paul Ryan’s or Rand Paul’s “ideas.”

Ayn Rand quote:

I think it’s a monstrous thing — the whole progression of everything they’re doing — to feature, or answer, or favor the incompetent, the retarded, the handicapped, including, you know, the kneeling buses and all kinds of impossible expenses. I do not think that the retarded should be ~allowed~ to come ~near~ children. Children cannot deal, and should not have to deal, with the very tragic spectacle of a handicapped human being. When they grow up, they may give it some attention, if they’re interested, but it should never be presented to them in childhood, and certainly not as an example of something ~they~ have to live down to.

Ayn Rand, The Age of Mediocrity, Q & A Ford Hall Forum, April, 1981

It’s not a “government social program” if I receive benefits (and dislike Obama)

Matt Yglesias points out something stunning about people who have received benefits from government social programs, such as Social Security: many of them believe they’ve never received benefits from ‘government social programs.’ In fact, I’d be willing to guess that those same people would say the government ‘owes’ them, that it’s their money, since they paid into the system — or something along those lines. Never mind that many derive benefits far beyond what they ever paid in.

The tax credits and deductions that lead this list [below] are actually designed so as to obscure their government program nature. But it’s pretty amazing that 44.1 percent of Social Security beneficiaries seem to have convinced themselves that the single largest government social program—a program that consists of the government mailing checks to people—is not a government social program. And then there’s Medicare, the largest forward-looking source of budget deficits. This is all especially galling since in the Obama Era the over-65 demographic has become by far the most conservative group in America, even as it’s the group that gets the lion’s share of the benefits from big government.

Bob Cesca adds:

This fits into the broader analysis that Americans are in denial of their own instincts. They claim to be conservative, but they commonly have liberal views on an issue-by-issue basis. They want government to cut spending, but, again, program-by-program they support spending — and spending more.

So don’t believe any politician or pundit who makes sweeping generalizations about how Americans are “center right” and “anti-socialist.”

If GOP takes control of the House

If Republicans do take control of the House:

“That means that any chance of progress will be ended. You will go back to the economy that we saw where corporate [America] and Wall Street ran wild. You won’t get health and safety laws passed even though miners will continue to be killed…. You won’t see constructive legislation. You won’t see extensions of unemployment. You won’t see job creation…. And you will see the Social Security age [for retiring with full benefits] go up and the benefits go down.”

- Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President

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