LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House approved the first of two right-to-work bills Tuesday that would weaken union power in the historical labor stronghold as hundreds of protesters rallied at the Capitol. The Republican-dominated chamber passed a measure dealing with public-sector workers 58-51 as protesters shouted “shame on you” from the gallery and huge crowds of union backers massed in the state Capitol halls and on the grounds. (Washington Post)
Lansing, Michigan: Thousands of union workers and community members flood the front lawn of the state Capitol to protest union-busting legislation, December 11, 2012. (via)
“Well, they weren’t jobs, they were ‘job-ettes,’ right? No health care, no benefits, low pay. You can go to a waitress anywhere from Texarkana all the way to El Paso and say to a waitress, ‘Did you know Rick Perry’s created 1 million jobs? And she’d say, ‘Yeah, I’ve got three of them.”
— Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s ‘1 million jobs’ claim. (Source: kileyrae)
Mitt Romney in his RNC speech: “You deserved it because you worked harder than ever before during these years. You deserved it because, when it cost more to fill up your car, you cut out moving lights, and put in longer hours. Or when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour, benefits, you took two jobs at $9 an hour…”
Matt Taibbi: Are you kidding? Mitt Romney was the guy that fired you from that $22.50 an hour job, and helped you replace it with two $9 an hour jobs!
He was a pioneer in the area of eliminating the well-paying job with benefits and replacing it with the McJob that offered no benefits at all. One of the things that killed him in the Senate race against Ted Kennedy were Kennedy ads that reminded voters that Mitt’s takeovers resulted in slashed wages and lost benefits. He was exactly the guy that eliminated that classic $22.50 manufacturing job, like in the case of GST Steel, where Bain took over with an initial investment of $8 million, paid itself a $36 million dividend, ended up walking away with $50 million, and left GST saddled with over $500 million in debt. 750 of those well-paying jobs were lost.
What kinds of jobs were left for those fired workers to look for? Well, in the best-case scenario, you might have found one at Ampad, another Bain takeover target, where workers had their pay slashed from $10.22 to $7.88 an hour, tripled co-pays, and eliminated the retirement plan.
So a guy who eliminated hundreds of $22 an hour jobs and slashed hundreds more jobs to below $9 an hour blasts Barack Obama for not giving you the better life you deserved, after you lost your $22/hour job and had to take two $9/hour jobs. Are we all high or something? Did that really just happen?
Henry Blodget at Business Insider reports that corporate profits are at an all time high, while wages are now at an all time low:
1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from “too much regulation” and “too many taxes.” Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren’t)
2) Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades. One reason corporations are so profitable is that they don’t employ as many Americans as they used to.
3) Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. This is both cause and effect. One reason companies are so profitable is that they’re paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those “wages” are other companies’ revenue.
Blodget bottomlines it for us in a series of related charts: “Companies need to start sharing more of their revenue with their employees. Wages as a percent of the economy simply have to go up. Yes, this means corporate profit margins will drop. But they can drop a long, long way and still be “above average.” And this is our country we’re talking about. If corporations really are people, it’s time for them to start acting like people–and sharing their wealth.”
Not to mention all the unions that have been busted up by Republicans for the past 30-40 years. What Blodget says makes sense, of course, yet Tea Street, USA has been conditioned to think sharing downward isn’t fair, it’s Socialism (or one of those -isms), and Rush Limbaugh and Jesus wouldn’t approve. Psychologically it has something to do with supposedly “punishing” the successful (the wealthy will say) plus gay marriage and race wars… it’s all way too murky and complex to get into here.
It is safe to say that the only “sharing” that the GOP and the one percent are interested in is bottom-up sharing: legislating more tax cuts to profitable corporations and the wealthiest citizens and paying for those tax cuts (and decreased government revenue) with austerity — by cutting programs and services that the rest of us use. Just look at the Ryan plan or the Romney budget.
You really don’t think that the Koch Brothers, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson and all the other rich guys who were in Park City, Utah with Mitt last weekend are donating hundreds of millions of dollars to Romney Super PACs, just so they can turn around and ‘share’ profits with their workers, do you? Their political donations are a business investment which they hope to recoup, with interest. They want even more, not less.
questionall: Tom Toles on Mitt Romney
Scott Walker survived the recall election because, apparently, Wisconsin is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers. $30 million in campaign funds will usually always beat $3.9 million. Everyone knows that.
Josh Marshall wonders how Walker managed to cease to be as unpopular as he was a year ago — what exactly happened with the anti-Walker forces and what the defeat ultimately means for them and for everyone beyond Wisconsin:
This is also a big loss for public employees unions. There’s no getting around that fact. Just why that happened is another matter. But at the end of the day, victory is all that matters. Walker went big to destroy the public-sector unions in his state. And the labor movement went all out to take him down and lost. Wisconsin’s a pretty progressive, fairly blue-ish state. This result in this state has to embolden Republican governors across the country to think you can go for game-changing attacks on key Democratic constituencies like labor and not pay a price at the polls. Public employees unions across the country have feel like they have crosshairs on their backs. And they do.
If you think union-busting, and the effort to recall Walker for doing that, doesn’t eventually affect all of us in the long run, then you haven’t been paying attention. Harold Meyerson explains,
Added to the prohibition on their ability to bargain over wages and conditions of work, what the dramatic drop in union membership means is that workers’ power to win a decent life either at the workplace or at the ballot box will be weakened. Union treasuries will grow smaller, as will the level of resources they can devote to election campaigns. That means not just less money to campaign for union-specific issues, but for the whole panoply of causes (and the candidates who back them) that unions routinely support—women’s and minority rights, affordable higher education, financial regulation, the works. [...] Of course, as historian Fred Siegel, a leading opponent of public-sector unions, remarked to me many years ago (when he was still on the left), before unions, the common form of protest for workers seeking a better life was rioting. That may eventually prove to be the common form of protest after unions, too.
The reality about unions and standard wages nationally is this:
[T]he middle class’s share of national income has steadily declined as the percentage of the population in labor unions has fallen. At the same time, the top 1 percent’s share of national income has exploded… Strong unions have traditionally been the free-market solution to income inequality, allowing people to get higher salaries without government intervention. Unionization has allowed middle class and working-class Americans to have the ability to bargain for stronger wages and benefits and a larger share of national income. Highly-unionized countries tend to have far less income inequality.
As John Cole says, “Here’s to Wisconsin getting what they voted for and getting it hard.”
WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY—————————–—
Romney on homeless veterans: “Let them milk cows.” — By all accounts Mitt Romney’s 1994 trip to the nation’s largest homeless shelter was accurately described by the Boston Globe as “not one of the brighter moments of his campaign for US senator.” Romney was visiting the homeless shelter, located in Boston, by invitation of the shelter’s executive director Ken Smith. [...] Smith explained that the State of Massachusetts allocated $2.37 per day twice a day for each homeless veteran’s meal. Since the amount was so meager, the shelter had trouble providing each veteran with a carton of milk at each meal. Romney responded, “Well Ken, maybe you can teach the vets to milk cows.” Romney then walked out the door. – Mitt Romney’s Milk Gaffe | Support the troops!
Maher on the “WIFER movement” and Romney as a response to BIRTHERS and Obama: “Again, I’m not a wifer. I’m just saying he has the blood of a nomadic, polygamist tribesman and I think that has shaped his worldview.” “Why did Mitt Romney strap his dog to the roof of his car,” Maher said. “Could it be because his station wagon was full of wives?” Watch:
It’s Official: Romney Will Proudly Stand With America’s Best-Known Birther – At this point, I’m not really surprised by this news. More like a sort of weary disgust. A GOP presidential candidate openly courting a crazed conspiracy theorist who claims the first black President of the United States was actually born in Kenya. Good grief. And please note: Donald Trump is citing one of Breitbart.com’s utterly moronic BOMBSHELL EXCLUSIVES as evidence Obama was born in Kenya — the BOMBSHELL EXCLUSIVE that contained a disclaimer saying it was DEFINITELY NOT evidence Obama was born in Kenya. – Charles Johnson | LGF
Top CEO pay equals 3,489 years for typical worker – David Simon of Simon Property received a pay package worth more than $137 million for last year, and the typical CEO took home $9.6 million, according to an analysis by The Associated Press… HOW LONG IT TAKES OTHERS TO MAKE THAT MUCH: A minimum wage worker – paid $7.25 per hour, as some workers at Simon malls are – would have to work one month shy of 9,096 years to make what Simon made last year. A person making the national median salary, $39,312 by AP calculations, would have to work 3,489 years… – AP News | Note: and as we’ve learned from stories about Bain Capital, the plutocrats idea of job “creation” is laying off long-time workers and hiring some of them back at minimum wage. Vote GOP!
Union-busting, plutocrat style (because union jobs pay better than minimum wage) – An anti-union construction trade group is targeting three vulnerable House Republican freshmen with a barrage of negative advertising over a series of labor-friendly votes. Reps. Jon Runyan (N.J.), Joe Walsh (Ill.) and Robert Dold (Ill.) already face tough re-election battles that could be complicated by a spate of online ads from the Associated Builders and Contractors accusing them of breaking campaign promises. The trade association, which helped fuel the Republican takeover of the House in 2010 with more than $1.1 million in campaign contributions, is trying to counter an executive order issued by President Barack Obama it contends gives unionized contractors an unfair advantage in bidding wars for federal projects. – Roll Call
David Stockman: Mitt Romney learned nothing about creating jobs from Bain Capital — Former Reagan Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman stepped all over Romney’s claims that his experience in the leveraged buyout business taught him anything at all about “job creation.” [...] STOCKMAN: Well, I don’t know. I think the current federal model is a disaster. We know where we are on the debt. We’re going to have a debt ceiling that expires in December and I don’t know where the votes are going to come to increase it… On the other hand, I don’t think Mitt Romney can legitimately say that he learned anything about how to create jobs in the LBO business. The LBO business is about how to strip cash out of old, long-in-the-tooth companies and how to make short-term profits. [...] You know, the LBO business is legitimate, free enterprise business, just like, you know, running a brothel if that’s what you want to do, or a house of gambling. [...] But it’s not a good model for how we rebuild an economy or grow jobs. It’s irrelevant. — Crooks & Liars
DEEP THOUGHTS OF THE ONE PERCENT — John McCain, defending Mitt Romney’s Bain record: “Yes, the free enterprise system can be cruel.” — TPM
WHAT THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS STAND FOR ————————————
HOW ARE THESE TWO EVEN REAL?? He may be the leader of the free world, but he still takes a moment to tuck his wife in at bedtime. First Lady Michelle Obama revealed that tidbit and other details from the couple’s personal life in a People magazine interview that hit newsstands Friday. “We have a ritual where he tucks me in, because I’m usually in bed before anybody,” the First Lady spilled. “He’ll come and turn the lights out and give me a kiss, and we’ll talk. He’s like, Ready to be tucked? I’m like, Yes I am.’” – NY Daily News
Obama campaign to target Romney’s record as governor – By broadening its attack to Romney’s stint as chief executive of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, the Obama campaign will make the case that Romney’s economic philosophies have pervaded his career and would damage the country if he were to move into the White House. “You’ll see over the course of this campaign a really strong connection between (Romney’s) time at Bain and the values and lessons that he took from that,” said an Obama campaign official who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. “He used those values and lessons in Massachusetts, and we’ll take a look at those results,” the official said. The attacks are likely to focus on Romney’s record of cutting education funding and increasing the state’s debt. – Reuters | Note: also see ‘milk incident’ above.
If You Want Another Debt And Spending Binge, Vote GOP, Ctd – The AP takes the hardest position on Obama and comes up with the following bottom line: All told, government spending now appears to be growing at an annual rate of roughly 3 percent over the 2010-2013 period, rather than the 0.4 percent claimed by Obama and the MarketWatch analysis. I think that’s excessively tilted against the president. But even so, lets accept it for the sake of argument. A 3 percent annualized increase in federal spending would still put Obama in first place for spending restraint since LBJ – which is staggering given the scale of the economic collapse he inherited. A quick comparison? Bush’s first term – with no global great recession – saw spending grow an annualized 7.3 percent. Reagan’s first term? 8.7 percent. And again, remember the Romney claim that started this all off: that “since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history.” — Andrew Sullivan
Biden says end to wars gives foreign policy new flexibility — “Winding down these long wars has enabled us to replace and rebalance our foreign policy,” Biden told the Army cadets and their families at the storied academy’s football stadium. Biden’s speech echoed some of the themes of military success struck by President Barack Obama in his commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Wednesday. Biden, like Obama, said U.S. combat troops have returned home from Iraq, the conflict in Afghanistan is winding down and American commandos killed al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011. “Those warriors sent a message to the world that if you harm America, we will follow you to the end of the earth,” Biden said. – Tampa Bay Times
“Washington is filled with people making other people’s arguments for money. Anyone trying to do anything of good purpose is in a constant struggle to keep from drowning in the river of steaming bullshit served up by lobbyists and politicians and pundits and PR firms. They bend statistics, they do impressions of people who believe what they say, and all the while the country burns. And it is the height of arrogance to decry what’s happened to our politics when you are a bonded practitioner of what’s happened to our politics. You want to be a pitchman for warlords? You want to carry the Devil’s water in Washington? Go for it. But just don’t tell me how to fucking talk.” – Jon Lovett, former speechwriter to President Barack Obama in the White House.
Priorities USA ad: Romney’s fuzzy math on jobs created at Bain — This may seem like a “gotcha” gimmick, mocking Romney for his evolving I-once-caught-a-fish-this-big style of job-creation estimates, but it’s actually a very serious point. Indeed, Romney’s single most important claim as a candidate for the presidency is that he, during his private-sector career, was a “job creator.” If this isn’t true, his rationale for national office crumbles. And when a person making a bold claim can’t keep his story straight, it’s generally a strong hint that the claim is dubious. Bill Burton, a senior strategist at Priorities USA Action, told me this morning, “If [Romney] just released an accounting of the jobs gained and the jobs lost when he was at Bain, he could clear this whole controversy right up.” – Steve Benen – Watch:
Here’s the kind of ‘job creation’ your average social issues, gun-toting, Bible-thumping, tea partying conservative voter has been supporting all these years (and continues to support):
Before Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital bought the rambling SCM factory in Marion, Ind., it was running three shifts a day, making hanging file folders and other office supplies. But on July 5, 1994, everything changed.
The new owner, American Pad & Paper, owned in turn by Bain Capital, told all 258 union workers they were fired, in a cost-cutting move. Security guards hustled them out of the building. They would be able to reapply for their jobs, at lesser wages and benefits, but not all would be rehired.
“We were told they bought the assets, not the union or the [labor] contract,” recalls Randy Johnson, who at the time worked as a machine operator and was a union shop steward. The workers – some the third generation in their families to have jobs there – eventually went on strike, and Bain closed the factory 5-1/2 months after acquiring it.
[...] “I was on the negotiating committee for the union, and we had to give up and give up until we could give no more,” Ms. Huffman recalls. “They tried to make the working conditions not very good.” AmPad began moving automated machinery out of the factory soon after acquiring it. “I think they were planning on shutting the plant down,” she says. “We were union, and they did not want that.”
Bain Capital bought AmPad in 1992 for $5.1 million. It borrowed heavily, boosting AmPad’s debt from $19.8 million in 1994 to $443.7 million in 1995, and Bain charged it tens of millions in fees. Bain took the firm public in 1996, making tens of millions more. AmPad, still saddled with debt, filed for bankruptcy in 2000. It has since reemerged as a private firm, based in Dallas.
Romney attempts to counter the Obama campaign’s ”GST Steel” ad:
Seeking to combat charges from the Obama campaign that Bain Capital extracted value from companies it purchased by firing employees and cutting benefits, Mitt Romney’s released a web video profiling Steel Dynamics, one of the companies that Bain invested in.
But as Think Progress reports, there are two problems with Romney’s portrayal of Bain’s assistance in Steel Dynamics:
1) Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported at the time (via Nexis), that Bain was just one of eight financiers for the project — hardly the lone white knight; and
2) the video touts Romney’s “private-sector” team, the company was successful thanks, in part, to big government subsidies and grants — $37 million from the state of Indiana and DeKalb County. And as the Los Angeles Times reported in January of this year, the county even raised taxes on residents to help fund the mill.
Was there a happy ending? For Bain Capital there was. Bain walked away with a $85 million profit, financed in large part by corporate welfare.
…“The story of Bain and Steel Dynamics illustrates how Romney, during his business career, made avid use of public-private partnerships, something that many conservatives consider to be ‘corporate welfare.’”
Bain invested $18.2 million in Steel Dynamics in 1994. Five years later, it sold its stake for $104 million, walking away with $85 million profit.
So did Romney create jobs while he was at Bain Capital? If you count the jobs previously held by high-seniority workers who were laid off when their unions were busted, and whose jobs were replaced with minimum-wage-no-benefits workers, then you could probably say: sure – those were “jobs” that were “created.”
This has been a decades-long process, created and brutally enforced by the GOP, using social wedge-issues for the necessary political support, combined with an Orwellian concept called trickle-down to soothe the masses during all the union busting and off-shoring. And we hardly missed receiving decent wages with all the easy credit being shoved our way. When the new normal became lower wages here (unions are Satan’s work!) and manufacturing in other countries, then profit for profit’s sake became both the morality and the patriotic spirit of the USA. Workers were disposable and CEOs were free to pocket all the profit. And here we are today. Complain, and it’s called being jealous of other people’s success – class warfare!
This is how the middle class died. Mitt Romney and Bain Capital are just two familiar faces of that death. Fundamentalist Christians are the third.
KEEP VOTING REPUBLICAN – we’re going great!
via: Think Progress
Thirty years ago, the U.S. underwent a shift — from an economy that grew in a way that lifted all segments of society, to an economy that gives heavy preference to the wealthy. That’s the broad story of the last three decades, but as Krueger pointed out, policy has a role to play. The trend abated temporarily in the 1990s, when the country returned to an era of fairly uniform income growth distribution. That all changed for most people, and their lost income has instead trickled up the ladder. Read more…
WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY—————————–—
An email campaign endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) launched this week (pictured, below) depicts a rifle pointing at President Barack Obama’s head, and a message about an imaginary “million rifle ban” the president is allegedly seeking to implement. “Death threats against this president are up 400 percent as compared to President Bush,” Ladd Everitt, director of communications for The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told Raw Story on Thursday. “We are living today in a supercharged, partisan political climate where threats of violence and violent rhetoric are everywhere, and you would think that anyone — anyone, no matter what their political views or disagreements with this president — would have the common sense and decency to not create a banner image for a conspiracy theory-fueled email that shows a gun pointing directly at [the president's] head, while simultaneously preaching to folks about some ridiculous Obama gun ban that exists only in a fantasy world.” – Raw Story
HOW ARE WE DOING AS A SOCIETY? Trayvon Martin gun range targets were sold online “to make money off the controversy,” report says – The targets reportedly do not show Martin’s face, but feature a hoodie with crosshairs aimed at the chest. A bag of Skittles is tucked in the pocket and a hand is holding a can resembling iced tea. Martin reportedly was carrying both items the night of his death. [...] According to WKMG, the seller of the targets told them in an email exchange that the “main motivation was to make money off the controversy.” – CBS News
Harry Reid finally gets fed up with ‘mindless’ Republican obstructionism over the refusal of Senate Republicans to pass a completely non-controversial reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank on the grounds that they wanted time to offer amendments. “It’s so unusual here,” Reid continued. “I have been here in Congress thirty years, but this is a new one. Even bills that they agree on, they want to mess around with. In years past, this would have gone through here just like this [snapping his fingers]. … The House passed something 330 to 93, and we’re here playing around with it? It should be done. We should have passed it yesterday. This thing is going to expire.” “It’s hard to comprehend what the new mantra of the Republicans in the Senate, what it is,” he added. “I don’t get it.” – Raw Story
The 111th Congress was practically defined by Republicans who turned an extraordinary measure–the filibuster–into a routine tool of obstruction. GOP senators invoked holds and filibusters on virtually everything that came from Senate Democrats, resulting in a session that saw more filibusters than any previous session in history. This nifty graph is illustrative. [...] At this point, I’m honestly unsure of what will convince reporters to cease the constant equivalence between the two parties. Democrats aren’t angels, of course, but the Republican Party has embarked on a crusade against the norms that govern conduct in the Senate. It’s totalistic approach to politics is responsible for congressional dysfunction, and placing blame on both sides only makes the problem harder to solve. — Prospect.org
Maddow Blog: It’s a good thing we didn’t let Detroit go bankrupt: “U.S. auto sales are on pace for the best showing since 2007 and a third straight year of at least 10 percent gains, only the fourth such streak since the Great Depression, as more-confident buyers return to showrooms.”
Mediaite: Geraldo Rivera appeared on Fox & Friends on Friday where he described an intrusive inspection he had received from a Transportation Security Administration officer on a recent trip to Afghanistan. “I got manually raped by a guy,” said Rivera. “This guy, it seemed to me, was getting off on it.” (NOTE: it was a TSA pat-down, something thousands of people go through every day.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS————————————————————
President Barack Obama gave Congress a “to-do list” for fixing the economy in his weekly address broadcast Saturday. Obama’s suggestions:
1) ending tax breaks for companies that outsource work overseas,
2) help homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates,
3) increasing tax benefits for small businesses that hire,
4) increasing tax benefits for small businesses that hire and extending tax credits for clean-energy companies,
5) and creating a Veterans Job Corps for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are re-entering the private sector.
“… America’s real problems have nothing to do with what we do in our bedrooms and everything to do with what top executives do in their boardrooms and executive suites. We’re not in trouble because gays want to marry or women want to have some control over when they have babies. We’re in trouble because CEOs are collecting exorbitant pay while slicing the pay of average workers, because the titans of Wall Street demand short-term results over long-term jobs, and because of a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading, and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.” Our crisis has nothing to do with private morality. It’s a crisis of public morality – of abuses of public trust that undermine the integrity of our economy and democracy … .” – Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich in Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms [via: reagan-was-a-horrible-president]
Daily Kos: Tom Barrett gets an Obama campaign assist in Wisconsin recall against Scott Walker – The next election here in Wisconsin is coming up on June 5th — and it’s important to make sure your voice is heard. For the last year and a half, Governor Walker has divided Wisconsin — siding with big corporations and the super-rich at the expense of working, middle-class families. He’s broken our trust in state government: Too many Wisconsin families are out of work, students face crowded classrooms, and working men and women will be hurt by cuts to health care funding.
Asked whether he would be at a disadvantage politically if gays galvanize behind Obama’s reelection campaign, Romney said, “Hopefully, people are focusing on the major issues of the day, which relate to our economy, getting people back to work, dealing with Syria…. But I know for many people, the issue of marriage is going to be a defining issue, and they will make their decision on that basis. That is their right. But you don’t change your position to try to win states or certain subgroups of Americans. You have the positions you have, and you know, for a long time, I think since the beginning of my career, I have made it very clear that I thought that marriage should be a relationship between a man and a women.” – NationalJournal.com
Think Progress: Insurers Will Pay $1.3 Billion In Rebates To 16 Million Consumers Because Of Obamacare – Thanks to a provision of the Affordable Care Act, 16 million consumers and businesses are expected to receive about $1.3 billion in rebates from health insurance companies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The medical loss ratio rule requires insurers to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of premiums on patient care; if not, then the companies owe rebates to their customers. As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explains, “We want to know that most of what we are paying for is for health care, not advertising, executive bonuses or overhead. It’s pretty simple: we want to get a good value for our premium dollars.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Anti-union, corporations are people, right to work states, Citizens United, lower the minimum wage, tax cuts for the wealthy, austerity for the rest of us, outsource jobs to third-world countries, buy more lobbyists – buy more tax code, lower corporate taxes, deregulation, Caymen Island tax shelters, lay off employees for higher CEO bonuses…
Here are descriptions of working in Amazon’s shipping warehouses AND, perhaps, a peek into the bleak future of employment for your children and grandchildren in the Corporatist Hellscape that the GOP / Teaparty is pushing us to accept. Read below and you’ll see that when employees are disposable, high unemployment benefits the employers.
Keep in mind that in a Teaparty / GOP Perfect World, these ‘job growth’ ideas in the graphic below would be federally mandated:
From Inside Amazon’s Warehouse by Spencer Soper:
Temporary employees interviewed said few people in their working groups actually made it to a permanent Amazon position. Instead, they said they were pushed harder and harder to work faster and faster until they were terminated, they quit or they got injured. Those interviewed say turnover at the warehouse is high and many hires don’t last more than a few months.
The supply of temporary workers keeps Amazon’s warehouse fully staffed without the expense of a permanent workforce that expects raises and good benefits. Using temporary employees in general also helps reduce the prospect that employees will organize a union that pushes for better treatment because the employees are in constant flux, labor experts say. And Amazon limits its liability for workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance because most of the workers don’t work for Amazon, they work for the temp agency.
[...] One former temporary warehouse employee said he worked seven months before he was terminated for not working fast enough. In his 50s, he worked 10 hours a day, four days a week as a picker, plucking items from bins and delivering them to packers who put them in boxes for shipment. He would walk 13 to 15 miles daily, he estimated, and was among the oldest pickers.
“At the beginning, I thought I was doing really well,” he said. “I never missed a day, was never sick, never came in late. I was the model employee. But after a while, I could only achieve a certain rate and I couldn’t go any faster. It was just brutal.”
He said he was expected to pick 1,200 items in a 10-hour shift, or one item every 30 seconds.
The warehouse is organized like a library. Bins labeled “A” were on the floor. Dim lighting in the warehouse in which he worked made it difficult for him to find items stored in the low bins, especially novels with script titles or CDs with small writing, he said. Often, he got on his hands and knees to find things in the low bin, and would crawl to other bins rather than continuously stoop and stand, he said.
From Amazon workers rediscover The Grapes of Wrath by Ezra Klein:
One day, the index “exceeded 110 degrees on the third floor.” A local emergency room doctor treated so many warehouse employees for heat exhaustion this summer that he called federal regulators to report an unsafe work environment. A security guard called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after seeing two pregnant women taken to nurses.
[...] There were occasions in June and July, Soper reported, when “Amazon paid Cetronia Ambulance Corps to have ambulances and paramedics stationed at its two adjacent warehouses.” The company refused to cool the warehouse by opening the garage doors because managers feared it would lead to theft.
[...] In a more robust economy, Amazon would have to treat its employees better or they would simply leave to pursue other opportunities. [...] Right now, there are about five unemployed Americans for every open job. In many regions and industries, that ratio is much higher, especially among unskilled workers. It might not be 100-to-1, but it’s close enough to ensure that the one who does get the job has little power. Orange handbills might have been replaced by e-mails and Monster.com, but the Joads would surely recognize the men and women competing to work in that hundred- degree heat, climbing over one another for the chance to support their kids.
From A visit to the Warehouse of Soul-Crushing Sadness by Mac McClelland:
[McClelland observed employees at an unnamed shipping facililty] Susie told me it’s pretty dispiriting to act as though her workers are as disposable as the products they’re shipping. But that’s just the way it is, she said. The logistics clients aren’t interested in spending money on a better or more sustainable work culture. Nor do they need to. There are 100 people employed in the warehouse I visited, and Susie could fire every one of them today without costing her bosses a dime of lost profits. She has applications from hundreds of people ready to take the job.
(Links above via The Grapes of Wrath is not a business model)
You can see why corporations and their Republican politicians don’t like labor unions. With a union, there is NO WAY any of this would be happening. The bottom line is that the American consumer (really, worldwide consumers) need to decide what saving a few dollars actually entails along the way for the average worker. For my part, I’m not sure I’ll ever order anything from Amazon again.
Via Federal Times:
President Obama urged Congress today to return from recess to fund the Federal Aviation Administration, saying thousands of jobs are at stake.
“This is a lose-lose-lose situation,” Obama said before meeting with his Cabinet. “This is an example of a self-inflicted wound that is unnecessary.”
Obama said he expects the partial FAA shutdown to be resolved by the end of the week.
Hours before Obama spoke, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also called on Congress to return to Washington and pass an FAA funding bill. “For members of Congress to give speeches about jobs and then go on their vacations while construction workers have vacated their jobs rings very hollow,” LaHood said at the White House.
Democrats blamed Republican efforts to change union rules and rural air routes for the failure to pass an FAA bill.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the GOP House has passed an FAA bill, and the Democratic Senate refuses to act: “The only reason so many jobs are at stake is Senate Democratic Leaders chose to play politics rather than pass the House bill.”
What are they fighting about? From GovExec:
The immediate issue is language added by House Transportation Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., to a House-passed short term FAA extension that would cut funds for rural airports. Democrats say Mica has it made clear that provision, with the axe falling particularly hard on a few states including Nevada and West Virginia, is meant to force Senate Democrats to yield in talks on a long term FAA reauthorization bill. Those talks are stalled primarily over House language Democrats say is aimed forcing a National Mediation Board to make it harder for airline unions to organize.
[...] Democrats on Wednesday argued the FAA fight is the latest example of House Republican “hostage taking” following the pattern of negotiations on a continuing resolution and raising the debt ceiling. They said yielding this time would simply invite new demands from Mica and House Republicans.
“This is their modus operandi,” Boxer said. “Government by crisis that they make up; government by hostage taking; government by threat.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said anger over the FAA spat should fall “on Mr. Mica,” who by refusing a clean extension has already cost the government more than it would save through cuts to rural airports. “Why? Because he has taken us hostage,” Hoyer said.
More of union busting, war on the middle-class, and reindeer games from the Teaparty Republicans — i.e. business as usual until 2012.